Concise, critical reviews of books, exhibitions, and projects in all areas and periods of art history and visual studies

Browse Recent Exhibition Reviews

Jonathan Demme, ed.
Kaliko Press, 1998. 63 pp.; 43 color ills. Paper
Selden Rodman Gallery of Popular Arts of the Americas and the Caribbean, Ramapo College, Mahwah, N.J., February 8–March 18, 2005; Waterloo Center for the Arts, Waterloo, Iowa., June 10–August 29, 2005
Ever since the American artist DeWitt Peters started the Centre d’Art of Port-au-Prince in 1944, Haitian art has attracted major European and American artists and collectors. Decades after Haitian art admirer André Breton called the landscape of the tropics the landscape of Surrealism, generous art donors and collectors with connections to the Midwest have raised the commercial value of Haitian art while establishing three major regional collections—at Iowa’s Waterloo Center for the Arts and the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Organized by the Ramapo College of New Jersey, the exhibition Odilon Pierre: Atis d’Ayiti allowed… Full Review
December 7, 2005
Beacon: NY: Dia:Beacon, 2005.
Dia:Beacon, Beacon, N.Y., April 14–November 7, 2005
Agnes Martin and Jackson Pollock were both born in 1912, but Pollock had died by the time Martin moved from New Mexico to New York in 1957 to establish herself as a painter. Martin came at the behest of Betty Parsons, one of many women artists whom Parsons took under her wing as the fervor of Abstract Expressionism faded. Many of these women deferred their artistic careers until midlife, after families or more traditional careers—Martin herself was a teacher. Throughout her life, Martin maintained a principled independence as an artist, existing outside the politics and ideologies of the art world… Full Review
December 5, 2005
Carl Brandon Strehlke, ed.
Exh. cat. University Park and Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004. 184 pp.; 65 color ills.; 70 b/w ills. Cloth $40.00 (0271025360)
November 20, 2004–February 13, 2005
The thematic core of this exhibition was built around two vastly different but compelling unofficial portraits, Pontormo’s Alessandro de’ Medici (1534–35) and Bronzino’s Cosimo I de’ Medici as Orpheus (ca. 1537–39), each in the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Augmented by about fifty works selected from American and European collections, the exhibition explored the contribution of these two masters to the development and transformation of portraiture during the tumultuous era that witnessed the replacement of Florentine republicanism with autocratic Medici rule. It also traced the artistic debt between two painters mutually bonded through both art and personal… Full Review
November 28, 2005
If ambiguity was something that could be seen or touched, it might have a tangible yet enigmatic effect. Perhaps it would be like a fragile lantern lit from within, neither solid nor translucent, with angles of light taking shape through sudden rips of fabric. Or perhaps it would be a metallic cube hovering over the ground like an imbalanced weight, yet with a surface as seemingly delicate as crumpled paper. Or perhaps it would be a cold glass entrance with ice rock chandeliers, where luscious, decorative folds in white walls peek through. Maybe, in short, ambiguity would take the shape… Full Review
November 28, 2005
Susan Donahue Kuretsky
Poughkeepsie, NY: Francis Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, 2005. 352 pp.; 85 color ills.; 120 b/w ills. Paper $60.00 (0964426374)
Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., April 8–June 19, 2005; John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Fla., August 20–October 30, 2005; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Ky., January 10–March 26, 2006
One year before Vassar College first offered courses in 1865, the institution already had an art gallery and a collection. Purchases, beginning with that of the Reverend Elias Magoon’s American and English landscape paintings, and continuing into the present with acquisitions in various media from diverse cultures, have made the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center (which occupies an elegant building by Cesar Pelli) into an important museum possessing 12,500 objects, and also—fulfilling the original intention—into an effective complement to the teaching of art and art history A good example of that synergy was the 1970 exhibition “Dutch Mannerism: Apogee and… Full Review
November 18, 2005
Peter C. Sutton, Marjorie Wieseman, and Nico Van Hout
Exh. cat. Greenwich, Conn.: Yale University Press in association with Bruce Museum of Arts and Sciences, 2004. 208 pp.; 60 color ills.; 40 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0300106262)
Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Conn., October 2–January 30, 2005; Berkeley Art Museum, March 2–May 22, 2005; Cincinnati Art Museum, June 11–September 11, 2005
It is a testimony to the esteem in which Peter Sutton and Marjorie Wieseman are held in the art world that they were able to find enough oil sketches by Peter Paul Rubens for an exhibition in the United States in 2004—the most competitive “Rubens” year in recent memory. Drawn by the Brush: Oil Sketches by Peter Paul Rubens is the first exhibition dedicated solely to Rubens’s oil sketches since the one Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann organized in Rotterdam in 1953–54. Although originally planned to include loans solely from U.S. and Canadian collections, the exhibition was expanded with a few choice pieces… Full Review
November 8, 2005
Donna De Salvo, ed.
Tate Publishing, 2005. 192 pp.; 60 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Paper (1854375652)
June 1–August 29, 2005
It would appear that Jack Burnham’s 1968 claim that “a ‘systems esthetic’ will become the dominant approach to a maze of socio-technical conditions rooted only in the present” was accurately visionary. In Open Systems: Rethinking Art c. 1970, curator Donna De Salvo has put this concept of a “system” to work as an organizing principle around which to understand anew significant trends in art produced during the years bracketing 1970. The choice was a good one on two counts. First, there has been much recent interest in the art of the period, as high-profile retrospectives of Robert Smithson, Dan… Full Review
November 7, 2005
Kerry Brougher
Exh. cat. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution in association with Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2005. 272 pp.; 344 color ills.; 32 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0500512175)
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Calif., February 13–May 22, 2005; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., June 23–September 11, 2005
One thought-provoking passage from the introductory wall panel at the entrance to Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art’s recent exhibition, Visual Music: Synaesthesia in Art and Music Since 1900, read as follows: “Music offered a model to which art might aspire: an art based on a language of abstract form that evokes limitless space and evolving time, in short, ‘visual music.’” This brief passage makes some challenging and complex claims for the broad category of visual art as it relates to the equally broad category of music. One clear precedent for these claims can be found in the writing… Full Review
November 3, 2005
Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.
Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art in association with University of Chicago Press, 2005. 150 pp.; 40 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. $40.00 (0226894436)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., January 30–May 1, 2005; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Calif., June 7–August 28, 2005
In the 1600s, a convert from Roman Catholicism to the new Protestant faith might have felt disconcertingly bereft of the supportive community of saints in whose company she or he was accustomed to encountering the divine. For women, one of the greatest challenges must have been the loss of the Virgin Mary as empathetic listener and spiritual guide. Yet Martin Luther sternly condemned belief in the intercession of saints as a reliance on works rather than faith to procure salvation, and John Calvin adamantly rejected the mediatory role of saints, along with the veneration of their relics and images, as… Full Review
October 27, 2005
Francesco Bonami, Regis Durand, and Francois Quintin
Thames and Hudson, 2001. 112 pp.; 42 color ills. Cloth $29.95 (0500974950)
Museum of Modern Art, New York, March 4–May 30, 2005
The construction of historical memory has been a critical issue for photography since the medium’s emergence as a method of mass reproduction and dissemination. German photographer Thomas Demand’s work addresses the question of veracity that remains at the heart of photography’s role in shaping the representation and understanding of history. His work interrogates this concern through a two-stage process that transforms politically charged subject matter from appropriated mass-produced photographic image to sculptural installation to a final life-scaled photograph made by Demand. That he takes on photography’s contested relation to material reality now, at a moment when the cultural field is… Full Review
October 26, 2005