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

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Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Hilton Als, Amira Gad, and Glenn Ligon
Exh. cat. London and Wien: Serpentine Galleries and Koenig Books, 2015. 136 pp. Paper £ 8.00 (9781908617286)
Exhibition schedule: Serpentine Galleries, London, July 2–September 15, 2015
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Verses After Dusk was released on the occasion of the British painter’s 2015 solo exhibition at Serpentine Gallery. The compendium features Yiadom-Boakye’s stunning painterly and writerly interrogations of fictional characters and black figures in her paintings, etchings, short stories, poems, and essays, along with texts by artist Glenn Ligon, critic Hilton Als, and the exhibition’s organizer, Amira Gad. Verses After Dusk asks readers and viewers to... Full Review
August 16, 2017
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Joan Marter, ed.
Exh. cat. Denver: Denver Art Museum in association with Yale University Press, 2016. 216 pp.; 138 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300208429)
Exhibition schedule: Denver Art Museum, Denver, June 12–September 25, 2016; Mint Museum, Charlotte, October 22–January 22, 2017; Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, February 18–May 28, 2017
There is much to celebrate about the exhibition Women of Abstract Expressionism curated by Gwen Chanzit for the Denver Art Museum (DAM), and indeed the mood of the show was decidedly exuberant in its design and content. From the breathtaking views of Helen Frankenthaler’s towering Jacobs Ladder (1957), Lee Krasner’s ebullient The Seasons (1957), or Elaine de Kooning’s explosive Bullfight (1959) to the reading room lined with archival photographs of laughing artists... Full Review
August 10, 2017
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Florence, Italy
The spectacular new Opera del Duomo Museum in Florence, Italy, which opened on the fall of 2015, is in a very real sense a twenty-first-century manifestation of two closely associated late eighteenth-century European cultural and intellectual accomplishments. The remarkable invention of the public museum is deeply connected to the development of art history as an independent academic discipline. Both are manifestations of the Enlightenment belief that the appreciation of art might shape moral... Full Review
August 10, 2017
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Philip M. Peek, ed.
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012. 376 pp.; 36 b/w ills. Paper $27.95 (9780253223074)
Existing African arts and cultures scholarship’s disproportionate attention on how twin births constitute a problem to parents and community is challenged in Twins in African and Diaspora Cultures, as the volume takes a dialectic approach to show how twins embody ambiguity. The subtitle, “Double Trouble, Twice Blessed,” foregrounds this premise. In several African cultures, twins are viewed through the prism of complementary duality, which is fundamental to African belief systems and... Full Review
August 10, 2017
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Heidi King, ed.
Exh. cat. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. 232 pp.; 200 color ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780300169799)
Exhibition schedule: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, February 26–September 1, 2008
Peruvian Featherworks: Art of the Precolumbian Era, edited by Heidi King, is an important contribution to a profoundly complex yet largely overlooked artistic genre: Andean featherwork. While feather mosaics from Mesoamerica have received much scholarly attention and praise, featherwork of the Andes has largely been ignored. In a review of The Arts in Latin America, 1492–1820 (click here for review) at the Los... Full Review
August 4, 2017
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Ewa Lajer-Burcharth and Beate Söntgen, eds.
Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016. 498 pp.; 25 color ills.; 150 b/w ills. Cloth $140.00 (9783110340433)
Is interiority a place or a state of mind? According to Ewa Lajer-Burcharth and Beate Söntgen, the editors of Interiors and Interiority, we are wrong to pose the question as “either-or”; even “both-and” is an insufficiently capacious answer. Backed up by twenty-two essays, mostly by German and U.S. scholars, Lajer-Burcharth and Söntgen argue that the relationship between interiors and interiority is not limited to private spaces and individual psychology but engages just as ineluctably... Full Review
August 3, 2017
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Winnie Won Yin Wong
Chicago: University of Chicagp Press, 2013. 320 pp.; 27 color ills.; 45 b/w ills. Paper $38.00 (9780226024899)
Unknowingly, many of us have likely come into contact with some of the primary products of China’s Dafen village: handmade oil paintings, which resemble Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers (1888) and other “masterworks,” that hang in hotels, restaurants, and homes, and are sold online and in souvenir shops, galleries, and chain stores around the world. Located in Shenzhen, a megacity across from Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China’s first Special Economic Zone, Dafen has heretofore... Full Review
August 2, 2017
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Laura Coyle and Michèle Gates Moresi, eds.
Double Exposure, Vol. 3. Lewes, UK: Giles in association with Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, 2015. 72 pp.; 60 color ills. Paper $16.95 (9781907804489)
Laura Coyle and Michèle Gates Moresi, eds.
Double Exposure, Vol. 2. Lewes, UK: Giles in association with Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, 2015. 80 pp.; 60 color ills. Paper $16.95 (9781907804472)
The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) has engaged the public through its online and social media presence and by producing and collaborating on exhibitions and books that showcase visual and audio materials from its collections since 2007. Much of this material is from the Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts (CAAMA), a physical and virtual center that collects, promotes, and preserves African American... Full Review
August 2, 2017
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Mantha Zarmakoupi
Oxford Studies in Ancient Culture and Representation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. 352 pp.; 135 b/w ills. $160.00 (9780199678389)
This ambitious study originated in 2007 as Mantha Zarmakoupi’s Oxford University DPhil thesis. Several years of further research have allowed her to develop her ideas and deepen her bibliographic research on the archaeology and architecture of Roman villas and the cultural life that villas framed. She aims, in brief, to examine “the ways in which Romans conceptualized the architectural design of luxurious villas in order to accommodate a life of educated leisure in the countryside” (1). In... Full Review
July 27, 2017
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Exhibition schedule: Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR, July 23–November 13, 2016
Josh Kline: Freedom, curated by Sara Krajewski for the Portland Art Museum, is the title of the first work in a projected five-work cycle by the artist. Each will imagine a future that extends out from the present’s particular techno-economic landscapes. Less a single work than an evolving cluster of works, Freedom has been previously exhibited at the New Museum (2015) and Modern Art Oxford (2015). The Portland Art Museum show marks its completion (public conversation between... Full Review
July 26, 2017
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