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

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Portland Art Museum, Oregon, March 30–October 13, 2019

Dramatic Impressions: Japanese Actor Prints was a delightful exhibition of a wide variety of Japanese woodblock prints, many on view for the first time. The prints were organized chronologically for the most part, beginning with the eighteenth century and ending with the twentieth. The choices of the curator, Jeannie Kenmotsu (assistant curator of Japanese art with the Japan Foundation), were... Full Review

December 11, 2019
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Sasha Suda and Kirk Nickel, eds.
Exh. cat. New York: Prestel, 2019. 296 pp.; 183 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (9783791358444)
Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, April 6–September 8, 2019; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, October 12, 2019–January 5, 2020

The Early Rubens exhibition organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (Full Review

December 10, 2019
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British Museum, London, November 29, 2018–August 4, 2019

“Understandings of history are rarely agreed and always shifting,” began the wall text that opened the British Museum’s Reimagining Captain Cook: Pacific Perspectives, in an effort to signal the exhibition’s investigation into the fraught legacy of James Cook (1728–1779), explorer and British Royal Navy captain. Rather than rehearsing well-known and tired narratives of Captain Cook as the heroic explorer and navigator, this exhibition attempted to reframe Cook’s legacy from the... Full Review

December 9, 2019
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José Esparza Chong Cuy, ed.
Exh. cat. Chicago and New York: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and DelMonico Books-Prestel, 2019. 144 pp.; 100 ills. Paper $25.00 (9783791358390)
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, April 13–August 25, 2019

The latest iteration of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)’s Ascendant Artist series featured the Brazilian artist Jonathas de Andrade (born 1982). This series has the virtue of occasionally highlighting younger artists from the Global South, even as the museum itself trends more toward blockbuster shows that lionize designers and musicians rather than... Full Review

December 5, 2019
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Robert Echols and Frederick Ilchman, eds.
Exh. cat. New Haven, CT and Washington, DC: Yale University Press in association with National Gallery of Art, 2018. 336 pp.; 240 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300230406)
Palazzo Ducale, Venice, September 7, 2018–January 6, 2019; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, March 24–July 7, 2019

Visitors were nearly denied the opportunity to experience the first major exhibition in the United States of the monumental work of Venetian Renaissance artist Jacopo Tintoretto (1518/19–1594). Though the show was originally slated to open March 3, 2019, a shutdown of the US federal government grounded preparations for Tintoretto: Artist of Renaissance Venice at the National Gallery of Art (Full Review

November 21, 2019
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McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, June 20–September 15, 2019
McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, June 20–September 15, 2019
McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, June 20–September 15, 2019

Across the United States, museums are eager to present identity-based shows addressing issues of gender, sexuality, and identity during the fiftieth-anniversary year of the 1969 Stonewall uprisings. This year, the McNay Art Museum dedicated its entire temporary exhibition program to such an effort, with Andy Warhol: Portraits, Transamerica/n: Gender, Identity, Appearance Today, and TransSanAntonian: Examining Trans Identities and Gender Fluidity in the Archives.... Full Review

November 15, 2019
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Tate Britain, London, June 5–September 24, 2018

To celebrate the one-hundred-year anniversary of the World War I armistice, the show Aftermath: Art in the Wake of World War One at Tate Britain explored artistic responses to the physical and psychological scars left on Europe. German, British, and French artists produced the majority of the works on display in the show, and most of them had practiced in Berlin, London, and Paris. They produced the exhibited works between 1916 and 1932. The expression of trauma, as it was... Full Review

November 8, 2019
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Tracey R. Bashkoff
Exh. cat. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 2019. 244 pp.; 220 ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780892075430)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 12, 2018–April 23, 2019

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s exhibition of Swedish modern artist Hilma af Klint (1862–1944), Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future, was a long-overdue American showcase of af Klint’s innovations. Organized by Director of Collections and Senior Curator Tracey R. Bashkoff, Paintings for the Future notably highlighted the spiritualist beliefs that informed af Klint’s practice, as well as those of peers like Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian. Yet, while the show and... Full Review

November 6, 2019
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New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, Massachusetts, July 2, 2019–May 15, 2020

Dutch and Flemish marine paintings have tended to be a niche subject, often subsumed within landscapes, left to specialists, or referenced with a few stars, such as Jan Porcellis, Simon de Vlieger, and Willem van de Velde the Younger. In Seymour Slive’s still-standard survey Dutch Painting 1600–1800 (Yale University Press, 1995), the chapter on landscape is three times longer than that on marine subjects. Such an imbalance contrasts with the large number of prestigious... Full Review

October 17, 2019
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Ittai Weinryb, ed.
Exh. cat. New York: Bard Graduate Center, 2018. 372 pp.; 250 color ills.; 60 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300222968)
Bard Graduate Center Gallery, New York, September 14, 2018–January 6, 2019

The exhibition Agents of Faith: Votive Objects in Time and Place revealed the moving, sometimes playful yearning that accompanies a primal desire to be in the company of the supernatural. Curated by Ittai Weinryb, the Bard Graduate Center Gallery exhibition posited that this desire to visualize or materialize the miraculous is a practice that has existed in all periods and places. It featured objects ranging from Etruscan terra-cottas to Mexican votive paintings to Bavarian and... Full Review

October 3, 2019
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