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

Browse Recent Exhibition Reviews

Valerie Steele
Exh. cat. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2018. 208 pp.; 120 color ills. Hardcover $50.00 (9780500022269)
Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, September 7, 2018–January 5, 2019
Coined “the most divisive of colors,” pink has been worn very fashionably across the world since at least the eighteenth century. It is a color more fascinating and controversial than most when used for clothing, according to a recent exhibition at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York. Organized by chief curator Dr. Valerie Steele, the exhibition addressed a series of themes that responded to the cultural, historical, and symbolic presence of the color in many aspects of dress. The variety of garments on display and their tonal range were striking and enhanced… Full Review
May 30, 2019
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Cynthia Burlingham and Allegra Pesenti, eds.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles and New York: Hammer Museum, UCLA in association with DelMonico Books-Prestel, 2018. 208 pp.; 120 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (9783791357645)
Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, September 27–December 30, 2018
Few nineteenth-century figures are as towering as the French poet, novelist, playwright, critic, and politician Victor Hugo (1802–1885). Though he is remembered mostly for his literary achievements, particularly The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1831) and Les Misérables (1862), he excelled at drawing. From September 27 to December 30, 2018, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles exhibited over seventy of his haunting works on paper (he made more than four thousand of them), as well as a select number of photographs and prints. Stones to Stains: The Drawings of Victor Hugo, beautifully curated by Cynthia Burlingham and Allegra Pesenti, illustrated the… Full Review
May 28, 2019
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Judit Bodor, Adam Czirak, Astrid Hackel, Beata Hock, Andrej Mircev, and Angelika Richter, eds.
Berlin: neue Gesellschaft für bildene Kunst, 2018. 206 pp. Paperback €24.00 (9783938515730)
neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst, Berlin, February 3–March 25, 2018
In the winter of 2018, a project group of six curators (Judit Bodor, Adam Czirak, Astrid Hackel, Beata Hock, Andrej Mircev, and Angelika Richter) presented a fresh account of East-Central European performance art in their exhibition Left Performance Histories, at the neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (NGbK) in Berlin. The exhibition provided a fascinating and nuanced look at performance-art practices in the region, which both expanded our understanding of that history and brought lesser-studied material to light. The entrance to the show set the scene for the entire exhibition, presenting a “labyrinth” of identity—a literal maze composed of photographs… Full Review
May 16, 2019
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Michael Rooks
Exh. cat. Atlanta: High Museum of Art, 2018. 265 pp.; 104 color ills.; 88 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9781932543520)
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, November 17, 2017–March 18, 2018
An artist who studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and moved to New York in 1970 to assist Robert Rauschenberg, Al Taylor was consumed with perception and the logic of things. What Are You Looking At?, the title of a survey of his work at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia (2017–18), was also Taylor’s own sly suggestion for the epitaph on his tombstone. At once an innocent question and a phrase uttered to someone rudely staring, “What are you looking at?” is often met with the response, “Nothing much.” Whether made up in his imagination or… Full Review
May 15, 2019
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Denver Art Museum, November 19, 2018–March 17, 2019; Dallas Museum of Art, May 19–September 1, 2019
Advertised as the first retrospective of the House of Dior in the United States, Dior: From Paris to the World transported visitors from the interior of the Denver Art Museum’s Hamilton Building through the doors of a storied atelier to enter the exhibition gallery. Curated by Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art and Fashion Florence Müller and designed by Shohei Shigematsu of OMA New York, the exhibition was presented in a series of irregularly shaped rooms. An individual gallery was devoted to each of the seven head designers of the House (Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré… Full Review
May 10, 2019
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Donna De Salvo
Exh. cat. New Haven and New York: Yale University Press in association with The Whitney Museum of American Art, 2018. 384 pp.; 350 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Cloth $70.00 (9780300236989)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, November 12, 2018–March 31, 2019; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, May 19–September 2, 2019; The Art Institute of Chicago, October 20, 2019–January 26, 2020.
As curator Donna De Salvo readied Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again, the revelatory retrospective exhibition recently on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art, she plainly understood that a return to Warhol at this moment and in this venue would need to land with maximum impact. In the nearly three decades since the last such retrospective was mounted in New York, the late Kynaston McShine’s landmark show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1989, general consciousness of the artist has gone from widespread suspicion and skepticism to the conferral of Picasso-like status as the… Full Review
May 6, 2019
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Sébastien Allard, Côme Fabre, Dominique de Font-Réaulx, Michèle Hannoosh, Mehdi Korchane, and Asher Miller
Exh. cat. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2018. 328 pp.; 288 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9781588396518)
Musée du Louvre, Paris, France, March 29–July 23, 2018; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 17, 2018–January 6, 2019
On June 22, 1863—less than two months before his death—Delacroix concluded his Journal with a maxim that had guided his hand for some four decades: “The chief merit of a painting is to be a feast for the eye.” Entwined with this pursuit of visual delight was an insatiable appetite for pathos to which he had earlier confessed in a letter to Baron Charles Rivet (February 15, 1838): “My tragic inclinations always dominate me, and the Graces rarely smile on me.” The fertility of this convergence of pleasure and pain was writ large in the exhibition that opened at the… Full Review
May 2, 2019
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Morrison H. Heckscher
Exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 75, no. 4 (Spring 2018). 48 pp.; 55 color ills. Paperback $14.95 (9781588396471)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 14, 2018–January 27, 2019
The year 2018 marked the three-hundredth birthday of London cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale (1718–1779), whose legacy embodies an international style as much as actual designs and examples of furniture. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s recent exhibition celebrated the master while also reflecting on the cultural relevance of antique furniture today. Tucked into the American Wing’s Virginia and Leonard Marx Gallery, the two-room exhibition offered a brief examination of Chippendale’s original pattern books along with an assortment of furniture created in the cabinetmaker’s style. Why should an American museum pay homage to an eighteenth-century British cabinetmaker? What did visitors, including those uninitiated… Full Review
May 1, 2019
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Martha H. Kennedy
Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2018. 255 pp.; 250 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (9781496815927)
In 1915 artist Cecilia Beaux wrote, “I very earnestly believe . . . that there should be no sex in Art. . . . I am pointing, I know, to a millennium at least . . . when the term ‘Women in Art’ will be as strange sounding a topic as the title ‘Men in Art’ would be now” (xi). This quote becomes a rallying cry for Drawn to Purpose: American Women Illustrators and Cartoonists at the Library of Congress. Prominently displayed in the exhibition and reiterated on the first page of the catalogue, it suggests that more than one… Full Review
April 26, 2019
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Kim Conaty, ed.
Exh. cat. New Haven and New York: Yale University Press and Whitney Museum of American Art, 2018. 160 pp.; 115 color ills.; 15 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780300234978)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, June 8–November 25, 2018
On the top floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Mary Corse’s (b. 1945) expansive canvas Untitled (White Inner Band) captivated with a subdued brilliance. Its pale vertical bands shimmered in response to ambient light. A seasoned art viewer new to the experience of Corse’s work could draw comparisons with analogous minimal painters like Agnes Martin or Robert Ryman. However, such comparisons dissolved as the vertical bands appeared and disappeared relative to one’s mobility. An awareness of light as a material presence and its ties to subjective experience came to mind instead. This is the essence of Corse’s impressive… Full Review
March 19, 2019
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