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

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Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, November 5, 2021–January 30, 2022
Jane Jin Kaisen: Parallax Conjunctures, the first solo exhibition in the United States by the South Korean–born visual artist and filmmaker (Danish, b. 1980), presented three media works that uncover repressed histories of postwar Korea and its diaspora. Two video installations, The Woman, the Orphan, and the Tiger (2010) and Sweeping the Forest Floor (2020), were presented on either side of the exhibition hall, and a photographic installation Apertures | Specters | Rifts (2016) was mounted in the center. Comprising an array of various historical references, political innuendos, and temporalities spanning the past hundred years, each work crafted a narrative… Full Review
March 16, 2022
Rachel McGarry
Exh. cat. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2021. 160 pp.; 81 color ills.; 37 b/w ills. Paper $39.95 (9781517910518)
Minneapolis Institute of Art, October 16, 2021–June 26, 2022
Visitors facing the entrance to Envisioning Evil: “The Nazi Drawings” by Mauricio Lasansky are offered only one glimpse of what they can expect if they choose to enter: a decorated Nazi officer raises his arm in a Hitler salute while blood-like drops fall from his wrist and smear the page. On his head is a terrifying bestial skull that appears both fixed and projected on the man’s scalp. A close look reveals smudges, partial erasures, hard pencil strokes, and tears to the paper. This work is steeped in rage. Mauricio Lasansky’s (1914–2012) torment is on full display upon entering the… Full Review
March 14, 2022
Glenn Adamson and Jen Padgett
Exh. cat. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 2021. 208 pp.; 119 ills. Cloth $49.95 (9781682261521)
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, February 6–May 31, 2021
Crafting America, an expansive exhibition organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, explored the role of craft within the broader field of post–World War II creative production in the United States. The first room posed the exhibition’s organizing question: “What is Craft?” In the spaces that followed, the curators answered by means of more than a hundred objects by ninety-eight artists that provided a rich understanding of craft as an array of strategies of making. Some of the works remained comfortably within traditional approaches to the category, while others took a more experimental and politically… Full Review
March 3, 2022
Victoria Lyall and Jorge F. Rivas Perez, eds.
Exh. cat. Denver and Munich: Denver Art Museum in association with Hirmer Publishers, 2021. 176 pp.; 80 color ills. Cloth $25.00 (9783777434346)
Denver Art Museum, October 24, 2021–July 17, 2022
As its title suggests, ReVisión: Art in the Americas seeks to revise traditional approaches to the visual history of the Americas and provide a distinct perspective. Its principal method for doing so is to challenge the separate treatment in scholarship and museum practices of visual production from before and after the arrival of Europeans in Latin America—specifically, by collapsing chronology and showing works of ancient, colonial, modern, and contemporary Latin American art side by side in a thematic presentation. As curators Victoria Lyall and Jorge Rivas Pérez state in the exhibition’s catalog, rather than seeking to present a “comprehensive history… Full Review
March 2, 2022
Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, June 26, 2021–January 2, 2022.
What is the value of staging an exhibition on Land art in the 2020s? The Nevada Museum of Art (NMA) in Reno posed this question over a year’s worth of programming on the topic during an acute year of climate crisis. Reno sits at the crossroads of two major ecosystems: the Great Basin and the Sierra Nevada. It is the third-largest city in a state where 80 percent of the land is nominally public while its extractive economy is decidedly privatized. Land art, too, historically embraces such complexity. The 1960s-born genre originally claimed its removal from commercial art… Full Review
February 23, 2022
de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA, August 28, 2021–January 9, 2022
Judy Chicago’s smoke-and-fireworks performance Forever de Young, on October 16, 2021, drew thousands of people to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. This site-specific performance was planned in conjunction with Chicago’s first retrospective exhibition, held at the de Young Museum. The early fall day was beautiful, and the number of new COVID-19 cases had dipped, lending the outdoor gathering an upbeat aura. Expectation built for the crowd as Thomas Campbell, director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Claudia Shmuckli, the museums’ curator of contemporary art; Jordan Schnitzer, sponsor of the exhibition; and Judy Chicago herself each… Full Review
February 22, 2022
Anna Walker and Laura Mott, eds.
Exh. cat. Stuttgart and Houston: Arnoldsche Art Publishers in association with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2020. 143 pp.; 91 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (9783897905962)
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, July 25–September 19, 2021; Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI, October 30, 2021–March 20, 2022
The Cranbrook Art Museum is a fitting home for this retrospective exhibition of the decades-long explorations of material, color, and form by the Colombian artist Olga de Amaral (b. 1932 in Bogotá). The exhibition was organized by Anna Walker, assistant curator of decorative arts, craft, and design at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where the show originated, and Laura Mott, senior curator of contemporary art and design at Cranbrook Art Museum. It was here, at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1954, that Olga de Amaral first tried her hand at weaving. As she describes in a recent interview… Full Review
January 28, 2022
Diana Tuite, ed.
Waterville, ME and New Haven: Colby College Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2021. 216 pp.; 155 color ills.; 10 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780300253368)
Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, ME, July 20, 2021–January 9, 2022; Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, February 10–May 15, 2022; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, June 18–September 11, 2022; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, October 9, 2022–January 8, 2023
Bob Thompson (1937–1966), an artist from Louisville, Kentucky, who participated in the Provincetown and New York art worlds of the late 1950s before embarking on extensive periods spent in London, Paris, Ibiza, and Rome, lived a brief but prolific life as a painter. He died in 1966 at the age of twenty-nine. Thompson’s work, with its distinctive motifs (a hatted man, mysterious birds, figures set in lush and ambiguous chromatic landscapes, and transformed quotations of art historical paintings), flowered in the eight years This House Is Mine covers, from 1958 until 1966. The show takes its title from a small… Full Review
January 19, 2022
Chiyo Ishikawa
Exh. cat. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2021. 80 pp. Cloth $19.95 (9780932216779)
Seattle Art Museum, July 1–October 17, 2021
For my first museum visit in the pandemic, I was looking forward to spending an afternoon with this focused exhibition. The work was sparsely hung with the requisite six-foot distance of our current era in mind, giving the viewer a considerable amount of space, although making the paintings themselves appear small on the large and imposing walls. This show was organized around a single painting, the only one by Claude Monet (1840–1926) in the collection of the Seattle Art Museum (SAM): namely, Fishing Boats at Étretat (1885). The exhibition was curated by Chiyo Ishikawa, the museum’s former deputy… Full Review
December 14, 2021
Matthias Mühling and Stephanie Weber, eds.
Exh. cat. Munich: Hirmer, 2021. 336 pp.; 245 color ills. Cloth $45.00 (9783777433684)
Lenbachhaus, Munich, September 17, 2019–January 19, 2020; Museu de Arte de São Paulo, October 13–November 15, 2020; Denver Art Museum, December 13, 2020–April 11, 2021; Philadelphia Museum of Art, May 2–July 25, 2021
The year preceding Spring 2021, spent away from museums and most other social spaces, forced a collective recognition of our basic, fallible corporeality, of our relational occupation of space, and of our globally intertwined fates. Our spatial-social sensitivities had perhaps never before been so finely tuned, primed to appreciate the oeuvre of Senga Nengudi, who has engaged with such concerns since the beginning of her career in the late 1960s and early 1970s. At the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), the recent exhibition of the artist’s work and its accompanying book, both titled Senga Nengudi: Topologies, offer an… Full Review
December 9, 2021