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

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Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH November 23, 2023–April 14, 2024
Tai Shani is a conjurer of worlds. Out of the murk and miasma of millennia of forgotten histories and suppressed mythologies, she sets a stage for rituals and revelations, for psychedelic hallucinations and deeply embodied experiences of other potential realities. The 2019 Turner Prize winner’s first show in the United States, MBR: And above the beautiful commune, curated by Amara Antilla, transforms an entire floor of Zaha Hadid’s iconic building for Cincinnati’s Contemporary Art Center (CAC) into a cryptic occult space that evokes contradictory senses of scale and emotion. It is as enveloping as a womb and… Full Review
May 28, 2024
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC 20036, October 21, 2023–Feb 25, 2024
When the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) reopened in October 2023 following a two-year renovation, visitors encountered not only a reimagined space—and roughly fifteen percent more of it—but also fresh takes on the institution’s collection and mission of promoting art by women. The most sweeping manifestation of the latter is Remix, a reinstallation of works in the NMWA’s permanent collection that stretches across six centuries (and much of the building), eschewing chronology in favor of thematic groupings like “Seeing Red” or “Elemental.”  While the historical specificity of particular works is lost in these clusters… Full Review
May 22, 2024
Brooklyn Museum September 15, 2023–January 14, 2024 Nasher Museum of Art, Durham, February 15–June 9, 2024
For four decades, María Magdalena Campos-Pons has created works that deftly interweave the particular and the expansive, utilizing her body, memory, and familial history as conduits to attend to transatlantic histories of diaspora and racial violence. Campos-Pons was born in 1959 in the Afro-Cuban province of Matanzas, Cuba as the descendant of enslaved African individuals and indentured Chinese laborers brought forcefully to the island. Since 1991, she has resided primarily in the United States, initially unable to return to Cuba for over a decade due to the US embargo. Her practice has centered on the journeys––both forced and forbidden—that are… Full Review
April 17, 2024
Pérez Art Museum Miami, March 23, 2023–July 28, 2024.
The South American Dream at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami (PAMM) is a dynamic and colorful exhibition that explores history, memory, and the South American identity through the lens of Brazilian artist Marcela Cantuária’s work. Through five immersive, multimedia artworks, which seamlessly blend painting, textiles, and ceramics, Cantuária examines the multifaceted concept of the South American dream, including environmental consciousness, political struggle, and faith. This installation curated by Jennifer Inacio, was commissioned by PAMM, challenging Cantuária to adapt her work to the high ceilings of the exhibition space and to consider her work in relation to… Full Review
February 7, 2024
Florence Alexis
Exh. cat. Paris: Heritage Editions, 2024. 182 pp. GPB40.00
Pantheon Center for National Monuments November 9, 2023–February 11, 2024
Oser La Liberté, translated as “Dare Freedom,” is an extraordinary exhibition on the centuries-long fight against slavery in France and its colonies. Sponsored by the Centre des monuments nationaux (CMN) and the Fondation pour la mémoire de l’esclavage, and organized by Florence Alexis, a curator, activist, and daughter of Haitian novelist Jacques Stephen Alexis, it is installed in the crypt of Paris’s Panthéon, a building that was conceived as a church but transformed during the Revolution into a “temple of liberty” and a burial ground for “great men.” The most extraordinary thing about Oser La Liberté may… Full Review
February 1, 2024
Xiaojin Wu
Exh. cat. Seattle Art Museum, 2023. 104 pp.; 70 color ills. $30.00 (9780932216076)
Seatle Art Museum July 21–December 3, 2023
Renegade Edo and Paris: Japanese Prints and Toulouse-Lautrec is a focused gem of an exhibition at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, accompanied by a slim catalog of the same name. This is the first time the museum has compared Japanese and French art in a single exhibition. The majority of the Japanese prints in the show are part of the museum’s permanent collection alongside works on loan specifically for this exhibition, mostly prints by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The show opens with a room dominated by two large mid-seventeenth-century six-panel Japanese screens depicting Edo inhabitants enjoying spring and summer activities that… Full Review
January 3, 2024
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD, November 20, 2022–April 2, 2023,
Omar Ba’s recent exhibition Omar Ba: Political Animals, at the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA), updates W.E.B. Du Bois’s concept of double consciousness, which Du Bois restricted to the African American experience in the United States. Du Bois positioned double consciousness as the burden African Americans endure as emissaries of Black culture, while at the same time pledging allegiance to the ideals of being an American in a society ruled by whiteness. Du Bois writes, “It is a peculiar sensation, this double consciousness . . .  one ever feels his two-ness, an American, a Negro; two souls… Full Review
November 6, 2023
April 23–September 24, 2023, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Women Defining Women in Contemporary Art of the Middle East and Beyond, curated by Linda Komaroff at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), brings together an international roster of forty-two women artists who, as the opening wall text describes them, “were born or live in what can broadly be termed Islamic societies or associated diaspora communities.” The exhibition joins several other exhibitions over the past two decades or so that focus on the contemporary art production of women from the Islamic world, such as Breaking the Veils: Women Artists from the Islamic World (2002), She… Full Review
October 18, 2023
Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO, January 6–May 28, 2023
Although fin-de-siècle Vienna is often thought of as having been strictly Austrian, it is worth remembering that Vienna was one of two capitals of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Divided between the dual monarchy of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary, the empire’s borders extended from parts of modern-day Italy and Croatia to Romania and Ukraine. Fabricating Empire: Folk Textiles and the Making of Early 20th-Century Austrian Design, the small yet impactful exhibition curated by Genevieve Cortinovis at the St. Louis Art Museum, provides a hearty challenge to Austrian-centric historiography. Rather than refute Vienna’s importance, the exhibition situates it… Full Review
September 13, 2023
Perrin Stein, ed.
Exh. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Yale Universtiy Press, 2022. 308 pp.; 242 ills. Cloth $65.00 (9781588397461)
Few artists have been as profoundly involved in their political milieu as Jacques Louis David. In this regard, the subtitle of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition of the artist’s drawings—“Radical Draftsman”—makes perfect sense. Indeed, its signature image, The Oath of the Tennis Court, shows David at the zenith of his artistic service to the nascent republic: members of the Third Estate unite in the highly finished study, which he displayed at the Salon of 1791 to inspire citizens to fund an ambitious painting, one he ultimately never completed. Less triumphant proof of the artist’s embroilment in the French… Full Review
September 11, 2023