California Literary Review

Art & Design

Remembering Robert Hughes – Re-watching American Visions


August 23rd, 2012

On another note entirely, the eighth and final episode offers the enduring pleasures of Hughes’s prickly encounter with Jeff Koons: “A kitten in a giant sock. Tell me about it.”

Now Boarding: Fentress Airports + The Architecture of Flight, Denver Art Museum


August 7th, 2012

But if there’s one form of architecture that has come to embody our society’s conflicted relationship with public space – our competing demands for security and for freedom of movement, for technocratic efficiency and for humanistic design – it is the airport.

Art Review: Encounters: Conflict, Dialogue, Discovery Princeton University Art Museum


August 6th, 2012

Zhang transformed Mr. Quaker into Chairman Mao five years after he emigrated to the United States. The birth of Chinese “Political Pop” took place in his New York studio. This is an ironical state of affairs, all the more apparent in Six Pack of Kekou Kele, created in 2002. Is Zhang commenting here on the way that China’s millennia-old civilization is being crassly mass-marketed to enhance its leading role in the global economy? Or is it a subtle indictment of the West’s heedless consumerism, so oblivious to culture that it can appreciate nothing unless it is a familiar brand product beckoning from the supermarket shelf?

A Distant Mirror: Fashion and Identity in Colonial Latin America


July 23rd, 2012

The scene depicted is officially entitled Garden Party on the Terrace of a Country Home, but Tomlinson says it is known behind the scenes as “Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll”, as it shows the Beautiful People of colonial Mexico enjoying all the pleasures their world had to offer.

Art Review: Ends of the Earth: Land Art To 1974, MOCA, Los Angeles


July 19th, 2012

Land artists were critical of the sanitizing effects of situating artwork in a gallery, and Fluxus art generally was concerned with de-commodifying art in order to make it more accessible and less commercial by emphasizing process, participation, spontaneity, inclusiveness, and ambiguity.

Art Review: Gustav Klimt: The Magic of Line, The Getty Center


July 14th, 2012

Fans of animation will feel at home here – this is an exhibit all about the communicative potential of the human form. Lovers of anatomy will relish charting Klimt’s evolution of translating the human form into the linear form.

Art Review: Gauguin, Cézanne, Matisse: Visions of Arcadia, Philadelphia Museum of Art


July 10th, 2012

A dark mass of ominous clouds invades the blue sky in La Grande Bacchanale. In Et in Arcadia Ego, painted a decade later, Arcadian shepherds ponder a cryptic tomb inscription where Death proclaims, “Even in Arcadia, I am.” The message is clear. Happiness, even in Arcadia, is not going to last.

Landscape and Memory: Wildfires Threaten Colorado’s Built Heritage


June 28th, 2012

As environmental writer Bill McKibben noted on Twitter, the evacuation of the nation’s center for research into global warming in response to a wildfire fueled by drought conditions and an unprecedented heat wave, is “beyond irony.”

Two New York City Exhibits Explore the Art and Culture of Renaissance Venice


June 6th, 2012

The Venetians during the Renaissance were a confident and resilient people. Even as their dominions were threatened by the Turks and global trade routes shifted away from the Mediterranean Sea, they found the inner resources to cope with these challenges. You have only to look at the magnificent portraits from the Accademia Carrara at the Metropolitan Museum to understand why the Republic of Venice lasted until Napoleon’s invasion in 1798.

Art Review – Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective, Denver Art Museum


May 21st, 2012

And that little black dress worn by Catherine Deneuve is as much an idea as a dress – the quintessential modernist fashion statement reduced to its absolute essentials. Its tidy collar and cuffs evoke both the modest office dress and the schoolgirl’s (or maid’s) uniform, but they are not white – the cuffs and collar are of delicate ivory satin, advertising not the wearer’s cleanliness, but her distance from labor of any kind.

The Dawn of Egyptian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


April 30th, 2012

The statue is nicknamed “The Lady of Brussels” because its home museum is in Belgium. It is one of the oldest free-standing statues in the world, dated to around 2695 BC. The “Lady” certainly has her charms. She is wearing one of the extraordinary wigs that were such a noteworthy item of feminine beauty in Ancient Egypt. But her restrained, submissive pose somehow disappoints when contrasted with the energy and mysticism of the mysterious “Bird Woman,” created a thousand years earlier.

Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


April 17th, 2012

The Metropolitan Museum exhibition charts the fascinating, if complex, process of cultural transformation that took place throughout the Middle East during the seventh to ninth centuries. For all of the thrust-and-parry military campaigns that took place, a spirit of mutual accommodation often characterized relations between the Byzantine Empire and the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates that governed the Islamic world for much of the Middle Ages.

John Constable: Oil Sketches from the Victoria and Albert Museum


April 4th, 2012

Constable’s approach to landscape painting, however, was far more than an exercise in nostalgia. Instead, he rooted his appreciation of nature in the “here and now” of everyday life. Through paintings like Hampstead Heath, Branch Hill Pond, Constable presented scenes of human beings interacting with nature, not despoiling it. With these works, he bequeathed a sense of the precious nature of the world around us, in whatever age and place we call home.

The Forgotten Sculpture of John B. Flannagan


March 29th, 2012

His sculptures, like his wonderful Elephant of 1929-1930, or his Chimpanzee of 1928, were often carved directly from the rock; they are both roughhewn and elegant, radically simple but powerfully emotional, immediately evoking both the natural forms of the stones from which they are made, and the living creatures they represent. It’s sad to think of them languishing in obscurity.

The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


March 27th, 2012

Explaining the daring additions of paintings by Matisse and Picasso to the Stein collection, Leo wrote a friend in the United States, “All our recent accessions are unfortunately by people you never heard of so there’s no use trying to describe them, except that one of those out of the salon [the Matisse] made everybody laugh except a few who got mad about it and two other pictures are by a young Spaniard named Picasso whom I consider a genius of very great magnitude.”

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