California Literary Review

Art & Design

The Denver Art Museum’s New Galleries of American Indian Art


March 23rd, 2011

Navajo “eyedazzler” rugs of the nineteenth century, in which brilliantly colored wools form intricate diamonds, are grouped together to emphasize the subtle formal variations introduced by individual weavers; the vivid reds, yellows, and greens which made the designs possible were the product of new chemical dyes.

A New Take on “Primitivism”? Man Ray, African Art, and The Modernist Lens


March 21st, 2011

There are other questions to ask as well. Can this be anything other than two white men reducing the artifacts of a nonwhite culture to the status of props in their cerebral games? In my years as a graduate student, the academic word on artistic primitivism seemed unambiguous. It was straight-up cultural imperialism…

Art Review: Blink! Light, Sound, and the Moving Image at the Denver Art Museum


March 16th, 2011

A work such as Nam June Paik’s Electronic Fish of 1986, constructed from a 1948 wooden Philco television console converted into an aquarium, fitted with a soundtrack recorded on audiocassette playing on a vintage 1980s car stereo, and tuned to an analog TV signal, poses conservational challenges as daunting as any presented by a crumbling quattrocento fresco.

Art Review: Gauguin: Maker of Myth, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


March 2nd, 2011

“You know that I have Indian blood, Inca blood in me, and it’s reflected in everything I do,” he wrote in 1889 to Theo van Gogh, brother to Vincent. “It’s the basis of my personality; I try to confront rotten civilization with something more natural, based on primitivism…”

New Insights Into the Life of Caravaggio


February 14th, 2011

In his most serious brawl, about which the documents provide an entirely new account, Caravaggio killed a man. The brawl, like a Los Angeles fight between rival gangs, had been planned ahead of time with eight participants, whose names are now known.

Badlands and Lost Edens: The Photography of Robert Adams


January 26th, 2011

Adams recorded the ever-expanding suburban sprawl of the 1960s and 1970s, and his haunting, classically composed photos of tract houses and shopping centers engulfing what had been farmland helped define what was dubbed the New Topographics movement after the landmark 1975 exhibition.

The Civil War Begins: An Exhibition at the Rosenbach Museum and Library, Philadelphia


January 26th, 2011

These are not merely newspapers, letters, transcripts of speeches and official reports from the 1850’s through the first major battles of the war in 1861. To a very significant degree, the words inscribed on these timeworn documents actually influenced the outbreak of the Civil War.

Farewell to the Future: Iconic “Sleeper” House is Foreclosed On


December 13th, 2010

By 1973, the “technological faith, confidence, and competence” Hines sees embodied in the modernism of the early sixties had already taken a battering. Deaton’s Sculptured House stood empty, its interior still unfinished, when the makers of Sleeper came looking for locations.

Art Review: John Baldessari: Pure Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art


December 2nd, 2010

There is a big fuss about Pure Beauty, John Baldessari’s retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. And there should be. While his work has been shown here and internationally since the 1980s, this exhibition comprises the first major survey of Baldessari’s work in the United States in over twenty years. It was about time.

Art Review: Alessi: Ethical and Radical at the Philadelphia Museum of Art


November 30th, 2010

The Tea and Coffee Piazza sets, produced in limited editions of ninety-nine, with three artist’s proofs, were a critical success. The project served to introduce Michael Graves to the Alessi “stable,” while traveling exhibits informed museum patrons on the ways that high art and industrial design could form working partnerships. Mendini’s original conception was vindicated.

Vandalism in the Name of the Lord: Kathleen Folden and “The Misadventures of Romantic Cannibals”


November 14th, 2010

On October 6, 2010, Kathleen Folden, identified in the media as a 56-year-old truck driver from Kalispell, Montana, smashed her way into a display case at the Loveland Art Museum in Loveland, Colorado with a crowbar. Her purpose was to destroy a work of art, a multi-panel lithograph by Enrique Chagoya entitled “The Misadventures of Romantic Cannibals.”

Art Review: Michelangelo Pistoletto Exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art


November 3rd, 2010

Pistoletto first gained prominence in the world of art in the early 1960’s with his Quadri Specchianti. These “mirror paintings” positioned life-sized and astonishingly lifelike images of people on highly polished sheets of stainless steel.

Christo in Colorado


November 1st, 2010

“Over the River” would consist of 5.9 miles of silver fabric draped like an intermittent canopy along a 42-mile stretch of the Arkansas River as it flows through the mountains approximately 100 miles southwest of Denver. The two artists are famous for wrapping landmarks such as the Reichstag in Berlin, the Pont-Neuf in Paris, and the islands of Biscayne Bay in similar lengths of fabric.

Art Review: Chaos and Classicism: Art in France, Italy and Germany, 1918-1936


October 4th, 2010

Chaos and Classicism tells the story of good intentions that went terribly wrong. After the carnage of trench warfare, sensitive spirits in Europe craved artistic depictions of beautiful bodies, unscathed by shrapnel, and timeless, uncluttered architecture inspired by the Greek and Roman past. Yet, it was not long before this craving for life-affirming art was transformed into the soulless ideology of Mussolini’s Fascist Italy and Hitler’s Third Reich.

Art Review: Charles Deas and 1840s America at the Denver Art Museum


September 13th, 2010

Viewed in context with Deas’s other works, Prairie on Fire brings together a number of themes that ran through his all-too-brief career – his talent for narrative and action, often with gothic overtones, his projection of established American myths, dreams, and nightmares onto the newly opened spaces of the American West, and an intensity and ambiguity of feeling that may hint at his own troubled inner state.

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