Some stand-outs in recent WSJ reviews — emphasis in bold added:
The last line — the kicker — in Richard B. Woodward’s review of “Photo-Poetics: An Anthology” at the Guggenheim Museum:
It’s no use complaining that in the wake of the “Pictures Generation” artists, many have lost faith in a more direct engagement between photography and the world.(…) One of the pitfalls of Conceptualism, however, is brainy academicism, and a certain airlessness pervades the three floors of the Guggenheim where the show will be until March 23. It’s not that these artists aren’t clever and accomplished; it’s that the stakes they’re playing for seem awfully small.
An exploration of the subjectivity of maps from Richard Hollis’s review of “Artist and Empire” at the Tate in London:
The maps (…) can also be interpreted as an expression of permanence; that this empire was here to stay. How fleeting that proved to be in the case of Popple’s map. Yet how potent those pink splashes on the globe became as scenes and sagas of triumph and tragedy were played out—and how adroitly hopeless heroism was spun into triumph.
And, from Judith H. Dobrzynski’s review of “Picturing the Americas: Landscape Painting from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic” at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, a reminder of how eloquent absences are:
What’s missing from other pictures is equally telling. Paintings depicting the march of settlers into land occupied by natives, north and south, often left out the indigenous people entirely (…) There’s also no conflict in Pedro Gualdi’s “Grand Plaza of Mexico City, Following the American Occupation of September 1847” (1847), even though it shows the city’s square after Mexico’s defeat in the Mexican-American War. Rather, an American flag flies high above the national palace and business carries on below. That’s colonialism: no need for guilt.