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Last-chance exhibitions
These were some of the best-reviewed shows of last year. All will close in the next month.
 

Asian/American/Modern Art: Shifting Currents, 1900–1970
De Young Museum, San Francisco, through Jan. 18
This sprawling exhibition brings together almost 100 years of works by Asian-American artists, said Victoria Dalkey in The Sacramento Bee. “Moving from Toshio Aoki’s turn-of-the-20th-century depiction of a ‘thunder spirit’ banging his drums noisily to the innovative 1960s video works of Nam June Paik,” it shows how various artists have explored the problem of artistically synthesizing their two cultures. Yun Gee’s Where Is My Mother (1926–27) draws heavily on cubism, while Henry Sugimoto’s photographs of Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II is straight social realism. Yet few artists can match the skill with which Isamu Noguchi joined modernist abstraction with Eastern influences in such “elegant and surreal” sculptures as Orpheus (1958) and Walking Void (1970).

Andrea Riccio: Renaissance Master of Bronze

Frick Collection, New York, through Jan. 18
Major works of art don’t have to be large in scale, said Dan Bischoff in the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger. Andrea Riccio, “widely regarded as one of the best Renaissance masters of small tabletop sculpture,” specialized in statuettes designed for delectation by rich patrons. “Rarely taller than a bowling pin,” his works have long resided in museums all over the world. But never before have so many been brought together in one place. These 36 Riccio statues include his “signature piece,” The Shouting Horseman (1510–15). St. Martin and the Beggar (1513–20) is a tour de force, cast in a single piece of bronze “except for the detachable sword.” But the star of the show is an oil lamp, once owned by Henry Clay Frick himself, “and balanced, like a shoe by Dr. Seuss, on a delicate base supported by four tiny bronze scrolls.”

Jenny Holzer: Protect Protect

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, through Feb. 1
Jenny Holzer’s politically oriented artworks prove “timely indeed,” said Victoria Lautman in Huffingtonpost.com. Texts that describe torture techniques and records of brutal interrogations—many taken directly from declassified government documents—are used as raw materials for a bewildering variety of multimedia pieces. “Eye-popping LED displays, looming silk-screened canvases, even human bones” spell out the terrible truths of the war on terror. Holzer’s high-tech tools create a dazzling impression. But her purpose is almost journalistic. “For pure shock value,” nothing tops the letters, e-mails, and official reports Holzer unearthed on government websites.

The Great American Epic: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series
Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., through Feb. 1
Jacob Lawrence started the series known as “The Migration of the Negro” when he was 22, said Blake Gopnik in The Washington Post. It’s hard to believe this was the work of an artist just finding his feet. The small painted panels, 30 in all, “walk us through the flight of African-Americans from the rural South around the time of World War I.” Lynchings, exploitative labor practices, and desperate poverty mark scenes set in the South. After trains take the migrants North, images include “ghettos and race riots and attacks on black buildings.” Lawrence was never the most technically experimental or sophisticated artist. But the stylized and crude forms he used are primarily a result of the fact that he was more interested in telling an important story than “in pretty-picture making.”

 

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