by Frauke V. Josenhans. Yale University Press, September 2017. 272 p. ill. ISBN 9780300225709 (pbk), $45.00.
Reviewed January 2018
Artists in Exile: Expressions of Loss and Hope was published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name held at the Yale University Art Gallery from September 1 to December 31, 2017, and curated by the catalog’s author, Frauke V. Josenhans, Horace W. Goldsmith Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Yale University Art Gallery. Featuring artwork in a variety of media from the early nineteenth century onward, the exhibition and catalog mainly include works from the Yale University Art Gallery but also works from other institutions and private collections. The exhibition’s theme of exile encompasses artists who left their homes for a variety of reasons, including immigration and diaspora. Josenhan’s introductory essay posits her goal of expanding the scope of the exhibition beyond prominent male artists exiled during the rise of Hitler and Nazism in order to “offer a more nuanced view and expanded narrative of artists in exile.” While male and European artists dominate, the most diverse group represented are eight female artists, who come from varying backgrounds and countries such as Iran, Cuba, and Vietnam.
Artists in Exile is an excellent exhibition catalog, well-organized, thorough, detailed, aesthetically pleasing, and has both engaging content and abundant illustrations. The paper is heavy semi-gloss, and the binding is section sewn; for long-term preservation, though, hard binding is recommended, particularly for library collections. The illustrations are high quality, varying in size, with numerous half or full-page layouts.
The four main sections focus on a universal theme of exile: home and mobility; nostalgia; transfer and adjustment; and identity. Each of these sections begins with an essay on the section’s theme followed by a catalog of works related to the theme, offering thirty entries total for all sections, representing twenty-nine different artists. Providing 174 color and five black-and-white illustrations, the catalog contains images of almost all of the artwork displayed in the exhibition, although the missing artworks are viewable on the Yale University Art Gallery’s website. The catalog also contains supplementary images of artwork not in the exhibition that support the textual content, and the essays and catalog entries include footnotes with citations and supporting information. The “Artist Biographies & Exhibitions Checklist” represents all forty-three artists and their art exhibited, listing artworks, media, dimensions, and collection. A selected bibliography, index, and photo credits conclude the volume.
For those who could not view the exhibition in person, the catalog is a compelling replacement, with the images, essays, catalog entries, and author biographies collectively communicating both the “profound loss” and “transformative potential” of exile for artists from the nineteenth century to the present, emphasizing how exile has shaped the art world in the past two centuries.