View of “Hélio Oiticica: The Body of Color,” 2007, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

View of “Hélio Oiticica: The Body of Color,” 2007, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Hélio Oiticica

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

THE ONE-PERSON RETROSPECTIVE has a reputation for limiting, even undermining, the contextual understanding of an artist’s oeuvre—a reductive result antithetical to the aims of such an exhibition. Many aspects of the art’s origins and intentions, its dialogues with other artists’ work, and its relationships to different types of visual and cultural materials and contemporary social and political events tend to be suppressed as a result of the physical limitations of the installation space and the need for visual coherence. Curators may acknowledge the art’s contextuality in supplementary wall texts as well as in pamphlets and catalogue essays, but in the galleries, they must depend on the viewer to summon up memories of works of art by other artists, and to flesh out the visual and material traces of the connections and inspirations contained in the displayed works. That said, in the

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