“Etel Adnan: Light’s New Measure” has to be the most genteel exhibition of art the Guggenheim has ever mounted. Not the most over-hyped; not the worst. Unlike the museum’s recently concluded show of photographs by Deanna Lawson, “Light’s New Measure” avoids overt politics. Nor does it place an emphasis on pictorial innovation like the concurrent show devoted to the pioneering abstractionist Vasily Kandinsky. The Adnan exhibition is just . . . mild. There’s no sin in that. Were contemporary artists inclined more toward gentility than provocation we might be better off. And Adnan’s art—the paintings, in particular; the tapestries, ditto; the videos, not at all—bears suitable merit to invite pause. Pause over what, you might ask? The vagaries of reputation, for one; the primacy of the painted mark, for another. The...


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