Retrospective means looking back. An art exhibit that cover an artist's entire career is called a retrospective because it looks back at the work the artist has produced over many years.

Retro- means back, -spect- means look (think: spectacles), so the word means literally 'a looking back.' Many people take a retrospective look at their lives on birthdays or on New Year's Eve to evaluate events and see how well they've met their goals. You could call the yearly evaluation you get from your boss a retrospective review of your work.

Definitions of retrospective
  1. adjective
    concerned with or related to the past
    retrospective self-justification”
    directed or facing toward the back or rear
    ex post facto, retro, retroactive
    affecting things past
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    of or concerned with or related to the future
    yet to be or coming
    likely, potential
    expected to become or be; in prospect
    effective in or looking toward the future
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  2. noun
    an exhibition of a representative selection of an artist's life work
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    type of:
    art exhibition
    an exhibition of art objects (paintings or statues)
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