Concise, critical reviews of books, exhibitions, and projects in all areas and periods of art history and visual studies

Reviews in caa.reviews are published continuously by CAA and Taylor & Francis, with the most recently published reviews listed below. Browse reviews based on geographic region, period or cultural sphere, or specialty (from 1998 to the present) using Review Categories in the sidebar, or by entering terms in the search bar above.

Recently Published Reviews

Diana Nawi, John Dunkley, David Boxer, Olive Senior, and Nicole Smythe-Johnson
Exh. cat. New York: Prestel Publishing, 2017. 224 pp.; 48 color ills. Cloth $45.00 (9783791356105)
Pérez Art Museum Miami, May 26, 2017–January 14, 2018
John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night, curated by Diana Nawi, then associate curator at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, and assisted by the Jamaican independent curator Nicole Smythe-Johnson, introduced to US audiences the significant and expansive oeuvre of John Dunkley, a seminal figure in Jamaican art history. A self-taught artist, Dunkley worked in Central America and Cuba, returning to establish himself as a barber in downtown Kingston in the 1930s and 1940s while producing a... Full Review
October 31, 2018
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Phoebe Wolfskill
Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2017. 248 pp.; 8 color ills.; 34 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780252041143)
Phoebe Wolfskill’s Archibald Motley Jr. and Racial Reinvention: The Old Negro in New Negro Art offers a compelling account of the artistic difficulties inherent in the task of creating innovative models of racialized representation within a culture saturated with racist stereotypes. She approaches this topic through the work of one of the New Negro era’s most celebrated yet highly elusive artists, Archibald Motley Jr. As a Creole Catholic whose family moved from New Orleans to... Full Review
October 29, 2018
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Dora C. Y. Ching, Louise Allison Cort, and Andrew M. Watsky, eds.
Princeton: Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University in association with Princeton University Press, 2017. 336 pp.; 99 color ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780691177557)
Since its acquisition by the Freer Gallery of Art in 2009, the tea leaf storage jar known as “Chigusa” (Thousand Grasses) has generated much discussion and scholarship, including two exhibitions (Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 2014, and Princeton University Art Museum, 2014­­–15), a symposium, two workshops, and two books. The present volume results from the symposium and workshops. While the earlier book, Chigusa and the Art of Tea (2014), also edited by Louise Allison... Full Review
October 26, 2018
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Jessica Keating
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2018. 184 pp.; 37 color ills.; 23 b/w ills. Cloth $69.95 (9780271080024)
Presented in Paris in 1739, Jacques de Vaucanson’s fabricated duck, one of the most renowned examples of an automaton, could not only flap its wings and move its beak but also eat and excrete. Later discovered to have been pre-stuffed with fake waste, it indulged the Enlightenment desire for engineered imitations that modeled the inner workings of living forms. Voltaire declared that the shitting bird was the only reminder of the glory of France. The history of automata in the early... Full Review
October 24, 2018
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Matthew S. Witkovsky and Devin Fore, eds.
Exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017. 324 pp.; 392 color ills.; 78 b/w ills. Hardcover $65.00 (9780300225716)
V-A-C Foundation, Venice, Italy, May 13–August 25, 2017; Art Institute of Chicago, IL, October 29, 2017–January 14, 2018
There should be some irony in the fact that in much of the English-speaking world this past year’s run of major art museum exhibitions commemorating the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution exceeded that honoring the quincentennial of the 1517 Protestant Reformation. Why the god that failed rather than the one that won? That the revolution tended toward iconogenesis and the reformation toward iconoclasm is not insignificant, neither is the fact, as the Russian exhibitions have been... Full Review
October 22, 2018
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Linda Safran
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014. 496 pp.; 20 color ills.; 149 b/w ills. Cloth $95.00 (9780812245547)
Italy, a relatively recently unified country, is often described as a patchwork of idiosyncratic regions. Even to this day, the food, customs, dialects, architecture, and terrain shift dramatically between neighboring villages, cities, and regions, Italians themselves proclaiming “campanilismo,” a competitive pride in their birthplace. By focusing on one particular region, Linda Safran gains a valuable insight into how one such distinctive identity emerged and developed in the Middle... Full Review
October 19, 2018
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Ellen Y. Tani
Exh. cat. Brunswick, ME: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 2018. 112 pp.; 35 color ills.; 19 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9781785511653)
Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine, March 1–June 3, 2018.
Ellen Tani’s Second Sight: The Paradox of Vision in Contemporary Art at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art was a striking exhibition that brought together a diverse array of artworks engaging issues of visibility and invisibility in poetic and literal ways. Works by Robert Morris, Bill Anastasi, Richard Serra, Félix González-Torres, Glenn Ligon, Lorna Simpson, Nyeema Morgan, and Shaun Leonardo (to name just some of the contemporary artists of various generations in the show)... Full Review
October 17, 2018
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Ezra Shales
London: Reaktion Books, 2017. 272 pp.; 70 b/w ills. Cloth $29.95 (9781780238227)
Ezra Shales’s The Shape of Craft derives its name as a pointed homage to George Kubler’s influential treatise, The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things (1962). Though he was an eminent Mesoamericanist, Kubler’s book had unusual reach and scope and was widely admired by modernists and practicing artists alike, including his former students at Yale, Sheila Hicks and Richard Serra. Clearly the work of an adroit and poetic storyteller, Shales’s book seeks to extend the... Full Review
October 15, 2018
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Valerie J. Mercer
Exh. cat. Detroit: Detroit Institute of Arts, 2017. 80 pp.; 35 color ills. Cloth $19.95 (9780895581754)
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI, July 23–October 22, 2017
Museum of African American History
Detroit: Museum of African American History, 2017.
Museum of African American History, Detroit, MI, July 23, 2017–January 2, 2018
At 3:15 a.m. in the early morning of July 23, 1967, members of the vice squad of the Detroit police department raided the second-floor apartment located at 9125 Twelfth Street. This after-hours drinking parlor, or “blind pig,” was a well-known establishment to patrons and police alike. As a familiar watering hole, the site served its black middle-class patrons when other segregated spaces in downtown Detroit would not, yet its illicit status provoked many raids, including nine in the... Full Review
October 10, 2018
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Emma Acker, ed.
Exh. cat. San Francisco and New Haven: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in association with Yale University Press, 2018. 244 pp.; 150 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300234022)
de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA, March 24–August 12, 2018; Dallas Museum of Art, September 16, 2018–January 6, 2019
Cult of the Machine: Precisionism and American Art is one of the year’s major exhibitions. It was organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco to be shown at the de Young Museum before traveling to the Dallas Museum of Art. The exhibition takes a new look at the American painters who, in the years after World War I, developed an art expressive of American modern life by making use of the flattened, geometric, simplified forms of European modernism. Cult of the Machine... Full Review
October 5, 2018
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