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

Reviews in 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

In August 2020, “What Do We Know about the Future of Art History? Part 1” appeared as a special essay in It explored the history of CAA’s roster of PhD dissertations, beginning with its establishment in 1963 and then delving into the changing circumstances that continue to animate its presentation. The article made the case that this list of art history dissertations constitutes more than just a procedural accounting of projects completed. When analyzed as a data set, the dissertations illuminated unexamined patterns that have occurred within the field in the United States and Canada over the past… Full Review
June 28, 2021
Julius von Schlosser
Ed. Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann; trans. Jonathan Blower. Texts & Documents. Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2021. 232 pp.; 7 color ills.; 103 b/w ills. Paper $65.00 (9781606066652)
Although the German phrase Kunst- und Wunderkammer has become a standard expression in anglophone scholarship on early modern collecting, it has taken more than a hundred years for a full English translation of the pioneering Die Kunst- und Wunderkammern der Spätrenaissance by Julius von Schlosser to appear. First published in German in 1908 and republished in a modified version in 1978, von Schlosser’s book was translated into French, Italian, and Spanish before its English edition finally appeared in the Getty Research Institute’s series Texts & Documents in 2021. It was due to this book that the term Kunst- und Wunderkammer… Full Review
June 25, 2021
Marko Ilić
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2021. 384 pp.; 55 color ills.; 75 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (9780262044844)
“New Art Practice” is a name that draws together a group of artists, collectives, exhibitions, publications, and public and private projects appearing from the 1960s through the 1980s in cities across Yugoslavia. More a localized genre category (with a somewhat generic title) than a movement per se, the New Art Practice included artists who engaged random passersby as art, wrote short texts and slogans as art, and produced body art, video art, posters, installations, and manifestations. They forged a complicated relationship with the state-funded art world and socialist system of their country: critiquing, mocking, and appropriating as well as respecting… Full Review
June 23, 2021
Rebecca VanDiver
University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2020. 256 pp.; 51 color ills.; 37 b/w ills. Cloth $59.95 (9780271086040)
Rebecca VanDiver’s intersectional monograph on the iconic artist Loïs Mailou Jones (1905–1998) is a remarkable step forward in the expanding art historical canon. She situates Jones’s stylistically eclectic work (impressionistic landscapes, realistic portraits, cubistic still lifes, and political allegories) in the aesthetic and cultural concerns of the Harlem Renaissance, modernism, Négritude, abstraction, feminism, and Pan-Africanism. Her central thesis is that Jones, by producing innovative African and Afrodiasporic-themed paintings, collages, and illustrations throughout her career, designed a new composite tradition that both reflects her medial position in multiple worlds and expresses the “increasingly fragmented nature of black identity and diasporic experiences”… Full Review
June 22, 2021
Steven J. Cody
Brill's Studies in Intellectual History 314/47. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill, 2020. 312 pp.; 74 color ills. Cloth $155.00 (9789004430150)
The luminous color, palpable atmosphere, and graceful Madonnas of Andrea del Sarto’s paintings have entranced viewers for centuries. In Steven J. Cody’s aptly titled Andrea del Sarto: Splendor and Renewal in the Renaissance Altarpiece, a series of case studies offers an explanation for this aesthetic attraction and the deep spirituality of the artist’s paintings. Six chapters, each devoted to a single altarpiece, analyze Andrea’s pictures from various angles: the commissioning of the projects; the impact of religious doctrine on the iconography and style of the altarpieces; and the art theory underpinning his practice. A comprehensive introduction sets forth the… Full Review
June 18, 2021
K. L. H. Wells
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2019. 280 pp.; 59 color ills.; 45 b/w ills. Cloth $59.00 (9780300232592)
With Weaving Modernism: Postwar Tapestry between Paris and New York, author K. L. H. Wells, associate professor of American art and architecture at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, proposes a reassessment of modernism’s relationship to decoration through an examination of modernist tapestries produced after World War II. Wells asserts that the indeterminate positioning of tapestry as a French luxury craft with “masculine prestige” gave it a “privileged position within postwar modernism,” a position attributable to its being “both elite and marginal” (6–7). Over four chapters, Wells considers the prevalence of postwar tapestries and the way in which tapestry expanded the… Full Review
June 16, 2021
Claudia Schmuckli
Exh. cat. Petaluma, CA: Cameron Books, 2021. 224 pp.; 125 color ills. Paper $45.00 (9781951836009)
Uncanny Valley: Being Human in the Age of AI. de Young Museum, San Francisco, February 22, 2020–June 27, 2021
Between late February 2020, when the de Young Museum’s exhibition Uncanny Valley: Being Human in the Age of AI originally opened, and when it reopened in spring 2021, the show—one of the first devoted solely to contemporary artworks about artificial intelligence—has only become more apt. Those fortunate enough to shelter in place throughout the pandemic have experienced life through the mediation of intelligent machines to an unprecedented extent. AI has proliferated in recent years in large part because it thrives on the vast quantities of data extracted from our time spent on web platforms. As work and life migrated online… Full Review
June 14, 2021
New Tretyakov Galllery, Moscow, December 25, 2019–March 29, 2020
The Moscow Design Museum was founded in 2012, at a time when Soviet design was gaining popularity among both Western and Eastern European historians of the Soviet Union and late socialism. Since then, the museum has staged temporary exhibitions in different venues in Russia and abroad. In 2019, however, it became a permanent part of the western wing of the New Tretyakov Gallery on Krymskii val in Moscow. The show Peace! Friendship! Design! The History of Russian Industrial Design was the first step toward establishing the museum’s permanent exhibition space. Curated by Azat Romanov, Olga Druzhinina, and Aleksandra Sankova and… Full Review
June 11, 2021
Janis A. Tomlinson
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2020. 448 pp.; 35 color ills.; 46 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (9780691192048)
Retratos, or portraits, come in different varieties in Spanish culture. There are, of course, portraits and self-portraits like the ones Francisco de Goya y Lucientes produced in abundance: visual representations of the subject—usually though not always human—created to commemorate individuals, to preserve likenesses for posterity, and to serve as models for emulation. These might be meticulous renderings of physical features and dress, idealized portrayals that flattered their subject, or perceptive reflections of the sitter’s mind and heart through a steely gaze, a furrowed brow, or an impish grin. Early modern portraits identified as verdaderos retratos, or true portraits… Full Review
June 9, 2021
Arthur J. DiFuria
Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill, 2019. 548 pp.; 380 color ills. Cloth $165.00 (9789004380462)
Maarten van Heemskerck (1498–1574) is best known as the author of the earliest and largest corpus of Netherlandish drawings of Rome and its ruins, made during the years he spent in the Eternal City after the 1527 sack. These drawings are the primary subject of Arthur J. DiFuria’s book, which concludes with a catalog. DiFuria’s commendable task throughout the book is to place these drawings in the context of Heemskerck’s training and overall artistic vision, and of the cult of ruins and memory in sixteenth-century Rome and the Netherlands. Part 1 focuses on the pre-Roman Heemskerck, in an era of… Full Review
June 7, 2021
Go Hirasawa, Ann Adachi-Tasch, and Julian Ross, eds.
Trans. Yuzo Sakuramoto and Colin Smith. Berlin: Archive Books, 2020. 222 pp. Paper €15.00 (9783948212292)
In 2016 the Tate Modern and International Film Festival Rotterdam presented Throwing Shadows: Japanese Expanded Cinema in the Time of Pop, a series of screenings and events accompanied by a symposium. The program included restagings of live cinema performances by Shuzo Azuchi Gulliver, Rikuro Miyai, and Jun’ichi Okuyama decades after their original inception and, for the first time, for audiences in the UK. Unlike extant single-screen works of experimental film, expanded cinema and intermedia often involves multiple projection sources and multiple surfaces upon which images are projected, and typically includes live, performative elements that respond in real time to… Full Review
June 4, 2021
Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, September 29, 2019–January 26, 2020; MIT List Visual Arts Center (online), Cambridge, MA, October 16, 2020–February 14, 2021
No Wrong Holes: Thirty Years of Nayland Blake offered the most comprehensive survey of Blake’s work to date, traveling to the MIT List Visual Arts Center from the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. The exhibition was organized in a loose chronology, showcasing the artist’s ongoing struggle to contain the multiplicity of lived experiences within one body or one object. For Blake this struggle is a generative one, producing work that can inhabit or frame the incongruencies between the realities of livelihood and forms of representation. As Blake is a biracial (African American and white), queer person, their multidisciplinary practice… Full Review
June 2, 2021
Christine Y. Kim and Rujeko Hockley
Exh. cat. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art in association with Prestel, 2019. 320 pp.; 450 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9783791358741)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, November 3, 2019–September 7, 2020; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, October 24, 2020–January 31, 2021; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, March 25–August 8, 2021; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, October 16, 2021–March 6, 2022
Five years in the making and developed in close collaboration with the artist by Christine Y. Kim (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and Rujeko Hockley (Whitney Museum of American Art), Julie Mehretu presents over two decades of the artist’s compelling work. The exhibition demonstrates how Mehretu’s practice, rooted in drawing, the global history of painting, and an evolving engagement with materials, surfaces, and spaces, achieves unprecedented monumentality without sacrificing the intimacy of mark making and imagery. Consistent with the novelty of Mehretu’s art, Kim and Hockley’s artistic organization of the accompanying catalog enriches the viewer’s engagement with the artwork… Full Review
June 1, 2021
BuYun Chen
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2019. 272 pp.; 96 color ills.; 23 b/w ills. Cloth $70.00 (9780295745305)
Mariachiara Gasparini
Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2019. 278 pp.; 20 color ills.; 27 b/w ills. Cloth $74.00 (9780824877989)
Eiren L. Shea
Routledge Research in Art History. New York: Routledge, 2020. 206 pp.; 30 color ills.; 40 b/w ills. Cloth $124.00 (9780367356187)
The three books reviewed here represent recent monographs on dress and textiles and their movements along the Silk Roads in the medieval and early modern periods. The study of dress and textiles has often been marginalized in art history, and the materials dismissed as minor or decorative arts—a marginality that is compounded by the limited survival of textiles and garments from earlier historical periods, which sometimes remain only as reused scraps. Textiles have been recognized as evidence for the exchange of ideas and technologies across Eurasia, as markers of trade, cultural contact, and interaction, but far less frequently as visual-culture… Full Review
May 28, 2021
Lei Xue
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2019. 240 pp.; 8 color ills.; 85 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780295746364)
At the end of Eulogy for Burying a Crane and the Art of Chinese Calligraphy, Lei Xue describes seeing boulders that had been hauled out of the muddy waters of the Yangtze River at the island of Jiaoshan in modern-day Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province. This highly publicized and costly expedition was meant to salvage the remaining fragments of the famous Eulogy for Burying a Crane (Yi he ming, hereafter Eulogy) stone inscription dated to 514 CE that had partially collapsed into the river. In the eleventh century, the inscription was only visible in the wintry months when the water… Full Review
May 27, 2021