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

Jennifer Jolly
Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowment in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2018. 352 pp.; 11 color ills.; 92 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (9781477314203)
In the collective memory of Mexicans, President Lázaro Cárdenas, who governed the country between 1934 and 1940, is considered an exemplar of nationalism: he is mythically associated with the steadfast defense of national assets such as oil, and with the struggles of peasants and indigenous people. As Verónica Vázquez Mantecón points out in a 2009 article, this mythology reveals Mexicans’ persistent desire for social justice. Having been an active participant in the Mexican Revolution of 1910–20 and later governor of the state of Michoacán before becoming president, General Cárdenas has social and political capital that has remained stable and has… Full Review
July 10, 2019
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Victoria and Albert Museum, London, September 8, 2018–February 24, 2019.
Following the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851, the V&A created a space for applied arts centered on industry and design, a space that serves as a conscious foil to traditional fine arts museums. Curators Marie Foulston and Kristian Volsing carried the spirit of this mission forward into the twenty-first century with their exhibition Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt. The show revealed the innovative practices video game designers have developed over the past fifteen years, while simultaneously asserting the radical potential of the medium by focusing on politically motivated activist games. In addition to examining the sociopolitical impact of a… Full Review
July 8, 2019
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Steven L. Tuck
Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015. 408 pp.; 375 color ills. Paperback $64.95 (9781444330267)
There are numerous textbooks on Roman art, but certain features ensure that A History of Roman Art stands out. This book is organized chronologically from the Etruscans to the reign of Constantine, and all the chapters (except for chapter 1) begin with a timeline showing major events and a brief historical overview, which helps students to understand the eras’ background. Throughout the book, Steven L. Tuck demonstrates how Roman art developed and discusses its influence. By examining the styles and techniques employed and developed in Roman art, Tuck tries to show how “the changes that occur in the art of… Full Review
July 3, 2019
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Sebastian Egenhofer
Trans James Gussen Zurich: Diaphanes, 2018. 208 pp.; 48 b/w ills. Paper $30.00 (9783037348857)
The translation of Sebastian Egenhofer’s Towards an Aesthetics of Production makes a work of great synthetic ambition available in English. It is at once a theory of modernism, an intervention into metaphysics, and an account of aesthetics under capital. In fact, the subject of Egenhofer’s book is synthesis itself: the means by which the semblance of a coherent world is produced from “pre-synthetic Becoming” (81) and art’s capacity for unconcealment. The book’s art historical horizon is European modernism and its consequences, with substantial case studies on Piet Mondrian, Marcel Duchamp, Michael Asher, and Thomas Hirschhorn. Egenhofer’s wager is that only… Full Review
July 2, 2019
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Elizabeth Angelicoussis
2 vols. Munich: Hirmer, 2017. 728 pp.; 548 ills. Cloth $80.00 (9783777428178)
Elizabeth Angelicoussis’s new book is a work of extraordinary worth and of great interest for the field of ancient sculpture and the history of collections. Its focus is one of the most important eighteenth-century British collections, initiated in 1771 by William Petty-Fitzmaurice, the first Marquess of Lansdowne (1737–1805), and inspired by Gavin Hamilton (1723–1798), whose position as a brilliant art dealer and antiquities connoisseur is well-known. Angelicoussis’s detailed and fascinating reconstruction enables us to retrace the labyrinthine sequence of events that led to the creation of the Lansdowne collection, alongside the story of the construction and multiple transformations and adaptations… Full Review
July 1, 2019
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Campbell Price
New York: Thames & Hudson, 2018. 288 pp.; 250 color ills. Paper $17.95 (9780500294086)
Pocket Museum: Ancient Egypt by Campbell Price is the fourth book of Thames & Hudson’s series Pocket Museum, preceded by volumes devoted respectively to ancient Rome, ancient Greece, and the Vikings. The book brings together nearly two hundred ancient Egyptian artifacts, spanning more than five thousand years (ca. 5300 BCE–395 CE), scattered in museum collections all over the world. The volume attempts to outline and reconstruct the history, system of beliefs, and social practices of ancient Egyptian civilization through the analysis of its material culture. The great potential of this volume lies in its innovative approach, based on the examination… Full Review
June 27, 2019
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Peter Fane-Saunders
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. 510 pp.; 8 color ills.; 74 b/w ills. Hardcover $142.00 (9781107079861)
Peter Fane-Saunders’s book is an indispensable guide to the reception of Pliny’s Naturalis historia within the architectural theory and practice of Renaissance Italy. As a systematic exploration of antiquarian literature and treatises as well as drawn and built architecture, this volume aims to compensate for a chronic lack of attention to Pliny’s treatise (77–79 CE) by architectural historians, largely due to the dominant position occupied by another ancient authority, Vitruvius’s De architectura. Fane-Saunders gathers a broad corpus of excerpts, reuses, interpretations, and citations from a wide range of textual and visual sources referring to the Naturalis historia: from… Full Review
June 26, 2019
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Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York, May 11, 2018–March 17, 2019
Organized at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, by Susan Brown, associate curator of textiles, and Jennifer Cohlman Bracchi, reference librarian, Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color showcased a broad range of objects, predominantly from the Smithsonian Institution’s impressive collections. Beginning with a selection of rare handbooks dating back to as early as the seventeenth century (e.g., Athanasius Kircher’s 1671 Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae), the exhibition shed light on the long history of attempts to render and fix a definitive taxonomy of the visible spectrum—a sort of visual dictionary, or a guide for the impulses traveling between the… Full Review
June 24, 2019
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Moya Carey
London: V&A Publishing, 2017. 272 pp.; 250 color ills. Cloth $74.99 (9781851779338)
In this meticulously researched and thoughtfully organized book, Moya Carey tells the story of the collection of art objects from Iran held at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London. Established in 1857 and known as the South Kensington Museum until 1899, the V&A has a particular institutional character—its founding mission was to improve the quality of industrial production by engaging worldwide visual cultures—that turns this museum into an ideal case study for scrutinizing collecting activities in Europe and North America in the second half of the nineteenth century. The nature of the political relationship between Britain and Iran… Full Review
June 21, 2019
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Adriaan E. Waiboer, Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., and Blaise Ducos
Exh. cat. New Haven, CT and Dublin: Yale University Press in association with National Gallery of Ireland, 2017. 320 pp.; 180 color ills. Hardcover $60.00 (9780300222937)
Musée du Louvre, Paris, February 22–May 22, 2017; National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, June 17–September 17, 2017; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, October 22, 2017–January 21, 2018
The exhibition Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry, on Vermeer and “other” Dutch genre painters of his era, was easily one of the most significant international events of last year. Conceived by Adriaan E. Waiboer of the National Gallery of Ireland and developed in close collaboration with two museum colleagues—Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, and Blaise Ducos from the Musée du Louvre in Paris—this project was widely received as a groundbreaking presentation of the intricate web of relationships among artists working in seventeenth-century Holland who looked at, emulated… Full Review
June 19, 2019
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Wil Haygood, Carole Genshaft, Nannette V. Maciejunes, Anastasia Kinigopoulo, and Drew Sawyer
Exh. cat. New York and Columbus, OH: Rizzoli Electa in association with Columbus Museum of Art, 2018. 248 pp. Cloth $55.00 (9780847863129)
Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, October 19, 2018–January 20, 2019
Published on the occasion of an exhibition of the same name, the catalogue I Too Sing America: The Harlem Renaissance at 100 offers its general and scholarly readership a biographically rich and visually remarkable book. The Columbus Museum of Art approached the established biographer of African American life and culture Wil Haygood with the opportunity to consider the lives of Harlem Renaissance visual artists, politicians, and authors through the organization of the show and his substantial contribution to the publication’s text. Readers also find art historical vignettes written by staff members of the Columbus Museum of Art dispersed throughout the… Full Review
June 17, 2019
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Roald Nasgaard and Gwendolyn Owens
Fredericton, New Brunswick and Kleinburg, Ontario: Goose Lane Editions and McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 2017. 204 pp.; 82 color ills.; 13 b/w ills. Hardcover $50.00 (9780864929655)
The aim of Higher States, as explained in the preface, is “to be a richly illustrated resource on the first half of [Lawren] Harris’s abstract painting career within a transnational context,” and the essays by Roald Nasgaard and Gwendolyn Owens describe “the social, intellectual, and aesthetic milieu in which Harris immersed himself, in both Canada and the United States, from the mid to late 1920s up to and about the end of World War II.” In “Harris’s Modernity: The Engineering Draughtsman’s Instruments,” Nasgaard employs a variety of ways to describe, explain, and define Harris’s modernism. He outlines the artist’s… Full Review
June 14, 2019
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Robert Brown, Tushara Bindu Gude, Donald Stadtner, and Lakshika Senarath Gamage
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: LACMA Collator, 2018. 106 pp.; 53 ills. Paperback $50.00 (9781943042128)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, December 9, 2018–July 7, 2019
Palm-size bronze figures of Buddhas and bodhisattvas from ancient Anuradhapura. Lion-shaped stone stair balustrades from the fourteenth century. Black-and-white photographs of tropical plants by colonial British photographers. A painted ivory comb decorated with a sword-wielding goddess. And a twenty-six-foot inflatable reclining Buddha made in California. These are just a handful of works from a special exhibition showcasing the art and culture of Sri Lanka at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), now on view until July 7, 2019. Titled The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka, the show marks the first comprehensive survey of the… Full Review
June 11, 2019
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B. Alexandra Szerlip
Brooklyn: Melville House Books, 2017. 368 pp. Cloth $27.99 (9781612195629)
Nicolas P. Maffei
Cultural Histories of Design. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018. 256 pp.; 150 b/w ills. Paperback £21.99 (9781474284615)
In the 1950s Norman Bel Geddes drafted his autobiography, I Designed My Life. His story covered the entirety of his vast career in one million words. Miracle in the Evening, the edited version published in 1960 two years following his death, focused solely on Bel Geddes’s theater work, simplifying his legacy to only one area of design. But in fact, there was hardly an area of design that Bel Geddes did not influence. As his point of view oscillated between futurist and pragmatist, Bel Geddes earned the title of “the father of industrial design” due to the success… Full Review
June 10, 2019
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Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, October 5, 2018–February 17, 2019
For her exhibition Poorly Watched Girls at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, Suzanne Bocanegra installed four artworks that repurpose numerous precedent works: Francis Poulenc’s 1956 opera Dialogues des Carmélites; Mark Robson’s 1967 film Valley of the Dolls; Jan Brueghel the Elder’s circa 1620 painting Flowers in a Ceramic Vase; Thomas P. McCarthy’s 1955 Guide to the Catholic Sisterhoods in the United States; Jean Dauberval’s 1789 ballet, La Fille mal gardée (The poorly watched girl); and Luigi Pampaloni’s sculpture Girl of the Turtledoves (Innocence) of 1831. Fangirl-like, Bocanegra decorates these precedents and their many mothers… Full Review
June 7, 2019
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