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

John Wood, ed.
Routledge, 1998. 226 pp.; 21 b/w ills. Paper $24.99 (041516026X)
John Wood's edited book is an engaging volume that links theoretical and artistic explorations of information technology. Although the two are currently not as complementary as I would desire, the book suggests the great potential for such collaborations. The five sections of the book contain high-caliber work covering a sweeping range of topics, including virtual reality, knowledge production, ethics, and performance art. The first two sections of the book are theoretical. The other three sections describing artistic projects are strong in their own right, but do not sufficiently complement the theoretical chapters. The main impetus for the book… Full Review
January 3, 2000
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Andrew L. Cohen
New Delhi: Ajay Kumar Jain for Manohar Publishers and Distributors, 1998. 151 pp.; 0 color ills.; 76 b/w ills. Cloth $72.00 (8173042225)
Historians of South Asian art and culture often use models of dynastic patronage and stylistic influence as tools to evaluate the wealth of artistic material that populates India's countryside and museums. In his new book, Andrew L. Cohen critically wrestles with these models, revealing their weaknesses in addressing material that defies their pre-conceived frameworks. Cohen's examination of the southern Nolamba kingdom published in Temple Architecture and Sculpture of the Nolambas: Ninth-Tenth Centuries provides an excellent case study to challenge the appropriateness of categories like regional and dynastic style. The Nolambas were a relatively small South Indian kingdom whose… Full Review
January 1, 2000
Julie F. Codell and Dianna Sachko Macleod, eds.
Ashgate, 1999. 249 pp.; 0 color ills.; 40 b/w ills. Cloth $86.95 (185928454X)
Orientalism Transposed takes on two formidable tasks: to connect the methodologies of art history with the insights of postcolonial scholarship on Orientalism, and at the same time to shift the perspective from which Orientalism has traditionally been formulated. I say formidable, because incorporating both of these elements in a volume accessible and useful for both art historians and postcolonial culture scholars is a difficult balancing act. It requires that one combine theoretical apparati from Saidian Orientalism to Bhabha's "sly civility" while discussing works of art--something neither of those theorists did. Each essay in the volume approaches the colonial encounter and… Full Review
January 1, 2000
Marie-Claude Chaudonneret
Paris: Editions Flammarion, 1999. 271 pp.; 0 color ills.; 0 b/w ills. Cloth (2080106090)
The Restoration has probably received less attention than any other period in nineteenth-century French art history. Long identified with a repressive political regime, it has long been ignored as a discrete period, although many artists, such as Ingres and Delacroix, produced their most memorable work at this time. Marie-Claude Chaudonneret, one of the most eminent French art historians, has now filled this gap with a thorough history of the period. Her previous work on the Troubadour painters was notable for its solid research and she has now brought the same approach to this period. As the title implies, … Full Review
January 1, 2000
Jeffrey F. Hamburger
MIT Press, 1998. 608 pp.; 5 color ills.; 341 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0942299450)
Winner of CAA's "Charles Rufus Morey Book Award":http://www.collegeart.org/caa/aboutcaa/morey.html Jeffrey Hamburger's collection of essays, The Visual and the Visionary: Art and Female Spirituality in Late Medieval Germany, examines the function of religious images in the context of female enclosure in the later Middle Ages. Hamburger's stated objective is twofold: to explore art that medieval women commissioned, or that their superiors commissioned for them; and to situate this art in the context of enclosure. Hamburger began research that led to this publication in 1989. Six of these nine essays have been previously published, but revised for this collection. Though… Full Review
January 1, 2000
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Frans Grijzenhout and Henk van Veen, eds.
Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 348 pp.; 73 b/w ills. Cloth $80.00 (0521496217)
This is an ambitious book on the historiography of seventeenth-century Dutch art and culture, containing essays written by many of the most influential Dutch archivists, art historians and historians at work in the 1990s: Marten Jan Bok, Jeroen Boomgaard, Dedalo Carasso, Frans Grijzenhout, E. de Jongh (with two essays), J.J. Kloek, Eveline Koolhaas and Sandra de Vries, E.H. Kossmann, Debora J. Meijers, N.C.F. van Sas, Eric J. Sluijter, and Lyckle de Vries. Edited by Grijzenhout and Henk van Veen, it originally appeared in a Dutch edition of 1992, and was written in conjunction with… Full Review
January 1, 2000
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Pamela J. Belanger
University Press of New England in association with Farnsworth Art Museum, 1999. 174 pp.; some color ills.; some b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (0918749093)
For tourists driving to Acadia National Park on Maine's coastal Route 1, the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland has become an increasingly popular and rewarding stop. Having long enjoyed a regional reputation for its noteworthy collection of American art, the institution (which includes the adjacent Farnsworth Homestead and the Olson House in nearby Cushing) recently attracted national attention with the opening of the Wyeth Center in 1998. Maine artists and subjects figure prominently at the Farnsworth, but this emphasis by no means constitutes provincialism. Quite the contrary, enriched by the late philanthropist Elizabeth Noyce's bequest of seventy Maine paintings by… Full Review
January 1, 2000
Mimi Yiengpruksawan
Harvard University Press, 1998. 263 pp. Cloth $60.00 (0674392051)
In 1126, Fujiwara no Kiyohira dedicated a Buddhist Canon in more than 5,000 fascicles copied in alternating columns of gold and silver ink on indigo paper. This Canon is unique in Japan because of the gold and silver script and also because Kiyohira was the only commoner of his day to sponsor an entire Buddhist Canon. Kiyohira, the descendant of Emishi ("toad barbarians"), ruled from Hiraizumi, capital of a stronghold in northern Honshu that has been variously identified as a kingdom, a polity, a military government, and as "the Buddhist heaven of the eastern barbarians" (202). Kiyohira's son Motohira and… Full Review
January 1, 2000
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Thomas E. Crow
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999. 148 pp.; 12 color ills.; 34 b/w ills. Paper $34.95 (0807849006)
Thomas Crow is one of the most exacting and vigilant of art historians, never prone to following received opinions, methods, or practices. His way of thinking has sometimes produced works that are exemplary in their circumspection and nuance; the theory of society and art embedded in the opening chapter of Modern Art in the Common Culture has yet to be adequately answered. The Intelligence of Art is an attempt to say more generally, but with the precision afforded by individual examples, where the discipline of art history might find promising models. Crow is especially concerned with what he… Full Review
January 1, 2000
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Joanna Woods-Marsden
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. 285 pp.; 57 color ills.; 109 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0300075960)
This book takes on the challenging topic of Italian (despite its title) Renaissance portraiture and self-fashioning, but with a particular focus, that of artists' self-portraits. The author's premise is that the increasing number of such self-portraits over the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries marks the changing status of the artist within the culture from craftsman to intellect. Such an evolutionary claim is certainly supported by historical evidence familiar to students of the period, most notably the application of the epithet of "divino" to artists like Michelangelo and Titian toward the end of the period Woods-Marsden discusses and by Castiglione's assertion in… Full Review
January 1, 2000
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Lisa N. Peters
Hudson Hills Press, 1999. 192 pp.; 0 color ills.; 61 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (1555951783)
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, October 16, 1999-January 2, 2000; Cincinnati Art Museum, June 6-September 5, 1999.
Lisa Peters begins her beautifully illustrated book John Henry Twachtman: An American Impressionist with strong language: "A painter of intimate landscapes rendered in an original and expressive style, John Henry Twachtman (1853-1902) was the epitome of the modern American artist in the late nineteenth century" (13). This position is antithetical to the usual understanding of Twachtman within the canon of American art. In Wayne Craven's textbook American Art: History and Culture (1994), we learn that Twachtman "never received the critical acclaim he hoped for, and he died at age forty-nine" (353). In Milton Brown et al.'s text American Art: Painting,… Full Review
December 30, 1999
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Catherine Gordon
Witt Library, Cortauld Institute of Art, 1998. 570 ills. CD-ROM $68.00
This CD-ROM opens with a visual witticism too canny not to have been intentional. When the disk is installed (easily done), the first screen reproduces part of Pieter Bruegel's Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery, one of the real treasures of the Courtauld's collection. In the detail, taken from the painting's right-hand side, the user encounters a micro-crowd of onlookers, who bend forward, all eyes, all focus, all attention. These figures gaze toward a point at the screen's lower left, while the foremost among them gapes in astonishment and tips a long-fingered hand downward, emphasizing the trajectory of… Full Review
December 29, 1999
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Alexandra R. Murphy
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999. 192 pp.; 65 color ills.; 65 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0300079257)
Rijksmuseum Vincent Van Gogh, Amsterdam, June 20-September 6, 1999; Frick Art Museum, Pittsburgh, February 10-mid-April, 2000.
The American public has not given works by Barbizon artists star billing in a little over a century. Where once Americans were proud of themselves for having recognized Millet's talents early, they are now harder to please. Since Impressionist art has risen to blockbuster fame, it takes a monumental effort to call attention to the considerable but subtle charm of what Millet referred to as "rustic art." The subtitle of this exhibition, "Drawn into the Light," implies that Millet could be considered an artist who anticipated the goals of the Impressionists. It is unfortunate, in my view, to remove this… Full Review
December 29, 1999
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Julien Chapuis
Yale University Press, 1999. 352 pp.; 150 color ills.; 70 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0300081626)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., October 3, 1999-January 9, 2000; Metropolitan Museum of Art, February 10-May 14, 2000.
Most Americans will know about Tilman Riemenschneider from the wonderful 1980 publication, Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance Germany, by Michael Baxandall, one of the rare discussions of German wood sculpture in English, or perhaps from the scattered fragments of the artist's works in American museums, such as Cleveland or Raleigh (an essay by William Wixom in the present catalogue chronicles "Riemenschneider in America" and offers a useful checklist). Now viewers have the opportunity to visit an unprecedented exhibition of the artist's works, first in Washington and then in New York, thanks to the remarkable organizational, curatorial, and editorial skills of Julien… Full Review
December 28, 1999
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Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, Jürg Zutter, Patricia Mainardi, and Michael Clarke
Exh. cat. Paris: Editions Flammarion, 1998. 167 pp.; many color ills.; few b/w ills. (2080107879)
Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, France, November 21, 1998–March 7, 1999; Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden, March 25–May 30 1999
The most substantial exhibition devoted to Gustave Courbet's paintings since the Brooklyn Museum of Art's Courbet Reconsidered a decade ago was presented at the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne last winter from November through March. It then traveled to the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, where it closed on May 30. Titled Courbet: Artiste et Promoteur de Son Oeuvre, it was organized by Lausanne's director, Jürg Zutter, in collaboration with the noted Courbet scholar Petra ten-Doesschate Chu. The well-illustrated catalogue contains valuable essays by Patricia Mainardi and Michael Clarke as well as by the two organizers. Although somewhat difficult to use… Full Review
December 27, 1999
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