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

Mark Cheetham, Keith Moxey, and Michael Ann Holly, eds.
Cambridge University Press, 1998. 336 pp.; 47 b/w ills. Cloth (0521454905)
The editors understand this collection of essays to be concerned with "the making of art-historical meaning." They divide the volume into sections that broadly categorize the subjects which art history has addressed since its origins in the nineteenth century: "Philosophy of History and Historiography," "The Subjects and Objects of Art History," and "Places & Spaces for Visual Studies." The variety of topics and approaches found in the essays themselves, mirrors, so the compilers argue, the diversity, eclecticism and heuristic procedures of present-day art history. In the introduction the editors locate current efforts towards interpreting art in a "postepistemological age," by… Full Review
October 8, 1999
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Neil Leach
MIT Press, 1999. 101 pp.; 4 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Cloth $16.50 (0262621266)
Neil Leach's The Anaesthetics of Architecture proclaims itself a polemical work that aims to challenge the unrigorous thinking that has dominated architecture in recent years. The book stages this challenge as a critique of the image, only making explicit any association between the visual and the textual in its final pages. Leach's argument is that society has been completely aestheticized through the saturation by, and intoxication with, images, ultimately producing an anaesthetizing effect as manifested in the loss of criticality and the mindless consumption of everything from Coca-Cola to political movements and philosophical constructs. Leach ends by questioning whether "within… Full Review
October 8, 1999
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Alice T. Friedman
New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007. 242 pp.; 30 color ills.; 110 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (9780300117899)
Alice Friedman begins her book Women and the Making of the Modern House: A Social and Architectural History with the question, "Why were independent women clients such powerful catalysts for innovation in domestic projects?" She answers it through a series of case studies devoted to twentieth-century houses built for single women: the Hollyhock House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for Aline Barnsdall, a wealthy producer of avant-garde theater who was also a friend of Emma Goldman; the Schroeder House, designed together by the cabinetmaker Gerrit Rietveld and his client and lover, Truus Schroeder; the Villa Stein-de Monzie, one of Le… Full Review
October 8, 1999
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Shearer West, ed.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 237 pp.; 31 b/w ills. Cloth $59.95 (0521552230)
Anthologies are an excellent means of stimulating interest and additional research into underexplored areas of art history, and in this regard Shearer West's volume is right on target. It consists of nine essays on various aspects of the Italian cultural presence in transalpine Europe during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and is introduced by West's informative and comprehensive essay "Visual Culture, Performance Culture and the Italian Diaspora in the Long Eighteenth Century." West rightly claims that this book is the first sustained attempt to study the impact of Italian culture in northern Europe in the eighteenth century, and rightly… Full Review
October 8, 1999
Gary Michael Tartakov
Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997. 153 pp.; 108 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (0195633725)
For thirty years, a significant voice in Indian art-historical scholarship has been Gary Tartakov's, and though his interests and publications have varied, in this book he returns to his original area of expertise, the art of the Calukya dynasty (c. 542-757). The Durga temple (located in Aihole, Karnataka, a south Indian state) has inspired much scholarly speculation. Tartakov examines the Durga temple in two essays; in the first section he unpacks the layers of historiographic writings that engross this monument, and in the second essay he decodes the structure's form and function. Although the two essays are self-contained studies, each… Full Review
September 24, 1999
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Herbert L. Kessler and Gerhard Wolf, eds.
Bologna: Nuova Alfa Editoriale, 1998. 340 pp.; 167 b/w ills. Cloth (8877795158)
On August 15, 944 two sacred objects entered the city of Constantinople. One of these was a letter reputedly sent by Christ to King Abgar of Edessa. The other was a miraculous image of Christ impressed on a cloth and reportedly sent along with this letter. These objects were received with magnificent imperial ceremonial. Although they were soon secreted away within the Great Palace of Constantinople, the image/cloth itself was widely disseminated in Byzantine art. In time, the Holy Face was to become a key figure in Christian art of the Eastern and Western Middle Ages. This important and authoritative… Full Review
September 24, 1999
Victor I. Stoichita
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. 345 pp.; 131 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (0521433932)
Victor I. Stoichita is one of the most imaginative younger art historians in Europe, and has recently burst into English-language publishers' lists. His books Visionary Experience in the Golden Age of Spanish Art and A Short History of the Shadow appeared with Reaktion Books (London) in 1995 and 1997. The book under review, also published in 1997, is a translation of L'Instauration du tableau: Metapeinture a l'aube des temps modernes (Paris: Meridiens Klinksieck, 1993). Each of these books is brimming with striking examples and lively, highly original arguments. The Self-Aware Image: An Insight into Early Modern Meta-Painting is about… Full Review
September 24, 1999
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Amy McNair
Honolulu: University Of Hawai'i Press, 1998. 142 pp.; 47 b/w ills. Paper $27.95 (0824820029)
This book can be added to the small group of modern monographs on Chinese calligraphy that engage the art of calligraphy with the discipline of art history. It is a small book, only 142 pages of main text, but in many ways a model for writing on this difficult subject. McNair establishes the traditional Chinese belief in characterology-- reading the personality of a writer in his works--as a central basis for her own approach to understanding the calligraphy of Yan Zhenqing. Yan was, of course, one of the most heroic and admirable men of the Tang dynasty, a model of… Full Review
September 24, 1999
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John T. Young
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999. 136 pp.; 85 color ills. Paper $24.95 (0295977086)
This book is a collection of photographs of public art with associated notes from comments by the sculptors and others, together with the author's observations on a journey made in 1995. The photographs, whilst usually good, are by no means as complete records as the text intends, for example there being major details missing from the Monument to the Heroes of the People, 1959, and major works omitted, such as The Rent Collection Courtyard, 1965, even if these may not in 1995 have been open to the author. Nor does the author notice that some artists are from Taiwan, such… Full Review
September 8, 1999
Akbar Naqvi
New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 600 pp.; 345 color ills. Cloth $75.00 (0195778030)
Indo-Pakistani art of the twentieth century falls into two time periods, pre- and post-Partition (1947). As a distinctive national and cultural form of aesthetic expression, however, art in this area is only as old as the young nation that celebrated its fiftieth anniversary of independence in 1997. The significance of Akbar Naqvi's book, Image and Identity, therefore, is that it is the first scholarly investigation of the history and development of modern and contemporary art of the subcontinent to explore in almost inexhaustible detail one part of it: Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad. Pakistan is a small country situated at… Full Review
September 8, 1999
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Paul Zanker
Trans Deborah Lucas Schneider Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998. 251 pp.; 11 color ills.; 113 b/w ills. Cloth $49.95 (0674689666)
A study of any locale rich in buildings and paintings that places buildings in their urban setting and interprets paintings in their architectural settings is always welcome. Pompeii is an obvious place to present in this way, but studies of that intriguing city have seldom risen to the challenge. The task is even harder now since archeological activity there has intensified over the last decade. The first (Italian) edition of this book, which appeared in 1993, was based on three essays, the first one published in 1979. The tensions between older interpretations and newer material are evident throughout the book… Full Review
September 8, 1999
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Barbara C. Raw
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. 221 pp.; 23 b/w ills. Cloth $64.95 (0521553717)
In Trinity and Incarnation in Anglo-Saxon Art and Thought, Barbara Raw continues to apply the methodology she also utilized in Anglo-Saxon Crucifixion Iconography and the Art of the Monastic Revival (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), considering pictorial imagery as an expression of ideas developed in contemporary texts. Here the homilies of Ælfric of Eynsham, along with their antecedents, particularly the exegetical writings of Augustine and Bede and the Apostolic and Athanasian Creeds, serve as a springboard for Raw's interpretation of later Anglo-Saxon manuscript images of the persons of the Trinity, both individually and in groups. Central to her argument… Full Review
September 3, 1999
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Beth Fowkes Tobin
Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1998. 320 pp.; 42 b/w ills. Cloth $54.95 (0822323052)
Some of the most provocative and insightful scholarship on eighteenth-century British art produced in the last fifteen years has explored the vexed relationship between art and commerce. This important body of work is limited, however, by its "domestic" vision of what that commerce actually entails: it tends to focus on art produced in Britain, commercial discourse produced by British ideologues, and the British merchant as a domestic figure. Beth Fowkes Tobin's Picturing Imperial Power: Colonial Subjects in Eighteenth-Century Painting is a welcome addition to this scholarship. As its title suggests, it expands the field of inquiry by posing new questions… Full Review
September 3, 1999
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André Vauchez
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. 645 pp.; 43 b/w ills. Cloth $120.00 (0521445590)
Sainthood in the Middle Ages first appeared in 1981. It is a measure of the impact and continuing value of his study to historians of late medieval Europe that André Vauchez's book has been translated into English some sixteen years later. Vauchez has provided a highly differentiated account of changing perceptions of sainthood between 1185 and 1431, in which he distinguishes those who initiated, witnessed, and managed the processes by which public cults were authorized for a tiny number of recent saints. He unfolds the shifting success and failure of a variety of ecclesiastical and social groups to generate prestige… Full Review
September 3, 1999
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Elizabeth ten Grotenhuis
Honolulu: University Of Hawai'i Press, 1999. 240 pp.; 20 color ills.; 104 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (0824820819)
This book is a carefully constructed, well-researched study of Japanese mandala paintings. Within the broader context of pan-Asian Buddhism the most famous mandalas are those associated with Esoteric or Tantric Buddhist theology. Another important and influential type of mandala, the Taima mandala, was created to represent Buddhist doctrine of the Pure Land sect. The appearance of Japanese Esoteric and Pure Land mandalas is unquestionably derived from Chinese prototypes, but this study reveals the remarkable creativity of Japanese religious leaders and their artists as they transformed these continental models into recognizably Japanese images. This assimilation culminated with the creation of mandalas… Full Review
September 3, 1999
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