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

Amadeo Belluzzi
Modena: Franco Cosimo Panini, 1998. Cloth (8876868089)
In the 1530s, word of a new palace in Mantua, begun in the middle of the previous decade, had already spread north to Bavaria and south to Rome, where it figured in the dialogues of Francisco de Hollanda. But by the eighteenth century, the Palazzo Te, created by Giulio Romano for Federico II Gonzaga, was abandoned, abused, and in disrepair. Miraculously, this suburban complex has survived relatively intact (even after several restorations, some more drastic than others), and its slipping triglyphs and Camera dei Giganti have become textbook images of "Mannerist" art and architecture. The Palazzo Te in Mantua… Full Review
May 2, 2002
Hui-Shu Lee
New York: China Institute, 2000. 160 pp.; app. 40 color ills. Paper (0965427056)
China Institute Gallery, New York, September 13-December 9, 2001
Published to accompany an exhibition at New York's China Institute Gallery, this lavishly illustrated catalogue deftly contextualizes a group of extremely appealing small-scale works of painting and calligraphy that were made by or for the Southern Song court in Hangzhou (called Lin'an at the time) during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Situated in a fertile and temperate region near the center of China's east coast, Hangzhou was a beauty spot famed for its West Lake and scenic mountains dotted with Buddhist and Daoist monasteries. In addition, from 1138 until 1276, it was also the supposedly temporary capital of a dynasty… Full Review
April 18, 2002
Bert Winther-Tamaki
Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2000. 222 pp.; 45 b/w ills. Paper $32.95 (0824824008)
Following the crushing defeat of Japan in World War II and the devastating destruction of its major cities by conventional and atomic bombing, the United States occupied the country for many years. It had a prolonged presence and deep effect on Japanese culture; at the same time, Japanese culture became prominent in the U.S., partially as a result of servicemen and women returning home after the war. Bert Winther-Tamaki's Art in the Encounter of Nations: Japanese and American Artists in the Early Postwar Years addresses one aspect of this intersection: the changes in aesthetic culture or high art in Japan… Full Review
April 4, 2002
Annette L. Juliano and Judith A. Lerner, eds.
New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2000. 320 pp.; 260 color ills.; 160 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0810934787)
Asia Society Museum, New York, November 13, 2001-January 6, 2002; Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach, FL, February 9-April 21, 2002; Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, June 15-September 10, 2002.
The idea of viewing the art and culture of the Silk Road by focusing on archaeological finds from the northwestern region of China (the Gansu and Ningxia provinces) offers an excellent opportunity to consider the process of cultural and ethnic interaction between the Han-Chinese and other cultures. As the only section of the Silk Road within China proper in the early medieval period from the fourth to seventh century, Gansu and Ningxia played an important role as a melting pot where exotic and indigenous traditions intermingled and cross-fertilized. Previous Western scholarship on China and the Silk Road paid more attention… Full Review
April 3, 2002
Herman Rapaport
New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. 188 pp. Paper $17.50 (0231121350)
Sylvère Lotringer and Sande Cohen, eds.
London: Routledge, 2000. 327 pp. Paper $22.95 (0415925371)
1. Theory Something called "theory" has been a leading feature of American intellectual and academic life for some thirty years now, and it would no doubt be a great comfort if we had some strongly shared sense of what theory is, what its prominence means, and what difference it makes. Both of these books argue, correctly I believe, that we are more or less hopelessly muddled on all of these questions. Since the history of art, at least in the United States, is a relatively late arrival at the party, it has perhaps a particular interest in… Full Review
April 3, 2002
Robert L. Thorp and Richard Ellis Vinograd
New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2000. 440 pp.; 128 color ills.; 230 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (0810941457)
The publication of Chinese Art and Culture should be welcomed by anyone who has an interest in Chinese art, whether or not one also teaches it. Both of the scholars who wrote this book are old enough to have each devoted more than three decades to thinking and practicing in their respective areas (early Chinese art through the Tang dynasty for Robert Thorp, later Chinese art from Song to the present for Richard Vinograd), but are young enough to have spent the bulk of their careers engaging many of the general issues that have helped redefine the field of art… Full Review
April 2, 2002
Dale Kent
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999. 544 pp.; 40 color ills.; 148 b/w ills. Cloth $49.95 (0300081286)
Winner of CAA's 2002 Charles Rufus Morey Book Award Dale Kent's impressive study of Cosimo de' Medici and patronage culture of the mid-fifteenth century is a welcome addition to Renaissance and Florentine studies. The last serious biography of Cosimo in English, by Kurt Gutkind, appeared in 1938. The Warburg Institute's symposium that resulted in a volume of essays edited by Francis Ames-Lewis, Cosimo "il Vecchio" de' Medici, 1389-1464 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992) brought Cosimo studies into the late twentieth century. Now, Kent's book makes further contributions by incorporating an array of contemporary and modern… Full Review
February 18, 2002
Jonathan Weinberg
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. 336 pp.; 164 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (0300081871)
Jonathan Weinberg's new book is comprised of a series of thoughtful, original essays on the workings of fame and desire on the production and reception of a select number of twentieth-century American paintings and photographs. A social art historian writing in the wake of postmodernism, Weinberg remains committed to a modernist faith "in the viability of painting" (xxi), even as his sensitive and erudite readings of particular works test and complicate that faith in light of Pop art and the demise of Greenbergian orthodoxy. Following a brief introduction, the book proceeds in three sections ("Parents," "Autonomy," and… Full Review
February 15, 2002
Linda York Leach
New York: The Nour Foundation in association with Azimuth Editions and Oxford University Press, 1997. 260 pp.; 76+ color ills. Cloth $325.00 (0197276296)
Indian painting, especially that of the Mughal dynasty, is often considered among the most magnificent creations of the Islamic world, and is a highly prized commodity to many collectors, including Nasser D. Khalili, whose extensive collections include Indian art, Japanese art, Spanish Damascene metalwork, and Swedish textiles. This sumptuously illustrated volume on Indian painting is the eighth of a projected twenty-seven that documents the massive Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art. Leach provides detailed documentation and description of the seventy-six paintings and manuscripts that compose the Indian portion of the Khalili collection. Most of the works included here come… Full Review
February 15, 2002
David Harvey
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. 293 pp.; 27 b/w ills. Paper $24.95 (0520225783)
"Until we insurgent architects know the courage of our minds and are prepared to take an equally speculative plunge into some unknown," David Harvey writes in conclusion to his stunning new work, Spaces of Hope, "we too will continue to be the objects of historical geography (like worker bees) rather than active subjects, consciously pushing human possibilities to their limits" (255). Spaces of Hope serves as a fitting capstone to the Marxist geographer's oeuvre of the past two decades. From his The Limits to Capital (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), in which Harvey first began to explore what… Full Review
February 15, 2002
Lisa Zeitz
Petersberg: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2000. 256 pp.; 131 b/w ills. Cloth (3932526372)
Diane H. Bodart
Rome: Bulzoni Editore, 1998. 400 pp.; 49 b/w ills. Paper (8883192559)
As their titles indicate, these two books--both of which originated as academic dissertations at the Universities of Munich and Rome respectively--cover much the same ground. Both provide detailed discussions of Titian's association with Federico Gonzaga, marquis (later, first duke) of Mantua, from their first meeting in 1523 until Federico's premature death in 1540. Both include appendices with transcriptions of more than 300 documents (and in the case of Lisa Zeitz, translations into German). Almost inevitably, both jackets are illustrated with Titian's celebrated portrait of Federico, now in the Prado. Diane Bodart's Tiziano e Federico II Gonzaga is the smaller in… Full Review
February 13, 2002
Neil Cummings and Marysia Lewandowska
Basel: August Projects, Cornerhouse Publishing in association with Birkhäuser, 2000. 222 pp. Paper (3764363169)
Few books in recent memory have articulated so lucidly the nexus of deep interconnections among practices making up the core of the modern culture industry as The Value of Things by London-based artists Neil Cummings and Marysia Lewandowska. This remarkable book project dramatically charts the powerful forces through which the values of things are negotiated and exchanged by intertwining the histories of two exemplary modern institutions--the British Museum and London's Selfridge's department store. As the authors write, "In a seemingly homogenized mass of consumables, nothing has a verifiable 'essence' or a legitimate history. Born into a promotional media, things can… Full Review
February 12, 2002
Charles Dempsey
Fiesole: Edizioni Cadmo in association with Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, 2000. 114 pp.; 12 color ills. Cloth (8879232053)
Twenty-five years ago, Charles Dempsey's Annibale Carracci and the Beginnings of Baroque Style--a small, brilliant, idiosyncratic book--was born as an attempt to review Donald Posner's large, definitive, and indispensable monograph and catalogue raisonné, Annibale Carracci: A Study in the Reform of Painting around 1590, which had been published in 1971 (London: Phaidon). The present volume is a second edition of Dempsey's book from 1977, to which the author has added a brief Introduction looking back over the developments in Carracci scholarship during the past quarter century. A select bibliography has also been appended, but the original body of the… Full Review
February 6, 2002
Gertje R. Utley
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999. 288 pp.; 40 color ills.; 175 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0300082517)
Go to the "Electronic Reading Room" at to find that Picasso appears in FBI files from the 1940s onward, which are now available courtesy of the Freedom of Information Act. In 1990, Herbert Mitgang ("When Picasso Spooked the FBI," The New York Times, 11 November) revealed some of these Cold War additions to the politics of representation. With Picasso, these politics are conventionally characterized by a variety of documents, such as his contract with the dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (dated 1912), and his membership card for the French Communist Party (PCF) after 1944. Such sources evoke issues of biography… Full Review
February 4, 2002
Linda Henderson
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997. 374 pp.; few color ills. Cloth (0691055513)
The title of this book, Duchamp in Context, is an apt summation of Linda Dalrymple Henderson's project: to recover Duchamp's artistic evolution toward and the full range of scientific and technological sources for The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) (1915-23), his most important work. To say she succeeds is an understatement. This study is so rich in new information it is a veritable encyclopedia. Here is the long-awaited toolbox for pruning back the interpretive excesses that have plagued much recent Duchamp scholarship. The book is divided into four sections and… Full Review
January 29, 2002