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

Christiane Hertel
University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2019. 304 pp.; 35 color ills.; 85 b/w ills. Cloth $124.95 (9780271082370)
Christiane Hertel’s new book, Siting China in Germany: Eighteenth-Century Chinoiserie and Its Modern Legacy, is both immensely important and highly unusual. An expert in early modern art and culture, the author presents a volume of critical essays that not only explore Chinese influences in the German lands but also offer an analysis of and argument for a distinct perception of China and a different engagement with Chinese import art in Germany, relative to the rest of Europe. Her account is based partially on the observation that because the German principalities had no East India companies and no direct access… Full Review
January 6, 2021
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Lily Woodruff
Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2020. 336 pp.; 17 color ills.; 81 b/w ills. Paper $28.95 (9781478008446)
On May 19, 1968, French president Charles de Gaulle met with his cabinet ministers to address the mounting national conflagration that had erupted earlier in the month, when university students around Paris instigated a mass protest movement. By mid-May, a general strike had unexpectedly transformed the movement into a serious threat to the economy and the state. In addition to violent street battles between protesters and police, there were now millions of workers in almost every industry walking off their jobs or occupying their worksites and making radical demands. The only statement by de Gaulle from the May 19 meeting… Full Review
December 23, 2020
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Susan Stewart
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020. 368 pp.; 11 color ills.; 80 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (9780226632612)
Ruin sentiment, Henry James suggested, is something of a perverse pleasure, for it must be a “heartless pastime” that takes delight in desolation and destruction (20). So why is it, then, that ruins have been so frequently depicted and described, pondered and praised in Western art and literature? This is the question Susan Stewart pursues in The Ruins Lesson, her minutely researched and beautifully written study of the enduring allure of ruins and ruination in Western culture. Poised between preservation and obliteration, ruins represent both a presence and an absence that give rise to a range of complex and… Full Review
December 17, 2020
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Maile S. Hutterer
University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2020. 224 pp.; 105 b/w ills. Cloth $99.95 (9780271083445)
Flying buttresses are massive masonry structures wrapping around the exterior of (usually) a church: rows of robust uprights and bridge-like flyers form a lithic forest sometimes so thick it obscures the church itself. Developed in the mid-twelfth century in Île-de-France and quickly becoming an identifier of Gothic architecture, flying buttresses have been credited for their structural prowess. Little wonder that generations of scholars have analyzed how flying buttresses stabilize and support magnificent churches. For Maile S. Hutterer, buttressing is far more than a structural wonder. In Framing the Church: The Social and Artistic Power of Buttresses in French Gothic Architecture… Full Review
December 15, 2020
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Emily Byrne Curtis
Routledge Research in Art History. New York: Routledge, 2020. 142 pp.; 23 b/w ills. Cloth $160.00 (9781472427106)
In Chinese-Islamic Works of Art, Emily Byrne Curtis takes us on a journey through China’s history, its relationship with the Islamic world, and its rich artistic heritage. The author not only describes artifacts showing connections to the Islamic world during the Qing period but also provides a detailed discussion of the historical and social context that produced such amazing works of art. Examining different materials—from glassware to porcelain, from cloisonné enamelware to snuff bottles—Curtis reconstructs a detailed history of technological developments in the imperial Chinese industry. By using works of art from international collections and archival sources (from European… Full Review
December 10, 2020
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Karen Benezra
Studies on Latin American Art. Oakland: University of California Press, 2020. 256 pp.; 14 color ills.; 8 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780520307063)
In Dematerialization: Art and Design in Latin America, Karen Benezra offers, with impressive theoretical sophistication, new grounds for understanding the criticism, experimental art, and design practices in Argentina, Mexico, and Chile in the 1960s and 1970s. Focusing mainly on the work of Oscar Masotta (Argentina, 1930–1979), Octavio Paz (Mexico, 1914–1998), Felipe Ehrenberg (Mexico, 1943–2017), Tomás Maldonado (Argentina, 1922–2018), and Gui Bonsiepe (Germany, b. 1943), Benezra employs “dematerialization” to frame how debates over materiality were concerned with the capacity of art and design to generate social transformation; her approach stands in contrast to the more familiar use of the term… Full Review
December 8, 2020
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Niko Vicario
Studies on Latin American Art. Oakland: University of California Press, 2020. 312 pp.; 40 color ills.; 20 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780520310025)
In his important new book, Niko Vicario reconfigures how we understand Latin American art by mapping a set of relations among key protagonists from Mexico, Uruguay, Cuba, and the United States between 1933 and 1945. All prominent artists, curators, and cultural influencers, they participated in a vigorous conversation centered on economic policy, industry, and art. Vicario chronicles their interactions and the objects they produced in a narrative that revolves around David Alfaro Siqueiros, Joaquín Torres-García, and Mario Carreño. Nelson Rockefeller, as the patron responsible for the acquisition of a collection of Latin American art by the Museum of Modern Art… Full Review
December 3, 2020
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Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, in person (May 21–August 23, 2020) and online (ongoing)
(Click here to view the exhibition in English, or click here to view in Spanish.) To Tame a Wild Tongue: Art after Chicanismo uses the aftermath of the Chicano Art Movement (1960s–70s) as a point of departure to bring together over twenty-five artists active since the 1980s who explore the distinct yet interconnected sociopolitical paradigms of contemporary Chicanidad. This digital, collection-based exhibition invites us into an important conversation about belonging, resistance, and identity through a transborder perspective. To Tame a Wild Tongue explores the idea of cultural hybridity by considering how Chicanx and Latinx artists in the United States… Full Review
December 1, 2020
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Genevieve Hyacinthe
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2019. 352 pp.; 78 color ills.; 16 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (9780262042703)
Genevieve Hyacinthe’s Radical Virtuosity: Ana Mendieta and the Black Atlantic bridges a gap in scholarship on Ana Mendieta (1948–1985), exploring the role of Afro-Caribbean syncretism in the Cuban artist’s work. Although the titles of her Earthworks, performances, photographs, and moving-image works directly reference non-Western deities, and while several scholars note the importance of spirituality for Mendieta, no publication until now has extensively contextualized her work in Black Atlantic cultures. Hyacinthe convincingly argues that a Black Atlantic lens sharpens our interpretation of the sculptor’s practice. At its most successful, Radical Virtuosity revitalizes readings of Mendieta’s artworks by theorizing Black Atlantic rituals… Full Review
November 24, 2020
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Amelia Rauser
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2020. 216 pp.; 180 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780300241204)
Amelia Rauser’s book The Age of Undress: Art, Fashion, and the Classical Ideal in the 1790s traces the transformation of the iconic robe à la grecque (or Empire line dress) from a fanciful, archaeologically inspired costume to an international, semantically fraught fashion trend in the last turbulent decade of the eighteenth century. Her erudite, engaging new study presents the reader with an impressively interdisciplinary analysis of this cultural phenomenon, which she sees as closely interwoven with contemporary debates on sensory perception, the emotions, race, and the role of women in modern society. Her approach, combining an intellectual history of the… Full Review
November 19, 2020
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Babette Bohn and Raffaella Morselli, eds.
Visual and Material Culture, 1300–1700. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2019. 192 pp.; 9 color ills.; 41 b/w ills. Cloth €89.00 (9789462986336)
For centuries, Bologna’s determinedly local self-consciousness of its art and architecture has been inscribed in the archival and published record. This mentality becomes methodology in the writings of Carlo Cesare Malvasia, who relied on documents for his Felsina pittrice, or Lives of the Bolognese Painters, published in 1678. An efficient tour of the Bolognese archival record and such attendant publications introduces this slim volume of six essays based on presentations at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America in 2016. Today, scholars of Emilian art refer often to the writings of Antonio di Paolo Masini, Giovanni… Full Review
November 17, 2020
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Christopher S. Wood
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019. 472 pp.; 24 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (9780691156521)
An accessible and timely book on art history’s history is a gap that needed to be filled, but the title of this book by Christopher S. Wood, a professor in the German department at New York University, is somewhat misleading. This book goes well beyond a history of art history, or even a historiography of the field, as several reviewers have noted. Andrei Pop, for example, calls it “more than a textbook” and rather a “polemic” with art history; Cindy Helms argues that it is “a heavy duty assessment of what the discipline of Art History has thought about itself… Full Review
November 12, 2020
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FROM THE ARCHIVE: This autumn, caa.reviews is revisiting reviews that relate to the social issues of the present, at a time when the field is taking them up in renewed ways. Explore two exhibitions on Detroit's 1960s civil rights rebellions and consider their continuing impact on the social justice movements of today. Read more in Nicholas Miller's review of Art of Rebellion: Black Art of the Civil Rights Movement at Detroit Institute of Arts and Say It Loud: Art, History, Rebellion at the Museum of African American History. Full Review
November 9, 2020
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Mark Crinson and Richard J. Williams
London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2018. 184 pp.; 30 b/w ills. Cloth £75.00 (9781350020917)
Few academic disciplines are as variously housed in institutions of higher learning as architectural history—sometimes in university departments of history or art history, sometimes in schools of architecture or degree programs in historic preservation or heritage conservation, and sometimes in several different places within the same institution. Should the discipline be devoted to the training of architects or to fostering a new generation of architectural historians based in methods of nontextual analysis? Since the early nineteenth century, the history of architecture has been taught to future architects—the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, had a professor of architectural history—and by the end… Full Review
November 6, 2020
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FROM THE ARCHIVE: This autumn, caa.reviews is revisiting reviews that relate to the social issues of the present, at a time when the field is taking them up in renewed ways. If you had the chance to write to President Donald Trump, what would you say? Across three presidencies, Sheryl Oring has been typing postcards from citizens on a vintage typewriter, expressing the people’s thoughts about those in power. Read more in Christianna Fail’s review of Activating Democracy: The “I Wish to Say” Project. Full Review
November 3, 2020
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