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

Annabel Jane Wharton
University of Chicago Press, 2004. 272 pp.; 1 color ills.; 90 b/w ills. Paper $27.50 (0226894207)
"The great advantage of a hotel," states the waiter in George Bernard Shaw's You Never Can Tell, "is that it's a refuge from home life." In the 1950s, however, as an increasingly wealthy American middle class began to travel a world whose boundaries were largely defined by the Cold War, hotels could find considerable advantages in open links to the familiarity of home life. Consider, for example, the seventeen massive Hilton hotels built on foreign soil between 1949 and 1966. By piping ice water into each air-conditioned room, by serving milkshakes at a lobby soda fountain, or by setting… Full Review
May 31, 2002
Mark Clarke
London: Archetype Publications, 2000. 152 pp. Paper $37.50 (1873132727)
While broad art-historical interest in the conditions of artistic production and the use of specific materials can now be said to date back more than a generation, there exists a rich body of literature describing detailed artistic practices that is much older still. Indeed, hundreds of surviving medieval manuscripts contain instructions, sometimes hasty and at other times meticulously detailed, relating to the preparation of pigments, inks, and varnishes. And yet, as Mark Clarke notes in this useful volume, there is no extant index that fully surveys the technologies of medieval painting, illumination, and related crafts. His aim is to fill… Full Review
May 30, 2002
Erica Cruikshank Dodd
Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2000. 202 pp.; 22 color ills.; 103 b/w ills. Cloth $89.00 (0888441398)
Readers glancing at Erica Cruikshank Dodd's book on the frescoes in the Syrian Monastery of Moses the Ethiopian will not find ready evidence of the "new art history." Unfashionable terms like "influence" and "Oriental" abound, and nowhere does one come across references to "the gaze" or the construction of gender. More careful examination, however, will soon show that Dodd indeed participates in current debates about the visual culture of the Mediterranean in the period of the Crusades. She does so in two principal ways: by bringing to scholarly attention a virtually unknown painted church program from Muslim-controlled Syria, and by… Full Review
May 14, 2002
Carmen C. Bambach, Hugo Chapman, and Martin Clayton
London: British Museum Press, 1999. 192 pp.; 145 color ills.; 33 b/w ills. Cloth $49.28 (0714126284)
The British Museum, London, October 6, 2000-January 7, 2001; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, February 5-May 6, 2001.
For those unfortunate enough to have missed the handsomely mounted Correggio and Parmigianino drawings exhibition, a collaborative effort by the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, its equally handsome accompanying catalogue conveys its pleasures in that first virtual reality--a slim, illustrated book to be opened and examined at leisure. Although most, if not all, of the drawings on view in the exhibition and reproduced in its catalogue have been previously exhibited and published, the show provided opportunities to encounter afresh "old friends" looking fit, and I found myself as engaged as the gaggle of middle-school children a few… Full Review
May 14, 2002
Mariët Westermann
Exh. cat. Zwolle, Netherlands: Waanders in association with Denver Art Museum and The Newark Museum, 2000. 240 pp.; many color ills.; many b/w ills. $29.95 (0914738461)
Newark Museum, Newark, NJ, October 17, 2001–January 20, 2002; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO, March 2–May 26, 2002
According to Witold Rybczynski's Home: A Short History of an Idea (New York: Viking, 1986), private spaces in households are a Dutch seventeenth-century invention, despite their commonplace nature today. A serious new exhibition and a handsomely produced accompanying catalogue set out to explore this premise by showing Dutch representations of household interiors, as well as actual period furnishings. The exhibition organizer and catalogue supervisor, Mariët Westermann, is far from naïve about the differences between sanitized, conceptual representations and the contemporary actualities; after all, this tension within "Dutch realism" lies at the heart of any interpretation of such pictures. Westermann… Full Review
May 8, 2002
Carolyn Dean
Duke University Press, 1999. 304 pp.; 8 color ills.; 43 b/w ills. Paper $18.95 (0822323672)
The late seventeenth-century series of paintings of the Corpus Christi procession in colonial Cuzco, Peru, housed at the Archbishop's Museum of Religious Art in that city, appears at first sight to be an ethnohistorian's dream. Portraying the devotees of Cuzco's indigenous parishes in procession with their patron saints, these canvases depict individuals in Inka dress, suggesting their exceptional value as ethnographic documents of the pre-Columbian past. In fact, such use of colonial visual materials has been the rule among Andeanists from most disciplinary backgrounds. Carolyn Dean has, however, forced us to rethink the significance of colonial Peruvian art in her… Full Review
May 8, 2002
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