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

Maria Vassilaki, ed.
Exh. cat. Athens: Benaki Museum, 1999. 531 pp.; 226 color ills. (8881187388)
Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece, October 20, 2000-January 20, 2001
This exhibition and its catalogue represent a swimming against the millennial tide, as the director of the Benaki Museum in his Foreward presents the exhibition in relation to the festivities that celebrated the turning of that new year's clock. The exhibition is an unusual contribution to the new-epoch declarations of the last two years, and its unusual qualities lie not least in its aim to engage only the phenomenon of Marian devotion in Byzantine culture. Recent exhibitions on the Virgin Mary have been wide ranging, like Wellesley College's Divine Mirrors, which engaged art, music, and culture. The Athens organizers… Full Review
January 24, 2002
Jürg Meyer zur Capellen
Landshut: Arcos Verlag, 2000. 328 pp.; 32 color ills.; 193 b/w ills. Cloth (3935339003)
Jürg Meyer zur Capellen's Raphael is the first of three volumes slated for publication by the Raphael Project in Münster and Würzburg. The purpose of this volume, as well as the other projected ones, is to provide an up-to-date catalogue raisonné of Raphael's paintings that incorporates the publications and the technical information learned about the painter's oeuvre since the appearance of Luitpold Dussler's critical catalogue raisonné of 1966 (revised 1971). According to the author, the book "is designed for readers with some general background knowledge, particularly for students of art history and others with an interest, professional or private, in… Full Review
January 23, 2002
Tony Green
Amobrilos: Paravail, 2000. 432 pp. Cloth (0953791203)
Tony Green's book is the first publication in two decades to focus on Poussin's two important series of paintings depicting the Seven Sacraments, and it is the only scholarly work to concentrate on them exclusively. Green examines each of the fourteen paintings, considering questions of style and iconography, as well as the theological and physical contexts in which they were made and viewed. The Sacraments, firmly associated in art-historical scholarship with Poussin's classical style and his studies of Roman and Early Christian culture, were also products of post-Tridentine Catholic environments. To address these factors, Green relies on an impressive… Full Review
January 18, 2002
Daniel M. Abramson
Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 2000. 207 pp.; 76 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (1568992445)
The skyscraper has generated a seemingly endless flow of scholarly work, a flow that shows no indication of ebbing. Monographs have detailed single buildings or the oeuvre of prominent skyscraper architects; other texts have brought focus to the technologies, the finances, or the artistic depictions of these tall structures. A museum in New York devoted to the skyscraper has even been created, offering actual and virtual exhibitions and material about the tall building, from its origins to its most contemporary examples ( A building type that is essentially of our time, a monument to modernity… Full Review
January 16, 2002
Marcus Wood
London: Routledge, 1999. 341 pp.; 7 color ills.; 168 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (041592698x)
On the deceptively simple premise that "the imagery of slavery has not been taken as seriously as it should have been" (6), Marcus Wood has built a work of awesome breadth and depth. He rightly points out that most of the visual material relating to slavery has fallen below the horizon of high art and thus the purview of art historians. The exceptions, like Hugh Honour and Albert Boime, have been more likely to subsume high art images related to slavery into the stylistic movements of neoclassicism, romanticism, or realism, than to engage with them in theoretical ways. At the… Full Review
January 11, 2002
Paul Edwards
New Haven: Yale University Press in association with Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 1999. 583 pp.; 179 color ills.; 162 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0300082096)
There is really no middle ground in discussions of Wyndham Lewis's significance and qualities as an artist. Some studies view him as a neglected but pivotal figure in the development of European modernism, while other, more hostile critiques focus on his self-imposed isolation, extremism, and elliptical relationship to the program of the modern movement. Paul Edwards's book belongs in the former camp. Lewis, undoubtedly, was a unique and exceptional cultural figure in the first half of the twentieth century. As the progenitor of the Vorticist movement, he introduced a Cubist- and Futurist-inspired aesthetic to the torpid English… Full Review
January 9, 2002
Henry Maguire
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000. 222 pp.; 167 b/w ills. Paper $27.95 (0691050074)
In this useful study, first published in 1996, Henry Maguire examines those seemingly endless rows of standing saints who feature so often in Byzantine churches, but so rarely in books on Byzantine art. The book is primarily a stylistic one, using formal analysis of the images to help understand the perception of saints in Byzantium. Maguire argues that the ways in which saints were depicted were determined by the need to "define" them. An analysis of Byzantine modes of depiction thus can aid us in interpreting how viewers within that culture saw and understood their saints. The… Full Review
January 8, 2002
Hubert Locher
Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2000. 524 pp.; 89 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (3770535219)
According to the well-known argument of Hayden White, each historiographical account--no matter how devoted to empirical detail in the tradition of Ranke or to grand systematic schemes in the manner of Hegel--is based on a theory or philosophy regarding its own aims and premises. This argument comes to mind after reading Hubert Locher's erudite book Kunstgeschichte als historische Theorie der Kunst 1750-1950 (Art History as a Historical Theory of Art 1750-1950). A historiographical achievement in many respects, the book guides us through a host of important contributions to the discourse of art history in the West over a… Full Review
January 7, 2002
Michael J. Lewis
New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000. 256 pp.; 200 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0393730638)
Frank Furness was one of America's premier architects. It will come as something of a shock, then, to learn that with the publication of Michael Lewis's Frank Furness, we have just three books devoted to the work of this nineteenth-century Philadelphia-based designer: an exhibition catalogue, The Architecture of Frank Furness by James F. O'Gorman in 1973; a catalogue raisonné, Frank Furness: The Complete Works by George E. Thomas, Jeffrey A. Cohen, and Michael J. Lewis in 1991; and a slim 1996 monograph, University of Pennsylvania Library (Architecture in Detail) by Edward Bosley on Furness's library at the school. In contrast… Full Review
January 5, 2002
Norbert Nussbaum
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. 272 pp.; 50 color ills.; 180 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0300083211)
Norbert Nussbaum's excellent, well-illustrated book, already published in two German editions, is finally available in a clear, readable English translation. It is well laid out and includes extensive and useful notes, a bibliography, a glossary of technical terms, a chronological list of buildings, and indices of persons and places. Given the exceptional quality and quantity of its photographs, plans, and text--all at a reasonable cost--the book will be a classic, a status it has already achieved for readers of the German versions. For English-speaking historians who know too little of this architecture, Nussbaum's book shows the enormous richness of medieval… Full Review
December 15, 2001
J. Mordaunt Crook
London: John Murray Publishers, 1999. 354 pp.; 118 b/w ills. Paper $24.95 (0719560500)
In writing about the newly rich in Britain during the late Victorian and Edwardian eras, J. Mordaunt Crook has produced a study that is fascinating for its vast and colorful cast of characters, but also frustrating for its piecemeal and anecdotal approach to such a complex social phenomenon. Crook tells us his method is "impressionistic rather than statistical" (4), as he has not intended to produce the kind of meticulous, socioeconomic study of David Cannadine's Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy (Yale University Press, 1990), with which this book will inevitably be compared. Despite its title, this book does… Full Review
December 13, 2001
Sidney Littlefield Kasfir
London: Thames and Hudson, 2000. 224 pp.; 74 color ills.; 96 b/w ills. Paper $14.95 (0500203288)
Contemporary African art is a complex subject. Much of it has been produced by formally and informally trained artists and, for the most part, under the influence of Western education and creative enterprise. Some critics have argued that Western patronage is biased against contemporary African art in favor of "traditional" art, apparently because of the latter's impact on modern art in the early twentieth century. It is alleged that many Western critics prefer the works of the informally trained artists and often use their professional clout to foist their own agenda on the art scene, encouraging the production of a… Full Review
December 12, 2001
James J. Sheehan
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. 271 pp.; 31 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (0195135725)
This is a remarkably brief book about a vast subject. While most museum histories are monographs or catalogues, James Sheehan's elegant survey presents the rise and fall of the monumental German art museums, including their eighteenth-century origins, along with appropriate fragments of their philosophical and historical context. For German-reading scholars interested in the German art world and its museums, the book covers a more or less familiar terrain in a more than familiar manner, although the condensed format and many observations are the author's own. The fact, however, that the text is not translated but originally produced in English signals… Full Review
December 6, 2001
Vaughan Hart and Peter Hicks, eds.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. 428 pp.; 129 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0300075308)
Alina Payne
Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 362 pp.; 88 b/w ills. Cloth $88.00 (0521622662)
The past decade has witnessed a veritable explosion of superior new English translations of Italian Renaissance architectural treatises, as well as a new critical translation of Vitruvius, whose Latin treatise served generations of Italian architects and theorists as the yardstick for proper classical style. This bounty of treatises has broadened significantly the English-speaking audience to whom these texts are now available, and the use of these books in the classroom should increase substantially. The two books under review here should be considered essential and exemplary complements to these translations, providing both a critical framework for their understanding and a synthetic… Full Review
November 30, 2001
Gabriele Neher and Rupert Shepherd, eds.
Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2000. 241 pp. Cloth (0754601692)
This anthology is a welcome addition to the growing body of literature on consumption and consumerism in the Renaissance, particularly from an art-historical perspective. It is based on a session entitled "Values in Renaissance Art" at the 25th Annual Conference of the Association of Art Historians, held in Southampton, England, in April of 1999. Most of the original papers delivered at the conference were revised and have been included in this book; others were added to expand the scope of the project. These essays explore a wide spectrum of issues and employ an array of methods as they re-evaluate overlooked… Full Review
November 26, 2001