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

Giovanni Ciappelli and Patricia Lee Rubin, eds.
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000. 316 pp.; some b/w ills. Cloth $90.00 (0521643007)
This is a valuable book for both historians and art historians concerned with Renaissance Florence. It boasts the intriguing topic, "Art, Memory, and Family," and contains scholarly essays from leading historians and art historians in their respective fields. As discussed by the art historian Patricia Lee Rubin in the book's preface, the essays originated in a symposium held at the National Gallery in London in 1996. Although some of the conference papers have since appeared elsewhere in print, Rubin's thoughtful preface (the historian Ciappelli wrote the introduction) incorporates their ideas to make this volume an almost complete record of the… Full Review
July 16, 2001
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Amy Newman
New York: SOHO Press, 2000. 560 pp. Cloth $42.00 (1569472076)
The text that comprises Challenging Art: Artforum 1962–1974 is, to borrow from Roland Barthes (writing around the time Artforum became an established art-world institution), not “a line of words releasing a single ‘theological’ meaning,” but rather “a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centers of culture.”[1] Consisting of fragments of interviews woven together to produce a narrative that chronicles the first twelve years of Artforum’s publication, this text is literally a “tissue of quotations.” Thus, the structure of the book reflects the discursive nature of this project’s source. As Amy Newman writes in the introduction, “An unruly group… Full Review
July 12, 2001
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Keith Moxey
Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001. 146 pp.; 7 b/w ills. Paper $15.95 (0801486750)
In his previous book, The Practice of Theory: Poststructuralism, Cultural Politics and Art History, Keith Moxey called on art historians to abandon their quest for objectivity and instead foreground the precepts of critical theory. Its sequel, The Practice of Persuasion: Paradox & Power in Art History, considers what such an approach means for the discipline of art history. Moxey rejects what he perceives as the nostalgia for order and tradition in the current reaction against the incursion of critical theory because he believes it ignores the most important development of recent times: the demise of grand narratives. The… Full Review
July 10, 2001
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E. Bowron and Joseph Rychel, eds.
Philadelphia: Merrell Holberton Publishers in association with Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2000. 624 pp.; 200 color ills.; 300 b/w ills. Paper $70.00 (0876331363)
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, March 16-May 28, 2000; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, June 25-September 17, 2000
"Rome is the most glorious place in the Universal World"—this was how the twenty-six-year-old Scottish architect Robert Adam described his reaction to the city on his arrival in 1755. Both Art in Rome in the Eighteenth Century and the exhibition it was created to accompany are lavish, vivid demonstrations of that assertion. The catalogue, however, is much more; it combines illustration of the exhibition—called The Splendor of 18th-Century Rome and held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston during the spring and summer of 2000—with a tremendous amount of research that, until fairly recently… Full Review
July 9, 2001
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Jonathan Gilmore
Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000. 157 pp.; 31 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (0801436958)
Jonathan Gilmore's The Life of Style: Beginnings and Endings in the Narrative History of Art resuscitates an internalist history of artistic style, an earlier notion of style that endeavored to explain perceptible shifts in artistic production. This notion, however, has long since fallen out of favor. Following Pliny, Vasari, Winckelmann, Wölfflin, Riegl, and Focillon, Gilmore understands "internal" to be the organic development of style: it begins (is born), develops (blooms), and ends (fades). This is "the life of a style." According to Gilmore, an account of this life, or, better yet, a historical representation of style, is narrative in its… Full Review
July 6, 2001
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Antonio Natali, ed.
Milan: Silvana Editoriale, 1999. 128 pp.; 70 color ills.; 25 b/w ills. Cloth (8882151735)
When a bomb exploded outside the Galleria degli Uffizi in 1993, damaging the west wing, several painting galleries and their contents were affected, requiring restoration. The room that had been hung with paintings by Federico Barocci and contemporary Venetians was among those closed for repairs. During its closure, a plan was implemented to reorganize the gallery around the theme of the Catholic Reformation. Barocci’s Madonna del Popolo now serves as the focus, and is accompanied by Tuscan altarpieces of the late sixteenth century. The book under review, L’Onestà dell’invenzione: Pittura della riforma cattolica agli Uffizi, was occasioned by the… Full Review
July 5, 2001
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John Lowden
University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000. 360 pp.; 27 color ills.; 117 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (0271019093)
John Lowden's ambitious new study of the most opulent and complex manuscripts produced during the High Middle Ages is a brilliant, ground-breaking work. For the reader who has been engaged in any way with moralized Bibles, a careful reading of this detailed and densely argued text will be rewarded with an array of major revisions touching almost every aspect of the existing scholarship. Centered on issues of the production and consumption of the Bibles Moralisées, Lowden's two separate but closely interrelated volumes adopt a dual strategy. The first undertakes a "broadly codicological" analysis of each… Full Review
July 5, 2001
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Gregory C. Randall
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000. 264 pp.; 63 b/w ills. Cloth $42.50 (0801862078)
Among the chief protagonists of William H. Whyte's 1956 Organization Man is the village of Park Forest. Planned in 1946 and built in stages over the next decade, Whyte framed the new "package suburb" thirty miles south of Chicago as the natural habitat for a new "social ethic" that was transforming the country. Increasing numbers of young, white, mobile, and seemingly middle-class families were creating new patterns of interpersonal adjustment, domestic privacy, civic participation, leisure, and spending. While Whyte did not inquire too deeply into the intricacies of planning and implementation, he did create informal maps of particular micro-neighborhoods that… Full Review
June 27, 2001
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Richard Shiff, Robert Storr, and Arthur C. Danto, eds.
Phaidon, 2000. 332 pp.; 200 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Cloth $69.95 (0714838195)
With Robert Mangold, I enjoyed thinking about what autonomous art might entail. Beyond the routine social constructionist dismissals of this possibility, it obligates considerations more complex than an "Against Interpretation" kind of appeal to raw experience. With their internal sequences rooted in physical reality and construction details, Mangold’s paintings provide objective criteria by which to evaluate them. These criteria count for more than any individual interpretation of them. Such an aesthetic autonomy would require that an artist have some kind of intuitive calculus for tacking against a continuously changing culture, for resisting what Richard Shiff… Full Review
June 22, 2001
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Susan Sidlauskas
Cambridge University Press, 2000. 230 pp.; 8 color ills.; 56 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0521770246)
In the introduction to Body, Place, and Self in Nineteenth-Century Painting, Susan Sidlauskas asks the following question about the four paintings she examines in her book: "What material and theoretical conditions—of making and spectatorship—made these works possible?" (2). This is an important query, and not just because it acknowledges both the artist’s and the beholder’s share in the production of meaning. What Sidlauskas suggests is that the work of art history ought to begin with an exploration of what it was possible for painters and viewers to think and say about a work of art at a given historical… Full Review
June 22, 2001
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Malcolm Goldstein
Oxford University Press, 2000. 370 pp. Cloth (019513673X)
The art market has become headline news: Masterpiece paintings regularly achieve prices in the tens of millions of dollars, prominent museum curators appear on television broadcasts, and glossy magazines feature New York art dealers on their covers. Various publications and exhibitions have examined certain periods in the development of the fine art market and commercial galleries in the United States, including, most notably, Linda Henefield Skalet's "The Market for American Painting in New York: 1870-1915" (Ph.D. diss., Johns Hopkins, 1980), the Zabriskie Gallery's Charles Daniel and The Daniel Gallery 1913-1932 (New York: Zabriskie Gallery, 1993), and Sarah Greenough's exhibition at… Full Review
June 8, 2001
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Patricia Meilman
Cambridge University Press, 2000. 260 pp.; some color ills.; many b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0521640954)
The subject of Titian and the Altarpiece in Renaissance Venice, notwithstanding its expansive title, is Titian's celebrated Peter Martyr Altarpiece (1537-30). In spite of the painting's fiery demise in 1867, Patricia Meilman successfully reconstructs the altarpiece and its environment in the reader's mind, a project facilitated by her clarity of purpose to re-secure the work's artistic importance. The author furnishes a close study of the religious context, sources, and subsequent critical and artistic significance of this unusual commission to a prestigious artist by the Scuola of San Pietro Martire for its altar in the nave of the Dominican church… Full Review
June 6, 2001
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John Crook
Oxford University Press, 1999. 308 pp.; 111 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (0198207948)
John Crook's study, The Architectural Setting of the Cult of the Saints in the Early Christian West c. 300-1200, represents a remarkable synthesis of more than a decade of research spent in pursuit of a laudably ambitious goal: to provide an overview of the architectural setting of the cult of the saints in the West between the beginnings of the cult and 1200. Given the many factors that complicate the project, the results are much to be admired. Work on a similar, but much narrower, topic allowed me unwonted familiarity with the difficulties Crook certainly encountered (Cynthia Hahn, "Seeing… Full Review
May 28, 2001
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Vidya Dehejia, ed.
Munich: Prestel, 2000. 2 pp.; 215 ills. Cloth $80.00 (379132408X)
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, December 3, 2000-March 25, 2001.
As any bibliophile knows, art books can be both purveyors of information about objects and objects of beauty themselves. This is certainly the case with the exquisite catalogue created for the recent exhibition on early photographs of India held at the Smithsonian Institution's Freer and Sackler Galleries, Washington, DC. India through the Lens: Photography 1840-1911, edited by Vidya Dehejia, has a carefully coordinated aesthetic appeal—from the fold-out pages revealing the protracted splendor of panoramic photographs to the sepia-colored frontispieces of each section designed to match the sepia-toned photographs that follow. Eleven essays, written by seven contributors and varying from… Full Review
May 25, 2001
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Christine M. Boeckl
Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2000. 210 pp.; 45 b/w ills. Paper $30.00 (094354985X)
Christine Boeckl's Images of Plague and Pestilence: Iconography and Iconology is a concise overview of the visual and literary history of cultural responses to pestilential epidemics. In this study, Boeckl draws on her extensive knowledge of the scholarly literature on plague—pioneered by Jacqueline Brossollet and Henri Mollaret—and to which she has contributed several significant articles since completing her dissertation in 1990. Thus, the book draws on Boeckl's familiarity with the symptoms of the plague, its history of outbreaks, its causes, its folklore, the devotional images created to ward it off, and the iconographic conventions established for representing those stricken by… Full Review
May 22, 2001
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