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

John J. Ciofalo
Cambridge University Press, 2001. 240 pp.; 8 color ills.; 70 b/w ills. Cloth (0521771366)
Historically, self-portraiture has been a problematic genre for many artists because of the necessity both to reveal and to conceal. For this reason, it can tell us things about artists that we otherwise would not know. The genre also provides scholars with a broader context for speculation about artists' personal lives, their creative motivations, professional ambitions, and psychological fears. John J. Ciofalo's book on Goya's self-portraits gives admirable scope for scholarly speculation from a highly informed perspective. The book is admirably researched, exceptionally well written, and profoundly provocative. Indeed, many of the author's readings of Goya's eternally fascinating paintings will… Full Review
April 17, 2001
Annmarie Adams and Peta Tancred
Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 2000. 190 pp. Cloth $50.00 (0802044174)
Much has been written about the place of women in male-dominated professions, but systematic research and documentation of the architectural and design professions have been few and far between, with most such publications covering the subject in the United States and Western Europe. Annmarie Adams and Petra Tancred's 'Designing Women': Gender and the Architectural Profession is thus a welcome addition that focuses on a Canadian context. In more than one way, it is a unique contribution, going well beyond highlighting concepts of restriction and marginalization imposed on women's professional lives by the architectural profession. The book,… Full Review
April 1, 2001
Bruce Kellner, ed.
Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999. 186 pp. Paper $19.95 (1566397812)
Like their European counterparts, first-generation modernists in the United States depended on the word—in manifestoes, catalog essays, and "little magazines"—to advocate and advance their art. The Alfred Stieglitz circle, for instance, enlisted the journal Camera Work and the critical writing of Waldo Frank and Paul Rosenfeld to explicate their aesthetic goals to a public in need of instruction. This art movement was, moreover, engaged with literary modernism, as writers were prominent figures within its ranks. Camera Work published the early work of Gertrude Stein, and William Carlos Williams and D.H. Lawrence were admired by the Stieglitz group and in turn… Full Review
March 29, 2001
Holly Edwards, ed.
Princeton University Press in association with Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2000. 242 pp.; many color ills.; some b/w ills. Paper $65.00 (069105004X)
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, June 11-September 4, 2000; The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, MD, October 1-December 10, 2000; Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC, February 3-April 22, 2001.
Prepared for an exhibition that originated at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, this catalogue richly illustrates and analyzes the multivalent visual culture of American Orientalism from the post-Civil War Holy Land paintings of Frederic Church to the Hollywood movie celebrity Rudolph Valentino, who starred in The Sheik (1921). The catalogue comprises five interpretive essays by scholars from different disciplines as well as contextually detailed catalogue entries for a diverse array of art objects and artifacts, including paintings and the decorative arts, advertising, photography, film, fashions, and documentary ephemera. Curator and catalogue editor Holly Edwards writes… Full Review
March 29, 2001
Alexander Nagel
Cambridge University Press, 2000. 303 pp.; 105 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0521662923)
In his sustained and enlightening meditation on Michelangelo and the figure of the dead Christ, Alexander Nagel has persuasively repositioned the artist’s work within a climate of historicism and reform. He has also achieved much more than this. Long before Vasari, as Nagel reminds us, artists had been mindful of art’s own history. Their definition of change—whether stylistic or iconographic—and their attitude toward it, embodied the highest kind of self-consciousness. With respect to art in the High Renaissance, Nagel wishes to revise the seasoned art-historical narrative in which change, conceived as innovation, assumes the nature of an identifying… Full Review
March 26, 2001
Jill Dunkerton, Susan Foister, and Nicholas Penny
Yale University Press in association with National Gallery, London, 2002. 329 pp.; 300 color ills.; 86 b/w ills. Paper $39.95 (0300095333)
Dürer to Veronese is the second out of a series of four planned volumes exploring the function, meaning, and making of European paintings in the collection of the National Gallery, London. Unlike the first volume, Giotto to Dürer, covering two hundred and fifty years of pictorial production and published in 1991, the present volume focuses upon one century alone and does not include separate entries on individual paintings. The new book, written by the restorer Jill Dunkerton; the curator of early Netherlandish, German, and British painting, Susan Foister; and the Keeper and Clore curator of Renaissance Art, Nicholas… Full Review
March 23, 2001
Guy Delmarcel
Harry N. Abrams, 2000. 383 pp.; 350 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $100.00 (0810933454)
Guy Delmarcel's recent book is a survey of tapestries produced in what is now Belgium and Northern France from the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Flemish Tapestries is a luxuriously illustrated book, including numerous tapestries which have not been reproduced previously. Published almost simultaneously in French, Dutch, and English, the book was financed by the Ministry of Flemish Culture. In contrast to some of his earlier specialized and minutely documented contributions to tapestry history (among many others, his study with Clifford M. Brown, Tapestries for the Courts of Federico II, Ercole, and Ferrante Gonzago: 1522-1563, or his catalogue with… Full Review
March 21, 2001
Walter S. Gibson
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. 291 pp.; 16 color ills.; 124 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0520216989)
In his new book, Pleasant Places: The Rustic Landscape from Bruegel to Ruisdael, Walter Gibson takes the reader on an extensive wandeling that explores the diverse pleasures the seventeenth-century Dutch took in from images of their own familiar countryside. The book spans from the sixteenth-century "origins" of the "rustic" landscape in Antwerp to late seventeenth-century discussions of the picturesque, but developments associated with Haarlem are central. In the words of the author, "The rustic landscape born in Antwerp, came of age in Haarlem." The subject—rustic landscape—is very broadly conceived, and Gibson draws on a rich trove of historical evidence… Full Review
March 21, 2001
Peg Zeglin Brand, ed.
Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2000. 329 pp.; 52 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0253337267)
A cold, wintry, and grey afternoon in London might not be the best environment to begin thinking about whether and how beauty matters, or about what are the matters that form our definitions of Beauty. However, the eerie bleakness of the weather around me coincided with the need initially to consider one form of reaction to beauty: namely, our differing responses and reactions to nature. This question was considered in Marcia M. Eaton's discussion of "Kantian and Contextual Beauty." When she considers her own admiration for a flower growing on the banks of a lake, its purple form against the… Full Review
March 17, 2001
Sarah Quill
Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000. 206 pp.; 210 color ills.; 70 b/w ills. Cloth (1840146974)
One of the most beautiful books to appear in recent years, this visual feast that is Ruskin's Venice: The Stones Revisited pairs quotations from the three volumes of John Ruskin's The Stones of Venice (New York: Lovell, 1851-53) with Sarah Quill's dazzling photographs of the monuments that Ruskin observed. Every detail is appealing, from the dust jacket—a deftly chosen detail of the marble encrustation on the Ca' Dario that Ruskin would surely have favored—to the marble intarsia decoration on the end papers. The intended audiences of the book, one might speculate, are the modern-day travelers to Venice mentioned at the… Full Review
March 17, 2001
James Ayres
Yale University Press, 1998. 280 pp.; 42 color ills.; 302 b/w ills. Cloth $70.00 (0300075480)
Elizabeth McKellar
Manchester University Press in association with Palgrave Macmillan, 2000. 263 pp.; 59 b/w ills. Paper $35.00 (0719040760)
Two recent works significantly extend our understanding of the architectural history of London and English provincial towns and cities. Elizabeth McKellar's masterful study of the economic and statutory forces that shaped the appearance of London's domestic buildings offers the first major reconsideration of the metropolis since the publication of Sir John Summerson's 1945 Georgian London. James Ayres's overview of the technological innovations and craft traditions that enabled the emergence of the Georgian urban landscape stands as an important synthesis of information gathered by architectural and social historians over the past fifty years. Both books are important additions to the… Full Review
March 17, 2001
Patricia Mathews
University of Chicago Press, 2000. 316 pp.; 13 color ills.; 92 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (0226510182)
The Symbolist aesthetic in late nineteenth-century Europe demonstrates a particularly idiosyncratic complexity due to its interweaving of cultural, political, social, scientific, and aesthetic influences. Tracking these individual strands in the art and literature at the fin-de-siècle reveals a strong reaction against Enlightenment ideals of progress and rationalism that was often expressed in visual and verbal images of superstition and mysticism. During this period, subjective intuition replaced realist observation while suggestion was preferred to description for aesthetic effect. Compared to studies on Realism and Impressionism, those dedicated to Symbolism sometimes appear as slender and evasive as the effetely emaciated figures that… Full Review
March 16, 2001
Sabine Eiche, ed.
Urbino: Accademia Raffaello, 1999. 145 pp.; 11 b/w ills. Cloth $27.50 (8887573034)
Recent scholarship has produced a mounting bibliography in the area of court studies, helping to convince most scholars that, however important the great republics, the courts must be included in any complete evaluation of cultural history in the Renaissance. Yet the precise nature of the Italian Renaissance court remains hard to define, with many fundamental questions still inadequately answered. How institutionalized was the court? Who, exactly, were its members? Did they have specific roles and privileges? Hard facts on these topics are both scarce and scattered, making the document presented in Sabine Eiche's book especially precious: the Ordine et officij… Full Review
March 16, 2001
Sarah R. Cohen
Cambridge University Press, 2000. 352 pp.; 8 color ills.; 166 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0521640466)
In her study of the "artful body" and aristocratic identity in the visual arts from Louis XIV to the Regency, Sarah Cohen investigates the role played by personal artifice and dance in the performance of status, power, and social interaction. Drawing on a wealth of historical, visual, and documentary material, an intimate familiarity with dance and art history, and methodologies on performance and identity in African and contemporary art, Cohen explores the significance and meaning of outward appearances, bodily movement, and cultural practice in art ranging from Versailles to the last paintings of Watteau. In chapter… Full Review
March 16, 2001
Peter B. Nesbett and Michelle DuBois, eds.
University of Washington Press. 257 pp. $125.00 (0295979631)
Although he spent nearly all of his professional life in the public eye, Jacob Lawrence has remained an elusive figure. A child of the Harlem Renaissance, Lawrence was born too late to be more than a perceptive eyewitness to that movement. A figurative artist whose small-scale paintings were driven by historical narratives, the artist reached maturity in an era that preferred grand, mute abstractions. Socially engaged but reticent to protest, a critical darling well removed from the centrism of his native New York, a regular in the commercial galleries, a bolsterer of thematic exhibitions, and the subject of several strong… Full Review
March 11, 2001