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

Samantha Baskind
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004. 280 pp.; 9 color ills.; 61 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0807828483)
At the outset of her study on Soyer and Jewish identity, Samantha Baskind acknowledges the knotty complications of her venture: “Raphael Soyer did not want to be known as a Jewish artist…. So why am I … writing a book on Soyer and Jewish art” (1–2)? Despite the urban realist’s persistent denial that his religious and cultural heritage influenced his art, this book makes a compelling case for its primacy. While the artist preferred and promoted the labels “American” and “New York” in... Full Review
June 29, 2005
Fiona Donovan
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004. 196 pp.; 30 color ills.; 79 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0300095066)
Peter Paul Rubens acted on an international stage of grand proportions. His journeys, together with his massive output and universal interests, reflect a life of exceptional scope. Born in Germany and raised in the Southern Netherlands, Rubens traveled throughout the continent and England as both artist and diplomat. A life so rich in variety and achievement is not easily encompassed in a monograph. A catalogue raisonnée of Rubens’s works has required twenty-seven volumes of the Corpus... Full Review
June 28, 2005
John J. Herrmann
Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2003. 215 pp.; 207 color ills.; 10 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (0878466819)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Mass., July 21–November 28, 2004
A strong interest in the ancient Olympics on the part of both scholars and the general public has led several museums abroad to mount exhibitions exploring the artistic and archaeological evidence for Greek sports. The return of the Olympics to Greece in summer 2004 provided the impetus for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), to present Games for the Gods: The Greek Athlete and the Olympic Spirit, the first exhibition in the United States to rival shows such as Mind and Body:... Full Review
June 21, 2005
Philip Jacks
University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001. 440 pp.; 12 color ills.; 145 b/w ills. Cloth $98.95 (0271019247)
In the middle years of the fifteenth century, the Florentine-born Tommaso Spinelli (1398–1472) became a prominent banker in Rome and sponsored numerous building projects and other artistic enterprises, especially in Florence. This book gives an overview of the Spinelli family, concentrating on Tommaso and discussing in detail his business activities and his donations to the church of Santa Croce, the cloister and infirmary that he built there, the palace nearby, and his villa in the hills... Full Review
June 14, 2005
Susan Foister
London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in association with Yale University Press, 2005. 320 pp.; 40 color ills.; 180 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0300102801)
No one would mistake an artist with a name like Hans Holbein for an Englishman. Yet, as Susan Foister’s new book sets out to demonstrate, Holbein the Younger not only flourished during his tenure in England but also produced works integrally connected to the artistic context of the Tudor period. In Holbein and England, Foister hopes to revise common assumptions by reframing the artist geographically, arguing that Holbein’s experiences in Germany informed his English work and that... Full Review
June 14, 2005
David Roxburgh, ed.
Royal Academy of Arts, 2005. 496 pp.; many color ills.; 375 ills. Cloth (1903973562)
Royal Academy of Arts, London, January 22–April 12, 2005
Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years, 600–1600 is an ambitious and highly informative exhibition. With 376 items on display from 53 lending institutions—such is the wealth of material that it is hard to believe it took barely fifteen months to assemble—the show constitutes an important part of a program of all things Turkish in London. The aim is to unravel the cultural origins of the Ottomans (or the Turks, as Ottomans were commonly known in the West), but soon it becomes clear that... Full Review
May 27, 2005
Andrea Longhi, ed.
Milan: Skira, 2004. 264 pp.; 176 b/w ills. Cloth €32.00 (8884912571)
The sacrament of baptism is the most fundamental initiation rite of Christianity. In the earliest centuries of Christian worship, it was a lustration that welcomed new converts into the church. During the Middle Ages baptism was typically performed only on Easter and Pentecost; rules that the rite should be performed during these two feasts held sway until the twelfth century. Baptism, like most rituals, evolved gradually over time, and eventually it assumed a new significance linked to the... Full Review
May 25, 2005
Anthony Alofsin
New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2002. 320 pp.; 20 color ills.; 250 b/w ills.; 270 ills. Cloth $60.00 (0393730484)
Much history penned by the American generation that came of age during (and since) the 1960s deploys the narrative mode of a struggle between two binaries. Anthony Alofsin’s new history of design education at Harvard University goes so far as to include the word in its title. For Alofsin, the study of what is one of America’s leading institutions for architecture, landscape, and planning education revolves around a struggle for modernism. Importantly, the ultimate outcome of... Full Review
May 25, 2005
Hal Foster
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004. 473 pp.; 15 color ills.; 121 b/w ills. Cloth $38.00 (0262062429)
Hal Foster’s Prosthetic Gods is a Lacanian-driven contribution to art history and theory. The book does not address problems in the writing of art history, for example, why such writing is prone to monumentalizing artifacts or is crucial in canon formation. Instead, it uses theories of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan to quarantine modern art and art history by taking the special interpretive codes of Freud, and then Lacan, and transferring them to a general code of interpretation.... Full Review
May 10, 2005
Zachary Ross
Exh. cat. Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, 2003. 86 pp.; 19 color ills.; 27 b/w ills. $24.95 (0937031259)
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for the Visual Arts at Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif., October 20, 2004–February 6, 2005
A mysterious illness spread throughout the United States following the end of the Civil War. Symptoms varied from person to person but generally included diminished powers of concentration, decreased appetite, and overall decline in the level of physical energy. The Boston medical doctor George Beard identified the disease as neurasthenia, or nervous exhaustion, in 1869 and attributed its sudden appearance to rapid urbanization and industrialization. In the decades following Beard’s... Full Review
May 9, 2005