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

Leslie Carlyle
London: Archetype Publications, 2001. 592 pp.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $140.00 (1873132166)
Manuals and instructional handbooks for artists have been in existence at least since Pliny the Elder’s discussion, in Book 35 of his Natural History, of the history of painting and its materials. Their numbers increased in the twentieth century, as shown by the volumes now in print and by the large number of instructional articles in “popular” artists’ magazines—as opposed to the academic or “serious” artists’ press, where there is either no instruction or, if I may say so, disdain... Full Review
May 4, 2005
Anne-Marie Logan
Exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2005. 344 pp.; 145 color ills.; 151 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0300104944)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, January 15–April 3, 2005
The medallions on the monumental facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art contain the names of, among other great artists, Rembrandt and Diego Velázquez. But if one looks for the name of the greatest master of the Flemish Baroque, Peter Paul Rubens, one will have searched in vain. Although Ruben’s paintings, oil sketches, and drawings lay within reach of the most important American collectors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they apparently avoided buying them. For... Full Review
April 29, 2005
Edward Dimendberg
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004. 352 pp.; 61 b/w ills. Paper $29.50 (0674013468)
Edward Dimendberg’s Film Noir and the Spaces of Modernity analyzes the logic and history of the modern metropolis through the eyes of its most faithful disciple and staunchest critic, the postwar noir film, especially its B variation, where “[t]he loss of public space, the homogenization of everyday life, the intensification of surveillance, and the eradication of older neighborhoods by urban renewal and redevelopment projects are seldom absent” (7). In the tradition of Siegfried... Full Review
April 27, 2005
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, Calif., November 12, 2004–March 13, 2005
The cadences of an auctioneer greet the visitor to an exhibition of Rachel Harrison’s work at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, but this is not Sotheby’s. It’s a low-rent auction. The bids come in one- and two-dollar increments, and there are no British accents. Intrigued by the galloping voice, you discover its source: a towering, amorphous, silvery blue, concrete mass entitled Hail to Reason. Although vaguely resembling Auguste Rodin’s Monument to Balzac in its tall,... Full Review
April 26, 2005
Nicola Courtright
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. 344 pp.; 10 color ills.; 244 b/w ills. Cloth $113.00 (0521624371)
This book is a richly illustrated surrogate for actually visiting a monument that, since 1585, has occupied the heart of Vatican City yet has been off-limits for ordinary citizens, then and now. Who knew that the square tower rising at the terminus of the northern flank of the Belvedere Courtyard contained a well-thought-out program of frescoes covering the walls of the seven rooms of this triple-story papal retreat? With this handsome publication, we can take a virtual tour and file through... Full Review
April 26, 2005
Yuko Kikuchi
New York: Routledge, 2004. 328 pp.; 102 b/w ills. Cloth $195.00 (0415297907)
Western readers will have come to know about mingei (folkcraft) theory through The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight into Beauty (Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1972), the English potter Bernard Leach’s adaptation of a number of essays by his friend, the philosopher and crafts theorist Yanagi Soetsu, who is the principal subject of Yuko Kikuchi’s book. Or, if such readers happen to be potters themselves, they might have learned the basics of Japanese folkcraft theory from... Full Review
April 25, 2005
Chiyo Ishikawa, ed.
Exh. cat. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum in association with University of Nebraska Press, 2004. 300 pp.; 150 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (0803225059)
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Wash., October 16, 2004–January 2, 2005; Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Fla., February 2, 2005–May 1, 2005
It has been a long time since a major American museum has undertaken an exhibition of Spanish art, and none has tackled as ambitious a subject as Spain in the Age of Exploration, 1492–1819. Organized by the Seattle Art Museum and Spain’s Patrimonio Nacional, the exhibition has a strong thematic content that is presented thoughtfully in a handsome catalogue and in the display of some one hundred rare objects. Most of the works are drawn from the Spanish royal collection, and many have... Full Review
April 25, 2005
Michael Leja
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004. 333 pp.; 24 color ills.; 84 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0520238079)
“Adjusting to modern life in New York circa 1900 meant learning to see skeptically. To function successfully, even to survive, every inhabitant of the modern city, every target of competitive marketing, every participant in the new mass culture, every beneficiary of modern science and technology, every believer in spiritual realms had to process visual experiences with some measure of suspicion, caution, and guile” (1). These bold and intriguing lines open Michael Leja’s recently published... Full Review
April 21, 2005
William H. Van Every, Jr., Gallery, Davidson College, Davidson, N.C., January 20–February 27, 2005
Quietly stirring within the walls of Davidson College’s Van Every Gallery is war, violence, and sadness. It is a welcome surprise for the Charlotte region, whose most controversial dialogue on art tends to concern which Impressionist exhibition to visit. Although Davidson College consistently presents reputable but safe artists, the gallery’s director, Brad Thomas, has here curated a show that provides the public with artwork taking on substantive subject matter. The exhibition... Full Review
April 21, 2005
Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Calif., November 16, 2004–February 27, 2005
Time/Space, Gravity, and Light, which complements Einstein, the major science-history exhibition on view at the Skirball Cultural Center through May 29, 2005, showcases recent digital art and multimedia installations that explore the same physical phenomena that captivated Albert Einstein throughout his life. The projects in Time/Space also embrace the world made possible by quantum mechanical devices, such as computers and electronics, which Einstein never knew. Glenn... Full Review
April 19, 2005