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

Aloïs Riegl
New York: Zone Books, 2004. 474 pp.; 20 b/w ills. Cloth $36.95 (1890951455)
For the best part of the twentieth century, the work of Aloïs Riegl (1858–1905) was not accessible to the Anglophone reader. We have particular reason to welcome this highly readable translation of his Historical Grammar of the Visual Arts because this particular book was recommended by its original editors, Otto Pächt and Karl Maria Swoboda, as the best introduction to Riegl’s thought. They would have had good cause to know, as they were intimately involved in his first renaissance in... Full Review
April 19, 2005
John Shearman, ed.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. 1706 pp.; 37 b/w ills. Cloth £80.00 (0300099185)
If there can be any consolation for the sad passing of John Shearman in August of 2003, it is the legacy of this magisterial book, which the author was able to see through to press before his death and which will continue to impact future scholarship for generations to come. Raphael in Early Modern Sources (1483–1602) succeeds Vincenzo Golzio’s venerable but outdated Raffaello nei documenti (Vatican City: Pontifica Accademia dei Virtuosi al Pantheon, 1936), a book Shearman... Full Review
April 19, 2005
Karl Bassil, Zeina Maasri, and Akram Zaatari
Exh. cat. Beirut: The Arab Image Foundation, 2001. 250 pp.; 840 ills. $35.00 (9953000581)
Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium, May 2002; Die Photographische Sammlung, Cologne, Germany, September 2002; Kunsternes Hus, Oslo, Norway, February, 2003; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany, March 2003; World Wide Video Festival, Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 2003; VideoBrasil Festival, São Paulo, Brazil, October 2003; Centro de Mariana, Toledo, Spain, November 2003; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece, January 2004; Musée Nicéphore Niépce, Chalon, France, March 2004; Centre pour l’Image Contemporaine, Geneva, Switzerland, April 2004; Beiteddine Festival, Lebanon, July 2004; Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York, January 11–April 2, 2005; Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Ill., April 15–June 5, 2005; Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College, Portland, Ore., August 23–September 25, 2005
Visually compelling and intellectually sophisticated, Mapping Sitting: On Portraiture and Photography, A Project by Walid Raad and Akram Zaatari presented a wealth of photographic materials from the collection of the Beirut-based Arab Image Foundation (AIF). Embracing current theoretical approaches to the display of visual culture, the exhibition, curated by two artists, offered a richly textured and highly nuanced picture of Arab photography and its relationship to questions of... Full Review
April 8, 2005
Marcia Kupfer
University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003. 304 pp.; 117 b/w ills. Cloth $55.95 (0271023031)
In her first book, published in 1993, Marcia Kupfer drew attention to the underdiscussed frescoes of Romanesque central France, reading the images as a field within which political tensions were played out and through which social divisions were reinforced. In her second book, The Art of Healing: Painting for the Sick and the Sinner in a Medieval Town, Kupfer returns to the same fertile ground but focuses still more acutely, concentrating on the wall paintings in the crypt of the... Full Review
April 7, 2005
Frederick N. Bohrer
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. 398 pp.; 79 b/w ills. Cloth $95.00 (0521806577)
Mesopotamia, in particular Assyria and Babylon, occupies a foundational place in Western cultural identity derived from classical and biblical texts. Material traces, however, were scarce until large-scale excavations in what is now northern Iraq began in the mid-nineteenth century. In Orientalism and Visual Culture: Imagining Mesopotamia in Nineteenth-Century Europe, Frederick Bohrer examines the complex reception of ancient Mesopotamia through the lens of reception theory and... Full Review
April 7, 2005
Ravi Vasudevan, Ravi Sundaram, and Jeebesh Bagchi, eds.
New Delhi: Sarai: the new media initiative, 2002. 376 pp. Paper $15.00 (8190142909)
As the name implies, Sarai Reader 02: The Cities of Everyday Life is the second in a series of readers edited by the Sarai Group, a collaborative formed by fellows at Delhi’s well-known institute for social and political research, the Center for the Study of Developing Societies, and the media artists and critics at the Society for Old and New Media in the Netherlands and the Raqs Media Collective in Delhi. Sarai Reader 01 explored the contemporary contours of the idea of public... Full Review
April 6, 2005
Tracy Ehrlich
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 442 pp.; 12 color ills.; 155 b/w ills. Cloth $132.00 (0521592577)
By acquiring nearly twenty thousand acres of countryside near the town of Frascati (twelve miles southeast of Rome) and refurbishing three residences on this land, the nephew of Pope Paul V, Cardinal Scipione Borghese, both created a papal retreat for his uncle and established a vast agricultural enterprise that was administered from the principal residence on this land, the Villa Mondragone. In Landscape and Identity in Early Modern Rome: Villa Culture at Frascati in the Borghese Era,... Full Review
March 30, 2005
Burglind Jungmann
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004. 272 pp.; 112 b/w ills. Cloth $77.00 (0691114633)
Painters as Envoys: Korean Inspiration in Eighteenth-Century Japanese Nanga discusses how diplomatic contact between Korea and Japan during the eighteenth century helped to shape a new Japanese landscape painting style. By examining possible Korean influences on the development of Nanga, or Japanese literati painting, the author sheds new light on China’s Southern school of painting with respect to its cross-cultural transmission in East Asia. Students of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese... Full Review
March 30, 2005
David K. Wyatt
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Silkworm Books, 2004. 92 pp.; many color ills. Paper $24.95 (9749575474)
To the untrained eye, Thai paintings can be hard to decipher. They look confusing, crowded with colorful figures that appear similar in detail and character, leaving no place to focus one’s attention. For those who wish to study Thai painting in its various forms—murals, banners, and manuscript painting—guidance from a visually rich, scholarly book would be invaluable. Reading Thai Murals by David Wyatt, the distinguished American historian of Thailand, should be such a book but falls... Full Review
March 22, 2005
Richard F. Townsend, ed.
Exh. cat. Art Institute of Chicago in association with Yale University Press, 2004. 288 pp.; 320 color ills.; 120 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0300104677)
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Ill., November 20, 2004–January 30, 2005; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Mo., March 4–May 30, 2005
Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand: American Indian Art of the Ancient Midwest and South explores a period and a region of indigenous art little known even within the field of Native American art studies. Long studied by archaeologists, this vast area, roughly bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico, has been largely neglected by art historians and art museums. The only previous large-scale exhibition of material from this region occurred... Full Review
March 18, 2005