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

David McCabe and David Dalton
London: Phaidon, 2003. 240 pp.; 400 b/w ills. Cloth (9780714843223)
Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, Nashville, Tenn., September 2–October 14, 2004
In early 1964, shortly after acquiring the studio space at 231 East Forty-Seventh Street in New York that would become known as the Factory, Pop artist Andy Warhol commissioned British fashion photographer David McCabe to document his life for one year. Although the project resulted in over 2,500 photographs, none of the images were used by Warhol, nor were any published until last year’s release of McCabe’s book, A Year in the Life of Andy Warhol (London: Phaidon Press, 2003). The... Full Review
October 7, 2004
Gregory T. Clark
New York: Brepols Publishers, 2000. 500 pp.; 400 b/w ills. Cloth €136.00 (2503508782)
Recent publications have dramatically refined our knowledge of the late medieval manuscript workshops of northern Europe. Scholars have studied centers of production (e.g., Paris, Amiens, Lyons, and Tournai), major artistic monuments (e.g., the Turin-Milan Hours and the Chroniques de Hainaut), and the oeuvres of individual artists and shops (e.g., Willem Vrelant and the Master of the Champion des Dames). Gregory Clark’s weighty study falls into this latter category, as it closely... Full Review
October 4, 2004
Philippe Arbaïzar
London: Thames and Hudson, 2003. 432 pp.; 39 color ills.; 593 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0500542678)
The fascination of the late Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work, both the pleasures of the photographs and the interest of his project for those who think about the problems of art, lies in his concept of the “decisive moment.” His work exemplifies a central mode of photographic practice—the snapshot—but the snapshot is not just a way of making pictures. It is also a clear demonstration of a technical determinant of the medium. All photographs, from the staged, long-exposure tableau in the studio to... Full Review
October 1, 2004
Noel Brann’s magisterial volume offers a sweeping survey of the critical fortunes of a contentious but powerfully operative concept in quattrocento and cinquecento Italy: the notion of genial melancholy. In the course of revolving the problem, Brann, a historian of philosophy, Christian thought, and arcana, explores a constellation of ideas on which he has been musing for many years. He produced important articles on aspects of melancholy in medieval and Renaissance culture in the late 1970s.... Full Review
September 30, 2004
Randall C. Griffin
University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004. 192 pp.; 8 color ills.; 66 b/w ills. Cloth $61.95 (0271023295)
Randall Griffin’s well-written and accessible study analyzes a selection of largely canonical paintings by Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, and Thomas Anshutz in light of period art criticism and artistic, social, and economic transformations of the late nineteenth century. The book aims to illuminate how artists, critics, and patrons made use of art to navigate the conflicted and amorphous nature of American national identity during the Gilded Age. After an introduction that provides an... Full Review
September 29, 2004
Ulrich Pfisterer
Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2002. 658 pp.; 150 b/w ills. Cloth $86.00 (3777481300)
Ulrich Pfisterer’s Donatello und die Entdeckung der Stile 1430–1445 is the product of a talented scholar who, though working on well-tilled terrain, manages to unearth new material and to produce some very fruitful analyses. Amid a dazzling array of data and a cat’s cradle of intersecting proposals, the fundamental argument of the book—sometimes difficult to discern—concerns the ability of art to convey complex ideas. At stake is the intellectual status of the artist, in this... Full Review
September 24, 2004
James Elkins
Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999. 282 pp. Cloth $45.00 (0801435595)
James Elkins’s book The Domain of Images is an argument for extending aesthetic inquiry beyond the conventional bounds of images that typically provide the focus for art-historical research. Elkins strives to look at the world of images rather than the pragmatic relation that images bear to the world, which he believe characterizes paintings and drawings. The book promotes a few iconoclastic attitudes, broadens some horizons, and seeks to make philosophers, art historians, and... Full Review
September 23, 2004
Lynne Warren, ed.
Exh. cat. Champaign: Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago in association with University of Illinois Press, 2004. 96 pp.; many color ills. Paper $29.95 (0933856830)
That most Chicagoans who have encountered Dan Peterman’s work have done so without knowing it seems as fitting a tribute to the artist’s ambitions as does the current exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA). Indeed, as much as I enjoyed seeing Plastic Economies, I have equally enjoyed using Peterman’s installation Chicago Ground Cover (1997)— without realizing it was an installation—while learning to samba, salsa, shimmy, and shake atop the smooth surface... Full Review
September 14, 2004
Robert L. Herbert
Exh. cat. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004. 288 pp.; 307 color ills.; 64 b/w ills. Paper $34.95 (0520242114)
Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago, June 19–September 19, 2004
Shortly before I visited the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago to see the exhibition Seurat and the Making of “La Grande Jatte”, an art historian friend in Berlin wrote me, asking if the show was traveling to Europe. The answer is no, and visitors to the exhibition are told the reason why: in 1958, a fire broke out at New York’s Museum of Modern Art while A Sunday on La Grande Jatte was on display there. Though Georges Seurat’s canvas was unharmed, the Art Institute decided... Full Review
September 10, 2004
Nigel Allan, ed.
Chicago: Serindia Publications, 2003. 215 pp.; 200 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (0906026601)
The title of this volume of essays on illustrated manuscripts in the Wellcome Library, London, says more than editor Nigel Allan may have intended. The notion of gems plucked from an exoticized Orient, replete with objects there for the taking, fills colonialist—and, to build on the title, Orientalist—fantasy, including that of Sir Henry Wellcome, who founded the pharmaceutical company that bears his name and who built the collection. The Wellcome Library, a center for the history and... Full Review
September 10, 2004