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

Helen Molesworth
Exh. cat. Baltimore and University Park: Baltimore Museum of Art in association with Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002. 248 pp.; 114 color ills. $29.95 (0271023341)
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Md., October 12, 2003–January 4, 2004; Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa, May 15–August 1, 2004; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio, September 18, 2004–January 2, 2005
The advertising poster for the exhibition Work Ethic includes the text “Artists. Hard at work or hardly working? You decide” above a photograph documenting the Hi Red Center’s Ochanomizu Drop (Dropping Event) of 1964, which consisted of dropping clothes and objects from a rooftop, their retrieval and placement in a suitcase that was subsequently stowed in a public locker, ending with the sending of its key to an individual chosen randomly from the telephone book. At one level,... Full Review
December 20, 2004
Pamela H. Smith
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004. 408 pp.; 28 color ills.; 157 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (0226763994)
In her recent book The Body of the Artisan: Art and Experience in the Scientific Revolution, Pamela H. Smith contributes to a growing body of scholarship that reevaluates the relationship between art and science in early modern Europe. She argues that the roots of the Scientific Revolution may be found in the products and practices of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century artisans. Equating active knowledge with handworkers, Smith sees the physical engagement of craftsmen with matter and... Full Review
December 17, 2004
Stephanie S. Dickey
John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2004. 368 pp.; 172 b/w ills. Cloth $270.00 (9027253390)
The cover of Stephanie Dickey’s Rembrandt: Portraits in Prints reproduces the artist’s Self-Portrait at a Window from 1648, which is a cannily deceptive etching. The first impression it makes is of modest sobriety and straightforward presentation. But look a little further, a little longer, and the probing nature of Rembrandt’s self-examination, united with its representational ambiguity (Is he drawing? Is he etching?) lures the viewer into what is ultimately a virtuosic... Full Review
December 16, 2004
Cynthia Mills and Pamela S. Simpson, eds.
Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2003. 296 pp.; 89 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (1572332727)
This book, a compilation of essays edited by Cynthia Mills and Pamela H. Simpson, examines ideologies and issues associated with commemoration and the creation of Civil War monuments. The fourteen chapters, essays written by scholars in a number of disciplines, are divided into four parts: “The Rites of Memory: Differing Perspectives,” “Heroes and Heroines of the South,” Celebration and Responses to the North,” and “Changing Times, Reshaping History.” A recurring theme throughout the... Full Review
December 9, 2004
Michael Marlais, John Varriano, and Wendy M. Watson
Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, 2004.
Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, Mass., September 7–December 12, 2004
At the start of the exhibition Valenciennes, Daubigny, and the Origins of French Landscape Painting, visitors are presented with a minor masterpiece by the mid-nineteenth-century French landscape painter Charles-François Daubigny, a remarkably fresh and boldly rendered vision of a modest corner of the French countryside at Optevoz, in the Bas-Dauphiné region of southeastern France. Painted around 1856, The Water’s Edge, Optevoz depicts a local fishing pond, rocky, overgrown, and... Full Review
December 6, 2004
Christopher Pinney
London: Reaktion Books, 2003. 320 pp.; 100 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Paper £22.50 (1861891849)
Christopher Pinney’s ‘Photos of the Gods’: The Printed Image and Political Struggle in India traces the development of prints, mostly chromolithographs, from the late 1870s onward. Specifically, he focuses on the intersection of printed images and political struggles from the colonial period to present-day India. Chromolithographs, complex color images printed from multiple stone blocks, developed from the basic lithographic technique invented by Alois Senefelder in Munich in 1798 and... Full Review
December 2, 2004
Helen Langa
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004. 350 pp.; 104 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0520231554)
In recent decades the field of American art has seen a renewed interest in the art of the 1930s and, in particular, the work of artists who expressed a leftist political perspective. Fueled initially by the political turmoil of the 1960s and 1970s, this scholarship examines a decade when activist or political art achieved legitimacy in the eyes not only of certain segments of the art world, but also of significant individuals in the federal government and, to a certain extent, the general... Full Review
November 19, 2004
Margaret A. Gallucci
New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. 256 pp.; 16 b/w ills. Cloth $100.00 (1403961077)
This fascinating new look at Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571) offers a thoroughly innovative approach to, and understanding of, the man Jacob Burckhardt called “a wholly recognizable prototype of modern man” (Civilization of the Renaissance, trans. S. G. C. Middlemore [New York: The Modern Library, 1935], 330). In Margaret Gallucci’s recent book, Cellini is no longer seen as the forerunner of European Romanticism and of the modern virtue of heroic individualism (as Goethe and Francesco De... Full Review
November 19, 2004
Lynn Zelevansky, ed.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles County Museum of Art in association with MIT Press, 2004. 240 pp.; 232 b/w ills. Cloth $49.95 (0262240475)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, Calif., June 13–October 3, 2004; Miami Art Museum, Miami, Fla., November 18, 2004–May 1, 2005
Beyond Geometry: Experiments in Form, 1940s–1970s makes modern art’s recent past reflect meaningfully on the present. The word “beyond” in the exhibition’s title promises a look at evidence not covered or hidden by the noun to which it is attached. Although the years from 1940 to 1970 press for breadth, they also situate the exhibition in a specific era with no claims for timeless transcendence. In modern art, form—as separate from content—has a suspenseful, contentious history. During... Full Review
November 15, 2004
Anabel Thomas
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. 430 pp.; 12 color ills.; 93 b/w ills. Cloth $132.00 (0521811880)
With Art and Piety in the Female Religious Communities of Renaissance Italy: Iconography, Space, and the Religious Woman’s Perspective, Anabel Thomas sets out to correct what she considers to be general misconceptions about art in female religious communities in Renaissance Tuscany and Umbria. Among the most significant of these suppositions is the view that female religious communities not only housed few works of art, but that those works were limited to the public areas of... Full Review
November 8, 2004