Concise, critical reviews of books, exhibitions, and projects in all areas and periods of art history and visual studies

Reviews in caa.reviews are published continuously by the College Art Association (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

Fram Kitagawa
Exh. cat. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2015. 304 pp.; 354 color ills.; 2 b/w ills. Paper $35.00 (9781616894245)
Exhibition schedule: Nīgata, Japan, July 26–September 13, 2015
In 1999, when a former student activist of the 1960s, Fram Kitagawa, proposed an idea for revitalizing the southern areas of Japan’s Nīgata Prefecture with contemporary art, its six municipalities unanimously declined. But Kitagawa insisted that art could help build a community to reinvigorate the desolate agrarian region and reverse the damage done by the government’s ferocious urbanization. After more than two thousand meetings with local communities, the effort crystallized in the first... Full Review
December 14, 2016
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Stijn Alsteens and Adam Eaker
Exh. cat. New York and New Haven: Frick Collection and Yale University Press, 2016. 320 pp.; 278 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300212051)
Exhibition schedule: Frick Collection, New York, March 2–June 5, 2016
Assembled from roughly forty different public and private collections, the exhibition Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture, curated by Stijn Alsteens and Adam Eaker, brought together more than one hundred paintings, drawings, and prints by Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641) and his contemporaries. Perhaps not coincidentally, the exhibition appeared exactly twenty-five years after another landmark Van Dyck show in New York—Christopher Brown’s groundbreaking The Drawings of Anthony van... Full Review
December 9, 2016
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Erik Thunø
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. 325 pp.; 25 color ills.; 104 b/w ills. Cloth $110.00 (9781107069909)
Erik Thunø’s The Apse Mosaic in Early Medieval Rome: Time, Network, and Repetition presents an alternative “non-diachronic” art-historical interpretation of Roman apse decoration from the sixth through ninth centuries. He identifies a core set of examples that share key visual and textual features, including: SS. Cosmas and Damian (526–30); S. Agnese (625–38); S. Venanzio (640–42); the apses of Paschal I (817–24)—S. Prassede, S. Cecelia, S. Maria in Domnica; and S. Marco (827–44).... Full Review
December 8, 2016
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Marta Gutman
Historical Studies of Urban America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. 448 pp.; 12 color ills.; 120 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780226311289)
The current obsessive fixation on children, childhood, and parenting has relegated the notion of “other people’s children” to a position of indifference and even mild disdain on the part of many middle- and upper-middle-class citizens. Yet the history of philanthropy and the preoccupation with the care of poor children was a central purpose of wealthy and middle-class women for a century and a half. In her book A City for Children: Women, Architecture, and the Charitable Landscapes of... Full Review
December 8, 2016
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Jeffrey Chipps Smith, ed.
Visual Culture in Early Modernity. Burlington: Ashgate, 2014. 244 pp.; 59 b/w ills. Cloth $104.95 (9781472435873)
Blind spots help define a period eye. That is, what one period seems to lack is precisely what distinguishes its conventions from those of other periods. Yet the blind spots are unstable. Given that examining textual documentation of a period for its conventional visual terms remains central to art-historical practice, such documents require interpretation and reinterpretation. Even the most self-conscious or straightforward document writers, announcing their own biases, are unaware of all... Full Review
December 7, 2016
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Lowery Stokes Sims, ed.
Exh. cat. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2015. 256 pp.; 145 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780878468157)
In 2015, the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, produced a large, handsome catalogue featuring approximately one hundred works by African American artists from its permanent collection, all of which were acquired over the past four decades. Three factors had a significant impact in amassing this art. Since 1969, Edmund Barry Gaither, curator and director of the National Center of Afro-American Artists (NCAAA) in Boston, has also served as a curator and consultant to the MFA. In 2005, the MFA... Full Review
December 1, 2016
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James Raven, ed.
New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 150 pp. Cloth $67.50 (9781137520760)
David Lowenthal contends that the heritage conservation movement came about largely as a result of “a sense of loss,” as humans saw their built environment vanish at alarming rates during the last century (David Lowenthal, The Past Is a Foreign Country, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985). In the United Kingdom, an island nation, the loss of each historic building often seems to be magnified by longstanding introspection, as the British worry over every facet of their... Full Review
November 30, 2016
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Eva Respini, ed.
Exh. cat. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2015. 192 pp.; 200 color ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780870709739)
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, October 12, 2015–January 21, 2016; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, February 24–May 30, 2016; Museo Jumex, Mexico City, October 13, 2016–January 14, 2017
The catalogue accompanying Walid Raad’s eponymous survey at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is a beautiful volume with extensive documentation of the artist’s oeuvre from the 1990s to today; it will undoubtedly serve as the go-to resource on the artist for years to come. Ironically, it is also colored by a set of historiographic problems that Raad himself vigorously works over in his artistic production. What does it mean that alongside a contribution by the exhibition’s curator, Eva Respini,... Full Review
November 30, 2016
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Ali Subotnick and Frances Stark, eds.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles and New York: Hammer Museum and Prestel, 2015. 248 pp.; 150 color ills. Cloth $45.00 (9783791354712)
Exhibition schedule: Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, October 11, 2015–January 24, 2016
In the earliest works featured in her mid-career survey at the Hammer Museum, Frances Stark traces excerpts from classic works of literature on carbon paper, investigating the intimate relationship forged between writer and reader, artist and viewer. Painstakingly, she has copied the serif font of T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915) by hand, as well as the scrawled, and at times inscrutable, marginalia found in a secondhand copy of the poem. These annotations do not... Full Review
November 25, 2016
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Kaja Silverman
Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015. 240 pp.; 30 color ills.; 96 b/w ills. Paperback $21.95 (9780804793995)
How do we know the world exists? This question, which precedes Martin Heidegger’s examination of the meaning of Being itself in Being and Time (trans. Joan Stambaugh, Albany: SUNY Press, 1996), brings Heidegger quickly to the terms by which we can “know” the material world. His argument singles out “useless things” as key to the process by which the world discloses itself to us, for these disturb the instrumental order of everyday existence, opening an awareness of the “totality.”... Full Review
November 25, 2016
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