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

Ann Goldstein and Lisa Mark, eds.
Exh. cat. Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in association with MIT Press, 2003. 452 pp.; 200 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0262072513)
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, March 14–August 2, 2004
Two discourses of Minimalism have come to determine its academic reception today, both of which reject theories by the twentieth century’s most prominent critic, Clement Greenberg. One line of thought stresses the objecthood of an artwork against Greenberg’s insistence that modernist painting remain true to the inherent, unique qualities of the medium. The other emphasizes the phenomenological experience one has of sculpture in real time and space against Greenberg’s call for a disembodied,... Full Review
July 15, 2004
The Norton Simon Museum’s exhibition of thirty black-chalk drawings by Jean-Honoré Fragonard offered the viewer an unusual challenge. Consisting of drawings after old-master paintings executed by Fragonard during a tour of Italy in 1760–61, the exhibition took as its subject the education of an artist. By positioning near each drawing a small photo reproduction of the original painting that Fragonard was copying, the viewer was inevitably drawn into a game of comparison as well as a quest to... Full Review
July 14, 2004
Timothy Hyman
London: Thames and Hudson, 2003. 224 pp.; 73 color ills.; 110 b/w ills. Paper £8.95 (9780500203729)
Diana Norman
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. 352 pp.; 50 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0300099339)
The recent publication of two surveys of Sienese painting is another indication of a noticeable boom in this field. Such historians as William Bowsky, Samuel Cohn, and Daniel Waley have fueled this resurgence, and their investigations of the political, religious, and social institutions of the Commune of Siena identified a unique and influential culture with well-preserved archival records. Building upon their work, art historians have added the study of historical and... Full Review
July 13, 2004
Kathleen Kamerick
New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. 304 pp.; 18 b/w ills. Cloth $100.95 (0312293127)
Kathleen Kamerick’s study of late medieval art and piety in England is partly a history of strong reactions to images. The book begins with the 1429 heresy trial of a Lollard, an adherent of a heretical reform movement led by John Wyclif and others. The accused, Margery Baxter, had suggested to a friend that the images in the local church were not only the base material creations of “lewd” craftsmen but were also idols inhabited by demons (13–14). This Lollard contempt for religious... Full Review
July 12, 2004
Vincent Scully
Intro. Neil Levine. Princeton University Press, 2003. 416 pp.; 300 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0691074410)
Vincent Scully, Sterling Professor Emeritus at Yale University, is probably the best-known architectural historian in the United States. During a teaching career that stretched from 1947 to 1991, Scully established a reputation as one of Yale’s most inspiring lecturers. How many other architectural historians have been profiled in the New Yorker, had their retirement covered on the front page of the New York Times, or lectured at the White House? A new collection of twenty... Full Review
July 8, 2004
Clifford S. Ackley, Ronni Baer, and Thomas E. Rassieur
Exh. cat. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2003. 344 pp.; 80 color ills.; 160 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0878466770)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, October 26, 2003–January 18, 2004; Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago, February 14–May 9, 2004
See "Amy Golahny's review": of this catalogue. Rembrandt’s Journey: Painter, Draftsman, Etcher is the outcome of Clifford Ackley’s own Rembrandt odyssey. His long and intensive study of the artist’s work has resulted in three landmark exhibitions and catalogues, and through these publications the course of Rembrandt print scholarship can be charted over nearly thirty-five years. (Although this exhibition and catalogue include the... Full Review
July 7, 2004
Terry Eagleton
New York: Basic Books, 2003. 240 pp. Cloth $25.00 (0465017738)
Cultural theory fiddles while the world burns. It is this perversion that Terry Eagleton hopes to remedy with his newest jeremiad, After Theory. Here is the problem, which September 11 and the resulting War on Terror made crystal clear: cultural theorists—and by this label he lumps together all those wrong-minded poststructuralists, neopragmatists, and postmodernists, from Jacques Derrida to Stanley Fish to Fredric Jameson—strip majorities of the norms and stable identities... Full Review
July 7, 2004
Ann R. Kinney, Marijke J. Klokke, and Lydia Kieven
Honolulu: University Of Hawai'i Press, 2003. 304 pp.; 280 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Cloth $62.00 (0824827791)
More than a century has elapsed since the inauguration of Classical Javanese archaeological studies by the perspicacious and prolific scholars working under the auspices of the Dutch East Indies Archaeological Service. Despite this fact scholarly explorations of the religious edifices of the Eastern Javanese Period (ca. 970 to 1500) still continue to be overshadowed by the extraordinary artistic legacy of the preceding Central Javanese era (ca. 750 to 930), particularly by the... Full Review
June 29, 2004
Gordon S. Barrass
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. 288 pp.; 180 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0520234510)
The British Museum, London, January 31–May 19, 2002
The Art of Calligraphy in Modern China is a well-illustrated and handsomely produced volume that presents itself as a survey of the development and transformation of the Chinese calligraphic tradition in the modern era (defined here as the roughly fifty-year period from the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949 to the end of the century). Despite its grand ambitions, however, the book turns out, upon closer inspection, to be something far more limited: namely, a catalogue... Full Review
June 28, 2004
Valentin Groebner
Trans. Pamela Selwyn. New York: Zone Books, 2004. 192 pp.; 27 b/w ills. Cloth $32.95 (1890951374)
Valentin Groebner’s latest book, his fourth, is nothing if not timely. An engaging (but also slightly uneven) series of studies involving ways in which bodies, and markings upon bodies, carried meaning and acted as the ground for physical violence in late medieval Europe, Defaced: The Visual Culture of Violence in the Late Middle Ages treats a subject that stands more or less at the center of discussions involving Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ, the... Full Review
June 24, 2004