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

Patricia Berger
Honolulu: University Of Hawai'i Press, 2002. 266 pp.; 66 b/w ills.; 66 ills. Cloth $42.00 (0824825632)
Patricia Ann Berger’s Empire of Emptiness: Buddhist Art and Political Authority in Qing China is not just the first monograph on court art of this period in Western language, but also a much-needed contribution to the study of Manchu court culture in general, an area enjoying something of renaissance in the last decade. Like recent publications by cultural historians, Berger’s work could be read as contrasting the “cynical” view on Manchu rulers, a view that dismisses the... Full Review
December 11, 2003
Alessandro Bagnoli
Milan: Silvana Editoriale, 2003. 539 pp.; 300 ills. €48.00 (8882154831)
On June 9, 1311, Duccio di Buoninsegna’s Maestà was placed on the high altar of Siena cathedral. A mid-fourteenth-century Sienese chronicle describes its first presentation to the city: bq. On the day on which it was carried to the Duomo, the shops were locked up and the Bishop ordered a great and devout company of priests and brothers with a solemn procession, accompanied by the Signori of the Nine and all the officials of the Commune, and all the populace and all the most worthy... Full Review
December 11, 2003
Elizabeth Pilliod
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. 292 pp.; 40 color ills.; 110 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0300085435)
Writing historiography is one of the most self-revealing acts an art historian is likely to perform. That is probably why many eminent scholars have kept well away from it. To confront Giorgio Vasari’s personal prejudices, jealousies and hatreds, and silences and suppressions of fact is to come into critical conflict with the mainstream of art-historical interpretation—the lengthy, authoritative tradition of credence given to the biographer. Paul Barolsky found his own gentle and inimitable... Full Review
November 24, 2003
Peter Paret
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 246 pp.; 38 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (052182138X)
The most substantial studies on the art and politics of Nazi Germany in English have been written, with few exceptions, by historians. Why art historians have not taken a stronger interest presumably has to do with a strongly rooted aversion to cultural artifacts so closely associated with modern dictatorial power, so alien from the things the profession has tended to think possess cognitive interest and aesthetic appeal. In any case, the longstanding discrepancy between the attention... Full Review
November 24, 2003
Debra Higgs Strickland
Princeton University Press, 2002. 335 pp.; 16 color ills.; 146 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0691057192)
Capitalizing on a trend that has figured prominently in recent art-historical studies, Debra Higgs Strickland’s new book investigates the place of the Other in the art of the Middle Ages. She structures her tale around an ideological assertion that will be familiar to scholars of the medieval West: namely, that for theologians and artists in this period, the non-Christian was effectively nonhuman. Strickland’s study demonstrates how this ideology of dehumanization haunted medieval... Full Review
November 13, 2003
Arthur C. Danto
Chicago: Open Court Publishing Company, 2003. 224 pp.; few b/w ills. Paper $19.95 (0812695402)
Beauty returns and is redeemed (perhaps) in Arthur C. Danto’s The Abuse of Beauty: Aesthetics and the Concept of Art. The central concepts and examples, especially Andy Warhol’s Brillo Box, will be familiar to those who know the philosopher’s Transfiguration of the Commonplace: A Philosophy of Art (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981) and After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History (Princeton: Princeton University... Full Review
November 11, 2003
Julian Cox and Colin Ford
Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum in association with National Media Museum, 2003. 576 pp.; 60 color ills.; 1,329 b/w ills. Cloth $150.00 (0892366818)
Colin Ford
Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003. 212 pp.; 100 color ills.; 20 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0892367075)
National Museum of Photography, Film, and Television, Bradford, England, June 27–September 14, 2003; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, October 21, 2003–January 11, 2004
The catalogue raisonné is art history’s effort to associate itself with Enlightenment science. Identifying the complete production of a particular artist according to a consistent, authoritative, reasoned taxonomy, this kind of publication has long been a staple of academic art history. So it might surprise some to know that this volume is the first time a catalogue raisonné has been dedicated to the work of a photographer. The project has required its authors—representing the combined... Full Review
November 7, 2003
Charles W. Haxthausen, ed.
Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2002. 224 pp.; 53 b/w ills. Paper $24.95 (0300097751)
The goal of the organizers of the first Clark Studies in the Visual Arts conference in 1999, which resulted in this book, was simple enough. It was “to move the discussion [of the curator-academic divide] into a new and, we hope, less contentious phase, to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the respective practices and goals of the two art histories and of how each of them is engaged in the production and dissemination of art historical knowledge” (xii–xiii). In the... Full Review
November 5, 2003
Jules David Prown
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001. 336 pp.; 24 color ills.; 160 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0300084315)
Books are valuable for many reasons. Some tell good stories or offer different ways of thinking, while others help us to understand the evolution of a field. Jules Prown’s new collection of essays does all this and more, lifting the curtain on the life of a renowned art historian and a pioneer in material culture analysis. It is as if Prown beckons us aside, whispering secrets to his scholarly success: “Look closely, think broadly, and avoid narrow categories. Most important, change... Full Review
November 4, 2003
William Noel and Daniel Weiss, eds.
Baltimore: The Walters Art Museum in association with Third Millenium Publishing, 2002. 224 pp.; 50 color ills.; 121 b/w ills. Paper $55.00 (0911886540)
Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD, October 27–December 29, 2002; Academy Art Museum, Easton, MD, September 12–October 24, 2003; Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ, March 6–June 6, 2004; Mitchell Art Gallery, St. Johns College, Annapolis, MD, November 14–December 26, 2004; Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA, January 30–April 25, 2005
The Morgan Old Testament (New York, Morgan M638, also known as the Morgan Crusader Bible, the Morgan Picture Bible, the Maciejowski Bible, and the Shah ‘Abbas Bible) is an extraordinary illuminated manuscript in the mid-thirteenth-century French Gothic style. Almost certainly made for or within the entourage of the crusader, Louis IX of France (1226–1270), or “Saint Louis,” the manuscript comprises a pictorial narrative of the early books of the Bible, from Genesis 1 through 2 Kings 20, and... Full Review
November 3, 2003