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

Suzaan Boettger
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. 316 pp.; 14 color ills.; 97 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0520221087)
Suzaan Boettger’s recent book is an attempt to write a comprehensive social art history of the short-lived movement known as Earthworks. It has many good features and a number of bad ones; all are inherent in the book’s founding premise, namely that such a movement existed in the first place. The historical material that Boettger very ably presents is quite interesting. It includes detailed and well-researched accounts of important exhibitions, such as the Earth Art show at... Full Review
June 23, 2004
Paul Barolsky
Atlanta: Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, 2003. 84 pp.; 5 b/w ills. Cloth $12.00 (0915977494)
We know a great deal about Michelangelo: we have his poetry, his letters, the biographies written by Ascanio Condivi and Giorgio Vasari—individuals who knew him well—and many comments made by friends, acquaintances, and enemies. Of course we also have his art and architecture, which we can assess with our own eyes. That art, studied in relationship to the sixteenth-century writings about the artist’s life and his works, offers a rich heritage that is still open to new interpretation,... Full Review
June 23, 2004
John Beldon Scott
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003. 496 pp.; 16 color ills.; 202 b/w ills. Cloth $91.00 (0226743160)
Winner of CAA’s 2004 Charles Rufus Morey Book Award Two types of publication, kept quite separate in the past, are brought together in John Beldon Scott’s sumptuously produced book: a “shroud” literature, or “Sindonology” (the local, devotional, and scientific literature around the relic), and a “chapel” literature, focusing on Guarino Guarini’s housing for the shroud, a black marble–clad chapel long considered... Full Review
June 22, 2004
Franca Falletti and Jonathan Katz Nelson, eds.
Exh. cat. Florence: Giunti in association with Firenze Musei, 2002. 280 pp.; 33 color ills.; many b/w ills. Paper $35.00 (8809026659)
Galleria dell’Accademia, Tribuna del David, Florence, June 26–November 3, 2002
In his 1568 Life of the Florentine painter Jacopo Pontormo, Giorgio Vasari describes how Michelangelo executed a full-size drawing or cartoon for his patron Bartolomeo Bettini, a merchant-banker, which showed: a nude Venus with a Cupid who is kissing her, in order that he might have it executed in painting by Pontormo and place it in the center of a “chamber” of his own, in the lunettes of which he had begun to have painted by Bronzino figures of Dante, Petrarch, and... Full Review
June 16, 2004
Steven Harris
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004. 340 pp.; 35 b/w ills. Cloth $108.00 (0521823870)
Steven Harris’s new book on Surrealism is excellent. It is refreshing to see the politics of Surrealism properly acknowledged, and, at the same time and as part of the same argument, to see the aesthetics that underwrote those politics correctly assessed. In Surrealist Art and Thought in the 1930s: Art, Politics, and the Psyche, Harris tracks an extremely rich and nuanced discourse between Surrealism and the French Left, a series of debates virtually unknown in Anglophone... Full Review
June 11, 2004
Shelley Hales
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. 310 pp.; 109 b/w ills. Cloth $96.00 (0521814332)
Shelley Hales’s The Roman House and Social Identity is an important contribution to the study of domestic architecture in general and, more specifically, to our understanding of the politics of identity in the Roman Empire. Her overall purpose is clear from her introduction: to examine domestic art and architecture from the imperial period so that we might “begin to appreciate the complexities of building a Roman identity and the power of the art of impression to overcome them”... Full Review
June 8, 2004
Richard H. Rouse and Mary A. Rouse
Turnhout, Belgium: Harvey Miller Publishers, 1999. 832 pp.; 190 ills. Cloth €217.00 (1872501419)
The present study, the fruit of decades of painstaking and dedicated research by a distinguished team of husband-and-wife scholars, focuses on the commercial fabrication of manuscripts in Paris from the early thirteenth century to the rise of printing at the end of the fifteenth century. A 322-page analytical text in twelve chapters, 29 figures, 8 maps, and 80 pages of endnotes fill the first volume. Volume 2 contains a biographical register of some 1,200 men and women active in the... Full Review
May 21, 2004
Sarah E. Fraser
Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004. 400 pp.; 156 ills. Cloth $70.00 (0804745331)
In the introduction to Performing the Visual: The Practice of Buddhist Wall Painting in China and Central Asia, 618–960, Sarah Fraser describes her project as an inquiry into the medieval artist’s practice through close analysis of several of the sixty-five ink sketches from the ninth and tenth centuries that were preserved in the sealed Cave 17 of the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang and are now mostly in the British Museum in London and the Bibliothèque nationale de France in... Full Review
May 19, 2004
Donald Preziosi and Claire Farago, eds.
Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2004. 804 pp.; 68 b/w ills. Paper $70.00 (0754608352)
Grasping the World: The Idea of the Museum effectively presents the dominant present-day academic ways of understanding museums and contains a range of material not duplicated in any other volume. And considering its length, the book is reasonable in price. The editors’ introductions are lucid, and the essays, which consider a range of topics, are strong. I will begin this review by briefly summarizing the subjects of the essays in the various parts of the book and then offer... Full Review
May 11, 2004
Bram Dijkstra
Exh. cat. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2003. 288 pp.; 186 color ills.; 72 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0810942313)
Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio, May 16–August 24, 2003; Kennedy Galleries, New York, September 20–November 1, 2003; Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., January 30–May 9, 2004
Bram Dijkstra’s book American Expressionism: Art and Social Change 1920–1950 convincingly constructs a new category of expressionism that he sets apart from early-twentieth-century German Expressionism and mid-twentieth-century Abstract Expressionism. “American Expressionism” combines modernism and realism to address compassionately a range of social issues. Dijkstra examines this art, created largely in the United States during the Great Depression, as a “venture into socialist... Full Review
May 7, 2004