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

Philip Steadman
Oxford University Press, 2001. 232 pp.; 10 color ills.; 72 b/w ills. Cloth $25.00 (0192159674)
Philip Steadman presents his case for Johannes Vermeer's use of the camera obscura with prosecutorial flair, bringing in diagrams, reconstructions, and a variety of circumstantial evidence. Vermeer never wrote about his methods, and no physical evidence exists in the form of preparatory drawings or sketches. The inventory of his studio contents lists standard equipment, such as easels and canvases, without a hint about lenses, boxes, or any other unusual objects that might place a camera... Full Review
August 30, 2002
Philip Sohm
Cambridge University Press, 2001. 328 pp.; 21 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (0521780691)
Philip Sohm's Style in the Art Theory of Early Modern Italy shines a brilliant new light upon the concept and descriptive terminology of artistic style. A worthy successor to his excellent Pittoresco. Marco Boschini, His Critics and Their Critiques of Painterly Brushwork in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Italy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991), Sohm's new book maintains a high standard of critical sophistication, accurately framing a subtle analysis of sixteenth-... Full Review
August 28, 2002
Karen-edis Barzman
Cambridge University Press, 2000. 377 pp.; 24 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0521641624)
It would be difficult to overestimate the significance that has been given to the Florentine Accademia del Disegno in early modern art historiography. Founded in 1563 and generally credited to Giorgio Vasari, the first formal art academy in the West has assumed almost mythic proportions from the start. Its success was measured early, in the powerful influence it exerted on the European imagination, and it has assumed the status of a cultural monument of the first rank. Yet much has remained... Full Review
August 26, 2002
Gauvin Bailey
University of Toronto Press, 1998. 310 pp. Cloth (0802046886)
Two years after the foundation of the Society of Jesus in 1540, the first Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier disembarked at the Portuguese colony of Goa on the eastern seaboard of India. In rapid sequence, overseas missions were established on every known continent, including Japan (1549), China (1561), Mughal India (1580), and Paraguay (1609). Gauvin Bailey's ambitious study covers the artistic production of these four outer-circle Jesuit enterprises, highlighting their affinities and regional... Full Review
August 23, 2002
Miyeko Murase
Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2000. 464 pp.; 320 color ills.; 19 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0870999419)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, March 28–June 25, 2000.
The exhibition and collection catalogue, Bridge of Dreams: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection of Japanese Art, published in conjunction with the exhibition Masterpieces of Japanese Art from the Mary Griggs Burke Collection, is Miyeko Murase's magnum opus. Collector Mary Griggs Burke notes in her introduction that she has been working with Murase for thirty-five years. It is quite clear when reading through this densely packed volume that Murase's many years of research have been... Full Review
August 21, 2002
Debora Silverman
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000. 576 pp.; 147 color ills.; 59 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0374282439)
The sometimes cordial, often contentious relationship of Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin has inspired scholars, curators, novelists, and Hollywood filmmakers. Their personal differences and the divergences in their approaches to art, particularly when they shared a studio in Provence, have fascinated art historians and the broader public alike. Debora Silverman's Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Search for Sacred Art addresses both groups of readers. This ambitious goal may explain both the... Full Review
August 16, 2002
Margaret Haines, ed.
Florence: Edizioni Cadmo, 2001. 318 pp.; 161 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (8879232460)
During the approximately six centuries of its construction (1296–ca. 1900), Santa Maria del Fiore, the cathedral of Florence, was a focus of Florentine life not only because of its importance as a religious monument, but also because of the monetary expense and the enormous amount of time and energy invested in its building and decoration. Of all of the embellishments commissioned, the Duomo of Florence is most famous for the sculpture carried out for its interior and exterior, façade, and... Full Review
August 14, 2002
Mirka Benes and Dianne Harris, eds.
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 448 pp.; 167 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (0521782252)
Following a symposium held at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC, in 1995 that honored Elisabeth Blair MacDougall, director of landscape studies from 1972 to 1988, Mirka Benes and Dianne Harris commissioned an anthology of articles that present diverse methodological approaches to the history of the villa and the garden in France and Italy from ca. 1550 to 1800. Each of the eleven articles in Villas and Gardens in Early Modern Italy and France offers a stimulating analysis of specific... Full Review
August 14, 2002
Timon Screech
London: Reaktion Books, 1999. 311 pp.; 20 color ills.; 91 b/w ills. Paper $35.00 (1861890448)
The Shogun's Painted Culture: Fear and Creativity in the Japanese States 1760–1829 is the third monograph published by Timon Screech since 1996 and completes his panorama of late nineteenth-century Japanese culture. Though the title features both Japan's military ruler and period painting, the primary topics of the book are actually Matsudaira Sadanobu (1758–1829, chief shogunal councillor 1787–92, shogunal regent 1789–92) and the cultural history of his times. Screech covers this... Full Review
August 8, 2002
Françoise Choay
Trans. Lauren M. O’Connell. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 255 pp.; 21 b/w ills. Cloth $70.00 (0521454743)
The value of conserving vestiges of the past for future generations has become naturalized in our evaluation of urban change. Preservation of historic built environments is deemed a good thing, and those who stand in its way are considered mercenary, trading cultural value for short-term monetary return. Or so the argument goes. However, the line between old and new is increasingly hard to draw, as is the definition of cultural value. American historic preservation laws only apply to... Full Review
August 8, 2002