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

Joli Jensen
Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002. 231 pp. Paper $24.95 (0742517411)
This cogently written book presents a forceful argument against an arts advocacy that is based on instrumentalist perspectives, and makes the case for supporting art on the basis of its fundamental role as a vehicle for the expression of creativity. Joli Jensen, professor of communication at the University of Tulsa, is ultimately interested in erasing the strict dichotomy between “high art” and “popular” or “mass culture” in favor of a more complex aesthetic and social point of view that... Full Review
April 28, 2003
Richard Read
University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003. 260 pp.; 31 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0271022965)
This biography of Adrian Stokes (1902–1972) introduces to American art historians a neglected but significant writer on Renaissance Italian painting, sculpture, and architecture. While the book does not neglect Stokes’s wide-ranging social, cultural, and sexual involvements (much of the latter in detail), it primarily concentrates on his development as an art historian, ending with his first two important studies, The Quatro Cento: A Different Conception of the Italian Renaissance... Full Review
April 24, 2003
Diane Cole Ahl, ed.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 312 pp.; 80 b/w ills. Cloth $80.00 (0521660459)
Since the sixteenth century, historians have credited Masaccio—along with Filippo Brunelleschi and Donatello—with changing the course of Western art. Indeed, Masaccio’s legacy is endlessly fascinating yet highly problematic. A medieval artist at the threshold of the Renaissance, he produced works both extraordinarily innovative and exceptionally traditional. The Cambridge Companion to Masaccio, with ten essays by eminent scholars and conservators, confronts this... Full Review
April 24, 2003
Angela Delaforce
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 532 pp.; 24 color ills.; 153 b/w ills. Cloth $180.00 (0521571308)
Many readers of these reviews have passing knowledge of the salient facts of Portuguese cultural history during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A list of such facts would include the rule of João V (1706–50), noteworthy for its duration and riches (thanks particularly to Brazilian gold), as well as the sustained (and ultimately successful) attempts by João to convince the Papacy to establish a patriarchate in Lisbon. Even better known are the king’s construction of the... Full Review
April 21, 2003
Barbara Wisch and Diane Cole Ahl, eds.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 314 pp.; 65 b/w ills. Cloth $90.00 (0521662885)
This is the third major volume of collected essays on Italian confraternities to emerge in the space of two years (the others are John Patrick Donnelly S. J. and Michael W. Maher, S. J., eds., Confraternities and Catholic Reform in Italy, France, and Spain, Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies 44 [Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 1999]; and Nicholas Terpstra, ed., The Politics of Ritual Kinship: Confraternities and Social Order in Early Modern... Full Review
April 15, 2003
Keith Christiansen and Judith W. Mann
Exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. 496 pp.; 121 color ills.; 249 b/w ills. $60.00 (0300090773)
Exhibition schedule: Museo del Palazzo di Venezia, Rome, October 15, 2001–January 6, 2002; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, February 14–May 12, 2002; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO, June 15–September 15, 2002
This book offers what one would expect of a catalogue produced by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the exhibition Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi: Father and Daughter Painters in Baroque Italy—a thorough study of the subject at hand, essays written by well-seasoned scholars, a complete bibliography, and good-quality color reproductions. As an added bonus, an appendix with pertinent documentation and a chronological chart for Orazio and Artemisia... Full Review
April 15, 2003
Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY, on permanent view
In recent decades, scholars have expanded the definition of American art in a wide variety of directions. Some have been motivated to rethink the exceptionalism so often behind the early collecting and study of art from the United States. Others have worked to document the creative expressions of women and members of diverse ethnic, religious, and class backgrounds into a new “canon” of American visual culture. Still, others have explored the meanings of popular forms of material and visual... Full Review
April 11, 2003
Katharine Lochnan
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999. 280 pp.; 25 color ills.; 106 b/w ills. Cloth $70.00 (0300081847)
Nancy Marshall and Malcolm Warner
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. 216 pp.; 93 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0300081731)
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, September 22–November 28,1999; Musée National de Beaux-Arts du Québec, Québec City, December 15, 1999–March 12, 2000; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, March 25–July 2, 2000.
The record prices that works by James Tissot have fetched at auction, as well as the appeal of his subjects to a general public, might well have turned contemporary critical attention away from an artist who, after all, no longer needs to be rediscovered (consider especially the writings of Michael Wentworth). Tissot’s immediate facility would seem to render critical analysis superfluous, analysis certainly less nimble than the artist’s brush. But with a taste for paradox,... Full Review
April 4, 2003
Mary D. Garrard
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. 201 pp.; 8 color ills.; 57 b/w ills. Paper $24.95 (0520228413)
In her preface, Mary Garrard declares that she wants her book to serve as an exemplary methodological model. She seeks to provide a new mode of connoisseurship, one that includes not only a thorough analysis of the formal elements within a given work of art, but also a detailed discussion of the social, psychological, gender-specific, and iconographic elements particular to the artist studied. In this volume, her latest contribution to Artemisia Gentileschi scholarship, Garrard has... Full Review
April 2, 2003
Richard Ettinghausen, Oleg Grabar, and Marilyn Jenkins-Medina
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001. 352 pp.; 150 color ills.; 330 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0300088671)
As a student in the 1980s, studying for qualifying exams in Islamic art history, I was so desperate to read the first edition of this title in the Pelican History of Art series that I ordered a copy from England months before it was available in the United States. At that time, there were few comprehensive surveys of Islamic art and architecture, and even those reflected a conservative, formalist vision of the subject. The Oleg Grabar and Richard Ettinghausen volume of 1987... Full Review
March 24, 2003