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

Hiromitsu Washizuka, Youngbok Park, and Woo-bang Kang
Ed. Naomi Noble Richard. Exh. cat. NewYork: Japan Society, 2003. 384 pp.; 110 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $49.95 (0913304549)
Japan Society Gallery, New York, April 9–June 22, 2003
Many of us in the field of East Asian art history watched with curiosity, respect, and incredulity when the former National Museum of Korea in Gyeongbok Palace, Seoul, was imploded with fanfare in 1995, the fiftieth anniversary of Korean liberation from Japanese occupation. The structure, erected in 1926 to house the Japanese Government-General, stood directly in front of the throne hall, symbol of Korean sovereignty. Even after its postwar conversion for use as the National Museum, the... Full Review
September 8, 2004
Jonathan Brown and John Elliott, eds.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. 320 pp.; 120 color ills. Cloth $75.00 (0300097611)
Jonathan Brown and John H. Elliott
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. 316 pp.; 75 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0300101856)
It takes only a few minutes of reading to discover that A Palace for a King: The Buen Retiro and the Court of Philip IV is a most unusual book. First, it is the product of close collaboration between a historian and an art historian. In this case “close” is not a cliché. John Elliott is a historian with an extraordinarily deep knowledge of and appreciation for art. Jonathan Brown is known for an approach to art history that eschews the abstractions of theory for exhaustive archival... Full Review
September 8, 2004
Douglas R. Nickel
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003. 240 pp.; 85 b/w ills. Cloth $72.00 (069111515X)
In this book Douglas Nickel explores the density of meaning and cultural significance in the photographs Francis Frith (1822–1898) took during three trips to the Middle East between 1856 and 1860. Nickel evaluates Frith’s images within the context of their production and reception: a short-lived but potent mid-Victorian configuration of aesthetics, conflicts between religious faith and scientific authority, moral improvement and photographic reproduction—all marshaled in support of... Full Review
September 7, 2004
Magali M. Carrera
Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002. 216 pp.; 12 color ills.; 60 b/w ills. Cloth $40.00 (0292712456)
As the subtitle to Imagining Identity in New Spain indicates, Magali Carrera’s study of race, lineage, and the body in casta paintings and portraiture is much more than a strict art-historical analysis. Students of Latin American art, history, literature, and colonial studies, in particular, will find this book of interest. Carrera’s interdisciplinary approach integrates art history with social and political history and examines their relation through colonial theory. As she states... Full Review
September 7, 2004
Joseph Leo Koerner
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004. 464 pp.; 16 color ills.; 260 b/w ills. Cloth $48.00 (0226450066)
Anyone familiar with Joseph Leo Koerner’s book on Albrecht Dürer, The Moment of Self-Portraiture in German Renaissance Art (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), will approach this new work with high expectations. The earlier one offered a philosophical, yet also poetic, interpretation of one of the best-known artists of the Northern Renaissance. With its powerfully articulated thesis—that Dürer’s self-portrait of 1500 was responsible for creating “the age of... Full Review
September 7, 2004
Andrew M. Watsky
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003. 368 pp.; 64 color ills.; 86 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0295983272)
Andrew Watsky is an extraordinary detective, solving the mystery of an exquisite lacquered wooden building hidden inside another older structure on a tiny island in Japan’s largest lake. In explaining how that jewellike hall came to Chikubushima, he provides an in-depth report on aesthetics, religion, politics, and patronage in late-sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century Kyoto as well as a thorough discussion of architecture, painting, lacquer, woodwork, and metalwork of that era.... Full Review
August 25, 2004
Patricia A. Emison
Boston: Brill, 2004. 454 pp.; 69 ills. Cloth $148.00 (9004137092)
This is a big book—an ambitious, wide-ranging, spirited, learned, and expansive book. It will be of interest to those scholars of Italian Renaissance art especially concerned with the emergence of the modern idea of the artist. In the manner of Michael Baxandall, Martin Kemp, and David Summers, among others, the author explores the lexicon of Renaissance art. Like David Cast, Patricia Rubin, and Catherine Soussloff, Patricia Emison is concerned with the biography of the artist and its... Full Review
August 24, 2004
Maria Fabricius Hansen
Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider, 2003. 368 pp.; 20 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Paper €105.00 (8882652378)
This book examines the use of architectural spolia in the early medieval church interiors of Rome. It begins with a narrative catalogue of some two-dozen churches and their spoliate components (focusing chiefly on columns and capitals) and then continues for another two hundred richly illustrated pages, laying out arguments both formal and interpretive about “the development, characteristics, and ideological or metaphorical significance of the new architectural practice of... Full Review
August 23, 2004
David Fredrick, ed.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. 352 pp.; 26 b/w ills. Cloth $47.00 (0801869617)
This edited volume of essays attests to Classicists’ recent engagement with contemporary theory. Despite its foundations in empirical scholarship, the field of Classics has been advanced by feminist thought, along with poststructural critiques of vision and power. Not all Classicists have welcomed these developments, of course, and theory per se still rouses suspicions of trendiness and contributes to a general decline in the discipline, according to those with little patience for the... Full Review
August 18, 2004
Andrea Bayer, ed.
Exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2004. 272 pp.; 136 color ills.; 83 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0300102755)
Museo Civico “Ala Ponzone,” Cremona, February 14–May 2, 2004; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 27–August 15, 2004
Tracing artistic origins and sources is always tricky business, never more so than when one is seeking to identify and explain a concept as broad and malleable as naturalism. First there is the problem of the term itself. Postmodern theory has rightly claimed that there is no such thing as a naïve, unmediated, “natural” representation of the world around us. Not only are there different kinds of naturalism and different purposes it can serve, but one culture’s naturalism may also strike... Full Review
August 12, 2004