Concise, critical reviews of books, exhibitions, and projects in all areas and periods of art history and visual studies

Reviews in caa.reviews are published continuously by the College Art Association (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

Mark Jarzombek
Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 327 pp.; 26 b/w ills. Cloth $70.00 (0521582385)
Mark Jarzombek's The Psychologizing of Modernity is in many respects a timely book. Drawing upon an impressive range of readings undertaken in 1994 at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, Jarzombek brings together parts of several of his earlier writings for the journal Assemblage, most significantly his 1994 essay, "De-Scribing the Language of Looking: Woelfflin and the History of Aesthetic Experientialism." What is new is that the earlier question of "how would I... Full Review
April 20, 2000
Calvin B. Kendall
University of Toronto Press, 1998. 401 pp.; 40 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0802042627)
Calvin Kendall has a wonderful topic, the verse inscriptions that decorate a large number of Romanesque church portals. While I sometimes disagree sharply with Kendall's treatment of his material, he gets full marks for paying attention to it in the first place; it is an embarrassment to art history that such an important and literally obvious topic was first studied monographically by a professor of English. And, whatever disagreements one may have with Kendall's method and conclusions, the... Full Review
April 18, 2000
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William Alexander McClung
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. 300 pp.; 150 b/w ills. Cloth (0520218272)
LA is a hard city to get in focus. Many American and non-American immigrants thought of it as an ideal destination. But much of the local literature is devoted to the natural disasters--earthquakes and fires--and to stories of crime. Because it is a new, very rich city without well-established cultural traditions--and because it is the center of the film industry and a place dependent on massive water imports--LA can seem a highly artificial city. Perhaps that is why this landscape inspires... Full Review
April 15, 2000
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Robin Aselson
Getty Trust Publications, 1999. 160 pp.; 50 color ills.; 74 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (0892365560)
As an English professor, I rarely have the pleasure of reviewing visually stunning books, so my assessment of this book as lovely to look at does not rest on the basis of much comparison. The three essays that form the text, the plentiful (and lush) illustrations, and the lengthy chronology of Siddons's life contained in this volume make up a fascinating picture of Siddons's career and its alchemy with eighteenth-century portraiture. Siddons's stage roles are only one factor in what the... Full Review
April 11, 2000
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Dorothea Olkowski
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. 310 pp.; 10 b/w ills. Paper $18.95 (0520216938)
Foucault once stated that the 20th century would one day be called Deleuzian, citing Gilles Deleuze's profound ability to theorize radical change on the ontological level, beyond the restricting epistemological logic of hierarchic, organic thought that has dominated philosophical and semiotic discourse since the Enlightenment. Although Deleuze's groundbreaking work with Felix Guattari--specifically Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus--and such terms as "rhizomatics,"... Full Review
April 11, 2000
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Jeff Kowalski
Oxford University Press, 2016. 432 pp. $125.00 (9780195079616)
Mesoamerican Architecture as Cultural Symbol is one of the latest in a series of recent works on architecture in ancient Middle America. Jeff Kowalski's volume joins The Code of Kings: The Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs, by Linda Schele and Peter Mathews (Scribner, 1998), and Stephen Houston's edited volumes Function and Meaning in Classic Maya Architecture (Dumbarton Oaks, 1999), and Royal Courts of the Maya (with Takeshi Inomata, Westview Press,... Full Review
April 7, 2000
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Emma Barker
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999. 272 pp.; 60 color ills.; 120 b/w ills. Paper $27.50 (0300077831)
Mary Anne Staniszewski
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999. 400 pp.; 204 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0262194023)
More than twenty years have passed since scholars Carol Duncan, Brian O'Doherty, and Alan Wallach published their groundbreaking critical analyses of art museums and their display strategies. These incisive essays launched a wave of vehement institutional critiques that effectively pitted critically informed academic concerns against contemporary museum practices. Two of the more recent additions to the fray--Mary Anne Staniszewski's The Power of Display and the Open University's... Full Review
April 5, 2000
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Exhibition Schedule: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, March 16-May 28, 2000; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, June 25-September 17, 2000
Cities as art centers have not always had the attention they deserve, especially in art exhibitions, because of the daunting problems of scale as well as the problems of representation of both the architectural environment and the unmovable monuments. There have been some truly notable exceptions, with particular relevance to this ambitious effort on Rome: Philadelphia's own Second Empire Paris exhibition as well as Detroit's 18th-Century Naples (1981). Once more Philadelphia has taken on a... Full Review
April 1, 2000
Richard Hill
Yale University Press, 1999. 288 pp.; 106 b/w ills. Cloth $30.00 (0300079486)
The fall issue of Aesthetics, the newsletter of the American Society for Aesthetics, brought an article by Saul Fisher called "Analytic Philosophy of Architecture: A Course." Quickly the introductory discussion proceeded to the question: "Why the Philosophy of Architecture?" That question was narrowed: "Why an Analytic Philosophy of Architecture?" Architects in recent years have of course shown quite an extraordinary interest in philosophy. But the analytic philosopher of architecture... Full Review
March 31, 2000
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Mojmir Frinta
Prague: Maxdorf 556 pp. (8085800942)
This volume, the first of two, offers a catalogue raisonné of the diverse motif punch impressions in panel painting and book illumination collected by the auther over a span of thirty-five years. As indicated in the title, the volume covers such evidence in the period from the early fourteenth to the fifteenth century in Italy, and also in countries north of the Alps, especially Bohemia. It further includes some early Byzantine and late medieval material. The photos of the motif punch... Full Review
March 30, 2000