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

Britta Erickson
Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution in association with University of Washington Press, 2001. 112 pp.; 54 color ills.; 6 b/w ills. Paper $22.50 (0295981431)
Exhibition Schedule: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, October 21, 2001–May 12, 2002
Xu Bing is arguably the contemporary Chinese artist best known to audiences outside of China. Winner of a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship and the subject of several one-person shows at small museums around the country, he has received worldwide recognition and has been the subject of several critical essays. Word Play: Contemporary Art by Xu Bing brought together several periods of the artist’s work for the first time in a major American museum exhibition. Like many Chinese artists... Full Review
June 12, 2003
Renato González Mello
New York and Hanover, N.H.: W.W. Norton & Company and Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2002. 382 pp.; 320 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (039304176X)
San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, March 9–May 19, 2002; Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H., June 8–December 15, 2002; Museo de Arte Alvar y Carmen T. de Carrillo Gil, Mexico City, January 25–April 13, 2003
This book is the product of two interconnected developments. First, contemporary Mexican artists moving in the international art world are enjoying a lot of success, and while Mexican art is now no longer represented solely by the muralists, figures such as Santiago Sierra, Carlos Amorales, Minerva Cuevas, and Gabriel Kuri are reinventing the avant-garde of social intervention. This development has been paralleled in art history in Mexico by the emergence of a socially engaged,... Full Review
June 10, 2003
Vivien Green Fryd
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002. 278 pp.; 14 color ills.; 127 b/w ills. Cloth $40.00 (0226266540)
Edward Hopper and Georgia O’Keeffe hold an exceptional status as two of the most prominent figures in twentieth-century American art. Notwithstanding the shared distinction of their canonical positions, their art could not be more different. While Hopper produced striking iconic images of the American scene, O’Keeffe’s paintings are associated with the modernist, abstracted aesthetics of the first American avant-garde. In their own day, the artists themselves moved in distinct... Full Review
June 3, 2003
Bruce Boucher, ed.
Exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. 314 pp.; 80 color ills.; 120 b/w ills. $75.00 (0300090803)
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, TX, November 18, 2001–February 3, 2002; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, March 14, 2002–July 7, 2002
The exhibition catalogue Earth and Fire: Italian Terracotta Sculpture from Donatello to Canova was published to accompany the exhibition of the same name. Since this reviewer was unable to visit either venue, the following comments, perforce, concentrate on the only permanent record of the show, its catalogue. The catalogue is divided into two distinct parts: six essays with separate authors that treat different aspects of the exhibition’s content, and a series of... Full Review
June 3, 2003
Joseph M. Dye III
Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2001. 599 pp.; 307 color ills.; 175 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0917046609)
To write a book entitled The Arts of India must have been a labor even more daunting than to write a review of one. The Western reader might reflect on what it would be like to address “the Arts of Europe” between two covers. Admittedly this volume catalogues one museum’s collection, which might seem to require finite skills. In fact, that collection includes forms often entrusted to separate curatorial departments: stone sculpture (originally part of a building), bronze... Full Review
May 30, 2003
Charles Barber
Princeton University Press, 2002. 208 pp.; 38 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (0691091773)
Charles Barber’s Figure and Likeness: On the Limits of Representation in Byzantine Iconoclasm sets out to explore Byzantine iconoclasm as primarily an art historian’s concern. The author writes: “In the course of the eighth and ninth centuries, the ideas in play around the icons and the emphases within these ideas were to change considerably. It is these changes that need to be addressed before iconoclasm can be shown to be either the cause or the effect of the shape of... Full Review
May 29, 2003
Marjorie Susan Venit
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 284 pp.; 10 color ills.; 160 b/w ills. Cloth $80.00 (0521806593)
Ancient Alexandria, in spite of its fame and importance in the Mediterranean during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, does not come into focus clearly. Even the most rewarding discussions of Alexandria leave us frustratingly aware of the gaps in the historical record (see the recent Getty symposium documented in Kenneth Hamma, ed., Alexandria and Alexandrianism [Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996]). For this reason, Marjorie Susan Venit’s new book on Alexandrian tombs... Full Review
May 29, 2003
Victor M. Schmidt, ed.
Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, 2002. 528 pp.; 24 color ills.; 369 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0300094612)
In 1939, and in response to the massive Mostra Giottesca of 1938, Roberto Longhi wrote a sour, intentionally provocative piece that he curtly called his Guidizio sul Duecento, or judgment regarding the thirteenth century. In the essay, Longhi fretted that writers on medieval art had become so absorbed in establishing the authorship and origins of images that they had largely forgotten to act as responsible critics. They had thus also begun to forget that the majority of... Full Review
May 29, 2003
Carmen C. Bambach, ed.
Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2003. 800 pp.; 333 color ills.; 182 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0300098782)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, January 22–March 30, 2003
Of all artists, Leonardo da Vinci is best understood through study of his drawings, as previous scholars such as Bernard Berenson, Kenneth Clark, Carlo Pedretti, Martin Kemp, and David Brown have amply demonstrated. Berenson went to the heart of the matter in The Drawings of the Florentine Painters (2 vols. [New York: E. P. Dutton, 1903]) when he wrote: The quality of qualities, then, in Leonardo’s drawing is the feeling it gives of unimpeded, untroubled, unaltered... Full Review
May 23, 2003
Joanne Pillsbury, ed.
Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, 2001. 344 pp.; 13 color ills.; 310 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0300090439)
This handsome and imposing volume, Moche Art and Archaeology in Ancient Peru, seems destined to become a mainstay of every art historian and archaeologist’s library. From its arresting cover detail of a beetle-browed portrait head vessel—refreshingly not overrestored—to its international array of authors and brilliant images of the exciting discoveries from the past decade, this book presents new material for scholars in both fields to ponder. Color photographs, each... Full Review
May 14, 2003