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

Wendy Bellion
Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011. 388 pp.; 12 color ills.; 83 b/w ills.; 95 ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780807833889)
Citizen Spectator: Art, Illusion, and Visual Perception in Early National America, the title of Wendy Bellion’s impressive book, aptly captures the primary themes of her study of Federal-period American visual culture. Her concern is with demonstrating the agency of looking: how active viewing reflected political ideologies and encouraged the emergence of community and national identities in the decades following the Revolution. Bellion casts “optical pleasure, play, and deceit” as... Full Review
August 25, 2016
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Audrey Lewis, ed.
Exh. cat. New York: Scala Arts Publishers, 2015. 208 pp.; 120 ills. Cloth $55.00 (9781857599411)
Exhibition schedule: Brandywine River Museum of Art, Chadds Ford, PA, April 25–July 19, 2015
In conjunction with the first exhibition project in over twenty years to provide an in-depth examination of the work of painter Horace Pippin, this catalogue’s six contributing essayists focus their texts to contrast with the platitudes that have defined Pippin’s work since the beginning of his public exhibition history in the late 1930s. These standard interpretations stubbornly persisted without critical scrutiny and “with the artist’s complicity” (53), in the words of Anne Monahan, former... Full Review
August 18, 2016
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Vicenza, Italy: Palladio Museum, 2015.
Exhibition schedule: September 23, 2015–March 28, 2016
Despite the richness of the country’s architectural heritage, museums devoted exclusively to architecture are rare in Italy; equally infrequent are exhibitions dedicated to understanding the building processes and principal protagonists responsible for shaping Italy’s historic landscape. The Palladio Museum in Vicenza is a notable exception. Since its establishment in 2012, the museum has proven itself to be an institution of international importance, promoting the study of Andrea... Full Review
August 18, 2016
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Paul Barrett Niell
Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015. 344 pp.; 12 color ills.; 76 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780292766594)
In Urban Space as Heritage in Late Colonial Cuba: Classicism and Dissonance on the Plaza de Armas of Havana, 1754–1828, Paul Niell examines cultural production related to the commemoration of the foundational site of Havana, located on the city’s Plaza de Armas. Legend recounts that the Spanish founded the city there under a ceiba tree. Niell focuses on architecture, urban design, and painting created at three different moments: the 1754–71 construction of a baroque monumental pillar... Full Review
August 18, 2016
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Dániel Margócsy
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. 336 pp.; 32 color ills.; 39 b/w ills. Cloth $40.00 (9780226117744)
The belief that scholarly consensus and the public good, rather than economic competition, should guide the pursuit of knowledge is an ideal inherited from a tradition of disinterested science that took shape in the early modern Republic of Letters and Enlightenment public sphere. Yet was early modern science as disinterested as it is often imagined to be? “No” is Dániel Margócsy’s blunt answer in Commercial Visions: Science, Trade, and Visual Culture in the Dutch Golden Age. Focusing... Full Review
August 11, 2016
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Aneta Georgievska-Shine and Larry Silver
Burlington: Ashgate, 2014. 362 pp.; 48 color ills.; 112 b/w ills. Cloth $149.95 (9781409462330)
The meeting of renowned Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens and Diego Velázquez, the talented painter to King Philip IV, during Rubens’s visit to Spain in 1628–29 has ignited the imagination of art historians. While contemporary sources are frustratingly silent on the encounter, a growing body of scholarship has appraised the impact of the Fleming’s presence on artistic production at the Spanish court, especially on pictures by Velázquez. In Rubens, Velázquez, and the King of Spain,... Full Review
August 11, 2016
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Catherine Craft, ed.
Exh. cat. Dallas: Nasher Sculpture Center, 2015. 208 pp.; 96 color ills.; 56 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780991233830)
Exhibition schedule: Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, January 31–May 10, 2015; Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, September 1, 2015–January 10, 2016; Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH, February 12, 2016–May 8, 2016
Melvin Edwards’s work picks up where the traditional medium of sculpture—until the 1960s, associated with the production of anthropomorphic figures in the round—left off. The beginning of his career coincides almost exactly with Minimalism’s expansive redefinition of sculpture to include any three-dimensional object classifiable as art. While Donald Judd and Robert Morris were exhibiting their first stripped-down, spatially commanding objects in 1963–64, Edwards was learning to weld. Thirty... Full Review
August 11, 2016
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Spyros Papapetros
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. 412 pp.; 10 color ills.; 164 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780226645681)
“Too many examples, too many quotes, too many theses, and (perhaps the most criminal of all) too many ideas.” So Spyros Papapetros describes the critical responses circa 1893 to the idiosyncratic Aby Warburg’s dissertation in his recent book On the Animation of the Inorganic: Art, Architecture, and the Extension of Life. A certain kind of contemporary reader, especially one habituated to a hairsplitting historicism, might be tempted to raise similar objections to Papapetros’s... Full Review
August 11, 2016
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Exh. cat. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2016. 264 pp. $70.00 (9781776560547)
Exhibition schedule: City Gallery Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand, August 22–November 2, 2015; Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Auckland, New Zealand, March 5–June 19, 2016; Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, Christchurch, New Zealand, July 9–November 6, 2016
A survey of thirty years’ work by one of New Zealand’s most prolific photographers required agonies of curatorial selection. Fiona Pardington and curator Aaron Lister collaborated for over two years, choosing works not only from institutional and private collections but also from boxes unearthed from under beds. Inevitably, curation becomes an exercise in synecdoche; each selection is a tip-of-the-iceberg gesture standing in for some facet of an extensive oeuvre. The combination of... Full Review
August 4, 2016
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Judy Annear
Exh. cat. Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2015. 304 pp.; 400 ills. Paper $75.00 (9781741741162)
Exhibition schedule: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, March 21–June 8, 2015; Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, July 4–October 11, 2015
The Photograph and Australia brings together over five hundred photographs from major Australian collections of historical and contemporary works. These images have never been seen together before, coming as they do from libraries, museums, and art galleries, each with a different concept of the photograph and its use. This diversity is a particularly poignant aspect of an exhibition that overwhelms us with the common evidentiary power of photography. At the same time, The... Full Review
August 4, 2016
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