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

Dominic Marner
Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 2000. 112 pp.; 51 color ills.; 13 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (0802035183)
Densely illustrated manuscripts of the lives and miracles of the saints constituted a distinct category of artistic production during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Of particular interest for the study of narrative and the relationship between text and image, these works also offer important evidence for scholars of political and religious history. Once deemed less aesthetically significant and intellectually sophisticated than illuminated Bibles and liturgical manuscripts, illustrated... Full Review
November 1, 2001
Kamil Khan Mumtaz
Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1999. 150 pp.; some color ills.; some b/w ills. Cloth $35.00
The title of Kamil Khan Mumtaz's book is in keeping with architectural debates in South Asia, which for almost a century have remained anchored in questions about modernity and tradition. This book is a collection of sixteen short polemical essays by Mumtaz, a well-known Pakistani architect, written between 1967 and 1997. The essays chronicle the gradual shift in his position "from a committed 'modernist' to a believer in the essential value of traditional wisdom." Mumtaz's argument does not... Full Review
October 30, 2001
Kalman P. Bland
Princeton University Press, 2001. 233 pp. Paper $19.95 (069108985x)
See Stephen Fine's review of this book. As its title suggests, Kalman P. Bland's The Artless Jew: Medieval and Modern Affirmations and Denials of the Visual revisits the evidence on Jewish aniconism and uncovers the origins and meanings of this most prevalent of modern myths. The conventional wisdom Bland seeks to overturn is now a profoundly internalized truism formulated during the course of the last 200 years by a... Full Review
October 24, 2001
Valerie Shrimplin
Truman State University Press, 2000. 375 pp.; 127 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0943549655)
This book systematically examines the ways in which the sun was understood metaphorically, symbolically, and scientifically in a range of texts and images available to Michelangelo during the period in which he designed and painted the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel (1534-41). Observing that Michelangelo's Last Judgment differs from previous renditions in that it offers a circular composition with figures rising and falling in a clockwise pattern around a figure of Christ... Full Review
October 19, 2001
Larry Norman, ed.
Exh. cat. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001. 128 pp.; 8 color ills.; 60 b/w ills. $22.00 (0935573291)
David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, January 9-April 22, 2001.
In a manner appropriate to its subject, The Theatrical Baroque is slender in size but broad in scope. The catalogue, like the exhibition it accompanied at the University of Chicago's David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, explores a wide range of interactions between the visual and performing arts in Western Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The project's structure also sets forth an ambitious agenda, as it proposes that faculty and students working together across... Full Review
September 20, 2001
Nadine M. Orenstein, ed.
Exh. cat. Yale University Press in association with Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. 336 pp.; 108 color ills.; 166 b/w ills. $60.00 (0300090145)
Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, May 24–August 5, 2001; and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 25–December 2, 2001
See also: Hans Mielke, "Pieter Bruegel: Die Zeichnungen":, reviewed by Dorothy Limouze As the European Cultural Capital of the year 2001, Rotterdam had something quite special to offer—a sensational exhibition, the likes of which will scarcely, if ever, occur again. Almost all of the total graphic work of Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1525–69) was on view this past summer at the Boijmans-van Beuningen Museum in the Netherlands. This splendid show... Full Review
September 19, 2001
Jonathan M. Reynolds
Berkeley: University of California Press 337 pp.; 8 color ills.; 154 b/w ills. Cloth (0520214951)
The present work is a much awaited study of the architect Kunio Maekawa (1905-86), one of the three principal Japanese who worked with Le Corbusier (from April 1928 to April 1930). Maekawa has long been recognized both in Japan and the West as a key figure in the evolution of Japanese modernism. While Maekawa himself published accounts of his work (from the 1930s through the late 1960s), his writings are not numerous if judged by the standard of his peers nor by those of later contemporaries.... Full Review
September 19, 2001
Meyer Schapiro
New York: George Braziller, 1996. 359 pp.; 139 color ills. Cloth $38.00 (9780807614204)
Meyer Schapiro’s contribution to our understanding of Impressionism has had an importance that goes well beyond his actual written contribution to its study. If we exclude his work on Cézanne, that contribution has consisted of scattered passages in articles and published lectures and, more focally, less than a dozen paragraphs written in the 1937 essay "The Nature of Abstract Art" (Marxist Quarterly 1 (1937); reprinted in Schapiro, Modern Art: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries:... Full Review
September 15, 2001
Lawrence J. Vale
Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999. 460 pp. Cloth $45.00 (0674002865)
Those of us who live in Massachusetts are fortunate that Lawrence Vale settled here to apply his considerable intellectual and writing talents to the study of public housing in Boston, rather than, say, in Chicago, San Francisco, or St. Louis. The rest of you, don't despair: From the Puritans to the Projects: Public Housing and Public Neighbors is not just a parochial story about Boston, but an insightful historical analysis of the relationship between the cultural meanings of land and... Full Review
September 14, 2001
Herbert L. Kessler
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000. 265 pp. Cloth (0812235606)
Many an undergraduate lecture hall still furnishes a home for the Icoelacanth of medieval studies—hat is, for the historian who shows slides of medieval images as mere illustrations of daily life, or as nothing more than a graphic adjunct to the words of medieval sources. In an episode of habitat encroachment that none need lament, this collection of Herbert Kessler's recent essays makes life more difficult for the living fossil. Again and again the author shows how early medieval... Full Review
September 14, 2001