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 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

Paul Zanker
Trans. Deborah Lucas Schneider. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998. 251 pp.; 11 color ills.; 113 b/w ills. Cloth $49.95 (0674689666)
A study of any locale rich in buildings and paintings that places buildings in their urban setting and interprets paintings in their architectural settings is always welcome. Pompeii is an obvious place to present in this way, but studies of that intriguing city have seldom risen to the challenge. The task is even harder now since archeological activity there has intensified over the last decade. The first (Italian) edition of this book, which appeared in 1993, was based on three essays, the... Full Review
September 8, 1999
Barbara C. Raw
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. 221 pp.; 23 b/w ills. Cloth $64.95 (0521553717)
In Trinity and Incarnation in Anglo-Saxon Art and Thought, Barbara Raw continues to apply the methodology she also utilized in Anglo-Saxon Crucifixion Iconography and the Art of the Monastic Revival (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), considering pictorial imagery as an expression of ideas developed in contemporary texts. Here the homilies of Ælfric of Eynsham, along with their antecedents, particularly the exegetical writings of Augustine and Bede and the Apostolic... Full Review
September 3, 1999
Beth Fowkes Tobin
Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1998. 320 pp.; 42 b/w ills. Cloth $54.95 (0822323052)
Some of the most provocative and insightful scholarship on eighteenth-century British art produced in the last fifteen years has explored the vexed relationship between art and commerce. This important body of work is limited, however, by its "domestic" vision of what that commerce actually entails: it tends to focus on art produced in Britain, commercial discourse produced by British ideologues, and the British merchant as a domestic figure. Beth Fowkes Tobin's Picturing Imperial Power:... Full Review
September 3, 1999
André Vauchez
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. 645 pp.; 43 b/w ills. Cloth $120.00 (0521445590)
Sainthood in the Middle Ages first appeared in 1981. It is a measure of the impact and continuing value of his study to historians of late medieval Europe that André Vauchez's book has been translated into English some sixteen years later. Vauchez has provided a highly differentiated account of changing perceptions of sainthood between 1185 and 1431, in which he distinguishes those who initiated, witnessed, and managed the processes by which public cults were authorized for a tiny... Full Review
September 3, 1999
Elizabeth ten Grotenhuis
Honolulu: University Of Hawai'i Press, 1999. 240 pp.; 20 color ills.; 104 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (0824820819)
This book is a carefully constructed, well-researched study of Japanese mandala paintings. Within the broader context of pan-Asian Buddhism the most famous mandalas are those associated with Esoteric or Tantric Buddhist theology. Another important and influential type of mandala, the Taima mandala, was created to represent Buddhist doctrine of the Pure Land sect. The appearance of Japanese Esoteric and Pure Land mandalas is unquestionably derived from Chinese prototypes, but this study... Full Review
September 3, 1999
Richard Cleary
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 300 pp.; 12 color ills.; 194 b/w ills. Cloth $90.00 (0521572681)
When the Place Louis-le-Grand (today Place Vendôme) was inaugurated on August 13, 1699, many of the elegant facades that surrounded the square had no buildings behind them, and the king it was intended to glorify was not even there. The state of the square did not matter, in some sense, because its future shape was dictated by Mansart's revised blueprint for the site, and the absence of the king did not matter, in some sense, because the urban space was dominated by... Full Review
August 26, 1999
Dianne Sachko Macleod
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995. 530 pp.; 8 color ills.; 74 b/w ills. Cloth $95.00 (0521550904)
Andrew Hemingway and William Vaughan, eds.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 386 pp.; 70 b/w ills. Cloth $69.95 (052155182X)
These recent books from Cambridge take different approaches to a common topic. Both infuse new content into a category term: "bourgeois" or "middle-class" society, as it dominated the production of nineteenth-century art through private or state patronage, individual purchase, exhibitions, and the press. The fifteen essays collected and introduced by Andrew Hemingway and William Vaughan begin with Britain (five essays) but then turn to shorter sections on France (three essays), Germany (four... Full Review
August 26, 1999
James Cracraft
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. 409 pp.; 35 color ills.; 95 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0226116654)
Grigory Kaganov
Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1997. 206 pp.; 76 b/w ills. Cloth $51.00 (0804727422)
In Western thought, space is preexisting and absolute. So asserts the philosophical tradition traced through Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Newton, and Kant. But as spatial theorist Henri Lefebvre points out, accounts of mental conceptual space in mathematics distanced themselves from those concerning the measurable physical space of geography. And neither mental nor physical space were treated by theorists in relation to the collective social space produced by human practices, viewed since the... Full Review
August 26, 1999
James Ryan
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. 272 pp.; 88 b/w ills. Cloth $47.50 (0226732339)
Christopher Pinney
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. 249 pp.; 40 color ills.; 90 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0226668657)
Postcolonialist theory revisits and reframes European expectations of knowledge, authority, and visibility in representations of the colonial encounter. Photography played an important role in the formation of these expectations, one discussed in modern histories of the medium. While differing in their objectives and academic disciplines, James Ryan and Christopher Pinney both use postcolonial theory to rewrite narratives of Euro-American photographic history. Pinney's book, in particular,... Full Review
August 3, 1999
William H. Truettner and Roger Stein, eds.
Exh. cat. Yale University Press in association with National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1999. 272 pp.; 100 color ills.; 120 b/w ills. $45.00 (0300079389)
National Museum of American Art, April 2–August 22, 1999
Shortly before the Federal Security Administration photographer Jack Delano set out for New England in the early 1940s, the program director, Roy Stryker, provided him with a shooting script. Stryker encouraged Delano to "pour maple syrup" on his subjects and "mix [them] well with white clouds." If this script corrupted Delano's "photographic soul," Stryker did not give "a damn . . . with Hitler at our doorstep" (quoted, 137). One of Delano's photographs, Picknickers along Highway 12A... Full Review
August 2, 1999