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

Laura Weigert
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. 290 pp.; 8 color ills.; 143 b/w ills. Cloth $99.99 (9781107040472)
Research on the relation between theater and art in the late Middle Ages relies on a rich history, first highlighted in the work of Emile Mâle and Gustave Cohen at the beginning of the twentieth century. The two prominent scholars started a long tradition of looking at exchanges between art and theater, as well as at the perceived “realism” of these media. In her latest book, Laura Weigert proposes a different understanding of theater and art that concentrates on the realms of the fifteenth-... Full Review
October 6, 2017
Thumbnail
Susan Rather
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. 316 pp.; 100 color ills.; 80 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 ( 9780300214611)
The Hudson River School painter Asher B. Durand makes a bold declaration at the end of Susan Rather’s The American School: Artists and Status in the Late Colonial and Early National Era. Admiring European pictures during a tour abroad, Durand nonetheless hungers for “a sight of the signboards in the streets of New York” (242). He would have relished the stunning cover of Rather’s book, which reproduces five jaunty top hats from a nineteenth-century hatters’ signboard. This detail... Full Review
October 6, 2017
Thumbnail
Kirsten Swenson
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. 200 pp.; 33 color ills.; 46 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780300211566)
Piecing together a decade-long friendship via artworks, letters, photographs, critical reviews, interviews, and exhibition history, Kirsten Swenson’s Irrational Judgments: Eva Hesse, Sol LeWitt, and 1960s New York adds new scholarship to an already well-documented friendship. This book itself is an outgrowth of the 2014 exhibition organized by the Blanton Museum of Art, Converging Lines: Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt, but Swenson’s linear reading of their friendship, begun when they... Full Review
September 28, 2017
Thumbnail
Alexandra Schwartz
Exh. cat. Oakland: University of California Press, 2015. 176 pp.; Many color ills. Cloth $44.95 (9780520282889)
Exhibition schedule: Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, February 8–May 17, 2015; Telfair Museums, Savannah, June 12–September 20, 2015; University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, October 16, 2015–January 31, 2016; Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, February 21–May 15, 2016
In asking how best to characterize and periodize the 1990s, Philip Wegner proposes the “counterintuitive asymmetry” of beginning the decade with the fall of the Berlin wall, an event “which is in fact an ending,” and ending with 9/11, an event which he positions as “the opening of the true post-Cold War global situation” (Life Between Two Deaths, 1989–2001: U.S. Culture in the Long Nineties, Durham: Duke University Press, 2009: 28). The “long 1990s” (1989–2001), Wegner surmises, was a... Full Review
September 28, 2017
Thumbnail
H. Ike Okafor-Newsum (Horace Newsum)
Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2016. 226 pp.; 137 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9781628462258)
What is Neo-Ancestralism? The phrase invokes heritage and cultural memory, but it also hints at a romanticization of the past. Demetrius L. Eudell tackles this concern in his foreword to SoulStirrers: Black Art and the Neo-Ancestral Impulse, arguing that the turn to the past of the artists documented in the book does not reflect the desire for an impossible return, but rather an interest in the “dynamic invention of new cultural forms” that have emerged from Africa by way of the... Full Review
September 28, 2017
Thumbnail
Joanne Pillsbury, Patricia Joan Sarro, James Doyle, and Juliet Wiersema
Exh. cat. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2015. 100 pp.; 87 color ills. Paper $25.00 (9781588395764)
Exhibition schedule: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, October 26, 2015–September 18, 2016
Because of its large size relative to a human body, a building can only be known from partial encounters: the view of a particular facade, the transition from exterior to interior when crossing the threshold, the sensation of being inside one of many rooms. The mind must assemble these fragments into a multidimensional panorama to understand the structure as a whole. Even so, aspects remain unknown: the appearance of the roof from above, the thickness of a wall, the view from a clerestory... Full Review
September 28, 2017
Thumbnail
Joseph Leo Koerner
Bollingen Series XXXV: 57. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016. 448 pp.; 275 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780691172286)
Joseph Leo Koerner is a verbal virtuoso, a master of alluring alliteration. Bosch and Bruegel: From Enemy Painting to Everyday Life is spangled with melodious word combinations like “devil dangles,” “seeming secrets,” “farthest fringe,” “hellish hill,” “sylph-like soul,” “shunning the sun,” “spiders spin,” and “rafters of the ruined hut.” Indeed, the title, with its catchy pairings of Bosch and Bruegel, enemy and everyday, already employs this stylistic device, signaling the... Full Review
September 27, 2017
Thumbnail
Sarah Robinson and Juhani Pallasmaa, eds.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015. 264 pp.; 47 color ills.; 24 b/w ills. Cloth $34.95 (9780262028875)
In 2015 a book of edited conference papers appeared that could have a widespread and profound impact on both architectural practice and education. Mind in Architecture: Neuroscience, Embodiment, and the Future of Design is a persuasive introduction to research in brain science and its application to environmental design that stems from the founding of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (AANFA) in 2003, an outgrowth of the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows... Full Review
September 22, 2017
Thumbnail
Mark Mussari
New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016. 193 pp.; 33 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (9781474223720)
Hygge is hot. According to the New York Times (December 24, 2016) and the Guardian (October 18, November 22, December 16, 2016), the Danish concept, which translates roughly to coziness, is the lifestyle trend of the moment. Hygge is so popular that it made the Oxford Dictionary’s shortlist for 2016 “word of the year.” A number of recent books outline the concept, explain its history, and instruct on how to develop it in your own home. Hygge-dedicated... Full Review
September 22, 2017
Thumbnail
Carolyn E. Tate
The William and Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and the Culture of the Western Hemisphere. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2012. 359 pp.; 268 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780292728523)
In Reconsidering Olmec Visual Culture, Carolyn E. Tate eschews the well-trodden path of the iconography of rulership to reveal the central role of the unborn, women, gestation, birth, and regeneration in the art and ideation of the Formative-period peoples of Mesoamerica. Based on this imagery, specifically its fidelity to embryo and fetus representations, she argues that empirical observation played a prominent role in Formative-period epistemologies of gender and creation. While... Full Review
September 22, 2017
Thumbnail