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 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

Thierry De Duve
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019. 248 pp.; 17 b/w ills. Paper $35.00 (9780226546735)
Ever since his Kant after Duchamp (1996), Thierry de Duve has proved himself to be one of the most insistent Kantians today. Quite appropriately, the cover of his recent book, Aesthetics at Large, Volume 1: Art, Ethics, Politics, shows us a button telling us that “Kant Got It Right.”  De Duve’s Kant, however, is not the one who, in the wake of Jean-François Lyotard’s proposed reading, might be taken to suggest that the sublime holds the key to the momentum of the avant-garde; rather, he is the one who aspired to produce a theory of sensus communis as the… Full Review
August 10, 2021
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Allison Deutsch
University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2021. 216 pp.; 25 color ills.; 33 b/w ills. Cloth $94.95 (9780271087238)
Georges Seurat’s monumental A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (1884, Art Institute of Chicago) hung alongside paintings by Camille Pissarro and newcomer Paul Signac at the last Impressionist exhibition. Those who visited in May 1886 encountered a new painterly mode called “néo-impressionisme” as defined by Félix Fénéon. With their pointillist technique, Neo-Impressionists applied tight dabs of unblended paint, rather than employing the push-and-pull of the gestural, colorful strokes of the Impressionist painters. Complementary hues—red lake and viridian green, for example—appear side by side in pointillist imagery. These painters believed that those dabs of color mixed optically so that… Full Review
August 6, 2021
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Nina L. Dubin, Meredith Martin, and Madeleine C. Viljoen
Exh. cat. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2020. 158 pp.; 120 color ills. €50.00 (9781912554515)
In the late 1710s the French and English governments sought to tackle their respective national debts by promoting share trading in state-controlled joint stock companies: the French Compagnie d’Occident (Company of the West), also known as the Mississippi Company, and the English South Sea Company. In 1720 spectacular rises in share prices spread from the French to the English and eventually to the more diversified Dutch financial markets. Each of these bull markets was soon followed by a dramatic collapse in the value of shares. Together these three “bubbles” generated the first international stock market crash and ushered in the… Full Review
August 4, 2021
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Marco Curatola Petrocchi, Cécile Michaud, Joanne Pillsbury, and Lisa Trever, eds.
Colección Estudios Andinos 29. Lima: Fondo Editorial de la PUCP, 2020. 554 pp. S/120.00 (9786123176136)
El arte antes de la historia: Para una historia del arte andino antiguo (Art before history: For a history of ancient Andean art) is an ambitious edited volume emerging out of an equally ambitious 2016 conference. The conference, co-organized by the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and University of California, Berkeley, brought together a diverse group of international scholars in Lima for three days. The book features essays that emerged from talks presented at the conference, and also integrates additional essays by a few authors who did not participate in the 2016 events. The goal of the volume is to… Full Review
August 2, 2021
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Exh. cat. Atlanta and New York: High Museum of Art and Rizzoli Electa, 2021. 224 pp. Cloth $50.00 (9780847869923)
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, February 6–May 9, 2021; Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME, June 19–September 12, 2021; Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, October 16, 2021–January 9, 2022
Co-organized by Maine’s Portland Museum of Art and Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History surveys almost seven decades of Driskell’s art practice across painting, printmaking, and collage. Curator Julie L. McGee gathered lesser- and well-known works created between 1953 and 2011 with a keen interest in highlighting David Driskell (1934–2020) as an artist, a lifelong occupation eclipsed at times by his outsize influence as a scholar of American and African American art. The inimitable Driskell inhabited a colorful life as a groundbreaking art historian, curator, professor, and collector dedicated to chronicling artists of African… Full Review
July 30, 2021
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Myriam Ben Salah and Lauren Mackler
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: Hammer Museum, 2020. 308 pp.; 343 color ills. Paper $50.00 (9783791359106)
Hammer Museum in partnership with the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, Los Angeles, April 17–August 1, 2021
Context always matters in the perception and reception of art, but in the case of annual or biennial exhibitions designed to take the pulse of a particular place at a particular time, context is crucial. Made in L.A. 2020: a version was, through no fault of its own, vexed in this regard. Between the show’s organization and its opening to the public, delayed by nearly a year, the political and social landscape of Los Angeles and the nation as a whole shifted radically with the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many others, the rise of the Black… Full Review
July 28, 2021
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Jacqueline E. Jung
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2020. 340 pp.; 211 color ills.; 322 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300214017)
Throughout the entire text of Eloquent Bodies, we encounter Jacqueline E. Jung’s tactile, sensual delight in sculpture and her awareness of the role played by the viewer’s presence in space. Her study fits well with the flourishing world of sensory studies, yet is still deeply invested in the exploration of the cultural production of art. Although she presents a study of objects by analyzing their “presence effects,” Jung retains a deep commitment to their “meaning effects.” Her analysis also brings us into contact with the work of many scholars, including the pioneers who first brought the sculptures to our… Full Review
July 26, 2021
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Carla Acevedo-Yates, ed.
Exh. cat. Chicago and New York: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and DelMonico Books/D.A.P., 2020. 144 pp.; 78 ills. Paper (9781942884736)
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, December 12, 2020–August 8, 2021
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, December 22, 2020–July 18, 2021
As viewers enter Carolina Caycedo’s solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago, they are greeted by a sculptural ofrenda, or offering, that suspends in absolute stillness from the ceiling. Composed of vibrantly colored fishing nets that stack to form a conical-shaped tent or skirt, the sculpture Limen (2019) welcomes viewers with the scent of fresh flowers that hang almost at their feet. Reminiscent of the Mexican marigolds seen in Día de los Muertos altars, red, yellow, and orange flowers rest on a wooden gold-panning bowl suspended from the sculpture, evoking the greed of colonial… Full Review
July 23, 2021
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Francesco Freddolini and Marco Musillo, eds.
Routledge Research in Art History. New York: Routledge, 2020. 236 pp.; 45 b/w ills. Cloth $160.00 (9780367467289)
With the global turn in early modern studies, more and more work has been done to understand better the artistic exchanges between distant lands. Questions of taste and appropriation and explorations of how art objects functioned as diplomatic gifts have been probed, though mostly with a Eurocentric focus. Italy has, in many of these studies, maintained its (anachronistic) primacy as artistic interlocutor with the world, and Florence (and, by necessity, the Medici) its identity as the umbilicus mundi of early modern art. This persists, despite the fact that other areas in and beyond Italy had more political, social, and artistic… Full Review
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Richard J. Powell
Cambridge, MA and New Haven, CT: Hutchins Center for African & African American Research in association with Yale University Press, 2020. 240 pp.; 76 color ills.; 44 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780300245745)
Darryl Dickson-Carr writes, “African American satire’s earliest purpose in both oral and written form was to lampoon the (il)logic of chattel slavery and racism itself” (African American Satire: The Sacredly Profane Novel, University of Missouri Press, 2001). Despite the power of Black satire, there are few comprehensive studies of it. The early twenty-first century saw the publication of several books, including Dickson-Carr’s and Dana Williams’s edited collection of essays, African American Humor, Irony, and Satire (Cambridge Scholars, 2007). More recently Danielle Fuentes Morgan has published Laughing to Keep from Dying: African American Satire in the Twenty-First Century (University… Full Review
July 19, 2021
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David Joselit
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2020. 344 pp.; 82 b/w ills. Cloth $40.00 (9780262043694)
In Heritage and Debt: Art in Globalization, David Joselit seeks to remedy the biases that have prevented art historians working in the United States and Europe from recognizing the complex ways in which artists operating on the so-called periphery have invoked references to traditional culture. His endgame is to demonstrate how artists engage with heritage to produce work whose contemporaneity is posited in its response to the geopolitics of globalization. Joselit does this by asking how tradition has been put to contemporary uses by artists from regions that include Africa, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe… Full Review
July 16, 2021
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Julia Guernsey
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020. 278 pp.; 203 b/w ills. Cloth $99.99 (9781108478991)
Art historical studies of Preclassic sculpture in Mesoamerica have long noted a “homocentric” focus on the representation of the human body. In her pioneering study of Olmec stone monuments, Los Hombres de la Piedra (Universidad Autónoma de Mexico, 1977), Beatríz de la Fuente dubbed their creators “the men of stone,” referencing a cultural predilection for sculpting near life-size human bodies in both two and three dimensions. Julia Guernsey returns us to a consideration of human bodies as the dominant subject of Preclassic art in Human Figuration and Fragmentation in Preclassic Mesoamerica, managing to both dramatically expand the field… Full Review
July 15, 2021
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Karla Huebner
Russian and East European Series. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020. 408 pp. Cloth $100.00 (9780822946472)
The Czech Surrealist known as Toyen (née Marie Čermínová, 1902–1980) has too long been relegated to the margins of the movement. Interest in her art grew after her death, spearheaded by a 1982 Centre Georges Pompidou retrospective devoted to her work alongside that of her Czech friends and collaborators Jindřich Štyrský and Jindřich Heisler, as well as a later 2000 retrospective at Prague’s City Gallery. This year, for the first time, she will be celebrated with a major solo retrospective at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, which will tour to the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the National… Full Review
July 14, 2021
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Hollis Clayson
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019. 320 pp.; 75 color ills.; 32 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780226593869)
In 1893 Jules Luquiens (somewhat prematurely) lamented the failure of electric light. “It dazzles,” he wrote, “but does not clarify” (9). It is to this poetics of light that at once illuminates and blinds that Hollis Clayson’s Illuminated Paris attends, though fortunately, it does not suffer the same malady. Surveying artistic responses to the proliferation of lighting technologies in public spaces throughout Paris in the late nineteenth century, Clayson triangulates material and urban history with rigorous close looking. Rather than fixating on particular light sources and their corresponding technologies, she focuses instead on the phenomenological effects of nocturnal illumination and… Full Review
July 8, 2021
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Lisa Tickner
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2020. 416 pp.; 80 color ills.; 120 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (9781913107109)
Lisa Tickner was eighteen years old when Ken Russell’s TV documentary Pop Goes the Easel was first aired on the BBC in 1962. This media exploration of British Pop art marks the beginning of the episodic narrative of London’s New Scene, with chapters structured by year (1962–69) and each focused on a particular cultural event. From Russell’s experimental TV staging of four Pop artists, subsequent chapters cover the commercial Kasmin Gallery, a major survey exhibition at the Tate, the photobook Private View, Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Blow-Up (1966), the commercial export of “swinging London,” May 1968 at Hornsey College… Full Review
July 7, 2021
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