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

Portland Art Museum, Oregon, March 30–October 13, 2019
Dramatic Impressions: Japanese Actor Prints was a delightful exhibition of a wide variety of Japanese woodblock prints, many on view for the first time. The prints were organized chronologically for the most part, beginning with the eighteenth century and ending with the twentieth. The choices of the curator, Jeannie Kenmotsu (assistant curator of Japanese art with the Japan Foundation), were excellent for a showcasing of numerous famous woodblock-print artists and their actor prints (yakusha-e) from the Kabuki theater celebrity culture. Detailed museum labels provided information for the uninformed viewer as well as specifics for the knowledgeable audience… Full Review
December 11, 2019
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Sasha Suda and Kirk Nickel, eds.
Exh. cat. New York: Prestel, 2019. 296 pp.; 183 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (9783791358444)
Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, April 6–September 8, 2019; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, October 12, 2019–January 5, 2020
The Early Rubens exhibition organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) is surely a visual feast to behold. With works drawn from a dizzying oeuvre that, given its prodigiousness and complexity, demands serious distilling, the exhibition succeeds in tackling key aspects of the monumental artistic output of Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) during his early mature period in a strikingly condensed and accessible manner. Surely, this is no small feat; for to paraphrase the erudite Rubens, one of the artist’s greatest ambitions was to provide… Full Review
December 10, 2019
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British Museum, London, November 29, 2018–August 4, 2019
“Understandings of history are rarely agreed and always shifting,” began the wall text that opened the British Museum’s Reimagining Captain Cook: Pacific Perspectives, in an effort to signal the exhibition’s investigation into the fraught legacy of James Cook (1728–1779), explorer and British Royal Navy captain. Rather than rehearsing well-known and tired narratives of Captain Cook as the heroic explorer and navigator, this exhibition attempted to reframe Cook’s legacy from the perspective of the people and places he impacted with his Pacific voyages. Thus, historical artifacts from Cook’s voyages were juxtaposed with artworks by contemporary Pacific Islanders that reveal their… Full Review
December 9, 2019
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Mary D. Sheriff
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018. 416 pp.; 14 color ills.; 43 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780226483108)
This book by the late Mary D. Sheriff is a study of islands in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France. Not just any islands, but islands, real and fictive, ruled by “beguiling women who captivate men through both literal and figurative enchantments” (2). These enchantresses promise love and pleasure to the men who arrive on their shores, but their aim is to dominate, corrupt, and emasculate. If manly virtue is to be restored, their charms have to be resisted and their island domains conquered. The trope of the enchanted island came to ancien-régime France by way of a canon of ancient and… Full Review
December 6, 2019
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Peter Mack and Robert Williams, eds.
Studies in Art Historiography. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2015. 204 pp.; 16 color ills.; 15 b/w ills. Cloth $130.00 (9781472442789)
Michael Baxandall, who died in 2008 just shy of his seventy-fifth birthday, is one of a handful of postwar scholars who were quickly recognized as some of art history’s greats. A string of classic texts and a restless, searching expansion of his range from the Italian Renaissance to the Northern one and into the eighteenth century, combined with a firmly original scholarly viewpoint, afforded him the status of a deep thinker who merits careful study. During Baxandall’s lifetime, Adrian Rifkin edited a volume, About Michael Baxandall (Wiley-Blackwell, 1999), subjecting his methods to scrutiny. The book under review was published in… Full Review
December 6, 2019
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José Esparza Chong Cuy, ed.
Exh. cat. Chicago and New York: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and DelMonico Books-Prestel, 2019. 144 pp.; 100 ills. Paper $25.00 (9783791358390)
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, April 13–August 25, 2019
The latest iteration of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)’s Ascendant Artist series featured the Brazilian artist Jonathas de Andrade (born 1982). This series has the virtue of occasionally highlighting younger artists from the Global South, even as the museum itself trends more toward blockbuster shows that lionize designers and musicians rather than advanced art (to name a few, David Bowie Is, 2014–15; Takashi Murakami, 2017; and Virgil Abloh, 2019). Andrade’s North American reputation rests primarily on the film O Peixe (The fish; 2017), a haunting parody of the ethnographic gaze acquired by the MCA… Full Review
December 5, 2019
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Margo Natalie Crawford
New Black Studies Series. Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2017. 280 pp.; 35 b/w ills. Paperback $28.00 (9780252082498)
Margo Natalie Crawford’s titular concept in Black Post-Blackness: The Black Arts Movement and Twenty-First-Century Aesthetics is oceanic: it is multifaceted and much encompassing. As the introduction explains, black post-blackness is an aesthetics of expressions of free self-determination, of a future blackness that shapes the present still. It is a mood and a shape of time, and also an understanding of that cultural mood and temporal shape as interdependent and in flux.  More concretely, Black Post-Blackness seeks to correct reductive constructions that situate twenty-first-century art and literature by artists and writers such as Glenn Ligon, Claudia Rankine, Kerry James Marshall, and… Full Review
November 26, 2019
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Christopher R. Lakey
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018. 240 pp.; 36 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300232141)
Christopher Lakey’s book, Sculptural Seeing: Relief, Optics, and the Rise of Perspective in Medieval Italy, makes a bold if ultimately problematic argument: Lakey suggests that the origins of perspective in Renaissance art are to be found in medieval relief sculpture, that the Albertian system of perspective evolved from the practices and concepts of medieval stone sculptors beginning with the revival of architectural sculpture associated with Romanesque art, around 1100. The book’s argument, however, is like a thought experiment in which it is necessary to accept the hypothesis as a premise to sustain the conclusion. Lakey aims to prove that… Full Review
November 25, 2019
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Chanchal B. Dadlani
New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 2019. 232 pp.; 97 color ills.; 22 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300233179)
Chanchal B. Dadlani’s From Stone to Paper adds an exciting new chapter to a growing body of scholarship exploring the arts and architecture of Asia beyond the “canonical” limit of the seventeenth century by considering the 150 years of the “long eighteenth century,” which, in this case, connects the heyday of the Mughal empire with the advent of the British Raj. Monuments, urban spaces, building practices, and modes of theorizing and representing architecture are examined “on their own terms,” building a case for the primacy of internal forces in shaping the concept of a “Mughal style” in architecture. Crisp, engaging… Full Review
November 22, 2019
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Robert Echols and Frederick Ilchman, eds.
Exh. cat. New Haven, CT and Washington, DC: Yale University Press in association with National Gallery of Art, 2018. 336 pp.; 240 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300230406)
Palazzo Ducale, Venice, September 7, 2018–January 6, 2019; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, March 24–July 7, 2019
Visitors were nearly denied the opportunity to experience the first major exhibition in the United States of the monumental work of Venetian Renaissance artist Jacopo Tintoretto (1518/19–1594). Though the show was originally slated to open March 3, 2019, a shutdown of the US federal government grounded preparations for Tintoretto: Artist of Renaissance Venice at the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington, DC. It is a testament to the commitment of lenders, dedicated efforts of NGA staff, and the work of its curators, Robert Echols and Frederick Ilchman, that the exhibition opened three weeks later. Although the mechanics… Full Review
November 21, 2019
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Elizabeth Prettejohn
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press in association with Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2017. 288 pp.; 130 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780300222753)
Consider two nineteenth-century paintings, made in the same year and same Europe, each alluding to a work by Titian. One is Édouard Manet’s Olympia (1863), a picture central to the modernist canon. With simplified brushwork and pared-down tonality, Manet transplants Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538) into contemporary Paris. The painting, which ventures a commentary on modern life through its presentation of the Venus as a modern woman, works because of its bold departure from its source. At the same time across the channel, Dante Gabriel Rossetti was painting Fazio’s Mistress (1863), a very different sort of allusion to another work… Full Review
November 18, 2019
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McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, June 20–September 15, 2019
McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, June 20–September 15, 2019
McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, June 20–September 15, 2019
Across the United States, museums are eager to present identity-based shows addressing issues of gender, sexuality, and identity during the fiftieth-anniversary year of the 1969 Stonewall uprisings. This year, the McNay Art Museum dedicated its entire temporary exhibition program to such an effort, with Andy Warhol: Portraits, Transamerica/n: Gender, Identity, Appearance Today, and TransSanAntonian: Examining Trans Identities and Gender Fluidity in the Archives. These three exhibitions constituted a broad consideration of contemporary artists undermining the entrenched gender binary and historical sexual normativity. Transamerica/n, the largest of the three temporary exhibitions, presented a wide range of artists… Full Review
November 15, 2019
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Thijs Weststeijn, Eric Jorink, and Frits Scholten, eds.
Netherlands Yearbook for History of Art. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill, 2016. 296 pp.; 150 color ills. Cloth $154.00 (9789004334977)
Stephanie Schrader, ed.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2018. 160 pp.; 138 color ills. Cloth $39.95 (9781606065525)
Getty Center, Los Angeles, March 13–June 24, 2018
“Is there such a thing as ‘global Netherlandish art’?” is the ambitious question with which Netherlandish Art in Its Global Context opens (7). A cohesive model of early modern art of the northern and southern provinces of the Netherlands is elusive to begin with, and the dimensions and significance of the global have been the subject of discussion within the humanities for decades now. If the question that informs this volume is unanswerable, the attempt is nonetheless interesting. Netherlandish Art in Its Global Context offers a lively array of essays that should interest readers in early modern art history generally… Full Review
November 14, 2019
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Pamela M. Jones, Barbara Wisch, and Simon Ditchfield, eds.
Brill's Companions to European History. Leiden, the Netherlands and Boston: Brill, 2019. 656 pp.; 119 ills. Cloth $206.00 (9789004391963)
A Companion to Early Modern Rome brings together thirty new essays that together offer a fresh perspective on the politics, urbanism, art, and culture of Rome between 1492 and 1692. The volume is an outstanding summary of the state of research and a showcase for innovative work across a wide range of disciplines. Each essay presents a succinct and focused discussion, with an analysis of previous literature and a conclusion that outlines possibilities for future research. Contributions by several leading Italian scholars are presented in translation. Covering an admirably comprehensive range of topics, the chapters chart exciting prospects particularly for… Full Review
November 11, 2019
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Tate Britain, London, June 5–September 24, 2018
To celebrate the one-hundred-year anniversary of the World War I armistice, the show Aftermath: Art in the Wake of World War One at Tate Britain explored artistic responses to the physical and psychological scars left on Europe. German, British, and French artists produced the majority of the works on display in the show, and most of them had practiced in Berlin, London, and Paris. They produced the exhibited works between 1916 and 1932. The expression of trauma, as it was experienced during the First World War, is a shared theme that all of the artists explored. As the title of… Full Review
November 8, 2019
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