Concise, critical reviews of books, exhibitions, and projects in all areas and periods of art history and visual studies

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Caroline A. Jones
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. 400 pp.; 37 color ills.; 128 b/w ills. Hardcover $65.00 (9780226291741)
What does it mean to say that an artwork is “global” or “contemporary”? Such claims, which are often both implicit and based on unreflective judgments, are nothing less than a condition of possibility for virtually any kind of discourse or practice related to contemporary art. Yet despite the ubiquity or even the necessity of “the global” and “the contemporary,” it is by no means clear how these terms function rhetorically; it isn’t even clear that they refer to determinate concepts or... Full Review
December 11, 2018
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Andrea E. Frohne
New York State Series. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2015. 435 pp.; 12 color ills.; 55 b/w ills. Paperback $49.95 (9780815634300)
The mutual imbrications of race, space, and visuality that are a shared preoccupation of art history, cultural studies, critical theory, media studies, and anthropology come into disturbingly vivid relief in the story of the colonial-era cemetery whose long-buried past and recent transformation into the first national monument to memorialize US slavery form the subjects of Andrea Frohne’s fascinating book, The African Burial Ground in New York City: Memory, Spirituality, and Space.... Full Review
December 10, 2018
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Marian Bleeke
Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 2017. 216 pp.; 4 color ills.; 43 b/w ills. Cloth $99.00 (9781783272501)
In Motherhood and Meaning in Medieval Sculpture: Representations from France, c. 1100–1500, Marian Bleeke’s goal is to explore what medieval sculptures “have to say about medieval women’s experiences of motherhood” (1). She asserts that “these sculptures become sites where medieval women could consider their own maternal experiences and the meanings those experiences held for them” (3). In this study, the author makes a powerful case for exploring the potential experiences... Full Review
December 7, 2018
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Diana Bullen Presciutti
Visual Culture in Early Modernity. New York: Routledge, 2015. 284 pp.; 8 color ills.; 115 b/w ills. Hardcover $112.00 (9781472457653)
Diana Bullen Presciutti’s Visual Cultures of Foundling Care in Renaissance Italy is a sharply focused look at the figurative imagery deployed by hospitals caring for orphaned and abandoned children. Hospitals in Renaissance Italy have long been a subject of research: John Henderson’s The Renaissance Hospital: Healing the Body and Healing the Soul (2006) is a recent example of broad treatment, and Il mercante, l’ospedale, i fanciulli: La donazione di Francesco Datini, Santa... Full Review
December 6, 2018
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Naoko Takahatake
Exh. cat. Los Angeles, New York, and Munich: Los Angeles County Museum of Art in association with DelMonico Books-Prestel, 2018. 288 pp.; 295 color ills. Hardcover $60.00 (9783791357393)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, June 3–September 16, 2018; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, October 14, 2018–January 20, 2019
The chiaroscuro woodcut has always occupied an awkward and somewhat uncertain place in the history of prints. The technique employs multiple superimposed woodblock impressions in different colors to create printed images with tonal variation. Although the technique was developed by Lucas Cranach, Hans Burgkmair, and Hans Baldung Grien in Germany in the early years of the sixteenth century, most chiaroscuro woodcuts were produced in Italy. Between ca. 1516 and 1610, it is estimated that... Full Review
December 5, 2018
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Sonal Khullar
Oakland: University of California Press, 2015. 368 pp.; 84 color ills.; 20 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780520283671)
In her innovative and elegant book, Worldly Affiliations: Artistic Practice, National Identity, and Modernism in India, Sonal Khullar reconstitutes the history of modernism in India as nimble artistic negotiations between present and past, East and West, crafts and fine arts, and individual and nation. Through Edward Said’s notion of “affiliation,” she pushes the history of art worlds beyond the bounds of the nation-state, education, or media to revive “the worldly... Full Review
December 4, 2018
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Nnamdi Elleh
New York: Routledge, 2017. 350 pp.; 214 b/w ills. Hardcover $165.00 (9781472465290)
Abuja, Nigeria—the capital city of Africa’s most populous nation—was master planned from the ground up in the last forty years in the shadow of a gigantic rock outcrop (Aso Rock) near the geographic center of the country. Other than these scant details, few in or outside of Nigeria know much else about what is one of the continent’s most powerful cities. Nnamdi Elleh has begun to address this long-overlooked space, in this work on the city’s architecture. The result is a... Full Review
December 3, 2018
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James E. Young
Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2018. 256 pp.; 115 color ills. $29.95 (9781625343611)
Over the past thirty years, James E. Young, who recently retired from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has studied and written on modern memorial art, most notably that devoted to the Holocaust. For much of his career, he held a joint appointment in English and Judaic studies at that university, and also served as the founding director of its Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies. Over this time, Young has become a significant scholar in each of these fields. In... Full Review
November 30, 2018
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Surekha Davies
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016. 380 pp.; 60 b/w ills. Cloth £ 21.99 (9781107036673)
During the Renaissance, illustrated maps became important epistemological tools for Europeans seeking information about the inhabitants of the Americas. Surekha Davies’s Renaissance Ethnography and the Invention of the Human: New Worlds, Maps and Monsters considers the relationship between a variety of written and illustrated sources (travel accounts, costume books, encyclopedias, and prints) and maps. The book demonstrates how the latter visually synthesized—in one... Full Review
November 29, 2018
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Deborah Willis and Natasha L. Logan, eds.
Exh. cat. New York: Aperture, 2015. 268 pp.; 280 color ills. Paperback $29.95 (9781597113359)
Brooklyn Museum, New York, January 13–July 15, 2012
The questions that black males are asked each day by white America (or world consumers of blackness) are often debilitating in their reduction of our complex capacities and our ideologically inspired identities: questions that only scratch at the surface of a humanity forged by the depth of our roots, struggle, and emergent culture. These questions do not sincerely ask but seek to define the very nature of who we are. But, the questions that black males ask other black males are questions... Full Review
November 28, 2018
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