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Browse Recent Book Reviews

Massimiliano Gioni
Exh. cat. New York: Skira Rizzoli in association with New Museum, 2014. 224 pp.; 140 color ills.; 8 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780847844562)

Exhibition schedule: New Museum, New York, October 29, 2014–February 1, 2015

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August 27, 2015

Curated by Massimiliano Gioni at the New Museum in New York City, Chris Ofili: Night and Day was the title of the first retrospective of the contemporary British artist’s paintings, drawings, and sculptures to be shown in the United States. The accompanying exhibition catalogue’s visual and textual narratives provide a loosely chronological survey of Ofili’s most celebrated artworks, with each contributor highlighting particular influences and experiences in the artist’s life that have served as catalysts...

David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds.
Volume V: The Twentieth Century, Part 1: The Impact of Africa. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, Harvard University Press, 2014. 320 pp.; 195 color ills.; 25 b/w ills. Cloth $95.00 (9780674052673)
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David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds.
Volume V: The Twentieth Century, Part 2: The Rise of Black Artists. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, Harvard University Press, 2014. 368 pp.; 224 color ills. Cloth $95.00 (9780674052697)
August 27, 2015

Originally conceived in 1960 by French U.S.-based philanthropists Dominique and John de Menil, The Image of the Black in Western Art was “prompted” by what one of the project's patrons, Dominique de Menil, described as “an intolerable situation: segregation as it still existed in spite of having been outlawed by the Supreme Court in 1954” (Dominique de Menil, “Acknowledgements and Perspectives,” The Image of the Black in Western Art. Volume 1: From the Pharaohs to...

Charles H. Carmen
Visual Culture in Early Modernity. Burlington: Ashgate, 2014. 218 pp.; 5 color ills.; 20 b/w ills. Cloth $104.95 (9781472429230)
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August 20, 2015

In Leon Battista Alberti and Nicholas Cusanus: Towards an Epistemology of Vision for Italian Renaissance Art and Culture, Charles H. Carman argues against viewing Renaissance painting as a secular mode of representing material reality, one divorced from spiritual, religious, and theological worldviews. According to Carman, Renaissance culture was produced and consumed by people more religious and interested in theology than many contemporary scholars will admit. Naturalistic painting in the Renaissance, with its single-point perspective, was...

Yves Pauwels
Arts de la Renaissance européenne 2. Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2013. 430 pp.; 134 b/w ills. Paper € 49.00 (9782812408625)
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August 20, 2015

Yves Pauwels quotes Victor Hugo in the subtitle of L’Architecture et le livre en France à la Renaissance: “Une magnifique décadence”? Hugo formulates the study’s question about the origin of architectural variation during the French Renaissance, specifically in the orders: the classical styles of architecture traditionally defined as Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, and Composite. Pauwels expands earlier essays to explore the diffusion of architectural treatises in sixteenth-century France as indispensable: first in mastering Vitruvius’s orders...

Andrew Brink
Exh. cat. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013. 176 pp.; 60 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780773541986)

Exhibition schedule: Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, Guelph, Ontario, January 23–March 30, 2014

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August 13, 2015

The British interest in Claude Lorrain began during the artist’s lifetime. In 1644, an unidentified Englishman commissioned two of Claude’s landscapes: Landscape with Narcissus and Echo and A Temple of Bacchus (Humphrey Wine, National Gallery Catalogues: The Seventeenth Century French Paintings, London: National Gallery, 2001, 88). By the beginning of the nineteenth century Claude had assumed an unassailable position, described by John Constable as “the most perfect landscape painter the world ever saw” (R. B....

Matthias Kohler, Frabio Gramazio, and Jan Willmann
Zurich: Park Books, 2014. 576 pp.; 660 color ills. Cloth $60.00 (9783906027371)
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August 13, 2015

In 1970, Nicholas Negroponte dedicated his book about computer- and robot-aided design “To the first machine that can appreciate the gesture” (The Architecture Machine: Toward a More Human Environment, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1973, front matter). The book, a seminal collection of experiments and observations from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, is a primary document in the history of the digitalization of architecture from a moment when clear distinctions between hardware and software...

Hendrik W. Dey
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 296 pp.; 8 color ills.; 12 b/w ills. Cloth $99.00 (9781107069183)
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August 6, 2015

The latest book by Hendrik W. Dey examines the afterlife of the Roman city in the territories of the erstwhile Roman Empire until roughly the ninth century. As a scholar with multiple threads of training in classics, Dey writes his book with a strong archaeological research method that emphasizes the perseverance of urban paradigms of the Greco-Roman world beyond literary tropes or oversimplified economical and demographical analyses. The Afterlife of the Roman City looks in...

Jennifer L. Shaw
Ashgate Studies in Surrealism. Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2013. 246 pp.; 63 b/w ills. Cloth $104.95 ( 9781409407874)
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August 6, 2015

Jennifer L. Shaw’s Reading Claude Cahun’s Disavowals joins a group of recent publications on the female Surrealist artist Claude Cahun. However, this study is the first in-depth look at Cahun’s signature book, Aveux non avenus, written in the 1920s and published in 1930 in Paris. It appeared in English in 2008 as Disavowals: or, Cancelled Confessions, although the English title misses the double subtleties and punning play of “confessions” and “unconfessed” (trans. Susan de Muth,...

Donald Preziosi
New York: Routledge, 2013. 152 pp. Paper $39.95 (9780415778619)
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July 30, 2015

Since the publication of his 1989 text Rethinking Art History: Meditations on a Coy Science (New Haven: Yale University Press), Donald Preziosi has continued an internal interrogation of our discipline. After the recent appearance of a study jointly written with Claire Farago, Art Is Not What You Think It Is (Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012; see my review in the Journal of Art Historiography 9 [December 2013]: https://arthistoriography.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/verstegen-rev.pdf), we now have another complete statement of Preziosi’s...

Amy Freund
University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2014. 312 pp.; 43 color ills.; 58 b/w ills. Cloth $84.95 (9780271061948)
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July 23, 2015

Jacques-Louis David casts a long shadow over portraiture during the period of the French Revolution, with the stern visages and intense gestures of members of the Third Estate in The Tennis Court Oath (1792); his iconic portrayal of Jean-Paul Marat lifeless in his bath (1793); his sensitive depiction of the Dutch republican Jacobus Blauw deep in thought at his desk (1795); and eventually his grandiloquent homages to Napoleon, including his portrayal of the Emperor’s coronation...