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

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Audrey Lewis, ed.
Exh. cat. New York: Scala Arts Publishers, 2015. 208 pp.; 120 ills. Cloth $55.00 (9781857599411)
Exhibition schedule: Brandywine River Museum of Art, Chadds Ford, PA, April 25–July 19, 2015
In conjunction with the first exhibition project in over twenty years to provide an in-depth examination of the work of painter Horace Pippin, this catalogue’s six contributing essayists focus their texts to contrast with the platitudes that have defined Pippin’s work since the beginning of his public exhibition history in the late 1930s. These standard interpretations stubbornly persisted without critical scrutiny and “with the artist’s complicity” (53), in the words of Anne Monahan, former... Full Review
August 18, 2016
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Paul Barrett Niell
Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015. 344 pp.; 12 color ills.; 76 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780292766594)
In Urban Space as Heritage in Late Colonial Cuba: Classicism and Dissonance on the Plaza de Armas of Havana, 1754–1828, Paul Niell examines cultural production related to the commemoration of the foundational site of Havana, located on the city’s Plaza de Armas. Legend recounts that the Spanish founded the city there under a ceiba tree. Niell focuses on architecture, urban design, and painting created at three different moments: the 1754–71 construction of a baroque monumental pillar... Full Review
August 18, 2016
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Dániel Margócsy
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. 336 pp.; 32 color ills.; 39 b/w ills. Cloth $40.00 (9780226117744)
The belief that scholarly consensus and the public good, rather than economic competition, should guide the pursuit of knowledge is an ideal inherited from a tradition of disinterested science that took shape in the early modern Republic of Letters and Enlightenment public sphere. Yet was early modern science as disinterested as it is often imagined to be? “No” is Dániel Margócsy’s blunt answer in Commercial Visions: Science, Trade, and Visual Culture in the Dutch Golden Age. Focusing... Full Review
August 11, 2016
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Aneta Georgievska-Shine and Larry Silver
Burlington: Ashgate, 2014. 362 pp.; 48 color ills.; 112 b/w ills. Cloth $149.95 (9781409462330)
The meeting of renowned Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens and Diego Velázquez, the talented painter to King Philip IV, during Rubens’s visit to Spain in 1628–29 has ignited the imagination of art historians. While contemporary sources are frustratingly silent on the encounter, a growing body of scholarship has appraised the impact of the Fleming’s presence on artistic production at the Spanish court, especially on pictures by Velázquez. In Rubens, Velázquez, and the King of Spain,... Full Review
August 11, 2016
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Spyros Papapetros
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. 412 pp.; 10 color ills.; 164 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780226645681)
“Too many examples, too many quotes, too many theses, and (perhaps the most criminal of all) too many ideas.” So Spyros Papapetros describes the critical responses circa 1893 to the idiosyncratic Aby Warburg’s dissertation in his recent book On the Animation of the Inorganic: Art, Architecture, and the Extension of Life. A certain kind of contemporary reader, especially one habituated to a hairsplitting historicism, might be tempted to raise similar objections to Papapetros’s... Full Review
August 11, 2016
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Alejandro Anreus
A Ver: Revisioning Art History, Volume 10. Minneapolis and Los Angeles: University of Minnesota Press and UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press, 2014. 156 pp.; 82 color ills. Paper $29.95 (9780895511522)
As the bounds of American art history edge into new territories, encroaching, for example, upon the fields of modernist and contemporary art, the discipline is also rekindling itself from within, sparked by its engagements with the once shadow presences of African, Asian, Latin, and Native visual traditions. The elasticity of “American” art today, buoyed by this transnational recognizance, appears already propitious for emergent histories of Latino art, long neglected and too often... Full Review
August 4, 2016
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Ian McLean, ed.
Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014. 380 pp.; 67 b/w ills. Cloth £ 52.99 (9781443867436)
The situations debated and analyzed in Double Desire: Transculturation and Indigenous Contemporary Art, edited by Ian McLean, were familiar to me. I was scheduled to give a paper at the 2013 International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA) in Sydney on a white South African artist whose work comes from a genealogy of European/American minimalism and abstraction. After some discussion it was decided that my paper should be moved from the panel on experimental art to the panel for Latin... Full Review
July 28, 2016
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Laura M. Giles, Lia Markey, and Claire Van Cleave
Exh. cat. Princeton: Princeton University Art Museum, 2014. 364 pp.; 370 color ills.; 40 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300149326)
Exhibition schedule: Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, January 25–May 11, 2014; Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, Stanford, May 22–August 24, 2015
The tradition of university art museums forming excellent collections, which began in Europe with the Ashmolean and Fitzwilliam in England and Erlangen University in Germany, has flourished in the United States. Second only to the Harvard Art Museums, the Princeton collection of Italian drawings is of great importance, and in many respects is better than the majority of important civic museums. It includes some outstanding Renaissance drawings by Carpaccio, Michelangelo, Parmigianino, and... Full Review
July 28, 2016
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Nancy Hoffman, Frank Verputten, and Robbert Roos
Exh. cat. Amsterdam: KIT Publishers, 2012. 144 pp.; 76 color ills. Paper $35.00 (9789460222115)
Exhibition schedule: Kunsthal KAdE, Amersfoort, Netherlands, May 25–August 26, 2012
The eponymous catalogue to the exhibition Who More Sci-fi Than Us?: Contemporary Art from the Caribbean aims to examine the complexity of Caribbean art through the metaphor of science fiction. Curator of the exhibition and co-founding director until 2011 of the Instituto Buena Bista, Curacao Center for Contemporary Art in the Dutch Caribbean, Nancy Hoffman writes in the introduction that the logic of the Caribbean is perfectly captured in Junot Díaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of... Full Review
July 21, 2016
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Valérie Rousseau
Exh. cat. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2015. 136 pp.; 83 color ills.; 17 b/w ills. Cloth $30.00 (9780912161242)
Exhibition schedule: American Folk Art Museum, New York, New York, March 26–July 5, 2015
In the American Folk Art Museum’s exhibition catalogue When the Curtain Never Comes Down: Performance Art and the Alter Ego, curator Valérie Rousseau highlights the creative expressions and artistic practices of twenty-six individuals and one religious community. With selections that span the late nineteenth century to the present, Rousseau succeeds in opening new discussions on objects and related performative actions of artists referred to as “self-taught” and “art brut.” A... Full Review
July 21, 2016
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