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Browse Recent Book Reviews

Dianne Harris
Architecture, Landscape, and American Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013. 392 pp.; 133 b/w ills. Paper $39.95 (9780816654567)
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July 17, 2014

As the Great Recession demonstrated, membership in the U.S. middle class is tenuous and perhaps only temporary. Real wages have been declining for decades, but the deceptive practices of Wall Street mortgage brokers leading to the financial collapse of 2008 proved particularly detrimental by stripping more than a million households of the defining badge of middle-class rank, that is, owning a single-family house on a small plot of land. Twelve times as many owed more...

Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby
Pittsburgh: Periscope, 2012. 200 pp.; 82 color ills.; 146 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9781934772768)
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July 17, 2014

The “colossal” in the title of Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby’s Colossal: Engineering the Suez Canal, Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower, and Panama Canal refers to the size of the monumental objects she examines, as well as to the scale of their production, the range of their reproduction in images and models, and the scope of their reception over time and across the Atlantic Ocean. This book is about big things as much as it is about...

Suzanne Glover Lindsay
Burlington: Ashgate, 2012. 44 b/w ills. $104.95 (9781409422617)
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June 26, 2014

In Funerary Arts and Tomb Cult: Living with the Dead in France, 1750–1870, Suzanne Glover Lindsay takes an interdisciplinary approach to the examination of modern funerary sculpture in France—how it functioned historically, culturally, and aesthetically. The book places new emphasis on the dynamic that existed between tomb cult and the funerary arts, highlighting contemporary French attitudes toward death and burial as a result of Enlightenment thought and the Revolution of 1789. To frame this discussion,...

Morten Steen Hansen
University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2013. 236 pp.; 42 color ills.; 109 b/w ills. Cloth $94.95 (9780271056401)
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June 19, 2014

We often speak about Michelangelo’s influence on other artists as an active force to which later artists merely yielded. Morten Steen Hansen’s In Michelangelo’s Mirror turns the equation around, making Michelangelo’s work the object that later artists use for their own varied purposes. He focuses on three artists—Perino del Vaga, Daniele da Volterra, and Pellegrino Tibaldi—who knew each other in Rome, but this intelligent study is not about their connections to each other. Rather, Hansen...

Christopher Curtis Mead
University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012. 324 pp.; 157 b/w ills. Cloth $84.95 (9780271050874)
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June 19, 2014

Of the many urban operations that contributed to making modern Paris, the construction of the Halles Centrales (Central Markets; 1854–74) was among the largest, most radical, and most influential projects undertaken as part of the Second Empire renovation of the city. Designed by the academically trained architect Victor Baltard (1805–1874), the Halles Centrales required the rebuilding of an entire neighborhood in the heart of the French capital. Planned on a regular grid and linked by...

Shannon Jackson
New York: Routledge, 2011. 310 pp.; 33 b/w ills. Paper $39.95 (9780415486019)
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June 12, 2014

What constitutes live/performance art today? The terms and definition(s) have always been slippery. In the past, live art was a large, interdisciplinary umbrella that included body art, interactive installation, postmodern dance, post-dramatic theater, time-based work, and performance video. Live art has also included the work and products of artistic collectives, interventionist work, relational aesthetics, eco art, social practice, institutional critique, and, recently, reenactment. Live art is further related to a burgeoning category in academic writing...

Helen Hills, ed.
Burlington: Ashgate, 2011. 286 pp.; 25 color ills.; 34 b/w ills. Cloth $124.95 (9780754666851)
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June 5, 2014

Many periods in the history of art are subject to anachronistic or pejorative names that have somehow stuck, yet few have been so controversial as the term “baroque.” Is baroque a style? If so, what are its characteristics and how to account for the countless exceptions? Is it a period? When does it begin or end? What are its geographical boundaries? Is it a concept? Due to its historical anachronism, pejorative connotations, and, not least,...

Richard Wrigley
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013. 330 pp.; 50 color ills.; 65 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300190212)
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June 5, 2014

Richard Wrigley’s Roman Fever: Influence, Infection, and the Image of Rome, 1700–1870 is a thought-provoking look at Rome—and, it should be noted, also at its wider environs—from an unlikely point of view: the filthy public sanitation and insalubrious atmospheric conditions of the city and outlying areas, and how these factors, together with the evidence surrounding the Roman phenomenon of mal’aria (bad air or climate), affected the “making and viewing of art” by artistic pilgrims sojourning...

Daniela Bleichmar
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. 288 pp.; 99 color ills.; 2 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780226058535)
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May 30, 2014

The star of colonial Latin American art is ascendant. Though some museums, like the Denver Art Museum and the San Antonio Museum of Art, have long had important collections in this area, others have recently begun to take more than a passing interest in the period and region. Just last year the Louvre and the Philadelphia Museum of Art held major colonial Latin American exhibitions. This was the second show of such scale at Philadelphia...

Renata Ago
Trans. Bradford Bouley, Corey Tazzara, and Paula Findlen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. 392 pp.; 38 ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780226010571)
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May 30, 2014

Renata Ago’s Gusto for Things: A History of Objects in Seventeenth-Century Rome is an English translation of Il gusto delle cose. Una storia degli oggetti nella Roma del Seicento, first published in Rome in 2006 (Donzelli Editore). The translation is by Bradford Bouley and Corey Tazzara with Paula Findlen. Findlen also contributes an important foreword that analyzes in detail the Nota delli musei, librerie, galerie et ornamenti di statue e pitture, ne’ palazzi, nelle case,...