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Browse Recent Book Reviews

Frazer Ward
Interfaces: Studies in Visual Culture. Lebanon, NH: Dartmouth College Press, 2012. 224 pp.; 24 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (9781611683356)
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July 31, 2014

In No Innocent Bystanders, Frazer Ward addresses issues of community and the public through the lens of canonical performance artists—and work—from the 1970s. Ward is acutely aware of the importance of how an event or action is framed as art, noting that the “importance of art as a context here is that it at once invokes and relies upon (even as it may capture) an audience” (2–3). Ward chooses to focus on seminal pieces—many of...

Jeff Brouws, Wendy Burton, and Hermann Zschiegner, eds.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013. 288 pp.; 298 color ills.; 55 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (9780262018777)
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July 31, 2014

Though its title coyly pretends to be small, Various Small Books: Referencing Various Small Books by Ed Ruscha is actually a large, substantial book. Edited and compiled by Jeff Brouws, Wendy Burton, and Hermann Zschiegner, Various Small Books provides an illustrated and annotated catalog of artists’ books inspired by Ed Ruscha’s books. It also includes an essay by Mark Rawlinson and descriptive texts by Phil Taylor. Ruscha created a number of books in the 1960s...

Kathryn A. Morrison and John Minnis
London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2012. 448 pp.; 225 color ills.; 75 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300187045)
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July 31, 2014

In 1943, the English architect, landscape architect, and town planner Geoffrey Jellicoe designed an exhibition for the British Road Federation (BRF) called Motorways for Britain. Jellicoe included photographs of motorways superimposed on different types of English landscape, showing thousands of miles of roadways “designed to harmonise with typical British scenery,” as described by Kathryn A. Morrison and John Minnis, authors of the lavishly illustrated and thoroughly researched Carscapes: The Motor Car, Architecture and Landscape in...

Ilona Katzew, ed.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2011. 320 pp.; 220 color ills. Cloth $70.00 (9780300176643)

Exhibition schedule: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, November 6, 2011–January 29, 2012; Museo Nacional de Historia, Mexico City, July 12—October 7, 2012

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July 24, 2014

Conceived as an “integral counterpart” to the eponymous exhibition organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and which also appeared at the Museo Nacional de Historia in Mexico City, Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial World features an impressive roster of international scholars, an interdisciplinary approach, and over two hundred full-color illustrations. The publication is not, strictly speaking, an exhibition catalogue (there are no individual entries); rather, it is a collection of...

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...