If you access or use the journal, you accept these conditions.

Browse Recent Book Reviews

Minou Schraven
Visual Culture in Early Modernity. Burlington: Ashgate, 2014. 338 pp.; 51 b/w ills. Cloth $124.95 (9780754665243)
Thumbnail
May 28, 2015

Scholarship across the disciplines on death and commemoration in the early modern era is rich. A significant new contribution is Minou Schraven’s Festive Funerals in Early Modern Italy: The Art and Culture of Conspicuous Commemoration. The volume focuses on the development of funeral apparati—ephemeral decorations for the celebration of requiem masses on behalf of ecclesiastical princes and heads of state—in sixteenth-century Rome, which evolved into increasingly spectacular displays. These formal changes paralleled new attitudes regarding...

Dag Petersson
New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. 336 pp. Cloth $100.00 (9781137029935)
Thumbnail
May 28, 2015

At least since Plato’s claim that it is the foundation of true knowledge, light has been identified by the Western philosophical canon as the source of universal wisdom. It is this implied connection between physical light and rationality that prompts Dag Petersson to assert in The Art of Reconciliation that photography is the visual counterpart of dialectical logic, because dialectics and photography both are forms of light-writing. In order to substantiate his view of photography...

Nirit Ben-Aryeh Debby
Visual Culture in Early Modernity. Burlington: Ashgate, 2014. 192 pp.; 10 color ills.; 51 b/w ills. Cloth $104.95 (9781472420572)
Thumbnail
May 28, 2015

Nirit Ben-Aryeh Debby’s The Cult of St Clare of Assisi in Early Modern Italy is a broad survey and analysis of materials documenting the extraordinary life and robust cult of St. Clare of Assisi (1193–1253) in Italian visual culture. Drawing on diverse representations of St. Clare, ranging from medieval reliquary cabinets, seals, tapestries, and frescoes to monumental baroque sculpture and altarpieces, Debby maps shifts and transformations in the iconography of St. Clare in the service...

Jennifer L. Roberts
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014. 240 pp.; 25 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780520251847)
Thumbnail
May 28, 2015

In a world where vast collections of digital image libraries like Artstor allow works of art from any place or time to be accessed and saved on hard drives, we need not consider the weight, scale, and fragility of objects, nor how they travel from the nebulous space of “the cloud” to our screens. In Transporting Visions: The Movement of Images in Early America, Jennifer Roberts argues that we should not ignore the materiality of...

Leo G. Mazow
University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012. 216 pp.; 44 color ills.; 33 b/w ills. Cloth $84.95 (9780271050836)
Thumbnail
May 21, 2015

Is there a post-postmodern approach to the art of Thomas Hart Benton, the opinionated, controversial polymath? One that expands an understanding of this larger-than-life artist in humanistic terms while laying bare his manifold contradictions: the short man who drew elongated bodies; the Parisian-trained painter who disavowed the avant-garde and its “cubes”; the man of ideas who read John Dewey while lambasting urban intelligentsia; and, last but not least, the scion of politicians who eschewed public...

Carol Magee
Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2012. 256 pp.; 6 color ills.; 16 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (9781617031526)
Thumbnail
May 21, 2015

Although popular culture and its incidental pleasures are constantly consumed, such things are not usually assessed with the same meticulous and critical lenses trained upon other forms of culture. Indeed, despite the victories of cultural studies, there is still less ink spilt (or keys tapped) on close academic analyses of pop culture than objects classed as “art.” Carol Magee’s Africa in the American Imagination is a welcome—and exemplary—exception to the rule (though certainly scholars such...

Andrew V. Uroskie
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. 288 pp.; 100 b/w ills. Paper $30.00 (9780226842998)
Thumbnail
May 7, 2015

In the closing pages of his fine book Between the Black Box and the White Cube: Expanded Cinema and Postwar Art, Andrew V. Uroskie delivers a vivid explication of Ken Dewey’s multimedia project Selma Last Year (1966). With this work, Dewey proposes to redefine the social character of media through sophisticated interrelations of technology and live performance contingent to a viewer’s presence: “the act of spectatorship itself [was] staged” (226). The stakes of this staging...

Carole Paul, ed.
Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2012. 368 pp.; 65 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (9781606061206)
Thumbnail
May 7, 2015

This anthology stems from the Getty’s three-pronged publications program which, in addition to the museum, includes the Conservation and the Research Institutes. Going far beyond the catalogues of permanent collections or special exhibitions that are the more customary publishing outlets for museums, an extensive and variegated scholarly literature has been the result. The current volume focuses on the origins and early development of the major Continental and English art museums during the late eighteenth and...

Catherine Coleman Brawer and Kathleen Murphy Skolnik
New York: Andrea Monfried Editions, 2014. 240 pp.; 230 color ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780991026302)
Thumbnail
April 30, 2015

While reading Catherine Coleman Brawer and Kathleen Murphy Skolnik’s splendid new book, The Art Deco Murals of Hildreth Meière, I thought—it’s time to go to Nebraska. For it is in its state capital, Lincoln, where one can see Meière’s extraordinary suite of mosaic murals done for the interior domes and floor of the state capitol. Completed between 1924 and 1932, the project catapulted Meière (1892–1961) to the status of one of the nation’s foremost mosaicists...

Sandra Cavallo and Tessa Storey
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. 336 pp.; 23 color ills.; 56 b/w ills. Cloth $99.00 (9780199678136)
Thumbnail
April 30, 2015

In late Renaissance Italy, prosperous individuals had the luxury of options when it came to such essential concerns as diet, dwelling, grooming, and sleep. Sandra Cavallo and Tessa Storey, the authors of Healthy Living in Late Renaissance Italy, look carefully at what Renaissance Italians did to preserve their well-being and at the medical arguments behind these determinations; in doing so, they furnish a key for understanding the behaviors, attitudes, and material culture of the period....