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Browse Recent Book Reviews

León Krempel, ed.
Exh. cat. New York: Prestel, 2014. 208 pp.; 130 color ills.; 349 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (9783791353470)

Exhibition schedule: Haus der Kunst, Munich, June 20‒October 12, 2014; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, June 6‒September 20, 2015

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September 3, 2015

Jacques Derrida loved the word “observe.” He paid special attention to its root word, “serve” (in French: server), which tied observation to respect, service, and deference. To observe something, he thought, was an act of humility. You gave yourself over to the details, gathering data and storing it in reserve for the future (Jacques Derrida, Memoirs of the Blind: The Self-Portrait and Other Ruins, trans. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas, Chicago: University of Chicago Press,...

Lindsay J. Twa
Burlington: Ashgate, 2014. 322 pp.; 16 color ills.; 54 b/w ills. Cloth $119.95 (9781409446729)
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September 3, 2015

Lindsay J. Twa’s Visualizing Haiti in U.S. Culture, 1910–1950 offers the most thorough examination yet written of Haiti’s representation in visual media that circulated in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century. Twa’s monograph dexterously spans many disciplines to survey cultural production as diverse as Aaron Douglas’s illustration and painting, Katherine Dunham’s choreography and dance, Alexander King’s photojournalism and illustration, Paul Robeson’s acting, Maya Deren’s filmmaking, and William Edouard Scott’s painting...

Sarah Monks, John Barrell, and Mark Hallett, eds.
Burlington: Ashgate, 2013. 278 pp.; 8 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Cloth $109.95 (9781409403180)
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September 3, 2015

Living with the Royal Academy: Artistic Ideals and Experiences in England consists of papers first delivered at a conference at the University of York in 2008. It is presented as a “companion volume” to Art on the Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House, 1780–1836, David H. Solkin’s exhibition and edited book (New Haven: Yale University Press for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the Courtauld Institute Gallery, 2001), which...

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...