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

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Lia Markey
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2016. 264 pp.; 68 color ills.; 58 b/w ills. Cloth $79.95 (9780271071152)
One of the defining facts about the Medici court in Florence in the late sixteenth century is how, despite the richness of its artistic culture and the depth of its collecting, it remained essentially a bystander in the exploration, colonization, and mercantile exploitation of the New World. The Tuscan state nonetheless saw value in conceptualizing the effect of the expansion of the globe as a matter of local concern in a series of carefully curated artistic projects, often tied to objects... Full Review
November 17, 2017
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Elizabeth Alice Honig
Penn State Romance Studies. University Park: Penn State University Press, 2016. 288 pp.; 75 color ills.; 83 b/w ills. Cloth $84.95 (9780271071084)
In the opening pages of Jan Brueghel and the Senses of Scale, Elizabeth Alice Honig describes Jan Brueghel as a cataloger of nature’s variety, an analogy of the artistic process that is a leitmotif of the volume. Honig’s own engagement with the foundational, yet far from fashionable, scholarly practice of cataloging poetically echoes this reading of Brueghel’s work, for the book relies on the online database created by Honig and a team of technical and art-historical specialists (<a... Full Review
November 17, 2017
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Diana Magaloni Kerpel and Laura Filloy Nadal
Exh. cat. Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 2013. 240 pp. Paper $25.00 (9786074843699)
La Ofrenda 4 de La Venta is an edited volume of seven scholarly essays on Offering #4, a group of sixteen small stone anthropomorphic figures and six jade celts recovered in the 1955 excavations by Philip Drucker, Robert F. Heizer, and Robert J. Squier at the Middle Preclassic (1000–400 BCE) Gulf Coast Olmec site of La Venta. As noted in the preface and first essay of this treatise, the offering is one of the most spectacular,... Full Review
November 10, 2017
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Lucy Freeman Sandler
London and Toronto: British Library and University of Toronto Press, 2014. 404 pp.; 242 ills. Cloth $70.00 (9781442648470)
In 1985, Lucy Freeman Sandler began her examination of a corpus of illuminated manuscripts created for the noble English Bohun family in the second half of the fourteenth century. A very rich study of manuscript patronage and production, her Illuminators and Patrons in Fourteenth-Century England: The Psalter and Hours of Humphrey de Bohun and the Manuscripts of the Bohun Family is the culmination of thirty-five years of valuable research, analysis, and scholarship. The volume is... Full Review
November 10, 2017
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Richard J. Powell, ed.
Exh. cat. Durham: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, 2014. 176 pp.; 200 color ills. Paper $39.95 (9780938989370)
Exhibition schedule: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, January 30–May 11, 2014; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, June 14–September 7, 2014; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, October 19, 2014–February 1, 2015; Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, March 6–August 31, 2015; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 2, 2015–January 17, 2016
In his essay for the catalogue accompanying the exhibition Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist, the show’s curator Richard J. Powell writes, “Like Richard Wright, the Chicago painter Archibald J. Motley offers a fascinating glimpse into a modernity filtered through the colored lens and foci of a subjective, African American urban perspective” (110).This statement establishes the primary aim of the exhibition: to present Motley as a prominent voice of American modernism. Building... Full Review
November 3, 2017
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Ahmet A. Ersoy
Studies in Art Historiography. New York: Routledge, 2016. 334 pp.; 72 b/w ills. Cloth $127.00 (9781472431394)
In his long-awaited book, Architecture and the Late Ottoman Historical Imaginary: Reconfiguring the Architectural Past in a Modernizing Empire, Ahmet A. Ersoy provides an in-depth analysis of Usul-i Mi’mari-i Osmani (The Fundamentals of Ottoman Architecture, hereafter the Usul), a crucial initial scholarly volume about the history, theory, and compositional principles of Ottoman architecture, prepared as part of the exhibition representing the empire at the 1873... Full Review
November 3, 2017
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Jean Wirth
Geneva: Librarie Droz, 2015. 384 pp.; 189 b/w ills. Paper $42.00 (9782600005586)
Villard de Honnecourt’s drawings and accompanying commentary (BnF MS fr 19093) have generated tremendous interest since they first came to scholarly attention in the nineteenth century. Despite a century and a half of scrutiny, however, their purpose remains elusive. Initially thought to be a Gothic architect, Villard himself has fallen in status as modern studies have questioned his architectural knowledge. Following the work of Carl F. Barnes, Jr., the idea that Villard was not an... Full Review
November 3, 2017
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Izumi Shimada, ed.
William and Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015. 392 pp. Cloth $75.00 (9780292760790)
The Inka Empire: A Multidisciplinary Approach aims to assemble the latest thinking about the largest indigenous state in the history of the Americas. Editor Izumi Shimada outlines four goals in his introductory chapter: 1) offer the latest data and interpretations regarding the rise of the Inka state; 2) present an updated overview of the material remains and the organizational and ideological features of the Inka state; 3) demonstrate the importance of multidisciplinary approaches... Full Review
October 27, 2017
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Vittoria Di Palma
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. 280 pp.; 23 color ills.; 84 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780300197792)
Architectural historian Vittoria Di Palma’s book Wasteland: A History examines the shift in the way wasteland was understood, classified, and managed over the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is both a wide-ranging survey of representations of wasteland in prints, paintings, maps, and elsewhere, and an alternative account of English improvement understood through developments in modern aesthetics. As such, it is of interest not only to art and architectural... Full Review
October 27, 2017
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Liu Yang, ed.
Exh. cat. Minneapolis: Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2015. 252 pp.; 200  color ills. Paper $49.95 (9780989371865)
The terracotta army pits of the First Emperor’s (r. 221–210 BCE) mausoleum in China remain one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century; yet the story of the First Emperor, his tomb, and the rise of the Qin state did not end with that excavation. Instead, continuous archaeological activity in Shaanxi and Gansu Provinces has... Full Review
October 27, 2017
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