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

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E. Patrick Johnson and Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, eds.
Durham: Duke University Press, 2016. 573 pp.; 23 b/w ills. Paperback $34.95 (9780822360650)
According to E. Patrick Johnson and Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, the terms “performance,” “queer,” and “blacktino” in the title of their coedited book Blacktino Queer Performance signal collaborations: queer as non-normative sexualities; performance as a lens to examine sociocultural phenomena; and blacktino analytics as a “critical optic [which] allows us to maintain the goals of queer-of-color-critique and to ground it in [. . .] black and brown intergroup relations” (7). On the... Full Review
July 10, 2018
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Olivier Barlet
African Humanities and the Arts. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2016. 466 pp. Paperback $39.95 (9781611862119)
Olivier Barlet’s 2016 English translation of Les Cinémas d’Afrique des années 2000 (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2012) offers scholars and students an impressive and comprehensive study of African film made and produced specifically from 1996 to the early 2000s. The four-hundred-plus-page work focuses on the questions and polemics in filmmakers’ work as well as the criticism that dictates the theoretical framework through which scholars understand African cinema. Barlet... Full Review
July 2, 2018
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Hanna B. Hölling
Oakland: University of California Press, 2017. 264 pp.; 24 ills. Hardcover $65.00 (9780520288904)
The discipline of art history has, of late, experienced a surge of interest in the adjacent field of conservation studies. Exactly a decade ago, the research and conservation institutes at the Getty cohosted the symposium “The Object in Transition,” convened to bring artists, art historians, curators, and conservators together to discuss case studies that spanned from modernist painting to Postminimalist latex-based sculpture. The symposium—which one can watch in its entirety... Full Review
June 29, 2018
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Amanda Wunder
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2017. 232 pp.; 34 color ills.; 59 b/w ills. Hardcover $84.95 (9780271076645)
Amanda Wunder’s impressive study discusses how sacred artworks were created collaboratively as powerful interventions to mitigate Seville’s severe financial, political, and social crises in late seventeenth-century Spain. She examines works in multiple media, including architecture, painting, sculpture, alhajas (luxury objects prized for both their spiritual or monetary value), printed materials, and ephemera. Many of these were part of urban renewal campaigns responding to the... Full Review
June 27, 2018
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Louis Kaplan
London: Reaktion Books, 2017. 224 pp.; 40 color ills.; 70 b/w ills. Paperback $29.95 (9781780236513)
“No animal but man ever laughs.” Aristotle’s declaration launches this book on technologically facilitated representations, insisting on a historically broad and human framework for machine pictures. Though not unmindful of photography’s material functions, Kaplan’s engagingly written survey explores the medium’s rootedness in human experience and use, elucidating both its productive and destructive uses in the amplification of Self. What might initially appeal as a light-hearted study of... Full Review
June 25, 2018
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Joan A. Holladay and Susan L. Ward, eds.
Publications of the International Center of Medieval Art, No. 6. New York: International Center of Medieval Art, 2016. 668 pp. Hardcover $75.00 (9780991043002)
Joan A. Holladay and Susan L. Ward, along with thirty-three additional contributors, have completed the third installment of the mammoth Gothic Sculpture in America series. This volume includes 446 entries on close to 500 objects, bringing the total of works published in the series close to 1200. At least two more volumes are anticipated. While some of the sculptures included, such as an Angel from the Frick Collection (cat. #43), have received scholarly attention, many more are... Full Review
June 20, 2018
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Ananda Cohen Suarez
Recovering Languages and Literacies of the Americas. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2016. 304 pp.; 25 color ills.; 74 b/w ills. Paperback $29.95 (9781477309551)
The vast area of the Andes was home to extraordinary cultures that produced ritual imagery for millennia before the arrival of the Spanish and continued with new subjects and significance under the dictates of the Catholic Church. Easel paintings by indigenous artists from Cuzco, once the capital of the Inca empire, have received considerable attention along with other Precolumbian and colonial ceramics, metallurgy, architecture, and textiles from the... Full Review
June 15, 2018
Guy Hedreen
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. 408 pp.; 25 color ills.; 65 b/w ills. Hardcover $120.00 (9781107118256)
In describing Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini wedding portrait, signed and dated by the artist in 1434, Ernst Gombrich wrote: “For the first time in history the artist became the perfect eye-witness in the truest sense of the term.” But is this actually the first instance? In the late sixth century BCE an Athenian vase painter signed his name “Smikros egrapsen” (Smikros painted it) on a... Full Review
June 8, 2018
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Catherine Walworth
Series: Refiguring Modernism. University Park: Penn State University Press, 2017. 248 pp.; 34 color ills.; 66 b/w ills. Hardcover $94.95 (9780271077697)
Catherine Walworth’s Soviet Salvage: Imperial Debris, Revolutionary Reuse, and Russian Constructivism is an unusual entry in the literature on early Soviet art, which is sure to puzzle many readers and (in all likelihood) infuriate at least a few. Readers of academic books are familiar enough with such responses, immersed as we are in the unceasing drive for self-criticism and revision that dulls the polemical sting to a tickle. Walworth’s book is no argument for argument’s sake,... Full Review
June 4, 2018
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Jane Taylor
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. 165 pp.; 71 color ills.; 6 b/w ills. Hardcover $35.00 (9780226791203)
Jane Taylor, friend and longtime collaborator of William Kentridge, examines the artistic process behind Kentridge’s 2010 production of the Russian opera The Nose, which was based on Nikolai Gogol’s 1836 short story of the same name and composed by Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich in 1928. As Taylor tells us, the book is less about the production of the opera and more about the making of it. In other words, she is interested in examining how the artist deals with... Full Review
May 31, 2018
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