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Browse Recent Book Reviews

Anne Leader
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012. 340 pp.; 205 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780253355676)
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April 17, 2014

Any review of Anne Leader’s The Badia of Florence: Art and Observance in a Renaissance Monastery should begin with the fact that it is physically impressive at more than three hundred pages with over two hundred high-quality color photographs. In this beautiful setting Leader sets out to explain the early quattrocento changes that occurred in the oldest Florentine monastic foundation, the Benedictine abbey known for centuries simply as the Badia. She does this by considering...

Chia-Ling Yang and Roderick Whitfield, eds.
London: Saffron Books, 2012. 312 pp.; 119 ills. Cloth €34.95 (9781872843377)
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April 17, 2014

Luo Zhenyu (1866–1940) lived through the tumultuous transition from Imperial to Republican China while uneasily jostling no fewer than five different personal profiles: a knowledgeable reformer who pushed for the Chinese adaptation of foreign methods in agriculture and education by editing newspapers and book series between 1896 and 1910 that promoted these ideas; a classical scholar who understood the importance of the recently discovered Dunhuang images, texts, and artifacts, along with new archaeological finds in...

Bryan R. Just
Exh. cat. Princeton and New Haven: Princeton University Art Museum in association with Yale University Press, 2012. 252 pp.; 263 color ills.; 24 b/w ills. Paper $50.00 (9780300174380)

Exhibition schedule: Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, October 6, 2012–February 17, 2013

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April 17, 2014

It has become commonplace in reviews such as this to invoke the significant advances in Maya scholarship that the work under consideration has benefitted from and which it exemplifies. This is due to the fact that, through extraordinary achievements in the decipherment of ancient Mayan writing and the relatively regular discovery of important artworks and artifacts (or even entire cities) by archaeologists, modern understanding of the ancient Maya has progressed at a breathtaking pace over...

Claire F. Fox
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013. 352 pp.; 8 color ills.; 32 b/w ills. Paper $30.00 (9780816679348)
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April 10, 2014

Claire F. Fox’s latest book, Making Art Panamerican: Cultural Policy and the Cold War, adds fresh perspective to the ongoing scholarly reconsideration of twentieth-century Pan Americanism and U.S. cultural diplomacy through its selected period of study and contemporary methodology. Fox examines the institutional agenda, cultural activities, and continental influence of the Pan American Union (PAU; today the Organization of American States) in the early years of the Cold War. Formed in 1890, the PAU was...

Jennifer Wingate
Burlington: Ashgate, 2013. 244 pp.; 50 b/w ills. Cloth $99.95 (9781409406556)
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April 10, 2014

Although scholarship on public art in the United States has expanded in recent years, few studies address the sculptural reminders of American involvement in the First World War. Jennifer Wingate’s Sculpting Doughboys: Memory, Gender, and Taste in America’s World War I Memorials corrects this scholarly lacuna by examining memorials created in the 1920s and 1930s dedicated to the “Great War.” As her title implies, the majority of these sculptures depict American infantrymen, known colloquially then...

Andrew Hopkins
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012. 372 pp.; 62 color ills.; 305 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (9780300181098)
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April 4, 2014

Andrew Hopkins’s latest book is the first full-length English-language study of the great seventeenth-century Venetian architect Baldassare Longhena. It follows two recent Italian monographs, by Martina Frank (Baldassare Longhena, Venice: Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, 2004), along with Hopkins's own study, revised and translated in the work under review (Baldassare Longhena 1597–1682, Milan: Electa, 2006). Despite the wealth of literature on sixteenth-century Venetian art and architecture, the Venetian Baroque has remained a relatively...

Tatiana Flores
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013. 376 pp.; 48 color ills.; 122 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300184488)
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March 27, 2014

In 1990, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Mexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries—a blockbuster show that, for U.S. audiences, more or less defined the state of the field of Mexican art history—barely acknowledged that Mexican artists had wrestled with the avant-garde. Five of Diego Rivera's Cubist pictures were included, but, having been done in Europe, they stood apart; only Frida Kahlo's (misleadingly named) La Adelita, Pancho Villa, and Frida (1927) gave any sense that artists in...

Steven Hoelscher, ed.
Harry Ransom Center Photography Series. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2013. 352 pp.; 275 color ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780292748439)
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March 27, 2014

In December 2009, the Harry Ransom Center (HRC) at the University of Texas at Austin acquired a remarkable research collection: the contents of the Magnum New York photo library. The collection, initially purchased by computer manufacturer Michael Dell and his hedge fund MSD Capital, L.P., and then donated in full to the HRC in September 2013, consists of over 200,000 press photographs, many of which are now considered icons of the twentieth century. The photographs...

Sarah Blake McHam
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013. 464 pp.; 120 color ills.; 105 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300186031)
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March 27, 2014

In his dedicatory preface to the emperor Titus (AD 77), Pliny described his goals in writing the Natural History with capacious reflection: My subject is a barren one—the world of nature, or in other words life. . . . Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one person to be found among us who has made the same venture,...

Jerry L. Thompson
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013. 112 pp.; 7 b/w ills. Cloth $14.95 (9780262019286)
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March 20, 2014

If the grandiose title Why Photography Matters rings a bell somewhere in your memory, it is because Jerry L. Thompson hoped it would. His brief polemic declares itself a response to Michael Fried’s Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008) (click here for review), which Thompson found over-long and misguided. Fried’s tome has produced much debate among scholars, to be sure. Many have taken issue with its implication...