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

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Mary D. Sheriff
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018. 416 pp.; 14 color ills.; 43 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780226483108)

This book by the late Mary D. Sheriff is a study of islands in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France. Not just any islands, but islands, real and fictive, ruled by “beguiling women who captivate men through both literal and figurative enchantments” (2). These enchantresses promise love and pleasure to the men who arrive on their shores, but their aim is to dominate, corrupt, and emasculate. If manly virtue is to be restored, their charms have to be resisted and their island domains... Full Review

December 6, 2019
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Peter Mack and Robert Williams, eds.
Studies in Art Historiography. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2015. 204 pp.; 16 color ills.; 15 b/w ills. Cloth $130.00 (9781472442789)

Michael Baxandall, who died in 2008 just shy of his seventy-fifth birthday, is one of a handful of postwar scholars who were quickly recognized as some of art history’s greats. A string of classic texts and a restless, searching expansion of his range from the Italian Renaissance to the Northern one and into the eighteenth century, combined with a firmly original scholarly viewpoint, afforded him the status of a deep thinker who merits careful study. During Baxandall’s lifetime, Adrian... Full Review

December 6, 2019
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Margo Natalie Crawford
New Black Studies Series. Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2017. 280 pp.; 35 b/w ills. Paperback $28.00 (9780252082498)

Margo Natalie Crawford’s titular concept in Black Post-Blackness: The Black Arts Movement and Twenty-First-Century Aesthetics is oceanic: it is multifaceted and much encompassing. As the introduction explains, black post-blackness is an aesthetics of expressions of free self-determination, of a future blackness that shapes the present still. It is a mood and a shape of time, and also an understanding of that cultural mood and temporal shape as interdependent and in... Full Review

November 26, 2019
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Christopher R. Lakey
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018. 240 pp.; 36 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300232141)

Christopher Lakey’s book, Sculptural Seeing: Relief, Optics, and the Rise of Perspective in Medieval Italy, makes a bold if ultimately problematic argument: Lakey suggests that the origins of perspective in Renaissance art are to be found in medieval relief sculpture, that the Albertian system of perspective evolved from the practices and concepts of medieval stone sculptors beginning with the revival of architectural sculpture associated with Romanesque art, around 1100. The book’s... Full Review

November 25, 2019
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Chanchal B. Dadlani
New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 2019. 232 pp.; 97 color ills.; 22 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300233179)

Chanchal B. Dadlani’s From Stone to Paper adds an exciting new chapter to a growing body of scholarship exploring the arts and architecture of Asia beyond the “canonical” limit of the seventeenth century by considering the 150 years of the “long eighteenth century,” which, in this case, connects the heyday of the Mughal empire with the advent of the British Raj. Monuments, urban spaces, building practices, and modes of theorizing and representing architecture are examined “on their... Full Review

November 22, 2019
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Elizabeth Prettejohn
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press in association with Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2017. 288 pp.; 130 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780300222753)

Consider two nineteenth-century paintings, made in the same year and same Europe, each alluding to a work by Titian. One is Édouard Manet’s Olympia (1863), a picture central to the modernist canon. With simplified brushwork and pared-down tonality, Manet transplants Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538) into contemporary Paris. The painting, which ventures a commentary on modern life through its presentation of the Venus as a modern woman, works because of its bold departure from... Full Review

November 18, 2019
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Thijs Weststeijn, Eric Jorink, and Frits Scholten, eds.
Netherlands Yearbook for History of Art. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill, 2016. 296 pp.; 150 color ills. Cloth $154.00 (9789004334977)
Stephanie Schrader, ed.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2018. 160 pp.; 138 color ills. Cloth $39.95 (9781606065525)
Getty Center, Los Angeles, March 13–June 24, 2018

“Is there such a thing as ‘global Netherlandish art’?” is the ambitious question with which Netherlandish Art in Its Global Context opens (7). A cohesive model of early modern art of the northern and southern provinces of the Netherlands is elusive to begin with, and the dimensions and significance of the global have been the subject of discussion within the humanities for decades now. If the question that informs this volume is unanswerable, the attempt is nonetheless... Full Review

November 14, 2019
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Pamela M. Jones, Barbara Wisch, and Simon Ditchfield, eds.
Brill's Companions to European History. Leiden, the Netherlands and Boston: Brill, 2019. 656 pp.; 119 ills. Cloth $206.00 (9789004391963)

A Companion to Early Modern Rome brings together thirty new essays that together offer a fresh perspective on the politics, urbanism, art, and culture of Rome between 1492 and 1692. The volume is an outstanding summary of the state of research and a showcase for innovative work across a wide range of disciplines. Each essay presents a succinct and focused discussion, with an analysis of previous literature and a conclusion that outlines possibilities for future research.... Full Review

November 11, 2019
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Heghnar Zeitlian Watenpaugh
Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press, 2019. 436 pp.; 26 ills. Cloth $30.00 (9780804790444)

Genocide, that most horrific of crimes, does not leave untouched any fragment of human identity. Yet for genocide to succeed, it must not only extinguish individual human lives—it must erase all traces of the presence of a people, of a people’s identity. While we often focus on the human subject as victim of genocide, the vehemence with which cultural atrocities are perpetrated, and the chilling consistency with which they occur in tandem with the elimination of human lives, makes... Full Review

November 5, 2019
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Saloni Mathur and Kavita Singh, eds.
Visual and Media Histories. New Delhi: Routledge, 2015. 270 pp. Hardcover $140.00 (9781138796010)
Rebecca M. Brown
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2017. 248 pp.; 20 color ills.; 70 b/w ills. Cloth $95.00 (9780295999944)

These two recent studies of museological and display histories in/of South Asia stand out in the fields of both art history and museum studies. The rather intriguing title of Saloni Mathur and Kavita Singh’s edited volume, No Touching, No Spitting, No Praying, is taken from a signboard at the entrance to an Indian museum that gives the code of conduct to which visitors are expected to adhere. Assumedly, the sign is intended for “unsophisticated” viewers whose everyday worlds... Full Review

November 1, 2019
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