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Browse Recent Book Reviews

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...

Sophie Gordon
London: Royal Collection Publications, 2013. 256 pp.; 220 color ills. Cloth $60.00 (9781905686186)
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Carmen Pérez González
Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2013. 228 pp.; 24 color ills.; 164 b/w ills. Paper $74.95 (9789087281564)
March 20, 2014

Photographs, especially when experienced as reproductions in a book, have slippery identities teetering between the qualities of each material object and its represented subject. In contexts where collections, especially those in established public institutions, are scarce or difficult to access, the history of photography has tended to become an account of the subjects of pictures rather than the processes and practice of a medium. This tendency has been especially exaggerated in historical accounts of photography...

Joyce de Vries
Women and Gender in the Early Modern World. Burlington: Ashgate, 2010. 322 pp.; 82 b/w ills. Cloth $124.95 (9780754667513)
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March 13, 2014

Analyses of Madeleine Albright’s brooches, Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits, and Callista Gingrich’s “helmet hair” in the American press underscore the role style can play in commentaries on personality and, more consequentially, in the world of political machinations. In this study of Caterina Sforza’s patronage, Joyce de Vries carefully examines how style was used for similar purposes during an earlier period. On a portrait medal (figs. 1–5), for example, Caterina’s hair is shown bound behind her head,...

Geoffrey Batchen, Tobia Bezzola, and Roxana Marcoci
Exh. cat. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2010. 302 ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780870707575)

Exhibition schedule: Museum of Modern Art, New York, August 1–November 1, 2010; Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich, February 25–May 15, 2011 (under the title FotoSkulptur. Die Fotografie der Skulptur 1839 bis heute)

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Anna Dezeuze and Julia Kelly, eds.
Ashgate Studies in Surrealism. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2013. 215 pp.; 39 b/w ills. Cloth $99.95 (9781409400004)
March 13, 2014

If one were pressed to position a single artistic project at the center of the relationship between sculpture and photography, Brassaï’s Sculptures involontaires seems a good choice. Indeed, both volumes reviewed here—one a catalogue for an exhibition originating at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the other a collection of essays in Ashgate’s “Studies in Surrealism” series—pivot around Brassaï’s photographs, which were collaborations with Salvador Dalí, who supplied their captions and published them in...