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

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James Grantham Turner
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017. 464 pp.; 340 ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300219951)
Can sex be a muse, a creative stimulus for art? This question forms the basis of James Grantham Turner’s evocative Eros Visible: Art, Sexuality and Antiquity, a book that examines the erotic revolution that swept across the Italian art world between 1500 and 1563. The leaders of this movement are a group of well-known artists, writers, and patrons who sought pleasure in variety, delighted in matters of the flesh, and broke traditional boundaries for the sake of novelty. Rather than... Full Review
April 22, 2019
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San San May and Jana Igunma
London and Seattle: British Library and University of Washington Press, 2018. 256 pp.; 198 color ills. Cloth $64.95 (9780295743783)
The British Library is home to one of the world’s most important collections of manuscripts from Southeast Asia. Buddhism Illuminated focuses on the library’s holdings from the Buddhist traditions of mainland Southeast Asia, particularly in the area that is today Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand. The book presents nearly two hundred high-quality reproductions from this deep and varied collection and describes Buddhist teachings, values, and practices in the region. This book is a... Full Review
April 5, 2019
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Justin Jennings and Adam T. Sellen, eds.
Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum Press, 2018. 270 pp.; 181 color ills.; 92 b/w ills. EBook $0.00 (9780888545237)
Fakes, pastiches, deceptive restorations, and outright forgeries have been a persistent problem in the study of art and antiquities since the Renaissance. Understandably, few museums are willing to release the number of such false pieces in their collections, but conservative estimates have long suggested 40 percent of works in museums are not what they claim to be. However, recent investigation at San... Full Review
April 2, 2019
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Conor Lucey
Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2018. 264 pp.; 16 color ills.; 90 b/w ills. Cloth £ 75.00 (9781526119940)
From the middle of the eighteenth century through the 1830s, the brick row house became one of the most common urban building forms in the British Atlantic world. Artisan builders erected thousands of these rows of classically proportioned and ornamented town houses in the new streets, squares, and crescents of expanding cities as well as in smaller market and port towns in Great Britain, Ireland, and America. Built for a speculative market, town houses with broad frontages and elaborate... Full Review
March 29, 2019
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Freyda Spira and Peter Parshall
Exh. cat. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016. 192 pp.; 169 color ills. Paperback $35.00 (9781588395856)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, January 26–May 22, 2016
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, January 26–May 22, 2016
In 2016, the Metropolitan Museum of Art marked the centennial of its Department of Prints (later the Department of Prints and Photographs and today the Department of Drawings and Prints) with an exhibition and publication celebrating the museum’s first two print curators, William M. Ivins (1881–1961) and A. Hyatt Mayor (1901–1980). Familiar to print specialists for their respective authorship of the seminal studies Prints and Visual Communication (1953) and Prints and... Full Review
March 27, 2019
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Mia L. Bagneris
Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017. 272 pp.; 68 color ills. Cloth $75.00 (9781526120458)
On August 7, 1981, a senior staff member at the Yale Center for British Art wrote an internal memorandum recommending the sale of ten works in the center’s collection by a little-known artist named Agostino Brunias (ca. 1730–1796). Among the reasons he gave were that the Italian-born Brunias “is not English and very, very minor,” and that his paintings, which depict scenes of life in the British West Indies, bore only “tenuous connection with British Studies.” Suggesting that the works... Full Review
March 22, 2019
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Sharon Hecker
Oakland: University of California Press, 2017. 328 pp.; 20 color ills.; 80 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780520294486)
Sharon Hecker’s recent monograph on Medardo Rosso (1858–1928) situates this all-too-often marginalized sculptor within the field of the international avant-garde. Often considered as either a slightly mysterious three-dimensional Impressionist or as an inspiration to movements such as Futurism, Rosso has rarely received sustained attention as a figure in his own right. Hecker makes a significant effort to counter this by placing him at the center of a key modernist concern:... Full Review
March 20, 2019
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Diana Gisolfi
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017. 352 pp.; 293 color ills.; 54 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300225822)
In recent years, scholarship has shown a growing interest in the art and person of Paolo Caliari, called Veronese (1528–1588), who for too long was considered essentially a mere decorator, a lesser figure compared to the more intellectual Titian and the volcanic Jacopo Tintoretto. Between 2013 and 2014, a few international exhibitions (Sarasota, London, Verona) honored this artist from Verona. Recent publications have likewise begun to change our perception of the master,... Full Review
March 13, 2019
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Paul Stephenson
Onassis Series in Hellenic Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. 304 pp.; 92 b/w ills. Hardcover $82.00 (9780190209063)
The idea of writing a “cultural biography” of the Serpent Column is brilliant. Over the 2500 years of its history, this monument stood in the center of two of the most significant environments of the ancient world: the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi and the Circus of Constantinople. It witnessed their transformations, and it underwent important alterations itself, both in its physical appearance and in the meanings associated to it.After a first chapter dealing with the history of... Full Review
March 11, 2019
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Craig Clunas
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017. 320 pp.; 200 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Hardcover $60.00 (9780691171937)
Craig Clunas opens the introduction to Chinese Painting and Its Audiences with a monumental understatement: it is a book that some might feel has “a narrow focus, but it has somewhat wider aims” (1). The published form of the 2012 A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, Chinese Painting and Its Audiences is neatly structured into six chapters. It starts with an introductory “Beginning and Ending” that confronts the reader with the prospect that Chinese painting, as an... Full Review
March 8, 2019
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