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

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Marian Wardle and Sarah E. Boehme, eds.
Exh. cat. Charles M. Russell Center Series on Art and Photography of the American West, Vol. 23. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016. 240 pp.; 128 color ills.; 27 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (9780806152912)
Exhibition schedule: Brigham Young University Museum of Art, Provo, February 19–August 13, 2016; Stark Museum of Art, Orange, TX, March 11–September 09, 2017
Branding the American West: Paintings and Films, 1900–1950 is a lavishly illustrated exhibition catalogue containing seven essays by art historians, literary scholars, and poets, as well as an introduction by the exhibition’s co-curators. With its wide range of stimulating perspectives and insights, the catalogue offers a substantive conversation among the authors who consider the works and the legends of the Taos Society of Artists (TSA). The group’s paintings, and those of Maynard... Full Review
April 5, 2017
Jeffrey F. Hamburger
Corpus of Illuminated Manuscripts 21. Leuven and Paris: Peeters, 2014. 77 pp.; 39 color ills. Cloth $32.00 (9789042930353)
For many years, Jeffrey Hamburger has been interested in the artwork of the manuscripts of the Middle Ages, and with Script as Image he has published a deeply engaging book, or rather a lengthy essay, on the “double page” in the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages. In it Hamburger approaches illuminated manuscripts from the apparent “classical” theme of the relationship between text and image. In certain ways, one could say that Hamburger’s Script as Image continues a... Full Review
March 31, 2017
Stephanie Porras
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2016. 216 pp.; 34 color ills.; 48 b/w ills. Cloth $79.95 (9780271070896)
Stephanie Porras has written a smart, important book on Pieter Bruegel the Elder. She offers a carefully considered take on his notion of the Netherlandish past as it manifests in the peasants who cavort and carouse their way through his oeuvre. While this is familiar terrain, Porras’s study redirects focus from the once-heated debate about Bruegel’s peasants as either moralizing signifiers of excess or amusements for urbane viewers. Instead, by citing Netherlandish humanism’s interest in... Full Review
March 30, 2017
Pamela McClusky and Erika Dalya Massaquoi
Exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015. 104 pp.; 80 color ills. Cloth $40.00 (9780300208740)
Exhibition schedule: Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, June 18–September 7, 2015; Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles, October 18, 2015–March 13, 2016; Brooklyn Museum, New York, April 29–September 18, 2016
How do African cultural traditions circulate and influence global contemporary art? Many artists and scholars have argued for the importance of African art (or what they have understood as African art, regardless of authenticity or provenance) in the development of European and American modernism, typically without much consideration for African artists themselves. Pamela McClusky and Erika Dalya Massaquoi, curators of Disguise: Masks and Global African Art and authors of the catalogue... Full Review
March 30, 2017
Hannelore Magnus and Katlijne Van der Stighelen, eds.
Turnhout: Brepols, 2015. 228 pp.; 75 b/w ills. Cloth $123.00 (9782503554860)
The history of emotions, their cultural expression, and their representation in the arts of early modern Europe are currently a subject of much interest. In recent years, exhibitions and collaborative research projects from the Netherlands to Australia have been devoted to this theme. The fourteen essays gathered in Facts and Feelings: Retracing Emotions of Artists, 1600–1800, edited by Hannelore Magnus and Katlijne Van der Stighelen, are the product of a symposium held at the... Full Review
March 29, 2017
Gary Monroe
Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2014. 192 pp.; Many color ills. Cloth $39.95 (9780813049694)
Mary Ann Carroll: First Lady of the Highwaymen is the fourth Highwaymen book by Gary Monroe, Daytona State College professor of fine arts and photography. Virginia Lynn Moylan’s unexpectedly moving foreword outlines the context of Monroe’s study: the omission of black visual artists and black female artists from discussions of “cultural expression” in the United States. In 1995, Jim Fitch, then-director of the Museum of Florida Art and Culture, wrote “‘The Highwaymen’ is a name I’ve... Full Review
March 22, 2017
Ara Osterweil
Rethinking Art's Histories. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2014. 304 pp.; 45 b/w ills. Paper $35.00 (9780719091919)
Ara Osterweil argues in Flesh Cinema: The Corporeal Turn in American Avant-Garde Film that the medium operates on the spectator’s sensorium in a uniquely direct and intense way. Films can emphasize this link by depicting bodies in extreme circumstances; for instance, bodies immobilized by drugs, dead and being autopsied, or epileptic and seizing are just some of the precarious versions of corporeality that experimental filmmakers documented in the 1960s and 1970s. But within the array... Full Review
March 17, 2017
Peter Cooke
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. 288 pp.; 50 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300204339)
In Gustave Moreau: History Painting, Spirituality, and Symbolism, Peter Cooke explores the artist’s work from its beginnings in the early 1850s to the final ambitious projects of the late 1890s. He examines Moreau’s lifelong endeavor to revitalize le grand art in France—history painting in its most ambitious form—and to combat the endemic materialism of the age with a spiritual and moral type of painting. In the 1840s, Moreau studied under François-Édouard Picot and was enrolled... Full Review
March 15, 2017
Melissa Dabakis
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2014. 304 pp.; 100 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (9780271062204)
“I wouldn’t live anywhere else but Rome,” gushed Harriet Hosmer in a letter in 1854. “I can learn more and do more here, in one year, than I could in America in ten” (35). Hosmer was among a few dozen American women sculptors who sought training in Rome during the third quarter of the nineteenth century, the subject of Melissa Dabakis’s A Sisterhood of Sculptors: American Artists in Nineteenth-Century Rome. The project offers a new contribution to the study of American artists working... Full Review
March 9, 2017
Jennifer P. Kingsley
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2014. 228 pp.; 18 color ills.; 34 b/w ills. Cloth $79.95 (9780271060798)
With The Bernward Gospels: Art, Memory, and the Episcopate in Medieval Germany, Jennifer P. Kingsley has made a valuable contribution to English-language scholarship on Ottonian art history. Her immediate focus is an illuminated Gospel book made at the beginning of the eleventh century for the eminent bishop Bernward of Hildesheim (r. 993–1022). The manuscript (Hildesheim, Dom- und Diözesanmuseum, Domschatz 18 [Bernward Gospels]) is illustrated with twenty-four miniatures featuring New... Full Review
March 8, 2017