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

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Marc Michael Epstein, ed.
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015. 288 pp.; 278 color ills.; 11 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780691165240)
The making of this book extended over twenty years. The full story of the precious works of art it explores will perhaps be told one day. What we gather from the foreword by the editor (who also wrote most of the text) is that from the beginning the book was intended to reach the uninitiated public and not aimed at a restricted club of specialists. The result, now on our tables, is spectacular. Princeton University Press, under the directorship of Dr. Brigitta van Rheinberg, permitted the... Full Review
February 21, 2018
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Glenn Parsons
Malden, MA: Polity, 2015. 176 pp. Paperback $22.95 (9780745663890)
Glenn Parsons, an associate professor of philosophy at Ryerson University in Toronto, has managed a very difficult task: he has written a solid philosophy book about design that is firmly grounded in design and the problems of designers. Parsons’s introduction stakes out his goal—“showing that design is a realm worthy of philosophical exploration in its own right” (3)—but his book, in contrast to much of what is labeled “design philosophy,” is about design as analyzed by a philosopher... Full Review
February 15, 2018
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Kenneth A. Breisch
Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2016. 220 pp.; 21 color ills.; 140 b/w ills. Hardcover $45.00 (9781606064900)
The Los Angeles Public Library’s Central Library building (1924–33) in the city’s downtown has long been hemmed in by high-rise buildings. Their bland commercial anonymity makes it hard not to regard the library as the beloved elderly neighborhood dandy—one you feel sure could tell you some terrific stories about the old days. Kenneth A. Breisch’s beautiful new monograph aims to let the building do just that. It leads us first through the twists and turns that preceded the building’s... Full Review
February 15, 2018
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Kymberly N. Pinder
Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2016. 224 pp.; 60 color ills.; 8 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (9780252081439)
In her book Painting the Gospel: Black Public Art and Religion in Chicago, Kymberly N. Pinder uses religious imagery affiliated with black churches in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side as a case study to explore the ways that African American artists and pastors have collaborated to insist upon self-representation of and for their congregations. This short book manages to be very narrow and specific in its discussion of a handful of churches in one of Chicago’s... Full Review
February 15, 2018
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Stefanie Seeberg
Berlin: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2015. 336 pp.; 123 color ills.; 141 b/w ills. Hardcover € 69.00 (9783731900382)
Recently, I chaperoned some undergraduates visiting the Cleveland Museum of Art. As I was admiring the Jonah Marbles, a student rushed up in excitement, eager to tell me about an extraordinary work of embroidery. I followed her and immediately recognized it as a piece of white work from Altenberg an der Lahn. Thanks to Stefanie Seeberg’s excellent discussion of this and similar works in her Textile Bildwerke im Kirchenraum: Leinenstickereien im Kontext mittelalterlicher... Full Review
February 14, 2018
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Susan Boynton and Diane J. Reilly, eds.
Turnhout: Brepols, 2015. 451 pp.; 54 color ills.; 201 b/w ills. Hardcover $130.00 (9782503554372)
The editors of Resounding Images: Medieval Intersections of Art, Music, and Sound begin the volume with a brief review of some of the recent literature addressing medieval conjunctions of sound and image. The anthology that follows comprises sixteen case studies, each exploring specific intersections of the acoustic with the visual and the spatial.Several themes run through these essays. Many of the authors consider architecture in relation to the production and reception of... Full Review
February 14, 2018
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Amy Brandt, ed.
Exh. cat. Norfolk, VA and New York: Chrysler Museum of Art, Grey Art Gallery, New York University, and Lyon Artbooks, 2015. 176 pp.; 35 color ills.; 98 b/w ills. Hardcover $55.00 (9780692338674)
Grey Art Gallery, NYU, April 21–July 11, 2015; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA, August 18–December 13, 2015; Tufts University Art Gallery, Medford, MA, January 21–May 22, 2016; Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University, September 17–December 11, 2016
Party Like It’s 1989What would the late provocateur and self-proclaimed “SlutForArt” Tseng Kwong Chi have made of the annual Met Gala paparazzi fest, particularly the opening of the blockbuster 2015 exhibition China: Through the Looking Glass? The much-blogged-about fundraiser—tickets cost $30,000 each and brought in $12.5 million that year—featured a star-studded roster of global celebrities, including Rihanna, Fan Bingbing, Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian West,... Full Review
February 14, 2018
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Rebecca Pinner
Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 2015. 292 pp.; 4 color ills.; 9 b/w ills. Hardcover $95.00 (9781783270354)
Rebecca Pinner examines the cult of the Anglo-Saxon king Edmund (d. 869) in the High and late Middle Ages. Exploring both textual proliferation—as she points out, more than thirty versions of his legend were created (2)—and visual representation, Pinner attempts to uncover how a king for whom only the sketchiest biographical details are recoverable became the subject of a “vast, elaborate cult” (5) by the end of the Middle Ages. She argues that the haziness of Edmund’s biography was the... Full Review
February 13, 2018
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Bernhard Schnackenburg
Petersberg, Germany: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2016. 488 pp.; 529 ills. Hardcover € 148.00 (9783731903338)
Jan Lievens: Friend and Rival of the Young Rembrandt considers the early career of one of the Dutch Republic’s most beguiling artists, a painter-printmaker who worked for courts in The Hague, London, and Berlin but also practiced his craft for eight years in Antwerp and participated in Amsterdam’s grandest decorative program in the seventeenth century, the new Town Hall. Part gentleman painter à la Peter Paul Rubens, part hustler on a competitive market for art, Jan Lievens... Full Review
February 13, 2018
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Sarah Van Beurden
Athens, OH: Ohio State University Press, 2015. 392 pp.; 12 color ills.; 64 b/w ills. Paperback $34.95 (9780821421918)
We art historians have gained some familiarity with the independence-era history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from Raoul Peck’s acclaimed film Lumumba (2000) and from several published studies on the life and death of Patrice Lumumba, its first prime minister. A key publication is A Congo Chronicle: Patrice Lumumba in Urban Art, a catalogue for the exhibition of the same title presented at the... Full Review
February 13, 2018
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