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

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Pauline Croft, ed.
London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in association with Yale University Press, 2001. 352 pp.; 19 color ills.; 78 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0300091362)
The Cecil name is firmly tied to the political history of early modern England. As sequential advisers to Elizabeth I and Lord Treasurers under Elizabeth and James I, respectively, William Cecil (Lord Burghley) and his son, Robert (First Earl Salisbury), have been defined by their governmental policies and decision-making. Seldom have we heard about Cecilian activity that transcended the boundaries of Crown politics. Little has been said of William and Robert’s shared proclivities for... Full Review
March 11, 2003
Martha A. Sandweiss
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. 416 pp.; 148 b/w ills. $39.95 (0300095228)
Martha Sandweiss is not an art historian, and her ambitious new book is not a work of art history. Nonetheless, art historians interested in nineteenth-century photography in the United States should get their hands on a copy, because for them this book is not merely important but indispensable. The historian Sandweiss has written a cultural history of how, between the 1840s and the 1890s, photography and the American West came to be entwined. Her primary concern is with the history of... Full Review
March 11, 2003
Frances Colpitt, ed.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 212 pp.; few b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0521808367)
David Ryan
New York: Routledge, 2001. 264 pp.; 38 color ills.; 2 b/w ills. Cloth $80.00 (0415276292)
David Ryan opens his introduction to Talking Painting: Dialogues with Twelve Contemporary Abstract Painters with the inquiry, “How do we connect the contemporary condition of abstract painting with its history?” (Ryan 1). He sees the question as necessarily posing two further ones: What do we mean by abstraction? And how do we construct history? Talking Painting sets out to explore these issues by juxtaposing Ryan’s interviews of twelve abstract painters with each artist’s... Full Review
March 11, 2003
Martha Hollander
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. 263 pp.; 10 color ills.; 89 b/w ills. Cloth (0520221354)
The fascination of seventeenth-century Dutch painters with the manipulation of pictorial space is a persistent theme in scholarly literature. Whether one reads about representations of Dutch homes, contemplative interiors of whitewashed churches, or courtyards and markets bustling with activity, one of the salient points for discussion is the complex spatial order of these renderings of daily life, whose dizzying sense of accuracy is inevitably a result of contrived artistry. It may... Full Review
March 11, 2003
Joan Simon
New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2002. 280 pp.; 180 color ills.; 120 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0810941600)
Ann Hamilton, an internationally recognized performance and installation artist, began her artistic training in textiles at the University of Kansas before attending Yale University, where she earned a graduate degree in sculpture. Since earning her M.F.A., Hamilton has taught and produced multimedia art. She is best known for lavish, multiple-room installations in which she disrupts protocols of artistic experience and invites visitors to reexamine their accustomed ways of... Full Review
January 23, 2003
Cynthia Hahn
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. 455 pp.; 8 color ills.; 149 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0520223209)
Cynthia Hahn’s new study of illustrated saints’ Lives offers its readers a penetrating account of a highly important category of medieval imagery, as well as a thoughtful treatment of topics of interest to scholars working in a wide range of fields within art history. On its most basic level, Portrayed on the Heart: Narrative Effect in Pictorial Lives of Saints from the Tenth through the Thirteenth Century lucidly describes how the concept invoked by its title—the belief that... Full Review
January 17, 2003
Keith L. Eggener
New York: Princeton Architectural Press 256 pp.; 25 color ills.; 75 b/w ills. Cloth $40.00 (1568982674)
Keith L. Eggener’s recent book, Luis Barragán’s Gardens of El Pedregal, published by Princeton Architectural Press, is a welcome in-depth study of the urban design, landscape, and architecture of Barragán’s 1,250 acre Gardens of El Pedregal residential subdivision, sited in the El Pedregal lava fields in the southern part of Mexico City. This well-researched book provides much-needed critical commentary on this elusive project, which is now mostly destroyed and is primarily known to us... Full Review
January 14, 2003
Michael D. Rabe
Chennai, India: Institute of Asian Studies, 2001. 298 pp.; 91 b/w ills. Cloth $30.00
The South Indian beach town of Mahabalipuram, once known as Mamallapuram, was the primary seaport of the Pallava kings who claimed authority over the surrounding Tamil-speaking region from the sixth to ninth centuries C.E. While the Pallavas reigned, artisans carved the site’s natural granite outcroppings into elegant sculptures and many architectural forms. The most dramatic of these, an entire cliff sculpted with dozens of colossal yet graceful figures of humans, animals, and deities, is... Full Review
January 13, 2003
Making Culture Visible: The Public Display of Photography at Fairs, Expositions, and Exhibitions in the United States, 1847–1900 addresses the changing reception of photography from its early days up to the turn of the century as a function of expanding exhibition opportunities and strategies. It is the eighth volume in the Gordon and Breach series “Documenting the Image” (now distributed by Routledge) intended to promote visual collections from around the world and to... Full Review
January 10, 2003
Todd P. Olson
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. 316 pp.; 25 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0300093381)
More than a generation ago, Anthony Blunt and Denis Mahon developed ways of thinking about Nicholas Poussin and his art that, although recently the subject of prolonged scrutiny and occasional criticism, still remain canonical. Poussin, the French-born philosopher-painter, returned to his native country as an adult only briefly, when commanded by Cardinal Richelieu to organize the renovation of the Grande Galerie of the Louvre. This great painter was by choice a lifelong resident of Rome--and... Full Review
January 9, 2003