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

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Maria Fabricius Hansen
Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider, 2003. 368 pp.; 20 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Paper €105.00 (8882652378)
This book examines the use of architectural spolia in the early medieval church interiors of Rome. It begins with a narrative catalogue of some two-dozen churches and their spoliate components (focusing chiefly on columns and capitals) and then continues for another two hundred richly illustrated pages, laying out arguments both formal and interpretive about “the development, characteristics, and ideological or metaphorical significance of the new architectural practice of... Full Review
August 23, 2004
David Fredrick, ed.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. 352 pp.; 26 b/w ills. Cloth $47.00 (0801869617)
This edited volume of essays attests to Classicists’ recent engagement with contemporary theory. Despite its foundations in empirical scholarship, the field of Classics has been advanced by feminist thought, along with poststructural critiques of vision and power. Not all Classicists have welcomed these developments, of course, and theory per se still rouses suspicions of trendiness and contributes to a general decline in the discipline, according to those with little patience for the... Full Review
August 18, 2004
Elizabeth Coatsworth and Michael Pinder
Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 2002. 293 pp.; 8 color ills.; 66 b/w ills. Cloth $145.00 (0851158838)
As anyone who has ever lectured on early medieval metalwork knows, two of the most frequently questions put to the speaker are “How was it made?” and “What do we know about the lives of the smiths?” The two authors, the archaeologist and art-historian Elizabeth Coatsworth and the silversmith Michael Pinder, address these issues in this book. Its scope is precisely outlined in the subtitle: Fine Metalwork in Anglo-Saxon England: its Practice and Practitioners. There is also some... Full Review
August 11, 2004
Daniel A. Siedell
Exh. cat. Lincoln, NE: Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery in association with Marquand Books, 2003. 80 pp.; 40 color ills. $19.95 (0970639465)
Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, November 22, 2003–January 25, 2004; Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., February 13–April 25, 2004
From the provocative opening lines of his catalogue essay—which incorporate verses from Ecclesiastes that seem calculated to signal the extent of his commitment as much as to state his thesis—Daniel A. Siedell adopts what he clearly expects to be a besieged position on the subject of the spiritual in art. Carefully chosen, his words implicitly brace themselves for rebuttal. Describing the intent of the catalogue and the exhibition of Enrique Martínez Celaya’s rich and resonant black... Full Review
August 4, 2004
Richard Hertz
Ojai, CA: Minneola Press, 2003. 223 pp.; 11 color ills.; 17 b/w ills. Paper $24.95 (0964016540)
If you are looking for a book to animate the scholarship on the group later known as the Pictures artists of the 1970s and 1980s, Jack Goldstein and the CalArts Mafia by Richard Hertz could prove to be an essential text. Produced by the editor of Theories of Contemporary Art and Twentieth Century Art Theory: Urbanism, Politics, and Mass Culture (with Norman Klein) as well as the author of the boundary-busting Desiring Machines,[1] the interviews in the volume under... Full Review
August 2, 2004
Ankeney Weitz
Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill, 2002. 398 pp.; 50 b/w ills. Cloth $214.00 (9004126058)
Zhou Mi’s Record of Clouds and Mist Passing Before One’s Eyes: An Annotated Translation offers a stimulating and well-documented discussion of art collecting in late-thirteenth-century China. Revised from her dissertation, completed in 1994 at the University of Kansas, Ankeney Weitz’s book is centered on her copiously footnoted translation of Yunyan guoyan lu, an important catalogue by Zhou Mi (1232–1298).[1] The title of Zhou’s work, translated as Record of Clouds and... Full Review
July 28, 2004
Corinne A. Kratz
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. 316 pp.; 32 color ills.; 18 b/w ills. Paper $25.95 (0520222822)
In November of 2003, the Society for Visual Anthropology awarded Corinne Kratz its first Collier Prize for work that exemplifies the use of still photography for research and communication of anthropological knowledge. Presented at the American Anthropological Association meeting in Chicago, this award makes clear that her work in visual anthropology is of great significance. Kratz’s commitment to the field also led her to study the process of exhibiting photographs. This book reports... Full Review
July 23, 2004
Doran H. Ross
Exh. cat. Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2002. 296 pp.; 385 color ills.; 10 b/w ills. Cloth $79.00 (0890901155)
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, March 13–September 19, 2004; Louisiana State University Museum of Art, Baton Rouge, March 9–May 31, 2005; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, November 2, 2005–March 26, 2006; National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., May 26–November 26, 2006
This book was written in part to document the collection of gold objects from Africa, Asia, and America donated in 1997 to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, by Alfred C. Glassell, Jr., a collector and philanthropist from Houston. The book also serves as the catalogue for the touring exhibition of the Akan part of the collection. Numbering more than nine hundred objects, it is the largest collection of Akan chiefly regalia in the world. The principal author of the book, Doran Ross, has... Full Review
July 19, 2004
Timothy Hyman
London: Thames and Hudson, 2003. 224 pp.; 73 color ills.; 110 b/w ills. Paper £8.95 (9780500203729)
Diana Norman
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. 352 pp.; 50 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0300099339)
The recent publication of two surveys of Sienese painting is another indication of a noticeable boom in this field. Such historians as William Bowsky, Samuel Cohn, and Daniel Waley have fueled this resurgence, and their investigations of the political, religious, and social institutions of the Commune of Siena identified a unique and influential culture with well-preserved archival records. Building upon their work, art historians have added the study of historical and... Full Review
July 13, 2004
Kathleen Kamerick
New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. 304 pp.; 18 b/w ills. Cloth $100.95 (0312293127)
Kathleen Kamerick’s study of late medieval art and piety in England is partly a history of strong reactions to images. The book begins with the 1429 heresy trial of a Lollard, an adherent of a heretical reform movement led by John Wyclif and others. The accused, Margery Baxter, had suggested to a friend that the images in the local church were not only the base material creations of “lewd” craftsmen but were also idols inhabited by demons (13–14). This Lollard contempt for religious... Full Review
July 12, 2004