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

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Gennifer Weisenfeld
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. 368 pp.; 16 color ills.; 131 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0520223381)
In Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), T. J. Clark imagines the bewilderment of a future archaeologist trying to reconstruct the history of modern art from four fragments: Adolph Menzel’s Moltke’s Binoculars (1871); John Heartfield’s A New Man, Master of a New World (1934); Pablo Picasso’s Italian Woman (1919); and Kasimir Malevich’s Complex Presentiment (Half-Figure in Yellow Shirt) (1928–32).... Full Review
November 19, 2002
Stephen Addiss
Trans. Jonathan Chaves. Columbia University Press, 2000. 174 pp.; some b/w ills. Cloth $27.50 (023111656X)
Fukuda (Haritsu) Kodōjin (1865–1944) was part of the long tradition of Japanese literati poet-painters. While the Chinese literati ideal as it was understood by Japanese painters and poets of the nineteenth century was not particularly concerned with popularity or communicating to the masses, by Kodōjin’s time it must have been clear that the tradition had become an artifact of an earlier era. Was he a last great figure expressing himself in the centuries-old manner of the Chinese literatus,... Full Review
November 15, 2002
Sybil Gordon Kantor
MIT Press, 2001. 496 pp.; 0 color ills.; 83 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (0262112582)
Sybil Gordon Kantor’s book is an important contribution to the historiography of twentieth-century American art: It is intellectual and biographical history at its most rigorous. Kantor has scoured archives and primary sources to tell a story of the emergence of modernism in the U.S. through one man who was nevertheless the product of other men and women who had influenced him through their ideas, collections, and personal contacts. As today’s critics and historians bid farewell to modernism... Full Review
November 14, 2002
John Higgitt
University of Toronto Press, 2000. 362 pp.; 11 color ills.; 143 b/w ills. Cloth $80.00 (0802047599)
The Murthly Hours is a little-known and, until recently, little-studied manuscript of the late thirteenth century. Probably produced in Paris, it had found its way to Scotland by the early fourteenth century. The manuscript appears in a number of nineteenth-century inventories of Scottish collections, but its whereabouts were unknown to modern scholars until its rediscovery by John Higgitt in 1980. It was acquired by the National Library of Scotland in 1986 (MS 21000). Higgitt’s recent... Full Review
November 11, 2002
Yasser Tabbaa
University of Washington Press, 2002. 224 pp.; 85 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0295981253)
The Transformation of Islamic Art during the Sunni Revival is a book that will be read with great interest by all historians of Islamic art and will have a broad appeal to those interested in the relationship between medieval cultural or political formations and the dissemination of artistic forms. Ambitious in scope and innovative in approach, it is a handsome tome, well written and illustrated. Its two great a priori merits lie in the collation of an array of important... Full Review
November 4, 2002
Jean K. Cadogan
Yale University Press, 2001. 384 pp.; 90 color ills.; 56 b/w ills. Cloth $70.00 (0300087209)
The subtitle of this beautifully produced and authoritative book--”Artist and Artisan”--betrays an uneasiness typical of the times in which we live, when the concept of the artist per se has to be qualified or defended. An artist has to be something more, value added, both artist and artisan, as in fact almost all artists were in the late quattrocento. But what does this really mean? Is Jean Cadogan simply trying to suggest that Domenico Ghirlandaio worked not only with his mind (artist), but... Full Review
November 4, 2002
Dimitris Plantzos
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. 147 pp.; 95 b/w ills. Cloth $145.00 (0198150377)
Long undervalued, Hellenistic Greece has in recent years experienced a renaissance of interest. No longer considered decadent, the literature and art of the three centuries from the spectacular conquests of Alexander the Great in the late fourth century BC to the fall of the last independent kingdom of his successors to the Romans in 31 BC now receive serious consideration. Although Hellenistic art is not accorded as much space in textbooks as Archaic or Classical, the achievements of... Full Review
November 1, 2002
Kim Sichel
MIT Press, 1999. 363 pp.; 148 color ills.; 43 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0262194015)
In its perspective and physical scale, this long-awaited study of Germaine Krull (1897–1985) provides a portrait, in more than miniature, of the present moment in photographic publishing. The art market, the academy, and the exhibition-viewing public provide eager audiences for exhaustive monographs of prolific modern-era photographers, especially talented ones who, like Krull, have never received individual scholarly attention in the years postdating the duotone standard.... Full Review
November 1, 2002
Gill Perry, ed.
Yale University Press in association with The Open University, 1999. 272 pp.; 60 color ills.; 120 b/w ills. Paper $27.50 (0300077602)
Paul Wood
Yale University Press, 1999. (0300077629)
Gender and Art (edited by Gill Perry) and The Challenge of the Avant-Garde (edited by Paul Wood) are erudite, useful, elegantly packaged, and critically astute books. Informed by a felicitous mix of marxism, feminism, and other poststructuralist models for exploring meaning formation and cultural value, they show how far art history has come over the last twenty years. As two of the six titles in the series Art and Its Histories, their publication coincides with and supports... Full Review
November 1, 2002
Kirsten Swinth
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001. 328 pp.; 40 b/w ills. Paper $18.95 (0807849715)
Laura R. Prieto
Harvard University Press, 2001. 292 pp.; 13 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (0674004868)
As the first comprehensive histories of women’s artistic production in the United States, these ambitious and well-researched books initiate an important dialogue about women, creativity, and the visual arts. Surprisingly, neither of these authors are art historians: Laura R. Prieto is assistant professor of history and women’s studies at Simmons College, and Kirsten Swinth is associate professor of history at Fordham University. In fact, Swinth makes a point in Painting Professionals:... Full Review
October 24, 2002