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Browse Recent Book Reviews

Greg M. Thomas
Princeton University Press, 1999. 280 pp.; 88 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0691059462)
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October 24, 2000

Greg Thomas's book Art and Ecology in Nineteenth-Century France: The Landscapes of Théodore Rousseau provides the reader with a long-awaited reevaluation of French landscape painting before the Impressionist period. While the study of Impressionism has sometimes become synonymous with French landscape painting during the nineteenth century, very little has been done, apart from the recent exhibitions of Camille Corot's work, to reassess the artistic contribution of the preceding generation of landscape painters. By concentrating on...

Francis Ames-Lewis
Yale University Press, 1999. 322 pp.; 50 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $40.00 (0300092950)
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October 20, 2000

This book is an amazing compendium of information concerning the reevaluation of painting and sculpture as parts of the liberal arts during the early Renaissance (1290-1520); architecture is all but excluded because its position was already rather elevated. The observation in itself is not new; assessment of the graphic arts was a leitmotif of art historical scholarship throughout the twentieth century. What is impressive is the myriad aperçus Ames-Lewis has amassed and divided into eleven...

Catherine de Zegher, ed.
MIT Press, 1998. 304 pp.; 47 color ills.; 97 b/w ills. Cloth $40.00 (026204174X)
International Center for Photography, New York, July 29-October 1, 2000; in collaboration with The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, July 15-October 8, 2000.
September 29, 2000

Like other post-conceptual artists of her generation who adapted the 1960s' formal convention of the series to sustained analytical investigations of social phenomena (think of Allan Sekula's Aerospace Folktales, for example, or Mary Kelly's Postpartum Document), Martha Rosler has produced a body of work over the last thirty-five years that has proven difficult to assimilate to the promotional ways and means of the art world. From her photodocumentary-cum-image/text work The Bowery in Two Inadequate Descriptive...

Benjamin Buchloh
MIT Press, 2000. 576 pp.; 122 b/w ills. Cloth (0262024543)
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September 27, 2000

This is a terrific collection of essays that provides a valuable opportunity to review the intellectual development and ambitions of one of the leading critics of our time. It offers access to the author's enterprise from a distinctive vantage point: saving for a second volume his influential period and approach studies--essays such as "Formalism and Historicity" (1977), "Allegorical Procedures" (1982), and "Cold War Constructivism" (1990)--and his well-known "from/to" critical developmental surveys of art movements--such as...

Kalman P. Bland
Princeton University Press, 2000. 233 pp. Paper $19.95 (069108985x)
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September 24, 2000

"Art history is what one Jew tells another Jew about goyishe (i.e.--Christian) art." This, at any rate, is how my teacher, Stephen S. Kayser, flippantly spoke of his discipline. Kayser, a member of the German émigré generation, author of an important study on Grünewald's Isenheim altarpiece and founding director of the Jewish Museum in New York, was not far from wrong. Highly acculturated Jews have been disproportionately represented in the ranks of art historians. Among...

John Gage
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. 320 pp.; 37 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0520220390)
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September 20, 2000

John Gage's book Color and Culture appeared with considerable acclaim in 1994, and it won that year's Mitchell Prize for art history. It was a dense, ambitious, yet readable exploration of color in Western art from the Classical era to the 20th century--or rather, of ideas about color, since Gage gave more attention to writings about the subject than to actual examples of practice. For instance, he devoted far more space to Matisse's "Notes d'un...

Elizabeth Alice Honig
Yale University Press, 1997. 308 pp.; 24 color ills.; 90 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0300072392)
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September 8, 2000

Modestly reproduced, Sebastian Vrancx's unfamiliar Harbor with the Children of Mercury (Musée Massey, Tarbes) is an unlikely opener for this provocative and intelligent book, which seeks to establish the market as a central concern of pictorial culture in Antwerp between 1550 and 1650. It is a mark of Elizabeth Honig's distinction as a writer that, through three paragraphs of precise description, she convinces the reader that this apparently innocuous painting of the tricks of all...

Christopher S. Wood, ed.
Brooklyn, N.Y.: Zone Books, 1999. 472 pp.; 39 b/w ills. Cloth $32.00 (1890951145)
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September 8, 2000

Christopher S. Wood has done a great service in editing an anthology of previously untranslated works from the second "Viennese School." In theoretical essays and case studies published in the nineteen twenties and thirties, these art historians tried to breathe new life into formal analysis, self-consciously combining analyses of spatial coherence with interpretations drawn from contemporary psychology and artistic practice. Wood has revisited, reconsidered, and made available to the English-speaking public, in readable translations, the...

Kurt Weitzmann and Massimo Bernabo
Princeton University Press, 1998. 880 pp.; 23 color ills.; 1,552 b/w ills. Cloth $295.00 (0691007225)
September 6, 2000

Not too many books being published these days were begun in 1932 or are dedicated to someone who died in 1955 (Charles Rufus Morey). But this is hardly an average book by any standard: size and number of pages, quantity of illustrations, or length of preparation. Its subject is the six illustrated manuscripts of the Octateuchs, the first eight books of the Septuagint, the Hebrew Bible in Greek. As Kurt Weitzmann, long the eminent Byzantinist...

Mario Bevilacqua
Naples: Mondadori Electa, 1997. 224 pp.; some color ills.; many b/w ills. Paper $50.00 (8843587544)
September 1, 2000

Baroque Rome was in large part built by talented Lombards, among whom were Domenico Fontana, Carlo Maderno, Francesco Borromini, and Carlo Fontana. A native of the diocese of Como, Giovanni Battista Nolli (1701-56) was a surveyor (geometra) who, between the years 1722 and 1734, prepared cadastral maps, first in Lombardy and then in Savoy, utilizing the plane table (tavoletta pretoriana), a device then only recently introduced into Italy. In Rome, no longer a functionary within...