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

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Charles W. Haxthausen, ed.
Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2002. 224 pp.; 53 b/w ills. Paper $24.95 (0300097751)
The goal of the organizers of the first Clark Studies in the Visual Arts conference in 1999, which resulted in this book, was simple enough. It was “to move the discussion [of the curator-academic divide] into a new and, we hope, less contentious phase, to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the respective practices and goals of the two art histories and of how each of them is engaged in the production and dissemination of art historical knowledge” (xii–xiii). In the... Full Review
November 5, 2003
Jules David Prown
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001. 336 pp.; 24 color ills.; 160 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0300084315)
Books are valuable for many reasons. Some tell good stories or offer different ways of thinking, while others help us to understand the evolution of a field. Jules Prown’s new collection of essays does all this and more, lifting the curtain on the life of a renowned art historian and a pioneer in material culture analysis. It is as if Prown beckons us aside, whispering secrets to his scholarly success: “Look closely, think broadly, and avoid narrow categories. Most important, change... Full Review
November 4, 2003
William Noel and Daniel Weiss, eds.
Baltimore: The Walters Art Museum in association with Third Millenium Publishing, 2002. 224 pp.; 50 color ills.; 121 b/w ills. Paper $55.00 (0911886540)
Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD, October 27–December 29, 2002; Academy Art Museum, Easton, MD, September 12–October 24, 2003; Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ, March 6–June 6, 2004; Mitchell Art Gallery, St. Johns College, Annapolis, MD, November 14–December 26, 2004; Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA, January 30–April 25, 2005
The Morgan Old Testament (New York, Morgan M638, also known as the Morgan Crusader Bible, the Morgan Picture Bible, the Maciejowski Bible, and the Shah ‘Abbas Bible) is an extraordinary illuminated manuscript in the mid-thirteenth-century French Gothic style. Almost certainly made for or within the entourage of the crusader, Louis IX of France (1226–1270), or “Saint Louis,” the manuscript comprises a pictorial narrative of the early books of the Bible, from Genesis 1 through 2 Kings 20, and... Full Review
November 3, 2003
Alyce A. Jordan
Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers, 2001. 300 pp.; 87 b/w ills. Cloth €120.00 (2503511848)
Although the Ste-Chapelle in Paris has been featured in recent scholarship, notably by Daniel Weiss in Art and Crusade in the Age of Saint Louis (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998) and in a monographic study by Jean-Michel Leniaud and Françoise Perrot entitled La Sainte-Chapelle (Paris: Editions Nathan, CNMHS, 1991), Alyce Jordan’s book deepens our knowledge of the monument by focusing on the relation of the nave windows... Full Review
November 3, 2003
Robert L. Hardgrave
New Delhi: Manohar Publishers and Distributors, 2000. 134 pp.; some b/w ills. Cloth $34.00 (8173043582)
Focusing on the etchings of boats by Balthazar Solvyns (1760–1824), Robert Hardgrave, who is preparing a book on this artist’s life and work, demonstrates how revealing these prints are as expressions of the materiality of daily lives. The book is filled not only with boat lore and facts, but also with information about social order, class and caste (the Muga Chara type of boat, for example, is used by the lower classes to celebrate marriage), tribal identities, pirates (the... Full Review
October 31, 2003
Rosamond E. Mack
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. 266 pp.; 101 color ills.; 85 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0520221311)
With this important book, Bazaar to Piazza: Islamic Trade and Italian Art, 1300–1600, Rosamond Mack has joined a growing number of scholars who have challenged the well-known model of the Renaissance as an exclusive and singular moment of genius and invention centered in Italy. According to this familiar standard, the Renaissance signaled both the definitive emergence of European civilization and the irreparable rupture between East and West. Scholars such as Jerry Brotton,... Full Review
October 23, 2003
Sibel Bozdoğan
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001. 380 pp.; 240 ills. Cloth $30.00 (0295981520)
See Kishwar Rizvi’s review of this book Rereading Eurocentric or North American definitions of modernity has become a frequent pursuit for scholars during the last two decades. Instead of the virtual projection of one continuous modernism, discussions of the period’s heterogeneous character have emerged, and beyond that, cross-cultural debates have become important in understanding the spread and development of modernism... Full Review
October 22, 2003
Roberta J. M. Olson
New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 376 pp.; 12 color ills.; 297 b/w ills. Cloth (019817425X)
Tondi (autonomous paintings or sculpture in a circular format) became a popular art form in Florence between the mid-fifteenth century and approximately 1520. A large majority of tondi—which feature the Madonna and Child, often in the company of saints or angels and occasionally in narrative scenes—were generally created for private devotion in the home during the Renaissance. Examples of famous tondi include Domenico Veneziano’s Adoration of the Magi (Berlin,... Full Review
October 22, 2003
Herbert Schutz
Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2000. 464 pp.; 32 color ills.; 166 b/w ills. Cloth $179.00 (9004122982)
There are some areas of our discipline that can be studied effectively with little reference to archaeology. Early medieval art history is not one of them. Those venturing into this field, particularly into central Europe before the formation of the Carolingian empire in the late eighth century, will probably find themselves studying as many excavation site reports as medieval texts. Therefore, the publication of this volume, promising to bring together written and material evidence in a... Full Review
October 17, 2003
Brigitte Corley
Turnhout: Harvey Miller Publishers, 1999. 300 pp.; 30 color ills.; 250 b/w ills. Cloth $105.00 (1872501516)
In the opening three chapters of her study of late medieval painting in Cologne, Brigitte Corley sets the stage with impressive scenery and a promising cast of characters. Sancta Colonia was a beautiful city of relics, pilgrimage, trade, learning, and spectacular imperial visits, in which various groups—archbishops, patricians, and city councilors—competed for power and prestige. Shifts in power resulted in fluctuating “patterns of patronage” that left behind a rich material culture... Full Review
October 15, 2003