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

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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
Maxwell K. Hearn and Judith G. Smith, eds.
Exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001. 311 pp.; 183 b/w ills. $19.95 (0300091982)
Chinese Art: Modern Expressions comprises papers and commentaries from an international symposium held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2001. The publication brings together research by leading scholars on a variety of topics pertaining to Chinese modern art and encompasses a number of methodological orientations. Although the papers stay within the conventional time frame for China’s modern period, that is, between the mid-nineteenth and the third quarter of the... Full Review
October 22, 2002
Matthew Rampley
Cambridge University Press, 2000. 286 pp. Cloth $59.95 (0521651557)
Walter Rampley
Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2000. 138 pp.; 9 b/w ills. Paper $30.00 (9783447042990)
Where Friedrich Nietzsche’s ideas about the visual arts are scattered throughout his copious writings and have had little direct bearing on the course or practice of art history, Rampley’s other protagonists—Walter Benjamin and Aby M. Warburg—wrote systematically on the visual and are today much discussed in the discipline. Yet despite the many differences among these important figures, and between these two publications, the coincident appearance of Rampley’s very rewarding studies makes a... Full Review
October 11, 2002
Eugenia Parry
Scalo, 2000. 319 pp.; 60 b/w ills. Cloth $29.95 (3908247187)
A greedy bon vivant, a bumbling police chief, a child abuser, an aging and decrepit prostitute, a self-important criminologist: these are just a few of the motley characters who populate Eugenia Parry’s recent volume of short essays, Crime Album Stories: Paris 1886–1902. Historians of photography no doubt will be already familiar with Parry’s extensive contributions to the scholarship of nineteenth-century photography: as the author and coauthor of several important studies on the use... Full Review
October 8, 2002
Amelia Peck and Carol Irish
Exh. cat. Yale University Press, 2001. 288 pp.; 80 color ills.; 108 b/w ills. $45.00 (0300090811)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, October 9, 2001-January 6, 2002
Ever since Linda Nochlin published her groundbreaking article questioning “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” (ArtNews [January 1971]: 22–39), scholars have sought to understand and to change the sociocultural forces that shaped an all-male history of art. One of the first steps in that process was to recover from obscurity the lives and art of creative women, an aspect of feminist scholarship that continues with the publication of Candace Wheeler: The Art and Enterprise... Full Review
October 4, 2002
Glenn Peers
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. 250 pp.; 19 b/w ills. Cloth $37.50 (0520224051)
Few in antiquity or Byzantium would have questioned that angels have power. Portraying that power, however, posed a special challenge for Byzantines. In a world where both language and image were bound up in materiality, angels captured all that could and could not be said of God. If Christ was understood to be the Word of God made flesh, then there might be license for making pictures of Christ, at least in his earthly guise. But what exactly were angels? More than human, yet known for... Full Review
October 2, 2002
Eli Wilner, ed.
San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000. 204 pp.; 175 color ills. Cloth $60.00 (081182070x)
The word "frame" possesses an interesting history. Originally from the Old English framian, the word meant "to benefit, make progress"; in Middle English its meaning as framen was extended to include "construct." From there it assumed the noun form that art historians know but do not necessarily consider with the same care as the painting that rests inside its borders. Eli Wilner reverses this trend. In The Gilded Edge: The Art of the Frame, he has gathered... Full Review
September 26, 2002
Elise Goodman, ed.
Cranbury, NJ: University of Delaware Press, 2001. 162 pp.; 43 b/w ills. Cloth $52.50 (0874137403)
The Portraits of Madame de Pompadour: Celebrating the Femme Savante Art and Culture in the Eighteenth Century: New Dimensions and Multiple Perspectives gathers ten essays on topics that will surely interest a broad readership, treating subjects ranging from portraiture to artists’ politics. Collected by Elise Goodman, the essays represent the multiplicity of artistic, social, theoretical, and political voices at work in eighteenth-century art circles. Equally... Full Review
September 25, 2002
Catherine Hoover Voorsanger and John K. Howat, eds.
Yale University Press, 2000. 652 pp.; 412 color ills.; 230 b/w ills. Cloth (0300085184)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 19, 2000-January 7, 2001
This ambitious catalogue takes on two traditions in American historical scholarship that are seldom reconciled in a satisfactory way. On the one hand, historians have What connection was there between the spirituality of the Hudson River artists long described the second quarter of the nineteenth century as the contentious, expansive age of Andrew Jackson and P. T. Barnum, characterized by a widening market economy, the advent of universal white male suffrage, the beginnings of... Full Review
September 25, 2002
Herbert L. Kessler and Johanna Zacharias
Yale University Press, 2000. 288 pp.; 60 color ills.; 165 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (0300081537)
The first Jubilee of the Roman Catholic Church was proclaimed by Pope Boniface VIII on February 22, 1300, granting absolution from sin to all those who visited Rome's holy shrines. It was not planned long in advance, but rather represented the pope's enthusiastic response to the vastly increased throngs of pilgrims who had come to the Eternal City to mark the beginning of a new century. Little did Boniface know what he was starting! Timed to coincide with the 2000 Jubilee celebrations in... Full Review
September 20, 2002