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

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Robert L. Herbert
Exh. cat. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004. 288 pp.; 307 color ills.; 64 b/w ills. Paper $34.95 (0520242114)
Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago, June 19–September 19, 2004
Art Institute of Chicago, June 19–September 19, 2004
Seurat and the Making of La Grande Jatte, a book that accompanied an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, combines extensive art-historical analysis of the painting with detailed study by conservators. The most dramatic contribution is the “rejuvenated” image of La Grande Jatte, a full-scale reproduction created by Roy S. Berns using digital technology to replace Georges Seurat’s now-darkened zinc yellow with something close to the original color. An essay by Frank... Full Review
February 9, 2005
Rosemarie Mulcahy
Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2004. 400 pp.; 16 color ills.; 145 b/w ills. Cloth £65.00 (1851827730)
According to Rosemarie Mulcahy, the reputation of Philip II has suffered from bad press throughout the years. She writes, “The image [of Philip] that prevails is that of the severe assiduous defender of the Catholic Faith, a dry and mean-spirited personality” (xv). Indeed, the specter of the Inquisition, the harsh Spanish rule of the Netherlands, and the aloof late portraiture of the man in black have done little to counter negative impressions. In this book, composed of both previously... Full Review
February 4, 2005
Wayne Franits
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004. 320 pp.; 100 color ills.; 230 b/w ills. Cloth $70.00 (0300102372)
In the past several decades, major art exhibitions and significant scholarly publications on seventeenth-century Dutch paintings and prints of daily life have manifested the enthusiastic scrutiny of such imagery by scholars and the public alike. The thousands of seventeenth-century Dutch genre paintings offer seemingly accurate views of daily life; however, as numerous scholars have addressed, the subject matter of such scenes has been selectively determined, resulting in the omission of many... Full Review
January 21, 2005
Lisa Pon
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004. 224 pp.; 37 color ills.; 58 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300096804)
Building on recent scholarship that has revealed the degree to which the printmaker Marcantonio Raimondi was not a simple copyist but an independently minded artist, Lisa Pon’s book, Raphael, Dürer, and Marcantonio Raimondi: Copying and the Italian Renaissance Print, argues that his works are products of collaboration: among the engraver, the inventor, and the publisher on the one hand, and between the viewer and the image on the other. Pon situates Marcantonio’s engravings against the... Full Review
January 12, 2005
Monona Rossol
New York: Allworth Press, 2001. 408 pp.; many b/w ills. Paper $24.95 (1581152043)
By now it should be evident to artists that making art is not without some risk of exposure to harmful substances. But it is also evident that many artists do not pay much attention to the risk. Art students—even senior undergraduate and graduate students—are often wholly unprepared and uninformed about how to reduce their exposure to toxic materials, or even about what the risks are. This must mean that their teachers, who are also artists, do not discuss these issues with them and, perhaps,... Full Review
January 10, 2005
Michael McCann
Darby, PA: Diane Publishing, 1992. 564 pp.; many b/w ills. Cloth $30.00 (1558211756)
As a first exposure to the subject of health hazards in the studio, Michael McCann’s book provides an excellent overview of the subject. His catchy chapter titles, such as “Is Your Art Killing You?” and “How Art Materials Can Hurt You,” are exactly the type of attention grabbers needed to encourage the artist or student to read more. As McCann notes in the introductory section, part 1, entitled “Chemical and Physical Hazards,” is meant as a general introduction, to be read first; part 2, “Art... Full Review
January 10, 2005
Pamela H. Smith
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004. 408 pp.; 28 color ills.; 157 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (0226763994)
In her recent book The Body of the Artisan: Art and Experience in the Scientific Revolution, Pamela H. Smith contributes to a growing body of scholarship that reevaluates the relationship between art and science in early modern Europe. She argues that the roots of the Scientific Revolution may be found in the products and practices of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century artisans. Equating active knowledge with handworkers, Smith sees the physical engagement of craftsmen with matter and... Full Review
December 17, 2004
Stephanie S. Dickey
John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2004. 368 pp.; 172 b/w ills. Cloth $270.00 (9027253390)
The cover of Stephanie Dickey’s Rembrandt: Portraits in Prints reproduces the artist’s Self-Portrait at a Window from 1648, which is a cannily deceptive etching. The first impression it makes is of modest sobriety and straightforward presentation. But look a little further, a little longer, and the probing nature of Rembrandt’s self-examination, united with its representational ambiguity (Is he drawing? Is he etching?) lures the viewer into what is ultimately a virtuosic... Full Review
December 16, 2004
Cynthia Mills and Pamela S. Simpson, eds.
Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2003. 296 pp.; 89 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (1572332727)
This book, a compilation of essays edited by Cynthia Mills and Pamela H. Simpson, examines ideologies and issues associated with commemoration and the creation of Civil War monuments. The fourteen chapters, essays written by scholars in a number of disciplines, are divided into four parts: “The Rites of Memory: Differing Perspectives,” “Heroes and Heroines of the South,” Celebration and Responses to the North,” and “Changing Times, Reshaping History.” A recurring theme throughout the... Full Review
December 9, 2004
Christopher Pinney
London: Reaktion Books, 2003. 320 pp.; 100 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Paper £22.50 (1861891849)
Christopher Pinney’s ‘Photos of the Gods’: The Printed Image and Political Struggle in India traces the development of prints, mostly chromolithographs, from the late 1870s onward. Specifically, he focuses on the intersection of printed images and political struggles from the colonial period to present-day India. Chromolithographs, complex color images printed from multiple stone blocks, developed from the basic lithographic technique invented by Alois Senefelder in Munich in 1798 and... Full Review
December 2, 2004