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

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Ian Berry and Michael Duncan, eds.
Exh. cat. Saratoga Springs, NY: The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery in association with DelMonico Books-Prestel, 2014. 254 pp. Cloth $49.95 (9783791352336)
Exhibition schedule: Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Saratoga Springs, NY, January 19–July 29, 2014; Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, June 6–September 14, 2014; Baker Museum, Naples, FL, September 27, 2014–January 4, 2015; Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, January 31–April 18, 2015; Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena, June 14–November 11, 2015
Corita Kent is having a moment. Someday Is Now: The Art of Corita Kent, the 2013 exhibition organized by Skidmore College’s Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, was followed in 2015 by Corita Kent and the Language of Pop at Harvard Art Museums; Sister Corita’s Summer of Love at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, New Zealand; and love is here to stay (and that’s enough): Prints by Sister Corita Kent at the University of San Diego’s... Full Review
December 22, 2016
Elina Gertsman
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2015. 288 pp.; 48 color ills.; 106 b/w ills. Cloth $79.95 (9780271064017)
In Worlds Within: Opening the Medieval Shrine Madonna, a group of about forty sculptures known as Shrine Madonnas are the device for Elina Gertsman’s ambitious exploration of late medieval devotion. Also known as Vierges ouvrantes, most Shrine Madonnas are carved from wood and dated to between 1270 and 1500. Some are small enough to fit in a person’s hands, while others are almost life size. All depict the Virgin Mary seated on a throne and holding the Christ child. The exterior... Full Review
December 21, 2016
Juliet B. Wiersema
Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015. 224 pp.; 185 color ills.; 17 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780292761254)
Juliet B. Wiersema’s Architectural Vessels of the Moche: Ceramic Diagrams of Sacred Space in Ancient Peru is a significant contribution to the field of art history for two reasons. The first is the subject matter: she addresses the relationship between architecture and its representation through an examination and comparison of ceramic vessels that represent architectural spaces and archaeologically recovered architectural remains from the Moche culture of the Peruvian north coast (ca.... Full Review
December 21, 2016
Erik Thunø
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. 325 pp.; 25 color ills.; 104 b/w ills. Cloth $110.00 (9781107069909)
Erik Thunø’s The Apse Mosaic in Early Medieval Rome: Time, Network, and Repetition presents an alternative “non-diachronic” art-historical interpretation of Roman apse decoration from the sixth through ninth centuries. He identifies a core set of examples that share key visual and textual features, including: SS. Cosmas and Damian (526–30); S. Agnese (625–38); S. Venanzio (640–42); the apses of Paschal I (817–24)—S. Prassede, S. Cecelia, S. Maria in Domnica; and S. Marco (827–44).... Full Review
December 8, 2016
Marta Gutman
Historical Studies of Urban America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. 448 pp.; 12 color ills.; 120 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780226311289)
The current obsessive fixation on children, childhood, and parenting has relegated the notion of “other people’s children” to a position of indifference and even mild disdain on the part of many middle- and upper-middle-class citizens. Yet the history of philanthropy and the preoccupation with the care of poor children was a central purpose of wealthy and middle-class women for a century and a half. In her book A City for Children: Women, Architecture, and the Charitable Landscapes of... Full Review
December 8, 2016
Jeffrey Chipps Smith, ed.
Visual Culture in Early Modernity. Burlington: Ashgate, 2014. 244 pp.; 59 b/w ills. Cloth $104.95 (9781472435873)
Blind spots help define a period eye. That is, what one period seems to lack is precisely what distinguishes its conventions from those of other periods. Yet the blind spots are unstable. Given that examining textual documentation of a period for its conventional visual terms remains central to art-historical practice, such documents require interpretation and reinterpretation. Even the most self-conscious or straightforward document writers, announcing their own biases, are unaware of all... Full Review
December 7, 2016
Lowery Stokes Sims, ed.
Exh. cat. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2015. 256 pp.; 145 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780878468157)
In 2015, the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, produced a large, handsome catalogue featuring approximately one hundred works by African American artists from its permanent collection, all of which were acquired over the past four decades. Three factors had a significant impact in amassing this art. Since 1969, Edmund Barry Gaither, curator and director of the National Center of Afro-American Artists (NCAAA) in Boston, has also served as a curator and consultant to the MFA. In 2005, the MFA... Full Review
December 1, 2016
James Raven, ed.
New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 150 pp. Cloth $67.50 (9781137520760)
David Lowenthal contends that the heritage conservation movement came about largely as a result of “a sense of loss,” as humans saw their built environment vanish at alarming rates during the last century (David Lowenthal, The Past Is a Foreign Country, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985). In the United Kingdom, an island nation, the loss of each historic building often seems to be magnified by longstanding introspection, as the British worry over every facet of their... Full Review
November 30, 2016
Kaja Silverman
Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015. 240 pp.; 30 color ills.; 96 b/w ills. Paperback $21.95 (9780804793995)
How do we know the world exists? This question, which precedes Martin Heidegger’s examination of the meaning of Being itself in Being and Time (trans. Joan Stambaugh, Albany: SUNY Press, 1996), brings Heidegger quickly to the terms by which we can “know” the material world. His argument singles out “useless things” as key to the process by which the world discloses itself to us, for these disturb the instrumental order of everyday existence, opening an awareness of the “totality.”... Full Review
November 25, 2016
Stella Nair
Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015. 304 pp.; 28 color ills.; 136 b/w ills. Paper $45.00 (9781477302507)
Stella Nair’s excellent new study of the Inca royal estate at Chinchero, Peru, At Home with the Sapa Inca: Architecture, Space, and Legacy at Chinchero, examines the experiential aspects of this site in relation to indigenous ideologies of space and the built environment. The book is divided into chapters that consider Inca ideas of place and time; specific architectural features; the community that built Chinchero under the direction of the tenth Inca king, Topa Inca; and that same... Full Review
November 9, 2016