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

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Claire Tancons and Krista Thompson, eds.
Exh. cat. New York and New Orleans: Independent Curators International and Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans, 2016. 230 pp.; 100 color ills. Hardcover $49.95 (9780916365899)
Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, March 7–June 7, 2015; National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, January 14–March 18, 2016; National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, April 28–July 10, 2016; DuSable Museum of African American History, May 23–August 13, 2017; Museum of the African Diaspora, September 20, 2017–March 04, 2018; Ulrich Museum of Art, April 21–August 12, 2018

EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean was published in conjunction with the launch of a traveling group exhibition showcasing the work of nine contemporary artists, each from the circum-Caribbean or its diaspora: John Beadle, Charles Campbell, Christophe Chassol, Nicolás Dumit Estévez, Marlon Griffith, Hew Locke, Lorraine O’Grady, Ebony G. Patterson, and Cauleen Smith. The artists were commissioned to create performance works in public spaces in... Full Review

May 3, 2018
James Romaine and Phoebe Wolfskill, eds.
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2017. 204 pp.; 33 color ills.; 22 b/w ills. Hardcover $79.95 (9780271077741)

Beholding Christ and Christianity in African American Art, edited by James Romaine and Phoebe Wolfskill, offers a unified and underexamined perspective on artwork by late nineteenth- to mid-twentieth-century African American artists. Each of the fourteen chapters showcases a selected artwork by an individual artist, highlighting how “engagement with religious subjects, symbols, or themes can be an expression of an array of concerns related to racial, political, and socioeconomic... Full Review

May 2, 2018
Robert Storr
Exh. cat. New York: David Zwirner Books, 2015. 112 pp.; 74 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9781941701089)
David Zwirner Gallery, London, October 11–November 22, 2014

In Untitled (Mirror Girl) (2014), a young woman, voluptuous, luxuriating in her nudity, strikes a pose in front of her star-trimmed mirror. She holds her breasts in her hands to emulate a magazine spread, and she is stunning. An assortment of clothes and shoes decorate the floor beneath her, their colors and textures rhyming with the geometrical patterns across the rug and wallpaper. A cat sits quietly in the background, creating a collage effect—a technique Kerry James Marshall has... Full Review

May 1, 2018
Anna Dezeuze
Rethinking Art's Histories. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017. 344 pp.; 72 b/w ills. Paperback €19.99 (9781526112903)

Anna Dezeuze’s ambitious book Almost Nothing: Observations on Precarious Practices in Contemporary Art establishes a lineage for work from the 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s that engages with the issue of precariousness. Dezeuze compellingly argues that, beginning in the late 1950s, artists began to mine a conceptually fertile vein of lived experiences at the margins—whether actual or assumed. She understands the term “precarious” as established by the... Full Review

May 1, 2018
Tamar Garb and Fiona Bradley, eds.
Edinburgh: The Fruitmarket Gallery, 2017. 192 pp.; 120 color ills. Hardcover $45.00 (9781908612410 )
Rosalind E. Krauss, ed.
Cambridge: MIT Press, 2017. 208 pp.; 53 b/w ills. Paperback $22.95 (9780262533454)

Last year saw the publication of two excellent books about William Kentridge, the first of which accompanied an exhibition of his work, paired with that of fellow South African artist Vivienne Koorland, curated by Tamar Garb at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh. The three met in Cape Town the mid-1970s (Koorland painted Garb’s portrait in 1977), and it was Garb’s long relationship with Kentridge and Koorland that inspired her to curate the show.

In the catalogue’s introductory... Full Review

May 1, 2018
Adrienne L. Childs and Susan H. Libby, eds.
Exh. cat. Giles, 2017. 80 pp.; 55 color ills. Paperback $30.00 (9781907804496)
Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, January 14–May 14, 2017

This catalogue of a relatively small but important exhibition at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College is devoted to depictions of black Africans and people of the African diaspora produced by Western European artists (British, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Danish) between the mid-eighteenth century and the 1890s. The volume begins with a short, pithy introduction by David Bindman, the general editor of Harvard University Press’s Image of the Black in Western Art series.... Full Review

April 30, 2018
Melissa Barton
New Haven: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, 2017. 144 pp.; 140 color ills. Paper over Board $25.00 (9780300225617)
Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library (01/13/17–04/17/17)

In Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression, Jacques Derrida theorizes the archive in terms of two conflicting forces: the pleasure principle (eros) and the death drive (thanatos). Through these antithetical terms, he suggests that archives are defined by a struggle over what they preserve or save and what they forget or destroy. This leads Derrida to define the “archivization” process as that which “produces as much as it records the event.”Full Review

April 30, 2018
Ara H. Merjian
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. 352 pp.; 83 color ills.; 160 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300176599)

Ara Merjian’s commanding monograph, Giorgio de Chirico and the Metaphysical City: Nietzsche, Modernism, Paris, opens with a reading of Self-Portrait with Double, a picture de Chirico made in 1919, shortly before his epochal retour à l’ordre. In the painting, the artist sits beside a table in a perfunctory room, fixing the viewer with a sober, portentous stare and gesturing toward a marble slab held upright on the tabletop. True to the picture’s title, a ghostly... Full Review

April 27, 2018
Alison Cole
London: Laurence King Publishing, 2016. 256 pp.; 156 color ills. Hardcover $30.00 (9781780677408)

The art-historical literature on Italian Renaissance courts has traditionally been one of in-depth studies of individual court cities and specific artists. Alison Cole’s lucidly written book summarizes some of this literature for a general audience, focusing on the courts of Naples, Urbino, Ferrara, Mantua, and Milan during the fifteenth century. The work is a revised edition of the author’s 1995 book Virtue and Magnificence: Art of the Italian Renaissance Courts, expanded to... Full Review

April 26, 2018
Sophie Junge
Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017. 352 pp.; 28 color ills.; 40 b/w ills. Hardcover $126.00 (9783110453072)

Eight years after the first cases of AIDS came to light in the United States, and six years before combined antiretroviral therapy was introduced, the photographer Nan Goldin organized the exhibition Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing at Artists Space, New York. This event, an outcry from an East Village community besieged by the Full Review

April 25, 2018