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

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Fredie Floré and Cammie McAtee, eds.
New York: Routledge, 2017. 214 pp. Hardcover $124.00 (9781472453556)
One of the critic Mario Praz’s (1896–1982) achievements is that he applied art-historical methods to interiors. His writing elevated the status of interiors to positions previously held by painting, sculpture, and architecture. Praz’s books from the 1960s constituted a call that the “minor” arena of decorative arts be taken seriously. Yet, with notable exceptions, his efforts to edge the decorative arts, chiefly furniture, onto an equal plane with art and architecture went largely... Full Review
March 29, 2018
Lisa Farrington
New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. 480 pp.; 230 ills. Hardcover $69.95 (9780199995394)
Lisa Farrington’s African-American Art: A Visual and Cultural History is invaluable for those teaching surveys of African American art as well as any reader interested in the subject. Staple publications in this area include Sharon Patton’s African-American Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998) and Richard J. Powell’s Black Art and Culture in the 20th Century (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1997; reproduced in its second edition as Black Art: A... Full Review
March 29, 2018
Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University
Cambridge, MA: Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University, 2016.
Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, October 27, 2016–January 8, 2017
In last year’s exhibition of Chilean art at the Carpenter Center for Visual Art at Harvard University, absence signaled the latency of bodies that feel pain, that suffer longing, or, in a powerful twist, that even travel from 1970s Santiago to present-day Boston. In the works on view in Embodied Absence: Chilean Art of the 1970s Now, artists used the tactics of conceptual art to respond to the traumas inflicted on citizens after the socialist president Salvador Allende was... Full Review
March 29, 2018
Sebastian Zeidler
Signale: Modern German Letters, Cultures, and Thought. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2016. 320 pp.; 25 color ills.; 41 b/w ills.; 66 ills. Paperback $35.00 (9780801479847)
Can there be a more enigmatic corpus in art writing than that of the German critic Carl Einstein (1885–1940)? In Form as Revolt: Carl Einstein and the Ground of Modern Art, Sebastian Zeidler presents not only a detailed, rigorous analysis of Einstein’s fragmentary, gnomic writings, but a provocative extrapolation of their potentials. Einstein—the book’s acknowledged “hero”—imparted to his criticism an idiosyncratic, urgent density, by turns profound and obscure, informed by a... Full Review
March 28, 2018
Alva Noë
New York: Hill and Wang, 2015. 304 pp. Hardcover $28.00 (9780809089178)
“What Art Unveils” is the title of an essay by cognitive scientist and philosopher Alva Noë printed in the opinion pages of the New York Times on October 5, 2015, the year his book Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature was published. The op-ed states some of the book’s basic arguments: art, for Noë, is a human “making activity,” but a special activity, a “research practice” that “unveils us to ourselves.” Art begins (and design stops) “when we are unable to take the background... Full Review
March 27, 2018
Wanda M. Corn
Exh. cat. New York: Prestel, 2017. 320 pp.; 217 color ills.; 112 b/w ills. Hardcover $60.00 (9783791356013)
Brooklyn Museum, March 3–July 23, 2017; Reynolda House Museum of American Art, August 18–November 19, 2017
I do not usually care much about the clothes that artists wear or what their living rooms look like. But after reading Wanda Corn’s new book about Georgia O’Keeffe, I will certainly pay more attention. Previous O’Keeffe scholars have delved deeply into the artist’s personal and professional relationship with Alfred Stieglitz, speculated on her sexuality as expressed in her flower imagery, and dissected her skull paintings. None, however, have so fully detailed the contents of her closet.... Full Review
March 26, 2018
The Pizzuti Collection and Greer Pagano
Exh. cat. 2 volumes. Columbus, OH: The Pizzuti Collection, 2017. 158 pp.; 130 color ills. Paperback $60.00 (9780990486633)
Exhibition Schedule: The Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, March 10–October 28, 2017
The Pizzuti Collection’s Visions from India comprises two exhibitions: Transforming Vision: 21st Century Art from the Pizzuti Collection, the larger in scope and size, showcases significant holdings of very recent Indian art; The Progressive Master: Francis Newton Souza from the Rajadhyaksha Collection, includes thirty works by the sought-after Indian modernist painter. These exhibitions, tucked away in a private nonprofit museum in... Full Review
March 23, 2018
Catriona MacLeod
Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2013. 264 pp. Paperback $39.95 (9780810129344)
Fugitive Objects features impressive scholarship, skillfully engaging a great variety of sources: philosophical texts, literary works, sculptures, and paintings, as well as objects, texts, and images from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century popular culture. But at the same time, unlike many other scholarly works, it also tells an exciting story, full of suspense, which at times makes the book a genuine page-turner. In Hegelian terms, this story could be summarized by another title,... Full Review
March 23, 2018
Jessica Berenbeim
Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2015. 242 pp.; 147 ills. Hardcover $95.00 (9780888441942)
As befits a study of the appearance of documents, Jessica Berenbeim’s Art of Documentation: Documents and Visual Culture in Medieval England is beautifully designed and richly illustrated. It also makes an important contribution to the study of medieval manuscripts, breaking out of traditional disciplinary categorizations to offer new insights that will be of relevance to both art historians and historians. Indeed, the form and function of medieval documents has become an... Full Review
March 23, 2018
Kishwar Rizvi
University of North Carolina Press, 2015. 296 pp.; 25 color ills.; 78 b/w ills. Hardcover $37.50 (9781469621166)
When one thinks of architecture in the contemporary Middle East, a mosque is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. Today, critics and journalists are more focused on the starchitect museums of Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island or the record-setting towers of Dubai and Kuala Lumpur than on places of communal worship. In her volume The Transnational Mosque, however, Kishwar Rizvi counters this perception and contends that mosque architecture is equally a space where the... Full Review
March 22, 2018