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

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Caroline Arscott and Katie Scott, eds.
Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001. 233 pp.; 74 b/w ills. Cloth $74.95 (0719055210)
This anthology was put together by the editors under the auspices of a group of women teachers at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. Caroline Arscott, senior lecturer in nineteenth-century British art, and Katie Scott, lecturer in early modern French art and architecture, formulated and nurtured their project in discussions with their colleagues, several of whom ultimately contributed essays to the finished book. The anthology consists of eight essays (one by each of the editors is... Full Review
July 19, 2002
Jan Stuart and Evelyn S. Rawski
Palo Alto, Calif.: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution in association with Stanford University Press, 2001. 216 pp.; many color ills.; few b/w ills. Paper $39.95 (0804742634)
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, DC, June 17–September 9, 2001
This detailed, beautifully printed volume, while aimed at the needs of an extensive exhibition at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, DC, acquires the permanence of carefully researched scholarship about a hitherto neglected aspect of China's rich embrace of the visual arts. Initial gratitude must go to the principal collector and donor, the late Richard G. Pritzlaff, who in the distant spaces of his New Mexico ranch was initially overlooked by intellectuals he delightfully branded... Full Review
July 18, 2002
Rob van Gerwen, ed.
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000. 285 pp. Cloth $55.00 (0521801745)
Art historians familiar with Richard Wollheim's early writing on art will recall his "Minimal Art" essay, first published in the January 1965 issue of Arts Magazine. Historians of 1960s art have attributed Wollheim with having coined the term "minimal," now widely used to identify a nonunified field of 1960s art making: minimalism, minimalist, literalist, or specific object. The fact that Wollheim's essay addressed none of the artworks or artists that have since become identified with... Full Review
July 17, 2002
Stephen Little
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. 352 pp.; 190 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Paper $39.95 (0520227859)
Art Institute of Chicago, November 4, 2000-January 7, 2001; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, February 21-May 13, 2001.
Taoism and the Arts of China is a welcome scholarly endeavor. The exhibition and catalogue were organized by Stephen Little, Pritzker Curator at the Art Institute of Chicago, with assistance from Shawn Eichman, exhibition coordinator for the show. Both were well suited to the task, having addressed the topic in previous scholarship. The catalogue, like the exhibition, contains a diverse range of media to delight the eye, stimulate the intellect, and indicate the social and cultural... Full Review
July 9, 2002
Anita Fiderer Moskowitz
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 401 pp.; 395 b/w ills. Cloth $95.00 (0521444837)
Anita Moskowitz has devoted her distinguished career to two distinct albeit related subjects: the study of Italian sculpture of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and the definition of the Italian variant of "Gothic" style. The period broadly defined by the chronological limits of this book is habitually called Gothic, yet pinning down precisely what is meant by this term in Italy is not an easy task. Moskowitz succeeds in defining and explaining Italian Gothic as it was expressed in... Full Review
July 9, 2002
Angela Falco Howard
New York: Weatherhill, 2000. 220 pp.; 181 color ills. Cloth $60.00 (0834804271)
A growing body of publications has finally dispelled the myth that the Song dynasty (960–1279) marked the beginning of a long and inexorable decline of Buddhism throughout the imperial era in China.[1] Summit of Treasures: Buddhist Cave Art of Dazu, China by Angela Howard is an eloquent addition to this new scholarship. The subject of inquiry is the Baodingshan complex in Dazu County, Sichuan province, the only known Buddhist site in China exclusively constructed during the Song... Full Review
July 3, 2002
Edgar Peters Bowron
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. 304 pp.; 140 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0300091818)
Museo Correr, Venice, Italy, February 10–June 27, 2001; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, July 29–October 21, 2001.
The townscapes of Bernardo Bellotto (1722–80) have always delighted those in the know. Although never as prominent as his famous uncle, Antonio Canaletto, Bellotto has remained familiar to scholars through the regular appearance of his paintings in exhibitions and occasional reproduction in books. Yet he lingers on the margins of English-language scholarship, perhaps because he spent most of his career in the relatively unfamiliar terrain of Central Europe. Confusion about Bellotto's relation... Full Review
July 3, 2002
Roger S Wieck, William M. Voelkle, and Michelle Hearne, eds.
New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1999. 208 pp.; 58 color ills.; 45 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0807614777)
Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, January 23-May 8, 2001
Like Simon Marmion (d. 1489), Jean Poyet is a celebrated late fifteenth-century French painter whose documented works elude certain identification. Recorded in Tours between 1483 and 1498, Poyet was ranked with Jean Fouquet and praised for his mastery of perspective by several early sixteenth-century writers. Poyet's reputation waxed again three hundred years later, when his name was attached to the celebrated Hours of Anne of Bretagne (Paris, BNF, lat. 9474). With the discovery in 1868 and... Full Review
July 2, 2002
Alex Potts
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. 432 pp.; 50 color ills.; 115 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0300088019)
In The Sculptural Imagination: Figurative, Modernist, Minimalist, Alex Potts explains the transition from self-contained figurative sculpture to sculpture-in-the-expanded-field as the culmination of two centuries of beliefs that sculpture incites a "distinctive mode of apprehension" (2) from painting. This significant divide rests not strictly on the formal means of the two mediums, but also on the reactions these means prompt in viewers: For Potts the "vividly... Full Review
June 27, 2002
Alisa LaGamma
Exh. cat. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Harry N. Abrams, 1999. 80 pp.; 50 color ills.; 5 b/w ills. $22.50 (0870999338)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, April 25-July 30, 2000
It is now widely recognized that much of African art has been created to sustain social harmony, improve living conditions, and encourage political cohesion. The varied functions of African works have been addressed in numerous exhibitions and books, yet for our times, there may be no topic more thought-provoking and inspiring than the resilient roles that African artworks play in healing and crisis management. Art and Oracle: African Art and Rituals of Divination, published in... Full Review
June 25, 2002