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

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James J. Sheehan
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. 271 pp.; 31 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (0195135725)
This is a remarkably brief book about a vast subject. While most museum histories are monographs or catalogues, James Sheehan's elegant survey presents the rise and fall of the monumental German art museums, including their eighteenth-century origins, along with appropriate fragments of their philosophical and historical context. For German-reading scholars interested in the German art world and its museums, the book covers a more or less familiar terrain in a more than familiar manner,... Full Review
December 6, 2001
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Vaughan Hart and Peter Hicks, eds.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. 428 pp.; 129 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0300075308)
Alina Payne
Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 362 pp.; 88 b/w ills. Cloth $88.00 (0521622662)
The past decade has witnessed a veritable explosion of superior new English translations of Italian Renaissance architectural treatises, as well as a new critical translation of Vitruvius, whose Latin treatise served generations of Italian architects and theorists as the yardstick for proper classical style. This bounty of treatises has broadened significantly the English-speaking audience to whom these texts are now available, and the use of these books in the classroom should increase... Full Review
November 30, 2001
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Gabriele Neher and Rupert Shepherd, eds.
Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2000. 241 pp. Cloth (0754601692)
This anthology is a welcome addition to the growing body of literature on consumption and consumerism in the Renaissance, particularly from an art-historical perspective. It is based on a session entitled "Values in Renaissance Art" at the 25th Annual Conference of the Association of Art Historians, held in Southampton, England, in April of 1999. Most of the original papers delivered at the conference were revised and have been included in this book; others were added to expand the scope of... Full Review
November 26, 2001
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Sara F. Matthews-Grieco and Sabina Brevaglieri, eds.
Florence: Morgana Edizioni, 2001. 286 pp.; 403 b/w ills. Paper $27.50 (8885698751)
In recent years, numerous publications focusing on women in early modern Italy have appeared, and this volume, consisting of six essays by well-known scholars, is a welcome addition to the list. Developed in conjunction with the Progetto Donna of the Council for Public Education in Florence, this work is a fine example of combined public and private interests in gender history based on interdisciplinary studies. The unique value of this well-produced book rests in its collection of an... Full Review
November 21, 2001
Mark A. Cheetham
Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 232 pp.; 35 b/w ills. Cloth $54.95 (0521800188)
Mark Cheetham's book, Kant, Art, and Art History: Moments of Discipline, addresses the problem implied by the critic Thomas McEvilley's quip: "Kant and Greenberg are both things of the past and we should just get over them. Yet somehow, they keep arising from the grave like zombies" ("The Tomb of the Zombie," Art Criticism, 1998). Other critics and historians, such as Paul Crowther, want to excise Immanuel Kant from art history, due to amply documented misreadings of the... Full Review
November 21, 2001
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Robert Shlaer
Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press, 2000. 176 pp.; 126 color ills.; 33 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0890133409)
Douglas Nickel
New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1999. 228 pp.; 20 color ills.; 85 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0810941023)
Though it seems impossible to imagine today, there was a time, just thirty years ago, when major exhibitions of historical photographs were rare, and their sumptuously reproduced, oversize catalogues even rarer. With the exception of John Szarkowski's small, seminal The Photographer and the American Landscape (1963), nineteenth-century American landscape photography--now a boom business and a gilt-edge genre--had little or no exposure. If you wanted to see the work of Timothy... Full Review
November 19, 2001
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John Dillenberger
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. 248 pp.; 85 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0195121724)
In his preface, the author states that he intends to provide a "comprehensive account" (vii) of the place of images in sixteenth-century religious reformations--a laudable goal, though one that this volume ultimately falls short of delivering. John Dillenberger, a noted scholar of theological history, continues his contributions to the study of Reformation history, while taking a different angle by focusing on the role and perception of images in the sixteenth century. The author's endeavor,... Full Review
November 7, 2001
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Mieke Bal and Norman Bryson
G + B Arts International, 2001. 240 pp.; 26 b/w ills. Paper $24.00 (9057011123)
It is difficult to imagine a more stimulating and challenging meditation on visual theory than the one presented in this book. We are offered an initially unfamiliar vision of Mieke Bal's work: early writing on narrative theory; chapters from Reading Rembrandt: Beyond the Word-Image Opposition (Cambridge University Press, 1991) and Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, Prepostrous History (University of Chicago Press, 1999); aspects of her underappreciated but seminal work on... Full Review
November 6, 2001
Alfreda Murck
Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. 406 pp.; many b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0674002431)
In late eleventh-century China, a group of disaffected government officials, their careers in disarray and their lives sometimes at risk, found ways to express political dissent and personal grievances through the use of literary allusions. Expressing dissatisfaction could be dangerous, so these allusions had to be oblique; a reference to spotted bamboo, for instance, evoked an ancient legend about loyal wives searching in vain for their dead lord. Recognizing such an allusion in a poem or in... Full Review
November 5, 2001
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Dominic Marner
Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 2000. 112 pp.; 51 color ills.; 13 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (0802035183)
Densely illustrated manuscripts of the lives and miracles of the saints constituted a distinct category of artistic production during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Of particular interest for the study of narrative and the relationship between text and image, these works also offer important evidence for scholars of political and religious history. Once deemed less aesthetically significant and intellectually sophisticated than illuminated Bibles and liturgical manuscripts, illustrated... Full Review
November 1, 2001
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