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

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Daniel M. Abramson
Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 2000. 207 pp.; 76 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (1568992445)
The skyscraper has generated a seemingly endless flow of scholarly work, a flow that shows no indication of ebbing. Monographs have detailed single buildings or the oeuvre of prominent skyscraper architects; other texts have brought focus to the technologies, the finances, or the artistic depictions of these tall structures. A museum in New York devoted to the skyscraper has even been created, offering actual and virtual exhibitions and material about the tall building, from its origins to... Full Review
January 16, 2002
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Marcus Wood
London: Routledge, 1999. 341 pp.; 7 color ills.; 168 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (041592698x)
On the deceptively simple premise that "the imagery of slavery has not been taken as seriously as it should have been" (6), Marcus Wood has built a work of awesome breadth and depth. He rightly points out that most of the visual material relating to slavery has fallen below the horizon of high art and thus the purview of art historians. The exceptions, like Hugh Honour and Albert Boime, have been more likely to subsume high art images related to slavery into the stylistic movements of... Full Review
January 11, 2002
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Paul Edwards
New Haven: Yale University Press in association with Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 1999. 583 pp.; 179 color ills.; 162 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0300082096)
There is really no middle ground in discussions of Wyndham Lewis's significance and qualities as an artist. Some studies view him as a neglected but pivotal figure in the development of European modernism, while other, more hostile critiques focus on his self-imposed isolation, extremism, and elliptical relationship to the program of the modern movement. Paul Edwards's book belongs in the former camp. Lewis, undoubtedly, was a unique and exceptional cultural figure in the first half of... Full Review
January 9, 2002
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Henry Maguire
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000. 222 pp.; 167 b/w ills. Paper $27.95 (0691050074)
In this useful study, first published in 1996, Henry Maguire examines those seemingly endless rows of standing saints who feature so often in Byzantine churches, but so rarely in books on Byzantine art. The book is primarily a stylistic one, using formal analysis of the images to help understand the perception of saints in Byzantium. Maguire argues that the ways in which saints were depicted were determined by the need to "define" them. An analysis of Byzantine modes of depiction thus can aid... Full Review
January 8, 2002
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Hubert Locher
Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2000. 524 pp.; 89 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (3770535219)
According to the well-known argument of Hayden White, each historiographical account--no matter how devoted to empirical detail in the tradition of Ranke or to grand systematic schemes in the manner of Hegel--is based on a theory or philosophy regarding its own aims and premises. This argument comes to mind after reading Hubert Locher's erudite book Kunstgeschichte als historische Theorie der Kunst 1750-1950 (Art History as a Historical Theory of Art 1750-1950). A... Full Review
January 7, 2002
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Michael J. Lewis
New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000. 256 pp.; 200 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0393730638)
Frank Furness was one of America's premier architects. It will come as something of a shock, then, to learn that with the publication of Michael Lewis's Frank Furness, we have just three books devoted to the work of this nineteenth-century Philadelphia-based designer: an exhibition catalogue, The Architecture of Frank Furness by James F. O'Gorman in 1973; a catalogue raisonné, Frank Furness: The Complete Works by George E. Thomas, Jeffrey A. Cohen, and Michael J. Lewis in... Full Review
January 5, 2002
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Norbert Nussbaum
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. 272 pp.; 50 color ills.; 180 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0300083211)
Norbert Nussbaum's excellent, well-illustrated book, already published in two German editions, is finally available in a clear, readable English translation. It is well laid out and includes extensive and useful notes, a bibliography, a glossary of technical terms, a chronological list of buildings, and indices of persons and places. Given the exceptional quality and quantity of its photographs, plans, and text--all at a reasonable cost--the book will be a classic, a status it has already... Full Review
December 15, 2001
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J. Mordaunt Crook
London: John Murray Publishers, 1999. 354 pp.; 118 b/w ills. Paper $24.95 (0719560500)
In writing about the newly rich in Britain during the late Victorian and Edwardian eras, J. Mordaunt Crook has produced a study that is fascinating for its vast and colorful cast of characters, but also frustrating for its piecemeal and anecdotal approach to such a complex social phenomenon. Crook tells us his method is "impressionistic rather than statistical" (4), as he has not intended to produce the kind of meticulous, socioeconomic study of David Cannadine's Decline and Fall of... Full Review
December 13, 2001
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Sidney Littlefield Kasfir
London: Thames and Hudson, 2000. 224 pp.; 74 color ills.; 96 b/w ills. Paper $14.95 (0500203288)
Contemporary African art is a complex subject. Much of it has been produced by formally and informally trained artists and, for the most part, under the influence of Western education and creative enterprise. Some critics have argued that Western patronage is biased against contemporary African art in favor of "traditional" art, apparently because of the latter's impact on modern art in the early twentieth century. It is alleged that many Western critics prefer the works of the informally... Full Review
December 12, 2001
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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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