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

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David Batchelor
Reaktion Books, 2000. 192 pp.; 6 color ills. Paper $19.95
David Batchelor's Chromophobia is a concise book on a large topic: the problem of color in the Western cultural imaginary of the last two centuries. The argument is anchored by, though not limited to, a consideration of color in the discourse of aesthetics and art history. Batchelor also considers literature, Hollywood cinema, television advertising, and architecture in order to bring color's extremely paradoxical and checkered history to light. Generations of cultural producers, art... Full Review
May 1, 2001
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Eric Jan Sluijter
Waanders, 2000. 368 pp.; 245 b/w ills. Cloth (9040094438)
The explosion of visual images in seventeenth-century Holland was accompanied by an equally rich outpouring of critical dialogue on their benefits and dangers. Lifelike portraits could be praised in ekphrastic poems or disparaged in moralizing pamphlets for their capacity to fill the heart with "love's poison." Pictorial artifice could be both extolled for the pleasure it served upon the beholder and condemned as a "food of evil lust." As the poet Jacob Cats would succinctly state, "the... Full Review
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Jackie Weisz
Washington D.C.: American Association of Museums, 2000. 297 pp. Paper $33.50 (0931201691)
This publication, which is part of the American Association of Museum's (AAM) Technical Information Service Series, compiles the codes of ethics written and employed by sixty-one museums, cultural institutions, and professional organizations. A spiral bound 8 1/2 by 11 inch compendium, Codes of Ethics and Practice of Interest to Museums reproduces the actual codes used by all of the AAM Standing Professional Committees, such as the Curators Committee, the Registrars Committee, and the... Full Review
April 26, 2001
Bernard Smith
Yale University Press, 1998. 384 pp. Cloth $40.00 (0300073925)
The dust jacket of Bernard Smith's Modernism's History: A Study in Twentieth-Century Art and Ideas features a figural sculpture by Henry Moore entitled King and Queen (1952-53). Though one could imagine that Moore's couple looks into the future, the gaze betokened by the two figures is more likely retrospective, just as the artist's was in the 1950s and as Smith's study is at the end of the twentieth century. In his book, Smith looks back in order to survey and understand the... Full Review
April 26, 2001
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Elise Tipton and John Clark, eds.
Philadelphia: University Of Hawai'i Press, 1999. 224 pp.; Many b/w ills. Paper $24.00 (0824823605)
The historical identity of modernism is one marked by global outlooks, humanism in the arts, technological invention, rational economics, and democratic principles. This identity is also frequently depicted as a paradigm of thought minted in the West and exported around the world through the veins of communication, commerce, and colonialism. Being Modern in Japan: Culture and Society from the 1910s to the 1930s exposes how the concepts embodied in Western modernism were negotiated in... Full Review
April 26, 2001
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Mariët Westermann
Phaidon, 1999. 351 pp. Paper $22.95 (0714838578)
The last book of wide reputation written on Rembrandt in English and intended for a general audience was Christopher White's Rembrandt in 1984. Given the rate of change in the world of scholarship, the sixteen years that separate White's and Mariët Westermann's books counts as a generation. Thus, Westermann's book has been widely anticipated as a text that could fulfill many roles—an assigned textbook for students in art history courses, an accessible introduction to the artist for... Full Review
April 26, 2001
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John J. Ciofalo
Cambridge University Press, 2001. 240 pp.; 8 color ills.; 70 b/w ills. Cloth (0521771366)
Historically, self-portraiture has been a problematic genre for many artists because of the necessity both to reveal and to conceal. For this reason, it can tell us things about artists that we otherwise would not know. The genre also provides scholars with a broader context for speculation about artists' personal lives, their creative motivations, professional ambitions, and psychological fears. John J. Ciofalo's book on Goya's self-portraits gives admirable scope for scholarly speculation... Full Review
April 17, 2001
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Annmarie Adams and Peta Tancred
Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 2000. 190 pp. Cloth $50.00 (0802044174)
Much has been written about the place of women in male-dominated professions, but systematic research and documentation of the architectural and design professions have been few and far between, with most such publications covering the subject in the United States and Western Europe. Annmarie Adams and Petra Tancred's 'Designing Women': Gender and the Architectural Profession is thus a welcome addition that focuses on a Canadian context. In more than one way, it is a unique... Full Review
April 1, 2001
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Bruce Kellner, ed.
Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999. 186 pp. Paper $19.95 (1566397812)
Like their European counterparts, first-generation modernists in the United States depended on the word—in manifestoes, catalog essays, and "little magazines"—to advocate and advance their art. The Alfred Stieglitz circle, for instance, enlisted the journal Camera Work and the critical writing of Waldo Frank and Paul Rosenfeld to explicate their aesthetic goals to a public in need of instruction. This art movement was, moreover, engaged with literary modernism, as writers were... Full Review
March 29, 2001
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Holly Edwards, ed.
Princeton University Press in association with Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2000. 242 pp.; many color ills.; some b/w ills. Paper $65.00 (069105004X)
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, June 11-September 4, 2000; The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, MD, October 1-December 10, 2000; Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC, February 3-April 22, 2001.
Prepared for an exhibition that originated at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, this catalogue richly illustrates and analyzes the multivalent visual culture of American Orientalism from the post-Civil War Holy Land paintings of Frederic Church to the Hollywood movie celebrity Rudolph Valentino, who starred in The Sheik (1921). The catalogue comprises five interpretive essays by scholars from different disciplines as well as contextually detailed catalogue entries for a... Full Review
March 29, 2001
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