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

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The study of ukiyo-e, pictures of Edo Japan's "floating world" of pleasure and popular entertainment, has a long and very robust history in Europe and the United States owing to the enthusiastic formation of great print collections that began in the late nineteenth century. The continued passionate involvement of collectors has made ukiyo-e studies a stronghold of print connoisseurship and narrow factual research. Within the academic community, developing a tradition of broader contextual... Full Review
February 4, 2000
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Melissa Dabakis
Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 312 pp.; 312 b/w ills. Cloth $80.00 (0521461472)
This solidly researched book examines a diverse array of outdoor monuments, small sculptures, and other images that represent themes of U.S. labor between the 1880s and the mid-1930s. Author Melissa Dabakis concludes that the objects in this broadly defined group, ranging from Albert Weinert's sixteen-foot Haymarket Monument near Chicago to Saul Baizerman's five-inch Cement Man, constitute a significant U.S. visual art tradition on the subject of work that predates New Deal-era... Full Review
February 2, 2000
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Richard E. Spear
Yale University Press, 1998. $60.00 (0300070357)
Richard Spear's much-anticipated book on Guido Reni promises a new approach that would seriously treat this important artist's achievement conceptually and historically--in contrast to previous studies, which Spear contends are too narrowly focused on chronology and style. In this effort, Spear calls on insights from post-Foucauldian social history, feminism, and psychology in order to explain the artist's personality and its relation to societal norms. While Spear bravely admits that his own... Full Review
February 1, 2000
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Maurie D. McInnis
Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1999. 350 pp.; 90 color ills.; 85 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (1570033145)
Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, April 9-July 3, 1999.
In a painting by John Singleton Copley, rendered in Rome in 1775, Ralph and Alice Izard of Charleston, South Carolina, sit in the imaginary setting of a veranda that offers a perfect view of the Colosseum. Numerous objects frame this vista even as they compete with it for attention; such standard fare of Grand Manner portraits as a column and drapery augment particular items like a Greek krater, a contemporary Roman table, and a cast of an ancient Roman figure group. This double portrait... Full Review
January 26, 2000
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Catherine Soussloff, ed.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. 239 pp.; 36 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0520213033)
The goal of this volume, as Catherine Soussloff indicates in her introduction, is to introduce the subject of Jewish identity to art history and to explore its complexites. Compared to The Jew in the Text (London: Thames and Hudson, 1995), edited by Linda Nochlin and Tamar Garb, which examines Jewish identity through depictions of Jews in art and literature, this anthology has a greater scope, although fewer essays. The contributions cover issues ranging from the concept of Jewish art,... Full Review
January 26, 2000
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Marcia Hall
New York and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 349 pp.; 16 color ills.; 188 b/w ills. Paper $18.95 (0521482453)
This important survey of sixteenth-century Italian painting following Raphael's death in 1520 treats one of the most popular and stimulating periods for recent art historical enquiry. Authoritative and provocative, the author shows a close awareness of previous art historical scholarship and incorporates the latest research into a text covering art from the Sistine Chapel ceiling to the Farnese Gallery. This type of survey of Italian painting, while remaining consistently popular in Italy, is... Full Review
January 24, 2000
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Sándor Radnóti
Trans. Ervin Dunaie. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1999. 255 pp. Paper $18.95 (084769206X)
In this fine work, Hungarian art-philosopher Sándor Radnóti uses the concept of forgery to explore important issues in art theory. It is an insightful strategy. Like the image of the Japanese novelty game in the recollection scene of Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, the topic of forgery unfolds to reveal an entire landscape of aesthetics. In the game, tightly wrapped paper placed in a water-filled bowl opens up to display a flower or a town; so, too, the topic of forgery... Full Review
January 20, 2000
R. Ward Bissell
University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999. 688 pp.; 27 color ills.; 257 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (0271017872)
Without question, among scholars of Italian Baroque art, no one was better positioned to write the "definitive" monograph on Artemisia Gentileschi than R. Ward Bissell, the author of the fundamental archival study of the artist, "Artemisia Gentileschi: A New Documented Chronology," Art Bulletin 50, 1968,153-68, and of the only monographic study of her painter-father, Orazio Gentileschi and the Poetic Tradition in Caravaggesque Painting (University Park and London: The... Full Review
January 19, 2000
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Aby Warburg
Trans. David Britt. Getty Trust Publications, 1999. 859 pp.; 232 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0892365374)
To tell the story of Aby Warburg is a daunting task, even if one just tries to restrict oneself to the essays, lecture notes, aperçus, and secondhand testimonials collected in the weighty Aby Warburg: The Renewal of Pagan Antiquity. Yet even this unwieldy tome does not represent the full and wondrous scope of Warburg's thought, since it is a 1999 translation of the original 1932 edition, with the essays thematically grouped and edited by Gertrud Bing. Indeed, Bing had planned to edit... Full Review
January 18, 2000
Neil Harris
Yale University Press, 1998. 208 pp.; 180 b/w ills. Cloth $40.00 (0300070454)
Neil Harris's Building Lives is an informative and informed introduction to the rites and rituals surrounding the design, construction, and life cycle of buildings. Harris's book amplifies earlier research for a series of lectures commissioned by the Buell Center for the History of American Architecture at Columbia University. In published form, those lectures have been recast as three chapters focused sequentially on the birth, life, and death of buildings. The purpose of those... Full Review
January 13, 2000
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