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

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Rochelle Ziskin
Cambridge University Press, 1999. 2240 pp.; 116 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0521592593)
Three hundred years ago, in August 1699, royal and municipal officials in Paris dedicated François Girardon's gilded bronze equestrian statue of Louis XIV in the city's newest place royale, the Place de Nos Conquêtes, later called Place Louis-le-Grand, now Place Vendôme. The grandeur of the colossal statue and its architectural setting proclaimed the square a monument to the king's gloire, a theme that was to have been amplified by the royal library, learned academies, mint, and... Full Review
January 12, 2000
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Gill Perry and Colin Cunningham, eds.
Yale University Press, 1999. 272 pp.; 48 color ills.; 160 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0300077416)
In the preface, Gill Perry poses the questions, "Who decides which artists and works of art will be more highly valued than others? What political, economic and historical factors might govern those decisions?" (15) and "What are some of the "aesthetic, cultural and political beliefs which underpin canonical values?" (258) These questions are not asked with the intention of finding final answers. This book neither attempts to rewrite the history of Western art under the consideration of its... Full Review
January 7, 2000
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Rick Altman
Bloomington: Indiana University Press in association with British Film Institute, 1999. 272 pp. Paper $22.50 (0851707173)
Artists have concerned themselves with conventionalized pictorial genres since the early sixteenth century, when our conventional categories of landscape, still life, daily scenes ("genre" in the narrower sense), and even portraits developed their separate identities. In a training environment increasingly occupied by academies, genres were placed lower on the scale of value, within a hierarchy dominated by "history painting," serious narratives from the Bible or myth. The task of... Full Review
January 6, 2000
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Barbara J. MacAdam
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 1998. 83 pp.; 19 color ills.; 22 b/w ills. Paper $19.95 (0944722229)
Hilliard Goldfarb, Erica E. Hirshler, and T. J. Jackson Lears
Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in association with University Press of New England, 1999. 114 pp.; 14 color ills.; 48 b/w ills. Paper (0914660128)
Sargent: The Late Landscapes, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA, May 21-September 26, 1999; Willard Metcalf in Cornish, New Hampshire 1909-1920, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, January 1999-March 1999.
Each of these slender, beautifully produced catalogues accompanied exhibitions focusing on landscapes painted by one American artist during the first decades of the twentieth century. Prompted by the desire to highlight the paintings in their collections, both museums chose to showcase a small number of related works. Each catalogue contains contextual essays and full-page color reproductions of every painting in the exhibition. No doubt owing to the contingencies of resources and audiences,... Full Review
January 6, 2000
Jacqueline Musacchio
Yale University Press, 1999. 228 pp.; 40 color ills.; 150 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0300076290)
Jacqueline Marie Musacchio's book on Renaissance childbirth and its imagery joins a growing bibliography on the domestic setting and function of art in Renaissance Italy. Peter Thornton's survey of Renaissance interiors, Dora Thornton's monograph on scholars' studies, Cristelle Baskin's analysis of heroine imagery on painted chests, Anne Barriault's discussion of style in Tuscan painted wall panels, and other efforts have enriched our knowledge of the domestic environment, and of the place... Full Review
January 5, 2000
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Sharon E.J. Gerstel
University of Washington Press in association with College Art Association, 1999. 214 pp.; 5 color ills.; 90 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0295978007)
This brief but handsome study offers the reader a detailed account of the close correlation of art and liturgy in medieval Byzantium. In pursuing this end, the book privileges evidence from the sanctuary programs of twenty-seven churches in Byzantine Macedonia, whose decorations date from the early eleventh century to the early fourteenth century (the final section of the book, 80-111, offers a useful catalogue of these programs). In addition to this core material evidence, a number of other... Full Review
January 5, 2000
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Brandon Fortune and Deborah Warner
University of Pennsylvania Press in association with National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., 1999. 178 pp.; 54 color ills.; 90 b/w ills. Paper $34.95 (0812217012)
National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., April 16–September 6, 1999.
Franklin & His Friends: Portraying the Man of Science in Eighteenth-Century America is an ambitious exhibition and catalogue that examines the role of portraiture in the world of natural and physical science in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The selection of Franklin as a focal point for the study was a meaningful way to focus a considerable body of artistic and archival material. In one way or another Franklin's life intersected with that of each of the other figures... Full Review
January 5, 2000
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John Wood, ed.
Routledge, 1998. 226 pp.; 21 b/w ills. Paper $24.99 (041516026X)
John Wood's edited book is an engaging volume that links theoretical and artistic explorations of information technology. Although the two are currently not as complementary as I would desire, the book suggests the great potential for such collaborations. The five sections of the book contain high-caliber work covering a sweeping range of topics, including virtual reality, knowledge production, ethics, and performance art. The first two sections of the book are theoretical. The other three... Full Review
January 3, 2000
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Andrew L. Cohen
New Delhi: Ajay Kumar Jain for Manohar Publishers and Distributors, 1998. 151 pp.; 0 color ills.; 76 b/w ills. Cloth $72.00 (8173042225)
Historians of South Asian art and culture often use models of dynastic patronage and stylistic influence as tools to evaluate the wealth of artistic material that populates India's countryside and museums. In his new book, Andrew L. Cohen critically wrestles with these models, revealing their weaknesses in addressing material that defies their pre-conceived frameworks. Cohen's examination of the southern Nolamba kingdom published in Temple Architecture and Sculpture of the Nolambas:... Full Review
January 1, 2000
Julie F. Codell and Dianna Sachko Macleod, eds.
Ashgate, 1999. 249 pp.; 0 color ills.; 40 b/w ills. Cloth $86.95 (185928454X)
Orientalism Transposed takes on two formidable tasks: to connect the methodologies of art history with the insights of postcolonial scholarship on Orientalism, and at the same time to shift the perspective from which Orientalism has traditionally been formulated. I say formidable, because incorporating both of these elements in a volume accessible and useful for both art historians and postcolonial culture scholars is a difficult balancing act. It requires that one combine theoretical... Full Review
January 1, 2000