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

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Kalman P. Bland
Princeton University Press, 2001. 233 pp. Paper $19.95 (069108985x)
See Stephen Fine's review of this book. As its title suggests, Kalman P. Bland's The Artless Jew: Medieval and Modern Affirmations and Denials of the Visual revisits the evidence on Jewish aniconism and uncovers the origins and meanings of this most prevalent of modern myths. The conventional wisdom Bland seeks to overturn is now a profoundly internalized truism formulated during the course of the last 200 years by a... Full Review
October 24, 2001
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Valerie Shrimplin
Truman State University Press, 2000. 375 pp.; 127 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0943549655)
This book systematically examines the ways in which the sun was understood metaphorically, symbolically, and scientifically in a range of texts and images available to Michelangelo during the period in which he designed and painted the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel (1534-41). Observing that Michelangelo's Last Judgment differs from previous renditions in that it offers a circular composition with figures rising and falling in a clockwise pattern around a figure of Christ... Full Review
October 19, 2001
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Larry Norman, ed.
Exh. cat. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001. 128 pp.; 8 color ills.; 60 b/w ills. $22.00 (0935573291)
David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, January 9-April 22, 2001.
In a manner appropriate to its subject, The Theatrical Baroque is slender in size but broad in scope. The catalogue, like the exhibition it accompanied at the University of Chicago's David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, explores a wide range of interactions between the visual and performing arts in Western Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The project's structure also sets forth an ambitious agenda, as it proposes that faculty and students working together across... Full Review
September 20, 2001
Jonathan M. Reynolds
Berkeley: University of California Press 337 pp.; 8 color ills.; 154 b/w ills. Cloth (0520214951)
The present work is a much awaited study of the architect Kunio Maekawa (1905-86), one of the three principal Japanese who worked with Le Corbusier (from April 1928 to April 1930). Maekawa has long been recognized both in Japan and the West as a key figure in the evolution of Japanese modernism. While Maekawa himself published accounts of his work (from the 1930s through the late 1960s), his writings are not numerous if judged by the standard of his peers nor by those of later contemporaries.... Full Review
September 19, 2001
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Meyer Schapiro
New York: George Braziller, 1996. 359 pp.; 139 color ills. Cloth $38.00 (9780807614204)
Meyer Schapiro’s contribution to our understanding of Impressionism has had an importance that goes well beyond his actual written contribution to its study. If we exclude his work on Cézanne, that contribution has consisted of scattered passages in articles and published lectures and, more focally, less than a dozen paragraphs written in the 1937 essay "The Nature of Abstract Art" (Marxist Quarterly 1 (1937); reprinted in Schapiro, Modern Art: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries:... Full Review
September 15, 2001
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Lawrence J. Vale
Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999. 460 pp. Cloth $45.00 (0674002865)
Those of us who live in Massachusetts are fortunate that Lawrence Vale settled here to apply his considerable intellectual and writing talents to the study of public housing in Boston, rather than, say, in Chicago, San Francisco, or St. Louis. The rest of you, don't despair: From the Puritans to the Projects: Public Housing and Public Neighbors is not just a parochial story about Boston, but an insightful historical analysis of the relationship between the cultural meanings of land and... Full Review
September 14, 2001
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Herbert L. Kessler
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000. 265 pp. Cloth (0812235606)
Many an undergraduate lecture hall still furnishes a home for the Icoelacanth of medieval studies—hat is, for the historian who shows slides of medieval images as mere illustrations of daily life, or as nothing more than a graphic adjunct to the words of medieval sources. In an episode of habitat encroachment that none need lament, this collection of Herbert Kessler's recent essays makes life more difficult for the living fossil. Again and again the author shows how early medieval... Full Review
September 14, 2001
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Jan Baetens, ed.
Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2001. 212 pp.; few b/w ills. Paper $20.81 (9058671097)
The graphic novel, a story presented as a fully illustrated narrative, is a high-art version of the comic strip. Like the true novel, the graphic novel treats serious subjects, but using images together with words combined with pictures. The proceedings of a conference on the graphic novel held at the University of Leuven, May 2000, The Graphic Novel contains studies of such well-known graphic novels as Art Spiegelman's Maus, Jacques Tardi's visual narratives, and some... Full Review
September 7, 2001
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Elizabeth J. Milleker, ed.
New Haven and New York: Yale University Press in association with Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. 232 pp.; 150 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780300085143)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 3, 2000-January 14, 2001.
The idea of viewing systematically world art from a single moment in time offers an extraordinary opportunity to consider the prospect of a world art history that parallels an emerging subdiscipline of history that has come to be called world history. It looks at systems in an interlocked world, for example trade in sugar or slaves. Recognizing that even in ancient times people moved over vast distances and carried with them ideas that influenced the production of art, the discipline of art... Full Review
September 5, 2001
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Elizabeth Valdez Del Alamo and Carol Stamatis Pendergast, eds.
Aldershot, UK and Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 2000. 317 pp.; 93 b/w ills. Cloth $59.95 (0754600769)
Memory and the Medieval Tomb gathers together eleven essays that explore the commemorative function of the tomb, from the early Christian catacombs to the fifteenth century, in England, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and France. It is a valuable collection that offers a wide range of themes and approaches. Some papers are about the way in which the design and location of tombs were carefully contrived to keep alive the memory of the deceased, so that his or her soul might enjoy the benefits of... Full Review
September 5, 2001
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