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

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John Williams, ed.
University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999. 228 pp. Cloth $75.00 (0271017686)
For much of the twentieth century, the study of medieval Bible illustration was focused on the problem of origins. In the most systematic theory of the genre, Kurt Weitzmann argued in Roll and Codex (Princeton, 1947) that the earliest biblical manuscripts followed the conventions of ancient papyrus rolls in which narrative images were embedded within narrow columns of text, providing a dense sequence of pictorial equivalents to the principal episodes of the text. Establishing a... Full Review
May 18, 2001
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Mary Bergstein
Princeton University Press, 2000. 230 pp.; 164 b/w ills. Cloth $90.00 (0691009821)
Mary Bergstein's The Sculpture of Nanni di Banco follows in the tradition of the great monographs like Sculpture of Donatello by H.W. Janson and Lorenzo Ghiberti by Richard Krautheimer, but on a more modest scale. Although Nanni di Banco (ca. 1374-1421) accomplished only six major works in his career, he, with Brunelleschi, Ghiberti and Donatello, "self-consciously and deliberately set into motion the issues that would occupy painters, sculptors, and architects through... Full Review
May 15, 2001
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Lucy Freeman Sandler
Harvey Miller Publishers, 1999. 120 pp.; 25 color ills.; 55 b/w ills. Paper $35.00 (187250132X)
The Psalter of Robert de Lisle (London, British Library Arundel MS 83 II) has been mentioned in every major publication on the masterpieces of English manuscript illumination. Lucy Freeman Sandler's The Psalter of Robert de Lisle in the British Library, first published in 1983, is the first focused study of the Psalter, and condenses material from her 1964 doctoral dissertation. Scholarly reviews in the mid-1980s, such as those by Walter Cahn in the Art Bulletin (September 1987,... Full Review
May 11, 2001
Susan Weber Soros
Exh. cat. Yale University Press, 1999. 430 pp. (0300080093)
Susan Weber Soros
Yale University Press, 2000. 300 pp.; 240 color ills.; 120 b/w ills. Cloth $90.00 (0300081596)
E. W. Godwin (1833-86) was a Victorian architect-designer who balanced historical precedent with innovation, "high" with "low" art, and exotic with vernacular to become the master of "judicious eclecticism." Two recent books on his practice, E. W. Godwin: Aesthetic Movement Architect and Designer and The Secular Furniture of E. W. Godwin, should be read as a pair. Undoubtedly, Susan Soros—editor of the first and author of the second—agrees, as she often refers the reader of one... Full Review
May 7, 2001
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John W. O’Malley
Harvard University Press, 2000. 230 pp. Cloth (0674000870)
In this fascinating book, John W. O'Malley, the eminent church historian, analyzes scholarship on Roman Catholicism from about 1517 until the French Revolution in order to problematize the "names," or terms, we use for religious developments of that time. As he notes, although the term "Reformation" is generally accepted for Protestantism of the era, consensus is lacking on what to term coeval Catholicism (1). O'Malley examines the biases revealed by the competing names for Catholicism—such... Full Review
May 4, 2001
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Mildred Budny
Medieval Institute Publications in association with Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, the Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, 1998. 868 pp.; 747 color ills.; 16 b/w ills. Cloth $300.00 (1879288877)
Art history is a revelatory discipline. Seeking to recover meaning from the past, we uncover pictures only to cover them once again with a veil of our own words. This instinct of turning pictures into puzzles, James Elkins argues, has led to an explosion, since at least the late-nineteenth century, in essays and articles about images (Why Are Our Pictures Puzzles? On the Modern Origins of Pictorial Complexity, London and New York: Routledge, 1999). Whereas ancient or even early modern... Full Review
May 2, 2001
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Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 2000. 176 pp.; some color ills.; some b/w ills. Cloth $72.00 (2711841529)
Musée Goupil, Bordeaux, France, October 12, 2001-January 14, 2001; Dahesh Museum of Art, New York, February 6-May 5, 2001; Frick Art & Historical Center, Pittsburgh, PA, June 7-August 12, 2001.
For most of the twentieth century, prints—especially reproductive prints—have been relegated to secondary status in the art world, if they have been mentioned at all. Painting and sculpture received the most attention; prints definitely were the "Other" and beyond the pale of the discourse. In the nineteenth century, however, prints carried more weight. Their role in disseminating art and culture was recognized and valued; a good print was considered worthier than a bad painting. Moreover,... Full Review
May 1, 2001
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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