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

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Antonio Natali, ed.
Milan: Silvana Editoriale, 1999. 128 pp.; 70 color ills.; 25 b/w ills. Cloth (8882151735)
When a bomb exploded outside the Galleria degli Uffizi in 1993, damaging the west wing, several painting galleries and their contents were affected, requiring restoration. The room that had been hung with paintings by Federico Barocci and contemporary Venetians was among those closed for repairs. During its closure, a plan was implemented to reorganize the gallery around the theme of the Catholic Reformation. Barocci’s Madonna del Popolo now serves as the focus, and is accompanied by... Full Review
July 5, 2001
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John Lowden
University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000. 360 pp.; 27 color ills.; 117 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (0271019093)
John Lowden's ambitious new study of the most opulent and complex manuscripts produced during the High Middle Ages is a brilliant, ground-breaking work. For the reader who has been engaged in any way with moralized Bibles, a careful reading of this detailed and densely argued text will be rewarded with an array of major revisions touching almost every aspect of the existing scholarship. Centered on issues of the production and consumption of the Bibles Moralisées, Lowden's two... Full Review
July 5, 2001
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Gregory C. Randall
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000. 264 pp.; 63 b/w ills. Cloth $42.50 (0801862078)
Among the chief protagonists of William H. Whyte's 1956 Organization Man is the village of Park Forest. Planned in 1946 and built in stages over the next decade, Whyte framed the new "package suburb" thirty miles south of Chicago as the natural habitat for a new "social ethic" that was transforming the country. Increasing numbers of young, white, mobile, and seemingly middle-class families were creating new patterns of interpersonal adjustment, domestic privacy, civic participation,... Full Review
June 27, 2001
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Richard Shiff, Robert Storr, and Arthur C. Danto, eds.
Phaidon, 2000. 332 pp.; 200 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Cloth $69.95 (0714838195)
With Robert Mangold, I enjoyed thinking about what autonomous art might entail. Beyond the routine social constructionist dismissals of this possibility, it obligates considerations more complex than an "Against Interpretation" kind of appeal to raw experience. With their internal sequences rooted in physical reality and construction details, Mangold’s paintings provide objective criteria by which to evaluate them. These criteria count for more than any individual interpretation of... Full Review
June 22, 2001
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Susan Sidlauskas
Cambridge University Press, 2000. 230 pp.; 8 color ills.; 56 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0521770246)
In the introduction to Body, Place, and Self in Nineteenth-Century Painting, Susan Sidlauskas asks the following question about the four paintings she examines in her book: "What material and theoretical conditions—of making and spectatorship—made these works possible?" (2). This is an important query, and not just because it acknowledges both the artist’s and the beholder’s share in the production of meaning. What Sidlauskas suggests is that the work of art history ought to... Full Review
June 22, 2001
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Malcolm Goldstein
Oxford University Press, 2000. 370 pp. Cloth (019513673X)
The art market has become headline news: Masterpiece paintings regularly achieve prices in the tens of millions of dollars, prominent museum curators appear on television broadcasts, and glossy magazines feature New York art dealers on their covers. Various publications and exhibitions have examined certain periods in the development of the fine art market and commercial galleries in the United States, including, most notably, Linda Henefield Skalet's "The Market for American Painting in New... Full Review
June 8, 2001
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Patricia Meilman
Cambridge University Press, 2000. 260 pp.; some color ills.; many b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0521640954)
The subject of Titian and the Altarpiece in Renaissance Venice, notwithstanding its expansive title, is Titian's celebrated Peter Martyr Altarpiece (1537-30). In spite of the painting's fiery demise in 1867, Patricia Meilman successfully reconstructs the altarpiece and its environment in the reader's mind, a project facilitated by her clarity of purpose to re-secure the work's artistic importance. The author furnishes a close study of the religious context, sources, and... Full Review
June 6, 2001
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John Crook
Oxford University Press, 1999. 308 pp.; 111 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (0198207948)
John Crook's study, The Architectural Setting of the Cult of the Saints in the Early Christian West c. 300-1200, represents a remarkable synthesis of more than a decade of research spent in pursuit of a laudably ambitious goal: to provide an overview of the architectural setting of the cult of the saints in the West between the beginnings of the cult and 1200. Given the many factors that complicate the project, the results are much to be admired. Work on a similar, but much narrower,... Full Review
May 28, 2001
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Vidya Dehejia, ed.
Munich: Prestel, 2000. 2 pp.; 215 ills. Cloth $80.00 (379132408X)
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, December 3, 2000-March 25, 2001.
As any bibliophile knows, art books can be both purveyors of information about objects and objects of beauty themselves. This is certainly the case with the exquisite catalogue created for the recent exhibition on early photographs of India held at the Smithsonian Institution's Freer and Sackler Galleries, Washington, DC. India through the Lens: Photography 1840-1911, edited by Vidya Dehejia, has a carefully coordinated aesthetic appeal—from the fold-out pages revealing the protracted... Full Review
May 25, 2001
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Christine M. Boeckl
Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2000. 210 pp.; 45 b/w ills. Paper $30.00 (094354985X)
Christine Boeckl's Images of Plague and Pestilence: Iconography and Iconology is a concise overview of the visual and literary history of cultural responses to pestilential epidemics. In this study, Boeckl draws on her extensive knowledge of the scholarly literature on plague—pioneered by Jacqueline Brossollet and Henri Mollaret—and to which she has contributed several significant articles since completing her dissertation in 1990. Thus, the book draws on Boeckl's familiarity with the... Full Review
May 22, 2001
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