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

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Susan Fillin-Yeh, ed.
New York University Press, 2001. Cloth
See Susan Fillin-Yeh and Robert Moore’s response to this review The title of this anthology is misleading: The collection is not consistently about dandies, only tangentially about fashion, and the word “finesse” disappears after the title. The book offers both less and more than the title promises, skimping on the historical specificity of dandyism but expanding the reach of this term. At its worst, it simply spices common art-historical... Full Review
June 18, 2002
David Morgan and Sally M. Promey, eds.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. 441 pp.; 16 color ills.; 106 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (0520225228)
Given the strong religious tenor of the last two decades of culture wars and the expansion of the "new art history" into visual culture, it seemed to be only a matter of time before the scholarly field took on the artifacts of religion for the work of academic debate and interpretation. In the preface to their fine anthology, editors David Morgan and Sally M. Promey point to a relatively widespread lack of scholarly discussion of religious imagery by North American art historians and... Full Review
June 14, 2002
Mary Rogers, ed.
Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 241 pp.; 39 b/w ills. Cloth $84.95 (0754600211)
Although more than twenty years have passed since the publication of Stephen Greenblatt's Renaissance Self-Fashioning from More to Shakespeare (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), the ability of that groundbreaking study to stimulate new ways of considering monumental works of Renaissance culture has hardly diminished. Fashioning Identities in Renaissance Art is a collection of essays inspired by Greenblatt's work that attempts to extend his concept of literary... Full Review
June 11, 2002
Rosalind Krauss
London: Thames and Hudson, 1999. 64 pp.; 45 color ills. Paper $16.95 (0500282072)
Michael Newman and Jon Bird, eds.
London: Reaktion Books, 1999. 264 pp.; some b/w ills. Paper $24.95 (1861890524)
Anne Rorimer
London: Thames and Hudson, 2000. 320 pp.; 280 b/w ills. $50.00 (0500237824)
The current explosion of critical and art-historical writing on "Conceptual Art," like the discursive production of "postmodernism" of the 1980s and early 1990s that preceded it, posits that the art production of a particular group of artists, by means of critical attack and strategic engagement, extended the development of visual modernism into what has been termed a "critical postmodernism" of the late twentieth century. Therefore, we are at this moment witnesses to the slow process of... Full Review
June 11, 2002
Leo Steinberg
New York: Zone Books, 2000. 320 pp.; 4 color ills.; 201 b/w ills. Cloth $43.00 (1890951188)
This book advertises itself as a simple republication of the book-length essay, "Leonardo's Last Supper," that first appeared in the Art Quarterly in 1973 (Art Quarterly 36, no. 4, 1973: 297–410). Steinberg interlards the introduction with italicized passages; the first mentions Jonathan Crary's invitation, in 1997, to republish the essay as a book, and another begins: "At this point, I might as well reprint the rest" (13). But the book is far from a reprint: The majority of... Full Review
June 7, 2002
Peter Brooke
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001. 320 pp.; 34 color ills.; 127 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0300089643)
Introducing himself as an "ardent searcher after the purest form in art," a young Parisian artist, Robert Pouyaud, wrote in 1924 to the Cubist painter Albert Gleizes, asking him to correct the "error" of his art education. Gleizes responded by inviting Pouyaud to join in the collective exploration of his compositional exercises with his two Irish pupils, Evie Hone and Mainie Jellett. Thus commenced a master-disciple relationship that soon had other consequences. In 1927, Pouyaud was a... Full Review
June 5, 2002
Annabel Jane Wharton
University of Chicago Press, 2004. 272 pp.; 1 color ills.; 90 b/w ills. Paper $27.50 (0226894207)
"The great advantage of a hotel," states the waiter in George Bernard Shaw's You Never Can Tell, "is that it's a refuge from home life." In the 1950s, however, as an increasingly wealthy American middle class began to travel a world whose boundaries were largely defined by the Cold War, hotels could find considerable advantages in open links to the familiarity of home life. Consider, for example, the seventeen massive Hilton hotels built on foreign soil between 1949 and 1966. By piping... Full Review
May 31, 2002
Mark Clarke
London: Archetype Publications, 2000. 152 pp. Paper $37.50 (1873132727)
While broad art-historical interest in the conditions of artistic production and the use of specific materials can now be said to date back more than a generation, there exists a rich body of literature describing detailed artistic practices that is much older still. Indeed, hundreds of surviving medieval manuscripts contain instructions, sometimes hasty and at other times meticulously detailed, relating to the preparation of pigments, inks, and varnishes. And yet, as Mark Clarke notes in... Full Review
May 30, 2002
Erica Cruikshank Dodd
Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2000. 202 pp.; 22 color ills.; 103 b/w ills. Cloth $89.00 (0888441398)
Readers glancing at Erica Cruikshank Dodd's book on the frescoes in the Syrian Monastery of Moses the Ethiopian will not find ready evidence of the "new art history." Unfashionable terms like "influence" and "Oriental" abound, and nowhere does one come across references to "the gaze" or the construction of gender. More careful examination, however, will soon show that Dodd indeed participates in current debates about the visual culture of the Mediterranean in the period of the Crusades. She... Full Review
May 14, 2002
Carmen C. Bambach, Hugo Chapman, and Martin Clayton
London: British Museum Press, 1999. 192 pp.; 145 color ills.; 33 b/w ills. Cloth $49.28 (0714126284)
The British Museum, London, October 6, 2000-January 7, 2001; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, February 5-May 6, 2001.
For those unfortunate enough to have missed the handsomely mounted Correggio and Parmigianino drawings exhibition, a collaborative effort by the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, its equally handsome accompanying catalogue conveys its pleasures in that first virtual reality--a slim, illustrated book to be opened and examined at leisure. Although most, if not all, of the drawings on view in the exhibition and reproduced in its catalogue have been previously exhibited and... Full Review
May 14, 2002