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

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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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Evan M. Maurer and Niangi Batulukisi
Minneapolis: Minneapolis Institute of Art in association with University of Minnesota Press, 1998. 154 pp.; 76 color ills.; 79 b/w ills. Paper $34.95 (0816636559)
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN, October 1, 1999-July 2, 2000.
Spirits Embodied: Art of the Congo; Selections from the Helmut F. Stern Collection was published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same title held in 1999 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. All the works came from the Congo. Helmut Stern purchased most of them from Marc Léo Félix, the Belgian connoisseur and African art dealer. The core of the collection, twenty-two out of seventy-one pieces, formerly belonged to the late Belgian artist Joseph Henrion; the rest came from... Full Review
May 20, 2001
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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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