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

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Philip Jacks, ed.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 320 pp.; 12 color ills.; 109 b/w ills. Cloth $70.00 (0521580889)
This collection consists of fourteen papers presented at an international conference held in conjunction with an exhibit of drawings by Vasari and related artists at the Yale University Art Gallery in 1994. A companion catalogue by Maia Gahtan and Philip Jacks, bearing the same title as this volume (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994) describes the role of disegno in Vasari's artistic production. Conference acts (often generated by exhibitions) have become a convenient way of... Full Review
July 7, 1999
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Carol Armstrong
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1998. 511 pp.; 143 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0262011697)
Photographically illustrated books produced in nineteenth-century Britain are the objects of study of this ambitious volume, one part historical reflection and one part theoretical manifesto. The volumes examined here include the first widely produced book of photographs, William Henry Fox Talbot's The Pencil of Nature, as well as early publishing ventures in which photographs appeared, including Carpenter and Nasmyth's The Moon and Oskar Rejlander's photographs in Charles... Full Review
July 6, 1999
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Rosiland Krauss
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999. 222 pp.; 97 b/w ills. Cloth $29.95 (0262112396)
It may be that Rosalind Krauss’s work has been subject to more disparate interpretations than any postwar art historian. In one reading, her work is methodologically scattered, moving from one theory to another without apparent connection; in another, it is curiously nonfeminist despite its repeated focus on women artists; in a third, it is restricted to major media (photography, sculpture, painting) and therefore out of touch with the current media expansion. The first makes her unreliable,... Full Review
June 25, 1999
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Natalia B. Teteriatnikov
Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, 1998. 73 pp. Paper $15.00 (0884022641)
Hagia Sophia, what the Byzantines called the Great Church, has had many lives: imperial monument built by Justinian in 532–37 immediately following and in response to serious urban rioting; cathedral of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, principal setting for religious and political ceremonies to the end of the empire; Jami or chief mosque of the capital of the Ottoman Empire, ceremonial setting adjacent to another imperial palace, now that of the Sultan; and today, a state museum and major... Full Review
June 25, 1999
Charles Sterling, Maryan W. Ainsworth, Charles Talbot, Martha Wolff, Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, Jonathan Brown, and John Hayes
New York and Princeton: Metropolitan Museum of Art and Princeton University Press, 2009. 256 pp.; 60 color ills.; 97 b/w ills. Cloth $125.00 (0691006989)
Lorne Campbell
London: National Gallery, London in association with Yale University Press, 1999. 464 pp.; 110 color ills.; 270 b/w ills. Cloth £75.00 (185709171X)
Two recent collection catalogues, both investigating early modern European paintings, provide an index of the state of the art for scholarship on individual museum objects. Both are splendidly produced and result from years of patient research. Both admirably adduce the latest technical investigation from the conservation laboratory and integrate it with other findings. In one case, London's National Gallery, the credited single curatorial author, Lorne Campbell, clearly builds on the... Full Review
June 25, 1999
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N. Katherine Hayles
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999. 350 pp.; 5 b/w ills. Paper $18.00 (0226321460)
How We Became Posthuman is at root a book about what it is to be human during our time of rapid and jarring technological change, a book about how selfhood and philosophies have been transformed in the wake of the societal and technological revolutions brought about by computers, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. Everywhere, such phenomena as the Internet, the digitization of money, and the mapping of the genome are seen as destabilizing physicality and setting the... Full Review
June 25, 1999
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James F. O’Gorman
Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1998. 291 pp. Cloth $45.00 (1558491481)
It is inconceivable that the Albert Memorial in London and the illustrations to the novels of Charles Dickens novels might have been the work of the same man. But while such a state of affairs was unimaginable in England, it was perfectly plausible in nineteenth-century America, as the peculiar career of Hammatt Billings demonstrates. For Billings not only provided the celebrated illustrations for Uncle Tom's Cabin, but also designed the National Monument to the Forefathers at... Full Review
June 25, 1999
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Dagmar Eichberger and Charles Zika, eds.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 255 pp.; 87 b/w ills. Cloth $64.95 (0521620376)
Those attempting to keep up with, let alone understand, the changing contexts of Dürer's art are faced with a Sisyphean challenge. Over the years, the artist has been extolled as, among other things, the most German of artists, a leader of the frühbürgerliche Revolution, a proto-Nazi, and a hippie. Hallowed by Protestants and Catholics alike—and with no less enthusiasm, I should add, by those espousing the cults of artistic genius and a disinterested Kantian aesthetic—he has... Full Review
June 24, 1999
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Michael Fried
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. 351 pp.; 16 color ills.; 72 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0226263185)
The emphasis of this selection of critical writings by Michael Fried is upon his work between 1963 and 1966, the reasons he gives for this both explaining and, to a certain extent, justifying the compilation of this collection. Sensitive to what he describes as his peers' tendency to conflate his views from these distinct periods in his intellectual life, Fried uses the lengthy introduction prefacing the selection to explain the development of his thought from the late 1950s to the present... Full Review
June 24, 1999
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Anthony Snodgrass
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 186 pp.; 63 b/w ills. Paper $19.95 (0521629810)
Anthony Snodgrass has written a little book on a large subject. Just 8 1/2 x 6 x 9/16 inches and 186 pages including index, Homer and the Artists: Text and Picture in Early Greek Art takes within its compass such vexed dilemmas as the introduction of writing to Greece, the dates of the Iliad and Odyssey, the relation of Homer’s poems to lost epics of the Trojan cycle, the great bard’s standing in the cultural contexts of the eighth through mid-sixth centuries b.c.,... Full Review
June 24, 1999