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

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Gene Brucker
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. Paper $29.95 (0520215222)
The scene that adorns the cover of this book, a detail from Giovanni Maria Butteri's late sixteenth-century painting The Return from the Palio, is recognizable to anyone who has experienced Florentines when they have stepped outside to be at home in their city. It resembles the hour of the passeggiata, the last marketing moment of the day, or the assemblage of diverse citizens for a festival. The scene is a street of which two sides are lined by palazzi that form a kind... Full Review
May 17, 1999
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Paula Rea Radisich
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 207 pp.; 69 b/w ills. Cloth $70.00 (0521593514)
One of the salient features of eighteenth-century art that has historically inhibited its incorporation into the canonical curriculum of art history is its resistance to stylistic categorization and the lack of a period designation such as Renaissance, Baroque, or Modern. And even within the field of eighteenth-century visual culture, some artists are more "canonical" than others because they can be made to fit into such existing stylistic categories as Rococo and Neoclassical. The immensely... Full Review
May 14, 1999
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Reindeer Company
The Reindeer Company, 1998. 600 ills. CD-ROM $40.00
The Art Historian CD-ROM set is designed to supplement art history courses. This review addresses questions about function and educational value rather than details of interpretation or information. How does the product enhance learning beyond slide lectures or standard textbooks? How does the CD-ROM take advantage of digital technologies to present art-historical material? Can faculty construct digital lectures from the CD? How easy is the software to use? Scope A... Full Review
May 13, 1999
Constance Classen
New York: Routledge, 1998. 234 pp.; 6 b/w ills. Paper $21.00 (0415180740)
In The Color of Angels, Constance Classen celebrates the richness of all that is unseen. More this-worldly than its title suggests, the book explores how the so-called "lower" senses (smell, touch, and taste) have shaped the religious and cultural imagination. Thus, Classen combines what one might call a "hidden history" of the other senses in European culture with a proposal for a broader sensory experience of the plastic arts. As with all hidden histories, there are culprits;... Full Review
May 12, 1999
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Ingrid Rowland
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 446 pp.; 56 b/w ills. Cloth $74.95 (0521581451)
Ingrid Rowland's new book is an ambitious attempt to provide a comprehensive picture of cultural developments in Rome in the years around 1500. Her principal focus is humanism—antiquarian scholarship and Latin rhetoric—but she is able to integrate this recondite material with a consideration of politics at the papal court, the world of finance, and the visual arts. All this is set, in turn, against the turbulent, colorful background of everyday life. Rowland combines impressively wide-ranging... Full Review
May 12, 1999
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John Sallis
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998. 208 pp.; 19 color ills.; 29 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (0253334241)
John Sallis is a philosopher whose extensive writing has focused on figures in the "continental" tradition, such as Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida. In an earlier book, Stone (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), he wrote of the artistic power of stone, with reference to several of these thinkers, using them as voices to explore such forms as Egyptian pyramids, Greek temples, Gothic cathedrals, and the Jewish cemetery in Prague. In Shades Sallis continues... Full Review
May 11, 1999
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Veerle Poupeye
New York: Thames and Hudson, 1998. 204 pp.; 76 color ills.; 101 b/w ills. Paper $14.95 (0500203067)
Those familiar with Thames & Hudson's World of Art series can predict the tone and format of this volume, which is a pioneering effort worthy of considerable attention and praise. It is certainly no easy task to codify and condense a region as complex and scattered as the Caribbean. The author, Veerle Poupeye (according to the Thames & Hudson publicity blurb) is a Jamaican-based art historian, critic, and curator, trained in Belgium. I wish I knew how much fieldwork and archival work the... Full Review
May 10, 1999
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Richard Lehan
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997. 307 pp. Paper $45.00 (0520212568)
Over the course of the modern era, literary representations of the city stretch far beyond the physical and social fabric of cities. Poetry and prose build on the architectural and commerical contours of urbanity, at times outfitting streets in tuxedos, at other times paring them into rotten furrows. Take the case of London, the city in the world possessed of perhaps the most extensive literary representations. William Wordsworth and T. S. Eliot both wrote powerful and disturbing descriptions... Full Review
May 10, 1999
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J. F. Heijbroek and Margaret F. MacDonald
Zwolle, Netherlands: University of Washington Press and Waanders, 1998. 144 pp.; 29 color ills.; 157 b/w ills. Cloth $40.00 (9040091838)
On September 3, 1889, James McNeill Whistler wrote a letter from Amsterdam to the Fine Arts Society in London describing, with an undercurrent of Whistlerian sarcasm, his most recent artistic activity: "I find myself doing far finer work than any I have hitherto produced—and the subjects appeal to me most sympathetically—which is all important. . . . I have begun etchings here—that already give me great satisfaction—I shall therefore go on, and I will produce new plates—of various sizes—The... Full Review
May 10, 1999
Richard Townsend, ed.
New York: Thames and Hudson in association with Art Institute of Chicago, 1998. 446 pp.; 258 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0500050929)
The lively ceramic traditions of ancient West Mexico are well-known: bold, painted warriors, women, and animals, including the famous Colima dogs; small painted house models and village scenes in which humans feast, play ball, and dance. Much of this work was created in the era between 200 B.C. and 300 A.D., the Late Formative phase of Mesoamerican cultural history. Although visually familiar, this work has never been well understood. It has seldom been studied on its own terms, but seen... Full Review
May 10, 1999
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