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

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Michelangelo Buonarroti
Trans. John Frederick Nims. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. 185 pp.; 2 b/w ills. Cloth $25.00 (0226080331)
Call this a time when translations of Michelangelo's notoriously difficult poetry have entered into their own in English, and be grateful for the heroic labors of so many first-rate translators. John Frederick Nims's fine new rendition of Michelangelo's complete poems is the fifth major one to appear since 1960. In that year Joseph Tusiani offered the first rendition of the entire corpus in appropriately elevated, energetic, often enigmatic verse. Three years later Creighton Gilbert... Full Review
May 17, 1999
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Bennard Perlman
Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998. 469 pp. Cloth $35.50 (079143835X)
In 1983, Bennard B. Perlman met, by chance, one of the grandchildren of Arthur B. Davies. As a result of this meeting, Perlman was given access to the Davies family archives, a rich collection of records and remembrances about an artist who, in his lifetime, tried his best to conceal the details of his complicated and somewhat sordid existence. It is not every artist who marries a woman who murdered her first husband, and then goes on to live a double life—one with his wife and two sons and... Full Review
May 17, 1999
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Caroline A. Jones
Ed. Peter Galison. New York: Routledge, 1997. 528 pp.; 79 b/w ills. Paper $35.00 (0415919126)
Although drawn from such disparate fields as art history, anthropology, philosophy, and the history of science and technology, the nineteen essays of this collection revolve around a central theme: how art and science have distinguished themselves—in practice and product—from one another, or how each has been shaped through its perceived relation to the other. Construed in one fashion, the question of how art and science are related has been of rather longstanding concern. In recent... Full Review
May 17, 1999
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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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