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

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Gordon Baldwin and Judith Keller
Getty Trust Publications, 1999. (089236565X)
Candace Breitz
Thalwil and Pittsburgh: Edition Stemmle in association with Andy Warhol Museum, 1999. 400 pp.; 12 color ills.; 300 b/w ills. (3908163102)
It is not hard to see the significance of photography—as idea, as technology, as way of seeing—to Andy Warhol's art. His most famous paintings are appropriated photographs (think of the Marilyns, Jackies, race riots, electric chairs, or the commissioned portraits) and they visually signify as such. Moreover, Warhol's method for making use of photography—silkscreen—mimics the process of technological reproduction that characterizes photography. (Warhol: "With silkscreening, you pick a... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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Norman L. Kleeblatt and Kenneth E. Silver, eds.
Exh. cat. Prestel in association with The Jewish Museum, 1998. 207 pp.; 32 color ills.; many b/w ills. $65.00 (3791319329)
The Jewish Museum, New York, NY; Apr. 26-Aug. 16, 1998.
It is rare that an exhibition pushes curatorial conventions, particularly in a monographic show which is so dependent on the stylistic development of an artist. The exhibition An Expressionist in Paris: The Paintings of Chaim Soutine held at the Jewish Museum (1998), however, bypassed standard organizational principles of chronology or thematic genres and concentrated, instead, on the history of Soutine's critical reception. The unorthodox groupings allowed us to look at... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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Cary Y. Liu and Dora C.Y. Ching, eds.
Princeton University Art Museum, 1999. many b/w ills. Paper (0943012309)
Chinese art scholarship is undergoing invigorating change, in tandem with the larger field of art history but with special characteristics of its own. The book under review illuminates the political and cultural significance of painting during the first two dynasties of China's early modern period: the Sung (960-1279) and the Yuan (1279-1368). The original occasion for this volume's seven papers was a symposium held in conjunction with the 1996 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art... Full Review
August 23, 2000
Teresa Carbone and Patricia Hills
Rizzoli, 1999. 272 pp.; 110 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0847822141)
Brooklyn Museum of Art, October 29, 1999-February 6, 2000; San Diego Museum of Art, February 26-May 21, 2000; Seattle Museum of Art.
In 1940 John I. H. Baur organized an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum devoted to the work of Eastman Johnson (1824-1906). For the next three decades, the publication accompanying that show was the standard source on the painter's life and achievement--for the few who chose to disturb Johnson's posthumous obscurity. In 1972, in tandem with her dissertation research, Patricia Hills assembled a retrospective of the artist's work for the Whitney Museum of American Art; her text became the... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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Bettina Bergmann and Christine Kondoleon
Yale University Press, 2000. 384 pp.; 15 color ills.; 224 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0300077335)
For some years now, a lingering sense of inadequacy has plagued U.S. historians of ancient art and text, a sense of having somehow got behind in the great "race for theory" (Barbara Christian's phrase). Everyone elsewhere and in other fields always seemed to have read more broadly and to have thought more originally about theoretical frameworks for scholarship. But The Art of Ancient Spectacle, an elegantly produced and intellectually sophisticated collection of... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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Bernadette Fort
Paris: Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, 1998. 380 pp. Paper $170.00 (2840560666)
Bernadette Fort has performed an important service by editing this new edition of the reviews of the biennial Salons or officially sponsored art exhibitions originally published in that remarkable 18th-century French periodical, the Memoires secrets. The eleven Salon reviews included in the volume, spanning the last two decades of the old regime, are one of the most important sources we have to document contemporary reactions to the painting and sculpture of this period, that saw the... Full Review
August 23, 2000
Pamela M. Lee
MIT Press, 1999. 240 pp.; 99 b/w ills. Paper (0262122200)
Pamela M. Lee presents a compelling theory of Gordon Matta-Clark's art in her monographic study. Her book is well-written and intelligent, and offers a thought-provoking discussion that positions his art in the historical, political, social, and aesthetic context of his period. In her introduction, Lee lays out her principle argument, that Matta-Clark's practice of disassembly and cutting of derelict buildings slated for demolition represents a process of "unbuilding" that leaves nothing but... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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Stephen Little
Berkeley: University of California Press in association with Art Institute of Chicago, 1999. 112 pp.; 82 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (0520220455)
Recent studies of China's remarkable tradition of scholar's rocks have begun to reveal that these, together with the better-known outdoor garden rocks, form a unique Chinese sculptural tradition as aesthetically sophisticated and as deep in meaning as other world traditions in sculpture. As John Hay observed (Hay, "The Body Invisible in Chinese Art?" in Angela Zito and Tani E. Barlow, eds., Body, Subject and Power in China, Chicago, 1994), "The classical image of the Western tradition... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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Dan Graham
Ed. Alexander Alberro. MIT Press, 1998. 198 pp.; 48 b/w ills. Paper $25.00 (0262571307)
Following Video/Architecture/Television: Writings on Video and Video Works 1970-1978, edited by Benjamin H. Buchloh (Halifax: The Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design; New York: New York University Press, 1979), now out of print, and MIT's own Rock My Religion: Writings and Art Projects 1965-1990, edited by Brian Wallis, with its upbeat design and wide range of supporting illustrations, this is the third major compilation of writings by New York artist Dan Graham.... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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Sally M. Promey
Princeton University Press, 1999. 376 pp.; 13 color ills.; 146 b/w ills. Cloth $52.50 (0691015651)
A host of contemporary scholarly contributions to the literature on John Singer Sargent has enlarged and refined considerably our knowledge and understanding of the painter's work and life. Molly Crawford Volk, Trevor Fairbrother, Jane Dini, Miriam Stewart, Kerry Schauber, Erika Hirschler, and Sally M. Promey have of late facilitated a symbiotic discourse, through publications and exhibitions, that makes for a thick stew of accounts staking claims that often read as an ongoing dialogue... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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