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

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Mitra Abbaspour, Lee Ann Daffner, and Maria Morris Hambourg, eds.
New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2014.
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Modern Art, New York, December 13, 2014–April 19, 2015
The interactive website “Object:Photo, The Thomas Walther Collection” (visited March 2016) presents an archive of 241 photographs acquired by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 2001. The site is part of a multiplatform rollout, including a catalogue (Object:Photo. Modern Photographs: The Thomas Walther Collection, 1909–1949, New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2014) and an exhibition (Modern Photographs from the Thomas... Full Review
March 17, 2016
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Maurice O. Wallace and Shawn Michelle Smith, eds.
Durham: Duke University Press, 2012. 408 pp.; 71 b/w ills. Paper $27.95 (9780822350859)
Increasing attention to the systemic violence endured by African Americans is raising fundamental questions about what it is like to inhabit that identity. What does it mean to be African American? How does the experience of the African American subject shape the identity of the nation itself? History, of course, informs both these questions and any attempt at answering them. Given that race is partly a visual construct, how African Americans see and are seen is an essential part of this... Full Review
March 17, 2016
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Lorenzo Pericolo and David M. Stone, eds.
Visual Culture in Early Modernity. Burlington: Ashgate, 2014. 392 pp.; 15 color ills.; 109 b/w ills. Cloth $129.95 (9781409406846)
“By at least one amusing new metric, Michelangelo’s unofficial five hundred-year run at the top of the Italian art charts has ended. Caravaggio . . . has bumped him from his perch.” Thus wrote Michael Kimmelman in the New York Times in 2010, referring to Philip Sohm’s analysis of “Caravaggiomania” (Michael Kimmelman, “Caravaggio in Ascendance: An Italian Antihero’s Time to Shine,” New York Times [March 10, 2010]). Five years later, Caravaggio remains among the best-known early... Full Review
March 10, 2016
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Nicholas A. Eckstein
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. 284 pp.; 50 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300187663)
Nicholas Eckstein’s Painted Glories: The Brancacci Chapel in Renaissance Florence extricates this intensely studied monument from preoccupations characteristic of traditional art history: patronage, connoisseurship, style, conservation history, technique, and materials. This is notable because all these topics have prompted an extensive scholarship. Giorgio Vasari oriented the chapel to the future and drew a line from the Brancacci frescoes to those by Michelangelo at the Sistine... Full Review
March 3, 2016
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Eugenia Paulicelli
Visual Culture in Early Modernity. Burlington: Ashgate, 2014. 278 pp.; 8 color ills.; 48 b/w ills. Cloth $149.95 (9781472436047)
The historical study of clothing has surged during the past two decades as scholarly disciplines including art history began to shift toward the cultural contextualization of objects and, consequently, accept the category of material culture as worthy of attention on its own merits. Simultaneously, the near obsession with fashion and celebrity designers has soared. Museum curators have frequently contributed to these developments by staging exhibitions—the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s highly... Full Review
March 3, 2016
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Victoria L. Rovine
African Expressive Cultures. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014. 328 pp.; 100+ color ills. Paperback $40.00 (9780253014139)
Fashion, by nature of its universal presence, countless manifestations, ephemerality of material, and inclination toward rapid and constant change, presents a daunting subject of academic research. The study of fashion requires mobility between the fields of history, visual and material culture, and anthropology in their various methodologies and theories. African fashion demands this mobility and more. Coming from the discipline of art history with a specialization in West African textiles,... Full Review
February 25, 2016
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David Young Kim
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. 304 pp.; 63 color ills.; 104 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300198676)
In The Traveling Artist in the Italian Renaissance: Geography, Mobility, and Style, David Young Kim examines how the mobility of artists was understood in early modern Italy. Seeing the era as being one “on the move” and “in motion,” he presents a rich account of this mobility, particularly its meaning in relation to geography and style. Ultimately, his book’s true concern is early modern subjectivity and how mobility could be understood as an “artful, puzzling, and controversial”... Full Review
February 25, 2016
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Katherine Capshaw
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014. 384 pp.; 71 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (9780816694044)
In Civil Rights Childhood: Picturing Liberation in African American Photobooks, Katharine Capshaw writes about the ways in which images enlisted African American children in the Civil Rights Movement. Her subject is photographic books—fiction and nonfiction—by black authors from the 1940s to the 1970s. The books consider, at first implicitly and later explicitly, the possibility of political agency in children (xi). In Tender Violence: Domestic Visions in an Age of U.S.... Full Review
February 25, 2016
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Aleksandra Lipińska
Studies in Netherlandish Art and Cultural History. Leiden: Brill, 2014. 407 pp.; 205 ills. Cloth $142.00 (9789004270930)
Aleksandra Lipińska has written an important book on Netherlandish sculpture that addresses many issues that are already of interest to historians of Netherlandish art and culture. Her topic is alabaster carving, a seemingly modest intervention until we realize that alabaster was the primary stone for all’antica sculpture in the Low Countries during the sixteenth century. It was also the material that introduced this antique manner in three-dimensional form to the region. In a way,... Full Review
February 18, 2016
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Cynthia Mills
Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2014. 238 pp.; 8 color ills.; 85 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (9781935623373)
Cynthia Mills’s Beyond Grief: Sculpture and Wonder in the Gilded Age Cemetery is a highly readable, engaging, and authoritative book on American memorial sculpture in the late nineteenth century. She focuses her attention on four famous monuments: Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s Adams Memorial (1891), Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, DC; Daniel Chester French’s The Angel of Death and the Sculptor (1893), Forest Hills Cemetery, Roxbury, Massachusetts; Frank Duveneck’s (with... Full Review
February 18, 2016
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