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

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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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Barbara E. Mundy
Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015. 288 pp.; 73 color ills.; 20 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780292766563)
Barbara Mundy is well known and greatly respected for her scholarship on the Mesoamerican mapping tradition. This new book now demonstrates her deep knowledge of the Aztec capital of Mexico-Tenochtitlan both before and in the century after the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Deeply researched, insightfully conceptualized and argued, and written in an engaging style, it is a book of particular importance. Mundy explains Mexico-Tenochtitlan and early colonial Mexico City as no one has, infusing... Full Review
February 11, 2016
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Dieter Buchhart, ed.
Exh. cat. New York, London, and Toronto: Prestel, DelMonico Books, and Art Gallery of Ontario, 2015. 228 pp.; 150 color ills. Cloth $49.95 (978379135456)
Exhibition schedule: Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, February 7–May 10, 2015; Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Bilbao, July 3–November 1, 2015
Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time, the catalogue produced to accompany the first major exhibition of the artist’s works in Canada, takes its name from one of Basquiat’s 1985 paintings. In that Now’s the Time, white letters spelling out “NOW’S THE TIME”© and PRKR stand out against a black circle, collectively invoking a vinyl pressing of jazz legend Charlie Parker’s 1945 arrangement of the same name. The homage makes clear that Parker’s life and work mattered to Basquiat. Both... Full Review
February 11, 2016
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Koichi Shinohara
New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. 352 pp.; 10 b/w ills. $55.00 (9780231166140)
What is the role of an image in a ritual setting? This unflagging question in the study of religious art and visual culture has been raised again by Koichi Shinohara, a historian of East Asian Buddhism who has already produced a number of inspiring works treating the issue. Images in Asian Religions: Text and Contexts (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2004; co-edited with Phyllis Granoff) is one such work, in which he utilized a close reading of apologetic writings by... Full Review
February 4, 2016
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Chika Okeke-Agulu
Durham: Duke University Press, 2015. 376 pp.; 129 color ills. Paper $29.95 (9780822357469)
Chika Okeke-Agulu’s thoroughly researched and beautifully illustrated Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in Twentieth Century Nigeria significantly advances an understanding of modern African art. He considers a key time period in Nigerian art history, from the late 1950s eve of independence (Nigeria gained its independence in 1960) to roughly 1968 at the beginning of the Nigerian Civil War (1967–70). The term “postcolonial modernism,” Okeke-Agulu rightly insists, means... Full Review
January 28, 2016
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Adrienne L. Childs and Susan H. Libby, eds.
Burlington: Ashgate, 2014. 262 pp.; 9 color ills.; 49 b/w ills. Cloth $114.95 (9781409422006)
In 1960, Dominique and John de Menil instituted a project to study images of persons of African descent in Western art. As Adrienne Childs and Susan Libby note in the introduction to their edited volume, Blacks and Blackness in European Art of the Long Nineteenth Century, that project, which began as a photographic archive, was initiated in response to segregation and racial discrimination in the United States. The Menil’s undertaking eventually culminated in a series of five books,... Full Review
January 28, 2016
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