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

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Franklin Sirmans, Robert Farris Thompson, and Robert O'Meally
Exh. cat. New York: Prestel, 2014. 112 pp.; 58 color ills. Cloth $34.95 (9783791354040)
Exhibition schedule: Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, October 25, 2014–January 25, 2015
Basquiat and the Bayou is a catalogue accompanying the exhibition of ten works by Jean-Michel Basquiat held at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans. Its contributors attempt to expand an understanding of Basquiat’s art by locating it within an African diasporic identity via interpretations of a selection of his Southern-themed works. Curator Franklin Sirmans’s essay, also titled “Basquiat and the Bayou,” is essentially an exhibition review. It describes works that... Full Review
December 23, 2015
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Susie Protschky, ed.
Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2014. 245 pp.; 11 color ills.; 29 b/w ills. Cloth $99.00 (9789089646620)
The ten essays in this edited collection focus on the role of photography in the implementation of colonial policy in early twentieth-century Indonesia and the responses of the local Indies people whose lives were affected and shaped by this policy. Susie Protschky, the book’s editor, explains that in the very early years of the twentieth century, local resistance to Dutch rule had become so resounding that the government was forced to moderate its policies. The new suite of liberal... Full Review
December 23, 2015
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Christina Hellmich and Manuel Jordán, eds.
Exh. cat. New York: Prestel, 2014. 304 pp.; 350 color ills. Cloth $85.00 (9783791354330)
Exhibition schedule: de Young Museum, San Francisco, January 31, 2015–July 5, 2015
Embodiments: Masterworks of African Figurative Sculpture is an ambitious exhibition project accompanied by an equally substantial catalogue. Highlighting 120 selections that constitute almost half of the private collection of Dr. Richard H. Scheller, the exhibition is composed of an eloquent mixture of “classical” or “canonical” works, to use the catalogue’s terminology, punctuated with a jaw-dropping array of rare and unusual sculptural forms that “challenge commonly held assumptions... Full Review
December 17, 2015
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Jesse M. Locker
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015. 248 pp.; 99 color ills.; 17 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300185119)
Jesse M. Locker’s Artemisia Gentileschi: The Language of Painting examines the Baroque artist’s career as an independent professional, beginning in the 1620s, within the context of the courtly and literary cultures of Venice, Naples, and Florence. Locker’s study thoughtfully builds on, and at times challenges, the work of scholars and authors who have made Artemisia an (almost) household name, including R. Ward Bissell, Keith Christiansen, Roberto Contini, Mary Garrard, Alexandra... Full Review
December 17, 2015
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Ross Barrett
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014. 244 pp.; 12 color ills.; 51 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780520282896)
What is the place of politicized violence within democratic society, and what role do fine artists play in this debate? Ross Barrett takes up these questions in Rendering Violence: Riots, Strikes, and Upheaval in Nineteenth-Century American Art, a thematic study that probes how American painters working between 1820 and 1890 navigated “the ideological difficulties and symbolic possibilities” (3) of the subject of insurrection. Barrett’s case-study approach focuses five trim chapters on... Full Review
December 17, 2015
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Michalis Pichler
Brooklyn and Berlin: Ugly Duckling Presse and "greatest hits", 2015. 464 pp. Paperback $14.00 (9781937027544)
Michalis Pichler’s The Ego and Its Own takes ownership of Max Stirner’s philosophical incantation of the same name originally published in 1844. Appearing four years before the Communist Manifesto, Stirner’s text aimed at “not an overthrow of an established order but . . . elevation above it” (Max Stirner, The Ego and His Own, New York: Benjamin R. Tucker, 1907). Both books are split into two parts: part 1, entitled “Man,” considers the ways in which an individual defines... Full Review
December 10, 2015
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Mabel O. Wilson
A George Gund Foundation Book in African American Studies. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012. 464 pp.; 57 b/w ills. Cloth $41.95 (9780520268425)
In 2016, the much-anticipated Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is slated to open on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The museum’s mission, as stated on its website, “to help all Americans see just how central African American history is for all,” links the act of viewing to the acts of remembrance and understanding the museum promotes. Fittingly, Mabel O. Wilson devotes the prologue and epilogue of her study of twentieth-century black-organized... Full Review
December 3, 2015
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Kristina Kleutghen
Seattle and London : University of Washington Press, 2015. 400 pp.; 112 color ills. Cloth $70.00 (9780295994109)
In the last decade, the study of eighteenth-century Qing court art has become its own subfield of late imperial Chinese art, with specific objectives pursued from a distinctive interdisciplinary perspective. In the wake of the revisionist “New Qing History” that has sought to displace the Sinocentrism of earlier historical narratives, the art commissioned by the last dynasty’s non-Han ruling elite has come to appear more complex than what the labels “hybrid” or “exotic” might convey. (On the... Full Review
December 3, 2015
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Marianne Mathieu and Dominique Lobstein, eds.
Exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015. 192 pp.; 85 color ills. Hardcover $50.00 (9780300210880)
As part of the celebrations attending its eightieth anniversary, the Musée Marmottan Monet organized an exhibition of its namesake’s famous work Impression, soleil levant (Impression: Sunrise, 1872). The painting has long been considered the jewel in the crown of the museum’s collection, and the exhibition and its accompanying catalogue offer an opportunity to present new research on this well-studied picture. Readers familiar with the extensive literature may wonder whether... Full Review
November 27, 2015
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Marian H. Feldman
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. 264 pp.; 20 color ills.; 41 b/w ills. Cloth $70.00 (9780226105611)
Although the Iron Age (circa 1200 to 600 BCE) Levant (a zone covering territory in present-day Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan) is not familiar ground for most art historians, Marian H. Feldman’s masterful book Communities of Style: Portable Luxury Arts, Identity, and Collective Memory in the Iron Age Levant will draw diverse readers into its dynamic world aswirl with social networks and enchanting objects. Feldman focuses on the ninth to seventh centuries BCE in the Levant,... Full Review
November 27, 2015
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