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

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Craig Clunas
Honolulu: University Of Hawai'i Press, 2013. 248 pp.; 60 color ills.; 40 b/w ills. Cloth $57.00 (9780824838522)
Craig Clunas’s Screen of Kings: Royal Art and Power in Ming China is a new landmark in the study of the history of the visual and material culture of China’s Ming dynasty (1368–1644), succeeding his five earlier and equally important monographs on the arts and culture of this period, including Pictures and Visuality in Early Modern China (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997) (click here for review) and Elegant Debts:... Full Review
September 10, 2015
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León Krempel, ed.
Exh. cat. New York: Prestel, 2014. 208 pp.; 130 color ills.; 349 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (9783791353470)
Exhibition schedule: Haus der Kunst, Munich, June 20‒October 12, 2014; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, June 6‒September 20, 2015
Jacques Derrida loved the word “observe.” He paid special attention to its root word, “serve” (in French: server), which tied observation to respect, service, and deference. To observe something, he thought, was an act of humility. You gave yourself over to the details, gathering data and storing it in reserve for the future (Jacques Derrida, Memoirs of the Blind: The Self-Portrait and Other Ruins, trans. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas, Chicago: University of Chicago... Full Review
September 3, 2015
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Lindsay J. Twa
Burlington: Ashgate, 2014. 322 pp.; 16 color ills.; 54 b/w ills. Cloth $119.95 (9781409446729)
Lindsay J. Twa’s Visualizing Haiti in U.S. Culture, 1910–1950 offers the most thorough examination yet written of Haiti’s representation in visual media that circulated in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century. Twa’s monograph dexterously spans many disciplines to survey cultural production as diverse as Aaron Douglas’s illustration and painting, Katherine Dunham’s choreography and dance, Alexander King’s photojournalism and illustration, Paul Robeson’s acting,... Full Review
September 3, 2015
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Sarah Monks, John Barrell, and Mark Hallett, eds.
Burlington: Ashgate, 2013. 278 pp.; 8 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Cloth $109.95 (9781409403180)
Living with the Royal Academy: Artistic Ideals and Experiences in England consists of papers first delivered at a conference at the University of York in 2008. It is presented as a “companion volume” to Art on the Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House, 1780–1836, David H. Solkin’s exhibition and edited book (New Haven: Yale University Press for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the Courtauld Institute Gallery, 2001), which so memorably... Full Review
September 3, 2015
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Massimiliano Gioni
Exh. cat. New York: Skira Rizzoli in association with New Museum, 2014. 224 pp.; 140 color ills.; 8 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780847844562)
Exhibition schedule: New Museum, New York, October 29, 2014–February 1, 2015
Curated by Massimiliano Gioni at the New Museum in New York City, Chris Ofili: Night and Day was the title of the first retrospective of the contemporary British artist’s paintings, drawings, and sculptures to be shown in the United States. The accompanying exhibition catalogue’s visual and textual narratives provide a loosely chronological survey of Ofili’s most celebrated artworks, with each contributor highlighting particular influences and experiences in the artist’s life that have... Full Review
August 27, 2015
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David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds.
Volume V: The Twentieth Century, Part 1: The Impact of Africa.. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, Harvard University Press, 2014. 320 pp.; 195 color ills.; 25 b/w ills. Cloth $95.00 (9780674052673)
David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds.
Volume V: The Twentieth Century, Part 2: The Rise of Black Artists.. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, Harvard University Press, 2014. 368 pp.; 224 color ills. Cloth $95.00 (9780674052697)
Originally conceived in 1960 by French U.S.-based philanthropists Dominique and John de Menil, The Image of the Black in Western Art was “prompted” by what one of the project's patrons, Dominique de Menil, described as “an intolerable situation: segregation as it still existed in spite of having been outlawed by the Supreme Court in 1954” (Dominique de Menil, “Acknowledgements and Perspectives,” The Image of the Black in Western Art. Volume 1: From the Pharaohs to the Fall of the... Full Review
August 27, 2015
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Charles H. Carmen
Visual Culture in Early Modernity.. Burlington: Ashgate, 2014. 218 pp.; 5 color ills.; 20 b/w ills. Cloth $104.95 (9781472429230)
In Leon Battista Alberti and Nicholas Cusanus: Towards an Epistemology of Vision for Italian Renaissance Art and Culture, Charles H. Carman argues against viewing Renaissance painting as a secular mode of representing material reality, one divorced from spiritual, religious, and theological worldviews. According to Carman, Renaissance culture was produced and consumed by people more religious and interested in theology than many contemporary scholars will admit. Naturalistic painting... Full Review
August 20, 2015
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Yves Pauwels
Arts de la Renaissance européenne 2.. Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2013. 430 pp.; 134 b/w ills. Paper € 49.00 (9782812408625)
Yves Pauwels quotes Victor Hugo in the subtitle of L’Architecture et le livre en France à la Renaissance: “Une magnifique décadence”? Hugo formulates the study’s question about the origin of architectural variation during the French Renaissance, specifically in the orders: the classical styles of architecture traditionally defined as Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, and Composite. Pauwels expands earlier essays to explore the diffusion of architectural treatises in sixteenth-century... Full Review
August 20, 2015
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Andrew Brink
Exh. cat. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013. 176 pp.; 60 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780773541986)
Exhibition schedule: Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, Guelph, Ontario, January 23–March 30, 2014
The British interest in Claude Lorrain began during the artist’s lifetime. In 1644, an unidentified Englishman commissioned two of Claude’s landscapes: Landscape with Narcissus and Echo and A Temple of Bacchus (Humphrey Wine, National Gallery Catalogues: The Seventeenth Century French Paintings, London: National Gallery, 2001, 88). By the beginning of the nineteenth century Claude had assumed an unassailable position, described by John Constable as “the most perfect... Full Review
August 13, 2015
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Matthias Kohler, Frabio Gramazio, and Jan Willmann
Zurich: Park Books, 2014. 576 pp.; 660 color ills. Cloth $60.00 (9783906027371)
In 1970, Nicholas Negroponte dedicated his book about computer- and robot-aided design “To the first machine that can appreciate the gesture” (The Architecture Machine: Toward a More Human Environment, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1973, front matter). The book, a seminal collection of experiments and observations from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, is a primary document in the history of the digitalization of architecture from a moment when clear distinctions between... Full Review
August 13, 2015
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