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

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J. Michael Padgett, ed.
Exh. cat. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017. 448 pp.; 348 color ills.; 18 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300225938)
Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ, March 4–June 11, 2017; Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH, July 8–October 1, 2017

This splendidly illustrated exhibition catalog is devoted to one particularly prominent Attic vase painter, the so-named Berlin Painter. Whereas an exhibition on one artist may still count as a logical choice by curators of an art museum, such a focus on the oeuvre of one individual has become highly unusual within scholarly approaches to Greek art and visual culture over recent decades. The catalog addresses both an art-museum public and scholars of Greek art and archaeology.... Full Review

January 16, 2020
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Malika Maskarinec
Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2018. 240 pp. Paper $34.95 (9780810137691)

As suggested by the title of her erudite and intellectually ambitious new book, Malika Maskarinec argues that form is a dynamic concept in modern German philosophical aesthetics. Using the art historian Heinrich Wölfflin’s notion of Formkraft as a critical lens, Maskarinec reads not only the aesthetic theories of Arthur Schopenhauer, Georg Simmel, Theodor Lipps, and Paul Klee but also the experimental writings of Franz Kafka and Alfred Döblin, in terms of a dynamic whereby... Full Review

January 14, 2020
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Felipe Pereda
Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2018. 336 pp.; 118 color ills.; 11 b/w ills.; 336 ills. Cloth €60.00 (9781912554096)

Felipe Pereda’s study Crime and Illusion: The Art of Truth in the Spanish Golden Age offers the reader both an enlightening and a frustrating experience: enlightening in that it provides new insights into the contexts of an important group of Golden Age Spanish religious works, and frustrating due to the author’s repeated attempts to force his investigations into a difficult and ultimately unsustainable theoretical framework.

At the outset Pereda states that, instead of having... Full Review

January 10, 2020
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Dániel Margócsy, Mark Somos, and Stephen N. Joffe
Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy and Science, 28. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill, 2018. 536 pp. Cloth £146.00 (9789004336292)

In spite of decades of scholarship on the history of the book in the age of print, the central mystery that plagues any given history of the book or a book remains the elusive nature of readers’ reception and interpretation of both words and pictures. While the works of Robert Darnton, Roger Chartier, Lisa Jardine, and Anthony Grafton have contributed substantially to the history of reading in Western Europe, there are many questions that remain about the nature of book... Full Review

January 9, 2020
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Emily C. Burns
Charles M. Russell Center Series on Art and Photography of the American West, vol. 29. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2018. 248 pp.; 121 color ills.; 14 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780806160030 )

As the title suggests, Emily C. Burns’s Transnational Frontiers: The American West in France is an evocative look at the “transnational frontiers” where visual art and cultural performance intersected alongside notions of identity, nation, and belonging for French citizens, American image-makers, and Native American performers between 1865 and 1914. This is a powerful study that focuses on different conceptions, depictions, and deployments of “the American West,” which Burns rightly... Full Review

January 3, 2020
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Kıvanç Kılınç and Mohammad Gharipour, eds.
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019. 336 pp.; 79 b/w ills. Paper $38.00 (9780253039859)

Social housing constructed in Middle Eastern cities since the 1940s has been presented as a solution to several pressing problems, from the crisis of slums and inadequate accommodations for industrial workers to the urban segregation and inequality sustained by colonial housing policies. Social Housing in the Middle East: Architecture, Urban Development, and Transnational Modernity, edited by Kıvanç Kılınç and Mohammad Gharipour, discusses the conditions that call for social housing... Full Review

January 2, 2020
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Christopher P. Heuer
Brooklyn: Zone Books, 2019. 256 pp.; 69 b/w ills. Cloth $32.95 (9781942130147)

When the artist Olafur Eliasson, with the help of geologist Minik Rosing, hauled eighty tons of Greenland ice to Place du Panthéon for Ice Watch Paris (2015), releasing thirty tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, so that Parisians and anyone who had traveled to the city (some for the United Nations Climate Change Conference), burning their own quantum of fossil fuel along the way, could feel they were watching the melting of our polar ice caps, he channeled the Arctic’s cold... Full Review

December 12, 2019
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Mary D. Sheriff
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018. 416 pp.; 14 color ills.; 43 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780226483108)

This book by the late Mary D. Sheriff is a study of islands in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France. Not just any islands, but islands, real and fictive, ruled by “beguiling women who captivate men through both literal and figurative enchantments” (2). These enchantresses promise love and pleasure to the men who arrive on their shores, but their aim is to dominate, corrupt, and emasculate. If manly virtue is to be restored, their charms have to be resisted and their island domains... Full Review

December 6, 2019
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Peter Mack and Robert Williams, eds.
Studies in Art Historiography. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2015. 204 pp.; 16 color ills.; 15 b/w ills. Cloth $130.00 (9781472442789)

Michael Baxandall, who died in 2008 just shy of his seventy-fifth birthday, is one of a handful of postwar scholars who were quickly recognized as some of art history’s greats. A string of classic texts and a restless, searching expansion of his range from the Italian Renaissance to the Northern one and into the eighteenth century, combined with a firmly original scholarly viewpoint, afforded him the status of a deep thinker who merits careful study. During Baxandall’s lifetime, Adrian... Full Review

December 6, 2019
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Margo Natalie Crawford
New Black Studies Series. Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2017. 280 pp.; 35 b/w ills. Paperback $28.00 (9780252082498)

Margo Natalie Crawford’s titular concept in Black Post-Blackness: The Black Arts Movement and Twenty-First-Century Aesthetics is oceanic: it is multifaceted and much encompassing. As the introduction explains, black post-blackness is an aesthetics of expressions of free self-determination, of a future blackness that shapes the present still. It is a mood and a shape of time, and also an understanding of that cultural mood and temporal shape as interdependent and in... Full Review

November 26, 2019
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