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

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Kansas City, MO: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2013.
Exhibition schedule: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO, February 8–April 28, 2013
The past several years have seen the increasing incorporation of digital reproductions and mediations of artworks into exhibitions of premodern Chinese art. Perhaps most spectacularly, sculptural fragments removed from Xiangtangshan in the early twentieth century were virtually restored to their places of origin within the “digital cave” included in Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan (click here for... Full Review
December 11, 2013
Judith W. Mann and Babette Bohn
Exh. cat. St. Louis and New Haven: Saint Louis Art Museum and Yale University Press, 2012. 376 pp.; 214 color ills.; 46 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300174779)
Exhibition schedule: Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, October 21, 2012–January 20, 2013 (under the title Federico Barocci: Renaissance Master); National Gallery, London, February 27–May 19, 2013
Students of the late John Shearman who were too young to have seen the exhibitions devoted to Federico Barocci (1535–1612) in Bologna and Florence in 1975—myself included—often heard that their beauty and interest had finally proved that exhibitions could be of real inspiration and value, subtly altering and enlarging one’s understanding of an artist’s achievement. Current generations had the possibility of experiencing the same pleasure and profit through exhibitions recently held in St.... Full Review
December 4, 2013
Giuseppe Pavanello, ed.
Exh. cat. Barcelona: Caixaforum, 2013. 304 pp.; 34 color ills.; 177 b/w ills. Paper $34.95 (9788461576371)
Exhibition schedule: Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, August 28, 2010–January 9, 2011; Caixa Forum, Madrid, April 24–September 9, 2012, and Barcelona, October 9, 2012–January 20, 2013; San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, March 30–July 7, 2013
The advent of digitization has created methods of cultural production that bring new considerations to the relationships between ideas, artifacts, and audiences. Looking at the San Diego Museum of Art’s exhibition Piranesi, Rome, and the Arts of Design, conceived by Michele De Lucchi, one can observe the effects of digitization, as the eighteenth-century designer and fabulist’s work is expressed though twenty-first-century opportunities. The show goes far beyond previously typical... Full Review
November 29, 2013
Mary McWilliams, ed.
Exh. cat. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Art Museums, 2013. 304 pp.; 309 color ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300176414)
Exhibition schedule: Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA, January 31–June 1, 2013
In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, an exhibition at Harvard University’s Arthur M. Sackler Museum, celebrated the university’s acquisition of Norma Jean Calderwood’s impressive, yet largely unpublished, private collection of Persianate art. Mary McWilliams, the Norma Jean Calderwood Curator of Islamic and Later Indian Art, certainly faced challenges in cohesively displaying this private collection, which consists of a disparate array of over 140 objects... Full Review
November 29, 2013
Piet van Boxel and Sabine Arndt, eds.
Exh. cat. Oxford: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, 2010. 128 pp.; 70 color ills. Paper £ 24.99 (9781851243136)
Exhibition schedule: Jewish Museum, New York, September 14, 2012–February 3, 2013
Illuminated manuscripts offer the best-surviving evidence of Jewish artistic production in the Middle Ages, bearing witness to the tastes of their Jewish patrons, the skills of Jewish scribes, and the aesthetic acuity of Jewish readers and viewers. Jews did not live in isolation, and the artists responsible for the decoration of their books—who were not necessarily Jewish but may have been—both drew from and contributed to the artistic conventions of the dominant culture. Crossing Borders:... Full Review
November 20, 2013
Maryam D. Ekhtiar, Priscilla P. Soucek, Sheila R. Canby, and Navina Najat Haidar
Exh. cat. New York and New Haven: Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press, 2011. 448 pp.; 377 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300175851)
After eight years of intense study, research, conservation, and planning, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s former Islamic Art galleries were reinstalled and opened to the public in November 2011 under the name The Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia. Navina Najat Haidar coordinated the reinstallation, with contributions by many members of the Department of Islamic Art, including senior colleagues Daniel Walker, Michael Barry, Stefano Carboni, and... Full Review
October 23, 2013
J. Patrice Marandel, ed.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles and Munich: Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Prestel Verlag, 2012. 174 pp.; 180 color ills. Cloth $39.95 (9783791352305)
Exhibition schedule: Musée Fabre de Montpellier Agglomération and Musée des Augustins, Toulouse, June 23–October 14, 2012; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, November 11, 2012–February 10, 2013; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, March 8–June 16, 2013
Until several years ago, Richard Spear’s 1971 exhibition catalogue, Caravaggio and His Followers (Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art), defined the scope and limits of Caravaggio’s influence on painters in Rome and beyond. But since 2010, more recent exhibitions commemorating the four hundredth anniversary of Caravaggio’s death have offered the opportunity both to evaluate new discoveries in the individual careers of Caravaggesque painters and to discuss anew the large and disparate... Full Review
October 23, 2013
María Dolores Sanchez-Jáuregui and Scott Wilcox, eds.
Exh. cat. New Haven and Madrid: Yale University Press, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and Real Academia de Belles Artes de San Fernando, 2012. 392 pp.; 350 color ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300176056)
Exhibition schedule: Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, May 17–August 27, 2012; Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, October 4, 2012–January 13, 2013
Shipwrecks have long attracted salvagers, archaeologists, and historians, offering precious but fragmentary evidence of broader cultural, political, and economic networks. The Westmoreland or Westmorland (so spelled in deference to early Spanish orthography and established scholarship), a British merchant ship that sailed from Livorno for England during the War of American Independence in 1778, was not sunk but captured by French frigates and escorted to Málaga, where her... Full Review
October 18, 2013
MaryAnne Stevens, Carol M. Armstrong, Colin B. Bailey, Stéphane Guégan, Leah Lehmbeck, and Lawrence W. Nichols
Exh. cat. London: Royal Academy Publications, 2012. 224 pp.; 150 ills. Cloth $55.00 (9781905711741)
Exhibition schedule: Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio, October 7, 2012–January 1, 2013; Royal Academy, London, January 26–April 14, 2013
A major exhibition of Édouard Manet’s portraits was already a gleam in Lawrence Nichols’s eye from the time in 1992 when he joined the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA). What sparked the idea was the handsome portrait of Manet’s close friend, Antonin Proust (1880), donated to the museum in 1925, having passed through just one French collection after that of the sitter. The TMA’s portrait project was developed into a collaboration with the Royal Academy in London, where the active participation of... Full Review
October 18, 2013
Peter C. Sturman and Susan S. Tai, eds.
Exh. cat. Santa Barbara and New York: Santa Barbara Museum of Art in association with DelMonico Books, 2012. 320 pp.; 385 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9783791352725)
Exhibition schedule: Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, October 20, 2012–January 20, 2013; Asia Society, New York, March 5–June 2, 2013
Jagged peaks surrounded by swirling mists, pavilions perched precariously on cliffs, wise old men walking along winding, narrow paths: such motifs may conjure the stereotypical image of a traditional Chinese painting for many contemporary viewers. Indeed, many of the fifty-odd works displayed in The Artful Recluse: Painting, Poetry, and Politics in 17th-Century China fit this bill. Yet the curators of this exhibition—Peter Sturman, Professor of Art History at the University of... Full Review
October 9, 2013