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

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Laurence Terrier Aliferis
Turnhout: Brepols, 2016. 343 pp.; 359 b/w ills. Paperback €125.00 (9782503553177)
Late twelfth- and early thirteenth-century art in northern Europe is often noted for its similarities to Classical art, as evidenced most famously in Nicholas of Verdun’s altar at Klosterneuberg, of 1181; the sculpture of Laon and Chartres; and the Ingeborg Psalter, of ca. 1195. The idea of a “Year 1200 Style,” however, as Konrad Hoffman dubbed it in his catalogue for the The Year 1200 exhibition held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1970, has been considered problematic from... Full Review
April 20, 2018
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andré m. carrington
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016. 304 pp.; 35 b/w ills. Paperback $25.00 (9780816678969)
Depending on the context of its usage, the Spanish term género is definable as either “gender” or “genre.” Katherine Clay Bassard takes up this dichotomy in line with questions of literacy when she opines that “[i]n speaking of gender and genre, then, [she works] from the assumption that form is not merely a matter of free choice or appropriate models but a function of how a writer perceives her/himself in the social order.”<a... Full Review
April 20, 2018
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Peter N. Lindfield
Suffolk, UK: Boydell & Brewer, 2017. 282 pp.; 59 color ills. Hardcover $99.00 (9781783271276)
Volume 8 in Boydell’s Medievalism series, Peter N. Lindfield’s Georgian Gothic: Medievalist Architecture, Furniture and Interiors, 1730–1840 explores the nuances of and developments in the early Gothic Revival. Lindfield couches his study within the growing appreciation of the Gothic, discussing how leading Gothic Revival architects (Kent, Essex, Wyatt), antiquarians (Carter, Rickman), and Gothic proponents (Gray, Warton, Walpole) crucially impacted the history of design. Working in... Full Review
April 19, 2018
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Massumeh Farhad and Simon Rettig, eds.
Exh. cat. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Books, 2016. 384 pp.; 260 ills. Hardcover $50.00 (9781588345783)
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, DC, October 22, 2016–February 20, 2017
The exhibition The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, on view just a few steps from the White House in Washington, DC, was the first major exhibition of Qur’an manuscripts in the United States, and timely in countering the fast-growing anti-Muslim rhetoric even though it was not envisioned with such an aim. Along with its publication, under review here, the exhibition offered a nuanced understanding of the Qur’an’s role in Islamic societies and... Full Review
April 19, 2018
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Bissera V. Pentcheva
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2017. 304 pp.; 50 color ills.; 42 b/w ills. Cloth $64.95 (9780271077253)
Although much researched, the Justinian church of Hagia Sophia (532–37 and 562) proves to be a still unfathomable well of architectural revelations that bear on the building’s significance as a monument of Byzantine spirituality. This book is a welcome contribution that offers conceptual vistas through which to understand the metaphysical effects of the building’s material and artistic fabric.Hagia Sophia: Sound, Space, and Spirit in Byzantium centers on... Full Review
April 18, 2018
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Rice University’s 300-acre campus is a bucolic enclave situated between the Museum District and the Texas Medical Center, all to the south of downtown Houston. The bulk of its academic buildings are clustered at its axial and planned core. Its north edge and east edge along Main Street are tree lined, well groomed and park-like. Its south and west edges are less tidy, however, and are lined with more functional structures—sports fields and surface parking lots. The Moody Center for the... Full Review
April 17, 2018
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Angela Ho
Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2017. 272 pp. Hardcover €105.00 (9789462982970)
Angela Ho’s Creating Distinctions in Dutch Genre Painting: Repetition and Invention is a groundbreaking book that explores the phenomena of repetition and invention as they pertain to the work of the most outstanding genre painters active in the Dutch Republic during the third quarter of the seventeenth century. Ho focuses on three of the leading masters during this period: Gerrit Dou, Gerard ter Borch, and Frans van Mieris, who collectively helped to raise this art to an... Full Review
April 17, 2018
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David M. Lubin
New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. 384 pp.; 149 ills. Cloth $39.95 (9780190218614)
Published to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the US entry into World War I in 1917, David Lubin’s Grand Illusions: American Art and World War I offers its reader much more than the book’s straightforward title suggests. Lubin’s foreign, filmic, postwar touchstone, Jean Renoir’s 1937 film La grande illusion, signals an unconventional history of American art of the period regarding media, chronological scope, and well-worn definitions of “American” art. In fact, the... Full Review
April 17, 2018
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Amy Bryzgel
Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017. 360 pp.; 67 color ills.; 87 b/w ills. Paperback $34.95 (9781784994228)
1986, Sarajevo. Zvono rushes the field during a soccer match. For this performance, entitled Sport and Art, the band of artists sets up easels and begins to paint. They wear the colors of the opposing team. Once the paintings are complete, they run across the field and showcase them.1986, Turgovishte. In northern Bulgaria, three groups of artists perform parallel actions called The Road. Members of Dobrudzha, Turgovishte, and Ma paint their bodies and engage in... Full Review
April 16, 2018
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Ralph Ubl
Trans. Elizabeth Tucker. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. 260 pp.; 5 color ills.; 60 b/w ills. Cloth $48.00 (9780226823720)
Ralph Ubl takes Max Ernst very seriously in unforeseen ways, not as a pasticheur of fashionable lines of thought—the fire bringer of Freud to Paris—and not as a great painter. This Ernst is more a dark mechanic dismantling the parts of painting (perspective, ground, picture plane, rectangle, contour), which then persist as a “repressed power” (7) in his painting, enigmatically but powerfully generating “effects of the unavailable” (6). What is at stake in the “unavailable” is... Full Review
April 16, 2018
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