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

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Maggie Popkin
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2023. 346 pp. Cloth $99.99 (9781316517567)
Kimberly Cassibry
New York: Oxford University Press, 2023. 320 pp. Cloth GPB64.00 (9780190921897)
Released nearly contemporaneously and with substantial overlap in their corpora, the two volumes under review, Maggie Popkin’s Souvenirs and the Experience of Empire in Ancient Rome and Kimberly Cassibry’s Destinations in Mind: Portraying Places on the Roman Empire’s Souvenirs share similar agendas—to take seriously the portable, small-scale representations of popular sights and pastimes that recur in the material record of the Roman Empire. Despite these similarities, Popkin and Cassibry take different approaches in achieving their goal and consequently offer distinct yet complementary insights. Popkin’s Souvenirs opens with an introductory chapter establishing key terms and methodological frameworks. The book then proceeds… Full Review
February 28, 2024
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Adam Jasienski
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2023. 232 pp.; 50 color ills.; 15 b/w ills. $119.00 (9780271093444)
Charles V never rode his horse into the 1547 battle of Mühlberg. Instead, he spent his time during that conflict on a litter suffering from gout. But Titian’s triumphal equestrian portrait of the king betrays no hint of weakness—physical or otherwise. The monarch sits aloft on a decorous steed, clad in armor, serenely looking beyond the picture plane. He exerts complete control over his horse, his body, and, of course, the spiritual purity of his kingdom (Mühlberg was a decisive victory over Protestant rebels). Politics and religion obliquely congeal in this homage to the king’s might. Nevertheless, it remains a… Full Review
February 22, 2024
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Pérez Art Museum Miami, March 23, 2023–July 28, 2024.
The South American Dream at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami (PAMM) is a dynamic and colorful exhibition that explores history, memory, and the South American identity through the lens of Brazilian artist Marcela Cantuária’s work. Through five immersive, multimedia artworks, which seamlessly blend painting, textiles, and ceramics, Cantuária examines the multifaceted concept of the South American dream, including environmental consciousness, political struggle, and faith. This installation curated by Jennifer Inacio, was commissioned by PAMM, challenging Cantuária to adapt her work to the high ceilings of the exhibition space and to consider her work in relation to… Full Review
February 7, 2024
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Florence Alexis
Exh. cat. Paris: Heritage Editions, 2024. 182 pp. GPB40.00
Pantheon Center for National Monuments November 9, 2023–February 11, 2024
Oser La Liberté, translated as “Dare Freedom,” is an extraordinary exhibition on the centuries-long fight against slavery in France and its colonies. Sponsored by the Centre des monuments nationaux (CMN) and the Fondation pour la mémoire de l’esclavage, and organized by Florence Alexis, a curator, activist, and daughter of Haitian novelist Jacques Stephen Alexis, it is installed in the crypt of Paris’s Panthéon, a building that was conceived as a church but transformed during the Revolution into a “temple of liberty” and a burial ground for “great men.” The most extraordinary thing about Oser La Liberté may… Full Review
February 1, 2024
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Yeon Shim Chung, Sunjung Kim, Kimberly Chung, and Keith B. Wagner
Phaidon, 2020. 360 pp.; 410 color ills. Cloth $79.95 ('9780714878331)
Virginia Moon, ed.
Exh. cat. DelMonico Books in association with Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2024. 328 pp.; 228 color ills. Cloth $75.00 (9781636810584)
Amidst the international recognition of South Korean art since the 1990s, scholars have devoted increasing attention to Korean modernism and contemporary practices. Following pioneering studies such as Youngna Kim’s Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea (2005) and Charlotte Horlyck’s Korean Art from the 19th century to the Present (2017), two recent publications present English readership with additional insights into the styles, mediums, and subjects of Korean art from the past century: Korean Art From 1953: Collision, Innovation and Interaction (Phaidon, 2020) and the exhibition catalog The Space Between: The Modern in Korean Art (2022). The year 1953, marking the beginning… Full Review
January 24, 2024
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Amanda Wangwright
Brill, 2020. 168 pp. Cloth $63.00 (9789004441903 )
As the latest addition to Brill’s Modern Asian Art and Visual Culture series, Amanda Wangwright’s The Golden Key: Modern Women Artists and Gender Negotiations in Republican China (1911–1949) complicates our understanding of the agency of women in the making of art in late imperial and modern China alongside Yuhuang Li’s Becoming Guanyin: Artistic Devotion of Buddhist Women in Late Imperial China (Columbia University Press, 2020) and Ying-chen Peng’s Artful Subversion: Empress Dowager Cixi’s Image Making (Yale University Press, 2023). The Golden Key excavates the long-forgotten history of women artists (nühuajia), which Wangwright regards as “a distinctly modernized social… Full Review
January 17, 2024
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Holley Moyes, Allen J. Christenson, and Frauke Sachse, eds.
Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2021. 348 pp.; 89 b/w ills. Cloth $108.00 (9781607323389)
The Popol Vuh is a record of the mythology and history of the K’iche’ Maya people dating to the mid-1500s. Its authors—members of the local Maya elite—wrote down their most valuable stories to preserve them from the destruction inflicted by the European colonizers upon the Maya people, including the burning of their pre-Hispanic manuscripts. The book was hidden and miraculously survived, becoming the only surviving Maya text from that period and region. Many of the stories told in its pages can also be seen in images depicted on ancient Maya stelae and ceramic vases, and even in the built environment… Full Review
January 10, 2024
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Xiaojin Wu
Exh. cat. Seattle Art Museum, 2023. 104 pp.; 70 color ills. $30.00 (9780932216076)
Seatle Art Museum July 21–December 3, 2023
Renegade Edo and Paris: Japanese Prints and Toulouse-Lautrec is a focused gem of an exhibition at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, accompanied by a slim catalog of the same name. This is the first time the museum has compared Japanese and French art in a single exhibition. The majority of the Japanese prints in the show are part of the museum’s permanent collection alongside works on loan specifically for this exhibition, mostly prints by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The show opens with a room dominated by two large mid-seventeenth-century six-panel Japanese screens depicting Edo inhabitants enjoying spring and summer activities that… Full Review
January 3, 2024
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Ross Barrett
Oakland, CA: University of Califoria Press, 2022. 256 pp.; 85 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780520343917)
Years ago, as a graduate student researching Winslow Homer, I drove a rental car to Prouts Neck to get a better sense of the views the artist painted when living on the Maine coast. What I found was a single road leading to a mile-wide promontory well marked with signs accusing me of trespassing. Reluctant to turn back, I parked along the last stretch of public road and walked furtively past manicured gardens and stately summer residences towards Homer’s studio (which at the time had not yet opened to the public). As I walked, it became increasingly clear that I… Full Review
December 20, 2023
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Jasmina Tumbas
Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2022. 344 pp. Hardcover £70.00 (9781526156471)
Both embodied and conceptual, bridge and barricade, “Jugoslovenka”—the name for a Yugoslav woman—is the complex prism through which Jasmina Tumbas offers her rich transnational history of performance art from the formation through the fall of socialist Yugoslavia. The history of performative politics that Tumbas has written is structured by paradox and contradiction, as illustrated by her comparative look at two photographs of Dragana Milojević, a woman attending a demonstration against Slobodan Milošević in Belgrade on March 9, 1991. In the first photograph, Milojević appears to stand defiantly in front of a crowd, with her arm above her head and her… Full Review
December 18, 2023
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