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

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Vernon James Knight Jr.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. 214 pp.; 45 b/w ills. Cloth $110.00 (9781107022638)
Ancient images produced in contexts from which no written records survive present a formidable challenge to iconographers. Vernon James Knight Jr. argues that studies of such imagery are particularly vulnerable to specious claims based on intuition and superficial analysis, a problem he addresses in Iconographic Method in New World Prehistory. In response to what he describes as a lack of methodological rigor in “a field of study that is still in search of academic respectability”... Full Review
April 13, 2017
Barbara Miller Lane
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015. 320 pp.; 224 b/w ills. Cloth $49.95 (9780691167619)
James A. Jacobs
Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015. 272 pp. Cloth $45.00 (9780813937618)
My dad remembers being lifted up by my grandfather into the bay window of a large, white bi-level ranch house in the suburbs of New Jersey. It was the spring of 1968, and this house was one of three standing in the new development surrounded by farmland, only a twenty-minute drive outside of Newark. His slim, nine-year old body fit through the window, and he walked down into the foyer to unlock the front door from inside. My grandfather entered to inspect the house he had purchased that fall... Full Review
April 12, 2017
Vered Maimon
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015. 269 pp.; 43 b/w ills. Paper $30.00 (9780816694723)
In Singular Images, Failed Copies, Vered Maimon investigates William Henry Fox Talbot and his connection with early photography. After H. J. P. Arnold’s, Gail Buckland’s, and Larry Schaaf’s monographic works and studies on Talbot—first published in the 1970s and making essential original sources accessible—a renewed interest in Talbot and early photography has occurred. On the one hand, this could be linked to Schaaf’s online research project on Talbot’s correspondence <a... Full Review
April 6, 2017
Marian Wardle and Sarah E. Boehme, eds.
Exh. cat. Charles M. Russell Center Series on Art and Photography of the American West, Vol. 23. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016. 240 pp.; 128 color ills.; 27 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (9780806152912)
Exhibition schedule: Brigham Young University Museum of Art, Provo, February 19–August 13, 2016; Stark Museum of Art, Orange, TX, March 11–September 09, 2017
Branding the American West: Paintings and Films, 1900–1950 is a lavishly illustrated exhibition catalogue containing seven essays by art historians, literary scholars, and poets, as well as an introduction by the exhibition’s co-curators. With its wide range of stimulating perspectives and insights, the catalogue offers a substantive conversation among the authors who consider the works and the legends of the Taos Society of Artists (TSA). The group’s paintings, and those of Maynard... Full Review
April 5, 2017
Kristen Gresh and Michket Krifa
Exh. cat. Boston: MFA Publications, 2015. 168 pp.; 100 color ills. Cloth $40.00 (9780878468041)
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, August 27, 2013–January 12, 2014; Cantor Arts Center, Stanford, January 28–May 4, 2015; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, May 30–September 28, 2015; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, April 8–July 31, 2016
Taking its title from rawiya, the Arabic noun for a storyteller (feminine) and the eponymous name of an all-women photography collective in the Middle East, She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World, organized by Kristen Gresh, the Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Assistant Curator of Photographs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, exhibits the photographs and, in two cases, the videos of twelve artists. (The title page for the catalogue includes... Full Review
April 5, 2017
Jeffrey F. Hamburger
Corpus of Illuminated Manuscripts 21. Leuven and Paris: Peeters, 2014. 77 pp.; 39 color ills. Cloth $32.00 (9789042930353)
For many years, Jeffrey Hamburger has been interested in the artwork of the manuscripts of the Middle Ages, and with Script as Image he has published a deeply engaging book, or rather a lengthy essay, on the “double page” in the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages. In it Hamburger approaches illuminated manuscripts from the apparent “classical” theme of the relationship between text and image. In certain ways, one could say that Hamburger’s Script as Image continues a... Full Review
March 31, 2017
Stephanie Porras
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2016. 216 pp.; 34 color ills.; 48 b/w ills. Cloth $79.95 (9780271070896)
Stephanie Porras has written a smart, important book on Pieter Bruegel the Elder. She offers a carefully considered take on his notion of the Netherlandish past as it manifests in the peasants who cavort and carouse their way through his oeuvre. While this is familiar terrain, Porras’s study redirects focus from the once-heated debate about Bruegel’s peasants as either moralizing signifiers of excess or amusements for urbane viewers. Instead, by citing Netherlandish humanism’s interest in... Full Review
March 30, 2017
Pamela McClusky and Erika Dalya Massaquoi
Exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015. 104 pp.; 80 color ills. Cloth $40.00 (9780300208740)
Exhibition schedule: Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, June 18–September 7, 2015; Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles, October 18, 2015–March 13, 2016; Brooklyn Museum, New York, April 29–September 18, 2016
How do African cultural traditions circulate and influence global contemporary art? Many artists and scholars have argued for the importance of African art (or what they have understood as African art, regardless of authenticity or provenance) in the development of European and American modernism, typically without much consideration for African artists themselves. Pamela McClusky and Erika Dalya Massaquoi, curators of Disguise: Masks and Global African Art and authors of the catalogue... Full Review
March 30, 2017
Hannelore Magnus and Katlijne Van der Stighelen, eds.
Turnhout: Brepols, 2015. 228 pp.; 75 b/w ills. Cloth $123.00 (9782503554860)
The history of emotions, their cultural expression, and their representation in the arts of early modern Europe are currently a subject of much interest. In recent years, exhibitions and collaborative research projects from the Netherlands to Australia have been devoted to this theme. The fourteen essays gathered in Facts and Feelings: Retracing Emotions of Artists, 1600–1800, edited by Hannelore Magnus and Katlijne Van der Stighelen, are the product of a symposium held at the... Full Review
March 29, 2017
Centre Pompidou, Paris, February 26–March 6, 2016
[See the multimedia media review on Scalar.] This review of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Work/Travail/Arbeid (2015–17) enlists the interactive, multimedia capabilities of the Scalar platform to evoke the dance exhibition’s ten-day run at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. The exhibition brought together several components of the Belgian choreographer and dancer’s broader project, including investigating choreography... Full Review
March 23, 2017