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

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Agustín Arteaga
Exh. cat. Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art, 2017. 360 pp.; 209 color ills.; 87 b/w ills. Hardcover $50.00 (9780300229950)
Grand Palais, Paris, October 5, 2016–January 23, 2017; Dallas Museum of Art, March 12–July 16, 2017
“The narrative of this exhibition is a journey that sheds new light and permits new reflections on what has come to be oversimplified in the figures of ‘The Big Three’—Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros—and in the ubiquitous phenomenon of Frida Kahlo” (20), writes Agustín Arteaga, the newly appointed Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art (<span... Full Review
March 6, 2018
Michelle Apotsos
New York: Routledge, 2016. 216 pp.; 61 b/w ills. Hardcover $144.00 (9781138192454)
A book-length scholarly work on architecture on the African continent is so rare that a new publication is cause for celebration in the small community of scholars who study this topic. Michelle Apotsos’s in-depth, diachronic study of architecture in the Islamic community of Larabanga in northern Ghana fits the bill. The book accomplishes multiple tasks. It reconstructs the history of Larabanga as a seat of Islam in the West African savanna—including the history of its dominant ethnic... Full Review
March 5, 2018
Robert Mills
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. 398 pp.; 8 color ills.; 78 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780226169125)
Robert Mills’s Seeing Sodomy in the Middle Ages is a brave and important book that future studies of sexuality and gender will need to contend with. Through attentive analyses of diverse texts and images, Mills destabilizes a variety of givens and orthodoxies, both medieval and modern. Seeing Sodomy enters the politically charged debates swirling around issues of social constructionism and essentialism—especially as linked to Michel Foucault’s conclusion in his influential... Full Review
February 22, 2018
Marc Michael Epstein, ed.
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015. 288 pp.; 278 color ills.; 11 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780691165240)
The making of this book extended over twenty years. The full story of the precious works of art it explores will perhaps be told one day. What we gather from the foreword by the editor (who also wrote most of the text) is that from the beginning the book was intended to reach the uninitiated public and not aimed at a restricted club of specialists. The result, now on our tables, is spectacular. Princeton University Press, under the directorship of Dr. Brigitta van Rheinberg, permitted the... Full Review
February 21, 2018
On the heels of the recent publication of their books Otherwise: Imagining Queer Feminist Art Histories and Abstract Bodies: Sixties Sculpture in the Expanded Field of Gender, Amelia Jones and David Getsy initiated a conversation about these books and the current state of and future directions for art history’s engagements with gender and sexuality.<a... Full Review
February 16, 2018
Glenn Parsons
Malden, MA: Polity, 2015. 176 pp. Paperback $22.95 (9780745663890)
Glenn Parsons, an associate professor of philosophy at Ryerson University in Toronto, has managed a very difficult task: he has written a solid philosophy book about design that is firmly grounded in design and the problems of designers. Parsons’s introduction stakes out his goal—“showing that design is a realm worthy of philosophical exploration in its own right” (3)—but his book, in contrast to much of what is labeled “design philosophy,” is about design as analyzed by a philosopher... Full Review
February 15, 2018
Nicole R. Myers, ed.
Exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017. 136 pp.; 115 color ills. Paper $35.00 (9780300227055)
Dallas Museum of Art, December 4, 2016–March 19, 2017
The title to the exhibition Art and Nature in the Middle Ages at the Dallas Museum of Art appeared in large gilded letters set upon a forest-green wall and framed by a lush foliate border similar to those gracing late-medieval manuscripts. The glittering composition signaled that something beautiful waited around the corner. A small creature, outlined in gold and similarly lifted from lively Gothic illuminations, playfully peeked from a lower corner of the same wall, imparting a... Full Review
February 15, 2018
Kenneth A. Breisch
Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2016. 220 pp.; 21 color ills.; 140 b/w ills. Hardcover $45.00 (9781606064900)
The Los Angeles Public Library’s Central Library building (1924–33) in the city’s downtown has long been hemmed in by high-rise buildings. Their bland commercial anonymity makes it hard not to regard the library as the beloved elderly neighborhood dandy—one you feel sure could tell you some terrific stories about the old days. Kenneth A. Breisch’s beautiful new monograph aims to let the building do just that. It leads us first through the twists and turns that preceded the building’s... Full Review
February 15, 2018
Kymberly N. Pinder
Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2016. 224 pp.; 60 color ills.; 8 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (9780252081439)
In her book Painting the Gospel: Black Public Art and Religion in Chicago, Kymberly N. Pinder uses religious imagery affiliated with black churches in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side as a case study to explore the ways that African American artists and pastors have collaborated to insist upon self-representation of and for their congregations. This short book manages to be very narrow and specific in its discussion of a handful of churches in one of Chicago’s... Full Review
February 15, 2018
Stefanie Seeberg
Berlin: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2015. 336 pp.; 123 color ills.; 141 b/w ills. Hardcover € 69.00 (9783731900382)
Recently, I chaperoned some undergraduates visiting the Cleveland Museum of Art. As I was admiring the Jonah Marbles, a student rushed up in excitement, eager to tell me about an extraordinary work of embroidery. I followed her and immediately recognized it as a piece of white work from Altenberg an der Lahn. Thanks to Stefanie Seeberg’s excellent discussion of this and similar works in her Textile Bildwerke im Kirchenraum: Leinenstickereien im Kontext mittelalterlicher... Full Review
February 14, 2018