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

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Mark A. Cheetham
Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 232 pp.; 35 b/w ills. Cloth $54.95 (0521800188)
Mark Cheetham's book, Kant, Art, and Art History: Moments of Discipline, addresses the problem implied by the critic Thomas McEvilley's quip: "Kant and Greenberg are both things of the past and we should just get over them. Yet somehow, they keep arising from the grave like zombies" ("The Tomb of the Zombie," Art Criticism, 1998). Other critics and historians, such as Paul Crowther, want to excise Immanuel Kant from art history, due to amply documented misreadings of the... Full Review
November 21, 2001
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Robert Shlaer
Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press, 2000. 176 pp.; 126 color ills.; 33 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0890133409)
Douglas Nickel
New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1999. 228 pp.; 20 color ills.; 85 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0810941023)
Though it seems impossible to imagine today, there was a time, just thirty years ago, when major exhibitions of historical photographs were rare, and their sumptuously reproduced, oversize catalogues even rarer. With the exception of John Szarkowski's small, seminal The Photographer and the American Landscape (1963), nineteenth-century American landscape photography--now a boom business and a gilt-edge genre--had little or no exposure. If you wanted to see the work of Timothy... Full Review
November 19, 2001
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John Dillenberger
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. 248 pp.; 85 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0195121724)
In his preface, the author states that he intends to provide a "comprehensive account" (vii) of the place of images in sixteenth-century religious reformations--a laudable goal, though one that this volume ultimately falls short of delivering. John Dillenberger, a noted scholar of theological history, continues his contributions to the study of Reformation history, while taking a different angle by focusing on the role and perception of images in the sixteenth century. The author's endeavor,... Full Review
November 7, 2001
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Mieke Bal and Norman Bryson
G + B Arts International, 2001. 240 pp.; 26 b/w ills. Paper $24.00 (9057011123)
It is difficult to imagine a more stimulating and challenging meditation on visual theory than the one presented in this book. We are offered an initially unfamiliar vision of Mieke Bal's work: early writing on narrative theory; chapters from Reading Rembrandt: Beyond the Word-Image Opposition (Cambridge University Press, 1991) and Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, Prepostrous History (University of Chicago Press, 1999); aspects of her underappreciated but seminal work on... Full Review
November 6, 2001
Alfreda Murck
Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. 406 pp.; many b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0674002431)
In late eleventh-century China, a group of disaffected government officials, their careers in disarray and their lives sometimes at risk, found ways to express political dissent and personal grievances through the use of literary allusions. Expressing dissatisfaction could be dangerous, so these allusions had to be oblique; a reference to spotted bamboo, for instance, evoked an ancient legend about loyal wives searching in vain for their dead lord. Recognizing such an allusion in a poem or in... Full Review
November 5, 2001
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Dominic Marner
Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 2000. 112 pp.; 51 color ills.; 13 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (0802035183)
Densely illustrated manuscripts of the lives and miracles of the saints constituted a distinct category of artistic production during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Of particular interest for the study of narrative and the relationship between text and image, these works also offer important evidence for scholars of political and religious history. Once deemed less aesthetically significant and intellectually sophisticated than illuminated Bibles and liturgical manuscripts, illustrated... Full Review
November 1, 2001
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Kamil Khan Mumtaz
Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1999. 150 pp.; some color ills.; some b/w ills. Cloth $35.00
The title of Kamil Khan Mumtaz's book is in keeping with architectural debates in South Asia, which for almost a century have remained anchored in questions about modernity and tradition. This book is a collection of sixteen short polemical essays by Mumtaz, a well-known Pakistani architect, written between 1967 and 1997. The essays chronicle the gradual shift in his position "from a committed 'modernist' to a believer in the essential value of traditional wisdom." Mumtaz's argument does not... Full Review
October 30, 2001
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Kalman P. Bland
Princeton University Press, 2001. 233 pp. Paper $19.95 (069108985x)
See Stephen Fine's review of this book. As its title suggests, Kalman P. Bland's The Artless Jew: Medieval and Modern Affirmations and Denials of the Visual revisits the evidence on Jewish aniconism and uncovers the origins and meanings of this most prevalent of modern myths. The conventional wisdom Bland seeks to overturn is now a profoundly internalized truism formulated during the course of the last 200 years by a... Full Review
October 24, 2001
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Valerie Shrimplin
Truman State University Press, 2000. 375 pp.; 127 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0943549655)
This book systematically examines the ways in which the sun was understood metaphorically, symbolically, and scientifically in a range of texts and images available to Michelangelo during the period in which he designed and painted the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel (1534-41). Observing that Michelangelo's Last Judgment differs from previous renditions in that it offers a circular composition with figures rising and falling in a clockwise pattern around a figure of Christ... Full Review
October 19, 2001
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Larry Norman, ed.
Exh. cat. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001. 128 pp.; 8 color ills.; 60 b/w ills. $22.00 (0935573291)
David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, January 9-April 22, 2001.
In a manner appropriate to its subject, The Theatrical Baroque is slender in size but broad in scope. The catalogue, like the exhibition it accompanied at the University of Chicago's David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, explores a wide range of interactions between the visual and performing arts in Western Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The project's structure also sets forth an ambitious agenda, as it proposes that faculty and students working together across... Full Review
September 20, 2001