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

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Angela Falco Howard
New York: Weatherhill, 2000. 220 pp.; 181 color ills. Cloth $60.00 (0834804271)
A growing body of publications has finally dispelled the myth that the Song dynasty (960–1279) marked the beginning of a long and inexorable decline of Buddhism throughout the imperial era in China.[1] Summit of Treasures: Buddhist Cave Art of Dazu, China by Angela Howard is an eloquent addition to this new scholarship. The subject of inquiry is the Baodingshan complex in Dazu County, Sichuan province, the only known Buddhist site in China exclusively constructed during the Song... Full Review
July 3, 2002
Edgar Peters Bowron
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. 304 pp.; 140 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0300091818)
Museo Correr, Venice, Italy, February 10–June 27, 2001; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, July 29–October 21, 2001.
The townscapes of Bernardo Bellotto (1722–80) have always delighted those in the know. Although never as prominent as his famous uncle, Antonio Canaletto, Bellotto has remained familiar to scholars through the regular appearance of his paintings in exhibitions and occasional reproduction in books. Yet he lingers on the margins of English-language scholarship, perhaps because he spent most of his career in the relatively unfamiliar terrain of Central Europe. Confusion about Bellotto's relation... Full Review
July 3, 2002
Roger S Wieck, William M. Voelkle, and Michelle Hearne, eds.
New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1999. 208 pp.; 58 color ills.; 45 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0807614777)
Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, January 23-May 8, 2001
Like Simon Marmion (d. 1489), Jean Poyet is a celebrated late fifteenth-century French painter whose documented works elude certain identification. Recorded in Tours between 1483 and 1498, Poyet was ranked with Jean Fouquet and praised for his mastery of perspective by several early sixteenth-century writers. Poyet's reputation waxed again three hundred years later, when his name was attached to the celebrated Hours of Anne of Bretagne (Paris, BNF, lat. 9474). With the discovery in 1868 and... Full Review
July 2, 2002
Alex Potts
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. 432 pp.; 50 color ills.; 115 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0300088019)
In The Sculptural Imagination: Figurative, Modernist, Minimalist, Alex Potts explains the transition from self-contained figurative sculpture to sculpture-in-the-expanded-field as the culmination of two centuries of beliefs that sculpture incites a "distinctive mode of apprehension" (2) from painting. This significant divide rests not strictly on the formal means of the two mediums, but also on the reactions these means prompt in viewers: For Potts the "vividly... Full Review
June 27, 2002
Alisa LaGamma
Exh. cat. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Harry N. Abrams, 1999. 80 pp.; 50 color ills.; 5 b/w ills. $22.50 (0870999338)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, April 25-July 30, 2000
It is now widely recognized that much of African art has been created to sustain social harmony, improve living conditions, and encourage political cohesion. The varied functions of African works have been addressed in numerous exhibitions and books, yet for our times, there may be no topic more thought-provoking and inspiring than the resilient roles that African artworks play in healing and crisis management. Art and Oracle: African Art and Rituals of Divination, published in... Full Review
June 25, 2002
Eric Fernie
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. 380 pp.; 4 color ills.; 196 b/w ills. Cloth $110.00 (0198174063)
In The Architecture of Norman England, Eric Fernie has produced the first indispensable study of medieval architecture for the new millennium. He achieves an admirable balance between a good introductory survey for the uninitiated and a new handbook for specialists. All of us are in his debt for making the material both interesting and accessible. The book will have a long and useful shelf life, all the more because it is, ultimately, a book about ideas and theoretical conceptions in... Full Review
June 20, 2002
Susan Fillin-Yeh, ed.
New York University Press, 2001. Cloth
See Susan Fillin-Yeh and Robert Moore’s response to this review The title of this anthology is misleading: The collection is not consistently about dandies, only tangentially about fashion, and the word “finesse” disappears after the title. The book offers both less and more than the title promises, skimping on the historical specificity of dandyism but expanding the reach of this term. At its worst, it simply spices common art-historical... Full Review
June 18, 2002
David Morgan and Sally M. Promey, eds.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. 441 pp.; 16 color ills.; 106 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (0520225228)
Given the strong religious tenor of the last two decades of culture wars and the expansion of the "new art history" into visual culture, it seemed to be only a matter of time before the scholarly field took on the artifacts of religion for the work of academic debate and interpretation. In the preface to their fine anthology, editors David Morgan and Sally M. Promey point to a relatively widespread lack of scholarly discussion of religious imagery by North American art historians and... Full Review
June 14, 2002
Mary Rogers, ed.
Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 241 pp.; 39 b/w ills. Cloth $84.95 (0754600211)
Although more than twenty years have passed since the publication of Stephen Greenblatt's Renaissance Self-Fashioning from More to Shakespeare (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), the ability of that groundbreaking study to stimulate new ways of considering monumental works of Renaissance culture has hardly diminished. Fashioning Identities in Renaissance Art is a collection of essays inspired by Greenblatt's work that attempts to extend his concept of literary... Full Review
June 11, 2002
Rosalind Krauss
London: Thames and Hudson, 1999. 64 pp.; 45 color ills. Paper $16.95 (0500282072)
Michael Newman and Jon Bird, eds.
London: Reaktion Books, 1999. 264 pp.; some b/w ills. Paper $24.95 (1861890524)
Anne Rorimer
London: Thames and Hudson, 2000. 320 pp.; 280 b/w ills. $50.00 (0500237824)
The current explosion of critical and art-historical writing on "Conceptual Art," like the discursive production of "postmodernism" of the 1980s and early 1990s that preceded it, posits that the art production of a particular group of artists, by means of critical attack and strategic engagement, extended the development of visual modernism into what has been termed a "critical postmodernism" of the late twentieth century. Therefore, we are at this moment witnesses to the slow process of... Full Review
June 11, 2002