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

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Cynthia Hahn
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. 455 pp.; 8 color ills.; 149 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0520223209)
Cynthia Hahn’s new study of illustrated saints’ Lives offers its readers a penetrating account of a highly important category of medieval imagery, as well as a thoughtful treatment of topics of interest to scholars working in a wide range of fields within art history. On its most basic level, Portrayed on the Heart: Narrative Effect in Pictorial Lives of Saints from the Tenth through the Thirteenth Century lucidly describes how the concept invoked by its title—the belief that... Full Review
January 17, 2003
Keith L. Eggener
New York: Princeton Architectural Press 256 pp.; 25 color ills.; 75 b/w ills. Cloth $40.00 (1568982674)
Keith L. Eggener’s recent book, Luis Barragán’s Gardens of El Pedregal, published by Princeton Architectural Press, is a welcome in-depth study of the urban design, landscape, and architecture of Barragán’s 1,250 acre Gardens of El Pedregal residential subdivision, sited in the El Pedregal lava fields in the southern part of Mexico City. This well-researched book provides much-needed critical commentary on this elusive project, which is now mostly destroyed and is primarily known to us... Full Review
January 14, 2003
Michael D. Rabe
Chennai, India: Institute of Asian Studies, 2001. 298 pp.; 91 b/w ills. Cloth $30.00
The South Indian beach town of Mahabalipuram, once known as Mamallapuram, was the primary seaport of the Pallava kings who claimed authority over the surrounding Tamil-speaking region from the sixth to ninth centuries C.E. While the Pallavas reigned, artisans carved the site’s natural granite outcroppings into elegant sculptures and many architectural forms. The most dramatic of these, an entire cliff sculpted with dozens of colossal yet graceful figures of humans, animals, and deities, is... Full Review
January 13, 2003
Making Culture Visible: The Public Display of Photography at Fairs, Expositions, and Exhibitions in the United States, 1847–1900 addresses the changing reception of photography from its early days up to the turn of the century as a function of expanding exhibition opportunities and strategies. It is the eighth volume in the Gordon and Breach series “Documenting the Image” (now distributed by Routledge) intended to promote visual collections from around the world and to... Full Review
January 10, 2003
Todd P. Olson
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. 316 pp.; 25 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0300093381)
More than a generation ago, Anthony Blunt and Denis Mahon developed ways of thinking about Nicholas Poussin and his art that, although recently the subject of prolonged scrutiny and occasional criticism, still remain canonical. Poussin, the French-born philosopher-painter, returned to his native country as an adult only briefly, when commanded by Cardinal Richelieu to organize the renovation of the Grande Galerie of the Louvre. This great painter was by choice a lifelong resident of Rome--and... Full Review
January 9, 2003
Monica Blackmun Visoná, Robin Poyner, Herbert M. Cole, Michael D. Harris, Rowland Abiodun, and Suzanne Preston Blier
Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall in association with Harry N. Abrams, 2001. 544 pp.; 129 color ills.; 600 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (0810934485)
A History of Art in Africa is the product of two decades of research and writing by a team of scholars who represent Africanist art historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, and other teachers of African visual culture in the United States. Led by Monica Visonà and Robin Poynor, the team includes Herbert M. Cole and Michael D. Harris. The book is intended to be a general undergraduate text on African art and so fills a gap that has plagued Africanists for years. Until recently, they... Full Review
January 8, 2003
Joan B. Landes
Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001. 288 pp.; 60 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (080143811X)
In her latest book, Joan B. Landes tackles one of the French Revolution’s most recalcitrant iconographic paradoxes. How is it, she asks, that popular prints relied so heavily on female figures to embody notions of liberty, justice, and the French Republic at a time when the flesh-and-blood women of France were decisively drummed out of public political activity? She finds her answer in a deeply divided realm that she terms “graphic politics,” where visual and political rhetoric interacted to... Full Review
January 7, 2003
Baltimore: Baltimore Museum of Art in association with Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002. 297 pp.; many color ills.; some b/w ills. Paper $35.00 (0271022353)
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD, October 6, 2002–January 5, 2003; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO, February 14–May 18, 2003
Who knew? Certainly there were documents from the sixteenth century around the publishing house of Christopher Plantin in Antwerp that mentioned payments to artists who added color to intaglio prints. At the same time in Germany, a quite respectable living was made in the print trade by individuals known as Briefmaler, or print colorists, who were included among the depicted professions in Jost Amman’s Book of Trades (Frankfurt, 1568). Not to mention all those surviving woodcuts... Full Review
December 31, 2002
Antonio Natali, ed.
Milan: Silvana Editoriale, 2000. 127 pp.; 115 color ills.; 46 b/w ills. Cloth $110.00 (8882152766)
Several publications released in the past decade have reinvigorated studies of Leonardo da Vinci and, more specifically, have spurred an ongoing critical reappraisal of his early work. Thorny matters, including the nature of his apprenticeship to Andrea del Verrocchio, the range of his experience before entering into that master’s workshop, his delayed matriculation in the Florentine painters’ guild, and--perhaps the slipperiest question of all--how the young artist struggled to find his own... Full Review
December 18, 2002
Ingrid Ehrhardt and Simon Reynolds, eds.
Munich: Prestel, 2000. 334 pp.; 130 color ills.; 154 b/w ills. Cloth (3791323385)
Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, February 26-April 30, 2000; Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham, England, May 26-June 30, 2000; and Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde, Stockholm, Sweden, August 25-November 5, 2000
While a number of recent exhibitions have examined Symbolist art in a European context, Kingdom of the Soul: Symbolist Art in Germany 1870–1920 was the first international show to focus exclusively on German art from the turn-of-the-century period.[1] Despite the inclusive parameters in its title, most of works included date from the Wilhelmine period (1890–1914). Coorganized by the English art historian, Simon Reynolds, and Ingrid Ehrhardt, curator at Frankfurt’s Schirn Kunsthalle,... Full Review
December 13, 2002