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

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Peter Wollen
Berkeley: University of California Press in association with The Hayward Gallery, 1999. 120 pp.; 99 color ills.; 22 b/w ills. Paper $24.95 (1853321834)
Until recently, accounts of 20th-century art history have failed to see the relevance of fashion for their object of study. Typically, fashion was regarded as superficial, fleeting, and feminized; therefore, the interest in clothing design manifested by modernist artists from Henry Van de Velde to the Russian Constructivists has customarily been presented as an effort at rationalization or reform, and as a rejection of commercial dress design as practiced by such successful couturiers of the... Full Review
March 27, 2000
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Jane R. Becker and Gabriel P. Weisberg, eds.
Rutgers University Press in association with Dahesh Museum of Art, 1999. 170 pp.; 31 color ills.; 61 b/w ills. Paper $35.00 (0813527562)
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, October 2, 1999-January 2, 2000; The Dahesh Museum, New York, January 18-May 13, 2000;
"Our studio now enjoys the same advantages as the studio of the men, that is to say, we draw from the nude every day from the same model in the same pose as they do; consequently we can now paint compositions of more importance than before." So wrote the Ukrainian painter Marie Bashkirtseff in November 1880. The studio to which she referred was one of the ateliers of the Académie Julian, located in the center of Paris, where she had been studying since 1877. That the women of the Académie... Full Review
March 27, 2000
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Francis Newton
Cambridge University Press, 1999. (0521583950)
Building on E. A. Lowe's pioneering work of 1914, The Beneventan Script: A History of the South Italian Minuscule (2nd ed., ed. Virginia Brown, Rome: 1980) Francis Newton concentrates upon the single scriptorium of Montecassino, and its golden years under abbots Desiderius (1058-1087) and Oderisius (1087-1105). Newton has extended Lowe's list of manuscripts originating at the monastery; some he has re-dated on the basis of a detailed set of paleographical and codicological criteria,... Full Review
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B.N. Goswamy
University of Washington Press, 1999. 304 pp.; 104 color ills.; 241 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (3907070763)
This is an important book. It is a more narrowly focused follow-up to Pahari Masters: Court Painters of Northern India (1992) written in collaboration with Eberhard Fischer. Nainsukh of Guler: A Great Indian Painter from a Small Hill-State reads like the culmination of a long and distinguished scholarly career, but fortunately, Goswamy is still active in the field. The book is the product of an ongoing dialogue between the 18th-century artist and the scholar who rescued him from... Full Review
March 23, 2000
Peter Galison and Emily Thompson, eds.
MIT Press, 1999. (0262071908)
This collection of twenty-three essays spans five-hundred years of science and architecture and includes scholarship from fields as disparate as the history of science, art history, physics, sociology, and engineering. The attempt to understand "the means by which architecture and science define one another through their encounter" (3) is a worthy, but wildly ambitious, task. Both architecture and science are expansive terms that have shifted meaning in fundamental ways over the last five... Full Review
March 23, 2000
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David Morgan
Oxford University Press, 1999. 418 pp. Cloth $35.00 (0195130294)
This book arrived for review one day after an issue of American Quarterly that reviews six books under the caption "Visualizing Nineteenth-Century American Culture," even though none of the books' titles include the word "visual" (51 [December 1999]: 895-909). Then an article in CAA's own Art Journal asked, "Who's Afraid of Visual Culture?" (58 [Winter 1999]: 36-47). Several days later the Association of Historians of Nineteenth-Century Art queried members about launching a new... Full Review
March 23, 2000
Nancy Patterson Sevcenko and Christopher Moss, eds.
Princeton University Press (0691007357)
Arguably, the "Sweet Land of Cyprus," to use the words of the early fifteenth-century chronicler Leontios Machairas, is culturally and visually one of the most complex parts of the medieval Mediterranean. The arts of medieval Cyprus, especially the thirteenth-century icon and monumental painting, formed a central part in the scholarship of the late Doula Mouriki. Medieval Cyprus contains fourteen lavishly illustrated articles encompassing visual material from Early Christian to the... Full Review
March 22, 2000
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Noel Carroll
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. 440 pp. $18.95 (0198742371)
Here in San Francisco, every now and then a splendid mansion cracks in half, and beneath it appears an unexpected fault line. The mansion's architects call in the geologists, get down in the basement with flashlights, and try to remember enough of their old geology courses to understand whether or not the whole building has to come down. The architects are forced to start talking geology, wishing all the while they were back up in the light, doing what they trained to do. Noël Carroll's... Full Review
March 9, 2000
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George Henderson
Cambridge University Press, 1999. $90.00 (0521551307)
Readers familiar with George Henderson's work on Gospel Books, the color purple, or the importance of opus sectile as a source for art in other media will find all three themes woven through the various topics covered in his new volume. This is an extraordinarily rich book that attempts to set the art of early Anglo-Saxon England within its broader religious and cultural context, both within the Insular world and in relation to late antiquity and the Early Christian church. The chapter... Full Review
March 7, 2000
Esther Pasztory
Cambridge University Press, 1997. 176 pp.; 121 color ills. Paper $18.95 (0521645514)
On the cover of Esther Pasztory's 1998 book we witness today's most celebrated pre-conquest Maya sacrificer, Lady Xoc, performing the act for which she is most notable: the Maya noblewoman lets blood by threading a thorn-studded rope through her tongue. Shield Jaguar, her male consort and eighth-century lord of Yaxchilan, stands close by brandishing a torch that illuminates the sacrificial scene. In recent years the sculpted lintel with Lady Xoc and Shield Jaguar, Yaxchilan Lintel 24 has... Full Review
March 1, 2000
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