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

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Mary D. Garrard
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. 201 pp.; 8 color ills.; 57 b/w ills. Paper $24.95 (0520228413)
In her preface, Mary Garrard declares that she wants her book to serve as an exemplary methodological model. She seeks to provide a new mode of connoisseurship, one that includes not only a thorough analysis of the formal elements within a given work of art, but also a detailed discussion of the social, psychological, gender-specific, and iconographic elements particular to the artist studied. In this volume, her latest contribution to Artemisia Gentileschi scholarship, Garrard has... Full Review
April 2, 2003
Richard Ettinghausen, Oleg Grabar, and Marilyn Jenkins-Medina
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001. 352 pp.; 150 color ills.; 330 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0300088671)
As a student in the 1980s, studying for qualifying exams in Islamic art history, I was so desperate to read the first edition of this title in the Pelican History of Art series that I ordered a copy from England months before it was available in the United States. At that time, there were few comprehensive surveys of Islamic art and architecture, and even those reflected a conservative, formalist vision of the subject. The Oleg Grabar and Richard Ettinghausen volume of 1987... Full Review
March 24, 2003
Margarita Tupitsyn
New Haven: Yale University Press 192 pp.; 20 color ills.; 80 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0300094590)
Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon, May 17–August 18, 2002; Fundación La Caixa, Madrid, November 20, 2002–January 19, 2003
Margarita Tupitsyn’s book, Malevich and Film, and the accompanying exhibition set forth an ambitious, revisionist narrative. Malevich and Film tells anew the story of the Russian painter’s iconic work, Black Square, first conceived as a backdrop for the Futurist opera Victory over the Sun in 1913, and provocatively installed at the conjunction of two walls and the ceiling in the exhibition 0.10 in St. Petersburg in December 1915. Kasimir Malevich... Full Review
March 19, 2003
Robert H. Sharf and Elizabeth Horton Sharf, eds.
Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2001. 288 pp.; 8 color ills.; 47 b/w ills. Cloth $49.50
Living Images: Japanese Buddhist Icons in Context includes four essays presented at the conference “The Japanese Buddhist Icon in Its Monastic Context,” held at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, in March 1994, that represent new trends in scholarship in both Buddhist studies and art history. In his insightful introduction, “Prolegomenon to the Study of Japanese Buddhist Icons,” Robert H. Sharf argues that although extant physical and textual evidence suggests that images played... Full Review
March 18, 2003
Alexander Nemerov
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. 274 pp.; 19 color ills.; 75 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0520224981)
Alexander Nemerov states at the outset of The Body of Raphaelle Peale: Still Life and Selfhood, 1812–1824 that he aims to interpret yet enhance the “strangeness” of Raphaelle’s pictures. He succeeds beautifully. Raphaelle Peale (1774–1825), an American artist who painted ordinary foodstuffs with a descriptive intensity worthy of Gustave Flaubert, continues to fascinate long after the reader has closed this book’s cover. Reading Raphaelle through a trifurcated lens of Freudian... Full Review
March 17, 2003
Marcia Brennan
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2001. 377 pp.; 8 color ills.; 48 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (0262024888)
The past few years have witnessed the publication of several major studies that reframed the history of early American modernism and the Alfred Stieglitz circle, most notably Celeste Connor’s Democratic Visions: Art and Theory of the Stieglitz Circle, 1924–1934 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), Wanda M. Corn’s The Great American Thing: Modern Art and National Identity, 1915–1935 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), and Sarah Greenough’s... Full Review
March 17, 2003
Pauline Croft, ed.
London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in association with Yale University Press, 2001. 352 pp.; 19 color ills.; 78 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0300091362)
The Cecil name is firmly tied to the political history of early modern England. As sequential advisers to Elizabeth I and Lord Treasurers under Elizabeth and James I, respectively, William Cecil (Lord Burghley) and his son, Robert (First Earl Salisbury), have been defined by their governmental policies and decision-making. Seldom have we heard about Cecilian activity that transcended the boundaries of Crown politics. Little has been said of William and Robert’s shared proclivities for... Full Review
March 11, 2003
Martha A. Sandweiss
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. 416 pp.; 148 b/w ills. $39.95 (0300095228)
Martha Sandweiss is not an art historian, and her ambitious new book is not a work of art history. Nonetheless, art historians interested in nineteenth-century photography in the United States should get their hands on a copy, because for them this book is not merely important but indispensable. The historian Sandweiss has written a cultural history of how, between the 1840s and the 1890s, photography and the American West came to be entwined. Her primary concern is with the history of... Full Review
March 11, 2003
Xavier Barral, ed.
Paris: Centre Pompidou et du Musée National d’Art Moderne in association with Editions de la Martinière, 2001. 576 pp.; 900 ills. Cloth $75.00 (2732429023)
Centre Pompidou et du Musée National d'art Modern, Paris, June 26–September 23, 2002
For almost forty years, Daniel Buren has challenged the dominant systems of cultural production and reception, mounting a two-pronged attack consisting of an ongoing series of in situ works that reveal the often-invisible institutional framework that structures cultural experience, and his voluminous body of writings, an independent project of theory, philosophy, and commentary on art. The rigor of his project is exemplified by his continual employment of what he terms his... Full Review
March 11, 2003
Frances Colpitt, ed.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 212 pp.; few b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0521808367)
David Ryan
New York: Routledge, 2001. 264 pp.; 38 color ills.; 2 b/w ills. Cloth $80.00 (0415276292)
David Ryan opens his introduction to Talking Painting: Dialogues with Twelve Contemporary Abstract Painters with the inquiry, “How do we connect the contemporary condition of abstract painting with its history?” (Ryan 1). He sees the question as necessarily posing two further ones: What do we mean by abstraction? And how do we construct history? Talking Painting sets out to explore these issues by juxtaposing Ryan’s interviews of twelve abstract painters with each artist’s... Full Review
March 11, 2003