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

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Greg M. Thomas
Princeton University Press, 2000. 280 pp.; 88 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0691059462)
Greg Thomas's book Art and Ecology in Nineteenth-Century France: The Landscapes of Théodore Rousseau provides the reader with a long-awaited reevaluation of French landscape painting before the Impressionist period. While the study of Impressionism has sometimes become synonymous with French landscape painting during the nineteenth century, very little has been done, apart from the recent exhibitions of Camille Corot's work, to reassess the artistic contribution of the preceding... Full Review
October 24, 2000
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Francis Ames-Lewis
Yale University Press, 2000. 322 pp.; 50 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $40.00 (0300092950)
This book is an amazing compendium of information concerning the reevaluation of painting and sculpture as parts of the liberal arts during the early Renaissance (1290-1520); architecture is all but excluded because its position was already rather elevated. The observation in itself is not new; assessment of the graphic arts was a leitmotif of art historical scholarship throughout the twentieth century. What is impressive is the myriad aperçus Ames-Lewis has amassed and divided into eleven... Full Review
October 20, 2000
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Catherine de Zegher, ed.
MIT Press, 1999. 304 pp.; 47 color ills.; 97 b/w ills. Cloth $40.00 (026204174X)
International Center for Photography, New York, July 29-October 1, 2000; in collaboration with The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, July 15-October 8, 2000.
Like other post-conceptual artists of her generation who adapted the 1960s' formal convention of the series to sustained analytical investigations of social phenomena (think of Allan Sekula's Aerospace Folktales, for example, or Mary Kelly's Postpartum Document), Martha Rosler has produced a body of work over the last thirty-five years that has proven difficult to assimilate to the promotional ways and means of the art world. From her photodocumentary-cum-image/text work The... Full Review
September 29, 2000
Benjamin Buchloh
MIT Press, 2001. 576 pp.; 122 b/w ills. Cloth (0262024543)
This is a terrific collection of essays that provides a valuable opportunity to review the intellectual development and ambitions of one of the leading critics of our time. It offers access to the author's enterprise from a distinctive vantage point: saving for a second volume his influential period and approach studies--essays such as "Formalism and Historicity" (1977), "Allegorical Procedures" (1982), and "Cold War Constructivism" (1990)--and his well-known "from/to" critical developmental... Full Review
September 27, 2000
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Kalman P. Bland
Princeton University Press, 2001. 233 pp. Paper $19.95 (069108985x)
"Art history is what one Jew tells another Jew about goyishe (i.e.--Christian) art." This, at any rate, is how my teacher, Stephen S. Kayser, flippantly spoke of his discipline. Kayser, a member of the German émigré generation, author of an important study on Grünewald's Isenheim altarpiece and founding director of the Jewish Museum in New York, was not far from wrong. Highly acculturated Jews have been disproportionately represented in the ranks of art historians. Among the "greats"... Full Review
September 24, 2000
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John Gage
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. 320 pp.; 37 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0520220390)
John Gage's book Color and Culture appeared with considerable acclaim in 1994, and it won that year's Mitchell Prize for art history. It was a dense, ambitious, yet readable exploration of color in Western art from the Classical era to the 20th century--or rather, of ideas about color, since Gage gave more attention to writings about the subject than to actual examples of practice. For instance, he devoted far more space to Matisse's "Notes d'un peintre" (1908) and other written and... Full Review
September 20, 2000
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Elizabeth Alice Honig
Yale University Press, 1998. 308 pp.; 24 color ills.; 90 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0300072392)
Modestly reproduced, Sebastian Vrancx's unfamiliar Harbor with the Children of Mercury (Musée Massey, Tarbes) is an unlikely opener for this provocative and intelligent book, which seeks to establish the market as a central concern of pictorial culture in Antwerp between 1550 and 1650. It is a mark of Elizabeth Honig's distinction as a writer that, through three paragraphs of precise description, she convinces the reader that this apparently innocuous painting of the tricks of all... Full Review
September 8, 2000
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Christopher S. Wood, ed.
Brooklyn, N.Y.: Zone Books, 2000. 472 pp.; 39 b/w ills. Cloth $32.00 (1890951145)
Christopher S. Wood has done a great service in editing an anthology of previously untranslated works from the second "Viennese School." In theoretical essays and case studies published in the nineteen twenties and thirties, these art historians tried to breathe new life into formal analysis, self-consciously combining analyses of spatial coherence with interpretations drawn from contemporary psychology and artistic practice. Wood has revisited, reconsidered, and made available to the... Full Review
September 8, 2000
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Kurt Weitzmann and Massimo Bernabo
Princeton University Press, 1999. 880 pp.; 23 color ills.; 1,552 b/w ills. Cloth $295.00 (0691007225)
Not too many books being published these days were begun in 1932 or are dedicated to someone who died in 1955 (Charles Rufus Morey). But this is hardly an average book by any standard: size and number of pages, quantity of illustrations, or length of preparation. Its subject is the six illustrated manuscripts of the Octateuchs, the first eight books of the Septuagint, the Hebrew Bible in Greek. As Kurt Weitzmann, long the eminent Byzantinist at Princeton, writes in the first of the book's two... Full Review
September 6, 2000
Mario Bevilacqua
Naples: Mondadori Electa, 1998. 224 pp.; some color ills.; many b/w ills. Paper $50.00 (8843587544)
Baroque Rome was in large part built by talented Lombards, among whom were Domenico Fontana, Carlo Maderno, Francesco Borromini, and Carlo Fontana. A native of the diocese of Como, Giovanni Battista Nolli (1701-56) was a surveyor (geometra) who, between the years 1722 and 1734, prepared cadastral maps, first in Lombardy and then in Savoy, utilizing the plane table (tavoletta pretoriana), a device then only recently introduced into Italy. In Rome, no longer a functionary within a... Full Review
September 1, 2000