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

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Hubert Locher
Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2000. 524 pp.; 89 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (3770535219)
According to the well-known argument of Hayden White, each historiographical account--no matter how devoted to empirical detail in the tradition of Ranke or to grand systematic schemes in the manner of Hegel--is based on a theory or philosophy regarding its own aims and premises. This argument comes to mind after reading Hubert Locher's erudite book Kunstgeschichte als historische Theorie der Kunst 1750-1950 (Art History as a Historical Theory of Art 1750-1950). A... Full Review
January 7, 2002
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Michael J. Lewis
New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000. 256 pp.; 200 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0393730638)
Frank Furness was one of America's premier architects. It will come as something of a shock, then, to learn that with the publication of Michael Lewis's Frank Furness, we have just three books devoted to the work of this nineteenth-century Philadelphia-based designer: an exhibition catalogue, The Architecture of Frank Furness by James F. O'Gorman in 1973; a catalogue raisonné, Frank Furness: The Complete Works by George E. Thomas, Jeffrey A. Cohen, and Michael J. Lewis in... Full Review
January 5, 2002
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Norbert Nussbaum
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. 272 pp.; 50 color ills.; 180 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0300083211)
Norbert Nussbaum's excellent, well-illustrated book, already published in two German editions, is finally available in a clear, readable English translation. It is well laid out and includes extensive and useful notes, a bibliography, a glossary of technical terms, a chronological list of buildings, and indices of persons and places. Given the exceptional quality and quantity of its photographs, plans, and text--all at a reasonable cost--the book will be a classic, a status it has already... Full Review
December 15, 2001
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J. Mordaunt Crook
London: John Murray Publishers, 1999. 354 pp.; 118 b/w ills. Paper $24.95 (0719560500)
In writing about the newly rich in Britain during the late Victorian and Edwardian eras, J. Mordaunt Crook has produced a study that is fascinating for its vast and colorful cast of characters, but also frustrating for its piecemeal and anecdotal approach to such a complex social phenomenon. Crook tells us his method is "impressionistic rather than statistical" (4), as he has not intended to produce the kind of meticulous, socioeconomic study of David Cannadine's Decline and Fall of... Full Review
December 13, 2001
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Sidney Littlefield Kasfir
London: Thames and Hudson, 2000. 224 pp.; 74 color ills.; 96 b/w ills. Paper $14.95 (0500203288)
Contemporary African art is a complex subject. Much of it has been produced by formally and informally trained artists and, for the most part, under the influence of Western education and creative enterprise. Some critics have argued that Western patronage is biased against contemporary African art in favor of "traditional" art, apparently because of the latter's impact on modern art in the early twentieth century. It is alleged that many Western critics prefer the works of the informally... Full Review
December 12, 2001
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James J. Sheehan
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. 271 pp.; 31 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (0195135725)
This is a remarkably brief book about a vast subject. While most museum histories are monographs or catalogues, James Sheehan's elegant survey presents the rise and fall of the monumental German art museums, including their eighteenth-century origins, along with appropriate fragments of their philosophical and historical context. For German-reading scholars interested in the German art world and its museums, the book covers a more or less familiar terrain in a more than familiar manner,... Full Review
December 6, 2001
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Vaughan Hart and Peter Hicks, eds.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. 428 pp.; 129 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0300075308)
Alina Payne
Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 362 pp.; 88 b/w ills. Cloth $88.00 (0521622662)
The past decade has witnessed a veritable explosion of superior new English translations of Italian Renaissance architectural treatises, as well as a new critical translation of Vitruvius, whose Latin treatise served generations of Italian architects and theorists as the yardstick for proper classical style. This bounty of treatises has broadened significantly the English-speaking audience to whom these texts are now available, and the use of these books in the classroom should increase... Full Review
November 30, 2001
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Gabriele Neher and Rupert Shepherd, eds.
Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2000. 241 pp. Cloth (0754601692)
This anthology is a welcome addition to the growing body of literature on consumption and consumerism in the Renaissance, particularly from an art-historical perspective. It is based on a session entitled "Values in Renaissance Art" at the 25th Annual Conference of the Association of Art Historians, held in Southampton, England, in April of 1999. Most of the original papers delivered at the conference were revised and have been included in this book; others were added to expand the scope of... Full Review
November 26, 2001
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Sara F. Matthews-Grieco and Sabina Brevaglieri, eds.
Florence: Morgana Edizioni, 2001. 286 pp.; 403 b/w ills. Paper $27.50 (8885698751)
In recent years, numerous publications focusing on women in early modern Italy have appeared, and this volume, consisting of six essays by well-known scholars, is a welcome addition to the list. Developed in conjunction with the Progetto Donna of the Council for Public Education in Florence, this work is a fine example of combined public and private interests in gender history based on interdisciplinary studies. The unique value of this well-produced book rests in its collection of an... Full Review
November 21, 2001
Mark A. Cheetham
Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 232 pp.; 35 b/w ills. Cloth $54.95 (0521800188)
Mark Cheetham's book, Kant, Art, and Art History: Moments of Discipline, addresses the problem implied by the critic Thomas McEvilley's quip: "Kant and Greenberg are both things of the past and we should just get over them. Yet somehow, they keep arising from the grave like zombies" ("The Tomb of the Zombie," Art Criticism, 1998). Other critics and historians, such as Paul Crowther, want to excise Immanuel Kant from art history, due to amply documented misreadings of the... Full Review
November 21, 2001
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