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

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Exhibition schedule: Tate Modern, London, May 15–16, 2015
[See the multimedia version on Scalar.] Adrénaline: A Dance Floor for Everyone Adrénaline: A Dance Floor for Everyone, an open disco hour reminiscent of a pop-up dance club, emerged twice a day at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, under a shimmering giant disco ball. Led by the enticing sets of DJ Oneman and DJ Jonjo Jury,... Full Review
September 8, 2016
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Austin: Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, 2015.
Exhibition schedule: Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, December 12, 2015–April 3, 2016
It is rare for an exhibition to be devoted to a single medieval manuscript. Such a display is impractical, if not impossible, given the fact that in most cases only one opening of a manuscript can be viewed at a time. Thus the display and exhibition of nearly every bifolio of one of the most sumptuously illuminated medieval manuscripts in a single exhibition—The Crusader Bible: A Gothic Masterpiece at the Blanton Museum of Art—represents an extraordinary opportunity to see a... Full Review
September 1, 2016
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Michael Hall
New Haven: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in association with Yale University Press, 2015. 508 pp.; 200 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (9780300208023)
The study of Victorian architecture has matured. At the forefront of recent achievements in scholarship now stands Michael Hall’s enormous and enormously rich biography of one of the greatest High Victorians, George Frederick Bodley (1827–1907). Hall’s monumental achievement is twofold. First, he has conquered the intrinsic difficulty of the project. Bodley’s personal and office papers are lost, and this unhappy paucity is complemented by the almost more troublesome richness of the surviving... Full Review
September 1, 2016
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Foong Ping
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015. 318 pp.; 63 color ills. Cloth $79.95 (9780674417151)
The cover of Foong Ping’s The Efficacious Landscape: On the Authorities of Painting at the Northern Song Court features a detail from a painting titled Early Spring, dated 1072 and signed by Guo Xi. By virtue of its imposing size and matchless virtuosity of brushwork as well as the relative abundance of historical records concerning Guo Xi, a famed court painter of the Northern Song period (960–1127), this magnificent work in ink and light colors on silk occupies a central... Full Review
September 1, 2016
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Kristine Juncker
Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2014. 216 pp.; 28 color ills.; 15 b/w ills. Cloth $74.95 (9780813049700)
In Afro-Cuban Religious Arts: Popular Expressions of Cultural Inheritance in Espiritismo and Santería, Kristine Juncker combines the study of material culture with the methodological tools of anthropology to trace the history of Afro-Cuban religious arts. Hers is a longitudinal study that begins with the abolition of slavery in 1886, when former slaves migrated to Havana, and ends in an old building in Harlem in the 1960s where Caribbean immigrants congregated to ask the spirits of the... Full Review
August 25, 2016
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Leon Wainwright
Rethinking Art's Histories. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011. 208 pp.; 20 b/w ills. Paper $30.95 (9780719085949)
Theoretical literature on Caribbean art is rare, which is why any book that is published on the topic deserves particular attention. In Timed Out: Art and the Transnational Caribbean, Leon Wainwright explores the state of transnational Caribbean art in five chapters plus an introduction and conclusion. Arguing for a greater consideration of the Caribbean in the writing of a new transnational art history, he looks at the contributions of Caribbean artists to modern and contemporary art.... Full Review
August 25, 2016
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Sarah Staniforth, ed.
Readings in Conservation. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 2013. 456 pp.; 10 color ills.; 12 b/w ills. Paper $70.00 (9781606061428)
Historical Perspectives on Preventive Conservation is the sixth installment in the Getty Conservation Institute’s “Readings in Conservation” series, which presents compilations of texts that the editors consider to be integral to the development of the theory and practice of the conservation profession. The series began with Historical and Philosophical Issues in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage (1996) and this has been followed by (to present) additional titles relating to... Full Review
August 25, 2016
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Wendy Bellion
Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011. 388 pp.; 12 color ills.; 83 b/w ills.; 95 ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780807833889)
Citizen Spectator: Art, Illusion, and Visual Perception in Early National America, the title of Wendy Bellion’s impressive book, aptly captures the primary themes of her study of Federal-period American visual culture. Her concern is with demonstrating the agency of looking: how active viewing reflected political ideologies and encouraged the emergence of community and national identities in the decades following the Revolution. Bellion casts “optical pleasure, play, and deceit” as... Full Review
August 25, 2016
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Audrey Lewis, ed.
Exh. cat. New York: Scala Arts Publishers, 2015. 208 pp.; 120 ills. Cloth $55.00 (9781857599411)
Exhibition schedule: Brandywine River Museum of Art, Chadds Ford, PA, April 25–July 19, 2015
In conjunction with the first exhibition project in over twenty years to provide an in-depth examination of the work of painter Horace Pippin, this catalogue’s six contributing essayists focus their texts to contrast with the platitudes that have defined Pippin’s work since the beginning of his public exhibition history in the late 1930s. These standard interpretations stubbornly persisted without critical scrutiny and “with the artist’s complicity” (53), in the words of Anne Monahan, former... Full Review
August 18, 2016
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Vicenza, Italy: Palladio Museum, 2015.
Exhibition schedule: September 23, 2015–March 28, 2016
Despite the richness of the country’s architectural heritage, museums devoted exclusively to architecture are rare in Italy; equally infrequent are exhibitions dedicated to understanding the building processes and principal protagonists responsible for shaping Italy’s historic landscape. The Palladio Museum in Vicenza is a notable exception. Since its establishment in 2012, the museum has proven itself to be an institution of international importance, promoting the study of Andrea... Full Review
August 18, 2016
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