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

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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Martha Hollander
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. 263 pp.; 10 color ills.; 89 b/w ills. Cloth (0520221354)
The fascination of seventeenth-century Dutch painters with the manipulation of pictorial space is a persistent theme in scholarly literature. Whether one reads about representations of Dutch homes, contemplative interiors of whitewashed churches, or courtyards and markets bustling with activity, one of the salient points for discussion is the complex spatial order of these renderings of daily life, whose dizzying sense of accuracy is inevitably a result of contrived artistry. It may... Full Review
March 11, 2003
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Joan Simon
New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2002. 280 pp.; 180 color ills.; 120 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0810941600)
Ann Hamilton, an internationally recognized performance and installation artist, began her artistic training in textiles at the University of Kansas before attending Yale University, where she earned a graduate degree in sculpture. Since earning her M.F.A., Hamilton has taught and produced multimedia art. She is best known for lavish, multiple-room installations in which she disrupts protocols of artistic experience and invites visitors to reexamine their accustomed ways of... Full Review
January 23, 2003
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Cynthia Hahn
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. 455 pp.; 8 color ills.; 149 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0520223209)
Cynthia Hahn’s new study of illustrated saints’ Lives offers its readers a penetrating account of a highly important category of medieval imagery, as well as a thoughtful treatment of topics of interest to scholars working in a wide range of fields within art history. On its most basic level, Portrayed on the Heart: Narrative Effect in Pictorial Lives of Saints from the Tenth through the Thirteenth Century lucidly describes how the concept invoked by its title—the belief that... Full Review
January 17, 2003
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