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

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Sybil Gordon Kantor
MIT Press, 2001. 496 pp.; 0 color ills.; 83 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (0262112582)
Sybil Gordon Kantor’s book is an important contribution to the historiography of twentieth-century American art: It is intellectual and biographical history at its most rigorous. Kantor has scoured archives and primary sources to tell a story of the emergence of modernism in the U.S. through one man who was nevertheless the product of other men and women who had influenced him through their ideas, collections, and personal contacts. As today’s critics and historians bid farewell to modernism... Full Review
November 14, 2002
John Higgitt
University of Toronto Press, 2000. 362 pp.; 11 color ills.; 143 b/w ills. Cloth $80.00 (0802047599)
The Murthly Hours is a little-known and, until recently, little-studied manuscript of the late thirteenth century. Probably produced in Paris, it had found its way to Scotland by the early fourteenth century. The manuscript appears in a number of nineteenth-century inventories of Scottish collections, but its whereabouts were unknown to modern scholars until its rediscovery by John Higgitt in 1980. It was acquired by the National Library of Scotland in 1986 (MS 21000). Higgitt’s recent... Full Review
November 11, 2002
Allison Smith
Watson-Guptill, 2002. 288 pp.; 170 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0823016331)
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD, October 6, 2002–January 5, 2003; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO, February 14–May 18, 2003
Tate Britain, London, November 1, 2001–January 27, 2002; Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany, March 1–June 2, 2002; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, September 6, 2002–January 5, 2003; Kobe City Museum, Kobe, Japan, February–May 2003; Geidai Museum (University Art Museum), Tokyo, Japan, June–August 2003.
The Victorian Nude was an unusual choice for the inaugural exhibition at Tate Britain since it treated a subject rarely identified with nineteenth-century British culture. After all, despite a pile of books in recent years revealing the scope of Victorian sexuality, the popular correlation between prudery and the Victorian age remains strong. By choosing the saucy word “Exposed” for the exhibition’s title, the museum drew attention to the subject’s previously neglected character and to... Full Review
November 7, 2002
Yasser Tabbaa
University of Washington Press, 2002. 224 pp.; 85 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0295981253)
The Transformation of Islamic Art during the Sunni Revival is a book that will be read with great interest by all historians of Islamic art and will have a broad appeal to those interested in the relationship between medieval cultural or political formations and the dissemination of artistic forms. Ambitious in scope and innovative in approach, it is a handsome tome, well written and illustrated. Its two great a priori merits lie in the collation of an array of important... Full Review
November 4, 2002
Jean K. Cadogan
Yale University Press, 2001. 384 pp.; 90 color ills.; 56 b/w ills. Cloth $70.00 (0300087209)
The subtitle of this beautifully produced and authoritative book--”Artist and Artisan”--betrays an uneasiness typical of the times in which we live, when the concept of the artist per se has to be qualified or defended. An artist has to be something more, value added, both artist and artisan, as in fact almost all artists were in the late quattrocento. But what does this really mean? Is Jean Cadogan simply trying to suggest that Domenico Ghirlandaio worked not only with his mind (artist), but... Full Review
November 4, 2002
Dimitris Plantzos
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. 147 pp.; 95 b/w ills. Cloth $145.00 (0198150377)
Long undervalued, Hellenistic Greece has in recent years experienced a renaissance of interest. No longer considered decadent, the literature and art of the three centuries from the spectacular conquests of Alexander the Great in the late fourth century BC to the fall of the last independent kingdom of his successors to the Romans in 31 BC now receive serious consideration. Although Hellenistic art is not accorded as much space in textbooks as Archaic or Classical, the achievements of... Full Review
November 1, 2002
Kim Sichel
MIT Press, 1999. 363 pp.; 148 color ills.; 43 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0262194015)
In its perspective and physical scale, this long-awaited study of Germaine Krull (1897–1985) provides a portrait, in more than miniature, of the present moment in photographic publishing. The art market, the academy, and the exhibition-viewing public provide eager audiences for exhaustive monographs of prolific modern-era photographers, especially talented ones who, like Krull, have never received individual scholarly attention in the years postdating the duotone standard.... Full Review
November 1, 2002
Gill Perry, ed.
Yale University Press in association with The Open University, 1999. 272 pp.; 60 color ills.; 120 b/w ills. Paper $27.50 (0300077602)
Paul Wood
Yale University Press, 1999. (0300077629)
Gender and Art (edited by Gill Perry) and The Challenge of the Avant-Garde (edited by Paul Wood) are erudite, useful, elegantly packaged, and critically astute books. Informed by a felicitous mix of marxism, feminism, and other poststructuralist models for exploring meaning formation and cultural value, they show how far art history has come over the last twenty years. As two of the six titles in the series Art and Its Histories, their publication coincides with and supports... Full Review
November 1, 2002
Kirsten Swinth
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001. 328 pp.; 40 b/w ills. Paper $18.95 (0807849715)
Laura R. Prieto
Harvard University Press, 2001. 292 pp.; 13 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (0674004868)
As the first comprehensive histories of women’s artistic production in the United States, these ambitious and well-researched books initiate an important dialogue about women, creativity, and the visual arts. Surprisingly, neither of these authors are art historians: Laura R. Prieto is assistant professor of history and women’s studies at Simmons College, and Kirsten Swinth is associate professor of history at Fordham University. In fact, Swinth makes a point in Painting Professionals:... Full Review
October 24, 2002
Maxwell K. Hearn and Judith G. Smith, eds.
Exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001. 311 pp.; 183 b/w ills. $19.95 (0300091982)
Chinese Art: Modern Expressions comprises papers and commentaries from an international symposium held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2001. The publication brings together research by leading scholars on a variety of topics pertaining to Chinese modern art and encompasses a number of methodological orientations. Although the papers stay within the conventional time frame for China’s modern period, that is, between the mid-nineteenth and the third quarter of the... Full Review
October 22, 2002