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

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James Schmiechen and Kenneth Carls
Yale University Press, 1999. 352 pp.; 98 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0300060645)
Britain's grand age of market hall construction, 1830-90, saw the transformation of traditional open-air markets into mammoth multi-storied buildings with standardized stalls and shops arranged within variations of a parallelogram. Often wrapped in a Gothic, Italianate, or eclectic shop-front façade, the market hall provided the modern townscape with a new and distinctive addition to an expanding range of civic and commercial structures, such as the town hall, courthouse, railway station,... Full Review
October 29, 1999
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David Craven
Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 232 pp.; 40 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0521434157)
Why "yet another study" of Abstract Expressionism? David Craven answers his own question by positing that his book discloses "new material," provides a "novel approach," and embodies "a shift in critical perspective" (p. 2) regarding the art historical analysis of what may well be American art's best known and most widely discussed style of painting. The new sources that Craven examines consist of two sets of previously unpublished materials: 200 pages of FBI files on various Abstract... Full Review
October 26, 1999
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Kerry Brown, ed.
New York and Palo Alto, Calif.: Routledge in association with Sikh Foundation, 1999. 217 pp.; 42 color ills.; 94 b/w ills. Cloth $29.95 (0415202892)
This long-awaited volume springs from a 1992 conference at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, Sikh Art and Literature, held in conjunction with an exhibition focused on Sikh painting, Splendors of the Punjab: Art of the Sikhs. Generously illustrated with many color plates and almost one hundred pictures in black and white, the book provides a fine compilation of visual arts we may associate with Sikhism, including eighteenth- and nineteenth-century painting, architecture,... Full Review
October 22, 1999
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John O’Brian
University of Chicago Press, 1999. 297 pp.; 30 color ills.; 75 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0226616266)
John O'Brian's compact but ambitious book eludes categorization. Most obviously, it is the latest entry in the "modernism comes to America" genre. It is also a reception study more sophisticated than the usual "critical fortune" type, taking account of muted but tenacious ideologies as well as overt expressions of opinion and taste. Finally, the book positions itself within the recent trend of institutional histories in the art world, especially of museums and the trade in art. O'Brian's... Full Review
October 20, 1999
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Christopher White
Yale University Press (0300079532)
In 1969, Rembrandt's Etchings: An Illustrated Critical Catalogue by Christopher White and Karel Boon was published in an independent edition (Amsterdam: Van Gendt & Co. / London: A. Zwemmer Ltd. / New York: Abner Schram) and as part of the Hollstein series (F.W. H. Hollstein, Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts, ca. 1450-1700, Amsterdam 1949). More than three decades later, despite the steady stream of publications devoted to the artist's paintings and studio... Full Review
October 15, 1999
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Peter McNair, Robert Joseph, and Bruce Greenville, eds.
Seattle and Vancouver: University of Washington Press in association with Vancouver Art Gallery and Douglas & McIntyre Publishing Group, 1998. 192 pp. Paper $30.00 (0295977094)
Natives from Puget Sound to Southeast Alaska have for centuries created remarkable and striking masks. These artworks are the subject Down from the Shimmering Sky: Masks of the Northwest Coast, the catalogue of an exhibition put on at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1998 and currently traveling about the United States and Canada. The two curators of the exhibit, Peter Macnair and Robert Joseph, join with Vancouver Art Gallery Senior Curator Bruce Greenville to present this lavishly... Full Review
October 13, 1999
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Mark Cheetham, Keith Moxey, and Michael Ann Holly, eds.
Cambridge University Press, 1998. 336 pp.; 47 b/w ills. Cloth (0521454905)
The editors understand this collection of essays to be concerned with "the making of art-historical meaning." They divide the volume into sections that broadly categorize the subjects which art history has addressed since its origins in the nineteenth century: "Philosophy of History and Historiography," "The Subjects and Objects of Art History," and "Places & Spaces for Visual Studies." The variety of topics and approaches found in the essays themselves, mirrors, so the compilers argue, the... Full Review
October 8, 1999
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Neil Leach
MIT Press, 1999. 101 pp.; 4 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Cloth $16.50 (0262621266)
Neil Leach's The Anaesthetics of Architecture proclaims itself a polemical work that aims to challenge the unrigorous thinking that has dominated architecture in recent years. The book stages this challenge as a critique of the image, only making explicit any association between the visual and the textual in its final pages. Leach's argument is that society has been completely aestheticized through the saturation by, and intoxication with, images, ultimately producing an anaesthetizing... Full Review
October 8, 1999
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Alice T. Friedman
New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007. 242 pp.; 30 color ills.; 110 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (9780300117899)
Alice Friedman begins her book Women and the Making of the Modern House: A Social and Architectural History with the question, "Why were independent women clients such powerful catalysts for innovation in domestic projects?" She answers it through a series of case studies devoted to twentieth-century houses built for single women: the Hollyhock House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for Aline Barnsdall, a wealthy producer of avant-garde theater who was also a friend of Emma Goldman; the... Full Review
October 8, 1999
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Shearer West, ed.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 237 pp.; 31 b/w ills. Cloth $59.95 (0521552230)
Anthologies are an excellent means of stimulating interest and additional research into underexplored areas of art history, and in this regard Shearer West's volume is right on target. It consists of nine essays on various aspects of the Italian cultural presence in transalpine Europe during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and is introduced by West's informative and comprehensive essay "Visual Culture, Performance Culture and the Italian Diaspora in the Long Eighteenth... Full Review
October 8, 1999