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

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Gertje R. Utley
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999. 288 pp.; 40 color ills.; 175 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0300082517)
Go to the "Electronic Reading Room" at to find that Picasso appears in FBI files from the 1940s onward, which are now available courtesy of the Freedom of Information Act. In 1990, Herbert Mitgang ("When Picasso Spooked the FBI," The New York Times, 11 November) revealed some of these Cold War additions to the politics of representation. With Picasso, these politics are conventionally characterized by a variety of documents,... Full Review
February 4, 2002
Linda Henderson
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997. 374 pp.; few color ills. Cloth (0691055513)
The title of this book, Duchamp in Context, is an apt summation of Linda Dalrymple Henderson's project: to recover Duchamp's artistic evolution toward and the full range of scientific and technological sources for The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) (1915-23), his most important work. To say she succeeds is an understatement. This study is so rich in new information it is a veritable encyclopedia. Here is the long-awaited toolbox for pruning back the... Full Review
January 29, 2002
Maria Vassilaki, ed.
Exh. cat. Athens: Benaki Museum, 1999. 531 pp.; 226 color ills. (8881187388)
Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece, October 20, 2000-January 20, 2001
This exhibition and its catalogue represent a swimming against the millennial tide, as the director of the Benaki Museum in his Foreward presents the exhibition in relation to the festivities that celebrated the turning of that new year's clock. The exhibition is an unusual contribution to the new-epoch declarations of the last two years, and its unusual qualities lie not least in its aim to engage only the phenomenon of Marian devotion in Byzantine culture. Recent exhibitions on the Virgin... Full Review
January 24, 2002
Jürg Meyer zur Capellen
Landshut: Arcos Verlag, 2000. 328 pp.; 32 color ills.; 193 b/w ills. Cloth (3935339003)
Jürg Meyer zur Capellen's Raphael is the first of three volumes slated for publication by the Raphael Project in Münster and Würzburg. The purpose of this volume, as well as the other projected ones, is to provide an up-to-date catalogue raisonné of Raphael's paintings that incorporates the publications and the technical information learned about the painter's oeuvre since the appearance of Luitpold Dussler's critical catalogue raisonné of 1966 (revised 1971). According to the author,... Full Review
January 23, 2002
Tony Green
Amobrilos: Paravail, 2000. 432 pp. Cloth (0953791203)
Tony Green's book is the first publication in two decades to focus on Poussin's two important series of paintings depicting the Seven Sacraments, and it is the only scholarly work to concentrate on them exclusively. Green examines each of the fourteen paintings, considering questions of style and iconography, as well as the theological and physical contexts in which they were made and viewed. The Sacraments, firmly associated in art-historical scholarship with Poussin's classical style... Full Review
January 18, 2002
Daniel M. Abramson
Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 2000. 207 pp.; 76 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (1568992445)
The skyscraper has generated a seemingly endless flow of scholarly work, a flow that shows no indication of ebbing. Monographs have detailed single buildings or the oeuvre of prominent skyscraper architects; other texts have brought focus to the technologies, the finances, or the artistic depictions of these tall structures. A museum in New York devoted to the skyscraper has even been created, offering actual and virtual exhibitions and material about the tall building, from its origins to... Full Review
January 16, 2002
Marcus Wood
London: Routledge, 1999. 341 pp.; 7 color ills.; 168 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (041592698x)
On the deceptively simple premise that "the imagery of slavery has not been taken as seriously as it should have been" (6), Marcus Wood has built a work of awesome breadth and depth. He rightly points out that most of the visual material relating to slavery has fallen below the horizon of high art and thus the purview of art historians. The exceptions, like Hugh Honour and Albert Boime, have been more likely to subsume high art images related to slavery into the stylistic movements of... Full Review
January 11, 2002
Paul Edwards
New Haven: Yale University Press in association with Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 1999. 583 pp.; 179 color ills.; 162 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0300082096)
There is really no middle ground in discussions of Wyndham Lewis's significance and qualities as an artist. Some studies view him as a neglected but pivotal figure in the development of European modernism, while other, more hostile critiques focus on his self-imposed isolation, extremism, and elliptical relationship to the program of the modern movement. Paul Edwards's book belongs in the former camp. Lewis, undoubtedly, was a unique and exceptional cultural figure in the first half of... Full Review
January 9, 2002
Henry Maguire
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000. 222 pp.; 167 b/w ills. Paper $27.95 (0691050074)
In this useful study, first published in 1996, Henry Maguire examines those seemingly endless rows of standing saints who feature so often in Byzantine churches, but so rarely in books on Byzantine art. The book is primarily a stylistic one, using formal analysis of the images to help understand the perception of saints in Byzantium. Maguire argues that the ways in which saints were depicted were determined by the need to "define" them. An analysis of Byzantine modes of depiction thus can aid... Full Review
January 8, 2002
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