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

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Bettina Bergmann and Christine Kondoleon
Yale University Press, 2000. 384 pp.; 15 color ills.; 224 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0300077335)
For some years now, a lingering sense of inadequacy has plagued U.S. historians of ancient art and text, a sense of having somehow got behind in the great "race for theory" (Barbara Christian's phrase). Everyone elsewhere and in other fields always seemed to have read more broadly and to have thought more originally about theoretical frameworks for scholarship. But The Art of Ancient Spectacle, an elegantly produced and intellectually sophisticated collection of... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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Bernadette Fort
Paris: Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, 1998. 380 pp. Paper $170.00 (2840560666)
Bernadette Fort has performed an important service by editing this new edition of the reviews of the biennial Salons or officially sponsored art exhibitions originally published in that remarkable 18th-century French periodical, the Memoires secrets. The eleven Salon reviews included in the volume, spanning the last two decades of the old regime, are one of the most important sources we have to document contemporary reactions to the painting and sculpture of this period, that saw the... Full Review
August 23, 2000
Pamela M. Lee
MIT Press, 1999. 240 pp.; 99 b/w ills. Paper (0262122200)
Pamela M. Lee presents a compelling theory of Gordon Matta-Clark's art in her monographic study. Her book is well-written and intelligent, and offers a thought-provoking discussion that positions his art in the historical, political, social, and aesthetic context of his period. In her introduction, Lee lays out her principle argument, that Matta-Clark's practice of disassembly and cutting of derelict buildings slated for demolition represents a process of "unbuilding" that leaves nothing but... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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Stephen Little
Berkeley: University of California Press in association with Art Institute of Chicago, 1999. 112 pp.; 82 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (0520220455)
Recent studies of China's remarkable tradition of scholar's rocks have begun to reveal that these, together with the better-known outdoor garden rocks, form a unique Chinese sculptural tradition as aesthetically sophisticated and as deep in meaning as other world traditions in sculpture. As John Hay observed (Hay, "The Body Invisible in Chinese Art?" in Angela Zito and Tani E. Barlow, eds., Body, Subject and Power in China, Chicago, 1994), "The classical image of the Western tradition... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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Dan Graham
Ed. Alexander Alberro. MIT Press, 1998. 198 pp.; 48 b/w ills. Paper $25.00 (0262571307)
Following Video/Architecture/Television: Writings on Video and Video Works 1970-1978, edited by Benjamin H. Buchloh (Halifax: The Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design; New York: New York University Press, 1979), now out of print, and MIT's own Rock My Religion: Writings and Art Projects 1965-1990, edited by Brian Wallis, with its upbeat design and wide range of supporting illustrations, this is the third major compilation of writings by New York artist Dan Graham.... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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Sally M. Promey
Princeton University Press, 1999. 376 pp.; 13 color ills.; 146 b/w ills. Cloth $52.50 (0691015651)
A host of contemporary scholarly contributions to the literature on John Singer Sargent has enlarged and refined considerably our knowledge and understanding of the painter's work and life. Molly Crawford Volk, Trevor Fairbrother, Jane Dini, Miriam Stewart, Kerry Schauber, Erika Hirschler, and Sally M. Promey have of late facilitated a symbiotic discourse, through publications and exhibitions, that makes for a thick stew of accounts staking claims that often read as an ongoing dialogue... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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Elise Goodman
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. 185 pp.; many b/w ills. Cloth (0520217942)
Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, marquise de Pompadour, was one of the most persistently pictured women of her time. During her career as official mistress of Louis XV of France (1745-64), artists such as François Boucher, François-Hubert Drouais, and Maurice-Quentin de La Tour represented her in a variety of contexts, from elegantly decorated interiors to lush garden bowers, and accompanied by a variety of objects, including books, prints, and musical instruments. In this book, Elise Goodman... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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Philip K. Hu
Queens Borough Public Library in association with Morning Glory Publishers and Art Media Resources, 2000. 370 pp.; 180 color ills. Paper $65.00 (0964533715)
This exhibition and its accompanying catalogue bring together for the first time in the United States a dazzling variety of Chinese rare books, rubbings and maps from the extensive holdings of the National Library of China, Beijing. This joint enterprise was organized by the National Library of China and the Queens Borough Public Library as part of an on-going effort to increase international professional cooperation and information exchange between these two institutions. While the quality... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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James Meyer, ed.
Phaidon, 2005. 304 pp.; 186 color ills.; 110 b/w ills. Paper $39.95 (071484523X)
James Meyer's Minimalism is a large, weighty book, filled with pictures, in between which are crammed immense amounts of information, ranging from snippets of commentary to exhaustive philosophical analyses. The middle section of this tripartite tome contains most of the illustrations, each of which is captioned with a Cliff's-Notes-like summary. Many are very insightful and precise, providing information on materials, size, scale, and proportions along with abbreviated, sometimes... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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Anne Bermingham
Yale University Press, 2000. 304 pp.; 130 color ills.; 140 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0300080395)
Ann Bermingham's eagerly awaited new book, Learning to Draw, is about much more than the development of drawing practices. As the subtitle, Studies in the Cultural History of a Polite and Useful Art, suggests, this is a wider history of the formation of the individual as a subject in (visual) culture. It analyzes the way drawing "resulted in an aestheticization of the self and the things of everyday life," a phenomenon that Bermingham sees as an important characteristic of the... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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