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

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Omar W. Nasim
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. 296 pp.; 85 color ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780226084374)
Even readers unfamiliar with scholarship on the history of astronomy will quickly recognize Omar W. Nasim’s rich contributions to the field. Observing by Hands: Sketching the Nebulae in the Nineteenth Century convincingly articulates how pencil and paper paralleled the telescope as tools for astronomical observation. That astronomers’ routine paperwork has remained obscure to historians should come as no surprise. Private, unpublished notebooks often appear unintelligible, riddled... Full Review
August 13, 2018
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Bill Kelley Jr. and Grant H. Kester, eds.
Durham: Duke University Press, 2017. 456 pp.; 49 ills. Paperback $29.95 (9780822369417)
In Collective Situations: Readings in Contemporary Latin American Art, 1995–2010, editors Bill Kelley Jr. and Grant H. Kester bring together twenty-two texts that show artists carving out spaces for social action where others playing more conventional roles have failed. Art’s imaginative capacity, more than anything else, enables them to do this. But, as the documents in their enormously compelling and useful anthology demonstrate, art’s successes in affecting social and political... Full Review
August 10, 2018
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Bernadine Barnes
Renaissance Lives. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. 240 pp.; 40 color ills.; 20 b/w ills. Cloth $22.50 (9781780237404)
What flight of fancy, delusion of grandeur, or insidious demonic force could tempt a contemporary author to write yet another book on Michelangelo (1475–1564)? The depth of Michelangelo’s genius has elicited sustained inquiry in modern art historical research for well over a century. One may ask, is there anything left to see or say? Bernadine Barnes’s new book entitled Michelangelo and the Viewer in His Time yields the answer yes on both counts. This book is not only worth reading,... Full Review
August 1, 2018
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Robert Bird, Christina Kiaer, and Zachary Cahill, eds.
Exh. cat. Milan: Mousse Publishing, 2018. 768 pp.; 365 b/w ills. Paper $30.00 (9788867492947)
Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, September 14, 2017–January 14, 2018.
Marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution, 2017 was a year rife with crises and controversies that cast 1917’s legacy as both strikingly familiar and impossibly remote. Alongside a rising tide of authoritarianism and Russia again donning the mantle of American adversary (with the charges led this time not by red-baiting conservatives, but by Democrats and liberal pundits seeking to remedy an election gone terribly wrong), alongside the ongoing fight for women’s rights and civil... Full Review
July 30, 2018
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Marcus Milwright
Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017. 352 pp.; 14 b/w ills. Paper $39.95 (9781474409193)
Marcus Milwright’s Islamic Arts and Crafts: An Anthology stakes an implicit—and sometimes explicit—claim for the place of objects and their production in the eastern Mediterranean and the larger Iranian world. Following the author’s work on a related topic, An Introduction to Islamic Archaeology (2010), it illustrates his mastery of written sources as well as the diverse materials, processes, and objects they discuss. With substantial scholarly apparatus in the form of notes,... Full Review
July 27, 2018
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Eva Respini, ed.
Exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018. 316 pp.; 236 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300228250)
Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, February 7–May 20, 2018
The exhibition Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA/Boston) helped to contextualize the history of the internet’s development in light of how it is shaping our interconnected present and, as a consequence, contemporary art practices.Importantly, the exhibition revolved around the concept that the internet is a cultural product. Such a concept is a fundamental step... Full Review
July 25, 2018
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Morgan Pitelka and Alice Y. Tseng, eds.
Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia. New York: Routledge, 2016. 188 pp.; 29 b/w ills. Hardcover $116.00 (9781138186613)
What to do with a retired emperor? Soon after Emperor Akihito announced his intention to abdicate in April 2019, this question captured headlines across Japan. Not merely a response to the unusual circumstances—the last imperial retirement occurred in 1817—the inquiry was advanced as part of a bold appeal: so that he not overshadow his successor, Akihito should leave Tokyo for Kyoto. The proposal was perhaps the most ambitious of many made by Kyoto political groups in... Full Review
July 23, 2018
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Roger Gastman, Trina Calderon, and Caleb Neelon
Exh. cat. Berkeley: Gingko Press Inc., 2015. 354 pp.; 800 ills. Hardcover $49.95 (9781584236016)
Nora Burnett Abrams, ed.
Denver: MCA Denver, 2017. 128 pp. Cloth $24.95 (9781616895754)
Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, February 11–May 14, 2017
The stairwell leading down to the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver’s (MCA) first floor simulates the visual experience of a New York City subway. The walls are lined with <span... Full Review
July 20, 2018
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Jennifer Doyle
Durham: Duke University Press, 2013. 232 pp.; 45 color ills. Paper $23.95 (9780822353133)
Diana Taylor
Durham: Duke University Press, 2016. 240 pp.; 74 ills. Paperback $24.95 (9780822359975)
Performance art has become a hot topic of research in art history, and it has surged in popularity judging by the number of performance art classes, conferences, and performance studies departments in UK and US universities. This review will consist of appraising two texts that reckon with performance: Diana Taylor’s Performance (2016) and Jennifer Doyle’s Hold It Against Me: Difficulty and Emotion in Contemporary Art (2013). Taylor, a performance studies and Spanish... Full Review
July 18, 2018
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Margarita Tupitsyn
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017. 288 pp.; 148 color ills.; 129 b/w ills. Hardcover $55.00 (9780300179750)
It is difficult to assess Margarita Tupitsyn’s new book,&nbsp;Moscow Vanguard Art, 1922–1992, because of its strong spirit of partisanship. It covers wide historical ground and brings in a lot of new material gathered from primary sources, but it is also unabashedly selective, its choices circumscribed by the author’s personal history. A well-known art historian and curator of Russian and Soviet avant-garde art, Tupitsyn belongs to the generation of intellectuals who came of age... Full Review
July 16, 2018
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