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

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Lucy Freeman Sandler
London and Toronto: British Library and University of Toronto Press, 2014. 404 pp.; 242 ills. Cloth $70.00 (9781442648470)
In 1985, Lucy Freeman Sandler began her examination of a corpus of illuminated manuscripts created for the noble English Bohun family in the second half of the fourteenth century. A very rich study of manuscript patronage and production, her Illuminators and Patrons in Fourteenth-Century England: The Psalter and Hours of Humphrey de Bohun and the Manuscripts of the Bohun Family is the culmination of thirty-five years of valuable research, analysis, and scholarship. The volume is... Full Review
November 10, 2017
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Richard J. Powell, ed.
Exh. cat. Durham: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, 2014. 176 pp.; 200 color ills. Paper $39.95 (9780938989370)
Exhibition schedule: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, January 30–May 11, 2014; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, June 14–September 7, 2014; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, October 19, 2014–February 1, 2015; Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, March 6–August 31, 2015; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 2, 2015–January 17, 2016
In his essay for the catalogue accompanying the exhibition Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist, the show’s curator Richard J. Powell writes, “Like Richard Wright, the Chicago painter Archibald J. Motley offers a fascinating glimpse into a modernity filtered through the colored lens and foci of a subjective, African American urban perspective” (110).This statement establishes the primary aim of the exhibition: to present Motley as a prominent voice of American modernism. Building... Full Review
November 3, 2017
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Ahmet A. Ersoy
Studies in Art Historiography. New York: Routledge, 2016. 334 pp.; 72 b/w ills. Cloth $127.00 (9781472431394)
In his long-awaited book, Architecture and the Late Ottoman Historical Imaginary: Reconfiguring the Architectural Past in a Modernizing Empire, Ahmet A. Ersoy provides an in-depth analysis of Usul-i Mi’mari-i Osmani (The Fundamentals of Ottoman Architecture, hereafter the Usul), a crucial initial scholarly volume about the history, theory, and compositional principles of Ottoman architecture, prepared as part of the exhibition representing the empire at the 1873... Full Review
November 3, 2017
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Jean Wirth
Geneva: Librarie Droz, 2015. 384 pp.; 189 b/w ills. Paper $42.00 (9782600005586)
Villard de Honnecourt’s drawings and accompanying commentary (BnF MS fr 19093) have generated tremendous interest since they first came to scholarly attention in the nineteenth century. Despite a century and a half of scrutiny, however, their purpose remains elusive. Initially thought to be a Gothic architect, Villard himself has fallen in status as modern studies have questioned his architectural knowledge. Following the work of Carl F. Barnes, Jr., the idea that Villard was not an... Full Review
November 3, 2017
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Izumi Shimada, ed.
William and Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015. 392 pp. Cloth $75.00 (9780292760790)
The Inka Empire: A Multidisciplinary Approach aims to assemble the latest thinking about the largest indigenous state in the history of the Americas. Editor Izumi Shimada outlines four goals in his introductory chapter: 1) offer the latest data and interpretations regarding the rise of the Inka state; 2) present an updated overview of the material remains and the organizational and ideological features of the Inka state; 3) demonstrate the importance of multidisciplinary approaches... Full Review
October 27, 2017
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Vittoria Di Palma
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. 280 pp.; 23 color ills.; 84 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780300197792)
Architectural historian Vittoria Di Palma’s book Wasteland: A History examines the shift in the way wasteland was understood, classified, and managed over the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is both a wide-ranging survey of representations of wasteland in prints, paintings, maps, and elsewhere, and an alternative account of English improvement understood through developments in modern aesthetics. As such, it is of interest not only to art and architectural... Full Review
October 27, 2017
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Liu Yang, ed.
Exh. cat. Minneapolis: Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2015. 252 pp.; 200  color ills. Paper $49.95 (9780989371865)
The terracotta army pits of the First Emperor’s (r. 221–210 BCE) mausoleum in China remain one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century; yet the story of the First Emperor, his tomb, and the rise of the Qin state did not end with that excavation. Instead, continuous archaeological activity in Shaanxi and Gansu Provinces has... Full Review
October 27, 2017
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Henri Loyrette
Exh. cat. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 2016. 255 pp.; 309 ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780890901915)
Exhibition schedule: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, June 24–September 18, 2016; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, October 16, 2016–January 16, 2017
Degas: A New Vision offered a rare, broad, and true career-spanning retrospective of Edgar Degas (1834–1917), whose body of work was produced over the course of half a century, in a trajectory that made many twists and turns. Degas was an artist deeply rooted in the traditions of the Renaissance and the Academy yet also one of the most avant-garde artists of his era. His innovations in monoprint, for example, both as a unique medium and in conjunction with pastel, show an... Full Review
October 20, 2017
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Chelsea Foxwell
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. 296 pp.; 34 color ills.; 70 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780226110806)
“What is nihonga, where did it come from, and why is it still around?” (12). These questions comprise the final sentence of the introduction to Chelsea Foxwell’s impressive book and serve as our point of departure into the emergence and evolution of nihonga or “modern Japanese painting” in late nineteenth-century Japan. As Foxwell compellingly argues, the emergence of nihonga was not simply the result of Japan’s shedding its feudal past at the precise moment of the... Full Review
October 20, 2017
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Joan Kee
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013. 384 pp.; 135 color ills. Paper $39.95 (9780816679881)
Dansaekhwa is a style of abstract painting in which Korean artists explore monotones using various materials. There has been little agreement among Korean theorists on the term, which demonstrates the difficulties of defining it. Although Joan Kee transliterates it as Tansaekhwa in her book Contemporary Korean Art: Tansaekhwa and the Urgency of Method, ever since the 2012 exhibition Dansaekhwa at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea,... Full Review
October 20, 2017
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