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

Browse Recent Reviews

Ewa Lajer-Burcharth and Beate Söntgen, eds.
Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016. 498 pp.; 25 color ills.; 150 b/w ills. Cloth $140.00 (9783110340433)
Is interiority a place or a state of mind? According to Ewa Lajer-Burcharth and Beate Söntgen, the editors of Interiors and Interiority, we are wrong to pose the question as “either-or”; even “both-and” is an insufficiently capacious answer. Backed up by twenty-two essays, mostly by German and U.S. scholars, Lajer-Burcharth and Söntgen argue that the relationship between interiors and interiority is not limited to private spaces and individual psychology but engages just as ineluctably... Full Review
August 3, 2017
Thumbnail
Winnie Won Yin Wong
Chicago: University of Chicagp Press, 2013. 320 pp.; 27 color ills.; 45 b/w ills. Paper $38.00 (9780226024899)
Unknowingly, many of us have likely come into contact with some of the primary products of China’s Dafen village: handmade oil paintings, which resemble Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers (1888) and other “masterworks,” that hang in hotels, restaurants, and homes, and are sold online and in souvenir shops, galleries, and chain stores around the world. Located in Shenzhen, a megacity across from Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China’s first Special Economic Zone, Dafen has heretofore... Full Review
August 2, 2017
Thumbnail
Laura Coyle and Michèle Gates Moresi, eds.
Double Exposure, Vol. 3. Lewes, UK: Giles in association with Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, 2015. 72 pp.; 60 color ills. Paper $16.95 (9781907804489)
Laura Coyle and Michèle Gates Moresi, eds.
Double Exposure, Vol. 2. Lewes, UK: Giles in association with Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, 2015. 80 pp.; 60 color ills. Paper $16.95 (9781907804472)
The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) has engaged the public through its online and social media presence and by producing and collaborating on exhibitions and books that showcase visual and audio materials from its collections since 2007. Much of this material is from the Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts (CAAMA), a physical and virtual center that collects, promotes, and preserves African American... Full Review
August 2, 2017
Thumbnail
Thumbnail
Mantha Zarmakoupi
Oxford Studies in Ancient Culture and Representation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. 352 pp.; 135 b/w ills. $160.00 (9780199678389)
This ambitious study originated in 2007 as Mantha Zarmakoupi’s Oxford University DPhil thesis. Several years of further research have allowed her to develop her ideas and deepen her bibliographic research on the archaeology and architecture of Roman villas and the cultural life that villas framed. She aims, in brief, to examine “the ways in which Romans conceptualized the architectural design of luxurious villas in order to accommodate a life of educated leisure in the countryside” (1). In... Full Review
July 27, 2017
Thumbnail
Exhibition schedule: Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR, July 23–November 13, 2016
Josh Kline: Freedom, curated by Sara Krajewski for the Portland Art Museum, is the title of the first work in a projected five-work cycle by the artist. Each will imagine a future that extends out from the present’s particular techno-economic landscapes. Less a single work than an evolving cluster of works, Freedom has been previously exhibited at the New Museum (2015) and Modern Art Oxford (2015). The Portland Art Museum show marks its completion (public conversation between... Full Review
July 26, 2017
Thumbnail
Shannen L. Hill
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015. 400 pp.; 26 color ills.; 93 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (9780816676378)
The conviction and vitality with which Shannen L. Hill explores visual culture as an agent of change shaped by Black Consciousness (hereafter, BC) and embodied in ideas and images of its leading advocate, Stephen Biko, took me back to late 1980s South Africa when I, a bright-eyed freshman, optimistically threw myself into the student liberation movement at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. There I and others designed, printed, and carried protest posters informed by an... Full Review
July 26, 2017
Thumbnail
Tom Nickson
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2015. 324 pp.; 60 color ills.; 80 b/w ills. Cloth $89.95 (9780271066455)
The title of Tom Nickson’s impressive and beautifully illustrated monograph, Toledo Cathedral: Building Histories in Medieval Castile, cleverly highlights the dual agenda of his ambitious study of the Spanish cathedral. As a book dedicated to a single work of architecture, it endeavors to untangle the complicated and often tacitly accepted building history of the cathedral’s construction from the early thirteenth through late fourteenth centuries. In so doing, Nickson reveals how the... Full Review
July 20, 2017
Thumbnail
Duncan Clarke
New York: Prestel, 2015. 272 pp.; 230 color ills. Cloth $75.00 (9783791381633)
Textiles are key to understanding the past. From sartorial practice to divisions of labor and patterns of trade, textiles serve as historical documents that often reveal as much about the people who produced and wore them as they do about those who collected, traded, copied, or admired them. African Textiles: The Karun Thakar Collection is a step toward documenting a significant private collection of textiles that shows potential for increasing our understanding of this important... Full Review
July 19, 2017
Thumbnail
Adam Pendleton
Exh. cat. Los Angeles and New Orleans: Siglio and Contemporary Art Center, 2016. 144 pp.; Many b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (9781938221132)
Exhibition schedule: Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA, April 1–June 16, 2016; Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Denver, July 15–September 25, 2016; Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, January 27–May 14, 2017
Installed in a city many consider ground zero for Black Lives Matter at a particularly volatile moment in U.S. race relations, Adam Pendleton: Becoming Imperceptible at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) in New Orleans is charged with a political urgency at odds with the artist’s restrained forms, prosaic typography, and cryptic citations. Yet the triumph—and challenge—of Pendleton’s language-based enquiries reside in their capacity to interrogate system and process as provocatively as... Full Review
July 19, 2017
Thumbnail
The third incarnation of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) opened to great fanfare in May 2016. The new building more than doubles SFMOMA’s galleries, increases by over ten times the educational facilities, and multiples by four the spaces devoted to cinema and performance. Despite the expanded potential, reactions were mixed. Much of the criticism focused on the architecture, notably the rippling facade of fiberglass-reinforced polymer panels. The sheathing incorporates white... Full Review
July 18, 2017
Thumbnail