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

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William Curtis
Eds. Mateo Kries and Jochen Eisenbrand. Exh. cat. Weil am Rhein: Vitra Design Museum, 2013. 370 pp.; 250 color ills.; 250 b/w ills. Hardcover $100.00 (9783931936921)
Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, August 11–November 11, 2017; Kimbell Art Museum, Ft Worth, March 26–June 25, 2017; San Diego Museum of Art, November 5, 2016–January 31, 2017; Bellevue Arts Museum, January 29–May 1, 2016; Taipei Museum of Fine Art, Taiwan, March 28–July 5, 2015; London Design Museum, July 9–October 12, 2014; National Museum, Oslo, Norway, October 18, 2013–January 26, 2014; Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany, February 23–August 11, 2013; Netherlands Architecture Institute, Rotterdam, September 7, 2012–January 6, 2013
Visitors to the exhibition Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture, at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia—the final venue of an international, five-year tour—were greeted by a larger-than-life photographic portrait of the architect, his striking profile and silver hair outlined against the dark background, finger thoughtfully touching his lips and barely concealing a bemused smile. Cocurated by Stanislaus von Moos and Jochen Eisenbrand for the Vitra Design Museum, the... Full Review
April 26, 2018
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Alison Cole
London: Laurence King Publishing, 2016. 256 pp.; 156 color ills. Hardcover $30.00 (9781780677408)
The art-historical literature on Italian Renaissance courts has traditionally been one of in-depth studies of individual court cities and specific artists. Alison Cole’s lucidly written book summarizes some of this literature for a general audience, focusing on the courts of Naples, Urbino, Ferrara, Mantua, and Milan during the fifteenth century. The work is a revised edition of the author’s 1995 book Virtue and Magnificence: Art of the Italian Renaissance Courts, expanded to... Full Review
April 26, 2018
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Sophie Junge
Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017. 352 pp.; 28 color ills.; 40 b/w ills. Hardcover $126.00 (9783110453072)
Eight years after the first cases of AIDS came to light in the United States, and six years before combined antiretroviral therapy was introduced, the photographer Nan Goldin organized the exhibition Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing at Artists Space, New York. This event, an outcry from an East Village community besieged by the <span... Full Review
April 25, 2018
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Mickalene Thomas
Exh. cat. New York: Aperture, 2015. 156 pp.; 85 ills. Hardcover $65.00 (9781597113144)
Aperture Foundation, New York, January 28–March 17, 2016
Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs is a ten-year retrospective of selections of Thomas’s paintings and photographs from 2001 to 2011. The book was the basis for the exhibition Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs and tête-à-tête&nbsp;presented at the Aperture Foundation Gallery in New York from January 28 to March 17, 2016. The large-format photograph on the book’s cover, Din, une très belle négresse #1 (2012), is a study in mustard, black, white, and gray of a portrait... Full Review
April 25, 2018
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William Johnston Building Gallery, Florida State University, September 28–November 4, 2017
The exhibition Kul’ttovary: Bringing Culture into the Soviet Home at Florida State University (FSU) was a welcome contribution in the area of Soviet design history. In narratives about this period, familiar tropes about lack of choice and low-quality, reverse-engineered copies are often contrasted with the iconic products of the... Full Review
April 24, 2018
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Cynthia Hahn
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2014. 312 pp.; 43 color ills.; 90 b/w ills. Paper $51.95 (9780271059488)
Medieval reliquaries—metalwork and bejeweled objects housing the relics of saints—often inspire analyses predicated on theories of signs, meaning, and the relationship of text to visual matter. Reliquaries demand such modes of inquiry. They layer their signifying strategies, which range from enamel images to patterned jewel inlay to poetic inscription to crystal windows mediating the display of the enshrined relic. Because they participate in so many sign systems, relics and reliquaries... Full Review
April 24, 2018
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Suzanne P. Hudson
Afterall. Cambridge and London: Afterall Books, 2017. 96 pp.; 16 color ills. Paperback $19.95 (9781846381713)
Suzanne Hudson’s contribution to the One Work series by Afterall (a research center of the University of the Arts London, located at Central Saint Martins) is focused on Night Sea, a painting by Agnes Martin (1912–2004) that Martin completed in 1963. The series is unique in its focus on the critical elaboration, by notable authors in the field, of individual works of art. Suzanne Hudson, associate professor of Art History and Fine Arts at the University of Southern California, has... Full Review
April 23, 2018
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Yale University and National Endowment for the Humanities
Yale University and National Endowment for the Humanities, 2017.
Between 1935 and 1944 the US Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information (FSA-OWI) commissioned a collection of 170,000 photographs. Ostensibly a public relations project to promote Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s... Full Review
April 23, 2018
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Laurence Terrier Aliferis
Turnhout: Brepols, 2016. 343 pp.; 359 b/w ills. Paperback €125.00 (9782503553177)
Late twelfth- and early thirteenth-century art in northern Europe is often noted for its similarities to Classical art, as evidenced most famously in Nicholas of Verdun’s altar at Klosterneuberg, of 1181; the sculpture of Laon and Chartres; and the Ingeborg Psalter, of ca. 1195. The idea of a “Year 1200 Style,” however, as Konrad Hoffman dubbed it in his catalogue for the The Year 1200 exhibition held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1970, has been considered problematic from... Full Review
April 20, 2018
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andré m. carrington
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016. 304 pp.; 35 b/w ills. Paperback $25.00 (9780816678969)
Depending on the context of its usage, the Spanish term género is definable as either “gender” or “genre.” Katherine Clay Bassard takes up this dichotomy in line with questions of literacy when she opines that “[i]n speaking of gender and genre, then, [she works] from the assumption that form is not merely a matter of free choice or appropriate models but a function of how a writer perceives her/himself in the social order.”<a... Full Review
April 20, 2018
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