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

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Mary Hunter
Rethinking Art's Histories. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016. 280 pp.; 60 b/w ills. Hardcover $33.95 (9780719097577)
Written from the perspective of visual culture studies, broadly speaking The Face of Medicine addresses “the entanglement of art, science, politics, and popular culture in the early Third Republic” (1). Knowledge of that political regime is assumed, and readers rusty on their French history may find themselves stymied. Of course such information is readily, and amply, available, whereas Mary Hunter’s examination of medical masculinities in late nineteenth-century Paris is unique,... Full Review
December 20, 2017
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Sascha T. Scott
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2015. 280 pp.; 58 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780806144849)
During the heyday of the Taos/Santa Fe School, which lasted from about 1915 to the mid-1930s, support came from two different kinds of patrons: those intrigued by an exotic and remote Indian civilization in the far Southwest, which somehow doubled as an early America; and those who looked on the same group of Indians as descendants of the ancient Anasazi tribes, with cultural attributes that merited preservation. Distinguishing between the two groups has never been easy; some patrons... Full Review
December 19, 2017
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Brian A. Brown and Marian H. Feldman, eds.
Berlin: De Gruyter, 2013. 812 pp. Hardcover $149.99 (9781614510291)
Brian A. Brown and Marian H. Feldman’s volume, Critical Approaches to Ancient Near Eastern Art, is first an outstanding reflection, and stands at the leading edge, of ancient Near Eastern art history. Perfectly poised within current scholarship in the larger discipline of art history, the essays touch upon trends of interdisciplinarity, post-processual theory, materiality, and thing-theory, to name just a few. As the larger field of art history is beginning to embrace the turn to... Full Review
December 18, 2017
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Brisbane: Gallery of Modern Art, 2016. 144 pp. Cloth AU$ 39.95 (9781921503801)
Exhibition schedule: Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, May 28–October 3, 2016
In the decades since Cindy Sherman established her photographic practice as part of the Pictures Generation of the 1970s and early 1980s, her work has provoked polarized opinions. Her relationship with feminism in particular has been hotly debated, with some insisting that her work reveals and subverts the patriarchal nature of the gaze, and others suggesting that Sherman’s use of masquerade merely reinforces the visual dynamics of fetishism. As Jui-Ch’i Liu has suggested, Sherman’s own... Full Review
December 15, 2017
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Denise Y. Arnold and Elvira Espejo
New York: Thames & Hudson, 2015. 352 pp.; 450+ color ills. Hardcover $95.00 (9780500517925)
The Andean Science of Weaving: Structures and Techniques of Warp-Faced Weaves is a monumental volume that contributes an important perspective to the study of Andean textiles: “a world view perceived from a weaver’s ‘fingertips’” (18). This tremendous undertaking by authors Denise Y. Arnold and Elvira Espejo represents years of research and fieldwork experience, as well as extensive and creative thought not only about the way in which weavers of the Andean highlands construct... Full Review
December 15, 2017
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Susan Best
New York: Bloomsbury, 2016. 232 pp.; 52 b/w ills. Hardback $26.99 (9781472529787)
What art can do in relation to historical trauma has been discussed most thoroughly through the Holocaust. After (the misreading of) Adorno’s famous dictum on the impossibility of using art to work through a trauma of such scale, art has, from the distance of several decades, more or less successfully returned to the question. Claude Lanzmann’s filmic monument to the catastrophe, Shoah (1985), can stand as an emblem for this aesthetic return. It leveraged a monumental time frame... Full Review
December 14, 2017
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The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art
New York: The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, 2016.
The Institute of Classical Architecture and Art (ICAA), a nonprofit institution located in midtown Manhattan that is devoted to “advancing the practice and appreciation of the classical tradition in architecture, urbanism, and the allied arts,” has recently opened a plaster-cast gallery. A selection of highlights from 120 plaster casts... Full Review
December 14, 2017
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Gerardo Boto Varela and Justin E. A. Kroesen, eds.
Architectura Medii Aevi. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2016. 332 pp.; 36 color ills.; 76 b/w ills. $100.49 (9782503552507)
Traditionally a Romanesque cathedral (ca. 1000–1200 CE) is distinguished from other Romanesque churches because it includes one extra piece of furniture: the cathedra, or bishop’s throne. Since today no single cathedral built between the fourth and the twelfth centuries is preserved in its original shape, it is perhaps difficult to refine this definition of Romanesque cathedrals. Even if the exterior shell of the Romanesque cathedral remains intact, very little is known about... Full Review
December 13, 2017
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Bruce Redford
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. 224 pp.; 120 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Hardcover $65.00 (9780300219302)
Scholarly interest in the enigmatically alluring art of Sargent, galvanized by the 1998–9 retrospective and numerous exhibitions since, is still thriving. In the most recent monograph on the artist, John Singer Sargent and the Art of Allusion, Bruce Redford contends that “no portrait painter in the Anglo-American tradition is more consistently and inventively allusive than Sargent” (15). Redford suggests that Sargent’s sustained childhood exposure to the old masters, his... Full Review
December 13, 2017
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Greta Kaucher
Geneva: Librarie Droz, 2015. 1592 pp.; 54 b/w ills. Paperback $129.24 (9782600018425 )
Historians of eighteenth-century art, architecture, science, and engineering will undoubtedly have typed out the name “Jombert” many times in their footnotes, for this family was the publisher of nearly a thousand titles between the late 1680s and early 1810s. In a remarkable gift not only to the history of the book, but also to the story of how a pan-European public sphere was formed in which artistic and architectural information was debated, Greta Kaucher has produced a comprehensive... Full Review
December 12, 2017
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