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

Reviews in caa.reviews are published continuously by CAA and Taylor & Francis, with the most recently published reviews listed below. Browse reviews based on geographic region, period or cultural sphere, or specialty (from 1998 to the present) using Review Categories in the sidebar, or by entering terms in the search bar above.

Recently Published Reviews

Mitchell B. Merback
Brooklyn, NY: Zone Books, 2018. 360 pp.; 90 b/w ills. Cloth $32.95 (9781942130000)
Mitchell Merback’s latest book, Perfection’s Therapy: An Essay on Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia I, precisely does not reveal what the enigma of the master engraving is “about.” Rather, it reveals mystery itself as a sixteenth-century therapeutic practice. In so doing, the book provides insight into the endurance and pervasiveness of a lingering stereotype: that transformative wisdom lies concealed in old books, old paintings, and old diagrams from old Europe. This stereotype brings... Full Review
November 15, 2018
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Ana Palacios
Trans. Graham Thomson. Barcelona: Tenov Books, 2017. 108 pp.; 82 color ills. Hardcover € 25.00 (9788494423413)
The cover of the coffee table book Albino shows a Tanzanian girl with albinism photographed mid-twirl, the blue, white, and yellow stripes of her skirt spun out into a full bell around her. The picture, by Spanish photojournalist Ana Palacios, is called Kelen’s Dance, and Kelen spins in the center of a grayish-brown interior, a phalanx of concrete walls receding behind her, green sandals a blur of movement on a lumpy dirt floor, the ceiling a sturdy brown grid. Her face is... Full Review
November 14, 2018
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Michael Schreyach
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017. 344 pp.; 45 color ills. Hardcover $45.00 (9780300223262)
One cannot complain that Jackson Pollock is an understudied visual artist of mid-twentieth-century American abstraction. Some of the leading art historians working in the modern and contemporary period have scrutinized and contextualized and theorized this artist’s practice, including Michael Fried, Rosalind Krauss, T. J. Clark, and Michael Leja, to name but a few. One might have felt hard pressed to imagine a need for more scholarly attention, especially when not occasioned by the... Full Review
November 12, 2018
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Tirza True Latimer
Oakland: University of California Press, 2016. 200 pp.; 11 color ills.; 32 b/w ills.; 43 ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780520288867)
The first illustration included in Tirza True Latimer’s most recent book is the oft-reproduced cover to the exhibition catalogue Cubism and Abstract Art formulated by Alfred H. Barr Jr. Latimer makes the point that the manner in which Barr’s timeline has been taken up since its inception has decontexualized it and forced the diagram into a realm of certainty its supposed simplicity could not sustain. Eschewing the linear altogether and drawing on Elizabeth Freeman’s writing on queer... Full Review
November 8, 2018
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Exh. cat. Ekaterinburg, Russia: Ural University Press, 2017. 488 pp.; many color ills. Hardcover (9785799622442)
Ekaterinburg, Russia, September 14–November 12, 2017
The theme of the 4th Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art was “New Literacy.” The biennial’s curatorial team conceptualized this theme based on interventions into global communication that have arisen from the current “industrial” revolution in the field of information technology. The curator of the Main Project, João Ribas, deputy director of the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, Portugal, described the theme as having been built around three key aspects: image... Full Review
November 8, 2018
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Diana Nawi, John Dunkley, David Boxer, Olive Senior, and Nicole Smythe-Johnson
Exh. cat. New York: Prestel Publishing, 2017. 224 pp.; 48 color ills. Cloth $45.00 (9783791356105)
Pérez Art Museum Miami, May 26, 2017–January 14, 2018
John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night, curated by Diana Nawi, then associate curator at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, and assisted by the Jamaican independent curator Nicole Smythe-Johnson, introduced to US audiences the significant and expansive oeuvre of John Dunkley, a seminal figure in Jamaican art history. A self-taught artist, Dunkley worked in Central America and Cuba, returning to establish himself as a barber in downtown Kingston in the 1930s and 1940s while producing a... Full Review
October 31, 2018
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Phoebe Wolfskill
Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2017. 248 pp.; 8 color ills.; 34 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780252041143)
Phoebe Wolfskill’s Archibald Motley Jr. and Racial Reinvention: The Old Negro in New Negro Art offers a compelling account of the artistic difficulties inherent in the task of creating innovative models of racialized representation within a culture saturated with racist stereotypes. She approaches this topic through the work of one of the New Negro era’s most celebrated yet highly elusive artists, Archibald Motley Jr. As a Creole Catholic whose family moved from New Orleans to... Full Review
October 29, 2018
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Dora C. Y. Ching, Louise Allison Cort, and Andrew M. Watsky, eds.
Princeton: Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University in association with Princeton University Press, 2017. 336 pp.; 99 color ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780691177557)
Since its acquisition by the Freer Gallery of Art in 2009, the tea leaf storage jar known as “Chigusa” (Thousand Grasses) has generated much discussion and scholarship, including two exhibitions (Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 2014, and Princeton University Art Museum, 2014­­–15), a symposium, two workshops, and two books. The present volume results from the symposium and workshops. While the earlier book, Chigusa and the Art of Tea (2014), also edited by Louise Allison... Full Review
October 26, 2018
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Jessica Keating
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2018. 184 pp.; 37 color ills.; 23 b/w ills. Cloth $69.95 (9780271080024)
Presented in Paris in 1739, Jacques de Vaucanson’s fabricated duck, one of the most renowned examples of an automaton, could not only flap its wings and move its beak but also eat and excrete. Later discovered to have been pre-stuffed with fake waste, it indulged the Enlightenment desire for engineered imitations that modeled the inner workings of living forms. Voltaire declared that the shitting bird was the only reminder of the glory of France. The history of automata in the early... Full Review
October 24, 2018
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Matthew S. Witkovsky and Devin Fore, eds.
Exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017. 324 pp.; 392 color ills.; 78 b/w ills. Hardcover $65.00 (9780300225716)
V-A-C Foundation, Venice, Italy, May 13–August 25, 2017; Art Institute of Chicago, IL, October 29, 2017–January 14, 2018
There should be some irony in the fact that in much of the English-speaking world this past year’s run of major art museum exhibitions commemorating the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution exceeded that honoring the quincentennial of the 1517 Protestant Reformation. Why the god that failed rather than the one that won? That the revolution tended toward iconogenesis and the reformation toward iconoclasm is not insignificant, neither is the fact, as the Russian exhibitions have been... Full Review
October 22, 2018
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