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

Michael Marrinan
Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2017. 400 pp.; 136 color ills.; 59 b/w ills. Hardcover $69.95 (9781606065075)

Gustave Caillebotte has long presented historians of nineteenth-century art with contradictions: here was a champion of and participant in the Impressionist movement who grew up with privilege and became, by dint of his father’s business acumen, a millionaire. Accounts of his artistic production (working from a scant archive) must always contend with how Caillebotte could produce paintings that look more naturalist than Impressionist and would seem to presage social critiques more common... Full Review

May 29, 2019
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Cynthia Burlingham and Allegra Pesenti, eds.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles and New York: Hammer Museum, UCLA in association with DelMonico Books-Prestel, 2018. 208 pp.; 120 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (9783791357645)
Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, September 27–December 30, 2018

Few nineteenth-century figures are as towering as the French poet, novelist, playwright, critic, and politician Victor Hugo (1802–1885). Though he is remembered mostly for his literary achievements, particularly The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1831) and Les Misérables (1862), he excelled at drawing. From September 27 to December 30, 2018, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles exhibited over seventy of his haunting works on paper (he made more than four thousand of them), as well as a... Full Review

May 28, 2019
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Denise Murrell
Exh. cat. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018. 224 pp.; 177 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780300229066)
Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York, October 24, 2018–February 10, 2019; Musée d’Orsay, Paris, March 25–July 14, 2019

Scholars are continually engaged in reassessing evidence, and if they are diligent and perceptive enough they discover new ways of seeing our world. Such is the achievement of Denise Murrell’s 2013 dissertation, “Seeing Laure: Race and Modernity from Manet’s Olympia to Matisse, Bearden and Beyond,” written for the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University under the supervision of Professor Anne Higonnet. Three of Murrell’s other committee members—Alexander... Full Review

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Gary Garrels, Jon-Ove Steihaug, and Sheena Wagstaff, eds.
Exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2017. 256 pp.; 120 color ills. Hardcover $45.00 (9781588396235)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, June 24–October 9, 2017; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 15, 2017–February 4, 2018; The Munch Museum, Oslo, May 12–September 9, 2018

“My art has been an act of confession.” So opens the preface to Gary Garrels, Jon-Ove Steihaug, and Sheena Wagstaff’s exhibition catalogue for Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed, which took place in San Francisco, New York, and Oslo from June 2017 to September 2018. Edvard Munch (1863–1944) made this comment toward the end of his life, which is significant since the paintings he produced in his later years formed the focus of the exhibition and its accompanying catalogue,... Full Review

May 23, 2019
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Shelley Drake Hawks
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2017. 304 pp.; 96 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780295741956)

Shelley Drake Hawks’s The Art of Resistance: Painting by Candlelight in Mao’s China is a valuable contribution to Chinese art history and China studies that illuminates the plight of artists during the Cultural Revolution (1966­­–76). Hawks argues that in spite of overwhelming oppression, Chinese artists endured the Cultural Revolution by visualizing their feelings of disillusionment and dissent through art. The expression “painting by candlelight” (ix) refers to the unsanctioned,... Full Review

May 22, 2019
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Kathryn Brown
London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017. 392 pp.; 8 color ills.; 82 b/w ills. Cloth £110.00 (9781501326837)

From the end of World War I to his death in 1954, Henri Matisse engaged in a number of notable experiments with the livre d’artiste. Kathryn Brown’s expansive study aims to show how Matisse’s artistic production and his thinking on creativity developed through an ongoing dialogue with literary texts, bringing to the fore the important role played by book production within the artist’s overall output. Through multiple fascinating case studies, Brown explores a range of intersecting... Full Review

May 20, 2019
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William Schaefer
Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017. 304 pp.; 8 color ills.; 38 b/w ills. Paperback $27.95 (9780822369196)

A picture of flickering bamboo leaves in a slick Shanghai magazine is carefully inscribed in Chinese characters as a “painting album” (huaben) and is impressed with an artist’s seal—not of a brush-and-ink painter, but of the photographer of the plant.

A short story features a narrator who spots an earthen mound from a train window and imagines an Egyptian-style mummy of a royal concubine entombed within emerging to haunt the streets of Shanghai.

A painting entitled... Full Review

May 17, 2019
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Judit Bodor, Adam Czirak, Astrid Hackel, Beata Hock, Andrej Mircev, and Angelika Richter, eds.
Berlin: neue Gesellschaft für bildene Kunst, 2018. 206 pp. Paperback €24.00 (9783938515730)
neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst, Berlin, February 3–March 25, 2018

In the winter of 2018, a project group of six curators (Judit Bodor, Adam Czirak, Astrid Hackel, Beata Hock, Andrej Mircev, and Angelika Richter) presented a fresh account of East-Central European performance art in their exhibition Left Performance Histories, at the neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (NGbK) in Berlin. The exhibition provided a fascinating and nuanced look at performance-art practices in the region, which both expanded our understanding of that history and brought... Full Review

May 16, 2019
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Michael Rooks
Exh. cat. Atlanta: High Museum of Art, 2018. 265 pp.; 104 color ills.; 88 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9781932543520)
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, November 17, 2017–March 18, 2018

An artist who studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and moved to New York in 1970 to assist Robert Rauschenberg, Al Taylor was consumed with perception and the logic of things. What Are You Looking At?, the title of a survey of his work at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia (2017–18), was also Taylor’s own sly suggestion for the epitaph on his tombstone. At once an innocent question and a phrase uttered to someone rudely staring, “What are you looking at?” is often met... Full Review

May 15, 2019
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Randi Korn
Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018. 254 pp.; 49 ills. Cloth $79.00 (9781538106358)

“The most important thing is to have an impact on people,” said Kaywin Feldman to the Washington Post’s Peggy McGlone for an article in January 2019 about her historic appointment as the first female director of the august National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

In an era of political upheaval, climate change, demographic shifts, technological takeover, and economic uncertainty, forward-thinking museum leaders like Feldman are reconsidering what counts as success. Numbers... Full Review

May 13, 2019
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