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

William L. Pressly
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. 212 pp.; 2 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0520211960)
This book is one of the University of California Press's Discovery Series, each of which focuses on a single important work of art, artist or theme in the history of art. Thus, Pressly's contribution examines in detail two paintings illustrating incidents in the French Revolution: Plundering the King's Cellar at Paris, August 10, 1792, (1794, Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, Connecticut) and Celebrating over the Bodies of the Swiss Soldiers, August 12, 1792, (ca. 1794 [unfinished], Museum der Stadt, Regensburg). Johan Zoffany (1793-1810) was born in Germany where he was trained as a history painter. He studied in Italy,… Full Review
June 16, 1999
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Hans Mielke
Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers, 1996. 247 pp.; 161 b/w ills. Cloth €69.00 (250350499X)
See also: Nadine M. Orenstein, ed. "Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Drawings and Prints":http://www.caareviews.org/reviews/443, reviewed by Nils Buttner This recent catalogue of the drawings of Pieter Bruegel the Elder is the product of decades of research on the part of its author, who served as a curator of the Berlin-Dahlem Print Room from 1971 until his death in 1994. A widely respected scholar, Hans Mielke was the author of several significant publications, including major catalogues of the drawings of Dürer, Rubens and his circle, and Albrecht Altdorfer. Mielke became absorbed in the complexities of Bruegel's drawings during his… Full Review
June 16, 1999
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Simon Olding, Giles Waterfield, and Mark Bills
Bournemouth, UK: Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum in association with Lund Humphries, 1999. 96 pp.; 52 color ills.; 36 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (0853317488)
Dahesh Museum, New York, January 19–April 17, 1999; Frick Art and Historical Center, Pittsburgh, Pa., May 6–July 4, 1999; City Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland, August–September, 1999
The Dahesh Museum once again offered a valuable exhibition that expanded the offerings of art on view in New York. Dedicated to the display of "academic" art, its exhibitions have focused on the discarded artists of the modern period—Bouguereau, Rosa Bonheur, Alexandre Cabanel among others. This exhibition was no exception. While English art is on permanent display in New York at the Frick Collection and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it tends toward the well-trod areas of eighteenth-century English portraiture and early nineteenth-century landscape paintings, whereas Victorian paintings are in short supply. Briefly for a few precious months, this exhibition… Full Review
June 14, 1999
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George Michell
New York: Thames and Hudson, 1998. 232 pp.; 250 color ills.; 44 b/w ills. Paper $39.95 (0500279640)
George Michell has been publishing on aspects of South Asian architecture for more than twenty years, offering volumes of often broad scope on little known or underdeveloped topics and monuments. From his many publications on the remains and archaeological activities at the South Indian site of Vijayanagara in particular, but also Chandragiri, Firuzabad, and Deccani architecture to his volume on south Indian architecture published as part of the New Cambridge History of India (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), Michell has produced valuable documentation of the architecture of India, especially the south. The Royal Palaces of India is a welcome… Full Review
June 3, 1999
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Frederick C. Moffatt
Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1998. 240 pp.; 107 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0874136288)
Frederick C. Moffatt has written a handsomely illustrated and abundantly researched book on George Grey Barnard's somewhat notorious statue of Abraham Lincoln. Part of the American Arts Series of the University of Delaware Press, this volume contributes to the growing number of publications on American sculptural history. Over the years, this series has held a special commitment to this underserved field with its publication of such prestigious tomes as Wayne Craven's Sculpture in America (originally printed in 1968). Although Moffatt surveys the bibliographic field of American sculpture until 1992 in his introduction and in further detail in a footnote (pp… Full Review
June 2, 1999
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Jean C. Wilson
University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997. 272 pp.; 79 ills. Cloth $65.00 (0271016531)
We have learned a great deal in recent years about the conditions under which images became commodities, to be dealt in, traded, even speculated in during the early modern period, from the researches of many scholars, including Michael Montias, Lorne Campbell, Dan Ewing, Lynn Jacobs, Hans van Miegrot, and Elizabeth Honig. Jean Wilson has made important contributions to this discussion with her studies of Bruges artists in the early sixteenth century. This book offers an overall synthesis of Wilson's earlier work in articles to present a picture of the dynamics of the development of painting as an economic activity in… Full Review
June 2, 1999
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W. J. T. Mitchell
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. 322 pp.; 45 color ills.; 69 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (0226532046)
Showing it to be wholly a creature of the enlightenment, W. J. T. Mitchell has connected what would appear to be all the implications offered by the image of the dinosaur. In this regard, The Last Dinosaur Book is continuous with his more narrowly art-historical work on the landscape as a cultural construction. While some might think that an image ubiquitous to the bedrooms of America's children would be worth at least one book by an American cultural theorist, Mitchell has been accused of making too much of his topic. He anticipates this question (p. 183), but apparently to no… Full Review
May 28, 1999
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John R. Clarke
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. 406 pp.; 16 color ills.; 90 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (0520200241)
The very name of the collection containing many of the depictions of sex discussed in John Clarke's Looking at Lovemaking—the "secret room" (il gabinetto segreto ) in the Museo Nazionale, Naples—suggests the challenge this material presents to interpreters of Roman visual culture. In this beautifully illustrated study, Clarke sets out to consider these coyly closeted objects in context, in order to analyze a cultural construction of sexuality that is markedly different from that of the late twentieth century. After addressing the Greek and Hellenistic background, he devotes three chapters to the Augustan-Julio-Claudian period—one on male-to-male sex featuring the Warren… Full Review
May 24, 1999
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Angelica Goodden
London: André Deutsch in association with Trafalgar Square Publishing, 1999. 384 pp.; 8 color ills.; 23 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (0233990216)
Poststructuralist theory has taught us to distrust a language that purports to represent its subject transparently and innocently, for words do not just present a value-neutral world for our consideration and use. Rather, such words as "woman artist," for example, give us both the thing and its meaning. If we accept this theory as correct, all language is suspect, but some forms of writing, such as biography, are capable of more mischief than others. Although biography claims to be nothing more than an account of a person's life supported by facts and dates, the choice and arrangement of those facts… Full Review
May 18, 1999
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Michelangelo Buonarroti
Trans John Frederick Nims Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. 185 pp.; 2 b/w ills. Cloth $25.00 (0226080331)
Call this a time when translations of Michelangelo's notoriously difficult poetry have entered into their own in English, and be grateful for the heroic labors of so many first-rate translators. John Frederick Nims's fine new rendition of Michelangelo's complete poems is the fifth major one to appear since 1960. In that year Joseph Tusiani offered the first rendition of the entire corpus in appropriately elevated, energetic, often enigmatic verse. Three years later Creighton Gilbert produced a marvelously exact, tonally accurate, scrupulously scholarly translation. In 1987, George Bull produced a documentary version with useful notes and apparatus. 1991 brought… Full Review
May 17, 1999
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Bennard Perlman
Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998. 469 pp. Cloth $35.50 (079143835X)
In 1983, Bennard B. Perlman met, by chance, one of the grandchildren of Arthur B. Davies. As a result of this meeting, Perlman was given access to the Davies family archives, a rich collection of records and remembrances about an artist who, in his lifetime, tried his best to conceal the details of his complicated and somewhat sordid existence. It is not every artist who marries a woman who murdered her first husband, and then goes on to live a double life—one with his wife and two sons and another with a mistress and her child—while along the way playing… Full Review
May 17, 1999
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Caroline A. Jones
Ed Peter Galison New York: Routledge, 1997. 528 pp.; 79 b/w ills. Paper $35.00 (0415919126)
Although drawn from such disparate fields as art history, anthropology, philosophy, and the history of science and technology, the nineteen essays of this collection revolve around a central theme: how art and science have distinguished themselves—in practice and product—from one another, or how each has been shaped through its perceived relation to the other. Construed in one fashion, the question of how art and science are related has been of rather longstanding concern. In recent history, the concern with that relation animated the debates over C. P. Snow's controversial The Two Cultures, entered into the works of… Full Review
May 17, 1999
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Gene Brucker
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. Paper $29.95 (0520215222)
The scene that adorns the cover of this book, a detail from Giovanni Maria Butteri's late sixteenth-century painting The Return from the Palio, is recognizable to anyone who has experienced Florentines when they have stepped outside to be at home in their city. It resembles the hour of the passeggiata, the last marketing moment of the day, or the assemblage of diverse citizens for a festival. The scene is a street of which two sides are lined by palazzi that form a kind of canyon ready-made for a perspectival exercise. Only the irregular height of the buildings, each with its… Full Review
May 17, 1999
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Paula Rea Radisich
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 207 pp.; 69 b/w ills. Cloth $70.00 (0521593514)
One of the salient features of eighteenth-century art that has historically inhibited its incorporation into the canonical curriculum of art history is its resistance to stylistic categorization and the lack of a period designation such as Renaissance, Baroque, or Modern. And even within the field of eighteenth-century visual culture, some artists are more "canonical" than others because they can be made to fit into such existing stylistic categories as Rococo and Neoclassical. The immensely talented and productive painter Hubert Robert has been relatively neglected in recent studies of French painting of the Ancien Régime, partly because he, like the century… Full Review
May 14, 1999
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Reindeer Company
The Reindeer Company, 1998. 600 ills. CD-ROM $40.00
The Art Historian CD-ROM set is designed to supplement art history courses. This review addresses questions about function and educational value rather than details of interpretation or information. How does the product enhance learning beyond slide lectures or standard textbooks? How does the CD-ROM take advantage of digital technologies to present art-historical material? Can faculty construct digital lectures from the CD? How easy is the software to use? Scope A comprehensive CD set that paralleled the scope and depth of textbooks would serve the needs of students and instructors. Students could purchase the CD instead and… Full Review
May 13, 1999