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

Reviews in 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

Madeline Harrison Caviness
Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 1997. 284 pp.; 221 b/w ills. Cloth $159.95 (0860786382)
Madeline Caviness introduces this volume herself by explaining her "penchant for re-joining fragments and reconstructing programs." While that description narrowly summarizes the content of many of the articles, it hardly does them justice. The anthology comprises fifteen articles written by Caviness between 1962 and 1993, bringing together contributions to festschriften, catalogues and conferences that might not otherwise be readily accessible (in this review, the articles will be referred to by Roman numerals I-XV, as they are in the book). It is also clear that the practice of looking long and hard at paintings on glass gave Caviness insights into subjects… Full Review
June 23, 1999
Wheelock Whitney
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996. 222 pp.; 45 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (0300068034)
In the autumn of 1816 the twenty-five year old Gericault set off for Italy, where he spent the next year in Rome—except for an initial month in Florence and a two-month excursion to Naples in the spring of 1817. In this abundantly illustrated monograph, Wheelock Whitney explores the Italian journey in the context of Gericault's short career, and shows that this least studied period of Gericault's work was a crucial stage—the year in which the artist "came of age" (1). The significance of the Italian visit has long been debated. His earliest nineteenth-century biographers generally dismissed… Full Review
June 22, 1999
Ruth B. Phillips
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999. 352 pp.; 38 color ills.; 171 b/w ills. Paper $40.00 (0295976489)
Ruth Phillips's study of souvenir art made in the Northeast describes a number of histories of longstanding, transcultural negotiation among the native and nonnative people in this region. Although the dynamic forces at work in the contact zone have been described as reciprocal before—Arjun Appadurai (1996) has aptly described the negotiation of imagined lives as "self-fabricated" and James Clifford (1997) has characterized the roles of native movers and shakers (formerly called informants) as active ones, forged by people who have "been around"—Phillips’s feat in this book is to link these notions with cases, so that we may now understand the… Full Review
June 22, 1999
Steven Conn
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. 313 pp.; 27 b/w ills. Cloth $32.50 (0226114937)
In this study of American culture between the Centennial and Sesquicentennial, Steven Conn argues that American museums played a vital role in the production and dissemination of knowledge. Believing that their duty was to educate and enlighten, museums offered an eager public vast arrays of systematically organized artifacts. Displayed in glass cases, these artifacts spelled out compelling narratives of evolutionary change, of savagery and civilization, of intractable backwardness and triumphant human progress. Until the early 1900s, this "object-based epistemology" allowed museums to bring the latest scientific discoveries to public notice. But as universities began to place greater emphasis on scientific… Full Review
June 22, 1999
Rona Goffen, ed.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 176 pp.; 30 b/w ills. Cloth $49.95 (0521467098)
Masaccio's Trinity is part of a new series initiated last year by the Cambridge University Press, which recalls two high quality series of art history books from the 1970s. As in the Viking Press series, "Art in Context," a single masterwork of Western European painting from the Renaissance through the twentieth century is examined in detail. Following a format similar to "The Artists in Perspective Series" (Prentice-Hall), each volume includes an introduction by the editor followed by a series of six essays by various authors, chosen to represent a variety of methodological perspectives. In her introduction to … Full Review
June 16, 1999
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
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":, 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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