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

José Esparza Chong Cuy, ed.
Exh. cat. Chicago and New York: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and DelMonico Books-Prestel, 2019. 144 pp.; 100 ills. Paper $25.00 (9783791358390)
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, April 13–August 25, 2019
The latest iteration of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)’s Ascendant Artist series featured the Brazilian artist Jonathas de Andrade (born 1982). This series has the virtue of occasionally highlighting younger artists from the Global South, even as the museum itself trends more toward blockbuster shows that lionize designers and musicians rather than advanced art (to name a few, David Bowie Is, 2014–15; Takashi Murakami, 2017; and Virgil Abloh, 2019). Andrade’s North American reputation rests primarily on the film O Peixe (The fish; 2017), a haunting parody of the ethnographic gaze acquired by the MCA… Full Review
December 5, 2019
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Margo Natalie Crawford
New Black Studies Series. Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2017. 280 pp.; 35 b/w ills. Paperback $28.00 (9780252082498)
Margo Natalie Crawford’s titular concept in Black Post-Blackness: The Black Arts Movement and Twenty-First-Century Aesthetics is oceanic: it is multifaceted and much encompassing. As the introduction explains, black post-blackness is an aesthetics of expressions of free self-determination, of a future blackness that shapes the present still. It is a mood and a shape of time, and also an understanding of that cultural mood and temporal shape as interdependent and in flux.  More concretely, Black Post-Blackness seeks to correct reductive constructions that situate twenty-first-century art and literature by artists and writers such as Glenn Ligon, Claudia Rankine, Kerry James Marshall, and… Full Review
November 26, 2019
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Christopher R. Lakey
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018. 240 pp.; 36 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300232141)
Christopher Lakey’s book, Sculptural Seeing: Relief, Optics, and the Rise of Perspective in Medieval Italy, makes a bold if ultimately problematic argument: Lakey suggests that the origins of perspective in Renaissance art are to be found in medieval relief sculpture, that the Albertian system of perspective evolved from the practices and concepts of medieval stone sculptors beginning with the revival of architectural sculpture associated with Romanesque art, around 1100. The book’s argument, however, is like a thought experiment in which it is necessary to accept the hypothesis as a premise to sustain the conclusion. Lakey aims to prove that… Full Review
November 25, 2019
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Chanchal B. Dadlani
New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 2019. 232 pp.; 97 color ills.; 22 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300233179)
Chanchal B. Dadlani’s From Stone to Paper adds an exciting new chapter to a growing body of scholarship exploring the arts and architecture of Asia beyond the “canonical” limit of the seventeenth century by considering the 150 years of the “long eighteenth century,” which, in this case, connects the heyday of the Mughal empire with the advent of the British Raj. Monuments, urban spaces, building practices, and modes of theorizing and representing architecture are examined “on their own terms,” building a case for the primacy of internal forces in shaping the concept of a “Mughal style” in architecture. Crisp, engaging… Full Review
November 22, 2019
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Robert Echols and Frederick Ilchman, eds.
Exh. cat. New Haven, CT and Washington, DC: Yale University Press in association with National Gallery of Art, 2018. 336 pp.; 240 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300230406)
Palazzo Ducale, Venice, September 7, 2018–January 6, 2019; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, March 24–July 7, 2019
Visitors were nearly denied the opportunity to experience the first major exhibition in the United States of the monumental work of Venetian Renaissance artist Jacopo Tintoretto (1518/19–1594). Though the show was originally slated to open March 3, 2019, a shutdown of the US federal government grounded preparations for Tintoretto: Artist of Renaissance Venice at the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington, DC. It is a testament to the commitment of lenders, dedicated efforts of NGA staff, and the work of its curators, Robert Echols and Frederick Ilchman, that the exhibition opened three weeks later. Although the mechanics… Full Review
November 21, 2019
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Elizabeth Prettejohn
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press in association with Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2017. 288 pp.; 130 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780300222753)
Consider two nineteenth-century paintings, made in the same year and same Europe, each alluding to a work by Titian. One is Édouard Manet’s Olympia (1863), a picture central to the modernist canon. With simplified brushwork and pared-down tonality, Manet transplants Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538) into contemporary Paris. The painting, which ventures a commentary on modern life through its presentation of the Venus as a modern woman, works because of its bold departure from its source. At the same time across the channel, Dante Gabriel Rossetti was painting Fazio’s Mistress (1863), a very different sort of allusion to another work… Full Review
November 18, 2019
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McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, June 20–September 15, 2019
McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, June 20–September 15, 2019
McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, June 20–September 15, 2019
Across the United States, museums are eager to present identity-based shows addressing issues of gender, sexuality, and identity during the fiftieth-anniversary year of the 1969 Stonewall uprisings. This year, the McNay Art Museum dedicated its entire temporary exhibition program to such an effort, with Andy Warhol: Portraits, Transamerica/n: Gender, Identity, Appearance Today, and TransSanAntonian: Examining Trans Identities and Gender Fluidity in the Archives. These three exhibitions constituted a broad consideration of contemporary artists undermining the entrenched gender binary and historical sexual normativity. Transamerica/n, the largest of the three temporary exhibitions, presented a wide range of artists… Full Review
November 15, 2019
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Thijs Weststeijn, Eric Jorink, and Frits Scholten, eds.
Netherlands Yearbook for History of Art. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill, 2016. 296 pp.; 150 color ills. Cloth $154.00 (9789004334977)
Stephanie Schrader, ed.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2018. 160 pp.; 138 color ills. Cloth $39.95 (9781606065525)
Getty Center, Los Angeles, March 13–June 24, 2018
“Is there such a thing as ‘global Netherlandish art’?” is the ambitious question with which Netherlandish Art in Its Global Context opens (7). A cohesive model of early modern art of the northern and southern provinces of the Netherlands is elusive to begin with, and the dimensions and significance of the global have been the subject of discussion within the humanities for decades now. If the question that informs this volume is unanswerable, the attempt is nonetheless interesting. Netherlandish Art in Its Global Context offers a lively array of essays that should interest readers in early modern art history generally… Full Review
November 14, 2019
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Pamela M. Jones, Barbara Wisch, and Simon Ditchfield, eds.
Brill's Companions to European History. Leiden, the Netherlands and Boston: Brill, 2019. 656 pp.; 119 ills. Cloth $206.00 (9789004391963)
A Companion to Early Modern Rome brings together thirty new essays that together offer a fresh perspective on the politics, urbanism, art, and culture of Rome between 1492 and 1692. The volume is an outstanding summary of the state of research and a showcase for innovative work across a wide range of disciplines. Each essay presents a succinct and focused discussion, with an analysis of previous literature and a conclusion that outlines possibilities for future research. Contributions by several leading Italian scholars are presented in translation. Covering an admirably comprehensive range of topics, the chapters chart exciting prospects particularly for… Full Review
November 11, 2019
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Tate Britain, London, June 5–September 24, 2018
To celebrate the one-hundred-year anniversary of the World War I armistice, the show Aftermath: Art in the Wake of World War One at Tate Britain explored artistic responses to the physical and psychological scars left on Europe. German, British, and French artists produced the majority of the works on display in the show, and most of them had practiced in Berlin, London, and Paris. They produced the exhibited works between 1916 and 1932. The expression of trauma, as it was experienced during the First World War, is a shared theme that all of the artists explored. As the title of… Full Review
November 8, 2019
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Tracey R. Bashkoff
Exh. cat. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 2019. 244 pp.; 220 ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780892075430)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 12, 2018–April 23, 2019
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s exhibition of Swedish modern artist Hilma af Klint (1862–1944), Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future, was a long-overdue American showcase of af Klint’s innovations. Organized by Director of Collections and Senior Curator Tracey R. Bashkoff, Paintings for the Future notably highlighted the spiritualist beliefs that informed af Klint’s practice, as well as those of peers like Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian. Yet, while the show and catalog successfully celebrated af Klint’s monumental compositions, both fell short of their goal: the integration of af Klint within canonical European aesthetic modernism. This weakness was as… Full Review
November 6, 2019
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Heghnar Zeitlian Watenpaugh
Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press, 2019. 436 pp.; 26 ills. Cloth $30.00 (9780804790444)
Genocide, that most horrific of crimes, does not leave untouched any fragment of human identity. Yet for genocide to succeed, it must not only extinguish individual human lives—it must erase all traces of the presence of a people, of a people’s identity. While we often focus on the human subject as victim of genocide, the vehemence with which cultural atrocities are perpetrated, and the chilling consistency with which they occur in tandem with the elimination of human lives, makes clear that art and material culture matters in the dismantling of what it means to be human. Long before Hitler… Full Review
November 5, 2019
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Saloni Mathur and Kavita Singh, eds.
Visual and Media Histories. New Delhi: Routledge, 2015. 270 pp. Hardcover $140.00 (9781138796010)
Rebecca M. Brown
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2017. 248 pp.; 20 color ills.; 70 b/w ills. Cloth $95.00 (9780295999944)
These two recent studies of museological and display histories in/of South Asia stand out in the fields of both art history and museum studies. The rather intriguing title of Saloni Mathur and Kavita Singh’s edited volume, No Touching, No Spitting, No Praying, is taken from a signboard at the entrance to an Indian museum that gives the code of conduct to which visitors are expected to adhere. Assumedly, the sign is intended for “unsophisticated” viewers whose everyday worlds are not consonant with the social codes that the sign specifies. The reversal of this inconsonance is part and parcel of… Full Review
November 1, 2019
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Macarena Gómez-Barris
American Studies Now: Critical Histories of the Present. Oakland: University of California Press, 2018. 160 pp. Paper $18.95 (9780520296671)
In the conclusion to Beyond the Pink Tide: Art and Political Undercurrents in the Americas, Macarena Gómez-Barris exhorts the reader to “look beyond electoral politics [of the nation-state] to strengthen already existing networks of possibility” (109). In this brief yet provocative study, she provides the reader with a model of analysis that shores up South-South linkages, privileges queer and indigenous perspectives, and denaturalizes national boundaries. Gómez-Barris champions the interdisciplinary field of “Transnational Americas Studies” rather than the post–Cold War area studies approach. In doing so, she allows the natural alliances and shared histories of the Americas to come to… Full Review
October 31, 2019
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Joanna Grabski
African Expressive Cultures. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017. 328 pp.; 57 color ills. Paper $20.00 (9780253026057)
Art World City is a beautiful book. The photographs, most of which are by the author, are stunning, and all are in color thanks to support from the CAA Millard Meiss Publication Fund. In a book whose purpose is to situate a major international city and its artists into a complex and interdependent relationship, the quality of the images alone makes the argument for the symbiotic relationship between artists, the cityscape, and the visual consumption of culture in Dakar, Senegal. Each of the six chapters stands alone as a succinct inquiry into an aspect that author Joanna Grabski identifies on… Full Review
October 30, 2019
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