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

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Gerardo Boto Varela and Justin E. A. Kroesen, eds.
Architectura Medii Aevi. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2016. 332 pp.; 36 color ills.; 76 b/w ills. $100.49 (9782503552507)
Traditionally a Romanesque cathedral (ca. 1000–1200 CE) is distinguished from other Romanesque churches because it includes one extra piece of furniture: the cathedra, or bishop’s throne. Since today no single cathedral built between the fourth and the twelfth centuries is preserved in its original shape, it is perhaps difficult to refine this definition of Romanesque cathedrals. Even if the exterior shell of the Romanesque cathedral remains intact, very little is known about... Full Review
December 13, 2017
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Bruce Redford
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. 224 pp.; 120 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Hardcover $65.00 (9780300219302)
Scholarly interest in the enigmatically alluring art of Sargent, galvanized by the 1998–9 retrospective and numerous exhibitions since, is still thriving. In the most recent monograph on the artist, John Singer Sargent and the Art of Allusion, Bruce Redford contends that “no portrait painter in the Anglo-American tradition is more consistently and inventively allusive than Sargent” (15). Redford suggests that Sargent’s sustained childhood exposure to the old masters, his... Full Review
December 13, 2017
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Greta Kaucher
Geneva: Librarie Droz, 2015. 1592 pp.; 54 b/w ills. Paperback $129.24 (9782600018425 )
Historians of eighteenth-century art, architecture, science, and engineering will undoubtedly have typed out the name “Jombert” many times in their footnotes, for this family was the publisher of nearly a thousand titles between the late 1680s and early 1810s. In a remarkable gift not only to the history of the book, but also to the story of how a pan-European public sphere was formed in which artistic and architectural information was debated, Greta Kaucher has produced a comprehensive... Full Review
December 12, 2017
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Byzantine Fresco Chapel, Menil Collection, Houston, TX, May 21, 2016 – Oct 28, 2018
Installed at the Menil Collection’s Byzantine Fresco Chapel in Houston, Texas, more than four hundred handmade images of the fourth-century saint Fabiola comprise Francis Alÿs’s latest version of The Fabiola Project. Except for a few small objects displayed in an adjoining room, the pictures are hung on a single wall 24 feet tall by 40.5 feet wide. The lower one-third of the works can be inspected closely, but the rest reside too high for such pursuits and are subsequently absorbed... Full Review
December 12, 2017
Marc Gotlieb
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016. 320 pp.; 48 color ills.; 77 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780226276045)
The first English-language book on this mid-nineteenth-century French painter, The Deaths of Henri Regnault will become an important reference with its many leads for art historians to pursue. Its first four chapters examine Regnault’s decade-long career, which took off when he won the Prix de Rome in 1866 and ended with his death in 1871; the final three examine his posthumous reputation until World War I, when it precipitously declined. Marc Gotlieb’s attempt to revive... Full Review
December 11, 2017
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Ernst van de Wetering
Oakland: University of California Press, 2016. 340 pp.; c. 300 color ills. Paper $49.95 (9780520290259)
It is hard to imagine that a painter as provocative and awe-inspiring as Rembrandt created his oeuvre without having a theory of art. His works are outspoken, offering robust statements (as Hubert Damisch and Mieke Bal would say) about the nature and status of pictorial representation. To have such pictorial statements further articulated and contextualized would have made a great book. However, in Rembrandt: The Painter Thinking, Ernst van de Wetering approaches with great caution... Full Review
December 11, 2017
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John B. Ravenal, ed.
Exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. 140 pp.; 165 color ills. Hardcover $45.00 (9780300220063)
The illuminating exhibition Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch: Love, Loss, and the Cycle of Life recently at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), explored the deep connections between what seems at first glance to be the work of two starkly different artists. Both the exhibition and meticulously researched catalogue essay examine the common threads that... Full Review
December 8, 2017
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Marsha Meskimmon and Dorothy C. Rowe, eds.
Rethinking Art's Histories MUP. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016. 320 pp.; 47 b/w ills. Hardcover £ 65.00 (9780719088759)
Marion Arnold and Marsha Meskimmon, eds.
Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2016. 352 pp.; 54 color ills.; 115 b/w ills. Cloth £ 75.00 (9781781382806)
Women, Geography, Borders in the Age of (Anti)GlobalizationThe... Full Review
December 8, 2017
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Tom Nichols
London: Laurence King, 2016. 224 pp.; 135 color ills. Cloth $35.00 (9781780678511)
In his introduction to Renaissance Art in Venice: From Tradition to Individualism, Tom Nichols takes careful aim at some overused concepts in the discussion of Venetian art, namely the characterization of it as distinguished by colore as opposed to disegno, and qualities of venezianità and mediocritas. He cautions his readers that these narratives do “little to explain the more dynamic dimensions of art and architecture in this period, and fail to account... Full Review
December 6, 2017
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Sarah Kate Gillespie, Janice Simon, Meredith E. Ward, and Kimberly Orcutt
Exh. cat. Athens: Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, 2016. 126 pp.; 42 color ills.; 40 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780915977956)
Exhibition schedule: Georgia Museum of Art, September 17–December 11, 2016
The forty works featured in Icon of Modernism: Representing the Brooklyn Bridge, 1883–1950 illustrate the influence that the imposing New York architectural landmark has had on modernist artists of varying stripes since its completion in 1883 to just after the Second World War. Included are a mix of paintings, works on paper, and photographs executed in several modernist styles from American Impressionism to Surrealism that depict the bridge from key vantage points. In fact, in the... Full Review
December 6, 2017
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