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

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Joshua Rivkin
Brooklyn: Melville House Publishing, 2018. 496 pp.; 22 b/w ills. Cloth $32.00 (9781612197180)
“This, dear reader, is not a biography. This is something, I hope, stranger and more personal,” writes Joshua Rivkin at the outset of Chalk: The Art and Erasure of Cy Twombly (10). “More personal” turns out to mean “more about the author than the subject.” The first-person pronoun abounds; the first of many occurrences of “I” is very early indeed (xiii). If “more personal” is also meant to include the reader as a personal addressee of the text, this too is prominent. “We” joins “I”... Full Review
October 21, 2019
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Norma Broude, ed.
New York: Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2018. 328 pp.; 8 color ills.; 65 b/w ills. Paper $34.95 (9781501342509)
Gauguin’s Challenge: New Perspectives after Postmodernism, edited by Norma Broude, is an important and intriguing book published on the threshold of a worldwide examination and redefinition of social mores concerning, among other injustices, the historical depiction of indigenous and colonized women in Western art. Broude’s chosen texts both precede and prepare for, but mostly fall short of, current efforts by many to explore Paul Gauguin’s perceived status as a social pariah, an... Full Review
October 18, 2019
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Mariah Proctor-Tiffany
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2019. 232 pp.; 28 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Cloth $89.95 (9780271081120)
In the summer of 1315, Clémence de Hongrie sailed from her childhood home in Naples to marry King Louis X of France. Louis died a year later, leaving Clémence a pregnant widow, and five months after that their infant son Jean also died; Clémence lived the rest of her life as a dowager queen at the French court. On October 5, 1328, in anticipation of her death, she dictated her testament. And after her death on October 13 of that year, her executors, representatives of the king, and a group... Full Review
October 15, 2019
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Asato Ikeda
Honolulu: University Of Hawai'i Press, 2018. 144 pp.; 33 color ills.; 12 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780824872120)
In The Politics of Painting: Fascism and Japanese Art during the Second World War, Asato Ikeda considers four artists who, she argues, promoted fascist ideology through seemingly nonmilitaristic paintings made in the 1930s and 1940s. Through an examination of the work of Yokoyama Taikan (1868–1958), Yasuda Yukihiko (1884–1978), Uemura Shōen (1875–1949), and Fujita Tsuguharu (1886–1968), Ikeda rethinks conceptions of fascism and its manifestation in the Japanese visual arts,... Full Review
October 11, 2019
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Octavian Esanu, ed.
New York: Routledge, 2018. 156 pp.; 42 b/w ills. Cloth $155.00 (9781138563834)
The first time a nude was included in an exhibition in Lebanon, it caused quite a stir. Whereas young Lebanese painters who had studied in Paris were familiar with painting nude models, they found it difficult to show their paintings to the conservative Lebanese public upon their return home.Lebanon—The Artist’s View: 200 Years of Painting, exhibition catalog (18)In her pathbreaking 2010... Full Review
October 9, 2019
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Anthea Callen
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018. 272 pp.; 212 ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780300112948)
Anthea Callen’s earlier monographs established her as a leading expert on the facture and material history of Impressionism. Her new book turns away from the physicalities of canvas weaves and palette knives, parasols and portable paint boxes, to address a very different kind of “artists’ material”—naked human bodies, dead and living—and the academies where artists were taught to represent them. The basic insight that grounds her inquiry is simple but fundamental: the pedagogical... Full Review
October 8, 2019
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Tijana Vujošević
Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2019. 208 pp.; 72 b/w ills. Paper £ 20.00 (9781526114884)
Soviet architectural modernism is characterized sometimes as unrealizably utopian, and other times as an expanse of drab housing blocks that failed to take account of their human users. Tijana Vujošević begins Modernism and the Making of the Soviet New Man by noting that neither view is exactly true, and further that the truth was, at least arguably, precisely the opposite of both: a radical transformation of the built environment was in fact realized in the first decades of... Full Review
October 2, 2019
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Abdul Alkalimat, Romi Crawford, and Rebecca Zorach, eds.
Second to None: Chicago Stories. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2017. 376 pp. Paper $35.00 (9780810135932)
In the summer of 1967, as the first national conference on Black Power convened in Newark, New Jersey, and the city of Chicago awaited the unveiling of a monumental sculpture by Picasso in the Chicago Loop, a group of artists—painters, photographers, and graphic designers affiliated with the recently formed Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC)—created a mural on Chicago’s South... Full Review
September 30, 2019
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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
Imagine an art history of either South Asia or Europe where Bichitr (active circa 1615–50) and Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (1606–69) share the same discursive space. The cover of Rembrandt and the Inspiration of India provokes us to envision precisely that: an art history where a painting and a drawing of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan by two contemporaneous artists—one from South Asia and the other from Europe—can coevally reside alongside each other. In a way, the cover functions... Full Review
September 27, 2019
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Celeste-Marie Bernier
Oakland: University of California Press, 2019. 344 pp.; 99 color ills. Cloth $85.00 (9780520286535)
This welcome new volume surveys some fifty diaspora artists working in the United States and United Kingdom and more than 150 of their works. It elaborates the author’s larger project of developing a critical bibliography that alights on both contexts and, in so doing, seeks to articulate a working “Black lexicon of liberation,” primarily by drawing on the words of (and well-chosen objects by) the artists in question. In this sense, Stick to the Skin occupies a place somewhere... Full Review
September 25, 2019
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