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

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Amy McNair
Honolulu: University Of Hawai'i Press, 1998. 142 pp.; 47 b/w ills. Paper $27.95 (0824820029)
This book can be added to the small group of modern monographs on Chinese calligraphy that engage the art of calligraphy with the discipline of art history. It is a small book, only 142 pages of main text, but in many ways a model for writing on this difficult subject. McNair establishes the traditional Chinese belief in characterology-- reading the personality of a writer in his works--as a central basis for her own approach to understanding the calligraphy of Yan Zhenqing. Yan was, of... Full Review
September 24, 1999
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John T. Young
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999. 136 pp.; 85 color ills. Paper $24.95 (0295977086)
This book is a collection of photographs of public art with associated notes from comments by the sculptors and others, together with the author's observations on a journey made in 1995. The photographs, whilst usually good, are by no means as complete records as the text intends, for example there being major details missing from the Monument to the Heroes of the People, 1959, and major works omitted, such as The Rent Collection Courtyard, 1965, even if these may not in 1995... Full Review
September 8, 1999
Akbar Naqvi
New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 600 pp.; 345 color ills. Cloth $75.00 (0195778030)
Indo-Pakistani art of the twentieth century falls into two time periods, pre- and post-Partition (1947). As a distinctive national and cultural form of aesthetic expression, however, art in this area is only as old as the young nation that celebrated its fiftieth anniversary of independence in 1997. The significance of Akbar Naqvi's book, Image and Identity, therefore, is that it is the first scholarly investigation of the history and development of modern and contemporary art of the... Full Review
September 8, 1999
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Paul Zanker
Trans. Deborah Lucas Schneider. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998. 251 pp.; 11 color ills.; 113 b/w ills. Cloth $49.95 (0674689666)
A study of any locale rich in buildings and paintings that places buildings in their urban setting and interprets paintings in their architectural settings is always welcome. Pompeii is an obvious place to present in this way, but studies of that intriguing city have seldom risen to the challenge. The task is even harder now since archeological activity there has intensified over the last decade. The first (Italian) edition of this book, which appeared in 1993, was based on three essays, the... Full Review
September 8, 1999
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Barbara C. Raw
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. 221 pp.; 23 b/w ills. Cloth $64.95 (0521553717)
In Trinity and Incarnation in Anglo-Saxon Art and Thought, Barbara Raw continues to apply the methodology she also utilized in Anglo-Saxon Crucifixion Iconography and the Art of the Monastic Revival (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), considering pictorial imagery as an expression of ideas developed in contemporary texts. Here the homilies of Ælfric of Eynsham, along with their antecedents, particularly the exegetical writings of Augustine and Bede and the Apostolic... Full Review
September 3, 1999
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Beth Fowkes Tobin
Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1998. 320 pp.; 42 b/w ills. Cloth $54.95 (0822323052)
Some of the most provocative and insightful scholarship on eighteenth-century British art produced in the last fifteen years has explored the vexed relationship between art and commerce. This important body of work is limited, however, by its "domestic" vision of what that commerce actually entails: it tends to focus on art produced in Britain, commercial discourse produced by British ideologues, and the British merchant as a domestic figure. Beth Fowkes Tobin's Picturing Imperial Power:... Full Review
September 3, 1999
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André Vauchez
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. 645 pp.; 43 b/w ills. Cloth $120.00 (0521445590)
Sainthood in the Middle Ages first appeared in 1981. It is a measure of the impact and continuing value of his study to historians of late medieval Europe that André Vauchez's book has been translated into English some sixteen years later. Vauchez has provided a highly differentiated account of changing perceptions of sainthood between 1185 and 1431, in which he distinguishes those who initiated, witnessed, and managed the processes by which public cults were authorized for a tiny... Full Review
September 3, 1999
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Elizabeth ten Grotenhuis
Honolulu: University Of Hawai'i Press, 1999. 240 pp.; 20 color ills.; 104 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (0824820819)
This book is a carefully constructed, well-researched study of Japanese mandala paintings. Within the broader context of pan-Asian Buddhism the most famous mandalas are those associated with Esoteric or Tantric Buddhist theology. Another important and influential type of mandala, the Taima mandala, was created to represent Buddhist doctrine of the Pure Land sect. The appearance of Japanese Esoteric and Pure Land mandalas is unquestionably derived from Chinese prototypes, but this study... Full Review
September 3, 1999
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Richard Cleary
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 300 pp.; 12 color ills.; 194 b/w ills. Cloth $90.00 (0521572681)
When the Place Louis-le-Grand (today Place Vendôme) was inaugurated on August 13, 1699, many of the elegant facades that surrounded the square had no buildings behind them, and the king it was intended to glorify was not even there. The state of the square did not matter, in some sense, because its future shape was dictated by Mansart's revised blueprint for the site, and the absence of the king did not matter, in some sense, because the urban space was dominated by... Full Review
August 26, 1999
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Dianne Sachko Macleod
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995. 530 pp.; 8 color ills.; 74 b/w ills. Cloth $95.00 (0521550904)
Andrew Hemingway and William Vaughan, eds.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 386 pp.; 70 b/w ills. Cloth $69.95 (052155182X)
These recent books from Cambridge take different approaches to a common topic. Both infuse new content into a category term: "bourgeois" or "middle-class" society, as it dominated the production of nineteenth-century art through private or state patronage, individual purchase, exhibitions, and the press. The fifteen essays collected and introduced by Andrew Hemingway and William Vaughan begin with Britain (five essays) but then turn to shorter sections on France (three essays), Germany (four... Full Review
August 26, 1999
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