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

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N. Katherine Hayles
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999. 350 pp.; 5 b/w ills. Paper $18.00 (0226321460)
How We Became Posthuman is at root a book about what it is to be human during our time of rapid and jarring technological change, a book about how selfhood and philosophies have been transformed in the wake of the societal and technological revolutions brought about by computers, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. Everywhere, such phenomena as the Internet, the digitization of money, and the mapping of the genome are seen as destabilizing physicality and setting the... Full Review
June 25, 1999
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James F. O’Gorman
Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1998. 291 pp. Cloth $45.00 (1558491481)
It is inconceivable that the Albert Memorial in London and the illustrations to the novels of Charles Dickens novels might have been the work of the same man. But while such a state of affairs was unimaginable in England, it was perfectly plausible in nineteenth-century America, as the peculiar career of Hammatt Billings demonstrates. For Billings not only provided the celebrated illustrations for Uncle Tom's Cabin, but also designed the National Monument to the Forefathers at... Full Review
June 25, 1999
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Dagmar Eichberger and Charles Zika, eds.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 255 pp.; 87 b/w ills. Cloth $64.95 (0521620376)
Those attempting to keep up with, let alone understand, the changing contexts of Dürer's art are faced with a Sisyphean challenge. Over the years, the artist has been extolled as, among other things, the most German of artists, a leader of the frühbürgerliche Revolution, a proto-Nazi, and a hippie. Hallowed by Protestants and Catholics alike—and with no less enthusiasm, I should add, by those espousing the cults of artistic genius and a disinterested Kantian aesthetic—he has... Full Review
June 24, 1999
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Michael Fried
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. 351 pp.; 16 color ills.; 72 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0226263185)
The emphasis of this selection of critical writings by Michael Fried is upon his work between 1963 and 1966, the reasons he gives for this both explaining and, to a certain extent, justifying the compilation of this collection. Sensitive to what he describes as his peers' tendency to conflate his views from these distinct periods in his intellectual life, Fried uses the lengthy introduction prefacing the selection to explain the development of his thought from the late 1950s to the present... Full Review
June 24, 1999
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Anthony Snodgrass
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 186 pp.; 63 b/w ills. Paper $19.95 (0521629810)
Anthony Snodgrass has written a little book on a large subject. Just 8 1/2 x 6 x 9/16 inches and 186 pages including index, Homer and the Artists: Text and Picture in Early Greek Art takes within its compass such vexed dilemmas as the introduction of writing to Greece, the dates of the Iliad and Odyssey, the relation of Homer’s poems to lost epics of the Trojan cycle, the great bard’s standing in the cultural contexts of the eighth through mid-sixth centuries b.c.,... Full Review
June 24, 1999
Bonnie C. Wade
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. 470 pp.; 20 color ills.; 166 b/w ills. Paper $80.00 (0226868419)
How can paintings inform us of past cultural practices? By interrogating paintings produced at the Mughal court, Bonnie Wade reconstructs musical practices prevalent at the medieval royal courts of North India. Although Wade's project began as an ethnomusicological enquiry eager to mine more than textual sources, her study ends up problematizing what meanings Mughal paintings had for past as well as present viewers. For historians of South Asian visual culture, Wade's innovative study... Full Review
June 23, 1999
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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... Full Review
June 23, 1999
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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... Full Review
June 22, 1999
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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)... Full Review
June 22, 1999
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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... Full Review
June 22, 1999
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