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

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James Cracraft
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. 409 pp.; 35 color ills.; 95 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0226116654)
Grigory Kaganov
Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1997. 206 pp.; 76 b/w ills. Cloth $51.00 (0804727422)
In Western thought, space is preexisting and absolute. So asserts the philosophical tradition traced through Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Newton, and Kant. But as spatial theorist Henri Lefebvre points out, accounts of mental conceptual space in mathematics distanced themselves from those concerning the measurable physical space of geography. And neither mental nor physical space were treated by theorists in relation to the collective social space produced by human practices, viewed since the... Full Review
August 26, 1999
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James Ryan
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. 272 pp.; 88 b/w ills. Cloth $47.50 (0226732339)
Christopher Pinney
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. 249 pp.; 40 color ills.; 90 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0226668657)
Postcolonialist theory revisits and reframes European expectations of knowledge, authority, and visibility in representations of the colonial encounter. Photography played an important role in the formation of these expectations, one discussed in modern histories of the medium. While differing in their objectives and academic disciplines, James Ryan and Christopher Pinney both use postcolonial theory to rewrite narratives of Euro-American photographic history. Pinney's book, in particular,... Full Review
August 3, 1999
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Elizabeth Bartman
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 242 pp.; 194 b/w ills. Cloth $95.00 (0521583942)
As a monograph on the portraits of Livia, the wife of the emperor Augustus, this book reflects current scholarly interests in Augustan art and in the representation of women in the Roman Empire. Although the literature on Augustan Rome is grounded in the political contexts of the monuments, the author is to be admired for casting a wider net than is typical in the scholarship on Roman portraiture, which tends to be technical in its relentless classification of portrait types and variants... Full Review
July 27, 1999
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Julia M. White, Reiko Mochinaga Brandon, and Yoko Woodson
Exh. cat. San Francisco: Asian Art Museum of San Francisco in association with Honolulu Academy of Arts, 1997. 270 pp.; 209 color ills.; 19 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0295977663)
In the last two decades, most scholarship on ukiyo-e has appeared in exhibition catalogues. Such thematic exhibitions as the Portland Museum of Art's 1993 The Floating World Revisitedand the Worcester Art Museum's 1996 The Women of the Pleasure Quarter have whet our appetite for insightful scholarship. But while our scholarly cravings lust after challenging interpretations and... Full Review
July 23, 1999
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Selma Al-Radi
New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. 216 pp. Cloth (0197280234)
This monograph is a composite presentation by three different contributors, who describe the layout, physical structure, and painted and carved wall and ceiling decorations of a religious college (madrasa) built on the central plateau of Yemen in the sixteenth century. Included is a compendium of the inscriptions from which the pedigree of the building is derived. Insight into traditional Yemeni building practices is provided in the section dealing with the restoration work. The main... Full Review
July 22, 1999
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Dorinda Evans
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999. 177 pp.; 16 color ills.; 103 b/w ills. Cloth $39.50 (0691059454)
Of all the major American painters to take up the brush during the late colonial and early federal periods, Gilbert Stuart (1755–1828) has been the most overlooked by contemporary art historians. Although as a painter, he was far more virtuosic than Copley, Peale, or West, the almost exclusive application of his talent to portraits has not beckoned the scholar. Not that Stuart was by any means alone in his focus on portraiture. But unlike Copley, who at least agonized over the constriction of... Full Review
July 22, 1999
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T. J. Clark
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999. 458 pp.; 92 color ills.; 160 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (0300075324)
T. J. Clark's latest reflections on the complex topic of Modernism in the visual arts have been much anticipated. When he writes about a "retrospective" exhibition held by Pissarro late in his career, his words also apply to the appearance of this new book: "Pissarro knew only too well in 1892 that whatever he did in the present would be looked at comparatively, and put to the test of the 1870s" (56). The many self-reflexive comments that we find in these pages suggest that Clark, too, is... Full Review
July 14, 1999
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Joanna Cannon and Andre Vauchez
University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998. 275 pp.; 26 color ills.; 204 b/w ills. Cloth $80.00 (0271017562)
The visual—whether extant or recorded, whether a work of art, a procession, or the body of a saint—is an essential primary source for the historian. In this study . . . we hope to have demonstrated the contribution such sources can make to an understanding of the Middle Ages. (8) In this meticulous and carefully researched book, over twenty years in the making, the team of an art historian and specialist in trecento Cortona, Joanna Cannon, and a historian known... Full Review
July 12, 1999
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Maryan W. Ainsworth
New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Harry N. Abrams, 1998. 360 pp.; 69 color ills.; 274 b/w ills. Cloth $34.95 (0810965232)
This most recent study of the painting technique of Gerard David is an admirable one with a considerable amount of new information on David's style, particularly as revealed by author Maryan W. Ainsworth's scientific investigations with infrared reflectography. As noted in Chapter One, "Designing Solutions: David's Drawings and Workshop Practice," no other painter working in fifteenth-century Bruges has left for posterity as many drawings as did Gerard David, native of the north... Full Review
July 12, 1999
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Cristelle L. Baskins
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. 264 pp.; 59 b/w ills. Cloth $80.00 (0521583934)
Cristelle Baskins has emerged as a leading scholar in the field of Italian Renaissance domestic art. She has authored a series of fascinating articles over the past decade that deal with the varied issues implicit in the function and appearance of cassone (marriage chest) and spalliera (wainscoting) panels. These articles have helped both to stimulate the field and to lead it in new and exciting directions, negating some of its earlier, marginalized, status in relation to more... Full Review
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