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

Browse Recent Book Reviews

Andrew Butterfield
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. 272 pp.; 200 color ills.; 60 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (0300071949)
As the author notes in his introduction, The Sculptures of Andrea del Verrocchio is preceded by nine major monographs on the artist. Without question, Butterfield's reconsideration of the sculptural production of Verrocchio adds considerably to what remains a surprisingly uncertain chronology—despite the earlier monographs and countless other articles on individual works (including the essays published in 1992, Verrocchio and Late Quattrocento Italian Sculpture, ed. Steven Bule... Full Review
April 21, 1999
Thumbnail
Michael Podro
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. 208 pp.; 44 color ills.; 88 b/w ills. Cloth $30.00 (0300069146)
Erwin Panofsky is said to have been particularly pleased with the fact that he possessed one near-sighted and one-far sighted eye. Using his optical inheritance as a model for how one should write the history of art—paying attention to detail and description, while never neglecting the panoramic view—he provided successive generations of art historians with a powerful challenge to disciplinary blindspots. Michael Podro, one of Panofsky's most insightful readers (as witnessed in his much... Full Review
April 21, 1999
Thumbnail
Francis Ames-Lewis
Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 1997. 270 pp.; 12 color ills.; 146 b/w ills. Cloth $99.95 (1859283764)
This book offers undergraduates and lay enthusiasts who have not had the good fortune of attending one of Professor Ames-Lewis's courses at Birbeck College in London an opportunity to see and understand key monuments of Italian Gothic sculpture through his sensitive and insightful eyes. It offers many insights for more sophisticated readers, as well. Patiently introducing readers to the historical circumstances in which Tuscan sculptors worked, Ames-Lewis cites intriguing examples of how... Full Review
April 21, 1999
Thumbnail
Sheila Blair
New York: New York University Press, 1998. 416 pp. Cloth $59.95 (0814713289)
Epigraphy has long been a subject of tremendous fascination and prodigious investigation within Islamic studies, and has inspired a number of ambitious scholarly undertakings, such as the Materiaux pour un Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum (11 vols., 1894–1985), the Repertoire chronologique d'epigraphie arabe (21 vols., 1931–91) and the Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum (30 vols., 1955–90). As their titles suggest, the genesis of these multivolume, multidecade compendia was... Full Review
March 19, 1999
Thumbnail
Elizabeth Cropper
Los Angeles: Getty Trust Publications, 1997. 132 pp.; 21 color ills.; 32 b/w ills. Paper $19.95 (0892363665)
The picture painted in Florence sometime in the second quarter of the 16th century by Jacopo Carucci da Pontormo, and known for most of the 20th century as The Halberdier, burst out of the comfortable obscurity of the Frick Collection in New York, where it had been on indefinite loan when Christie's sold it at auction in the winter of 1989 to the J. Paul Getty Museum for more than $35 million. Since very few... Full Review
March 19, 1999
Thumbnail
Sarah Blake McHam, ed.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 287 pp.; 139 color ills. Paper $24.95 (0521473667)
Looking at Italian Renaissance Sculpture brings together under one cover a series of essays written over a thirty-year period. The earliest articles, first published in 1970 and 1971 respectively, are H. W. Janson's "The Revival of Antiquity in Early Renaissance Sculpture" and Irving Lavin's "On the Renaissance Portrait Bust." Also reprinted here are Christiane Klapisch-Zuber's "Holy Dolls: Play and Piety in Florence in the Quattrocento," (first published in French in 1983) and Claudia... Full Review
March 18, 1999
Thumbnail
Hatden B. J. Maginnis
University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997. 368 pp.; 16 color ills.; 112 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0271015993)
Some of the underlying tensions—I hesitate to use the word conflicts—in this ambitious book are expressed even before it is opened, in the juxtaposition of the name of the great Florentine artist, Giotto, with a detail of the Virgin and Child from the Rucellai Madonna painted by the Sienese master Duccio on the cover. Is the point that the era belongs (or has belonged) verbally or nominally to Giotto (i.e., Florence), but, in fact, visually to Duccio (i.e., Siena)? This would seem to be the... Full Review
March 18, 1999
Thumbnail
Alex Coles and Alexia Defert, eds.
London: BACKless Books in association with Black Dog Publishing, 1997. Paper $14.95 (1901033759)
The Anxiety of Interdisciplinarity is the second volume in the De-, Dis-, Ex- series from BACKless Books. The volume features interviews with Julia Kristeva and Hal Foster, essays from Rosalind Krauss, Louis Martin, Timothy Martin, Beatriz Colomina, and Howard Caygill, and photographs of Candida Höfer, all of whom focus on the intermingling and friction between the schools of art, architecture, and theory. The anxiety develops when poststructuralist theory, born of literary and... Full Review
March 17, 1999
Sandra Hindman, Mirella Levi D'Ancona, Pia Palladino, and Maria Francesca Saffiotti
Princeton University Press in association with Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997. 256 pp.; 33 color ills.; 217 b/w ills. Cloth $95.00 (0691059713)
At a session on the historiography of illuminated manuscripts held during the recent annual CAA conference in New York, it was generally agreed that the publication of catalogues was of particular importance to the advancement of scholarship in manuscript studies. Exhibitions, exhibition catalogues, and catalogues of collections are essential instruments in manuscript studies, because they bring illuminated manuscripts out of the sequestered environment of rare book libraries and into public... Full Review
March 17, 1999
Thumbnail
Ivan Gaskell and Michiel Jonker, eds.
Washington D.C.: National Gallery of Art in association with Yale University Press, 1998. 372 pp.; 48 color ills.; 272 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0300075219)
This long-awaited volume contains a large selection of the papers that were delivered at a symposia in Washington, D.C., in 1995 and The Hague in 1996 in connection with the Vermeer exhibition held at the National Gallery of Art and the Mauritshuis respectively. The monumental exhibition was itself a spectacular success, drawing immense crowds at each of its venues. In some respects the very occasion of the exhibition as the first one dedicated exclusively to... Full Review
March 17, 1999
Thumbnail