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

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David Grubbs
Durham: Duke University Press, 2014. 248 pp.; 19 ills. Paper $23.95 (9780822355908)
In 1982, after eating a macrobiotic lunch with John Cage in his West 18th Street loft, I brandished my Sony TC-D5M cassette recorder. “I have one just like it,” he said, “David [Tudor] told me to get it—I’ve never turned it on.” Everyone who knew Cage heard him proclaim at least once, “I don’t use records . . . unless I do something else with them” (as in Credo in US; 1942). I was unaware of any composer who accepted these as words to live by, let alone anyone who resisted the... Full Review
January 4, 2017
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Christine Guth
Honolulu: University Of Hawai'i Press, 2015. 272 pp.; 70 color ills.; 5 b/w ills. Paper $20.00 (9780824839604)
Christine Guth’s Hokusai’s Great Wave: Biography of a Global Icon is a landmark in multidisciplinary scholarly sophistication. It examines the long and storied history of one Japanese artwork as it has circulated around the world being imagined, reimagined, and reimaged, thereby fusing the local and global across time. Methodologically, the book offers the field of art history dynamic intersecting modes of critical inquiry for revisiting questions of global flow and cultural... Full Review
January 3, 2017
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Miriam M. Basilio
New York: Routledge, 2013. 340 pp.; 20 color ills.; 51 b/w ills. Cloth $130.05 (9781409464815)
Miriam M. Basilio’s excellent monograph, Visual Propaganda, Exhibitions, and the Spanish Civil War, provides an in-depth study of images that were in visual circulation both during and immediately after the conflict that tore Spain apart. That Basilio concludes her work with a broad look at how different artists have engaged with historical memory through the interrogation of museums, archives, and testimony shows how the Spanish Civil War continues to influence the collective... Full Review
December 29, 2016
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Christina M. Anderson
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015. 256 pp.; 40 color ills.; 15 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300209686)
Art historians have long known Daniel Nijs (or Nys) as the merchant who arranged the sale of a large part of the collection of the dukes of Mantua to Charles I of England in the single “greatest art deal of the seventeenth century” (1). Although documents relating to the transaction were published long ago by Noel Sainsbury and Alessandro Luzio, Nijs himself has remained a fairly obscure figure. Based on a fresh examination of manuscript sources, Christina M. Anderson’s The Flemish... Full Review
December 28, 2016
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Alexa Sand
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 423 pp.; 7 color ills.; 95 b/w ills. Cloth $125.00 (9781107032224)
Alexa Sand’s study of owner portraits in Francophone women’s devotional manuscripts, primarily from 1200 to 1350, presents a theoretically aware discussion of essential themes associated with illuminated Books of Hours: individual and family, public and private, space and time. Visual cues for devotion, defined as “striving for transformation through vision” (81), inspire Sand’s analysis of the spaces activated while performing prayer with self-reflexive images and texts. These devotional... Full Review
December 28, 2016
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Ian Berry and Michael Duncan, eds.
Exh. cat. Saratoga Springs, NY: The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery in association with DelMonico Books-Prestel, 2014. 254 pp. Cloth $49.95 (9783791352336)
Exhibition schedule: Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Saratoga Springs, NY, January 19–July 29, 2014; Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, June 6–September 14, 2014; Baker Museum, Naples, FL, September 27, 2014–January 4, 2015; Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, January 31–April 18, 2015; Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena, June 14–November 11, 2015
Corita Kent is having a moment. Someday Is Now: The Art of Corita Kent, the 2013 exhibition organized by Skidmore College’s Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, was followed in 2015 by Corita Kent and the Language of Pop at Harvard Art Museums; Sister Corita’s Summer of Love at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, New Zealand; and love is here to stay (and that’s enough): Prints by Sister Corita Kent at the University of San Diego’s... Full Review
December 22, 2016
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Elina Gertsman
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2015. 288 pp.; 48 color ills.; 106 b/w ills. Cloth $79.95 (9780271064017)
In Worlds Within: Opening the Medieval Shrine Madonna, a group of about forty sculptures known as Shrine Madonnas are the device for Elina Gertsman’s ambitious exploration of late medieval devotion. Also known as Vierges ouvrantes, most Shrine Madonnas are carved from wood and dated to between 1270 and 1500. Some are small enough to fit in a person’s hands, while others are almost life size. All depict the Virgin Mary seated on a throne and holding the Christ child. The exterior... Full Review
December 21, 2016
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Juliet B. Wiersema
Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015. 224 pp.; 185 color ills.; 17 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780292761254)
Juliet B. Wiersema’s Architectural Vessels of the Moche: Ceramic Diagrams of Sacred Space in Ancient Peru is a significant contribution to the field of art history for two reasons. The first is the subject matter: she addresses the relationship between architecture and its representation through an examination and comparison of ceramic vessels that represent architectural spaces and archaeologically recovered architectural remains from the Moche culture of the Peruvian north coast (ca.... Full Review
December 21, 2016
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Erik Thunø
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. 325 pp.; 25 color ills.; 104 b/w ills. Cloth $110.00 (9781107069909)
Erik Thunø’s The Apse Mosaic in Early Medieval Rome: Time, Network, and Repetition presents an alternative “non-diachronic” art-historical interpretation of Roman apse decoration from the sixth through ninth centuries. He identifies a core set of examples that share key visual and textual features, including: SS. Cosmas and Damian (526–30); S. Agnese (625–38); S. Venanzio (640–42); the apses of Paschal I (817–24)—S. Prassede, S. Cecelia, S. Maria in Domnica; and S. Marco (827–44).... Full Review
December 8, 2016
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Marta Gutman
Historical Studies of Urban America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. 448 pp.; 12 color ills.; 120 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780226311289)
The current obsessive fixation on children, childhood, and parenting has relegated the notion of “other people’s children” to a position of indifference and even mild disdain on the part of many middle- and upper-middle-class citizens. Yet the history of philanthropy and the preoccupation with the care of poor children was a central purpose of wealthy and middle-class women for a century and a half. In her book A City for Children: Women, Architecture, and the Charitable Landscapes of... Full Review
December 8, 2016
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