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

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Izumi Shimada, ed.
William and Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015. 392 pp. Cloth $75.00 (9780292760790)
The Inka Empire: A Multidisciplinary Approach aims to assemble the latest thinking about the largest indigenous state in the history of the Americas. Editor Izumi Shimada outlines four goals in his introductory chapter: 1) offer the latest data and interpretations regarding the rise of the Inka state; 2) present an updated overview of the material remains and the organizational and ideological features of the Inka state; 3) demonstrate the importance of multidisciplinary approaches... Full Review
October 27, 2017
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Vittoria Di Palma
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. 280 pp.; 23 color ills.; 84 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780300197792)
Architectural historian Vittoria Di Palma’s book Wasteland: A History examines the shift in the way wasteland was understood, classified, and managed over the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is both a wide-ranging survey of representations of wasteland in prints, paintings, maps, and elsewhere, and an alternative account of English improvement understood through developments in modern aesthetics. As such, it is of interest not only to art and architectural... Full Review
October 27, 2017
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Liu Yang, ed.
Exh. cat. Minneapolis: Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2015. 252 pp.; 200  color ills. Paper $49.95 (9780989371865)
The terracotta army pits of the First Emperor’s (r. 221–210 BCE) mausoleum in China remain one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century; yet the story of the First Emperor, his tomb, and the rise of the Qin state did not end with that excavation. Instead, continuous archaeological activity in Shaanxi and Gansu Provinces has... Full Review
October 27, 2017
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Chelsea Foxwell
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. 296 pp.; 34 color ills.; 70 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780226110806)
“What is nihonga, where did it come from, and why is it still around?” (12). These questions comprise the final sentence of the introduction to Chelsea Foxwell’s impressive book and serve as our point of departure into the emergence and evolution of nihonga or “modern Japanese painting” in late nineteenth-century Japan. As Foxwell compellingly argues, the emergence of nihonga was not simply the result of Japan’s shedding its feudal past at the precise moment of the... Full Review
October 20, 2017
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Joan Kee
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013. 384 pp.; 135 color ills. Paper $39.95 (9780816679881)
Dansaekhwa is a style of abstract painting in which Korean artists explore monotones using various materials. There has been little agreement among Korean theorists on the term, which demonstrates the difficulties of defining it. Although Joan Kee transliterates it as Tansaekhwa in her book Contemporary Korean Art: Tansaekhwa and the Urgency of Method, ever since the 2012 exhibition Dansaekhwa at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea,... Full Review
October 20, 2017
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Luke Gartlan
Leiden: Brill, 2015. 384 pp.; 165 ills. Cloth $128.00 (9789004289321)
In the last few years, nineteenth-century Japanese souvenir photography from the port city of Yokohama has witnessed increasing public interest after decades of neglect in institutional archives. In the current decade alone, there have been more than five special exhibitions across Europe dedicated to these photographic works. This unexpected emergence of so-called “Yokohama photography” was pioneered by new critical scholarship. Building upon the persistent research efforts on the visual... Full Review
October 20, 2017
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Tara Zanardi
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2016. 264 pp.; 44 color ills.; 35 b/w ills. Cloth $94.95 (9780271067247)
Tara Zanardi’s Framing Majismo examines the cultural phenomenon of majismo, the eighteenth-century movement that defined Spanish types drawn from the urban lower classes. She emphasizes that majismo was a product of the Enlightenment as well as a xenophobic reaction to foreign influences, and argues that majismo imagery provides a view into the tensions between gender and class, as well as between tradition and modernity, in eighteenth-century Bourbon Spain. Zanardi brings... Full Review
October 13, 2017
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Christopher R. Marshall
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. 352 pp.; 88 color ills.; 115 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300174502)
Seventeenth-century Naples was the largest city in Italy, and the second largest in Europe after London. It was also home to a thriving school of painting, with homegrown artists such as Massimo Stanzione, Bernardo Cavallino, and Luca Giordano, as well as foreigners such as Caravaggio, Jusepe de Ribera, and Artemisia Gentileschi. Yet Neapolitan painting has been overshadowed by that of Bologna, Rome, or other schools of Italian painting. Although there has been no shortage of interest in... Full Review
October 13, 2017
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Stephennie Mulder
Edinburgh Studies in Islamic Art. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014. 320 pp.; 121 color ills.; 21 b/w ills. Cloth £ 75.00 (9780748645794)
The topic of ‘Alid shrines in medieval Syria has an established scholarly framework of sectarian arguments. These include, on the one hand, a debate concerning the role of Shi’i doctrine in the proliferation of shrines from the tenth century onward, and on the other, bold statements concerning the culturally transformative impact of the so-called Sunni Revival from the eleventh century. In her introduction to The Shrines of the ‘Alids in Medieval Syria: Sunnis, Shi‘is and the Architecture... Full Review
October 13, 2017
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Noam M. Elcott
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016. 312 pp.; 145 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780226328973)
To produce the photographs in his Theaters series (1975–2001), Hiroshi Sugimoto brought his still camera into darkened movie palaces and opened the shutter for the full duration of the feature. What appears in the image is something that was never quite there—a glowing rectangle of pure white light caused by the superimposition of every frame of the film during the hours-long exposure. The extended time of capture reveals something else, something that was always there but hidden or... Full Review
October 6, 2017
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