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

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Brian D. Goldstein
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017. 400 pp.; 42 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (9780674971509)
Angel David Nieves
Rochester: University of Rochester Press and Boydell & Brewer, 2018. 256 pp.; 36 b/w ills. Cloth $49.95 (9781580469098)
Architectural historians have reason to welcome The Roots of Urban Renaissance: Gentrification and the Struggle over Harlem and An Architecture of Education: African American Women Design the New South. Brian D. Goldstein, an architecture, urban, and planning historian, and Angel David Nieves, an architecture and urban historian with expertise in the digital humanities, tell important stories that enrich our understanding of architecture and planning in relationship to race,... Full Review
January 16, 2019
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Jean-François Charnier
Skira, 2018. 128 pp.; 150 color ills. Paper $34.95 (9782370740748)
Jean-Luc Martinez and Juliette Trey
Exh. cat. Paris: Editions Xavier Barral, 2017. 381 pp.; 210 ills. Cloth € 49.00 (9782365111546)
Louvre Abu Dhabi, with the Musée du Louvre and the Agence France-Museums, Abu Dhabi, UAE, December 21, 2017–April 7, 2018
In November 2017, the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its magnificent buildings and dome, which reflect contemplatively on the conventional white-cube gallery and local architectural traditions. To this reviewer the building is eclipsed by the collection. The Louvre Abu Dhabi has acquired objects from 3000 <span... Full Review
January 14, 2019
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Linda Nochlin
New York: Thames & Hudson, 2018. 176 pp.; 128 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (9780500239698)
“I have made something graceful,” Gustave Courbet once said of his Young Ladies of the Village (127). When his painting of three elegantly dressed women charitably offering a piece of bread to a raggedy peasant girl appeared at the Salon of 1852, however, critics saw anything but grace. On the contrary, for Gustave Planche it manifested the artist’s “disdain for anything resembling beauty or formal elegance” (Revue des deux mondes, 670). Today, it is perhaps the work’s placid... Full Review
January 11, 2019
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David O’Brien
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2018. 240 pp.; 53 color ills.; 45 b/w ills. Cloth $89.95 (9780271078595)
David O’Brien’s book is a timely addition to Delacroix literature at a significant moment when the great Romantic painter is once again in the limelight. A major retrospective exhibition—the first since 1963—of 180 of his works just opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, its only American venue, following the show’s display at the Louvre museum. A more intimate exhibition around Delacroix and the theme of “struggle” as exemplified in his Saint-Sulpice murals—their antecedents and their... Full Review
January 10, 2019
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Peter Geimer
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018. 288 pp.; 18 color ills.; 58 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780226471877)
Several years ago, an Egyptian fly who died in 1870 was belatedly elegized in the pages of a prominent cultural studies journal. This poor airborne creature had lost its way, navigating into the camera of Antonio Beato and careening into the sticky collodion that coated the photographer’s glass plate negative. The fly’s treacly end would secure its immortality, for when the image was printed, the carcass loomed monstrously large over the citadel that was Beato’s putative subject. Occupying... Full Review
January 9, 2019
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Peggy McCracken
University of Chicago Press, 2017. 240 pp.; 16 color ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780226458922)
Peggy McCracken’s new book is about power. Although the burgeoning field of human-animal studies has been dominated by literary historians like herself, McCracken’s approach is refreshingly interdisciplinary and opens the door to new ways in which scholars in other disciplines might enter this increasingly important discourse.In her introduction, McCracken’s thesis is crystal clear: “literary texts use human-animal encounters to explore the legitimacy of authority and dominion over... Full Review
December 21, 2018
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Shari Tishman
London: Routledge, 2017. 156 pp.; 22 color ills.; 23 b/w ills. Paper $39.95 (9781138240414)
Shari Tishman’s Slow Looking: The Art and Practice of Learning Through Observation is a book that covers the whole field of education, beginning with children in primary school to adults visiting museums. Though I intend to discuss the entire scope of the book here, my primary concern is how its thesis applies to people, of any age, when they look at art in museums. My first thought when asked to review the book was that the concept of “slow looking” is appealing, but is it... Full Review
December 19, 2018
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Caroline A. Jones
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. 400 pp.; 37 color ills.; 128 b/w ills. Hardcover $65.00 (9780226291741)
What does it mean to say that an artwork is “global” or “contemporary”? Such claims, which are often both implicit and based on unreflective judgments, are nothing less than a condition of possibility for virtually any kind of discourse or practice related to contemporary art. Yet despite the ubiquity or even the necessity of “the global” and “the contemporary,” it is by no means clear how these terms function rhetorically; it isn’t even clear that they refer to determinate concepts or... Full Review
December 11, 2018
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Andrea E. Frohne
New York State Series. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2015. 435 pp.; 12 color ills.; 55 b/w ills. Paperback $49.95 (9780815634300)
The mutual imbrications of race, space, and visuality that are a shared preoccupation of art history, cultural studies, critical theory, media studies, and anthropology come into disturbingly vivid relief in the story of the colonial-era cemetery whose long-buried past and recent transformation into the first national monument to memorialize US slavery form the subjects of Andrea Frohne’s fascinating book, The African Burial Ground in New York City: Memory, Spirituality, and Space.... Full Review
December 10, 2018
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Marian Bleeke
Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 2017. 216 pp.; 4 color ills.; 43 b/w ills. Cloth $99.00 (9781783272501)
In Motherhood and Meaning in Medieval Sculpture: Representations from France, c. 1100–1500, Marian Bleeke’s goal is to explore what medieval sculptures “have to say about medieval women’s experiences of motherhood” (1). She asserts that “these sculptures become sites where medieval women could consider their own maternal experiences and the meanings those experiences held for them” (3). In this study, the author makes a powerful case for exploring the potential experiences... Full Review
December 7, 2018
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