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

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Donald Albrecht, ed.
Exh. cat. San Francisco: Contemporary Jewish Museum, 2014. 185 pp.; Many color ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780991641109)
Exhibition schedule: Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, April 24–October 6, 2014; Museum of Jewish Heritage, New York, March 30, 2015–January 18, 2016
The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco offered a fresh take on the popular topic of twentieth-century domestic design with its 2014 exhibition Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism, organized by the eminent curator Donald Albrecht. This exhibition is part of a spate of shows that has addressed the architecture and design of the period. An exhibition devoted to Charles and Ray Eames is currently making international rounds to various design museums—organized by the... Full Review
January 25, 2017
Alessandra Russo, Gerhard Wolf, and Diana Fane, eds.
Munich: Hirmer Publishers, 2016. 500 pp.; 350 color ills. Cloth $75.00 (9783777420639)
Exhibition schedule: Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City, March 24–June 19, 2011
In their scholarly and visually magnificent book Images Take Flight: Feather Art In Mexico and Europe 1400–1700, the editors—Alessandra Russo, associate professor in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures at Columbia University; Gerhard Wolf, director of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz–Max-Planck-Institute and honorary professor at the Humbodt-Universität zu Berlin; and Diana Fane, curator emerita at the Brooklyn Museum—have selected and carefully arranged... Full Review
January 18, 2017
Clare Robertson
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. 460 pp.; 80 color ills.; 220 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300215298)
The reign of Clement VIII (1592–1605) witnessed a confluence of extraordinary circumstances culminating in the Jubilee of 1600, when hundreds of thousands of pilgrims descended upon Rome. The aftermath of the Council of Trent and the founding of several new religious orders led to a growing understanding that art could be used as a valuable vehicle for disseminating the church’s message, prompting, in part, a flurry of church construction and renovation. Meanwhile, the city experienced an... Full Review
January 10, 2017
Thijs Weststeijn
Leiden: Brill, 2015. 452 pp.; 178 ills. Cloth $161.00 (9789004283619)
Thijs Weststeijn’s Art and Antiquity in the Netherlands and Britain: The Vernacular Arcadia of Franciscus Junius (1591–1677) is a well-researched, thoughtful, and timely argument for the seminal role played by the various versions of Franciscus Junius’s The Painting of the Ancients in Three Books or, in Latin, De pictura veterum libri tres (1637) within the history of early modern Netherlandish art theory and also in the broader European tradition. As Weststeijn shows,... Full Review
January 10, 2017
Kathryn M. Rudy
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. 362 pp.; 80 color ills.; 140 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (9780300209891)
Kathryn M. Rudy’s Postcards on Parchment: The Social Lives of Medieval Books is an exuberant study. The title of the volume draws from its opening vignette, in which, sometime toward the end of the fifteenth century, Sister Kerstyne Vetters sent a “postcard” to her (biological) Sister Lijsbet Vetters, housed at a different convent. This postcard—a painted image of St. Barbara on a rectangle of parchment, with an inscription on its back—survives today in a small prayer book now in the... Full Review
January 5, 2017
Alessandra Russo
Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2014. 368 pp.; 35 color ills.; 153 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780292754133)
Combining long-standing research interests in three distinct areas of sixteenth-century Mexican art—feather mosaics, geographic maps, and graffiti—Alessandra Russo’s latest major publication continues to exude the adventurous spirit of a personal scholarly quest in which she invites the reader to participate. Although exploring graffiti is an original undertaking, the first two topics have been treated in earlier books: one authored on maps, El realismo circular: Tierras, espacios y... Full Review
January 4, 2017
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
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
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
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