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

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Frances Gage
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2016. 248 pp.; 48 color ills.; 18 b/w ills. Cloth $89.95 (9780271071039)
Frances Gage’s Painting as Medicine in Early Modern Rome: Giulio Mancini and the Efficacy of Art investigates the medical rationales for collecting art that are scattered throughout a well-known treatise by Giulio Mancini (1559–1630), Pope Urban VIII’s physician. Mancini’s medical thought was retardataire in the era of the Lincei, but his artistic connoisseurship was innovative. Thanks to Gage’s book, Mancini can now be appreciated for adding painters to Sandra Cavallo’s categories of... Full Review
September 15, 2017
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Martin J. Powers and Katherine R. Tsiang, eds.
Blackwell Companions to Art History. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015. 584 pp.; 86 b/w ills. Cloth $195.00 (9781444339130)
Meant to serve as a pedagogical tool to “stimulate comparative contemplation about broad and basic issues in the history of art” (1), A Companion to Chinese Art, edited by Martin J. Powers and Katherine R. Tsiang, is a collection of twenty-five essays by some of the leading scholars of Chinese art history, history, and literature. It adopts a thematic structure, devoting five essays to each of five general topics commonly taught within art-historical surveys—production and... Full Review
September 15, 2017
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Howard Williams, Joanne Kirton, and Meggen Gondek, eds.
Rochester: Boydell Press, 2015. 293 pp.; 67 b/w ills. Cloth $99.00 (9781783270743)
The eight essays in Early Medieval Stone Monuments: Materiality, Biography, Landscape, along with a substantial introduction by editors Howard Williams, Joanne Kirton, and Meggen Gondek, offer original insights on the objectness of early medieval sculpture: they describe physical encounters with monuments, mnemonic qualities of stone, and multiple reuses of artworks, medieval and post-medieval. A main strength of the volume is its thematic, rather than geographic or... Full Review
September 15, 2017
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Deirdre Heddon and Dominic Johnson, eds.
Intellect Live. Bristol, UK: Intellect, 2016. 336 pp.; 160 color ills. Paper $28.50 (9781783205899)
I never met Adrian Howells. I never let him wash my feet, hold me, or invite me to launder my clothes with him. Touching, and being touched, by a stranger within the context of a performance has evoked both empathy and apprehension in me, and often raises the question of who is meant to benefit from such an awkward, constructed form of engagement. When confronted with a one-to-one performance, the fear of harm, physical or emotional discomfort, and embarrassment wrestles with my curiosity,... Full Review
September 8, 2017
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Kobena Mercer
Durham: Duke University Press, 2016. 384 pp.; 111 color ills. Paper $29.95 (9780822360940)
Kobena Mercer’s Travel and See: Black Diaspora Art Practices since the 1980s gathers eighteen essays written in the span of twenty years, from 1992 to 2012, which offer an extraordinarily rich journey into the intellectual process of one of the most significant critics to emerge from the British cultural studies tradition in the 1980s. This is a journey of discovery and exploration of the work of artists of the black diaspora working under the sign of the “postcolonial modern,” as... Full Review
September 8, 2017
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Sabine T. Kriebel
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014. 352 pp. Cloth $65.00 (9780520276185)
Sabine Kriebel’s book Revolutionary Beauty: The Radical Photomontages of John Heartfield is a study characterized by its exceptional rigor and intellectual intensity. Although written in a meticulously sculpted language, precise and full of imagery, this work does not claim to be a definitive, closed, or unequivocal object. Focusing on the monteur John Heartfield, a major artist who curiously has received little scholarly attention until now, Revolutionary Beauty does not... Full Review
September 8, 2017
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Charles Palermo
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015. 384 pp.; 16 color ills.; 17 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780520282469)
“Look at the Christs of Gauguin,” Émile Bernard once complained in an 1891 letter to Émile Schuffenecker, “they are human, they are of this world. Christ absolutely did not cry silly tears on beautiful, veiny hands. All that is Gauguin, which is to say self-worship, pure secularism, Renan.” For Bernard, an artist who had already returned to a devout Catholicism, a humanized image of Christ derived from the liberal theology of the day—Ernest Renan’s unmiraculous Vie de Jésus (1863)... Full Review
September 1, 2017
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Timothy Hyde
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013. 384 pp.; 11 color ills.; 69 b/w ills. Paper $35.00 (9780816678112)
The political efficacy of architecture and urban planning is brought to the fore in Timothy Hyde’s cogent analysis of architecture and constitutionalism in Republican-era Cuba (1933–59). Focused primarily on Havana, Hyde brilliantly accounts for the relationship between legal discourse and architectural production. Divided into three parts, the book claims a tripartite of trajectories: the textual, the graphic, and the physical. The first part of the book explores the creation of the 1940... Full Review
September 1, 2017
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Logan Wagner, Hal Box, and Susan Kline Morehead
Austin: University of Texas Press, 2013. 273 pp.; 332 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780292719163)
Mexican plazas are the “public living rooms” of urban centers large and small, and they have been shaped by social intercourse for over four thousand years, sometimes rhythmically and slowly, sometimes violently and suddenly. These communal spaces still resonate with Pre-Columbian symbolism, as Logan Wagner, Hal Box, and Susan Kline Morehead demonstrate in Ancient Origins of the Mexican Plaza: From Primordial Sea to Public Space. Whereas the pioneering studies of colonial Spanish... Full Review
September 1, 2017
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Holly S. Hurlburt
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015. 360 pp.; 34 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (9780300209723)
Global Renaissance studies, which include the examination of contributions by elite women to early modern European culture and considerations of courtly culture and ritual, have been some of the more productive avenues of recent research in the field. Holly S. Hurlburt’s engaging Daughter of Venice: Caterina Corner, Queen of Cyprus and Woman of the Renaissance, a biographical study of Caterina Corner (1454?–1510), the Venetian-born Queen of Cyprus, engages with these themes. Hurlburt... Full Review
August 25, 2017
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