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

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Dell Upton
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015. 280 pp.; 59 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780300211757)
Within years after the end of Reconstruction (the period from 1863 to 1877 during which the federal government controlled states of the former Confederacy and African Americans attained fundamental rights of citizenship), supporters of the Confederacy began commemorating its short-lived existence, its soldiers, and the “Lost Cause” interpretation of the Civil War by placing monuments throughout the South. For the most part, these monuments stood uncontested until the 1970s, when activists and... Full Review
February 1, 2017
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Lisa Saltzman
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. 232 pp.; 48 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (9780226242033)
Lisa Saltzman’s Daguerreotypes: Fugitive Subjects, Contemporary Objects distinguishes itself from most theories of photography, both in content and approach, via a lucid analysis that considers the characteristics of photography less as unique to one medium than as qualities that migrate. She brings together heterogeneous objects that share a distinctive relation to time, identity, and memory, such as Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir Fun Home (2006), W. G. Sebald’s novel... Full Review
January 26, 2017
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Arthur J. DiFuria, ed.
Visual Culture in Early Modernity. New York: Routledge, 2016. 208 pp.; 64 color ills. Cloth $149.95 (9781472449146)
Genre Imagery in Early Modern Northern Europe: New Perspectives, edited by Arthur J. DiFuria, consists of eight essays on the topic. DiFuria’s own introduction is followed by two studies addressing genre painting during the sixteenth century, and, thereafter, five that explore this artistic phenomenon during the seventeenth century, though mainly in the Dutch Republic. According to DiFuria, scholars engaged in the study of genre imagery must contend with its reception, origins, and... Full Review
January 25, 2017
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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