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

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Noriko Aso
Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society. Durham: Duke University Press Books, 2013. 320 pp.; 33 ills. Paper $27.95 (9780822354291)
The obvious characteristics that distinguished Japan’s modern museums from older indigenous practices are permanent space, comprehensive collections, and a viewing public. While the pivotal research on the state-centric practice of “show and tell” has been conducted by scholars such as Satō Dōshin, Christine Guth, and Alice Tseng, Noriko Aso focuses on the discursive formation of museum-going publics within broader developments of exhibiting institutions. Tellingly, she opens the book with... Full Review
March 15, 2018
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Alexander Alberro, ed.
Writing Art. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2016. 344 pp.; 47 color ills.; 18 b/w ills. Paperback $34.95 (9780262034838)
Working Conditions, the recent volume of Hans Haacke’s collected writings edited by Alexander Alberro, reveals the artist’s preoccupation with a handful of concepts since the late 1960s. Chief among these are the ideological structures that govern a culture’s understanding of art; the mechanisms of the “consciousness industry,” of which the art world is a small but relevant element; and, more specifically, the ways in which governments, corporations, museums, and other institutional... Full Review
March 14, 2018
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Neil Levine
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015. 464 pp.; 84 color ills.; 336 b/w ills. Hardcover $39.00 (9780691167534)
Consider some iconic Frank Lloyd Wright buildings. Many of them are set in rural environments. Fallingwater is embedded in a dense forest in the secluded southwest corner of Pennsylvania. Taliesin (East) overlooks a lush green landscape fed by tributaries of the Wisconsin River. Taliesin West sits on the dusty foothills of the Tonto National Forest outside Scottsdale, Arizona. Moreover, the design of these buildings seems to reflect and harmonize with their natural environment. They are... Full Review
March 14, 2018
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Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017. 304 pp.; 99 color ills.; 71 b/w ills. Hardcover $65.00 (9780300207170)
The works of art commissioned by ancient Maya royal courts captivate and confound. Hieroglyphic captions accompany images of kings, queens, and noble families, but ancient voices on gods, the cosmos, and epic heroes are idiosyncratic at best, opaque at worst. Intuition guided early scholarly interpretations, buttressed by colonial texts, such as the sixteenth-century K’iche Maya Popol Vuh, which seemingly held a wealth of analogous descriptions for colorful Classic-period (ca. 250–900 CE)... Full Review
March 13, 2018
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Amelia Jones and Erin Silver
Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016. 424 pp.; 61 b/w ills. Paperback £ 18.99 (9780719096426)
Why is queer feminism not an established subdiscipline in art history or a more influential politic in curating, art criticism, or visual theory? Otherwise: Imagining Queer Feminist Art Histories, edited by Amelia Jones and Erin Silver, begins to answer these questions and to identify the problems this absence occasions or exacerbates. Twenty chapters by artists, scholars, and curators of different generations are framed by an introduction by Jones, an epilogue by Silver, and... Full Review
March 13, 2018
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Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin, eds.
London: Open Humanities Press, 2015. 402 pp. Hardcover £ 14.13 (9781785420054)
T. J. Demos
Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2017. 132 pp.; 25 color ills. Hardcover € 18.00 (9783956792106)
Since the glaciers of the last ice age receded, 11,700 years ago, humanity has lived under the stable climatic conditions of the geologic epoch known as the Holocene. Agriculture flourished during this period, and sedentary societies sprouted up around the globe. Yet a growing number of scientists contend that human-induced alterations to the biosphere, beginning with the invention of the coal-fired steam engine in the eighteenth century and accelerating through the atomic age, have... Full Review
March 12, 2018
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Margaret MacNamidhe
London and New York: I.B. Taurus, 2015. 256 pp.; 36 color ills. Hardcover $49.00 (9781780769370)
Margaret MacNamidhe’s Delacroix and His Forgotten World: The Origins of Romantic Painting seeks to revise the narrative of Romantic history painting in France by ascribing to the Salon of 1824 a much more transformative role than it has played in previous art historical accounts. MacNamidhe argues that the art criticism that the Salon of 1824 generated, not only regarding Eugène Delacroix’s provocative entry Scenes from the Massacres at Chios: Greek Families Awaiting Death or... Full Review
March 12, 2018
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Sophie Orlando
Paris: Dis Voir, 2016. 128 pp.; 30 color ills.; 15 b/w ills. Paperback $24.00 (9782914563765)
“It would be a mistake to emphasize only the socio-political determinants of mass emigration and not to fully understand the actual aims of individual artists who left their countries of origin simply to fulfill their artistic ambitions abroad. We should also recognise the peculiarity of these ambitions, which are not fulfilled merely by a success in the market-place but by the artist’s entry into the history of art.”—Rasheed Araeen, The Other Story: Afro-Asian Artists in... Full Review
March 8, 2018
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Shira Brisman
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. 320 pp.; 49 color ills.; 86 b/w ills. Hardcover $55.00 (9780226354750)
Albrecht Dürer’s importance rests on many factors besides artistry. His capabilities as draftsman and storyteller, his gift for absorbing foreign artistic styles, and all the ineffables he termed ingenium: these would have been capabilities appreciated only in Nuremberg and the vicinity had there not been a new technology for broadcasting talent. It was perhaps market saturation that led Dürer to printing. Nuremberg had enough painters to meet its needs. But already in Michael... Full Review
March 7, 2018
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Michelle Apotsos
New York: Routledge, 2016. 216 pp.; 61 b/w ills. Hardcover $144.00 (9781138192454)
A book-length scholarly work on architecture on the African continent is so rare that a new publication is cause for celebration in the small community of scholars who study this topic. Michelle Apotsos’s in-depth, diachronic study of architecture in the Islamic community of Larabanga in northern Ghana fits the bill. The book accomplishes multiple tasks. It reconstructs the history of Larabanga as a seat of Islam in the West African savanna—including the history of its dominant ethnic... Full Review
March 5, 2018
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