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

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Michael Hall
New Haven: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in association with Yale University Press, 2015. 508 pp.; 200 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (9780300208023)
The study of Victorian architecture has matured. At the forefront of recent achievements in scholarship now stands Michael Hall’s enormous and enormously rich biography of one of the greatest High Victorians, George Frederick Bodley (1827–1907). Hall’s monumental achievement is twofold. First, he has conquered the intrinsic difficulty of the project. Bodley’s personal and office papers are lost, and this unhappy paucity is complemented by the almost more troublesome richness of the surviving... Full Review
September 1, 2016
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Foong Ping
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015. 318 pp.; 63 color ills. Cloth $79.95 (9780674417151)
The cover of Foong Ping’s The Efficacious Landscape: On the Authorities of Painting at the Northern Song Court features a detail from a painting titled Early Spring, dated 1072 and signed by Guo Xi. By virtue of its imposing size and matchless virtuosity of brushwork as well as the relative abundance of historical records concerning Guo Xi, a famed court painter of the Northern Song period (960–1127), this magnificent work in ink and light colors on silk occupies a central... Full Review
September 1, 2016
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Kristine Juncker
Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2014. 216 pp.; 28 color ills.; 15 b/w ills. Cloth $74.95 (9780813049700)
In Afro-Cuban Religious Arts: Popular Expressions of Cultural Inheritance in Espiritismo and Santería, Kristine Juncker combines the study of material culture with the methodological tools of anthropology to trace the history of Afro-Cuban religious arts. Hers is a longitudinal study that begins with the abolition of slavery in 1886, when former slaves migrated to Havana, and ends in an old building in Harlem in the 1960s where Caribbean immigrants congregated to ask the spirits of the... Full Review
August 25, 2016
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Leon Wainwright
Rethinking Art's Histories. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011. 208 pp.; 20 b/w ills. Paper $30.95 (9780719085949)
Theoretical literature on Caribbean art is rare, which is why any book that is published on the topic deserves particular attention. In Timed Out: Art and the Transnational Caribbean, Leon Wainwright explores the state of transnational Caribbean art in five chapters plus an introduction and conclusion. Arguing for a greater consideration of the Caribbean in the writing of a new transnational art history, he looks at the contributions of Caribbean artists to modern and contemporary art.... Full Review
August 25, 2016
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Sarah Staniforth, ed.
Readings in Conservation. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 2013. 456 pp.; 10 color ills.; 12 b/w ills. Paper $70.00 (9781606061428)
Historical Perspectives on Preventive Conservation is the sixth installment in the Getty Conservation Institute’s “Readings in Conservation” series, which presents compilations of texts that the editors consider to be integral to the development of the theory and practice of the conservation profession. The series began with Historical and Philosophical Issues in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage (1996) and this has been followed by (to present) additional titles relating to... Full Review
August 25, 2016
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Wendy Bellion
Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011. 388 pp.; 12 color ills.; 83 b/w ills.; 95 ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780807833889)
Citizen Spectator: Art, Illusion, and Visual Perception in Early National America, the title of Wendy Bellion’s impressive book, aptly captures the primary themes of her study of Federal-period American visual culture. Her concern is with demonstrating the agency of looking: how active viewing reflected political ideologies and encouraged the emergence of community and national identities in the decades following the Revolution. Bellion casts “optical pleasure, play, and deceit” as... Full Review
August 25, 2016
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Audrey Lewis, ed.
Exh. cat. New York: Scala Arts Publishers, 2015. 208 pp.; 120 ills. Cloth $55.00 (9781857599411)
Exhibition schedule: Brandywine River Museum of Art, Chadds Ford, PA, April 25–July 19, 2015
In conjunction with the first exhibition project in over twenty years to provide an in-depth examination of the work of painter Horace Pippin, this catalogue’s six contributing essayists focus their texts to contrast with the platitudes that have defined Pippin’s work since the beginning of his public exhibition history in the late 1930s. These standard interpretations stubbornly persisted without critical scrutiny and “with the artist’s complicity” (53), in the words of Anne Monahan, former... Full Review
August 18, 2016
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Paul Barrett Niell
Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015. 344 pp.; 12 color ills.; 76 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780292766594)
In Urban Space as Heritage in Late Colonial Cuba: Classicism and Dissonance on the Plaza de Armas of Havana, 1754–1828, Paul Niell examines cultural production related to the commemoration of the foundational site of Havana, located on the city’s Plaza de Armas. Legend recounts that the Spanish founded the city there under a ceiba tree. Niell focuses on architecture, urban design, and painting created at three different moments: the 1754–71 construction of a baroque monumental pillar... Full Review
August 18, 2016
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Dániel Margócsy
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. 336 pp.; 32 color ills.; 39 b/w ills. Cloth $40.00 (9780226117744)
The belief that scholarly consensus and the public good, rather than economic competition, should guide the pursuit of knowledge is an ideal inherited from a tradition of disinterested science that took shape in the early modern Republic of Letters and Enlightenment public sphere. Yet was early modern science as disinterested as it is often imagined to be? “No” is Dániel Margócsy’s blunt answer in Commercial Visions: Science, Trade, and Visual Culture in the Dutch Golden Age. Focusing... Full Review
August 11, 2016
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Aneta Georgievska-Shine and Larry Silver
Burlington: Ashgate, 2014. 362 pp.; 48 color ills.; 112 b/w ills. Cloth $149.95 (9781409462330)
The meeting of renowned Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens and Diego Velázquez, the talented painter to King Philip IV, during Rubens’s visit to Spain in 1628–29 has ignited the imagination of art historians. While contemporary sources are frustratingly silent on the encounter, a growing body of scholarship has appraised the impact of the Fleming’s presence on artistic production at the Spanish court, especially on pictures by Velázquez. In Rubens, Velázquez, and the King of Spain,... Full Review
August 11, 2016
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