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

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Philip K. Hu
Queens Borough Public Library in association with Morning Glory Publishers and Art Media Resources, 2000. 370 pp.; 180 color ills. Paper $65.00 (0964533715)
This exhibition and its accompanying catalogue bring together for the first time in the United States a dazzling variety of Chinese rare books, rubbings and maps from the extensive holdings of the National Library of China, Beijing. This joint enterprise was organized by the National Library of China and the Queens Borough Public Library as part of an on-going effort to increase international professional cooperation and information exchange between these two institutions. While the quality... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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James Meyer, ed.
Phaidon, 2005. 304 pp.; 186 color ills.; 110 b/w ills. Paper $39.95 (071484523X)
James Meyer's Minimalism is a large, weighty book, filled with pictures, in between which are crammed immense amounts of information, ranging from snippets of commentary to exhaustive philosophical analyses. The middle section of this tripartite tome contains most of the illustrations, each of which is captioned with a Cliff's-Notes-like summary. Many are very insightful and precise, providing information on materials, size, scale, and proportions along with abbreviated, sometimes... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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Anne Bermingham
Yale University Press, 2000. 304 pp.; 130 color ills.; 140 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0300080395)
Ann Bermingham's eagerly awaited new book, Learning to Draw, is about much more than the development of drawing practices. As the subtitle, Studies in the Cultural History of a Polite and Useful Art, suggests, this is a wider history of the formation of the individual as a subject in (visual) culture. It analyzes the way drawing "resulted in an aestheticization of the self and the things of everyday life," a phenomenon that Bermingham sees as an important characteristic of the... Full Review
August 23, 2000
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Mark Ledbury
Voltaire Foundation, 2000. 366 pp.; 50 b/w ills. Cloth $98.00 (0729407039)
Writing on the Salon of 1755, the abbé de la Porte concluded his enthusiastic review of Jean-Baptiste Greuze with the phrase, "One would like to know him." (quoted in Munhall, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 11). This comment is ambiguous, since, despite his longing to know Greuze, it was apparently clear to the abbé that the work and the man were not transparent reflections of each other. For modern audiences, such longing is puzzling: we think we know Greuze all too well. Even some of... Full Review
August 22, 2000
William E. Wallace
Hong Kong: Hugh Laueter Levin Associates, 1998. 267 pp.; 139 color ills.; 133 b/w ills. Cloth $95.00 (0883632071)
There are, I'm sure, many people in the world who feel that no more can be said about Michelangelo and that, really, no more ought to be said. At the same time, there seems to be no limit to the number of people who simply want to look at his work--crowds are undiminished at the Sistine Chapel, and large-scale, lavishly-produced picture books continue to be made. In recent years, these books have been rather selective: the many variants of glorious restorations, the early work, and the... Full Review
August 18, 2000
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Robert S. Nelson
Cambridge University Press, 2000. (0521652227)
"Visuality" is to vision as sexuality is to sex; that is, visuality presents the discourse and particularized cultural habits of viewing art, layered upon the physiology of vision itself. This is a term that has been cropping up more frequently in art historical writing lately, e.g. Craig Clunas, Pictures and Visuality in Early Modern China (Princeton, 1998), but it has received little theorizing or application in multiple cultures prior to this volume. Its editor, Robert Nelson, will... Full Review
August 3, 2000
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David Carrier
University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000. 140 pp.; many b/w ills. Cloth $29.95 (027101962X)
This book is a free-flowing philosophical rumination about an art-form to which the author has been addicted since a child (as such he appears on the dust-jacket), and which he rightly considers to have been unfairly marginalized by art and cultural history (ignored for instance by CAA publications)--not to speak of philosophy and aesthetics. The book breathes a relaxed air, despite its rather daunting frame of scholarly reference, mitigated by a cozy reflex to begin each chapter with an... Full Review
July 27, 2000
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William Vaughan and Helen Weston
Cambridge University Press, 1999. 192 pp.; 90 b/w ills. Cloth $49.95 (0521563372)
William Vaughan and Helen Weston are contributing editors to this volume in a recently launched series by Cambridge University Press, Masterpieces of Western Painting. Each volume in the series offers a group of essays on a single painting by specialists in the field representing different methodological perspectives. The objective is to provide a concise history and reassessment of paintings that belong to the Western canon. A volume of this nature devoted to David's Marat is... Full Review
July 26, 2000
Peter Lunenfeld
MIT Press, 2000. 240 pp.; 41 b/w ills. $32.95 (026212226X)
Peter Lunenfeld, ed.
MIT Press, 1999. 298 pp.; 0 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Paper $17.95 (0262122138)
It is no coincidence that many of the new theorists of technology and telesis are based in California--ever on the edge of tomorrow, but also host to the primary commercial market for digital imagery: the movie industry. The hybrid members of the digerati can present different faces to the world depending on the venue: artist, theorist, computer scientist, professor, robotics engineer, program designer, or supplier. A hefty cadre of these transprofessionals work and think from the San... Full Review
July 19, 2000
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Wanda Corn
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. 470 pp.; 140 color ills.; 181 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0520210492)
In a 1905 history, Samuel Isham argued that American art was "in no way native to America but is European painting imported, or rather transplanted, to America . . . . There is no local tradition or influence." (Corn, 318) Countering this Eurocentric view (one still occasionally heard among those who dismiss American art before Abstract Expressionism), is an equally persistent belief in cultural exceptionalism. From the beginnings of cultural nationalism in the early nineteenth century, many... Full Review
July 14, 2000
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