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

Reviews in caa.reviews are published continuously by CAA and Taylor & Francis, with the most recently published reviews listed below. Browse reviews based on geographic region, period or cultural sphere, or specialty (from 1998 to the present) using Review Categories in the sidebar, or by entering terms in the search bar above.

Recently Published Reviews

Jennifer Bajorek
Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2020. 352 pp.; 30 color ills.; 102 b/w ills. Paper $28.95 (9781478003663)
Over the past three decades, scholarship on the history of photography in Africa has done much to overturn monolithic accounts of modernity in the discipline of art history. Today African photography is a common topic of art history PhD dissertations and the regular focus of major books and exhibitions. The significance of this development cannot be overstated. Unfixed: Photography and Decolonial Imagination in West Africa by Jennifer Bajorek can be understood as an important turning point in these developments because it moves beyond topics that are by now familiar, even canonical. Grounded in rigorous theoretical inquiry and years of in-depth… Full Review
October 21, 2020
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FROM THE ARCHIVE: This autumn, caa.reviews is revisiting reviews that relate to the social issues of the present, at a time when the field is taking them up in renewed ways. As museums and galleries undergo seismic change, we look to another critical shape these institutions have taken: solidarity collections and the “museum in exile." Explore this concept and “the politics of historicizing a present in the face of dispossession, state violence, and fascism” through Matthew Bent’s review of the 2015–19 traveling exhibition Past Disquiet: Artists, International Solidarity and Museums in Exile. Full Review
October 19, 2020
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Douglas Fordham
New Haven, CT and London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in association with Yale University Press, 2019. 328 pp.; 215 ills. Cloth $60.00 (9781913107048)
In Aquatint Worlds, Douglas Fordham argues that the medium of aquatint, a type of tonal printmaking, unified an aesthetic for picturing travel, in particular the architecture, peoples, and landscapes that came into view with the expansion of the British empire. This is a global and material history and a critical intervention in the history of print. From William Ivins’s description of engraved lines as a “net of rationality” to John Berger’s contemplation of “ways of seeing” art through reproduction, theorists have argued that technologies of print condition the reception of images. Fordham posits that aquatint was one such “worldmaking”… Full Review
October 14, 2020
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FROM THE ARCHIVE: This autumn, caa.reviews is revisiting reviews that relate to the social issues of the present, at a time when the field is taking them up in renewed ways. This week we revisit a crucial volume published in 2019, Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today, as reviewed by Michele Valerie Ronnick. Full Review
October 13, 2020
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Liza Oliver
Visual and Material Culture, 1300–1700. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2019. 260 pp.; 89 color ills. Cloth €99.00 (9789463728515)
Much of the history of Europe and South Asia’s mutual entanglement in the modern era has been written around the rise and fall of the British Raj, which dominated most of the Indian subcontinent for two centuries. In recent years, however, scholars have paid increasing attention to interactions between South Asia and the rest of Europe, on the one hand, and on the other, to the need to understand such interactions in terms of global networks of economic and cultural circulation, including Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The history of relations between France and the Indian subcontinent has been fruitful… Full Review
October 7, 2020
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FROM THE ARCHIVE: This autumn, caa.reviews is revisiting reviews that relate to the social issues of the present, at a time when the field is taking them up in renewed ways. Today, in a piece relevant to the United States' current election season, explore Ila Sheren's review of Beyond the Pink Tide: Art and Political Undercurrents in the Americas by Macarena Gómez-Barris, about the intersection of art and the wave of progressive governments elected across Latin America in the early twenty-first century. Full Review
October 5, 2020
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Nina Wiedemeyer
Exh. cat. New York: Prestel, 2019. 224 pp.; 155 color ills.; 76 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (9783791359045)
Nina Wiedemeyer and Friederike Holländer, eds.
New York: Prestel, 2019. 160 pp.; 109 color ills. Cloth €29.00 (9783791359014)
Bauhaus-Archiv/Museum für Gestaltung and Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, September 6, 2019–January 27, 2020
Bauhaus scholars had a wealth of exhibition offerings to choose from in 2019, from major events in Weimar and Dessau, to provincial museums capitalizing on local architects’ ties to the Bauhaus, to, not least of all, three special exhibitions in Berlin. One of these, Original Bauhaus, was based largely on the collection of the Bauhaus-Archiv and, to a lesser extent, the Berlinische Galerie. It sought to highlight the Bauhaus’s current relevance by presenting fourteen case studies. Each case study took an archival object or group of objects as its starting point—its “original”—and used further items and histories to probe… Full Review
September 30, 2020
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FROM THE ARCHIVE: This autumn, caa.reviews is revisiting reviews that relate to the social issues of the present, at a time when the field is taking them up in renewed ways. Today we're spotlighting Liza Oliver's consideration of museums' role in presenting Indigenous stories, through the 2018–19 British Museum exhibition Reimagining Captain Cook: Pacific Perspectives. Full Review
September 28, 2020
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Matthew Looper
Linda Schele Series in Maya and Pre-Columbian Studies. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2019. 288 pp.; 190 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (9781477318058)
As ubiquitous in the ancient Maya world (encompassing modern-day Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and parts of Honduras and El Salvador) as they are today, deer provided a core food source to ancient populations. The Maya developed a complex approach to deer remains and imagery as a result, varying from a focus on economic signifiers to mythological or political content or, given the multivalence of Maya objects, a combination of all three. This heritage lasted beyond the Spanish arrival in the sixteenth century; modern populations continue to demonstrate a rich, enduring ritual tradition (albeit one now also influenced by Catholicism) surrounding the… Full Review
September 23, 2020
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FROM THE ARCHIVE: This autumn, caa.reviews is revisiting reviews that relate to the social issues of the present, at a time when the field is taking them up in renewed ways. Stephennie Mulder examines the impact of genocide on not just a people but also on their very cultural survival through the destruction of precious material artifacts. Read her review of The Missing Pages: The Modern Life of a Medieval Manuscript, from Genocide to Justice by Heghnar Zeitlian Watenpaugh. Full Review
September 17, 2020
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FROM THE ARCHIVE: This autumn, caa.reviews is revisiting reviews that relate to the social issues of the present, at a time when the field is taking them up in renewed ways. At a crucial juncture for museums and other institutions, we revisit the founding of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture. Read Deborah Ziska‘s review of A Fool’s Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump by Lonnie G. Bunch III. Full Review
September 16, 2020
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Peter Schwenger
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019. 192 pp.; 9 color ills.; 51 b/w ills. Paper $25.00 (9781517906979)
Peter Schwenger’s new book is that vital and fateful thing: “a solid first map of a territory previously unknown to academic study,” as one of the prepublication blurbs puts it. “Solid” is uncharitable; “deft” is more just. But “first” is spot on, and the point about academic study correctly identifies the gap Schwenger sets out to fill as well as his target audience. Asemic: The Art of Writing is vital because it charts the rise of an extraordinary creative practice that came into its own in the late 1990s: writing that is “without meaning” but “not without significance” (17). Like… Full Review
September 10, 2020
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FROM THE ARCHIVE: This autumn, caa.reviews is revisiting reviews that relate to the social issues of the present, at a time when the field is taking them up in renewed ways. Today, explore Chicanx civil rights history through the Autry Museum of the American West exhibition La Raza, reviewed by Mary Thomas. Full Review
September 9, 2020
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Darby English and Charlotte Barat, eds.
New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2019. 488 pp.; 403 ills. Cloth $65.00 (9781633450349)
Though published last fall, Among Others: Blackness at MoMA takes on strategic resonance in the current moment as individuals and institutions are called to rectify their approaches to race, representation, and decolonization. A product of Darby English’s six-year tenure as consulting curator at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Among Others is a three-part publication that analyzes the museum’s tumultuous historical relationship with Black artists and Black audiences, its role in shaping the cultural politics of race, and the shortcomings of its collection, programs, and practices. As signaled by the title of the first essay, “Blackness at MoMA: A Legacy… Full Review
September 8, 2020
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Katherine Guinness
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019. 232 pp.; 44 b/w ills. Paper $30.00 (9781517905583)
Printed sideways, Katherine Guinness’s cover image for Schizogenesis: The Art of Rosemarie Trockel immediately evokes the hypnotic and disorienting effects of Trockel’s art. What appear to be wide-eyed conjoined twins, women with distinctly late-1980s tousled hairstyles, stare out of the image. With one hand stalwartly posed on each hip, they are enclosed within a single, double-headed black sweater. Guinness uses this emblematic work by Trockel, Untitled (Schizo-Pullover) (1988), as her central node. From this knotty intersection she begins to unravel and reknit the entwined narratives of the German artist’s prolific practice. Guinness’s decision to begin here is savvy. She opens… Full Review
September 3, 2020
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