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

Estelle Blaschke
Leipzig, Germany: Spector Books, 2016. 224 pp. Paper € 32.00 (9783944669632)
In the first line of her book Banking on Images: The Bettmann Archive and Corbis, Estelle Blaschke describes William Henry Fox Talbot not as an inventor of photography but, more precisely, as “the inventor of photographic reproducibility.” Today Talbot is firmly ensconced in photographic history as a creator and author of unique photographic objects and publications, which are now prized as material testaments to his individual aesthetic and technical contributions to a new medium.... Full Review
July 26, 2019
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Margaret S. Graves
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. 352 pp.; 125 ills. Cloth £ 55.00 (9780190695910)
The elevation of quotidian objects through technical virtuosity has long been considered a quintessential feature of Islamic visual culture. Accordingly, historians of Islamic art have investigated objects’ potential to accrue shifting meanings, generate affiliations across cultures, and communicate complex rhetorical messages. Rarely, however, have medieval Islamic objects received treatment as constitutive—and even generative—elements of intellectual trends in their own right. Margaret... Full Review
July 25, 2019
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Gary Garrels, ed.
Exh. cat. San Francisco and New Haven, CT: SFMoMA and Yale University Press, 2018. 272 pp.; 230 color ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780300234213)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, December 15, 2018–March 31, 2019; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, May 4–August 5, 2019; and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 24, 2019–January 12, 2020
Alongside modernism’s medium specificity arose a historical distinction between “higher” and “lower” forms, attendant to those media. In such accounts, certain media are presented as agents of distraction and spectacle, others as vessels for sustained attention. That is: the oil painting or the TV set, presented in stark contrast. As scholars have dismantled such essentializing of medium, a critical preference for the subjectivities of modernism persists—a rapt and purified... Full Review
July 24, 2019
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Katie Hornstein
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018. 208 pp.; 100 color ills.; 46 b/w ills. Cloth $70.00 (9780300228267)
In Picturing War in France, 1792–1856, Katie Hornstein examines four distinct phases of the history of the representation of warfare in France, beginning with works made during the revolutionary wars and the First Empire, through the Bourbon Restoration and the July Monarchy, and culminating in the visual culture of the Crimean War of 1853–56. In four impressively researched and eloquently written main chapters, the author examines the viewing experience of contemporary... Full Review
July 22, 2019
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Alison Isenberg
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017. 432 pp.; 43 color ills.; 115 b/w ills.; 158 ills. Cloth $37.50 (9780691172545)
If books were buildings, then recent scholarship on urban development in the post–World War II United States would make a dense city indeed. And those works have offered an ever-widening range of assessments of the nature, shape, costs, and benefits of postwar redevelopment. Over the last decade, historians have looked beyond the roles of architects and planners; considered development practices that crossed municipal and national borders; and sought to escape analytical frameworks built... Full Review
July 18, 2019
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Lynda Nead
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017. 416 pp.; 190 ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780300214604)
In Britain, contradictions characterized the decade and a half following the Second World War. The country, looking to rebuild itself, kept one eye on tradition and continuity, and even resorted to a nostalgia for the Victorian past. The other eye looked toward a clean start, to the innovative, to the modern. In order to convey this entangled “structure of feeling,” Lynda Nead—explicitly building on the gloss that Raymond Williams gave this phrase—makes the brilliant choice of organizing... Full Review
July 15, 2019
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Edward J. Sullivan
The Frick Collection Studies in the History of Art Collecting in America, vol. 4. New York and University Park, PA: The Frick Collection in association with Penn State University Press, 2018. 224 pp.; 48 color ills.; 16 b/w ills. Cloth (9780271079523)
Over the past few decades the arts and visual cultures of Latin America have become an exciting, rediscovered area of scholarly exploration, collecting, and marketing. The increased scholarly attention is evidenced by new academic and museum positions and events, from the creation of curatorial chairs dedicated to Latin American art to world-traveling exhibitions displaying the works of artists from diverse Latin American nations of the colonial through modern periods. These trends have... Full Review
July 12, 2019
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Jennifer Jolly
Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowment in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2018. 352 pp.; 11 color ills.; 92 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (9781477314203)
In the collective memory of Mexicans, President Lázaro Cárdenas, who governed the country between 1934 and 1940, is considered an exemplar of nationalism: he is mythically associated with the steadfast defense of national assets such as oil, and with the struggles of peasants and indigenous people. As Verónica Vázquez Mantecón points out in a 2009 article, this mythology reveals Mexicans’ persistent desire for social justice. Having been an active participant in the Mexican Revolution of... Full Review
July 10, 2019
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Victoria and Albert Museum, London, September 8, 2018–February 24, 2019.
Following the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851, the V&A created a space for applied arts centered on industry and design, a space that serves as a conscious foil to traditional fine arts museums. Curators Marie Foulston and Kristian Volsing carried the spirit of this mission forward into the twenty-first century with their exhibition Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt. The show revealed the innovative practices video game designers have developed over the past fifteen... Full Review
July 8, 2019
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Steven L. Tuck
Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015. 408 pp.; 375 color ills. Paperback $64.95 (9781444330267)
There are numerous textbooks on Roman art, but certain features ensure that A History of Roman Art stands out. This book is organized chronologically from the Etruscans to the reign of Constantine, and all the chapters (except for chapter 1) begin with a timeline showing major events and a brief historical overview, which helps students to understand the eras’ background. Throughout the book, Steven L. Tuck demonstrates how Roman art developed and discusses its... Full Review
July 3, 2019
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