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

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The museum marks a place where rule-based ethics and a reliance on principles, codes, laws, and mission statements actively intersect with situational ethics and the invocation of consequentialist arguments. While it may not be news that, in theory, the ethical dimensions of museum practice involve every area of the profession and all genres of museums, the manifold ways in which theory might confront those practices are sometimes less clear. At New Directions in Museum Ethics:... Full Review
August 18, 2010
In the preface to Sociology of the Arts: Exploring Fine and Popular Forms (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003), Victoria Alexander reminds her readers that “scholarship . . . necessarily constructs an arena in which combatants from different perspectives battle over each other’s claims” (xiii).The role of scholarship, so defined, has had a rather negligible, and virtually non-existent, place in the traditional development of arts management as a field. It has evolved, instead, through a process... Full Review
July 22, 2010
Historically the book has served as a locus for the interaction of disparate forces. Dimensionally complex, it has been a place where material, cultural, structural, philosophical, temporal, mechanical, and aesthetic elements can encounter, react, assert, concede, proselytize, and reconcile. That the poet Charles Baudelaire can compare himself to a beggar nourishing his vermin while doing so in formal alexandrine meter, that the book can act in one moment as a container of authority and in... Full Review
February 3, 2010
Amanda D'Amico
Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Minneapolis, MN., July 25, 2009.. College Art Association
On July 25, 2009, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) in Minneapolis held its first ever Book Art Biennial. Consisting of a speaker, two panels, several exhibitions, and the awarding of the inaugural MCBA Prize, the biennial brought together book artists and advocates in an intimate environment to share their ideas about the efficacy of artists' books as agents of social change and tools of activism. John Risseeuw opened the conference with a keynote address entitled “John Risseeuw:... Full Review
January 20, 2010
In 1942, Laurence Vail Coleman, then president of the American Association of Museums, sought to define the special nature of the campus museum: “The campus museum should be, above all, an instrument of teaching or research, or of both.” And, he wrote, “the first duty of a university or college museum is to its parent establishment, which means that the faculty and student body have a claim prior to that of townspeople and outsiders in general.”[1] In College and University Museums: A... Full Review
August 12, 2009
“It’s interesting, isn’t it, that in twenty-five years of curating shows, I can’t recall a single artist mentioning Greenberg, let alone taking his ideas seriously.” This remark––made by the chief curator of a major U.S. museum of contemporary art during a coffee break at the “Clement Greenberg at 100: Looking Back to Modern Art” symposium––helped me gain some perspective on the event. So did the introduction by the organizers, Miguel de Baca and Prudence Peiffer, graduate students in the... Full Review
July 14, 2009
Michael Meister’s review of my book The Temple Architecture of India brings to the fore two basic and interrelated questions about medieval Indian temples. How should one name and classify their various forms? And how were these forms conceived and designed? The review focuses largely on typology and terminology. Meister implies one general criticism: that I do not adequately follow the names suggested for shrine forms by... Full Review
June 11, 2008
Although not well known to the general public, the eighteenth-century French painter and draughtsman Gabriel de Saint-Aubin has long compelled specialists working on virtually every aspect of Parisian social and cultural life. His exuberant depictions took the form of drawings in chalk, ink, and watercolor, as well as etchings and a few oil paintings, while his subjects ranged over most aspects of the cultured world around him: social interaction both high and low; theater; royal ceremony;... Full Review
May 6, 2008
Two weeks after opening its Gates of Paradise exhibition, the Metropolitan Museum of Art held a symposium to explore various issues surrounding the creation, reception, and conservation of Ghiberti’s masterpiece. An international panel of art historians, curators, and conservators offered a range of general and specialist talks to accompany the remarkable loan of three narrative reliefs and four framing elements from the final set of bronze doors created for the Florentine... Full Review
April 8, 2008
In 1936, for the cover of the Museum of Modern Art's Cubism and Abstract Art exhibition catalogue, Alfred Barr famously created a flowchart of modernist movements fueling his two chosen strains of non-geometrical and geometrical abstraction. Barr’s recasting of history, which left out not only those modernist movements that did not fit his formalist history but also any mention of the contexts behind their success might be described as an example of what Van Wyck Brooks termed a... Full Review
November 28, 2007