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

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Kathryn Brown
London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017. 392 pp.; 8 color ills.; 82 b/w ills. Cloth £ 110.00 (9781501326837)
From the end of World War I to his death in 1954, Henri Matisse engaged in a number of notable experiments with the livre d’artiste. Kathryn Brown’s expansive study aims to show how Matisse’s artistic production and his thinking on creativity developed through an ongoing dialogue with literary texts, bringing to the fore the important role played by book production within the artist’s overall output. Through multiple fascinating case studies, Brown explores a range of intersecting... Full Review
May 20, 2019
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William Schaefer
Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017. 304 pp.; 8 color ills.; 38 b/w ills. Paperback $27.95 (9780822369196)
A picture of flickering bamboo leaves in a slick Shanghai magazine is carefully inscribed in Chinese characters as a “painting album” (huaben) and is impressed with an artist’s seal—not of a brush-and-ink painter, but of the photographer of the plant.A short story features a narrator who spots an earthen mound from a train window and imagines an Egyptian-style mummy of a royal concubine entombed within emerging to haunt the streets of Shanghai.A painting entitled... Full Review
May 17, 2019
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Randi Korn
Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018. 254 pp.; 49 ills. Cloth $79.00 (9781538106358)
“The most important thing is to have an impact on people,” said Kaywin Feldman to the Washington Post’s Peggy McGlone for an article in January 2019 about her historic appointment as the first female director of the august National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.In an era of political upheaval, climate change, demographic shifts, technological takeover, and economic uncertainty, forward-thinking museum leaders like Feldman are reconsidering what counts as success. Numbers... Full Review
May 13, 2019
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Colin Gunckel
Exh. cat. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2018. 240 pp.; 12 color ills.; 110 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (9780895511652)
Autry Museum of the American West, Los Angeles, September 16, 2017–February 10, 2019
In 1967, the first pages of the publication La Raza were printed in the basement of the Church of the Epiphany, in Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles, under the encouragement of Father John Luce, an Episcopalian priest who supported the Chicano Civil Rights Movement (also known as El Movimiento). Over the next ten years and the course of four dozen issues, the newspaper chronicled El Movimiento, expanding into a magazine in the process. By 1977, conflict, political repression, and... Full Review
May 8, 2019
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David J. Roxburgh and Mary McWilliams, eds.
Exh. cat. Cambridge, MA and New Haven, CT: Harvard Art Museums in association with Yale University Press, 2017. 192 pp.; 232 ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780300229196)
Harvard Art Museums, August 26, 2017–January 7, 2018
To say that arts of the Qajar dynasty (r. 1779–1925) are, without a doubt, en vogue in recent exhibition circuits is not an overstatement. In the last few years alone, one could see any number of shows featuring these Iranian imperial arts, ranging from The Eye of the Shah: Qajar Court Photography and the Persian Past (NYU’s Institute for Study of the Ancient World, New York), Qajar Women: Images of Women in 19th-Century Iran (Museum of Islamic Art, Doha), and... Full Review
April 29, 2019
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Milette Gaifman
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018. 196 pp.; 127 color ills.; 5 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300192278)
Milette Gaifman’s The Art of Libation in Classical Athens focuses on the ritual practice of offering liquids, commonly depicted on Athenian vases. Depictions of Greek animal sacrifice have been the focus of several research projects, broaching the topic from the textual and pictorial sources. The less prominent libation rituals have been approached in the study of visual culture only for specific cases, e.g., deities offering libations. With her study, Gaifman aims to “explore . . .... Full Review
April 24, 2019
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James Grantham Turner
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017. 464 pp.; 340 ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300219951)
Can sex be a muse, a creative stimulus for art? This question forms the basis of James Grantham Turner’s evocative Eros Visible: Art, Sexuality and Antiquity, a book that examines the erotic revolution that swept across the Italian art world between 1500 and 1563. The leaders of this movement are a group of well-known artists, writers, and patrons who sought pleasure in variety, delighted in matters of the flesh, and broke traditional boundaries for the sake of novelty. Rather than... Full Review
April 22, 2019
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San San May and Jana Igunma
London and Seattle: British Library and University of Washington Press, 2018. 256 pp.; 198 color ills. Cloth $64.95 (9780295743783)
The British Library is home to one of the world’s most important collections of manuscripts from Southeast Asia. Buddhism Illuminated focuses on the library’s holdings from the Buddhist traditions of mainland Southeast Asia, particularly in the area that is today Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand. The book presents nearly two hundred high-quality reproductions from this deep and varied collection and describes Buddhist teachings, values, and practices in the region. This book is a... Full Review
April 5, 2019
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Justin Jennings and Adam T. Sellen, eds.
Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum Press, 2018. 270 pp.; 181 color ills.; 92 b/w ills. EBook $0.00 (9780888545237)
Fakes, pastiches, deceptive restorations, and outright forgeries have been a persistent problem in the study of art and antiquities since the Renaissance. Understandably, few museums are willing to release the number of such false pieces in their collections, but conservative estimates have long suggested 40 percent of works in museums are not what they claim to be. However, recent investigation at San... Full Review
April 2, 2019
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Conor Lucey
Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2018. 264 pp.; 16 color ills.; 90 b/w ills. Cloth £ 75.00 (9781526119940)
From the middle of the eighteenth century through the 1830s, the brick row house became one of the most common urban building forms in the British Atlantic world. Artisan builders erected thousands of these rows of classically proportioned and ornamented town houses in the new streets, squares, and crescents of expanding cities as well as in smaller market and port towns in Great Britain, Ireland, and America. Built for a speculative market, town houses with broad frontages and elaborate... Full Review
March 29, 2019
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