The Art History Newsletter

Books Category Archives

Paris Between the Wars 1919-1939: Art, Life and Culture.

4 May 2012 | Books, Modern, Photography

Book Review: Bouvet, Vincent and Gérard Durozoi. Paris Between the Wars 1919-1939: Art, Life and Culture. Trans. Ruth Sharman. New York: Vendome Press. Print. 2010. Art is neither created nor viewed in a vacuum. It is this notion perhaps that helped to inspire Vincent Bouvet and Gérard Durozoi in the organization of their recent book [...]


Religious Modernism

7 February 2012 | Awards, Books, Renaissance

Alexander Nagel’s award-winning The Controversy of Renaissance Art focuses on Italy. In his words, This book offers an alternative to the view that Renaissance art struggled to break away from the confines and superstitions of medieval religion, but at the same time it ranges itself against the more recent tendency to let the art fall [...]


CAA Award Winners Announced

31 January 2012 | Awards, Books

CAA announced the winners of its Barr and Morey awards, among others. Winning the Morey award for best book is Alexander Nagel’s The Controversy of Renaissance Art, “a compelling reexamination of the key paradoxes that define this era and the works associated with it.” The Barr award for best catalogue goes to Man, Myth, and [...]


‘the politics in pictures’

25 January 2012 | Awards, Books, Renaissance

One of four books nominated for CAA’s Morey Award, Michael W. Cole’s Ambitious Form: Giambologna, Ammanati, and Danti in Florence is a group portrait of three late Cinquecento sculptors. They are most often compared to their forerunner Michelangelo, but were just as influenced by each other, Cole writes: Early writers make it clear that sculptors [...]


‘the Problem of Art History’s Black and Indian Subject’

11 January 2012 | Americas, Books

Also in, Katherine Manthorne considers ($) Kirsten Pai Buick’s Child of the Fire: Mary Edmonia Lewis and the Problem of Art History’s Black and Indian Subject: [This book is Buick's] anticipated full-length examination of this sculptor’s career. It is a thoughtful, groundbreaking study that should be a must-read for anyone interested in art of [...]


As The Romans Did

11 January 2012 | Ancient, Books offers a welcome if belated review ($) of Peter Stewart’s 2008 book The Social History of Roman Art. Brenda Longfellow writes: In an innovative twist, Peter Stewart embeds a summary of social-historical scholarship into his book on the functions and reception of Roman art … Each chapter focuses on a theme that has received [...]


Book Review: Man Ray, African Art, and the Modernist Lens.

11 January 2012 | Africa, Books, Modern, Photography

Wendy A. Grossman. Man Ray, African Art, and the Modernist Lens. Washington DC: International Art and Artists, 2009. 184 pp.; 23 color ills.; 259 b/w. $39.95   Wendy A. Grossman’s thoroughly researched and lucidly written exhibition catalog Man Ray, African Art, and the Modernist Lens effectively reveals the process “by which African objects, formerly considered [...]


2012 Catalogues of the Year

9 January 2012 | Awards, Books, Medieval

It’s awards season again. CAA’s Alfred H. Barr Jr. and Charles Rufus Morey prizes may not be as ballyhooed as the Oscars but they are coveted by members of the American art history academy. This week I begin examining the finalists for this year’s Barr Award, which is awarded to museum catalogues published between September [...]


‘How Aborigines Invented the Idea of Contemporary Art’

15 November 2011 | Books

Without my noticing, my minivacation from blogging turned into a multi-month hiatus. Well, I’m now feeling excited to get back to it, so without further ado I’ll begin what I hope will be the first of many posts this fall. How Aborigines Invented the Idea of Contemporary Art is a new, provocative anthology of writings [...]


NRC Rankings, Revised

1 September 2011 | Books, Career

New books by favorite authors are piling up on my desk — Of What One Cannot Speak: Doris Salcedo’s Political Art by Mieke Bal, Florence & Baghdad: Renaissance Art and Arab Science by Hans Belting, Queer Beauty and A General Theory of Visual Culture by the prolific Whitney Davis, The Passionate Triangle by Rebecca Zorach, [...]


Myth and ‘Mediocritas’

3 August 2011 | Books, Medieval, Renaissance

Three new books on medieval and Renaissance Venice and Florence caught my attention recently. Most significantly: Blake de Maria’s Becoming Venetian: Immigrants and the Arts in Early Modern Venice. The famous social stability of the multicultural Republic of Venice he calls partly a myth and credits partly to its “ethos of mediocritas, a state dictum [...]


Quanto Michelangelo

7 June 2011 | Books, Career, Renaissance

When I learned of John T. Spike’s Young Michelangelo: The Path to the Sistine after it was published last year, I immediately thought of Andrew Graham-Dixon’s 2008 book Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel, and Ross King’s Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling of 2003. While I admit that much of the publishing world remains obscure to [...]


‘Art and Homosexuality’

25 May 2011 | Books, Theory

A quick preface: I managed somehow to post regularly for five years straight, but over the last few months I truly got in over my head — between finishing my PhD (I am done, and after just 14 years!), writing two long articles and taking a delicious sabbatical at the MacDowell Colony to work on [...]


What makes contemporary American art American?

18 April 2011 | Americas, Books, Contemporary

In her new book “Since ’45: America and the Making of Contemporary Art,” Katy Siegel examines artists’ “preoccupations with issues of race, mass culture, the individual, suburbia, apocalypse, and nuclear destruction” — noting that “while a leading textbook like Art Since 1900, for instance, assumes that the most important art is American or European, those [...]


Can portraits represent?

29 March 2011 | Books, Medieval

I apologize for having posted little lately, but I return with a book to strongly recommend: “The Likeness of the King: A Prehistory of Portraiture in Late Medieval France,” by Stephen Perkinson. I come to this book a bit late — it was published in 2009, but my review copy went to the wrong address, [...]


Scholarly Publishing without the Scholarly Press?

13 March 2011 | Books, Career, Journals

The rise of peer-reviewed, online journals dealing with art history and visual culture, and not associated with an academic publisher, is an interesting development. Traditionally an academic press, complete with editorial board and a peer-review process, has lent a certain cache and reliability to the items it publishes, though this varies of course. These editorial functions [...]



6 March 2011 | Books, Theory

I recently received three striking publications that consider the intersection of word and image from a French perspective. My personal favorite is Sarah Wilson’s The Visual World of French Theory: Figurations. Don’t let the cover’s drab reproduction of a Henri Cueco painting fool you — this book crackles visually, lavishly reproducing the fascinating French artists [...]


’100 Years of the College Art Association’

24 February 2011 | Books, Career, Journals

Those of you still recovering from a marathon four days of conference-going earlier this month may wince at the notion of “100 Years of the College Art Association,” but in the hands of Susan Ball, it’s an appealing subject. She has just published a fine volume she edited on CAA’s history, “The Eye, The Hand, [...]


The Empresses Impress

2 February 2011 | Asia, Awards, Books

Women collectors are the subject of several recent publications including the Morey Award nominee Empresses, Art, and Agency in Song Dynasty China by Hui-shu Lee, who notes that “studies of imperial involvement in the arts in China have scanted the role of women.” This is the first art history book I’ve read that opens with [...]


Word and Image in the Renaissance

28 January 2011 | Books, Renaissance

Among the new books I’ve received lately are two on Renaissance art written by distinguished scholars of literature: Michelangelo: A Life on Paper by Leonard Barkan and Blessed and Beautiful by Robert Kiely. I once took a graduate course on the Renaissance revival of antiquity with Barkan, a talented teacher who had us read classic [...]