posted by Christopher Howard — Apr 04, 2013
The March 2013 issue of The Art Bulletin, the leading publication of international art-historical scholarship, launches the celebration of its centennial year. Gracing the cover is a photograph by the artist Martha Rosler that depicts the installation of her traveling library at the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art in Paris in 2007. Karen Lang, the journal’s editor-in-chief, writes of this image: “These days … it remains unclear whether a ‘library user’ would hunker down with a book or nestle in for a session on a laptop…. Rosler invites us to consider how we interact with books. Her artwork makes us conscious of this activity and of the status of the book itself.”
In a brief essay, Craig Clunas ponders the conditions of seeing and description in “Regarding Art and Art History.” This issue’s “Notes from the Field” features short essays on the topic of materiality by Rosler, Caroline Walker Bynum, Natasha Eaton, Michael Ann Holly, Amelia Jones, Michael Kelly, Robin Kelsey, Alisa LaGamma, Monika Wagner, Oliver Watson, and Tristan Weddigen. The March interview brings Svetlana Alpers, professor emerita of history of art at the University of California, Berkeley, into conversation with her fellow scholar Stephen Melville.
In the opening essay, “Meaningful Spectacles: Gothic Ivories Staging the Divine,” Sarah M. Guérin uncovers the strategic use of microarchitectural frames in sacred ivory carvings of thirteenth-century Western Europe. Next, in the evocatively titled “Ingres’s Shadows,” Sarah Betzer demonstrates how the nineteenth-century French artist’s depictions of ancient sculpture for the publication Museé français relate to philosophical considerations of sensory experience, revealing the distinctly modern terms of its allure for the artist.
Paul Smith examines the perspectival distortions in Paul Cézanne’s paintings and the political implications of his repudiation of perspective, that is, the rejection of spectacle as the normative form of visual experience in modern life. Yi Gu’s essay “What’s in a Name?” studies the appellations of photography that circulated in China between 1840 and 1911 to trace the emergence of a new understanding of visual truth in Chinese art. Finally, Leora Maltz-Leca explores relations between William Kentridge’s ambulatory animation process and local imagery of striding figures as allegories of political regime change in South Africa.
The books under review in this issue represent a broad cross-section of art-historical scholarship. Robert H. Sharf examines Secrets of the Sacred: Empowering Buddhist Images in Clear, in Code, and in Cache, a collection of lectures delivered by the late scholar Helmut Brinker at the Spencer Museum of Art. An-Yi Pan assesses The Night Banquet: A Chinese Scroll through Time by De-nin D. Lee, the first book-length study on a well-known handscroll, and Leo G. Mazow evaluates Elizabeth Hutchinson’s The Indian Craze: Primitivism, Modernism, and Transculturalism in American Art, 1890–1915. John Ott’s review considers three recent books on race and art: Kirsten Pai Buick’s Child of the Fire: Mary Edmonia Lewis and the Problem of Art History’s Black and Indian Subject; Renée Ater’s Remaking Race and History: The Sculpture of Meta Warrick Fuller; and Jacqueline Francis’s Making Race: Modernism and “Racial Art” in America.
CAA sends The Art Bulletin to all institutional members and to those individuals who choose to receive the journal as a benefit of their membership. The next issue of the quarterly publication, to appear in June 2013, will feature essays on, among other topics, institutional art history in the mid-twentieth century through the lens of H. W. Janson’s classic survey text History of Art.