New Book | Meltdown!

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on January 22, 2021

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Accompanying the exhibition Fortune and Folly in 1720 (scheduled to open at the New York Public Library in September), the related publication is now available from Brepols:

Madeleine Viljoen, Nina Dubin and Meredith Martin, Meltdown! Picturing the World’s First Bubble Economy (Turnhout: Harvey Miller, 2020), 157 pages, ISBN: 978-1912554515, $65 / €50.

Meltdown! focuses on the depiction of the first international financial crisis following the 1720 collapse of stock market bubbles in England, France and the Netherlands.

This book tells two parallel stories: one of the spectacular rise and fall of the world’s first bubble economy, and another of the enterprising art industry that chronicled its collapse. The Mississippi and South Sea Bubbles, spawning the invention of French banknotes as well as joint-stock companies built on fantasies of New World trade, imposed on everyday Europeans a crash course in new financial products. In turn, a bubbling print market relentlessly caricatured the meltdown of 1720, offering viewers an entertaining primer on the otherwise bewildering realities of modern economic life. Such satirical works—most notably a Dutch compendium titled The Great Mirror of Folly (Het groote tafereel der dwaasheid )—helped to demystify the disaster by deploying familiar theatrical characters and tragic-comic motifs. Likening the speculative mania to an infectious disease, and spoofing the ‘herd behavior’ of a money-crazed public, its prints portrayed malevolent traders, hoodwinked investors, and a chorus of heroes and villains both real and legendary, from the rakish financier John Law to the foolish Harlequin to the goddess Fortuna. Three hundred years later, our current moment offers a uniquely fitting vantage point from which to reconsider the significance of the bubbles and of the artworks that channeled the fears and desires they unleashed.

Nina L. Dubin is an associate professor of Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Specializing in European art since 1700, she has published widely on the production of art within an economy of risk.

Meredith Martin is an associate professor of Art History at New York University and the Institute of Fine Arts. Specializing in European art of the long eighteenth century, she has published widely on gender and architectural patronage as well as maritime art, mobility, and exchange in the early modern world.

Madeleine C. Viljoen is Curator of Prints and the Spencer Collection at The New York Public Library. Responsible for the Library’s collection of prints and rare illustrated books, she has published widely on early modern printed images, with special attention to the goldsmith-engraver, the reproductive print, and ornament.

New Book | Race and Modern Architecture

Posted in books by Editor on January 18, 2021

From the U. of Pittsburgh Press:

Irene Cheng, Charles L. Davis II, and Mabel O. Wilson, eds., Race and Modern Architecture: A Critical History from the Enlightenment to the Present (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020), 424 pages, ISBN: 978-0822946052, $45.

Although race—a concept of human difference that establishes hierarchies of power and domination—has played a critical role in the development of modern architectural discourse and practice since the Enlightenment, its influence on the discipline remains largely underexplored. This volume offers a welcome and long-awaited intervention for the field by shining a spotlight on constructions of race and their impact on architecture and theory in Europe and North America and across various global contexts since the eighteenth century. Challenging us to write race back into architectural history, contributors confront how racial thinking has intimately shaped some of the key concepts of modern architecture and culture over time, including freedom, revolution, character, national and indigenous style, progress, hybridity, climate, representation, and radicalism. By analyzing how architecture has intersected with histories of slavery, colonialism, and inequality—from eighteenth-century neoclassical governmental buildings to present-day housing projects for immigrants—Race and Modern Architecture challenges, complicates, and revises the standard association of modern architecture with a universal project of emancipation and progress.

Irene Cheng is an architectural historian and associate professor at the California College of the Arts. Charles L. Davis II is an assistant professor of architectural history and criticism at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. Mabel O. Wilson is the Nancy and George E. Rupp Professor at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and a professor in African American and African Diasporic studies at Columbia University.



Introduction — Irene Cheng, Charles L. Davis II, and Mabel O. Wilson

I. Race and the Enlightenment
1  Notes on the Virginia Capitol: Nation, Race, and Slavery in Jefferson’s America — Mabel O. Wilson
2  American Architecture in the Black Atlantic: William Thornton’s Design for the United States Capitol — Peter Minosh
3  Drawing the Color Line: Silence and Civilization from Jefferson to Mumford — Reinhold Martin
4  From ‘Terrestrial Paradise’ to ‘Dreary Waste’: Race and the Chinese Garden in European Eyes — Addison Godel

II. Race and Organicism 
5  Henry Van Brunt and White Settler Colonialism in the Midwest — Charles L. Davis II
6  The ‘New Birth of Freedom’: The Gothic Revival and the Aesthetics of Abolitionism — Joanna Merwood-Salisbury
7  Structural Racialism in Modern Architectural Theory — Irene Cheng

III. Race and Nationalism
8  Race and Miscegenation in Early Twentieth-Century Mexican Architecture — Luis E. Carranza
9  Modern Architecture and Racial Eugenics at the Esposizione Universale di Roma — Brian L. McLaren
10  The Invention of Indigenous Architecture — Kenny Cupers

IV. Race and Representation
11  Erecting the Skyscraper, Erasing Race — Adrienne Brown
12  Modeling Race and Class: Architectural Photography and the U.S. Gypsum Research Village, 1952–1955 — Dianne Harris

V. Race and Colonialism
13  Race and Tropical Architecture: The Climate of Decolonization and “Malayanization” — Jiat-Hwee Chang
14  ‘Compartmentalized World’: Race, Architecture, and Colonial Crisis in Kenya and London — Mark Crinson
15  Style, Race, and a Mosque of the “Òyìnbó Dúdú” (White-Black) in Lagos Colony, 1894 — Adedoyin Teriba

VI. Race and Urbanism
16  Black and Blight — Andrew Herscher
17  And Thus Not Glowing Brightly: Noah Purifoy’s Junk Modernism — Lisa Uddin
18  Open Architecture, Rightlessness, and Citizens-to-Come — Esra Akcan


New Book | Past and Prologue

Posted in books by Editor on January 15, 2021

From Yale UP:

Michael Hattem, Past and Prologue: Politics and Memory in the American Revolution (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020), 320 pages, ISBN: 978-0300234961, $40.

How American colonists reinterpreted their British and colonial histories to help establish political and cultural independence from Britain

In Past and Prologue, Michael Hattem shows how colonists’ changing understandings of their British and colonial histories shaped the politics of the American Revolution and the origins of American national identity. Between the 1760s and 1800s, Americans stopped thinking of the British past as their own history and created a new historical tradition that would form the foundation for what subsequent generations would think of as ‘American history’. This change was a crucial part of the cultural transformation at the heart of the Revolution by which colonists went from thinking of themselves as British subjects to thinking of themselves as American citizens. Rather than liberating Americans from the past—as many historians have argued—the Revolution actually made the past matter more than ever. Past and Prologue shows how the process of reinterpreting the past played a critical role in the founding of the nation.

Michael D. Hattem is Associate Director of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. He has taught history at Knox College and Lang College at The New School.




Part I. Colonial History Culture in British America, 1730–1776
1  History Culture in Pre-Revolutionary British America
2  The Colonial Past in the Imperial Crisis
3  The British Past in the Imperial Crisis

Interlude: Natural Law, Independence, and Revolutionary History Culture, 1772–1776

Part II. National History Culture in the Early Republic, 1776–1812
4  The Expansion of Early National History Culture
5  The Colonial Past in the Early Republic
6  Creating a Deep Past for a New Nation



New Book | The Science of Abolition

Posted in books by Editor on January 12, 2021

From Yale UP:

Eric Herschthal, The Science of Abolition: How Slaveholders Became the Enemies of Progress (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2021), 352 pages, ISBN: 9780300236804, $33.

A revealing look at how antislavery scientists and black and white abolitionists used scientific ideas to discredit slaveholders

In the context of slavery, science is usually associated with slaveholders’ scientific justifications of racism. But this book demonstrates that abolitionists were equally adept at using scientific ideas to discredit slaveholders. Focusing on antislavery scientists and black and white abolitionists in Britain and America between the 1770s and 1860s, historian Eric Herschthal shows how these activists drew upon chemistry, botany, medicine, and mechanics to portray slavery as a premodern institution bound for obsolescence. These activists contended that slavery stood in the way of scientific progress, blinded slaveholders to scientific evidence, and prevented enslavers from adopting labor-saving technologies that might eradicate enslaved labor. Historians have recently begun to challenge the myth that slavery was premodern—backward—demonstrating slavery’s centrality to the rise of modern capitalism, science, and technology. This book demonstrates where the myth comes from in the first place.

Eric Herschthal is an assistant professor of history at the University of Utah. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, and other publications. He lives in Salt Lake City.

New Book | The Cabinet

Posted in books by Editor on January 11, 2021

From Harvard UP:

Lindsay Chervinsky, The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2020), 432 pages, ISBN 978-0674986480, $30 / £24 / €27.

The U.S. Constitution never established a presidential cabinet—the delegates to the Constitutional Convention explicitly rejected the idea. So how did George Washington create one of the most powerful bodies in the federal government?

On November 26, 1791, George Washington convened his department secretaries—Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Knox, and Edmund Randolph—for the first cabinet meeting. Why did he wait two and a half years into his presidency to call his cabinet? Because the U.S. Constitution did not create or provide for such a body. Washington was on his own. Faced with diplomatic crises, domestic insurrections, and constitutional challenges—and finding congressional help lacking—Washington decided he needed a group of advisors he could turn to. He modeled his new cabinet on the councils of war he had led as commander of the Continental Army. In the early days, the cabinet served at the president’s pleasure. Washington tinkered with its structure throughout his administration, at times calling regular meetings, at other times preferring written advice and individual discussions.

Lindsay Chervinsky reveals the far-reaching consequences of Washington’s choice. The tensions in the cabinet between Hamilton and Jefferson heightened partisanship and contributed to the development of the first party system. And as Washington faced an increasingly recalcitrant Congress, he came to treat the cabinet as a private advisory body to summon as needed, greatly expanding the role of the president and the executive branch.

Lindsay M. Chervinsky is Scholar in Residence at the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies at Iona College, Senior Fellow at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, and Professorial Lecturer at the School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University.


1  Forged in War
2  The Original Team of Rivals
3  Setting the Stage
4  The Early Years
5  The Cabinet Emerges
6  A Foreign Challenge
7  A Domestic Threat
8  A Cabinet in Crisis

Citation and Abbreviation Guide

New Book | Marking Time

Posted in books by Editor on December 31, 2020

From Yale UP:

Edward Town and Angela McShane, eds., with essays by Glenn Adamson, Justin Brown, Edward Cooke, Gavi Levy Haskell, Nathan Flis, Angela McShane, and Keith Wrightson, Marking Time: Objects, People, and Their Lives, 1500–1800 (New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, 2020), 512 pages, ISBN: 978-0300254105, $65.

The period from 1500 to 1800 brought extraordinary transformations to the society of Britain and the lives of those within its colonial reach. Many of these changes—on both a societal and individual level—centered on how time was sensed, measured, and understood. This engaging volume explores these various relationships with time through a remarkably diverse collection of objects, each of which is inscribed with a specific date. The dates mark significant events in the lives of these objects and the people who made and owned them. From posy rings to pastry jiggers, teapots to tape measures, these more than 450 objects—and the stories they tell—offer a vivid sense of the lived experience of time, while providing a rich survey of the material world of early modern Britain. Small, humble, but often surprisingly moving and poignant, the objects in this book show that the things we live with say a great deal about who we are and how we make our marks in time.

Edward Town is head of collections information and access and assistant curator of early modern art at the Yale Center for British Art. Angela McShane is head of research development, the Wellcome Collection, London.

New Book | Portraiture and Friendship in Enlightenment France

Posted in books by Editor on December 28, 2020

Distributed by the University of Virginia Press:

Jessica Fripp, Portraiture and Friendship in Enlightenment France (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2021), 240 pages, ISBN: 978-1644532027 (ebook), $70 / ISBN: 978-1644532010 (cloth), $70.

Portraiture and Friendship in Enlightenment France examines how new and often contradictory ideas about friendship were enacted in the lives of artists in the eighteenth century. It demonstrates that portraits resulted from and generated new ideas about friendship by analyzing the creation, exchange, and display of portraits alongside discussions of friendship in philosophical and academic discourse, exhibition criticism, personal diaries, and correspondence. This study provides a deeper understanding of how artists took advantage of changing conceptions of social relationships and used portraiture to make visible new ideas about friendship that were driven by Enlightenment thought.

Jessica L. Fripp is Assistant Professor of Art History at Texas Christian University.


List of Illustrations

1  Friendship in the Academy
2  Celebrating Celebrity
3  Re-Evaluating Rivalry
4  Friendship Abroad


Exhibition | Beethoven Moves

Posted in anniversaries, books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on December 27, 2020

Installation view of the exhibition Beethoven Moves, with John Baldessari’s Beethoven’s Trumpet (with Ear) Opus #132, 2007, resin, fiberglass, bronze, aluminum, electronics. Photo by Mark Niedermann for Tom Postma Design.

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Press release, via Art Daily (26 December 2020) for the exhibition:

Beethoven Moves / Beethoven Bewegt
Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, 29 September 2020 — 24 January 2021

Curated by Andreas Kugler, Jasper Sharp, Stefan Weppelmann, and Andreas Zimmerman

The Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, in cooperation with the Archive of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, presents Beethoven Moves, an unusual homage to Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827), the great representative of the First Viennese School. Beethoven’s popularity remains unbroken, even 250 years after his birth. Beyond the music, his humanistic messages have influenced the history of art and culture. His early deafness shaped his image as a tragic genius.

Beethoven’s universal and unique reception, the epochal significance of his music, and the perception of his deified persona create numerous points of entry. High and popular culture, commerce, and politics all form an inexhaustible reserve of inspiration and appropriation. The exhibition brings together paintings by Caspar David Friedrich, sketchbooks by William Turner, graphic works by Francisco de Goya, Anselm Kiefer and Jorinde Voigt, sculptures by Auguste Rodin, Rebecca Horn and John Baldessari, a video by Guido van der Werve, and a new work developed for the exhibition by Tino Sehgal—all of which are brought into dialogue with the music and persona of Beethoven. The exhibition thus provides a poetic reflection of the composer and his work, as masterpieces of fine art form connections with music and silence.

The elaborately staged exhibition does not present any artworks from the Kunsthistorisches Museum collection. However, it is shown in the Picture Gallery in the context of the art and culture of many centuries, hundreds of works that precede Beethoven’s lifetime and in some ways also lead up to it.

Beethoven is one of the great influential figures in the history of music and culture, not only in Vienna but also internationally. As the largest museum in Austria, the Kunsthistorisches Museum addresses the anniversary of his 250th birthday. Museums are treasure houses, part of the cultural consciousness and tourist magnets; but beyond that, they are also discursive spaces for reflection and confrontation, laboratories for fantasy and the connection of ideas. These aspects become particularly clear in this exhibition project curated by Andreas Kugler, Jasper Sharp, Stefan Weppelmann, and Andreas Zimmerman.

The sequence of rooms in the exhibition relates to Beethoven’s life only in a very general sense. Divided according to themes, they are conceived as a series of tableaux, each based on distinct compositional principles. Indeed, the interplay between the various architectural settings is rather like that between the movements of an orchestral work. And this diversity in the rooms is matched by the variety of the listening experiences on offer, the media of the artworks, and the approaches taken by the artists. Accordingly, visitors will not find any directions telling them how they should move through each room. For a true experience of Beethoven depends on paying heed to one’s inner voice—as when listening to music in general. As we strive to emotionally relive the relations between music, words, imagery, and movement, we should just let our body find its place within the surrounding space. Beethoven Moves is thus intended as an invitation to enter into a very personal encounter with the great composer.

In Room 1 Beethoven’s powerful music immediately captures the imagination of visitors to the exhibition: they hear two of the piano sonatas written by the composer, himself an accomplished concert pianist until he lost his hearing: the Waldstein Sonata (C major, op. 53) and his final Piano Sonata in C minor, op. 111. Beethoven’s original autographs of these compositions are also on show. All of Beethoven’s thirty-two piano sonatas are present in this room, albeit in two very different artworks; in her thirty-two complex drawings, Jorinde Voigt analyzes Beethoven’s compositions, while Idris Khan’s monumental work compiles the scores of all his piano sonatas to create a menacing block-like structure. In the centre of the room, two more contrary sculptures have entered into an equivocal dialogue: Auguste Rodin’s human figure (The Bronze Age in plaster) and Rebecca Horn’s enigmatic grand piano (Concert for Anarchy). The composer’s character, too, was contradictory and highly complex, something that clearly functioned as a source of his creativity: his temperament allowed him to produce works that continue to move people from all parts of the world.

Room 2 is dedicated to silence and stillness, Beethoven’s increasing hearing loss and the associated pain, isolation and reflectiveness. However, we also learn about his admirable ability not to resign himself to his fate but through his art to triumph over his affliction. Los Caprichos, the engravings by Francisco de Goya (1746–1828)—another great artist who lost his hearing—are like pictorial equivalents of the inner fragmentation experienced by the ailing Beethoven. Strictly speaking, all that remains of Beethoven’s thoughts and his art are pages covered with scores and words. Other objects can only serve a superficial cult of remembrance, things like his ear trumpet or a piece of the parquet floor from the house in which he died in 1827. This plain surface, however, also resembles a stage, reminding us that Beethoven and his music have been used for the most varied ends.

To this day, his personality and oeuvre continue to be reinterpreted in politics and propaganda; some worship Beethoven as a revolutionary innovator while for others he is a genius in whose reflected glory nationalist mindsets of all kinds may bask. A work by Anselm Kiefer bears witness to the fact that cultural achievements are still prone to be injected with political content. The reception of Beethoven ranges from the banning of his music to the numerous quotations from his works in popular culture.

In Room 3 we look at Beethoven and his attitude towards nature, which for him was a source of inspiration and strength, offering an escape from his cramped lodgings and the freedom of long country walks regardless of the weather. He would often stop abruptly to jot down some musical idea in one of the sketchbooks he always carried in his pocket. In this room, the colour tones of Caspar David Friedrich and William Turner engage with Beethoven’s tonal colours. They all belong to a generation who witnessed the French Revolution, a radical new awakening whose promises and hopes were quickly scotched by the subsequent Restoration period.

Two symphonies can be heard in this room, both of which are linked in contrasting ways to Napoleon. Beethoven’s anger at Napoleon crowning himself Emperor of the French in 1804 led the composer to scratch out Bonaparte’s name from the title page of his Third Symphony (Eroica). His Seventh Symphony premiered in 1813, just a few weeks after the Battle of Leipzig in which the allied armies of Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Sweden had decisively defeated the emperor. Contemporaries often associated Napoleon with the mythical Prometheus, and Beethoven too was frequently linked with the titan who brought fire to mankind. Prometheus is very much present in a painting by Jan Cossiers, but Guido van der Werve’s video can be read as a complementary reflection of this figure prepared to take a high risk to liberate man: it is the artist himself who walks towards us across the ice, a huge icebreaker in his wake. Threatened with failure, his solitary and heroic actions nonetheless bring forth beauty.

Room 4 brings us full circle to individual, personal encounters with Beethoven. A new work by Tino Seghal, created especially for this exhibition, is permanently installed and on show in this room.

Andreas Kugler, ed., Beethoven Moves (Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2020), 224 pages, ISBN: 978-3775747493 (Engish edition), $55.

New Book | Practical Form

Posted in books by Editor on December 26, 2020

From Yale UP:

Abigail Zitin, Practical Form: Abstraction, Technique, and Beauty in Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020), 248 pages, ISBN: 978-0300244564, $65.

In this original work, Abigail Zitin proposes a new history of the development of form as a concept in and for aesthetics. Her account substitutes women and artisans for the proverbial man of taste, asserting them as central figures in the rise of aesthetics as a field of philosophical inquiry in eighteenth-century Europe. She shows how the idea of formal abstraction so central to conceptions of beauty in this period emerges from the way practitioners think about craft and skill across the domestic, industrial, and so-called high arts. Zitin elegantly maps the complex connections among aesthetics, form, and formalism, drawing out the understated presence of practice in the writings of major eighteenth-century thinkers including Locke, Addison, Burke, and Kant. This new take on an old story ultimately challenges readers to reconsider form and why it matters.

Abigail Zitin is associate professor of English at Rutgers University.


Author’s Note

1  ‘A Rough Unsightly Sketch’: Empiricism and the Sense of Form
2  The Figure of Practice
The Analysis of Beauty, I: Practical Formalism
The Analysis of Beauty, II: The Feminist Formalism
5  Making Art in the Third Critique


New Book | Courtly Companions: Pugs and Other Dogs

Posted in books by Editor on December 23, 2020

From ACC Art Books:

Gun-Dagmar Helke and Hela Schandelmaier, Courtly Companions: Pugs and Other Dogs in Porcelain and Faience / Höfische Begleiter: Möpse und andere Hunde in Porzellan und Fayence (Stuttgart: Arnoldsche, 2020), 200 pages, ISBN: 978-3897906006, $85.

In the 18th century pugs found their way onto the laps of noblewomen and, with this, into the portraits of contemporary rulers. Small and forever panting, the pug could not be put to use as a watchdog or a herding dog, but it compensated for this with its charm. The dog ultimately found its way onto porcelain and faience. Johann Joachim Kändler, the most significant modeler of the Meissen porcelain manufactory, designed over 60 variants of the pug between 1740 and 1760—standing, lying, scratching, and performing tricks. Kändler portrayed the pug belonging to Count Heinrich von Brühl in a splendid one-off, but he also produced models for serial production.

This southern German collection comprises over 150 ceramic pugs as well as other dogs. Moreover, they do not just appear individually; they may also be part of a courtly scene or decorate wares in the gallant style—accessories such as flacons, (snuff) boxes, and walking-stick handles. Text in English and German.