Kathryn Morrison’s task has been enormous: covering just about a thousand years of retail architecture, this work comprises a magnificent collection of visual material and concise history drawn from primary and secondary data.
In the words of its author, this engaging book ‘tells of the shadows of objects and of images in the brain and, as such, of the only realities that cannot entirely escape from appropriation’ (p. ix). The object in question is Florence, understood both as a material place and as a mythical construction.
In the introduction to her long-awaited and extremely interesting study of the popular literature of Victorian interior decoration, Judith Neiswander prepares her readers – and perhaps to a certain extent herself – for their predicted negative reactions to the décor of the late 19th-century middle class home.
Walls of Algiers. Narratives of the City Through Text and Image / eds. Zeynep Çelik, Frances Terpak, Julia Clancy-Smith
This is a beautifully illustrated book of serious scholarship and the three editors and the other contributing authors are to be congratulated.
Venice and the Cultural Imagination: ‘This Strange Dream Upon the Water’ / eds. Michael O'Neill, Mark Sandy, Sarah Wootton
At the start of his brilliant essay ‘Venice’, first published in 1882, Henry James famously commented that there ‘was nothing new’ to be said about the city. An equally famous quotation is to be found in the first edition of Murray’s Handbook for travellers in Northern Italy published forty years earlier: ‘no one enters Venice a stranger.’ (1842, p.
Reuse Value. Spolia and Appropriation in Art and Architecture from Constantine to Sherrie Levine / eds. Richard Brilliant, Dale Kinney
One can hardly imagine that several decades ago the concept of spolia did not yet indicate a field of widespread research in the history of architecture, art and archaeology. The title of this volume with 12 essays and a fascinating introduction, points to this change in research focus, since the value of reuse of objects and materials has not always been recognized.
As Jan Rüger suggested in his 2011 review article ‘Revisiting the Anglo-German antagonism’, since 2000 almost every aspect of the history of Anglo-German relations has been reassessed and re-examined as a story not of increasing and inevitable antagonism, but of a much more complex process.
Artist and Empire: Facing Britain’s Imperial Past (Tate Britain, 25 November 2015—10 April 2016) / Miles Taylor
Somewhat late in the day, Tate Britain has got around to an exhibition about the British Empire and its legacies.
In Room 145 of the Ceramics Galleries of the Victoria & Albert Museum, at the top of case 50, you can see an ‘architectural fragment’, which, according to its label, ‘once ornamented a palace in Yuanmingyuan or “garden of perfect clarity”’.
Splendours of the Subcontinent: Four centuries of South Asian Paintings and Manuscripts / ed. Emily Hannam
Some 70 years after the British left India it is timely to look back at how the kings and queens of the United Kingdom came to amass one of the largest private collections of South Asian art in the world. Two conjoined exhibitions currently showing at the Queen’s Gallery do just that.