Faculty Books

Asian Art is the first comprehensive anthology of important primary documents—from inscriptions and imperial decrees to travelers’ accounts and writings by artists—and the very best contemporary scholarship that has been produced on Asian art history. This unprecedented volume offers a portrait of the rich artistic traditions in China, Japan, Korea, India, and Southeast Asia.

Across time periods, media, cultural contexts, and geography, this volume traces several thousand years of Asian art, from the terracotta armies of the First Emperor of Qin to late twentieth-century installation art. Featuring accessible introductory material for each extract and arranged in an easy-to-navigate chronological structure, it will prove an essential companion to any study of Asian art history.


The Renaissance studiolo was a space devoted in theory to private reading and contemplation, but at the Italian courts of the fifteenth century, it had become a space of luxury, as much devoted to displaying the taste and culture of its occupant as to studious withdrawal. The most famous studiolo of all was that of Isabella d’Este, marchioness of Mantua (1474–1539). A chief component of its decoration was a series of seven paintings by some of the most noteworthy artists of the time, including Andrea Mantegna, Pietro Perugino, Lorenzo Costa, and Correggio.

These paintings encapsulated the principles of an emerging Renaissance artistic genre—the mythological image. Using these paintings as an exemplary case, and drawing on other important examples made by Giorgione in Venice and by Titian and Michelangelo for the Duke of Ferrara, Stephen Campbell explores the function of the mythological image within a Renaissance culture of readers and collectors.


Considering the reception of the early modern culture of Florence, Rome, and Venice in other centers of the Italic peninsula, this book reexamines the Renaissance as a form of translation of a past culture. It assumes that the Renaissance attempted to assimilate the lost, or fragmentary, worlds of the Roman emperors, the Greek Platonists, and the ancient Egyptians. These essays, accordingly, explore how the processes of cultural self-definition varied between the Italian urban centers in the early modern period, well before the formation of a distinct Italian national identity.


“In America today there is no lyric work more compelling and well made than To the Center of the Earth,” Allen Grossman wrote ten years ago of Michael Fried’s last collection of poetry. Fried’s new book, The Next Bend in the Road, is a powerfully coherent gathering of lyric and prose poems that has the internal scope of a novel with a host of characters, from the poet’s wife and daughter to Franz Kafka, Paul Cézanne, Osip Mandelstam, Sigmund Freud, Gisèle Lestrange, and many others; transformative encounters with works of art, literature, and philosophy, including Heinrich von Kleist’s “The Earthquake in Chile,” Giuseppe Ungaretti’s “Veglia,” and Edouard Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe; and, running through the book from beginning to end, a haunted awareness of the entanglement of the noblest accomplishments and the most intimate joys with the horrors of modern history.


  • Menzel’s Realism: Art and Embodiment in Nineteenth-Century Berlin

  • 2002, Yale University Press
  • Michael Fried, author

Adolf Menzel was one of the most important German artists of the 19th century, yet he is scarcely known outside his native land. In this study a leading art historian argues that Menzel deserves to be recognized not only as one of the greatest painters and draftsmen of his century but also as a master realist whose work engages profoundly with an extraordinary range of issues – artistic, scientific, philosophical and socio-political. Michael Fried explores Menzel’s large and fascinating oeuvre, and in so doing seeks to make the artist’s achievement accessible to a wide audience. Fried compares Menzel’s art with that of the 19th-century’s two other great realist painters, Courbet and Eakins. Analyzing paintings, drawings and prints from all stages of Menzel’s long career, he asserts that the distinctive quality of Menzel’s realism is found in his concern with evoking the multi-sensory, fully-embodied relationships of persons with the universe of physical objects, tools and situations. Fried establishes connections between Menzel’s work and a broad array of extra-artistic contexts, among them the writings of the empathy theorists, Kierkegaard on reflection and the everyday, Helmholtz on vision, Fontane’s “Effi Briest”, Duranty’s art criticism, Simmel on modern urban life, E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “art of seeing”, and Benjamin on traces. He also explores the complex relationship between Menzel’s version of “extreme” realism and the exactly contemporary technology of photography. The resulting work establishes Menzel as a key artist of modernity.


Christ’s Crucifixion is one of the most recognized images in Western culture, and it has come to stand as a universal symbol of both suffering and salvation. But often overlooked is the fact that ultimately the Crucifixion is a scene of capital punishment. Mitchell Merback reconstructs the religious, legal, and historical context of the Crucifixion and of other images of public torture. The result is a fascinating account of a time when criminal justice and religion were entirely interrelated and punishment was a visual spectacle devoured by a popular audience.

Merback compares the images of Christ’s Crucifixion with those of the two thieves who met their fate beside Jesus. In paintings by well-known Northern European masters and provincial painters alike, Merback finds the two thieves subjected to incredible cruelty, cruelty that artists could not depict in their scenes of Christ’s Crucifixion because of theological requirements. Through these representations Merback explores the ways audiences in early modern Europe understood images of physical suffering and execution. The frequently shocking works also provide a perspective from which Merback examines the live spectacle of public torture and execution and how audiences were encouraged by the Church and the State to react to the experience. Throughout, Merback traces the intricate and extraordinary connections among religious art, devotional practice, bodily pain, punishment, and judicial spectatorship.

Keenly aware of the difficulties involved in discussing images of atrocious violence but determined to make them historically comprehensible, Merback has written an informed and provocative study that reveals the rituals of medieval criminal justice and the visual experiences they engendered.


Manet’s Modernism is the culminating work in a trilogy of books by Michael Fried exploring the roots and genesis of pictorial modernism. Fried provides an entirely new understanding not only of the art of Manet and his generation but also of the way in which the Impressionist simplification of Manet’s achievement had determined subsequent accounts of pictorial modernism down to the present. Like Fried’s previous books, Manet’s Modernism is a milestone in the historiography of modern art.


In the city of Ferrara, a major cultural and artistic center of Renaissance Italy, Cosme Tura (c. 1430-1495) came to prominence as painter to the Este court. This book offers a new and wide-ranging approach to Tura’s life and his enigmatic and stylistically idiosyncratic works. Stephen Campbell takes the career of Tura as a starting point for the investigation of such intriguing issues as the fifteenth-century artist’s role and status in both court and urban culture and the bearing these conceptions may have had on Tura’s distinctive style. Campbell also provides an account of the role of the image in Ferrara’s religious, political, and intellectual life, broadening our understanding of the Renaissance beyond traditional discussions of visual culture that focus on Rome, Florence, and Venice. The author discusses also how Tura and his contemporaries addressed local themes of ethnic, political, and religious tension in their works. Among the works by Tura that this book examines closely are a cycle of paintings of the Muses created for the Studio of Leonello d’Este in 1447; an altarpiece commissioned by the powerful Roverella family, showing the Madonna enthroned on the Tabernacle; and four organ-shutter panels for Ferrara Cathedral depicting St. George and the Princess and an Annunciation. Campbell shows how the fascinating peculiarities of Tura’s individual works resonate within the broader cultural contexts defined by the court, ecclesiastical groups, and humanist thinkers. Further, Campbell argues that Tura’s work anticipates later inventions associated with Leonardo da Vinci at the court of Milan and with Mantegna at Mantua.