Disability and Art History, edited by Ann Millett-Gallant and Elizabeth Howie, is a groundbreaking collection of essays which wed art history with disability studies to create new interdisciplinary approaches for considering disability in art. Chapters focus on work both by disabled and non-disabled artists, always considering the implications of the gaze, and to what extent its power can be subverted and leveraged. As a collection, the book weaves together history, theory, and art historical modes of interrogating visual language.

In Chapter 1, Ann Millett-Gallant explores the artistic relationship between photographer Susan Harbage Page and her developmentally disabled nephew, Peter. This conversation challenges ideas of the disabled subject as object and spectacle. The photographs reflect a collaborative effort between artist and muse which highlights the nephew's agency – as well as the intersubjectivity of relational work. Likewise, in the essay "Exploiting, degrading, and repellent," Nina Hiendl explores the critical reception of two contemporary pieces (Ubermensch, Chapman, 1995 and Freakstars, Schlingensief, 2002) as a point of refraction which exposes cultural perceptions toward disability. She argues that the work, in both cases, is left open to multiple interpretations, and draws power from its ambiguity.

Rebecca Stone illuminates the art of the ancient Peruvian Moche effigy in her essay "Nothing is missing." This chapter centers around a relic from 300 CE which depicts a shaman with white eyes, indicating a visual impairment. The Moche form frequently exhibits realistic attributes, meaning that the primary purpose of their inclusion here would be representational (as opposed to metaphorical). Stone argues that within this worldview physical blindness would not denote a detraction from wholeness – as more value would be placed on the ability to see inwardly. In the following chapter, Gassaway argues for an art-based interpretation of artifacts from Mesoamerica. He notes that up until now artifacts have been analyzed from a medical perspective, leading to the presumption that there was a preponderance of dwarfism is Mesoamerican society. According to Gassaway, a more art historical examination of these figures might lead to the assumption that their stature was intended to be metaphorical, or of mythic significance.

Keri Watson looks at the great industrial photographer Margaret Bourke-White's photos at Letchworth Village as part of her You Have Seen Their Faces series. Published in 1937, the book marks a time when Bourke-White is moving from a more monochromatic ad-based approach to more nuanced social messaging. Watson illustrates how Bourke-White adeptly used commercial techniques of lighting and staging to subtly highlight the strictures of living at Letchworth. While nominally on message as a promotional series, her tableaus belie exploitation and neglect.

In Chapter 6, Timothy Hiles chronicles and analyzes disability in photography throughout the cultural changes of mid-twentieth century America. He analyzes the visual language used to depict subjects with disabilities and grounds this discussion in theory. The essay leads us through modes of separation, integration, and normalization – mirroring these historical periods in editorial photography. In the following chapter, Anne Marno contrasts Otto Dix's 1920 painting The Cripples with a contemporary re-envisioning through film by Yael Bartana. Bartana chooses to subtract the background of the original: thus, providing a timeless backdrop which gives the disabled veterans at the center a kind of abstract significance they did not originally possess.

With "Disabling Surrealism," Amanda Cachia delves into the repurposing of surrealist vocabulary by artists with physical disabilities. This chapter examines how contemporary artists Lisa Bufano and Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi have harnassed the power of defamiliarization and the erotic to provoke new experiences in seeing. Later, Shayda Kafai details Nomy Lamm's 2008 performance piece "Wall of Fire." Drawing from an interview with Lamm she delves into the process of cultural invention. How does one invent a fat queer sexuality of disability in a culture that allows for none? Highlighting the sensual and sensory aspects of this performance, Kafai evokes a process in which the audience is viscerally drawn into this active reimagining. Paired with the work of Bufano and Yi, these pieces constitute a reinscription of the erotic possibilities of disabled bodies and challenge normative proscriptions of desexualization.

Elizabeth Howie's wonderfully intersectional essay, "The dandy Victorian," collides discussions of class, masculinity, disability, and race with the social posturings of Victoriana. It centers around Yinka Shonibaire's Diary, which chronicles a day in the life of a black dandy through a series of what appear to be stills from a play or movie. By unsettling assumptions of oppression and playing with the idea of gaze, the artist provides piquant moments of questioning and unseats culturally embedded modes of hegemony.

The critical foundations of disability studies dialogue nicely with each other between chapters; we see multiple angles (for example) on separation and categorization, where Garland-Thomson in one essay meets Tremain's work on Foucault in another. What I sense in this text is the creation of a new language of analysis, a fresh critical discipline that marries the techniques of art history with the rigors of disability studies. Each chapter includes vivid and thorough verbal depictions of the works considered: a practice both in art criticism and accessible media. The result is an invitation to the reader to enter these works from multiple platforms and thus encounter the incandescent power of portrayal, equipped with theoretical agency.

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