Art Buzz February 29, 2012: Alexander Nemerov: Yale University History of Art Professor confirms move to Stanford University



Nemerov confirms move to Stanford

Source: Yale Daily News, 2-29-12

Alexander Nemerov GRD ’92, chair of the History of Art Department and Vincent J. Scully Professor of the History of Art, will leave Yale after this semester to begin teaching at Stanford in the fall.

Nemerov said he decided to accept a position on Stanford’s faculty within the past few days, after initially receiving the job offer in January. His spring survey course, “Introduction to the History of Art: Renaissance to the Present,” was Yale’s most popular class this term, with the highest number of students registered during shopping period.

“I’m very sad that I won’t be teaching here anymore,” Nemerov said in a Tuesday interview. “I have great feelings about Yale and this was a very difficult decision, but I’m happy to begin the next phase of my career at Stanford.”

Nemerov graduated from Yale with a master’s degree and doctorate in the history of art, and taught at Stanford before returning to Yale as an instructor in 2001.

Yale College Dean Mary Miller, who was part of the team that recruited Nemerov to Yale’s faculty from Stanford, said he has made a significant impact on the History of Art Department in his 11 years at Yale.

“His contribution to the department, to Yale College students and to the University is so great that it cannot easily be measured,” Miller said in an email. “We have all — colleagues, students, friends — benefited from his ability to make the paint on the canvas, the hand of the sculptor, the grain of wood come to life with his careful words and laser-like intellect.”

More than 500 students shopped “Introduction to the History of Art” this semester, but Nemerov capped enrollment in the course to about 300 for the first time to match the capacity of the auditorium of the Yale University Art Gallery, where the class is held. Ten students interviewed said they were disappointed to hear of Nemerov’s departure, and five said they had planned to take Nemerov’s course in the future….READ MORE

Art Buzz February 28, 2012: Alexander Nemerov: History of Art Professor will leave Yale University at the end of academic year for Stanford University



Nemerov will leave Yale at the end of academic year

Source: Yale Daily News, 2-28-12

Alexander Nemerov GRD ’92 will leave his post as chair of the History of Art Department to take on a new role at Stanford.

Alexander Nemerov GRD ’92 will leave his post as chair of the History of Art Department to take on a new role at Stanford. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Alexander Nemerov GRD ’92, chair of the History of Art Department and the professor behind Yale’s most popular course, will leave Yale at this academic year’s end to start teaching at Stanford in the fall.


Yale University

Alexander Nemerov GRD ’92.

“I’m very sad that I won’t be teaching here anymore,” Nemerov said in a Tuesday interview. “I have great feelings about Yale and this was a very difficult decision, but I’m happy to begin the next phase of my career at Stanford.”

In January, Nemerov told the News that he received a job offer from Stanford sometime after the start of the spring semester. At that time, he had not yet decided whether to stay. On Tuesday, he said he made his decision in the past few days….READ MORE

Art Buzz February 28, 2012: Jiri Kuchar: 16 paintings by Nazi era artist purchased by Adolf Hitler found in Czech Republic by Art historian



16 paintings by Nazi era artist purchased by Adolf Hitler found in Czech Republic

Paintings Hitler bought found in Czech Republic

Source: AP, 2-28-12

The art works, which Hitler bought in Germany during World War II, had been moved to Czechoslovakia after it was occupied by the Nazis to prevent them being damaged by Allied attacks.

On Monday, author Jiri Kuchar put seven of the paintings on display for reporters at the convent in Doksany in northern Czech Republic where he had identified them. Today, he said, they are probably worth about 50 million koruna ($2.7 million).

“Nobody believed me it could be true,” Kuchar said of his findings. The author, who calls himself “an amateur and enthusiast,” has written about his findings.

Kuchar said Hitler bought the 16 paintings _ by German artists such as Franz Eichhorst, Paul Herrmann, Sepp Hilz, Friedrich W. Kalb, Oscar Oestreicher, Edmund Steppes and Armin Reumann _ in 1942 and 1943 at the Great German art exhibitions that were held annually in Munich from 1937 to 1944.

The German institute whose database includes the works and their buyers _ Zentralinstitut fur Kunstgeschichte in Munich _ confirmed Hitler’s ownership to The Associated Press. Its art experts said Tuesday that while “interesting,” the collection is of “low” value.

As a former artist, Hitler was an art lover and collector. Countless paintings, many done by major European painters, were seized by the Nazis during the Second World War.

At one point, Hitler’s private collection, known as the “Linz Collection,” included almost 5,000 works, and the Nazis had once planned to create a museum for them in Linz, Austria.

In addition to the seven works identified at the convent, Kuchar found seven more that Hitler had once owned at the northern Czech chateau of Zakupy, and one each at the Military History Institute in Prague and the Faculty of Law of Charles University in Prague.

Some contain obvious signs of Nazi propaganda, the author said.

During the occupation, it is believed that the 16 works were part of Hitler’s collection of more than 70 pieces of contemporary German art that the Third Reich stored at a monastery in the southern Czech town of Vyssi Brod, together with larger collections of valuable paintings stolen from Jewish families in Europe….READ MORE

Art Buzz February 21, 2012: Alan Pizer: Time abroad adds spice to art history professor’s lectures



Time abroad adds spice to art history professor’s lectures

Source: The University Star, 2-21-12

A globetrotting Texas State professor regales students with stories of past less-than-legal antics.

Alan Pizer, art history professor, was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin when he studied abroad in Israel. While overseas, he traveled the world and took photographs, some of which were illegal.

Alan Pizer, senior art lecturer, reviews a photo from his office Feb. 20 taken inside an Egyptian tomb, where photography is prohibited.

Pizer studied in Israel at the University of Haifa. During his free time, he traveled to different parts of the Middle East taking photographs along the way.

In the 1980s, Pizer traveled to Egypt. He visited Tel el-Amarna, an Egyptian archaeological site that was once a powerful city ruled by Pharaoh Akhenaten.

Pizer said he went to the ancient tombs in Tel el-Amarna after he’d studied them in school.

His girlfriend, who was traveling with him, was sick with a stomach virus the day they planned on visiting the city. Later he discovered there was a travel warning issued to U.S. citizens in regards to an Islamist group known as the Muslim Brotherhood.

Pizer said as soon as he entered the city, an Egyptian police officer started to follow him. Pizer took this as a good sign, believing he would have protection if needed.

At the site, Pizer found a tomb that hadn’t been destroyed. He said an Egyptian police officer tricked him into taking a picture of the tomb, knowing it was against the law.

After taking the picture, the officer threatened to arrest Pizer unless he paid a bribe of $25. In response, Pizer said he would report the officer to the tourist police.

Pizer said the officer agreed to let him go, but the forbidden photograph has never been put on display.

While a student in Israel, Pizer traveled to Syria as well. He said he lied about his religion to acquire a visa.

“Looking back, I must’ve had a death wish,” he said. “In Syria, I pretended to take pictures of my then girlfriend. Instead, I took pictures of the Syrian army.”

Pizer said he met an Israeli journalist when he returned. When she asked him why he went to Syria, he said it was because “you can’t.”

Pizer said his students and colleagues tend to embellish the stories he tells.

Cody Marshall, photography senior, said he took Pizer’s class two years ago. Marshall said he vaguely remembers Pizer telling the class about his time in Tel el-Amarna.

“I really enjoyed having him as a professor,” Marshall said. “He’s like the Indiana Jones of Art History.”

Pizer received a master’s in art history at the University of Texas and is currently working on his dissertation. Alison Ricketson, art history senior, has seen the effects Pizer’s stories have on his students.

Ricketson is currently Pizer’s student assistant. She said his stories make him more personable as a professor.

“He has a lot of amazing photos to teach from that are not in the book,” she said. “What he’s seen has inspired me to travel.”

Pizer said he hasn’t had time to travel alone in recent years. He is currently the study abroad program director for Art and Design students and leads a trip to Florence every summer.

“As a student, I had a certain kind of rush,” he said. “I’ve seen things people will never see and experienced things people will never experience. I miss that freedom.”

Art Buzz February 21, 2012: James Johnson: Unmasking the Past Boston University history professor examines mask-wearing in 18th-century Venice



Unmasking the Past

CAS prof examines mask-wearing in 18th-century Venice

Source: BU Today, 2-21-12
Woman Holding a Mask and a Pomegranate, James Johnson author of book Venice Incognito: Masks in the Serene Republic For his new book, James Johnson, a CAS associate professor of history, researched how masks were used by 18th-century Venetians. Woman Holding a Mask and a Pomegranate, Lorenzi Lippi, Musée d’Angers. Courtesy of Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resources, NY

James Johnson is the kind of historian who wants to get inside people’s heads.

In his 1996 book Listening in Paris: A Cultural History, the College of Arts & Sciences associate professor of history, explored what it was like for people 200 years ago to attend concerts and how they experienced music differently from modern audiences. His newest book, Venice Incognito: Masks in the Serene Republic (University of California Press, 2011), investigates the subject of identity by focusing on the role that masks played in 18th-century Venice.

“As a historian I’m drawn to the inner experience of people who lived centuries ago,” he says. “That’s very elusive to research. You have to generalize from other clues, such as behavior.”

Why focus on mask-wearing as a way to research people’s ideas of self? Johnson, winner of a 1996 Metcalf Award, one of the University’s highest teaching honors, reasoned that uncovering why people disguised themselves in the past might reveal how they thought about identity. As he writes in the preface to Venice Incognito, he was drawn naturally to Venice, where the tradition of masking dates back to the 13th-century. The city’s history of mask-wearing continues today with Carnevale, the annual festival that begins 58 days before Easter and concludes today, Shrove Tuesday, also known as Fat Tuesday, the last day before Lent.

Modern Carnevale revelers don masks largely for celebratory reasons. But as Johnson found through his research, the 18th-century masks themselves, and the reasons people wore them then, bear little resemblance to the feathered, sequined versions you see on partiers parading through the streets of Venice today.

BU Today spoke to Johnson about his research and his book, which recently won the 2011 George Mosse Prize from the American Historical Association.
Spectators buying tickets outside the theater, James Johnson author of book Venice Incognito: Masks in the Serene RepublicVenetians, Johnson found, wore masks six months of the year. Spectators buying tickets outside the theater, Carlo Goldoni, Commedie (1788-95), vol. 21. Courtesy of Houghton Library, Harvard University

BU Today: What surprised you most in your research?

Johnson: To learn that Venetians wore masks six months out of the year, from when the theater season started in the fall through Carnevale. Also, they were not wearing masks to disguise themselves or for intrigue or corruption, as people visiting Venice at the time thought. It was a custom, a fashion….READ MORE

Art Buzz February 15, 2012: Timothy Potts: Expert in ancient art to head LA’s J. Paul Getty Museum



Expert in ancient art to head LA’s Getty Museum

Source: AP, 2-15-12

An expert in ancient art who has overseen museums in England, the U.S. and his native Australia was named Tuesday to head the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Getty officials said Timothy Potts, director of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England, will take over Sept. 1.

Potts takes over two huge, architecturally impressive museum campuses, one at The Getty Center in the hills overlooking Los Angeles and the other at the Getty Villa, in the hills above Malibu.

The Getty Center campus is known for its extensive collection of European paintings, drawings and sculpture, American photographs and other pieces, while the Getty Villa campus hold an extensive collection of Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities, including more than 1,200 on view.

“I think the Getty has a unique combination of institutions that together cover more of the intellectual and technical and historical aspects of our history than any other place in the world,” Potts told The Associated Press by phone Tuesday from his home in England….READ MORE

Art Buzz February 14, 2012: Two valuable Persian pieces dating from the Roman Empire stolen from Montreal Museum of Fine Arts



Two valuable pieces stolen from Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Source: Montreal Gazette, 2-14-12

AXA ART, an art-led insurance company, is offering a substantial reward for the safe recovery of two small-scale archaeological fragments -- an Assyrian low relief and a marble head dating from the Roman Empire -- that were stolen from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts  in the fall of 2011.AXA ART, an art-led insurance company, is offering a substantial reward for the safe recovery of two small-scale archaeological fragments — an Assyrian low relief and a marble head dating from the Roman Empire — that were stolen from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in the fall of 2011.

Photograph by: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

A thief snatched two archaeological pieces worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts last October during opening hours, steps from security guards.

The theft is only the second heist in the MMFA’s 152-year history and the incident is testing the facility’s policy of not encasing many of its items as well as the decades-long bond of trust it has with visitors – now numbering 500,000 a year.

A Persian sandstone bas-relief and a marble head dating from the Roman Empire were taken from the Mediterranean archeological exhibit room on the first floor of the Hornstein Pavilion on or about Oct. 26. The theft wasn’t made public until now so as not to compromise the investigation, the MMFA said.

Montreal police said Tuesday the investigation is continuing. One suspect – believed to be in his 30s and 5-feet, 7-inches tall – can be seen wandering the museum halls in surveillance video.

The Persian piece – donated to the MMFA by Cleveland Morgan in 1950 – is worth “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Mark Dalrymple, representing AXA Art, a global insurance company insuring the items for the Montreal museum.

The second piece – on loan since 2003 from the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec – is worth “tens of thousands,” Dalrymple said.

“We’re interested in seeing if anybody could possibly recognize this man and point the finger at him and help the police,” he said about the security video.

The insurance company is offering a “substantial” reward for the return of the stolen objects and a $10,000 reward for anyone who can identify the suspect.

Danielle Champagne, a spokesperson for the MMFA, said security has been tightened in some areas of the museum since the theft.

But the museum does not plan any major changes to its policy of keeping many of its objects in open-air displays – anchored or attached, but not in cases – “so people get a better sense of the texture of the objects.

“We are blessed to live in a country where people are generally honest and we’ve had very few problems,” she added.

The only other theft at the museum was in 1972, when 18 paintings were stolen, including a Rembrandt. Only one of the paintings was recovered.

Cecily Hilsdale, a professor of art history at McGill University, said the Persian object’s theft is “huge” news in the art world.

The piece was part of the Apadana, a grand audience hall in Persepolis, the ancient city centre of the Persian empire.

The object is well-known, she added. Anyone purchasing it would lprobably want to know where it came from.

Anyone with information about the theft is urged to call police at 1-800-659-4264 or the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts at 1-855-471-1800.

Art Buzz February 14, 2012: David L. Craven: University of New Mexico mourns professor, historian



UNM mourns professor, historian

Source: New Mexico Daily Lobo, 2-14-12

Distinguished professor of art history Dr. David L. Craven, 60, died Saturday from an apparent heart attack while playing tennis, his family said.

Craven became a professor at UNM in 1993 and was the fine arts department chair for two years. He published 10 books and more than 150 articles in scholarly journals.

A memo­r­ial ser­vice is planned for Craven on Fri­day at 2 p.m. at UNM’s Alumni Chapel.

Nancy Treviso, an administrator in the art and art history department, said the department has lost a unique professor.

“He was a wonderful chair and a wonderful mentor and teacher and he will be missed in this department,” she said. “Someone with that caliber of knowledge, we can’t replace him.”

Craven received his distinguished professor title in 2007 while at UNM. He was fluent in four languages and traveled the world giving speeches at more than 100 universities.

Kirsten Buick, asso­ciate pro­fes­sor and chair at the art and art history department, said Craven was known around the world for his work in the art history field.

“David was a man of let­ters and a cham­pion for social causes, beloved by all who knew him for his keen intel­lect, gen­uine sense of compas­sion and desire to help oth­ers,” Buick told UNM Today. “He was rec­og­nized by his peers as one of the most informed and inci­sive art his­to­ri­ans in the world.”

Theresa Avila, a graduate student at UNM, said she studied under Craven for the past 10 years and is shocked by the loss.

“I’m devastated; as a professor I considered him to be generous and supportive and he is irreplaceable,” she said. “The fact that this happened, I don’t think anybody anticipated or prepared for it.”

Avila will be graduating in May with a doctorate in art history specializing in Mexican art, and said she plans to finish her degree as a tribute to Craven.

“I am going to try and work towards (graduating) in his honor,” she said. “I am just really sad he won’t be able to see me reach our goal.”


Art Buzz February 13, 2012: David M. Stone: Art history professor elected to board of the American Academy in Rome



American Academy trustee

Art history professor elected to board of scholarly center in Rome

Source: University of Delaware, UDaily, 2-13-12

Prof. David M. Stone has joined the board of a leading center for the study of the arts and humanities in Rome.

David M. Stone, professor of art historyat the University of Delaware, has been elected to the board of trustees of the American Academy in Rome, a leading American overseas center for independent studies and advanced research in the fine arts and humanities.

In 1997-98, Stone was the winner of the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Rome Prize Fellowship, one of up to 30 highly competitive Rome Prize Fellowships that the Academy offers to artists and scholars. Fellows are chosen by juries of experts in the fields of ancient, medieval, Renaissance and early modern studies; modern Italian studies; architecture, landscape architecture, design, historic preservation and conservation; literature; musical composition; and visual arts.

Prof. David M. Stone has joined the board of a leading center for the study of the arts and humanities in Rome.

“The academy is a place where gifted artists, writers and scholars live together, experience Rome and share ideas while also working on individual projects,” Stone said.

The American Academy in Rome began as a collaborative effort in 1893 at the World’s Columbian Exhibition when a small group—including architects Charles Follen McKim and Daniel Burnham, painters John LaFarge and Francis Millet and sculptors Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Daniel Chester French—resolved to create a center to study art amid the classical tradition of ancient Rome. They chose Rome as the site of the academy because, in their words, “with the architectural and sculptural monuments and mural paintings, its galleries filled with the chef d’oeuvres of every epoch, no other city offers such a field for study or an atmosphere so replete with precedents.”

In 1894, McKim founded the American School of Architecture in Rome. He involved not only artists and architects but also the financial geniuses of his time; J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Henry Clay Frick all contributed to the enterprise. A year later, the Archaeological Institute of America established the American School of Classical Studies in Rome, and in 1911, the board of trustees voted to merge and the two schools, which became today’s American Academy in Rome.

Stone has taught at UD since 1987. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of California at Berkeley and his master’s and doctoral degrees at Harvard University. A specialist in Italian 17th century art, he is best known for his studies of Caravaggio (especially his works for the Knights of Malta) and the paintings and drawings of the Bolognese artist Guercino. In addition to the Rome Prize, Stone has received senior fellowships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton….READ MORE


Art Buzz February 13, 2012: Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie: New book by UCSB art historian is the first to catalog indigenous African art owned by an African collector



New book by UCSB art historian is the first to catalog indigenous African art owned by an African collector

Source: Art Daily, 2-13-12

Ogbechie catalogs the private collection owned by Femi Akinsanya.

With a new book that formalizes and interprets a collection of indigenous African art owned by an African collector, Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie, a professor of history of art and architecture at UC Santa Barbara, is changing the way African art is regarded and valued.

In “Making History: African Collectors and the Canon of African Art” (Milan: 5 Continents Editions, 2012 distributed by Harry N. Abrams, Inc.), Ogbechie catalogs the private collection owned by Femi Akinsanya. Located in Lagos, Nigeria, the collection features 740 pieces, including artworks that originated in Yoruba, Igbo, Urhobo, Cross River, Benin, and the Benue River Valley cultures of Nigeria. The book is published in English and French editions.

“There is a sense in which the idea of African art seems to be restricted to those African artworks that were taken out of the continent during the colonial period,” Ogbechie explained. “When people talk about authentic African art, that’s what they’re referring to –– artworks that are held by Western collectors and museums. Anything that’s owned or held by Africans themselves is considered to be a fake.”

According to Ogbechie, the protocols of authenticating artworks as original have less to do with the history of the works in their indigenous contexts, than with their provenance –– the documentation of the works after they have become part of a collection. Publishing a book like “Making History” is the first step in elevating African artworks held by African collectors from generic objects to works of art that have measurable economic value.

“Someone in Africa could have a piece that belonged to a society that used it as an object of initiation. It has indigenous value, but until it becomes part of someone’s collection, it has no financial value,” Ogbechie continued. “The collector is important to the process of creating value.”…READ MORE

Art Buzz February 10, 2012: Harlem Fine Arts Show Celebrates Black History Month



Harlem art fest

Source: NY Post, 2-10-12

While Fashion Week is all the rage on the Upper West Side right now, Black History Month is being celebrated in style a bit farther uptown with the third annual Harlem Fine Arts Show today and tomorrow at Riverside Church.

Work by more than 100 artists from all over the world is on display — from Haiti, Brazil, Jamaica, Ghana, France and elsewhere.

“We went from 2,000 people [attending] to 10,000 people last year, and we’re expecting 20,000 this year,” says the show’s founder, Dion Clarke.

Saying the exhibition represents “a new Harlem Renaissance,” Clarke adds that the art show puts young people in Harlem in touch with African-American history by mixing works by up-and-coming artists and pieces by established ones.


Herold Alvares

“That’s what we call cultural nutrition,” he says.

While far-flung artists are represented, it’s Harlem’s own James Van Der Zee, the late photographer, whose work is one of the highlights. His widow, Donna Van Der Zee, says celebs such as Spike Lee and Bill Cosby are fans of her husband’s work, which documents the first Harlem Renaissance and includes portraits of historical figures ranging from Marcus Garvey to Muhammad Ali to America’s first black female millionaire, Madam C.J. Walker.

Van Der Zee was shy, says his widow. “He’d call himself Bashful Jim,” and he didn’t like crowds, she recalls.

But he’d probably be happy with the Harlem crowd appreciating his work and that of other artists.

“As the kids say, it’s going to be a funky time,” says Clarke.

Harlem Fine Arts Show: $20 admission (free for uniformed armed forces members); today, 10 a.m to 8 p.m, tomorrow, 12:30 to 7 p.m., at Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive, at 120th Street; 914-980-4427,

Art Buzz February 9, 2012: South African Art: Art history that lifts the value of the book



Art history that lifts the value of the book

E-readers rarely do the ‘art book’ justice, writes Chris Thurman

Source: Business Day NZ, 2-9-12

DETAILED: The four volumes of Visual Century contain a polyvocal history of South African art that includes healthy disagreements between contributors.

IN OUR era of e-readers and tablets, the prevailing wisdom is that printed books are destined to become moribund. At best, they’ll be quirky relics of centuries gone by that are kept for the sake of nostalgia; at worst, clunky tomes chucked into the recycling bin of history.

Those of us inclined to pontificate about the talismanic qualities of hard copy tend to come across as reactionaries, Luddites or even anti-environmentalists.

But there’s one kind of publication Kindle and company rarely do justice to: the “art book”. Whether it’s a coffee-table exhibition catalogue, an artist’s portfolio or a text-and image-rich art history, the art book needs to be handled, fondled and otherwise physically browsed, perused, paged through, scanned or mulled over. Often the choice of packaging, binding, paper and printing technique is as much a part of the reading experience as the content and layout.

SA has a particularly curious mixture of readers with divergent means and preferences; for now, the printed word is still able to vie with the electronic word. Local publishers have tried to win customers through sexed-up genre fiction (bulky “airport thrillers” and “beach reads”), SMS novels for teens, books with multimedia tie-ins and various other initiatives. Critics have pointed out that sloppy editing practices have crept in as books have been rushed to print.

Art books, on the other hand, are promoted according to a distinct model. They are niche publications, often produced in limited editions and typically quite expensive: their publishers target buyers who value books as objects or as works of art in themselves. While there may be cause to fret about the future of publishing, digital or otherwise, an encounter with a high-quality South African art book (and there are many of them) is likely to leave the reader feeling more than sanguine.

Early last year, at about the same time that TJ/Double Negative — a remarkable collaboration between photographer David Goldblatt and novelist Ivan Vladislavic — won the prestigious Kraszna-Krausz award, FourthWall Books published Fire Walker, a striking collection of images and essays relating to the now-iconic Johannesburg sculpture by William Kentridge and Gerhard Marx. Then, late last year, Wits University Press launched the four-volume Visual Century: South African Art in Context.

Each of these publications is significant in its own way. While the former two are idiosyncratic commentaries on specific works, the latter is a compendious survey. A book such as Fire Walker can pay attention to the minute details of artistic conception and execution; its editors and contributors engage variously (and in various modes or formats, by turns textual and visual, “academic” and “creative”) with the sculpture alone, with comparable public artworks, or with directly related aspects of city space and urban planning. The many participants in the Visual Century project, under director Gavin Jantjes, have tackled a different task.

While the four volumes are not reference books per se, they do offer an overview of South African art (from 1907-2007). This is huge terrain to cover and the authors do so admirably, presenting art and artists not simply within set periods but also through key themes. Nonetheless, like most expansive art history endeavours, it cannot afford the luxury of particularity: artist biographies, the nuances of method, questions of form and even, to an extent, formal analysis are all secondary concerns. Instead, the imperative driving the book — as indicated in the subtitle — is “context”, which means national (and sometimes international) sociopolitical context.

In his general introduction, Jantjes writes of the history of SA ’s art as “a river … growing in stature as it glides towards the estuary of the present. It connects to the history of the world’s art just as rivers inevitably connect to the great oceans of our planet.” This analogy is a useful one as it allows that the process of navigating and mapping our country’s art history will neglect some minor tributaries and, ultimately, will be unable to trace the major waterways to their sources.

Nonetheless, although he emphasizes “there are plural narratives of art history” and that “all history remains incomplete”, Jantjes does delimit the project within the confines of the nation and national culture. According to this logic, those artists who rejected the politics of the national — who did not wish to see their art as articulating “moments in the life of a nation” — could not and did not “become actors in the making of history”. There is a teleological bent to any construction of South African history according to “the politics of national liberation”: as Jantjes affirms, artists who held “a critical light up to their nation’s moral potential” created works that are now “testimony to historical progress”.

The multiple perspectives offered by the contributors (and by many of the works of the art reproduced on its pages) do, however, unsettle this framework. Moreover, the series presents many examples of artists who were not defined by their “context” and whose work disrupts the standard black/white narratives. In Volume One, which covers 1907-1948 — from the post-war detente between Briton and Boer to the National Party election victory that ushered in apartheid — this occurs, for instance, in intriguing visual pairings such as the twin landscapes by Moses Tladi and Gregoire Boonzaier.

Volume Four, which covers the transition to democracy and beyond (1990-2007), has a foreword by Sarat Maharaj that complicates claims about “SA -in-the-world”, reminding readers (notwithstanding the country’s isolation for so long ) of the “runaway translation, cultural swap, pidginisation” and “dirty cosmopolitanism” that has long defined this part of the world. In the same volume, however, Jantjes rightly exposes the “masks and myths of globalism”; his perspective as an inside-outsider (he has been based in Europe for more than 30 years ) is valuable in this regard.

This is, then, a polyvocal history. It was evident at the launch events in Johannesburg and Cape Town last year that there is a healthy disagreement between contributors to Visual Century on how to approach race, medium, ideology and any number of contentious issues that arise in writing about art in/and SA. The series manages to be both comprehensive and contradictory, and the editors (Jillian Carman, Lize van Robbroeck, Mario Pissarra, Thembinkosi Goniwe and Mandisi Majavu) have corralled diverse opinions within its four volumes.

Detailed, dense and beautifully presented, Visual Century is more than an account of the material circumstances under which our artists have worked for the past 100 years. In its own appealing materiality, it makes a significant contribution both to South African art history and to the value of the book in this country.

Art Buzz February 9, 2012: Greg Clark: Sewanee art historian next Mississippi State University humanities lecturer



Sewanee art historian next MSU humanities lecturer

Source: Mississippi State University, 2-9-12

University Relations News Bureau (662) 325-3442 Contact: Margaret Kovar February 09, 2012

University of the South art history professor Greg Clark kicks off the spring semester of Mississippi State’s Institute for the Humanities Distinguished Lecture Series.

His free presentation, “Betty Boop: A Roaring 20s Flapper in Depression-Era American Animation,” takes place Thursday [Feb. 23].

The 4 p.m. university program in the McCool Hall atrium will be followed by a reception and signing of his book, “The Spitz Master: A Parisian Book of Hours” (J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003).

As a faculty member at Sewanee: The University of the South, Clark’s scholarly work focuses on 15th century manuscript illuminations in northern France and the southern Netherlands. Previously, he worked at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, first as a curatorial assistant and then as an assistant curator of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts.

Clark holds master of fine arts and doctoral degrees from Princeton University.

MSU’s Distinguished Lecture Series is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, the offices of Research and Economic Development and the Provost. The program regularly features scholars, writers and artists from around the world.

For more information about the event, contact Joy Smith at 662-325-7094 or

Art Buzz February 8, 2012: Art Historian Linda Nochlin to lecture on the art of industrial England at Vassar



Nochlin to return to alma mater

Nochlin to lecture on the art of industrial England

Source: Miscellany News, 2-8-12

asdfCourtesy of collegeart.comArt historian Linda Weinberg Nochlin ’51, pictured above, is this year’s recipient of the Alumnae and Alumni of Vassar College’s Distinguished Achievement Award.

Linda Weinberg Nochlin ’51 may very well be the single most renowned female art historian in academia today. It should come as no surprise, then, that Nochlin is this year’s recipient of the Alumnae and Alumni of Vassar College’s (AAVC) Distinguished Achievement Award. Nochlin will return to Vassar on Feb. 9 to deliver a talk entitled “Gericault’s London: Representing Misery after the Industrial Revolution?” She will receive AAVC’s award the following day.

After graduating from Vassar in 1951 with a degree in philosophy, Nochlin attended Columbia University, where she received her Master of Arts in English, followed by New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, where she wrote a dissertation on Gustave Courbet, a 19th Century French painter who is synonymous with the Realist art movement.

Nochlin received her Ph.D in 1963 and returned to her alma mater that same year, as an assistant professor of art history. Nochlin taught at Vassar between 1952 and 1980, eventually serving as the Mary Conover Mellon Professor of Art History.

Nochlin is currently the Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Modern Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. She has taught at Yale University and at the City University of New York, and has written numerous articles and books, including Representing Women; The Body in Pieces; Women, Art, and Power and Other Essays; and The Politics of Vision.

Despite her expansive list of publications, Nochlin has always remained a dedicated, passionate teacher. Sarah Gibson Blanding Professor of Art Susan Kuretsky ’63 pointed out Nochlin’s abilities as a professor. “Her lectures were characterized by great clarity of thinking, organization, even diction; and extremely subtle, lovely and elegant language. Rarely have I heard anyone translate works of art into words the way she can do,” Kurestky wrote in an emailed statement. “Everyone who heard her learned a lot about how to present material as well as the material itself.”

She is perhaps most well known for her groundbreaking essay, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” First published in a 1971 issue of ARTnews Magazine, the essay questions why there were no women equivalents for the great men artists like, say, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse or de Kooning.

In discussing her own specialty in art history, Kurestky noted that there are also few women artists in the canon of Dutch 17th-century Baroque art. “Although few women artists were active in the period I teach,” Kurestky wrote, “I include Judith Leyster and Rachel Ruysch—not only because they were women but because they were good and including them adds an important point of view to the material—Linda drew attention here.”

Nochlin argued that the “elitist” structures on which art history is based had systematically excluded women artists, and that social and academic constraints had discouraged women’s pursuit of art-making. The essay dared to challenge both the chauvinistic notions of the male-dominated art world as well as emerging feminist viewpoints. Nochlin was a part of a growing movement of feminist scholarship in academia that newly reassessed the role of women in fields within the visual and performing arts.

For these reasons, Nochlin is often considered to be a founding mother of feminist art history, but her interests cover an impressively wide range. Kuretsky pointed out, “[Her essay] opened up a whole new area and way of thinking about art, but I’ve thought since that although this piece always get mentioned, Linda herself should not be pigeon-holed as a feminist art historian, as her writings range over such a great variety of topics and artists. But no one who reads this article, which came out of a seminar she taught at Vassar, can be unchanged.”

Kurtesky first encountered Nochlin as an undergraduate at Vassar during her experience taking Introduction to Art History. “[Nochlin gave] 105 lectures that were of such power and brilliance that people used to sneak back in to hear her,” Kuretsky wrote, “even after they had already taken the course.”

Like Nochlin, Kuretsky also graduated from Vassar. Kuretsky went to Harvard, and obtained a Master’s and P.h.D in art history. She then returned to her alma mater to teach art history in 1975. Kuretsky at this point became one of the colleagues of Nochlin—the very woman who once taught Kuretsky while she was still an undergraduate student. “Linda was an extremely impressive and inspiring colleague when I came back to teach at Vassar,” Kurestky wrote.

“I remember vividly her dazzling lectures in Art 105, Northern Painting and in 19th- and 20th-Century art.” It was one of the first undergraduate art history courses devoted to the study of women in art.

During Vassar’s sesquicentennial celebration last year, Nochlin sat down with Professor and Chair of Art Molly Nesbit ’74 and spoke about her introduction to the field of art history. “I took 105 partly because everyone said you had to do it, but also because I heard Adolph Katzenellenbogen give a public lecture on Chartres,” Nochlin reflected. “You know: ideas, sensual beauty, architecture, history. It was like a gesamtkunstwerk [a work of art that makes use of several forms]. That was how I looked on art history.”

Nochlin also mentioned in the interview just how lucky she felt to be a student at Vassar, in light of the school’s commitment to women’s education. “I saw that women could be brilliant thinkers and hard-working thinkers and devoted, serious thinkers. And I liked that. I felt at ease, and comfortable,” she said.

Throughout her career, Nochlin has been the recipient of many honors and awards, including Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships. Her presence at Vassar will surely resonate with students and faculty alike. “She really is a dazzler!” Kurtesky concluded.

Art Buzz February 8, 2012: Sinclair Bell: Northern Illinois University art historian co-edits book that explores cultural, societal impact of freed Roman slaves



NIU art historian co-edits book that explores cultural, societal impact of freed Roman slaves

Source: NIU Today, 2-8-12

Free At Last! book coverSinclair Bell, assistant professor of art history, has co-edited a volume on freed slaves in ancient Rome that was published this week.

“Free at Last! The Impact of Freed Slaves on the Roman Empire,” which he co-edited with Teresa Ramsby, was published by Bloomsbury Press in London, and will become available in the United States next month.

The book builds on recent dynamic work on Roman freedmen.

Contributors draw upon a rich and varied body of evidence – visual, literary, epigraphic and archaeological – to elucidate the impact of freed slaves on Roman society and culture amid the shadow of their former servitude.

The contributions span the period between the first century BCE and the early third century CE and survey the territories of the Roman Republic and Empire, while focusing on Italy and Rome.

Advance notice of the book has been highly positive.

Glenys Davies, senior lecturer in classical art and archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, writes: “The essays in this book explore the experiences of Roman freedmen (and women) from a new set of perspectives: they enrich our knowledge and understanding of a social group which has no exact equivalent in any other society.”

Eve D’Ambra, professor of art and the Agnes Rindge Claflin Chair at Vassar College as well as a noted authority on ancient art, writes: “Roman freedmen have taken central stage in historical and literary studies recently, but their role as independent actors (e.g. as patrons of art and architecture) has long been suspect. This compelling and lucid volume addresses this oversight and plots a course for future research.”

This is Bell’s fifth edited volume and his third book since arriving at NIU in 2008.