Art Musings February 19, 2014: Obama rehabs art history loving image, sends apology letter, hosts Monuments Men



Obama rehabs art history loving image, sends apology letter, hosts Monuments Men

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Since causing an uproar when he mocked the importance and relevance of graduating university with an art history degree, President Barack Obama has been publicly trying to make up for the “glib” remark, showing he truly “loves…


President Barack Obama looks at the Edward Hopper paintings now displayed in the Oval Office, Feb. 7, 2014.

Obama appreciates two new Edward Hopper paintings now adorning the Oval Office

President Barack Obama appreciates two new Edward Hopper painting now adorning the Oval Office, Jan. 7, 2014; Obama is trying to rehab his image relating to the arts after joking about art history degrees in a speech about technical job training, Jan. 30, 2014 (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Art Musings February 16, 2014: Obama’s Art History Remarks puts the humanities vs professional degrees debate back in the spotlight



Obama puts the humanities vs professional degrees debate back in the spotlight

By Bonnie K. Goodman

President Obama needs to look back at President Kennedy’s idealism to recognize the importance of the arts
The debate of the importance of the humanities, liberal arts and social science university degree versus a professional degree, or a degree…READ MORE

Art Buzz August 14, 2013: University of California, Riverside to Launch Ph.D. in Art History in Fall 2014



UCR to Launch Ph.D. in Art History in Fall 2014

Source: UC Riverside, 8-14-13

The University of California, Riverside will offer a Ph.D. in art history beginning in fall 2014, a degree program that will focus on the history of photography, sculpture and architecture….READ MORE

Art Buzz August 6, 2013: 8 Lost Masterpieces of Art



8 Lost Masterpieces of Art

Source: History, 8-6-13

Despite the best efforts of museums and art collectors, many of the world’s most important paintings and sculptures no longer exist….READ MORE

Art Buzz July 2, 2013: UCLA, LACMA team up to train art history doctoral students



UCLA, LACMA team up to train art history doctoral students

In partnership with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, UCLA is designing a new curriculum for the training of doctoral students in art history to prepare them to become future leaders in the field.

A $600,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will enable the university and the museum to create the UCLA-LACMA Art History Practicum Initiative… that integrates the academic classroom and the art museum….READ MORE

Art Buzz May 7, 2013: A Destiny’s Child-Inspired Study Guide for Art History Majors



A Destiny’s Child-Inspired Study Guide for Art History Majors

Source: BlackBook Magazine, 5-7-13

We here at BlackBook love fine art from many eras, and we also love Beyoncé. And as often happens with these things, some genius on the Internet has decided to marry the two at last….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 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 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.

Art Buzz February 7, 2012: Spellman Museum of Stamps displays mini works of art, history



Travel: Spellman Museum of Stamps displays mini works of art, history

Inside the Spellman Museum, the world’s first stamp is on display, an 1840 1-cent stamp with the image of Queen Victoria.


For The Patriot Ledger

In 2012, the U.S. Postal Service commemorates the centennial of the gift of more 3,000 cherry blossom trees from the city of Tokyo to the city of Washington D.C., with these two beautiful stamps.

Many people pay attention to stamps only when the postage cost increases.

That’s too bad, according to stamp lovers, who say these tiny graphic designs chronicle what’s important: individuals, history, the arts, nature, science, sport, even abstractions like love.

“We take them for granted, but they’re miniature works of art and give people a glimpse into the past and the present,” said George Norton, curator of the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History at Regis College in Weston, Mass.

There’s no better proof of that than the museum, which has rotating stamp displays about love, snow sports, the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and even owls, inspired by the release of the final “Harry Potter” film.

“There is virtually no topic or theme that I can’t create an exhibit around,” Norton said. “Name your interest, and we can show you stamps.”

What’s in a stamp?

The wide range of interests is one reason why the old-fashioned pleasure of stamp collecting has not gone the way of the Pony Express. While stamp collecting is not as popular as it was, an estimated 22 million people collect U.S. stamps as a hobby and/or investment, according to the Postal Service.

President Dwight Eisenhower collected, and his stamps are part of the Spellman collection. An estimated 200 million people worldwide collect stamps. And there’s plenty to collect. About 7,000 new stamps are released each year from around the world, Norton said.

Getting your face on a stamp affirms that you are a national treasure. In the Postal Service 2012 Stamp Program, baseball star Ted Williams, film director John Huston, dancer Isadora Duncan and poet E.E. Cummings are all honored. So, too, are significant moments in American history. Two of the prettiest stamps are the Cherry Blossom Festival Centennial and the Love stamp, a yearly release since 1973. Other 2012 issues recognize a cause, such as heart health, or an art, such as bonsai….READ MORE

Art Buzz January 30, 2012: The Smithsonian: Art History Related Black History Month Events



Source: WUSA9, 1-30-12

The Smithsonian museums have a slew of film, lectures and performances in celebration of Black History Month. Most of these events and activities are free.

Here are the list of events courtesy of the Smithsonian:

Feature Event

The Institution will kick off Black History Month at the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum Saturday, Feb. 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., with its “Black History Month Family Day” celebration. The day includes performances by guitarist Warner Williams and step team Taratibu; Can You Spell Harlem?, a puppet show by Schroeder Cherry; hands-on arts and crafts activities; a video project with the Hirshhorn’s Artlab+ teen videographers; and many interactive activities to celebrate family and heritage….READ MORE

Art Buzz January 16, 2012: Art History Meets Science: Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe at Northwestern University’s Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art



Art History Meets Science: Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe

Source: Gapers Block, 1-16-12

cat55b_Beham-ManWomanHead_HAM_G8908.jpgScientists and history buffs may not realize it, but artists of the Northern Renaissance made vital contributions to the development of science during the 16th century.

Through a collection of rare and treasured prints, drawings, books, maps and scientific instruments, Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe at Northwestern University’s Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art will demonstrate the active role artists played in facilitating the understanding of new concepts in astronomy, geography, natural history, and anatomy.

Featuring work by Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein, Hendrick Goltzius, Jacques de Gheyn and others, the exhibition will run Jan. 17-April 8, and will include in-gallery digital displays, video and audio segments, an iPhone/iPad app, and interactive replicas of sundials, globes, and other tools, along with a series of gallery lectures by art historians and curators over the coming weeks.

Admission to the Block Museum galleries and programs is free. For more information, visit the museum’s website or call 847-491-4000.


Art Buzz January 9, 2012: The Tate Modern’s New iPhone Art History Game Is Actually Super Fun



The Tate’s New iPhone Art History Game Is Actually Super Fun

Courtesy iTunes
The Tate’s new App, “Race Against Time”

The Tate Modern has just launched “Race Against Time,” a free iPhone game designed by creative firm Somethin’ Else and available now in Apple’s app store. A cheery, cartoony dodging exercise, the game stars a chameleon on a time-traveling quest to stop one Dr. Greyscale in his evil plan of removing all the color from the world. Though the gameplay is fast-paced and certainly addictive, the real charm comes in the character design and brightly colored backgrounds of “Race Against Time.”

Over the course of the adventure, our hero encounters striped-shirt-wearing Picassos, flaming absinthe bottles, deadly Dan Flavin light sculptures, and a giant Joseph Beuys figure strung up in a parachute and cradling a hare. A collision with any of these figures will cause the chameleon to lose a life. Each progressive level in the game reflects a consecutive era in art history, ranging from 1900 to 2011. The game kicks off with Impressionism, showcasing a background of Monet bridges that slowly bleeds into Seurat park-goers. Soon, we encounter Cezanne tablescapes and African masks in Fauvism. There’s even a Mexican muralism level complete with cacti, snakes, and Aztec imagery.

Exploring further into the future, Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” morphs impressively into abstract Jackson Pollock paint swirls. The Pop level goes from Campbell’s Soup cans to a cameo by Robert Rauschenberg’s “Monogram,” a sheep belted by a tire. The game is clearly up on its art-historical references, and it’s fun to name them as they pop up (though the division of art historical movements is a little strange at times).

What’s in this free iPhone game for the museum? Well, it’s a great, fun publicity stunt for one thing. But it also encourages players to go to the actual museum: opening the game inside the Tate (location is ensured by smartphone GPS) will unlock “Turbo Mode,” which lets the chameleon use a supercharged jump and kill enemies with its tongue. Once players beat levels of art history, they also have access to an “achievements” section that compares the works seen in the game to actual paintings in the Tate’s collection.

ARTINFO had quite a bit of trouble on the Minimalism level, but we offer this hint: make sure to grab one of the invisibility power-ups, and be ready to use it quick.

Art Buzz January 8, 2012: How Art History Majors Power the U.S. Economy



How Art History Majors Power the U.S. Economy

Source: Businessweek, 1-8-12

…Punching-Bag Disciplines

Take Frezza’s punching bag, the effete would-be museum curator. It would be only a slight exaggeration to say that no such student exists.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, humanities majors account for about 12 percent of recent graduates, and art history majors are so rare they’re lost in the noise. They account for less than 0.2 percent of working adults with college degrees, a number that is probably about right for recent graduates, too. Yet somehow art history has become the go-to example for people bemoaning the state of higher education.

A longtime acquaintance perfectly captured the dominant Internet memes in an e-mail he sent me after my last column, which was on rising tuitions. “Many people that go to college lack the smarts and/or the tenacity to benefit in any real sense,” he wrote. “Many of these people would be much better off becoming plumbers — including financially. (No shame in that, who’re you gonna call when your pipes freeze in the middle of the night? An M.A. in Italian art?)”

While government subsidies may indeed distort the choice to go to college in the first place, it’s simply not the case that students are blissfully ignoring the job market in choosing majors. Contrary to what critics imagine, most Americans in fact go to college for what they believe to be “skill-based education.”

A quarter of them study business, by far the most popular field, and 16 percent major in one of the so-called Stem (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Throw in economics, and you have nearly half of all graduates studying the only subjects such contemptuous pundits recognize as respectable.

The rest, however, aren’t sitting around discussing Aristotle and Foucault….READ MORE