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Svetlana Alpers Is CAA Distinguished Scholar

posted by Christopher Howard — Nov 10, 2008

The honoree of the 2009 Distinguished Scholar Session is Svetlana Alpers, a historian of seventeenth-century art and professor emerita of the University of California, Berkeley. Inaugurated in 2001, this Annual Conference session pays tribute to a renowned scholar who has made significant contributions to the field.

The Distinguished Scholar Session, entitled “Paintings/Problems/Possibilities” and chaired by Mariët Westermann of New York University, centers on the art of painting. The panel—which includes Alpers, Carol Armstrong of Yale University, Thomas Crow from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, the painter James Hyde, and Stephen Melville of Ohio State University—will focus on six pictorial images proposed by Alpers. The session takes place on Thursday, February 26, 2009, 2:30–5:00 PM, at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Room 502AB, Level 2.

After earning a BA from Radcliffe College in 1957, Alpers completed her doctorate in fine arts at Harvard University in 1965. She began teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, in the early sixties and remained there until her retirement in 1994.

Her books—among them The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century (1983); Rembrandt’s Enterprise: The Studio and the Market (1988), which won CAA’s Charles Rufus Morey Book Award in 1990; and Tiepolo and the Pictorial Intelligence (1994), written with Michael Baxandall—have had an enormous impact on the discipline of art history. In 1983, Alpers founded the interdisciplinary journal Representations with Stephen Greenblatt; she remains a corresponding editor to this day.

An artist and a scholar, Alpers, together with James Hyde and the photographer Barney Kulok, recently completed a series of prints, Painting Then For Now. Fragments of Tiepolo at the Ca’ Dolfin, that is based on three paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art by the eighteenth-century Venetian artist Giambattista Tiepolo. An exhibition of these works was held at David Krut Projects in New York in 2007 and accompanied by a publication.

Alpers is CAA’s ninth distinguished scholar, joining a list of illustrious past honorees: Robert L. Herbert (2008), Linda Nochlin (2007), John Szarkowski (2006), Richard Brilliant (2005), James Cahill (2004), Phyllis Pray Bober (2003), Leo Steinberg (2002), and James Ackerman (2001).

Please read Mariët Westermann’s article on Svetlana Alpers and her accomplishments, which is also published in the November 2008 CAA News.