posted by Christopher Howard — Jun 26, 2015
On July 1, Rebecca M. Brown becomes the new editor-in-chief of Art Journal, CAA’s quarterly journal of modern and contemporary art. A scholar of colonial and post-1947 South Asian art and visual culture, Brown is associate professor of history of art at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. She also chairs Hopkins’s Advanced Academic Program in Museum Studies. Brown succeeds Lane Relyea, associate professor in the Department of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, who has led the journal since 2012.
In her nomination letter, Brown wrote, “In putting my name forward for editor, I am keenly aware that if I am selected my editorship would confirm a shift already well underway within the discipline—namely, the incorporation of questions related to global modern and contemporary art, transnational visual culture, and the machinations of art-making not solely in the northern Atlantic cities of Paris, London, and New York, but also in Lagos, Durban, Mexico City, Rio, Mumbai, Singapore, Beijing, Osaka, and Auckland. I believe the time has come for such a statement, but I also want to assert that in my own work I have been at pains to articulate a global modern that acknowledges the centrality of Europe and America as touchstones around the world. That is, rather than privilege such locations I suggest that thinking of the global modern as a set of distinct regional ‘modernisms’ is dishonest to the global interrelations of power that operate for artists around the world in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Part of my own intellectual commitment is to bring the conversations happening around modernism in Asia, Africa, South America, Eastern Europe, and the Pacific region together with those in Europe and North America in order to enhance scholarship and the production of both art and its history, wherever its local focus might be.”
Brown earned her PhD in South Asian and Islamic art history at the University of Minnesota in 1999, where she was a Mellon Fellow in Humanistic Studies and a CAORC research fellow. Her undergraduate degree is from Pomona College in Claremont, California. She has served as a consultant and a curator for modern and contemporary Indian art for the Peabody Essex Museum, the Walters Art Museum, and the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation. She has led seminars in art history and museum studies at Georgetown University and George Washington University, and has lectured throughout North America and in Asia.
Brown has published her scholarship widely, notably in two books: Gandhi’s Spinning Wheel and the Making of India (2010) and Art for a Modern India, 1947–1980 (2009). She wrote the exhibition catalogue for Goddess, Lion, Peasant, Priest: Modern and Contemporary Indian Art from the Shelley and Donald Rubin Collection (2011). She has also edited two publications with Deborah S. Hutton—A Companion to Asian Art and Architecture (2011) and Asian Art (2006)—and has written essays for Visual Anthropology, Res, Interventions, CSSAAME, Archives of Asian Art, Journal of Urban History, Screen, and Journal of Asian Studies.
Brown has performed the CAA journal trifecta: publishing in The Art Bulletin, Art Journal, and caa.reviews. Her most recent contribution was “A Distant Contemporary: Indian Twentieth-Century Art in the US Festival of India (1985–86),” published in the September 2014 issue of The Art Bulletin. Previous to that, “P. T. Reddy, Neo-Tantrism, and Modern Indian Art” appeared in the Winter 2005 issue of Art Journal. Brown has written two book reviews and one exhibition review for caa.reviews over the years.
Before Johns Hopkins, Brown taught at Swansea University in Wales and the University of Redlands in California. She served as research associate for the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and was a visiting scholar in history at Pennsylvania State University. She started her academic career as an assistant professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
In discussing her plans as editor, Brown writes, “It is crucial that Art Journal maintains its reputation as the top venue for the publication of articles and other kinds of engagements with modern and contemporary art, and as a space for artists to share their work and experiment in the context of a print journal. I would love to see artists taking advantage of the ‘analogue’ quality of the page and the journal format, perhaps in concert with filmic or other media shared via Art Journal Open.
“As a scholar situated often on the margin of the discipline—and recognizing that every scholar feels that way to some extent—I think of modern and contemporary art in wide scope: the entirety of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, certainly, and from anywhere around the world, including sites outside the usual urban metropolises. In addition, I’d like to seek out other kinds of unexplored spaces for art and for art history: pockets where, for example, medievalists might encounter contemporary mosaicists, or where temperature becomes a central element of art making, displaying, or writing. These engagements can happen in artist projects and scholarly articles or in more informal spaces within the pages of the journal, as exchanges, responses, object-studies, artist reflections, or conversations. In all of these areas, I am committed to maintaining the focus of Art Journal on artist projects that push boundaries and challenge norms and on scholarly, rigorously peer reviewed contributions to the field.”
Issues of Art Journal edited by Relyea will appear through Winter 2015. Brown’s first issue will be Spring 2016.
First: Portrait of Rebecca M. Brown (photograph by J. Roffman)
Second: Rebecca M. Brown, Art for a Modern India, 1947–1980 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009)