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Photo by Sarah Deragon, Portraits to the People

Jordana Moore Saggese is an Associate Professor of American Art at the University of Maryland, College Park and the current Editor-in-Chief of Art Journal, CAA’s publication focused on twentieth- and twenty-first-century art history. Trained as an art historian, Saggese’s work focuses on modern and contemporary art with an emphasis on the expressions and theorizations of blackness. She was previously Associate Professor of Contemporary Art & Theory at California College of the Arts.

Joelle Te Paske, CAA Media and Content Manager, corresponded with her this month to learn about how she came to do the work she does, and her aspirations for the journal and the field beyond.

Joelle Te Paske: Thanks for taking the time for our interview, Jordana. So to begin, where are you from originally? What pathways led you to the work you’re doing now?

Jordana Moore Saggese: I am originally from Nashville, Tennessee. I attended Vanderbilt University, as a first-generation college student, for my undergraduate degree, and fell into an art history major at the very last moment. In fact, the summer before my senior year I suddenly realized that every opportunity I had to take an elective unit during my time at Vanderbilt I had chosen an art history class. The art history classes I took with my mentor Leonard Folgarait were truly inspiring. He encouraged his students (even those like me, who had very little knowledge of art history) to consider the work of artists as a response to the values and ideas of society, which in turn are determined by historical conditions. I can still remember his lecture on Dada, which was really the turning point for me. It was at that moment that I realized art was not something meant only for the elite; art could also be a form of rebellion. Although I had never been inside an art museum before my time as an undergraduate, Dr. Folgarait, and other faculty there, encouraged me and asked me to think deeply about the stakes of representation and introduced me to a range of objects across multiple continents and chronologies. With their encouragement, I decided to declare a major in art history and apply for graduate school my senior year.

This meant that I had to take the two-semester survey course as a senior, which fundamentally shifted the way I think about teaching those courses.

Whose art history are we teaching?

I can still remember my shock, sitting in a huge lecture hall, listening to someone drone on about a mostly white, male, heterosexist art history. I was wholly unprepared to memorize a seemingly endless stream of images. I finished the courses but this was not the art history that I was used to. That experience, of coming in almost backwards to the discipline, highlighted two main issues that still impact my teaching and research today.

First, how can we give students the very best introduction to the discipline—one that reflects the deep inquiry and the collaboration that was so intrinsic to my experience in the upper-division courses?

And second, whose art history are we teaching? That is, to what extent has a colonialist logic pervaded much of modern art history and what can I do—in my teaching and research—to undo that logic? I have been acutely aware of the ways in which art history has tended to exclude diverse perspectives and histories and much of my own work involves complicating those dominant narratives.

Saggese’s first book, Reading Basquiat: Exploring Ambivalence in American Art, was published by UC Press in 2014.

JTP: I love these questions as a fundamental starting point—not supplement—to the question of teaching art history. You were previously on the faculty at the California College of the Arts, and are now at University of Maryland, College Park. How has the transition been?

JMS: Teaching at an art school for the first ten years of my career was a wonderful experience in that it gave me direct and constant access to working artists. Thanks to my colleagues I was able to stay current in the field—a challenge for any historian of contemporary art—and my students constantly challenged me to make the history of art come into real time and space. CCA was also a site of experimentation, where students and faculty were willing to challenge one another, to wrestle openly with difficulty, and to fail. I have tried to bring those values to my teaching at Maryland as well. I have found the students and faculty at College Park to be deeply invested in their individual fields of interest but also in the discipline as a whole. There has also been tremendous support for my research practice, which has been a great benefit to making this transition.

JTP: As a Basquiat scholar, what is something you wish more people know about the artist? 

JMS: I wish that more people considered the extent to which Basquiat’s celebrity status has threatened to eclipse his critical significance. My main project has been, and continues to be, writing this artist into the history of American art. I would also add that working on Basquiat presents extreme challenges for a researcher. There is no public archive of his work and approximately 85-90% of the paintings and drawings are in private collections (and I might mention, constantly being sold). This means that in order to see the works, one must shake a lot of hands, charm a lot of people, and knock on lots of doors. Working on Basquiat requires a thick skin, as I am often embroiled in territorial battles or even ignored. I also spend a lot of money traveling to see exhibitions so that I might glimpse the works in person. So, it’s not your typical research project!

JTP: I can only imagine the challenges that presents in pushing research forward—it’s far from a straightforward dive into the archives. What are you working on currently?

JMS: My second book, The Basquiat Reader: A Critical Anthology will be published by the University of California Press in 2020. The Basquiat Reader is a comprehensive sourcebook on Basquiat for both general audiences and advanced readers. Through a combination of interviews with the artist, criticism from the artist’s lifetime and immediately after, previously unpublished research by me, and a selection of the most important critical essays on the artist’s work, The Basquiat Reader provides a full picture of the artist’s views on art and culture, his working process, as well as the critical significance of his work both then and now. It is my hope that by giving more people access to the primary sources, we will see more scholarship on this artist.

My new book project considers representations of black male athletes as a point of entry to thinking about how black men have historically been presented to (and positioned by) the white mainstream public as a fear/fantasy. More specifically, I examine the ways in which black masculinity is constructed in the visual realm, and how the black athletic body can shape the moral, physical, and social position of African American men more broadly. Over five chapters I analyze key moments in the history of the sport, prominent black athletes and their representation in the American popular press and visual art.

Art Journal, Spring 2019

JTP: That is such important work, especially as those constructions persist and accelerate in contemporary visual culture. What are your hopes for Art Journal during your tenure?

JMS: During my tenure I would like to continue to build on the global reach of the publication—in terms of both content and readership. I mean global here as something more than a keyword to signal “diversity.” I use global to signal an interconnected conversation between Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, South America, the Pacific—rather than a series of isolated references to an “other.” I want to think of how the perspective of modern and contemporary art from Mumbai or even Beijing connects to as well as lives separate from the touch-points of America and Europe. This is something that I began to explore in my edited forum, “Diversity and Difference,” published in Art Journal in 2016—that is, how can we think beyond the paradigm of margins and center?

I am also hoping to increase a direct engagement of artist members via the introduction of new features, such as “Object Lessons,” which will first appear in Fall 2019. This is an opportunity for artists to consider a specific object of visual culture that has directly impacted or influenced their own practice. I am also increasing the diversity of artists that we publish in Art Journal. For example, every artist project for issues published in 2019 was developed by a woman of color.

Finally, I want to highlight the role of the journal as a forum for professional conversations. Readers can expect to see short essays on fair use, censorship, and the white supremacist logic of art history—topics that typically are buried in whispers. I see Art Journal as a place where these difficult conversations and issues come to light. Many readers of Art Journal are also teachers, and I hope to bring more focus to issues of pedagogy over the coming years of my tenure as Editor-in-Chief.

How can we think beyond the paradigm of margins and center?

JTP: It’s exciting to see the direction you are bringing to it. What are some of your other arts-related recommendations at the moment?

JMS: I have really enjoyed seeing the conversation around #POCarthistory (started by Ananda Cohen-Aponte [who recently took over CAA’s Instagram]) develop on Twitter over the last months. As someone interested in our current moment I am constantly reading Hyperallergic and I have found the resources on the website of the Association for Critical Race Art History very important to my own pedagogical development. I am currently reading The Painter’s Touch by Ewa Lajer-Burcharth.

JTP: Do you have a favorite exhibition you’ve seen recently?

JMS: This year I really enjoyed the shows by Jack Whitten (Met Breuer) and Nari Ward (New Museum), but I am still reeling from the show of new paintings by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (Under-Song for a Cipher), which I saw at the New Museum two years ago. That show left me speechless.


The Spring 2019 issue of Art Journal is now online.

Not a CAA member? Join today and begin exploring immediately.

A SESSION AT THE 2019 CAA CONFERENCE INTRODUCED TOPICS FOR The 35th World Congress, Parts 1 and 2, of the Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art (CIHA)

David Roxburgh, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Islamic Art History at Harvard University, contributed the following article about the next two world congresses organized by CIHA so that CAA members can consider attending and participating. Professor Roxburgh is the current president of the National Committee for the History of Art (NCHA), the US affiliate of CIHA that connects the international committee’s work with CAA and its members to sustain the global exchange of art historical work.

Motion: Transformation and the Life of Artworks, the session sponsored by NCHA at the 2019 CAA Annual Meeting in New York, brought together scholars from the organizing committees of Italy and Brazil who will share the quadrennial 35th CIHA World Congress. The themes are Motion: Transformation, taking place in Florence in 2019, and Motion: Migrations, taking place in São Paolo in 2020. The CAA panelists comprised Marzia Faietti (Gallerie degli Uffizi, Florence), Claudia Mattos Avolese (Universidade Estadual de Campinas, São Paulo), Marco Musillo (Kunsthistoriches Institut, Florence), and Christina Strunck (Friedrich-Alexander-University, Erlangen-Nürnberg), with Jesús Escobar (Northwestern University) serving as respondent and Nicola Courtright (Amherst College) as chair. The thoughtful remarks of Professor Jesús Escobar are included here for those who could not attend the panel.

The CIHA Congress in Florence will be held September 1-6, 2019, and in São Paulo September 13-19, 2020. The final program for Florence is now available.

For the São Paulo program, a call for paper submissions will be announced shortly. Please consult the CIHA website for updates and instructions.

NCHA recently awarded 12 travel grants to graduate students from PhD programs in the history of art from across the United States to attend the 35th CIHA Congress in Florence. A competition will be announced early in 2020 for graduate students planning to attend the CIHA Congress in São Paulo. Remember to check back later this month for guidelines for submitting paper proposals for the São Paulo congress. We hope to see many art historians working in the US in Florence and São Paulo.

Filed under: International

Photo by Michael Froio

On Sunday, May 5, the Board of Directors of CAA voted to appoint David Raizman as the Interim Executive Director of the organization. David has served as Treasurer of CAA since October 2018 and has held a number of administrative and faculty roles in higher education over a long career.

David’s term will begin July 1, 2019, at the close of the term of Hunter O’Hanian, the current Executive Director.

“I’ve been a member of CAA since 1992 and have attended and participated in CAA Annual Conferences since the early 1980s. CAA’s many programs and publications have contributed much to my development as a scholar and teacher. As a board member I’ve enjoyed seeing how CAA serves its broader membership to meet needs and challenges in academe and the arts,” said David Raizman.

“As interim Executive Director I look forward to learning more about the organization and the staff and facilitating the good work they do. I also look forward to continuing the work of Hunter O’Hanian, who created an environment of diversity and inclusion and shifted the direction of CAA toward these important ideas.”

David’s term as Interim Executive Director will span from July 1, 2019 through the appointment of a new Executive Director. The Executive Director search is currently underway, with the board of directors interviewing placement firms. The goal is to have a new executive director to lead CAA by the end of 2019.

“The Board of Directors is pleased that an experienced administrator and accomplished academic with David Raizman’s  qualifications will lead CAA through this transition,” said Jim Hopfensperger, President of the CAA Board of Directors. “We have full confidence David is the right person to advance CAA’s strengths as a learned society and a professional association, while positioning the organization for long-term success under the next Executive Director.”

David Raizman biography

David Raizman is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Art & Art History in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is the author of History of Modern Design (London, Laurence King and New Jersey, Pearson, 2nd edition 2010) as well as several articles and reviews on design history, including subjects ranging from American furniture to the history of world’s fairs. He earned his PhD at the University of Pittsburgh under John Williams and earlier in his career published articles and reviews on the medieval art of Spain. Prior to being appointed CAA Treasurer he was Treasurer of the International Center of Medieval Art (ICMA) and a member of its Finance Committee. During his academic career Dr. Raizman served in several administrative roles, as department head, associate dean, and interim dean in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, and his College’s representative to the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD).

During the summer 2015 he directed a four-week NEH-funded summer institute entitled “Teaching the History of Modern Design: The Canon and Beyond” at Drexel University. He was a guest lecturer at Tsinghua University in Beijing in 2014, and a fellow and guest lecturer at the Wolfsonian/FIU Museum in Miami Beach, Florida (2009; 2010). He is the co-editor of two books, with (current CAA board member) Carma Gorman, of Objects, Audiences, and Literature: Alternative Narratives in the History of Design (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007), and most recently, with Ethan Robey, of Expanding Nationalisms at World’s Fairs: Identity, Diversity and Exchange, 1851-1915 (Routledge, 2017). His latest book, Reading Graphic Design: Image, Text, Context is scheduled for publication with Bloomsbury in 2019.

Filed under: Board of Directors, Staff

New in caa.reviews

posted by May 17, 2019

    

Katie Knowles reviews the exhibition Dior: From Paris to the World. Read the full review at caa.reviews.

Deborah Ziska writes about Intentional Practice for Museums: A Guide for Maximizing Impact by Randi Korn. Read the full review at caa.reviews.

Katie Geha discusses Al Taylor: What Are You Looking At? by Michael Rooks. Read the full review at caa.reviews.

Amy Bryzgel explores Left Performance Histories: Recollecting Artistic Practices in Eastern Europe, edited by Judit Bodor, Adam Czirak, Astrid Hackel, Beata Hock, Andrej Mircev, and Angelika Richter. Read the full review at caa.reviews.

Filed under: caa.reviews

News from the Art and Academic Worlds

posted by May 15, 2019

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Artist NEVE performs at “I wanna be with you everywhere (IWBWYE),” a three-day festival “of, by, and for” disabled artists and writers, via Hyperallergic.

A Georgetown Student Defends the Reparations Referendum

“I have no interest in seeing Georgetown co-opt this referendum as its own contribution.” Last month, Georgetown University undergraduates voted overwhelmingly to tax themselves to create a reparations fund. (The Atlantic)

University of Texas Graduate Students Hold “Grade-In” at UT Tower

Student workers at UT Austin rallied this week to demand better pay and tuition coverage. (KXAN Austin)

Parenting and Labor in the Art World: A Call to Arms

Last month, MoMA PS1 agreed to settle curator and editor Nikki Columbus’s claim of gender, pregnancy, and caregiver discrimination. But what is the larger context of this landmark case? (Hyperallergic)

A Performance Festival by and for Disabled Artists

A look at how arts organizers can move beyond compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and instead embrace “access intimacy.” (Hyperallergic)

This Dealer Fought for African-American Artists for Decades—Now the Market Is Paying Attention

“When I called realtors to try and find a space on 57th Street, most of the realtors hung up. They said, ‘Well, what kind of gallery are you going to have?’ And I said, ‘I have a gallery that shows the work of black artists’—clink.” – Linda Goode Bryant (Artsy)

Three Changes Higher Ed Leaders Should Be Ready to Make

Higher education leaders met with journalists last week at the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar. Here are their top three takeaways. (Education Dive)

Filed under: CAA News

Announcing New CAA Board Appointments

posted by May 14, 2019

We’re delighted to announce new appointments for the following individuals on CAA’s Board of Directors.


Left to right: Alice Ming Wai Jim, Melissa Potter, Peter Lukehart, Audrey G. Bennett, and Colin Blakely.

Alice Ming Wai Jim, Vice President for External Relations
Professor, Concordia University Research Chair, Montreal

Melissa Potter, Vice President for Annual Conference & Programs
Associate Professor, MFA, Columbia College Chicago

Peter Lukehart, Vice President for Publications
Associate Dean, Center for Advanced Study in Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art

Audrey G. Bennett, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion
Professor, University of Michigan

Colin Blakely, Secretary
Director and Professor, School of Art, University of Arizona

About the Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is charged with CAA’s long-term financial stability and strategic direction; it is also the Association’s governing body. The board sets policy regarding all aspects of CAA’s activities, including publishing, the Annual Conference, awards and fellowships, advocacy, and committee procedures.

Lynne Allen, Niku Kashef, Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, and Jennifer Rissler were elected to the board earlier this year.

Learn more about the CAA Board of Directors.

Filed under: Board of Directors, Governance — Tags:

New in caa.reviews

posted by May 10, 2019

 Thomas Crow reviews Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again by Donna De Salvo. Read the full review at caa.reviews.

Mary Thomas writes about La Raza by Colin Gunckel. Read the full review at caa.reviews.

Filed under: caa.reviews

News from the Art and Academic Worlds

posted by May 08, 2019

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Works by Swedish painter Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) in the Guggenheim Museum’s Paintings for the Future exhibition. Photo: Johannes Schmitt-Tegge/picture-alliance/dpa/AP

What Can the Museum World Learn From Hilma af Klint?

“I think this shows us that we have narrowed the field of ‘blockbuster’ artists to a very small number of men. But there are other great artists that capture the imagination of the public.” – Helen Molesworth (Slate)

Experts Warn Macron Against Rushing to Rebuild Notre-Dame

More than 1,150 artists, curators, academics, and leading conservators have publicly called on the French president not to rush into reconstruction. (France 24)

US Museum Asks Far-Right German Party to Stop Using Its Painting for an Election Ad

The Clark Art Institute condemned the use of a Jean-Léon Gérôme painting in its collection, but the work is in the public domain. (Hyperallergic)

One of World’s Wealthiest Educational Institutions May Close Its Renowned Press

“The fragile truce surrounding Stanford University Press remains cause for concern, but the scale and rapidity of the mobilization that rose up to defend the press is reason for guarded optimism.” (The Nation)

Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art Launches Digital Archives

The Digital Archives Initiative (DAI) was made possible through partnerships with institutions and artists’ estates worldwide. (Artforum)

Making Monographs Open

A project that aims to slash the cost of producing monographs could help make more of them available to the public for free. But will scholars participate? (Inside Higher Ed)

Filed under: CAA News

New in caa.reviews

posted by May 03, 2019

              

Constanze Graml reviews The Art of Libation in Classical Athens by Milette Gaifman. Read the full review at caa.reviews.

Katie MJ Larson writes about Drawn to Purpose: American Women Illustrators and Cartoonists by Martha H. Kennedy. Read the full review at caa.reviews

Nancy Demerdash-Fatemi explores Technologies of the Image: Art in 19th-Century Iran, edited by David J. Roxburgh and Mary McWilliams. Read the full review at caa.reviews.

Debra Schmidt Bach discusses Chippendale’s “Director”: The Designs and Legacy of a Furniture Maker at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Chippendale’s “Director”: A Manifesto of Furniture Design by Morrison H. Heckscher. Read the full review at caa.reviews.

Jonathan P. Ribner reviews Delacroix by Sébastien Allard, Côme Fabre, Dominique de Font-Réaulx, Michèle Hannoosh, Mehdi Korchane, and Asher Miller. Read the full review at caa.reviews.

Filed under: caa.reviews

Apply to be a CAA Campus Ambassador

posted by May 02, 2019

CAA 2018 Annual Conference attendees. Photo: Rafael Cardenas

CAA is seeking Ambassadors in the New York, Boston, and Chicago areas to represent CAA and give short talks about the organization to their fellow classmates and students in nearby schools.

The selected Ambassadors will be compensated for each talk and given a complimentary CAA Annual Conference registration and one-year CAA membership at the student level. Ambassadors will collect feedback at their talks and have check-ins with CAA staff leading the project.

To be considered for the CAA Ambassador role, applicants must be currently enrolled in a visual arts-focused program at a university or college in the New York, Boston, or Chicago area. Applicants should be in their junior year or higher. Master’s degree, Master of Fine Arts, and PhD candidates are encouraged to apply. Familiarity with CAA and its programs is necessary for this role. Candidates should feel enthusiastic about spreading the word about CAA and feel comfortable speaking in front of groups. The Ambassador role is a two-semester commitment (fall and spring) with a maximum of five talks given on campuses each semester.

To be considered for the CAA Ambassador Program, please submit your resume or CV, cover letter expressing your interest, and one reference to Alison Chang at achang@collegeart.org.

Applications will be accepted until the positions are filled.