This year, fifteen scholars from around the world attended CAA’s Annual Conference in New York as participants in the CAA-Getty International Program. The temperature in town when everyone arrived on February 8 was a frigid 10 degrees; nonetheless, the international travelers were intrepid, and their warmth and excitement did much to allay the cold weather outside.
Now in its fourth year, the program brings together art historians, artists who teach art history, and museum curators to meet with CAA members in their fields of study, attend conference sessions, and participate in a one-day preconference colloquium on international issues in art history. Funded by a generous grant from the Getty Foundation, this year’s scholars came from Argentina (Georgina Gluzman), Bangladesh (Mokammal H. Bhuiyan), Brazil (Ana Mannarino), Burkina Faso (Boureima Diamitani), China (Shao Yiyang), Croatia (Ljerka Dulibić), Hungary (Márton Orosz and Nóra Veszprémi), India (Savita Kumari), Mexico (Dafne Cruz Porchini), Russia (Andrey Shabanov), South Africa (Nomusa Makhubu and Lize van Robbroeck), Uganda (Angelo Kakande), and Ukraine (Nazar Kozak). For some, it was their first visit to the United States; for all, it was their first time at a CAA Annual Conference.
A highlight of the program was a full-day preconference colloquium about international issues in art history. Each of the fifteen participants gave presentations about their work, relating their specific research interests to one of five broader topics: Questioning the Discourse, Beyond Borders/Beyond Context, Activism and the Political, Cross-Cultural Encounters/Reception, and Exhibiting Cultures in a Global Society. The talks featured a wide range of art and varied approaches to the field. They were followed throughout the day by Q&A sessions and open discussions moderated by Rosemary O’Neill, chair of CAA’s International Committee, and Marc Gotlieb, president of the National Committee for the History of Art. As Nóra Veszprémi, a scholar from Hungary wrote, “The topics were as diverse as the participants themselves, but the questions that lay at the heart of the papers were closely related. Everyone was interested in the ‘internationalization’ of art history, and it was a wonderful experience to be able to discuss these issues with colleagues from all over the world.”
The colloquium included a number of CAA members serving as hosts to the international scholars. This year, many hosts came from select CAA affiliated societies, thereby sharing scholarly interests and providing networking opportunities for the participants. For example, Deepali Dewan, president of the American Council for Southern Asian Art (ACSAA), was paired with Savita Kumari, an Indian art historian specializing in medieval and premodern Indian art, and Elisa Mandell, president of the Association for Latin American Art (ALAA), served as host to Georgina Guzman from Argentina and Dafne Cruz Porchini from Mexico. Other hosts came from the Society of Historians of East European, Eurasian, and Russian Art and Architecture (SHERA), the Arts Council of the African Studies Association (ACASA), the Renaissance Society of America (RSA), and the Society of Contemporary Art Historians (SCAH). CAA’s International Committee also supplied hosts, rounding out an excellent group of art historians to welcome and assist the international scholars. CAA is grateful to the National Committee for the History of Art for its financial support of the hosting activities of these CAA members.
The CAA-Getty scholars were busy throughout the conference week, attending sessions, meeting colleagues, and visiting New York museums and galleries. On Thursday the group attended two sessions, sponsored by CAA’s International Committee, that examined the legacy of the landmark exhibition Magiciens de la Terre, curated by Jean-Hubert Martin in 1989 at the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Grande Halle at the Parc de la Villette in Paris. Martin, who participated in the sessions and attended Tuesday’s preconference as well, discussed the rationale behind the exhibition, which challenged Western preconceptions about non-Western art by displaying an unprecedented mix of objects—half of the works were by Western artists and the other half by artists from the rest of the world. Martin’s presentation was followed by other talks and, later in the afternoon, a roundtable discussion. In all, the events of this day provided an excellent platform for continuing Tuesday’s discussion about international issues in art history.
As in past years, CAA’s International Committee was centrally involved in planning this year’s international program. We are particularly grateful to Rosemary O’Neill, chair of the committee, for her enthusiastic support. In addition to organizing the sessions on Magiciens de la Terre (with her fellow committee member Gwen Farrelly), O’Neill helped to coordinate the preconference colloquium and even raised outside funds to bring Martin to the conference.
At the close of the week’s activities, program participants met again to learn about publishing art history in the United States and opportunities for residencies at research institutes. Susan Bielstein from the University of Chicago Press, Kirk Ambrose, editor of The Art Bulletin, and Gail Feigenbaum of the Getty Research Institute provided enormously helpful information on these subjects.
The CAA-Getty scholars then had a weekend on their own to explore New York before heading to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, to meet with scholars there and learn about the research opportunities offered by that institution’s Research and Academic Program. The trip was a wonderful opportunity to see a great museum and experience a totally different part of the United States (where it was even colder than New York).
The purpose of the CAA-Getty International Program is to bring a more diverse and global perspective to the study of art history by generating international scholarly exchange. This year’s visitors brought with them a great deal of knowledge, enthusiasm, and curiosity about the field, which they shared with the CAA members they met, as well as with each other. In return, conference attendees offered their expertise and friendship, beginning relationships that will hopefully bear fruit in future projects and collaborations.
Nazar Kozak, an art historian from Ukraine, summarized the experiences of many when he wrote, “To put it simply, I understood that I can become a part of a global scholarly community. I felt like I belong here.”
2015 CAA-Getty International Program participants. Front row, left to right: Savita Kumari, Andrey Shabanov, Nóra Veszprémi, Shao Yiyang, Janet Landay (from CAA), Ana Mannarino, Nomusa Makhubu, and Dafne Cruz Porchini. Back row, left to right: Nazar Kozak, Márton Orosz, Angelo Kakande, Boureima Diamitani, Ljerka Dulibić, Lize van Robbroeck, and Georgina Gluzman. Not pictured: Mokammal H. Bhuiyan (photograph by Bradley Marks)
Nazar Kozak with his host, Margaret Samu (photograph by Bradley Marks)
Ana Mannarino, Dafne Cruz Porchini, and Namusa Makhubu (photograph by Bradley Marks)
CAA President DeWitt Godfrey and Ljerka Dulibic (photograph by Bradley Marks)