Marvin Eisenberg, professor of history of art at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and president of the CAA Board of Directors from 1968 to 1970, died on May 18, 2016. He was 93 years old.
In 1943 Eisenberg earned a BA from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, after serving in the Army Signal Corps during World War II. Upon earning both an MFA and PhD from Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, he began teaching at Michigan, where he worked for his entire career. Eisenberg won CAA’s Distinguished Teaching of Art History Award in 1987. He retired in 1989.
Read more about Eisenberg’s life and career on the website of the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
Marilyn Stokstad, a distinguished art historian and president of the CAA Board of Directors from 1978 to 1980, has died. She was 87 years old.
Stokstad was a professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, where she began her career in 1958. She also served as the director of the KU Museum of Art (now the Spencer Museum of Art) at her school from 1961 to 1968. Though Stokstad retired in the early 2000s, she remained active in the field.
Stokstad was a long-time CAA supporter, giving at the Patron level for many years, and attended and presented at numerous Annual Conferences. In addition to her widely known textbook Art History, she contributed four articles to Art Journal. Additional books by Stokstad are listed on Amazon.
Laurie Schneider Adams, a scholar of Italian Renaissance art and in the application of psychoanalytic theory to art history, died on June 19, 2015, at the age of 73.
Adams, who earned her PhD at Columbia University, joined the faculty of the newly established John Jay College, City University of New York, in 1966. She taught there and at the Graduate Center until 2011. Adams was the author of many books, including A History of Western Art, Art across Time, The Methodologies of Art, Art and Psychoanalysis, and Italian Renaissance Art. She was the editor-in-chief of the journal Source: Notes in the History of Art from 1984 until earlier this year.
The East Hampton Star has also published an obituary for Adams.
Pamela Z. Blum, a historian of medieval art noted for her innovative iconographical and archeological work distinguishing original from restored sculpture at the Royal Abbey Church of Saint-Denis in Paris, and for her contributions to studies of the provenance of limestone used in medieval sculpture, died on August 6, 2015, in North Branford, Connecticut. She was 92. The cause of death was a sudden, undefined cardiovascular event.
Blum became an art historian relatively late in life. She was a homemaker for twenty-four years before she discovered her calling in the churches of East Anglia while spending a year in Cambridge. Her interest in medieval art grew from making rubbings of the commemorative brass plaques in the surrounding churches into a serious intellectual pursuit inspired by the medieval art-history lectures of Nikolaus Pevsner at Cambridge University. Blum enrolled in Yale University Graduate School in 1968 at the age of 45, obtained an MA and an MPhil, and was awarded a PhD in history of art in 1978.
Blum established her reputation at the Royal Abbey Church of Saint-Denis in France. Using a toothbrush and camera, she worked high up on scaffolding erected along the abbey’s façades to reveal, distinguish, and document the original from the restored elements of the sculpture there. She continued to study and publish her findings on the Royal Abby throughout her career, including codirected studies sponsored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on the provenance of limestone used in medieval sculpture. These studies were noted for their intellectually stimulating collaborations among scientists, archeologists, and art historians.
She edited and contributed to the book The Royal Abbey of Saint-Denis: From Its Beginning to the Death of Suger, 475–1151 and authored Early Gothic Saint-Denis: Restorations and Survivals. She wrote or cowrote articles such as “Fingerprinting the Stone at Saint-Denis: A Pilot Study” (Gesta) and“The Sculptures of the Salisbury Chapter-house” (Salisbury Cathedral Medieval Publications Art and Architecture),among many other articles that appeared in Gesta and CAA’s Art Journal, and in commemorative compendiums honoring her mentor, Sumner McKnight Crosby.
Blum taught at many institutions throughout her career, among them Columbia University, the International Center for Medieval Art at the Cloisters, Wesleyan University, and Yale University. Other positions included Miriam Sacher Visiting Fellow at St. Hilda’s College in Oxford, England.
Throughout her life Blum supported significant numbers of environmental and humanitarian causes. Kent Place School awarded her the Barbara Wright Biddison Distinguished Alumna Award in 2010. She was also an active alumna of Smith College and a vital member of New Haven’s intellectual community.
Blum was born in 1923 in Jersey City, New Jersery, to William A. Zink and the former Marjorie Powell. She attended Kent Place School in Summit, New Jersery, and graduated cum laude from Smith College in 1943, on an accelerated wartime program, with a BA in economics. She married John M. Blum in 1944. They were married for sixty-seven years when he died in 2011. She is survived by three children—Ann of Arlington, Massachusetts; Pamela of Kingston, New York; and Thomas of Dobbs Ferry, New York—and three grandchildren.
Published on October 23, 2015.
Amy Bryzgel is lecturer in history of art in the School of Divinity, History, and Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.
The field of art history and culture in Central and Eastern Europe mourns the loss of its unofficial cultural ambassador: the art historian, curator, and critic Piotr Piotrowski, who died on May 3, 2015, at the age of 63. The author of numerous publications, Piotrowski was a pioneer of new methods of study and approach to the art history of the region.
Piotrowski was professor ordinarius in the Department of Art History at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland, where he was also chair of the department (1999–2008) and head of modern art history (1996–2009). He was director of the National Museum in Warsaw from 2009 to 2010 and served on a number of advisory boards, such as those for the National Gallery of Prague (academic board), Ars (Slovak Academy of Sciences), and Art Margins (MIT Press, editorial board). Piotrowski was also a permanent research fellow of the Graduate School for East and South-East European Studies, a program of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich and Regensburg University. In 2010 he was given the Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory, which acknowledges the dedication of an arts and culture professional to deepening and broadening internationally the knowledge of visual art and culture in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe. He held numerous academic fellowships, from the Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts (2009), CASVA in Washington, DC (1989–90), and most recently the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles (2015). Piotrowski’s most recent books, In the Shadow of Yalta: Art and the Avant-Garde in Eastern Europe, 1945–1989 (Reaktion Books, 2009) and Art and Democracy in Post-Communist Europe (Reaktion Books, 2012), have set the standard for comparative studies of modern and contemporary art in East Central Europe. Both are key texts not only in the field of Central and East European art history, but also for art history in general.
Piotrowski’s contributions to the field, however, go well beyond his substantial and impressive list of accomplishments. He was one of the guiding forces in the field of Central and Eastern European art history. His publications are at the forefront of the academic study and research of an area that had largely been neglected by Western scholars throughout the Cold War and is only recently expanding from its previously self-contained national histories. What’s more, Piotrowski’s project didn’t just unearth these practices and expose them to the West; in writing these histories he also criticized the so-called universal canon of art history, offering a view from “the margins” to “expose fractures within center,” to use his words. His project was to subvert the traditional geography of art, calling for a horizontal approach that would eventually contribute to the globalization of Eastern European art and help to develop a true global art history.
Those who knew Piotrowski remember his warmth and generosity and his quick, infectious sense of humor. Regardless of the situation, his personality always shined through—despite being a man of considerable achievements, publications, and awards, he was incredibly humble. Furthermore, he was extremely dedicated to the field and to his work and uncompromising in his principles, regardless of the cost to him personally or professionally. In October 2014, he organized a large and very successful conference in Lublin, Poland, entitled “East European Art Seen from the Global Perspective: Past and Present,” and was working to produce the conference reader up until his death.
All who knew his work agree on one thing: Piotr Piotrowski left us far too soon. Most of us expected to look forward to many more years of his talks, publications, exhibitions, and projects. One small bright spot we can look forward to is his forthcoming publication, From Museum Critique to the Critical Museum, edited with Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius and published by Ashgate. Furthermore, it must be remembered that Piotrowski was a teacher—not only to his many undergraduate, postgraduate, and PhD students, but also to those who read his work and followed his example. Piotrowski taught us all very much, and in our future work, we can only hope to insure that his spirit will live on.
Julie Harris earned her PhD in art history at the University of Pittsburgh in 1989. She teaches at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership.
There was little in John Williams’s early life to suggest that he would eventually become the world’s authority on Spanish medieval art—unless one considers a boundless energy and curiosity that propelled him from an athletic childhood in Memphis, through a canoe trip down the Mississippi, service in the Marines, and eventually led him to study at Duke, Yale, and University of Michigan—where he discovered Spanish medieval art and earned a PhD in 1962. A scholar of international reputation, inspiring teacher, and family man, Williams died on June 6, 2015. He was 87 years old.
Williams taught first at Swarthmore College from 1960 until 1972. He then joined the Fine Arts Department of the University of Pittsburgh, where he remained for thirty-five years. At Pitt, Williams served as chair for five years, was named Distinguished Service Professor in 1993, and was Andrew W. Mellon Professor of History of Art and Architecture from 1997 to 2000. Among the many honors he received in his career were two Fulbrights to Spain, two NEH grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a visiting membership at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and an appointment as a fellow of the Medieval Academy of America.
Best known for his work on the Beatus Commentaries, Williams’s work evolved from searching for models for these manuscripts’ rich and enigmatic imagery to recognizing the individuals responsible for their creation and a careful reading of their reception. His five-volume series, The Illustrated Apocalypse: A Corpus of the Illustrations of the Commentary on the Apocalypse (Harvey Miller, 1994–2003), won the Eleanor Tufts Award from the American Society for Hispanic Art Historical Studies. Williams’s interests and research were not limited to manuscript studies; he also was an authority on the major Romanesque monuments of Spain, such as San Isidoro in León, Santo Domingo de Silos, and Santiago de Compostela. He participated in rigorous international debates over their dating, patronage, and the meaning of their decoration in all media. This work generated groundbreaking and authoritative publications in such journals as The Art Bulletin and Gesta and in collaborative volumes, some of which he edited or coedited.
John’s life-long interest in Spain did not end with his retirement from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. In addition to ongoing work in medieval art, he recently turned his attention to securing the attribution of a neglected Goya in the Carnegie Institute. A documentary project on the Beatus manuscripts, directed and produced by Murray Grigor and the cinematographer Hamid Shams with commentary by Williams, premiered in New York at the Morgan Library and Museum last October. Even as his illness progressed, he remained engaged in academic pursuits. Determined to complete his book, he enlisted the help of a former student, Therese Martin of Madrid (CCHS-CSIC). The resulting work, Visions of the End in Medieval Spain: Tradition and Context of the Beatus Commentary on the Apocalypse, with a Census of Illustrated Manuscripts and Study of the Geneva Beatus (forthcoming from Amsterdam University Press, 2016), both introduces a recently discovered manuscript and offers Williams an opportunity to update and reassess his earlier work on the Beatus corpus.
Williams had a gift for synthetic scholarship, revealing connections across the Pyrenees and across disciplines in a way that made his art-historical analysis deep and utterly unique. Four students—Martin, David Raizman, Ann Boylan, and myself—wrote their dissertations on Spanish medieval topics under his supervision. Both as his student and in later years, I found that John’s authoritative writing and speaking style made me believe that what he was doing—and by extension what I doing—was important. John was a demanding and thorough adviser who became a delightful friend. He had little sympathy for trendy jargon but plenty of interest in new ideas. I never stopped sending him my work or seeking his approval.
A relentlessly productive scholar, Williams will also be remembered as a person of varied interests, including but not limited to fine books and martinis, music of many genres, good conversation, and the dance at Kalamazoo. He is survived by his wife, Mary; their six children; and thirteen grandchildren.
The following obituary for Janet Kaplan was published by the Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 15, 2014. CAA will follow up with its own text in the new year.
It is with deepest sorrow that we share with you the news that on Friday, December 12, Art History Faculty Professor and Curatorial Studies Director, Dr. Janet Kaplan passed away.
We will honor Professor Kaplan by hosting a remembrance to honor her here at Moore in the spring semester at a date to be determined. Dr. Kaplan was beloved and respected by many artists and scholars in the Philadelphia community and beyond. She will be deeply missed by the students and those who teach and work at Moore.
Dr. Kaplan had a long and fruitful career at Moore College of Art & Design. She began teaching at Moore in 1980 as an Assistant Professor, promoted to Associate Professor in 1987 and to full Professor in 1993. Dr. Kaplan received tenure in 1987 and served as the Chair of Liberal Arts from 1989 to 2003. Professor Kaplan served as the Executive Editor of the Art Journal for the College Art Association in New York City from 1995 to 2002. The Art Journal was the winner of the Utne Award for Independent Magazine Publishing in 2002. Dr. Kaplan was instrumental in the planning and development for the Curatorial Studies major, working in collaboration with Dr. Maureen Pelta, Chair of the Liberal Arts department, the Liberal Arts faculty and Academic Dean to develop curriculum for the nation’s first undergraduate Curatorial Studies program that successfully launched in fall 2006.
Throughout her teaching career Dr. Kaplan also taught at NYU, Institute of Fine Arts as a Visiting Professor and Graduate Colloquium; Vermont College as a graduate faculty in the MFA in Visual Arts program; and at the University of New Hampshire. She served as a moderator, panelist and speaker at regional, national and international conferences and symposia on a wide range of topics related to art criticism, artist responses to social issues, women and surrealism, media spectacle and the politics of representation. She was a leader in generating dialogue about women in the arts, organizing symposia including a 2000 symposium at The National Museum of Women in the Arts and 3 Curatorial Conversations here at Moore including “Curating and Activism: An International Panel and Conversation” in 2009. These Curatorial Conversations were supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and through the support from Frances and Bayard Storey. Dr. Kaplan published widely on modern and contemporary art. Her essays and interviews have been published in numerous national and international art journals. She frequently wrote book reviews for art journals including one on Whitney Chadwick’s book on Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement. She is the author of Remedios Varo: Unexpected Journeys, an important internationally known scholarly work, published in multiple languages.
In 2001, Dr. Kaplan received a Fellowship in Arts Criticism from the Pennsylvania Council for Humanities and in 2003 she received a Special Opportunities Stipend from the Pennsylvania Council for Humanities. Professor Kaplan served on the advisory board, consultant and/or review panelist for numerous organizations and institutions including the School of Art at Carnegie-Mellon University; the Arts Advisory Board of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority; the Rosenbach Museum and Library; NEA grants panel in 2001 for Visual Arts Creativity and Organizational Capacity; review panelist for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund in 1998; the Advisory Board for the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, 1997–99; and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum – Varian Fry Project. In 2012, she co-curated an exhibition fo the work of artist Ashley Hune in Sinop, Turkey.
Dr. Kaplan gave back to the Moore community through her extensive service to the College and to the community. In addition to the institutions and organizations where she served in an ongoing capacity, she frequently participated in citywide and College organized events. She moderated panels organized by The Galleries at Moore in conjunction with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and served as a panelist at the Free Library of Philadelphia for one film/one book events. Recently, Dr. Kaplan had an essay published in 70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV, Lucy + Jorge Orta, City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, 2013. Moore College of Art & Design is proud to have had the honor of Dr. Kaplan’s service, teaching and scholarship; she will be missed by her colleagues, her students and the staff at Moore.
Sheila J. McNally, professor emerita of art history at the University of Minnesota, passed away in Minneapolis on September 24, 2014. She was 81 years old.
McNally graduated with a BA from Vassar College in 1953. Following studies at the University of Kiel, the University of Munich, and the Radcliffe Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, she received her PhD from Harvard University in 1965, writing a dissertation on “The Role of Ornament in Protocorinthian Vase Painting.” After serving as a lecturer and instructor at Ohio State University and Mount Holyoke College, McNally joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota in 1965. Until 1987 she was a member of the Art History Department; between 1987 and 2004 she was affiliated with the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies; and then from 2004 until her retirement in 2010 she was again a faculty member in the Department of Art History.
Over the course of her long career McNally was widely recognized as a dynamic educator and accomplished scholar. In addition to numerous publications on Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Croatia—including her 1996 book The Architectural Ornament of Diocletian’s Palace at Split—her work engaged Coptic Egypt and the art and archaeology of monasticism, as well as Greek and Roman sculpture, mosaics, and pottery. She served as a member of the board of directors of the College Art Association and Mid-America Art History Society, and as a member of the advisory board of the Women’s Caucus for Art, the board of governors and other committees of the Archaeological Institute of America, and the Rome Prize jury of the American Academy in Rome.
McNally was a pathbreaking scholar and archaeologist—among the earliest women to make a name for herself in a field long dominated by men—and was an inspiring role model to young women in the field of Classical archaeology. She will be remembered as a passionate individual who lived her life in an utterly unique fashion, and will be missed by all who knew her.
Contributions in her honor can be made to the Sheila McNally Fellowship Fund (care of the Department of Art History), which supports graduate students pursuing the PhD in the art and archaeology of the late antiquity.
Paula Carabell received her PhD from Columbia University in 1994 with a dissertation on the work of Michelangelo and Titian. She has published on Renaissance and contemporary art and currently teaches at Pratt Institute.
It is with great sadness that I write that David Rosand, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History Emeritus at Columbia University, died on August 8, 2014, at the age of 75. Known for his work on Titian and Veronese and for his breadth of knowledge in the field, he maintained a long association with Columbia, which he attended as both an undergraduate and a graduate student, subsequently joining the faculty of the Department of Art History and Archaeology in 1964, where he remained until he taught his last class in 2013. Rosand’s many students will remember him as a kind, generous, erudite, and elegant scholar who extended his expertise and help even to those whose areas of research went beyond his own field, the Italian Renaissance.
Rosand was, above all, a passionate and dedicated advocate of the art of Renaissance Venice, An active member of Save Venice, he served on the foundation’s board of directors from 1998 onward and acted as project director from 2003 until his death. So that future generations might also come to know and love Venice, he was instrumental in acquiring the residence of one his own mentors and colleagues, Michelangelo Murano, past director of the Ca’ d’Oro museum, which now serves as the Columbia University Center for Study in Venice at Casa Murano. This seems a fitting legacy for one who, as a graduate student, expressed concern to his teacher, the legendary Rudolf Wittkower, that Venice was sinking—to which Wittkower replied, “Tsk, tsk, it will be there as long as you need it.” And thankfully for all who heard him lecture or who read his work, so it was.
It was, of course, to the art of Titian that he dedicated the largest part of his career. As an undergraduate at Columbia in the 1950s, Rosand, who had been an editor and cartoonist for the school’s humor magazine the Jester, had considered becoming a painter and, as such, would have become part of the Abstract Expressionist movement. This, however, never came to pass despite encouragement and an offer of studio space from his undergraduate mentor. In an oft-repeated story, Rosand recalled that “the prospect of being alone with a canvas so frightened me that I came back and threw myself into art history.” It was, however, the idea of the brushstroke and the painterly gesture that ultimately stayed with him, and the transition from the New York School of painting to the art of the Serenissima proved to be a natural one. As the artist Willem de Kooning had pointed out, “flesh is the reason that oil paint was invented,” and Rosand explored this notion most thoroughly in the work of Titian. Standing with him once at the Titian, Prince of Painters exhibition at the Palazzo Ducale in Venice, I marveled at how intensely he searched the surface of the canvas, how he seemed to perceive nuances of painterly gesture that it appeared only he could see. And indeed it was the interaction of oil paint and canvas, of pen and paper, of chisel and stone, to which Rosand always returned. His injunction to “always start with the object” proved to be sound advice in an age of art-historical scholarship that all too often turned to issues that seemed to eschew the very act of image making.
Rosand was an eloquent writer who instilled in his students an appreciation for the poetic aspects of both word and image. Whether it was about Titian’s sensual poesia created for Philip II or the final Pietà that the artist had intended for his own tomb, Rosand made one aware of the deeper levels of meaning that adhered to the work itself, most notably, the pathos inherent in the art of painting.
It is to that sense of pathos that we return upon his passing. It is not only that we will be deprived of further publications like his many contributions to scholarly journals or such major works as Painting in Cinquecento Venice: Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto (1982), The Meaning of the Mark: Leonardo and Titian (1988), and Myths of Venice: The Figuration of a State (2001), plus important monographs on Titian and Veronese, but to the man himself. To those who knew him, we will miss the way that Rosand seem to glide through the halls of Schermerhorn, how in the classroom his lectures seemed to meander in an evocative circle of images and ideas and then culminate in a burst of wisdom and insight, and, of course, his favorite call to arms, “coraggio,” when we began to question our own work.
Rosand was accorded many honors and earned the Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates in 1997 and the Award for Distinguished Service to the Core Curriculum from the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia in 2000. He received recognition from such organizations as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the American Academy in Rome, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In May 2014, Rosand was awarded the degree of doctor of letters, honoris causa, from Columbia to recognize his many contributions to the field of art history and to the life of the university.
David Rosand, who died of cardiac amyloidosis, is survived by his wife Ellen Rosand, professor of music at Yale University; by his sons Jonathan, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Eric, a senior counterterrorism policy official at the US State Department; and by five grandsons. He will be greatly missed by the many whose lives he touched.
Richard Edwards is professor emeritus of the history of Chinese art at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
My recollections of John M. Rosenfield, one of the preeminent historians and curators of Asian Art who taught for decades at Harvard University, are vivid and convey my sense of loss upon learning of his death, on December 16, 2013, at the age of 89. We shared the same “vibrations” as we passed through the life of our careers, hopefully to our mutual profit but certainly to mine. His book on Chōgen’s wooden portraiture is beside me as I write these words.
Rosenfield was a consistently energetic force in our field from the time we were in graduate school together. Our view of the Far East was nurtured during the 1950s in the musty yet friendly basement environment of Harvard’s Rubell Library, where the books on Asian art were kept, under the guiding hand of Benjamin Rowland.
John had an extraordinary sense of personal relations. We will never forget how closely related he was to this personal approach. He was not just a professional. He was a great man because he was a warm-hearted person, one whom you could always meet on a personal level, a quality seldom found in those too wrapped up in their professional duties and accomplishments.
It goes without saying we shared an interest in the world of art, but in addition his memory is warmly related to activities of our whole family. Along with his intellectual skill, this made him a great man to us. We lived in the same rented house serially, at Teramachi Imadegawa-angaru Junenji-mai in Kyoto, not far from the Imperial Palace grounds, in 1958–59. Later the Rosenfields lived there in 1964, and we took up occupancy again in the summer of 1964 after their departure.
John reached out to my children and family, who remember how welcoming he and his wife Ella were when we stopped over in Los Angeles and stayed with them on our way to the Far East. He was especially helpful to my daughter, Joan, a college sophomore at the time (1968/69), who was apartment hunting in Boston having found a summer job there. She did not meet with immediate success, and as John drove her to various locations he reassured her that the “Perfect Pumpkin is somewhere,” instilling hope that the ideal apartment was just around the corner. If one is willing to share family matters with a friend, it isa clear indication of resilience in dealing with the inevitable problems of living.
His kindness to our family was an emanation of warmth from his own with Ella and his two children, Sarah and Paul Thomas. My lateness in expressing my thoughts in no way diminishes the shock and bereavement felt at having to relinquish such a constant friend and insightful scholar so superior in humanity. Would that he were still working among us.