CAA News Today

Hosted by CAA-affiliated society Society of Architectural Historians (SAH), SAH Archipedia is an online encyclopedia of US architecture and landscapes that contains peer-reviewed essays, photos, and maps. Since its launch in 2012, SAH Archipedia has grown in scope and the full version now contains nearly 20,000 building histories covering all 50 US states.

Currently, entries for over 3,700 structures are available to the public through the site’s open access counterpart, SAH Archipedia Classic Buildings.

SAH recently announced that SAH Archipedia will be made open access in 2019. Help SAH in this effort by donating before August 31 to secure their NEH matching grant.

Musée Culturel du Mont-Carmel Photo Credit: Don Cyr

New in

posted by CAA — Jul 06, 2018

Cristina Morandi reviews The Restless Earth (La Terra Inquieta) edited by Massimiliano Gioni and Micola Brambilla. Read the full review at

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CWA Picks for July 2018

posted by CAA — Jul 05, 2018

Otobong Nkanga, In Pursuit of Bling, 2014, on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago through September 2nd. Photo: Eva Broekema

CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship to share with CAA members on a monthly basis. See the picks for July below.

Teresa Burga: Aleatory Structures

May 26—August 18, 2018
Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst
Limmatstrasse 270
CH-8005 Zurich

Teresa Burga: Aleatory Structures, is the first retrospective in Switzerland of this arguably feminist Peruvian conceptualist –a central figure of the 1960s Peruvian avant-garde– whose recent rediscovery has gained her both international recognition and a second wind after a three-decade hiatus from art making.  The exhibition brings together a large number of works that range from early paintings, modular sculptures and  Pop environments to the drawings and multimedia, often cybernetic, installations which mark the complexity of her conceptualist practice, as well as its silent unfolding while working as a Customs employee when the dictatorship limited the exhibition possibilities of her vanguard proposals. In effect the show captures not only the diversity of her practice but of the ways in which it records and challenges the social realities and power structures of her changing times in Peru both as an artist and a woman.

Burga’s gendered concerns and depersonalized aesthetics coalesced through Pop experimentation with painting collages, objects and environments in a  milieu of anti-modernist rebellion that breached the gap of Limanese art and life with ephemeral art environments and happenings. Indeed she positioned herself as a female Pop artist in 1967, devoting her solo exhibition at Cultura y Libertad Gallery to a critical representation of middle-class womanhood—both a testament as well as a feminist critique of  the developmentalist euphoria of 1960s Peru. The situation of women in patriarchal society surfaces at another brief moment of hope in Peru, the return to democracy after General Alvarado’s military regime, through her collaboration with psychotherapist Marie-France Cathelat for the radical research-based work for the Perfil de la Mujer Peruana (Profile of the Peruvian Woman), 1980-1 that  surveyed anonymously  the living conditions of 129 middle-class women living Lima in their twenties about a wide assortment of issues structured along twelve “profiles” (physiological, psychological, social, educational, cultural, religious, professional, economic, etc). Between these two landmarks, Burga’s representation of women underwent transformations textured by the conceptualist turn of her work before and after her graduate studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1968-1970), as manifested by her now celebrated multimedia self-representation Autorretrato. Estructura. Informe. 9.6.72. (Self-Portrait, Structure, Report, 9.6.72), 1972 through which  Burga combined her critique of subjectivity and systems of representation, making the body matter for a critical exposure and ground for escaping its biopolitical control.

Mona Hatoum: Terra Infirma

April 6—August 11, 2018
Pulitzer Arts Foundation
3716 Washington Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63108

Originating from the Menil Foundation and bringing more than 30 major works from European and US collection, this is the first large-scale solo exhibition in the US in 20 years of the celebrated London-based Palestinian artist Mona Hatoum.

Merging the languages of Minimalism and Surrealism, through a feminist lens, while having experimented with a variety of media that range from performance to film, Hatoum is  istinguished for a potent sculptural and installation vocabulary that–drawing often from everyday domestic objects and engendering conflicting emotions of fear/revulsion and attraction/fascination–critically investigates ideas of home and displacement, while engaging with conditions of timely global instability and political upheaval, as well as timeless human questions.

Nairy Baghramian: Breathing Spell

May 17—October 14, 2018
Reina Sofia, Palacio de Cristal
Paseo República de Cuba,
Madrid, Spain

Large forms remeniscent of prosthetics and cartilagenous body parts lie scattered inside Madrid’s Crystal Palace, a 19th century iron and glass paean to industrialized progress. Made by Nary Baghramian, these sculptures complement the rigid organicism and transparency of their architectural setting. Trussed to columns and hugging the walls, Baghramian’s installation emphasizes contingency—the body supported, and molded by its surrounds. Born in Isfahan, Iran, the artist’s work has, in the past, focused on “the political implications of interior design,” pointing out that both women and gay men were made to culturally demur from the realm of architecture proper in favor of design and the domestic sphere. Semi-transparent tubular structures abound here—some quietly take up residence by the curving walls like banquettes of seating, and others crawl over the top of the Palacio de Cristal’s roof, like skeletal grubs.

Kim Zumpfe: outside the length of a room | or | dividing into the blue sun

May 5—September 9, 2018
Grand Central Art Center
125 N. Broadway
Santa Ana, CA

In the heart of Santa Ana’s arts district, Kim Zumpfe has created a bifurcated space evoking both shelter and disaster site. Upstairs the vision is bleak—a couch, stripped of all its plush, offers the only seating; photographs of discarded fruits are pinned to stacks of plywood, and a video monitor plays a loop of a seemingly bucolic lake view. Below, bedrolls made of fabric featuring rejected objects designed for prisons are spread about—small monitors play a blue, slow-motion video of what appears to be the sun’s surface. A tea kettle and a stash of bottled water serves as a welcome convivial gesture in this tunnel-like space. Recently Zumpfe enacted a performance, reminiscent of the anarchitectural gestures of Gordon Matta-Clark, in which she “drew” a linoleum bisecting the space vertically. Using a yellow crowbar to make her marks in plywood, drywall, plaster, and linoleum—this seemingly simple task proved herculean. The remaining marks from this performance remind us that space can be transformed, but only with great effort.

Penny Siopis: This is a True Story, Six Films (1997-2017)

February 14—July 15, 2018
Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa
Silo District, S. Arm Road
Cape Town, South Africa

Best known for her “cake” and history paintings of the 1980s and 1990s, over the past twenty years Penny Siopis has also made films. Strung together from many bits of found footage, My Lovely Day, 1997, Obscure White Messenger, 2010 and The Master is Drowning, 2012, emphasize how cultural and political realities (such as apartheid in South Africa), shape personal narratives. Siopis subtitles her videos with the voices of a variety of characters; whether these people are real or imagined, it might not matter much, for each has a complicated relationship with their context. This exhibition, at the newly built Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, provides the first opportunity to view the artist’s video output at once.

Otobong Nkanga: To Dig a Hole That Collapses Again

March 31—September 2, 2018
Museum of Contemporary Art
220 E. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL

Interrogating how a raw material or natural resource is made into a product, for example soap or makeup, is at the heart of Otobong Nkanga’s artistic efforts. In her work, which is by turns sculptural, performative, olfactory, and wall-based, Nkanga opens out the histories of manufacture and production (and thus the extended legacies of colonialism and imperialism) so that we might determine the human and environmental costs of such processes. The body is the primary metaphor through which invasive incursion and extraction are imagined in this collection of wide-ranging works. In large-scale tapestries like Infinite Yield, 2015, glittery minerals cover the breast, face, and genitals of an androgynous, brown figure, who stands in the midst of a draining funnel. In the center of this exhibition, black soap is stacked in circular constructions—it is manufactured by the Carved to Flow Foundation (which Nkanga founded) in Akwa Ibom, Nigeria. Performers on hand describe the process of the soap’s creation, thereby amplifying the themes running throughout the show. Available for purchase in the exhibition, the circuits of capitalism serve to support the artist’s social practice.

Filed under: CWA Picks

News from the Art and Academic Worlds

posted by CAA — Jul 04, 2018

Amy Sherald’s Planes, rockets, and the spaces in between, 2018, was recently acquired by the Baltimore Museum of Art. Courtesy BMA via artnet News.

The Baltimore Museum Sold Art to Acquire Work by Underrepresented Artists. Here’s What It Bought—and Why It’s Only the Beginning

The museum sold works by Warhol and other white male artists to fund major acquisitions by Jack Whitten, Isaac Julien, and Amy Sherald. (artnet News)

Why Do Colleges Have So Much Art?

Campus museums are home to prodigious exhibits and installations that blur the line between academics and civics. (The Atlantic)

People Across the Globe Want Their Cultural Heritage Back. Canada May Offer a Blueprint for How to Get There

A proposed law could help Indigenous communities reclaim cultural heritage objects at home and abroad. (artnet News)

Colleges Grapple With Where — or Whether — to Draw the Line on Free Speech

Higher education is struggling to balance the demand by some students to be protected from offensive speech while guaranteeing freedom of speech to others. (New York Times)

Sir Anish Kapoor’s Clenched Fist of Copyright, the Battle Over Fair Use, and the NRA

Does an artist have the right to withhold their work when they don’t agree with the political message? (Hyperallergic)

How to Run a Conference Panel That Isn’t Horrible

Brass tacks pointers for making your next panel discussion a success. (LinkedIn)

Filed under: CAA News

What Should I Do with My PhD?

posted by CAA — Jul 03, 2018

In her new book, Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America, author Alissa Quart states what many of us know:  People are being squeezed from the middle class at a far greater pace.

Specifically, Quart writes:

“The many other middle-class families running furiously and breathlessly just to find themselves staying in place are a large and varied coterie. It includes highly educated workers like lawyers, professors, teachers and pharmacists, professionals who never expected to be in this situation – often feeling cast aside by a system that seems stacked against them. Their prospects for the future, given the rise of robots and automation within their professions, are likely to dim even further.”

This is a situation that has vexed many CAA members, whether they are recent graduates or those who have seen their livelihoods derailed through the elimination of tenured teaching positions or departmental reorganization.

Faced with a reduction in the number of faculty positions over the last decade, we’ve heard many job suggestions for artists or those with a PhD. Some have suggested teaching abroad, non-profit, foundation or governmental work. There are also opportunities in publishing, museums, literary agencies, libraries, special collections or archives.

We want to hear from you. Have you seen others in the field find fulfilling work in areas outside of academia? What job-hunting suggestions do you have for those with advanced education outside of the typical areas?

Post your comments on the Google document below.

Related: Where Historians Work: An Interactive Database of History PhD Career Outcomes

Filed under: Advocacy, Surveys

Installation images by Melissa Warak of Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors.

A new essay by Melissa Warak, “Warriors and Volunteers: A Review of George W. Bush, Portraits of Courage,” looks carefully and critically at a 2017 exhibition of paintings by former US president George W. Bush.

Warak, an art historian with close ties to veterans and active military, approaches Bush’s artistic production both technically and art-historically, but also personally and politically. Through Bush’s rendering of both visible and invisible wounds veterans sustained in the Iraq War, writes Warak, the exhibition “aims to humanize the war and highlight the president’s connection to the wounded.” Read more on Art Journal Open.

Filed under: AJO

New in

posted by CAA — Jun 29, 2018


Andrea Gyorody reviews Paik’s Virtual Archive: Time, Change, and Materiality in Media Art by Hanna B. Hölling. Read the full review at

Lisandra Estevez reviews Baroque Seville: Sacred Art in a Century of Crisis by Amanda Wunder. Read the full review at

Sabine T. Kriebel reviews Photography and Humour by Louis Kaplan. Read the full review at

Filed under:

News from the Art and Academic Worlds

posted by CAA — Jun 27, 2018

Andrea del Verrocchio and Leonardo da Vinci, The Virgin and Child with Two Angels, c. 1468–70. Courtesy National Gallery, London, via Apollo Magazine.

‘Mounting an Exhibition about Leonardo Da Vinci Is an Act of Hubris’

Chief curator Laurence Kanter reflects on Yale University Art Gallery’s upcoming exhibition. (Apollo Magazine)

The Histories of Ten Colors Through Multiple Lenses

A new book considers color across multiple disciplines, including film and literature. (Hyperallergic)

20 Curators Taking a Cutting-Edge Approach to Art History

Artsy shares their top twenty curators who are working through a 21st-century lens. (Artsy)

How to Spot a Perfect Fake: The World’s Top Art Forgery Detective

Forgeries have got so good that Sotheby’s has brought in its own in-house expert. (The Guardian)

Backpack-Sized Archiving Kit Empowers Community Historians to Record Local Narratives

A new project from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill equips community partners with tools to start material and oral history archives. (Hyperallergic)

‘There Is So Much You Go Through Just Trying to Make It’: Amy Sherald on How She Went From Obscurity to a Museum Survey (and the White House)

The 44-year-old artist reflects on her breakout year, and the years of hard work leading up to it. (artnet News)

Filed under: CAA News

In light of today’s Supreme Court ruling upholding President Trump’s travel ban, we are reposting our Statement from February 2017 here in its entirety. Our values have not changed. 

As we stated when we joined two amicus briefs in May 2017, speaking out against this decision is inherent to our advocacy efforts and our international reach at CAA. The travel ban impacts the international attendees of our Annual Conference, it impinges on the flow of information and discussion between colleagues, and it harms the practice of research more broadly. See the statement below.

CAA Statement on Immigration Ban, February 2017

CAA, the largest professional group for artists and art historians in the United States, strongly condemns and expresses its grave concern about the recent presidential executive order aimed at limiting the movement of members of CAA and the broader community of arts professionals who fall under the selective set of criteria for national status or ethnic affiliation.

CAA has counted international scholars and artists among its members for many years. Committed to the common purpose of understanding the visual arts in all its forms, professionals throughout the world have enriched CAA’s community by adding diverse perspectives to the study, making, and teaching of art. With funding in recent years from the Getty Foundation to support travel and programs for scholars and curators from Africa, Latin America, Russia and Eastern Europe, and Asia, the association now includes members from seventy countries. More than ten percent of our individual members are international. CAA has counted international scholars and artists among its members since the earliest years of its existence. The roots of CAA’s present-day international program stemmed from a desire to assist European refugees in the 1930s to support personal safety as well as academic and artistic freedom. During that decade, CAA had a “foreign membership” category; as art historians fled Hitler’s Europe, CAA ran a lecture bureau for refugee scholars that created speaking engagements for them at institutions throughout the United States.

The recently announced ban on travel to the United States for residents of seven predominantly Muslim countries not only goes against the inclusive, secular underpinnings of American democracy, it stifles the open access to scholarship and art upon which our work is founded. The executive order goes against our professional and scholarly commitment to diversity, the global exchange of ideas, and the respect for difference. The contribution of immigrants, foreign nationals, and people of all cultural backgrounds greatly strengthens our intellectual and creative world. Further, we believe the executive order law challenges the values at the heart of the US Constitution’s protections on speech and association as well as our national commitment to democratic process for all.

Turning our backs on refugees and closing our borders selectively stifles creative and intellectual work in addition to its very real impact on peoples’ daily lives. We call on our public officials to thwart this attempt to seemingly preserve our own safety at the expense of those who are vulnerable and who also contribute so much.

Without question, CAA welcomes all members and non-members to our upcoming Annual Conference to discuss and debate what constitutes a thriving artistic and intellectual society. Such openness is essential to our mission. We are committed through dialogue and action to help any CAA members who are affected by this policy. To this end, the association and the Board of Directors will continue to monitor and respond to policies related to this order as well as pressure for its immediate repeal.

See the original statement posted February 2017.

See CAA Amicus Brief on Trump’s Travel Ban, May 2017.

For more on CAA’s advocacy efforts, click here.


Jonathan Fineberg talking with Christo, a member of the advisory council and a model of the kind of creative thinking to which Fineberg hopes his students will aspire. Image courtesy Jonathan Fineberg.

Earlier this year, the University of the Arts in Philadelphia debuted a PhD program based on the premise that creative thinking lies at the heart of innovation in all fields. A low-residency degree for advanced interdisciplinary research in the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences, the PhD in Creativity seeks to fundamentally change the way students think about research problems. The program offers intensive immersion in creative thinking, cross-disciplinary workshops for dissertation development, and a bespoke dissertation committee tailored to best serve each student’s individual dissertation project.  The first cohort of students are applying now to begin in the summer of 2019.


David Yager and Jonathan Fineberg met in 2015 at a conference on cross-disciplinary thinking in art and science sponsored by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (part of the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative). Well known for his pathfinding work in medicine and design, the academies had asked David Yager to serve on the steering committee. The organizers asked Jonathan Fineberg to speak about his new book Modern Art at the Border of Mind and Brain, which crosses psychoanalysis and neuroscience with art criticism for a fresh perspective on the nature of creative thinking. At this conference, Jonathan and David began a conversation that led to their collaboration in creating this radically reconceived PhD.


The PhD in Creativity commences in mid-June each year with an intensive, two-week residency in a curated sequence of arts experiences interspersed with 4 days of methods seminars. Students also begin to workshop their individual PhD projects during this time with support from their cohort and from the Program Director.

The students meet again over a long weekend the following January, and again the following summer as they enter the final stages of research and begin writing in the second year. Most PhD programs commence with two or three years of training in methods and of mastery in the specialized knowledge of a discipline and then they administer a qualifying exam to determine if a student is ready to go on to the dissertation stage of the PhD. At University of the Arts, the PhD program looks at the MA-level training (done elsewhere), together with work experience, and a dissertation proposal as a kind of qualifying “exam” for admission and begins the program at the dissertation stage.  The proposal must be interdisciplinary, preferably the kind of hybrid project that would not quite fit another PhD program. In the first summer, the cohort of peers from different fields and the program director critique each proposal in a workshop, set in the midst of a creativity immersion that attempts to break down the hierarchies of conventional training.  Then a dissertation committee is formed around the needs of each student’s specific project, recruiting advisors from wherever the right advisors are to be found.


CAA media and content manager Joelle Te Paske corresponded with program director Jonathan Fineberg earlier this year to hear his insights. Read their interview below.

JTP: Who do you see applying to the program? What is the sort of background/research would you like to see them coming in with?

JF: I’m already seeing, in the initial inquiries, exactly the kind of applicant I was hoping for: someone with a solid training in a field, and real experience putting their skills into practice, who then realizes they have an idea of how they might do things differently. I expect they will come with an MA, an MD, a law or business degree and have found a particular, hybrid project they’d like to explore for which they weren’t trained. I spoke with an extremely talented law school provost, for example, who is thinking about how the training of law school deans and presidents shapes the profession and I expect she’ll write an innovative book from this dissertation; a brilliant dancer with great performance experience came to me thinking about how dance companies are increasingly redefining themselves around discrete projects rather than continuing as companies and what that means both for the future of dance and for our culture more broadly; I spoke with a researcher at a drug company looking for a fresh angle on Alzheimer’s disease;  and an experienced educator who is thinking about curricula for non-traditional learners. These kinds of projects will all be looking to a range of sometimes completely novel practices to infuse their investigations with fresh air.

JTP: The timeline of three years to completion is impressive.

JF: Both because these students are a little older and highly motivated and because the advising is carefully orchestrated and very hands-on, we expect the dissertations to move along more quickly than is often the case. Though in many programs you can complete the dissertation in three years after you finish the MA; it’s just that we effectively outsource the MA and ask for a little more real world work experience before you start.

JTP: The advisory council for the program is diverse in discipline – how did that come together?

JF: The people on my advisory council are all extraordinarily creative individuals who embody exactly what I hope my students aspire to as innovative researchers. So, these people serve both as inspiration and also as resources for great advice about how to build this program and where to find the right advisors for the students’ projects. Because I’ve had a long and varied career myself, I’ve encountered many remarkable people in a wide variety of fields whom I know well enough to ask for their thoughts.

…it resides in an art school precisely because no one is better than artists at breaking down conventional thinking. If you’ve been well trained in a field it takes years to get over that training.

JTP: How do you see the location of University of the Arts in Philadelphia informing the program?

JF: Although the program will take students in any field, it resides in an art school precisely because no one is better than artists at breaking down conventional thinking. If you’ve been well trained in a field it takes years to get over that training. It’s not a bad thing to be trained well, but we hope to instill more irreverence at the start.

JTP: The “curated sequence of arts experiences for an intense course in creativity” is very intriguing! What sort of arts experiences?

JF: Imagine yourself walking into a session of jazz drummers improvising and then having them hand you the sticks;  you’d have to think fast and experiment to take over. That’s the kind of experience. Imagine hearing a major artist relive the thought process from which she or he generated a work or have a gifted theater director show you how to find a character within your own personality in the morning and then trying to create a performance for that character in front your group in the afternoon. Students will by and large have no tools for these kinds of experiences, forcing them to create a structure in their own heads to bring coherence to the experience. University of the Arts in particular has an array of talented artists who can create these sorts of simultaneous baffling and exciting experiences and because they will come one after another in a compressed time period the students will get faster at adapting and responding. This will also reinforce the effect of having really smart non-specialists cross question you about your project:  you can’t use field jargon and you have to make sense. That will be happening in the workshops in the midst of the immersion course and the unusual methods readings.

JTP: What made you create this program?

JF: When I met David Yager, he was on his way to become the new President of the University of the Arts after having been a very successful dean at the University of California – Santa Cruz for some years. I had just retired from The Phillips Collection and the University of Illinois where I had been supervising PhDs for forty years. I was thinking about what to do next because I wanted to try something new in a new place just to mix things up for myself. In Modern Art at the Border of Mind and Brain I had attempted to make a scientifically grounded argument that we need works of art to develop our creative response to the world; I tried to show the evolutionary basis of art. That prompted David and I to start talking about how we could teach creativity in a PhD program to  produce more creative researchers in whatever field they happened to be in. This is that program.

JTP: What would you say to naysayers of an expanded program like this one?

JF: This program is not for everyone. It’s great to be an outstanding practitioner in an established field.  But for this, you have to have had the experience of coming up against the limits of your training, to feel that you have an idea that you weren’t prepared to deal with, and to believe you can create something really new. I’m excited to meet these new students!

Learn more about the PhD in Creativity.

Filed under: CAA Conversations