CAA News Today

We’re delighted to announce fourteen scholars have been awarded Terra Foundation for American Art Research Travel Grants in 2021. 

These grants provide support to doctoral, postdoctoral, and senior scholars from both the US and outside the US for research topics dedicated to the art and visual culture of the United States prior to 1980.

International Research Travel Grants for US-based Scholars 

Doctoral Scholars 

Thomas Busciglio-Ritter, The University of Delaware, “‘The Union of Excellences’: An Atlantic History of Early American Landscape Views (1790–1860)”

Ann Tartsinis, Stanford University, “Modernism in Pieces: Transatlantic Visual Culture Between the Wars”

Postdoctoral & Senior Scholars 

Caroline Riley, Boston University, “Thérèse Bonney’s Photography: The Politics of Art, the Body,and War from 1920–1970”

Nadia Sethi, University of Washington, “Alaska Native Cultural Belongings held in Museums in Estonia, Finland and Sweden”

Kay Wells, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, “Uncanny Revivals: Designing Early America during the Rise of Fascism”

International Research Travel Grants to the United States  

Doctoral Scholars

Max Böhner, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany, “Twilight Aesthetics: Queer Visual Culture in the United States Between 1945 and 1969”

Sarah Happersberger, Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Germany, “Connection, Community, Kinship, Network: Women Artists Performing Togetherness in the Long 1970s”

Jacqueline Mabey, University College London, England, “This Must Be the Place: Mapping Artistic Kinship and Economic Change in Downtown New York, 1973–1987”

Ana Gabriela Rodriguez, The Courtauld Institute of Art, England, “Tracing Puerto Rican Graphic Arts: Bridging Workshops and Crossing Borders, 1940s –1970s”

Frances Varley, The Courtauld Institute of Art, England, “Identity, Provincialism and Modernism in the US and Britain from a Comparative Perspective, c. 1870–1914”

Wen Yao, The University of York, England, “A Travelling Surrealist: Mobility and Representation in Stella Snead’s Paintings, Photographs and Collages Made in the US (1940–1980)”

Postdoctoral & Senior Scholars 

Dafne Cruz Porchini, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, “Jean Charlot: A French Artist in the United States and Mexico (1921–1944)”

Maria Stavrinaki, Université Paris I Panthéon–Sorbonne, France, “‘After History’: Variations on a Theme in the Art and Thought of the 1950s–1960s”

Emily Warner, Independent Scholar, “Abstraction Unframed: Abstract Murals at Midcentury”

Learn more about the Terra Foundation Research Travel Grants

In Memoriam: Robert L. Herbert

posted by December 22, 2020

Robert L. Herbert

We are saddened to learn of the passing of Robert L. Herbert, a visionary in art history and extraordinary teacher to many. He received CAA’s Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Art in 2008. He passed December 17 of a stroke at 91.

Robert L. Herbert

In an extraordinary career spanning more than sixty years, Robert L. Herbert was remarkably consistent in a practice that has come to define the social history of art, which he described as “the moral and passionate … search for what paintings and drawings meant in the artists’ time.”1

As an undergraduate at Wesleyan University in the late 1940s and early 1950s, he was fascinated by the history of science, an interest that encouraged his study of color theory in his dissertation on the nineteenth-century French artist Georges Seurat, completed at Yale University under the direction of George Heard Hamilton in 1957. By that time, Herbert had already been inspired by the work of Meyer Schapiro, who encouraged his lifelong commitment to socialism as a framework for political and intellectual development. Proud of his roots in a working-class New England family, Herbert resisted the formalist bias of his training, although he readily acknowledges a debt to those who taught him to look carefully at works of art and to appreciate the importance of technique and pictorial structure. From the beginning he always insisted that “the stuff of ordinary daily life should enter into art history,” and made it his goal “to restore the flesh of real painters and their culture to the bones of style and form.”

A desire to balance respect for the artist’s distinctive modes of representation with a socially and historically grounded reading of subject matter was a salient feature of Herbert’s research, which focused, for example, not only on the color and facture of paintings by Seurat and other Neoimpressionist artists, but also on the distinctive subject matter and the politics of their art. Recognizing that the prevailing view of Seurat tended to privilege his large-scale paintings, Herbert trained attention on his drawings in a book published in 1963; yet he also continued to explore the meanings of Seurat’s paintings, organizing a major retrospective exhibition on the hundredth anniversary of the artist’s death in 1991 as well as another, Seurat and the Making of “La Grande Jatte,” that was devoted to his most celebrated painting in 2004. In fact, many of Herbert’s most innovative and important contributions to the history of art have been made in the context of exhibitions, which require careful attention to individual objects in addition to the presentation of a unifying conception of the whole. For his first foray into this genre of scholarship, the 1962 exhibition Barbizon Revisited, Herbert wrote a catalogue that won CAA’s Frank Jewett Mather Award and precipitated a renewed appreciation of the work and historical significance of mid-nineteenth-century landscape painters such as Corot, Millet, and Rousseau, among others. His ambition for the exhibition was expressed in terms that convey his dedication to a particular kind of art-historical practice: “The purely historical treatment of art is bloodless. The real heritage of Barbizon art is in the paintings, and their vitality must be experienced in our viscera. Otherwise works of art are documents to be assessed, catalogued, and filed away. But there is a proper use of history, namely, to prod us into discoveries which release our imagination and permit us to rise to the realm of true poesis. An historical evaluation of Barbizon art will only have value if it succeeds in doing just this.”

Just as the study of Seurat’s drawings prompted Herbert to look carefully at Millet’s drawings and other work in articles and exhibitions of the 1960s and 1970s, so Seurat’s paintings eventually led him to the work of Fernand Léger, whom he considers to be Seurat’s descendant and a great practitioner of the craft of painting. Thus although Herbert’s scholarly reputation is bound to his work on nineteenth-century French painters—he has written books on Monet and Renoir, a survey devoted to the leisure subjects of the Impressionists, as well as the publications mentioned above on Seurat, Millet, and the Barbizon School—he has also produced significant scholarship on early-twentieth-century modernism. His first contribution to that field was an edited volume of ten essays, Modern Artists on Art, published in 1964. This was followed twenty years later by a detailed study of the large, diverse collection of European and American modernist art from the Société Anonyme that Katherine Dreier had bequeathed to Yale at midcentury and that Herbert had explored for many years together with his students. Along the way, Herbert developed research he had undertaken as a graduate student into a book, published in 1972, on David’s Brutus and its political significance in the context of the French Revolution; his commitment to the social history of art was also evident in a volume of selected art criticism by John Ruskin that Herbert edited in 1964 and for which he wrote an eloquent introduction that provided a thoroughgoing reevaluation of Ruskin’s significance from a variety of perspectives, demonstrating his acute relevance to the social history of art that Herbert was in the process of articulating at the time.

It is impossible to summarize Herbert’s contributions to art history simply in terms of his scholarly production, impressive as that output has been. He has also been an inspiring teacher of undergraduate and graduate students, setting an example in countless ways that go well beyond his commitment to scrutinizing original works of art alongside archival resources of the most diverse kinds. In addition to imparting these indispensable staples of the trade, he maintained an extraordinary level of personal and professional engagement with his students, loyally supporting their ambitions and celebrating their achievements, whether large or small. Refusing to be impressed by conventional measures of status, in 1990 he acted on his commitment to feminism by relinquishing his position at Yale in order to join his wife, Eugenia Herbert—whom he has always described as his greatest intellectual companion—on the faculty of Mount Holyoke College.

As professor emeritus and living in South Hadley, Massachusetts, he discovered a passionate interest in the life and work of a mid-nineteenth-century female botanist and illustrator named Orra White Hitchcock. “I’ve taken the plunge,” Herbert has remarked, “into the world of American women’s diaries, into travel diaries, and into the history of geology and the natural sciences, embraced in the broader spectrum of American social and cultural history of the middle third of the nineteenth century. It’s a new world for me, and I have no regrets at giving up French art history!” Subsequently he turned to exploring the history of Mount Holyoke and curated several exhibitions with James Gehrt and Aaron Miller.

He died December 17 of a stroke at 91 and is survived by his wife of 67 years Eugenia (Fi); children, Tim, Rosie, and Cathy; their mates, Mara, John and Chris; six grandchildren, and a wealth of friends to whom he was immensely devoted as well.

 

 

Filed under: Art History, Obituaries


Wednesday, October 14, 2020
12:00-12:30 PM (ET)

Free and open to the public

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE CONVERSATION

We’re delighted to introduce CAA members to a new series of conversations between Meme Omogbai, our executive director and CEO, and N. Elizabeth Schlatter, the president of the CAA Board of Directors. Amidst so much change in our lives, workplaces, and world, join CAA leadership for an informal chat on how CAA is reshaping its efforts to provide access and resources where members need it most. Meme and Elizabeth will speak on the economic implications of COVID-19, the urgent importance of members’ scholarship, and the changing terrain of this cultural moment.

For best results, we recommend using the most up-to-date version of Chrome as your web browser. The conversation will be recorded and shared afterwards.

We would love to hear your questions, too. Please send them in advance to: caanews@collegeart.org

SPEAKER BIOGRAPHIES

Meme Omogbai is Executive Director and CEO of College Art Association (CAA). Before joining CAA, Omogbai served as a member and past Board Chair of the New Jersey Historic Trust, one of four landmark entities dedicated to preservation of the state’s historic and cultural heritage and Montclair State University’s Advisory Board. Named one of 25 Influential Black Women in Business by The Network Journal, Meme has over 25 years of experience in corporate, government, higher education, and museum sectors. As the first American of African descent to chair the American Alliance of Museums, Omogbai led an initiative to rebrand the AAM as a global, inclusive alliance. While COO and Trustee, she spearheaded a major transformation in operating performance at the Newark Museum. During her time as Deputy Assistant Chancellor of New Jersey’s Department of Higher Education, Omogbai received Legislative acknowledgement and was recognized with the New Jersey Meritorious Service Award for her work on college affordability initiatives for families. Omogbai received her MBA from Rutgers University and holds a CPA. She did post-graduate work at Harvard University’s Executive Management Program and has earned the designation of Chartered Global Management Accountant. She studied global museum executive leadership at the J. Paul Getty Trust Museum Leadership Institute, where she also served on the faculty.

N. Elizabeth Schlatter is the President of the CAA Board of Directors and Deputy Director and Curator of Exhibitions at the University of Richmond Museums, Virginia. A museum administrator, curator, and writer, she focuses on modern and contemporary art and on topics related to curating and issues specific to university museums. At UR, she has curated more than 20 exhibitions, including recent group exhibitions of contemporary art such as “Crooked Data: (Mis)Information in Contemporary Art,” “Anti-Grand: Contemporary Perspectives on Landscape,” and “Art=Text=Art: Works by Contemporary Artists.” She also serves on and chairs various University and School of Arts & Sciences committees. Prior to the University of Richmond, she worked with exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in Washington, D.C, and in fundraising at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston. She is author of Museum Careers: A Practical Guide for Novices and Students (Left Coast Press, Inc.) and a contributor to A Life in Museums: Managing Your Museum Career (American Association of Museums). She has a BA in art history from Southwestern University in Texas, and an MA in art history from George Washington University.

The following article was written in response to a call for submissions by CAA’s International Committee. It is by Kanwal Khalid, Director of the Punjab Archives, Lahore, Pakistan, and an alumna of the CAA-Getty International Program.

Figure 1. The Punjab Archives, housed in the Tomb of Anarkali, a building from the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir (1605-1627). (All photographs in this article provided by the author)

Having spent my career as a university professor, I recently was appointed the director of the Punjab Archives in Lahore. This rich collection is one of the best in South Asia and I am pleased to share a description of the institution, which also includes a library and museum, with readers of CAA News, who will soon be able to access many of the collection’s materials online.

The history of every nation is important and documents that reveal a nation’s history become increasingly precious over time. The majority of these documents are held in archives—collections that are both accumulations of historical data and repositories of record. Pakistan contains many rich archival collections: The National Archives of Pakistan and the National Documentation Centre, both located in Islamabad; the Sindh Archives in Karachi; and the Baluchistan Archives in Quetta. But the oldest of them all is the Punjab Archives in Lahore, located inside the Tomb of Anarkali.

The Punjab Archives is significant both for the immense value of its holdings and for the historical importance of its building (Fig.1), which was built during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir (1605-1627). It was originally a tomb attributed to a woman named Anarkali, traditionally thought to be a concubine of Jahangir’s. According to the date written on the cenotaph, the monument was completed in 1615. The building has witnessed many ups and downs in its four-hundred-year history. After the annexation of Punjab by the British in 1849, the building was used as storage for documents pouring in from all parts of South Asia that were under the control of the British Raj. Two years later it became a church used for Sunday services, but in 1891 it was declared a record office.

Figure 2. Inside view of the Archives.

Punjab Archives Collection

The Punjab Archives (Figs. 2, 3a-b) holds one of the largest repositories of documents in South Asia and it is responsible for the safekeeping of official documents and records of the Pakistan government. It houses census reports, civil and military gazettes, official files, historical documents, manuscripts, handouts, brochures, pamphlets, maps, notifications, memoranda, lithographs, research papers, journals, magazines, newspapers and periodicals. Many of these cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The archive also includes a fine collection of miniature paintings and seals.

The records in the Punjab Archives date back to the seventeenth century and cover the Mughal, precolonial, colonial and postcolonial eras in South Asia. Primarily the collection consists of:

  • Persian Record of Mughal Period, 1629-1858
  • Persian Record of Sikh Period, 1799-1849
  • Akhbar Darbar-e-Lahore (Daily Court Proceedings of Sikh Rulers), 1835-1849
  • Persian Record of British Period, 1809-1890
  • Old Persian Newspapers, 1840-1845
  • Colonial Agencies Record, 1804-1849
  • Record of Princely States in Punjab, 1849-1947
  • Record After the Annexation, 1849 to 1947
  • Record After Independence, 1947

Figure 3a, b. Beautifully illuminated wooden boards used as file holders, first half of 19th century.

The Archival Library

Sir Edward Meclagan served as chancellor of University of the Punjab (1919-1924) and Governor of Punjab (1923). He was a historian whose passion for knowledge is evidenced by his donation of rare and out of print books to the Archives. This initiative led to the establishment of a small but important library that still exists today.

Figure 4. The oldest book in the Archives Library, Sir Thomas Roe’s Journal, 1616.

The collection consists of biographies, reports and travelogues. Currently the library holds more than 70,000 highly valuable reference books. The oldest book is a memoir, Journal of Sir Thomas Roe, which dates to 1616 and recounts the author’s journey to different parts of India (Fig. 4).

Figure 5. The central hall of the tomb, housing the Archives Museum.

Archives Museum

Another person who played an important role for the Archives was Lord Malcolm Hailey. He went one step beyond his predecessor and established a small museum in 1924 in the central hall of the tomb (Fig. 5). This collection, still maintained today, contains portraits of important Lahore personalities (Fig. 6), along with paintings, prints, maps and lithographs. Mughal Farmans (proclamations), important official letters, old stamps, medals, weapons, and miniatures are also on display (Fig. 7).

Digitization

Figure 7. A message from the Queen of England to the viceroy on the completion of the telegraph line to India, 1860.

Figure 6. A general of Ranjit Singh’s army, General Avitabile, early 19th century.

For the past several years, the Punjab Archives has been in the process of digitizing its collection to improve accessibility to scholars. Approximately 500,000 pages of historic documents are currently being scanned and catalogued, precluding the need to move the fragile original documents, thus minimizing their wear and tear. A web portal will make these digitized documents accessible under the authorization of the Punjab Archives. This project is a first step towards a long-term strategy of modernizing the Punjab Archives and Libraries. To date, more then 120,000 pages have been digitized. Although the project was scheduled to be completed by June 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought all activities to a standstill. Once completed, the archives online services will be a primary resource for scholars throughout the world. In the meantime we are providing information to any researcher who contacts the Archives Department by email at archivesdirectorate@gmail.com.

The following article was written in response to a call for submissions by CAA’s International Committee. It is by Tenley Bick, Assistant Professor of Global Contemporary Art, Department of Art History, Florida State University, and the 2019–20 Scholar in Residence at Magazzino Italian Art Foundation, New York. A related essay, “Ghosts for the Present: Countercultural Aesthetics and Postcoloniality for Contemporary Italy,” will be included in an edited volume forthcoming from Lexington Books.

Figure 1. “Indro Montanelli, imbrattata la statua a Milano” (Indro Montanelli, statue smeared in Milan). Corriere della Sera, June 13, 2020 (https://www.corriere.it/cronache/20_giugno_13/indro-montanelli-statua-imbrattata-81a5c120-adad-11ea-84a7-c6d5b5b928b0.shtml). Photo: AP

June 13, Milan. The 2006 monument to Italian journalist Indro Montanelli was found covered in red paint and tagged “razzista, stupratore”: racist, rapist. The intervention targeted the statue of Montanelli and the journalist’s past as a colonial soldier in East Africa. In 1935, Montanelli bought a twelve-year-old Eritrean girl, Destà, to serve as his wife under the practice of madamismo. Montanelli never apologized. The intervention ignited public debate in Italy on racism and public monuments, bringing the country popularly known for apathy toward its colonial and fascist histories, pervasive associated monuments and street names into renewed transatlantic debates on these topics. Four days prior, Italian-Somali writer Igiaba Scego, writing on anti-Black racism, Black Lives Matter, and monument debates in the United States and Europe in the Italian weekly Internazionale, made a call for Italy to confront the “uncomfortable traces of our past.” Citing an earlier intervention at the Montanelli monument in 2019, Scego noted the absent memorialization of Destà: “It would be nice if someone, whether a street artist or a municipality, dedicated a statue, a drawing, a memory to that distant child” (trans. Bick). Street artists and activists responded (Figs. 2–3). Cities did not. The Montanelli monument was cleaned and, by mayoral decision, remains in place.

Figure 2. In Milan, Italian street artist Ozmo’s mural depicts a fictional monument to Destà, the Eritrean child “bride” of Indro Montanelli, when the famous journalist was a colonial soldier. Working specifically in response to Igiaba Scego’s call, the artist used a photo of a contemporary Eritrean girl of approximately the same age as Destà upon her “marriage,” to stand defiantly in place of Montanelli on the base of his monument, relabeled in memory to “Montanelli’s child bride” (IG @ozmone, June 15). The mural was vandalized within two days. Inkjet on blueback paper, measurements to site (dimensioni ambientali). Photo by Gianfranco Candida, @wallsofmilano. Courtesy of Ozmo.

Figure 3. In Palermo, artists Mr. Cens, Betty Macaluso, and Ulrike conceived the mural depicting the vandalized monument to Montanelli and a portrait of Destà. Mr. Cens executed the large public mural. Acrylic on tissue paper, 9.8 x 9.8 ft. (3 x 3 m). Palermo, June 16, 2020. Courtesy of Mr. Cens. The mural builds upon a 2018 work by Wu Ming 2 (Giovanni Cattabriga) and Palermo-based artist collective Fare Ala (Luca Cinquemani, Andrea Di Gangi, Roberto Romano), Viva Menilicchi!, which temporarily renamed via Montanelli “via Destà.”

One of the first hotspots in the COVID-19 pandemic, Italy was then emerging from a three-month lockdown. During that time, Italian museums (public and private) became leaders in innovative arts programming for a pandemic-era world. The Museo Madre launched an #iorestoacasa “call to action” campaign, publishing artists’ responses to the pandemic online; the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna invited and posted videos about its permanent collection; the Fondazione Prada produced podcasts and alternative exhibition encounters through its #innerviews and #outerviews programs, using social media as a “laboratory” for “new formats and codes” (@FondazionePrada, Mar. 18). This innovation has since extended to safety technology. Florence’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo introduced wearable sensors to ensure social distancing—technology subsequently implemented by institutions of Italian art outside of Italy. Magazzino Italian Art Foundation (New York) is the first museum in the United States to use the technology, reopening with Homemade (cur. Vittorio Calabrese with Chiara Mannarino), an exhibition of work made during the pandemic by New-York-based Italian artists.

While the Montanelli debate coincided with a moment of reckoning for institutions in the United States and Western Europe, the overwhelming majority of art museums in Italy have not announced such programming, policy changes, or statements of solidarity. This inattention is not due to a lack of anti-racist social justice activism in Italy (Black Lives Matter Roma, Neri Italiani, the Stati Popolari movement, among others), nor is it due to an absence of Black Italians in Italian popular culture, especially in literature (Scego), cinema (Fred Kuwornu, Amin Nour), and music (Ghali).

A few exceptions demonstrate the potential for institutionally supported, sustained, collaborative programs to counter anti-Black racism in Italy. The Uffizi has partnered with Black Lives Matter Florence on a series of virtual programs to address “the presence of black culture in European art, told through the works of the Gallerie degli Uffizi” (https://www.uffizi.it/video-storie/black-presence). Organized by Justin Randolph Thompson, co-founder and director of Black History Month Florence (BHMF), in collaboration and partnership with the Uffizi as part of their On Being Present program, the eight-week series entitled “Black Presence” debuted July 4th with Thompson’s video discussion of a Piero di Cosimo work and continues with concerts and video tours on representations of Black Africans in Renaissance art. MAXXI, one of Italy’s major contemporary museums, launched a short-lived social media initiative: #MAXXIforblacklivesmatter. The campaign “aims in raising awareness and consciousness of the @blklivesmatter movement through art” (@museomaxxi). With eighteen tagged Instagram posts (most recently dated June 17), the museum posted images of BLM protests in Italy and works by African and African diaspora artists Robin Rhode, John Akomfrah, and Yinka Shonibare from MAXXI’s 2018–19 exhibitions. The initiative was highlighted on June 12 by Italian-Haitian-Ghanaian cultural curator and Griot founder Johanne Affricot in an essay for Artribune as a “necessary” if late action amidst the generally delayed response from arts and culture in Italy to BLM in comparison to the global context (“Black Lives Matter ma non in Italia. Il ritardo dell’arte e della cultura nel paese,” June 12). Program information is notably no longer available on MAXXI’s bio.

Beyond these varied efforts, Black artists have been included in major museum and gallery exhibitions, and Black curators have curated exhibitions at prominent museums, but these figures are almost always non-Italian artists and art workers. While Italy is becoming increasingly multi-ethnic (and multi-racial), the country does not track ethno-racial statistics (Reynolds 2018, BBC; Ambrosetti and Cela 2015). Instead, citizenship and place of birth serve as “proxies” for race and ethnicity (Ambrosetti and Cela 2015). This is one of many reasons—from racial laws under fascism to renewed racism in response to cross-Mediterranean migration—why Blackness in Italy is most associated with foreign identity (with populations of African migrants, immigrants, and residents) rather than with Italian identity as well.

Two Afro-Italian artists—Jem Perucchini (b. 1995) and Luigi Christopher Veggetti Kanku (b. 1979), both based in Milan—are making inroads that might change that. Perucchini made a series of portraits of Black Italians in history for Vogue Italia during Black History Month (see Jordan Anderson, Mar. 12, 2020) (Fig. 4).

Figure 4. Jem Perucchini’s Alessandro Sinigaglia (2020) depicts a little-known Black, Jewish Italian member of Italy’s anti-fascist resistance during World War II. Oil on linen, 15.75 x 12 in. (40 x 30 cm). Courtesy of Jem Perucchini.

Harper’sBazaarTV followed with a “visual interview” in mid-July. When asked “What colour is your world, these days?” the Ethiopian-Italian artist responded: “Certainly my world now is black in color. I think it is the color that is most suited to represent the situation that the whole world is experiencing, in terms of sanitary, economic, social problems” (interview by Laura Taccari, trans. Bick). At the end of lockdown, Perucchini had completed a large painting of the Stele of Axum: the ancient obelisk that Italy returned to Ethiopia in 2005, nearly seventy years after stealing it as war spoils (Zoom interview with Bick, Fig. 5).

Figure 5. Jem Perucchini, Axum, 2020. Oil on linen, 55 x 43 in. (140 x 110 cm). Courtesy of Jem Perucchini. Completed during the lockdown, Perucchini’s Axum depicts the fourth-century stele that was taken as war spoils during Italy’s second colonial invasion of Ethiopia. The stele remained on display in Rome for nearly seventy years.

Veggetti Kanku (represented by Galleria Rubin, Milan) has confronted the institutional and cultural marginalization of Black people in Italy directly. In late June, the Congolese-Italian artist held a soft opening of a new exhibition space in Milan’s center for Afro-Italian artists (Zoom interview with Bick, Jun. 29). Entitled The Office, the evenings-and-weekends-only arts space is a legal office during regular business hours. Veggetti Kanku’s monumental portraits of Black women (Fig. 6), intended to bring Black figures into (white) Italian bourgeois homes (Griot, Mar. 25; Zoom interview with Bick), hang in the space, to be inaugurated this fall with his solo show SOTTOPELLE: “A show dedicated to black women, inclusive of social status, a show that destabilizes and puts up for discussion the canons of strictly Western beauty in an ever-increasing multi-ethnic Italian reality” (Veggetti Kanku, email correspondence with the author, July 16, trans. Bick).

Figure 6. Luigi Christopher Veggetti Kanku, Untitled, 2020. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 65 x 39 in. (165 x 100 cm). Veggetti Kanku’s monumental portraits of Black women will be exhibited in his solo show, SOTTOPELLE (UNDERSKIN) at his new space for Afro-Italian artists, The Office, located in the center of Milan.

The museum complex now perhaps most directly engaged with Italy’s colonial history, the Museo delle Civiltà (home to Italy’s national ethnographic museum and partial repository of Italy’s colonial collection, formerly at the Museo Coloniale di Roma and various iterations that followed), has announced plans for a new museum (in development since 2017) dedicated to Italian colonialism in Africa (including postcolonial periods and an engagement with contemporary art): the Museo Italo-Africano Ilaria Alpi, to open in 2023. (See Scego, and Giulia Grechi and Viviana Gravano’s interview with colonial collections’ curator and cultural anthropologist Rosa Anna Di Lella in Roots–Routes). As Italy begins to address the presentness of its colonial past, the absence of Black Italian artists in Italy’s museums and galleries persists. What might a Perucchini or Veggetti Kanku exhibition look like at MAXXI or the Galleria Nazionale? What might happen if the innovation of Italian arts programming and centrality of the arts to Italian identity made space for the multi-ethnicity of Italy today? It remains to be seen if and how the country’s art museums and galleries—leaders in arts programming in many ways—will address racial inequity in their own collections.

Filed under: Art History, Artists, International

In Memoriam: Richard Brettell

posted by August 11, 2020

Dr. Richard (Rick) Brettell.

We were saddened to learn of the passing of longtime CAA member Dr. Richard Brettell last month at the age of 71. Dr. Brettell was a tireless advocate for the arts, a well-respected scholar, former director of the Dallas Museum of Art, and founding director of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History at the University of Texas, Dallas. Read an remembrance by Jonathan D. Katz, Interim Director, Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies and Associate Professor of Practice in the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, below.

In Memoriam

Richard (Rick) Brettell died July 24, 2020 in Dallas after a long battle with prostate cancer—and entirely characteristically, he was working until the very end. A tireless advocate for the arts in general, for French Impressionism in particular and for Texas artists and the local cultural scene, Brettell spanned genres, chronologies, nationalities and professions with an acrobatic grace. He was a world class scholar, a museum director and builder, and above all a connector, of people to ideas, of money to institutions, of museums in France to museums in the US, of friends to other friends. Seemingly limitless in his capacity to extend friendship and take it up again, I’m sure there are legions out there who think Rick was their best friend. A man of sure and independent judgment, Brettell was as thrilled to bring attention to an underknown or even unsung artist as he was to Gauguin, and approached both with the same profound curiosity and boosterism.

A graduate of Yale University, Brettell’s dissertation on Pissarro set the pattern for the rest of his life. Once he became interested in something, he would not only write about it, he’d also work up an exhibition spotlighting it—in this case, the very first international Pissarro exhibition, curated when he was still quite young. He turned his enthusiasms into scholarship with a speed and assurance that suggested he saw no difference between the two modes. And the goal was always the same, to kindle the viewer’s own enthusiasm, to seduce close looking and careful thought and make art history, art criticism, and art appreciation one and the same.

Initially hired as a professor at the University of Texas, in 1980 Brettell left Texas to become the Searle Curator of European Painting at the Art Institute of Chicago. Renovating and reinstalling the Art Institute’s vast European art collection hardly impeded the string of notable international exhibitions he curated, most centrally the one that earned him the honor of being named a Chevalier (Arts et Lettres) by the French government: A Day in the Country, Impressionism and the French Landscape.  Because Brettell traveled in some of the most rarified circles in the country, his genuine friendships with some of the country’s wealthiest citizens made him a rainmaker in a class by himself. When he was a curator at the Art Institute of Chicago and I was still a grad student, I remember visiting him at the museum to ask about the whereabouts of a specific Gauguin painting, the subject of a paper I was assigned. Rick reached down to the safe at his feet, opened it, pulled it out and nonchalantly asked, “this one?”

In 1988, Brettell moved to Dallas to become the McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. There he continued to develop important international exhibitions—including a new emphasis on the arts of Latin America and Africa—while also raising the funds to build a major new wing. In 1998, Brettell became the Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair in Art and Aesthetic Studies at the University of Texas, Dallas (UTD). He would soon transform UTD, bringing in such transformational gifts as a huge endowment to build the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History. With the assistance of Margaret McDermott, in 2017 Brettell created a $150,000 bi-annual lifetime achievement in the arts award, The Richard Brettell Award in the Arts. The following year, he acquired the Barrett collection of Swiss art for UTD, consisting of 400 works, including a large percentage by the Swiss 19th/early 20th-century master Ferdinand Hodler. And last year, he helped UTD acquire the extensive Crow Collection of Asian Art, along with 23 million dollars to build a new museum, the second for the collection, on campus. A lifelong student of architecture, he helped to found the Dallas Architecture Forum. Many doubtless fondly remember his loud, enthusiastic, no holds barred architecture tours, where he would alternately vigorously praise and vehemently excoriate architects, and the houses and institutions they built.

Brettell was the author of numerous books and catalogs, including the editor of the forthcoming Gauguin catalogue raisonné. As a leading international specialist in French art history, he joined forces with his friend Elizabeth Rohatyn, then the wife of the Ambassador to France under Clinton, and Françoise Cachin, former Director of the French National Museums, to found an organization called  FRAME (French/Regional/American Museum Exchange). He directed this project in cultural diplomacy bringing together twelve French and twelve American museums to cooperatively share works and develop exhibitions. For this effort, he was named a  Commandeur in the French Order of Arts et Lettres. For decades, Brettell was loyally assisted by Pierrette Lacour, who shared his grand visions, but was rather more attentive to the nuts and bolts work of bringing them about. 

Immensely erudite, opinionated, and frank, Brettell would assert that fame was no barometer of quality. He loved complicated, intelligent work regardless of the artist’s standing. He boosted Texas artists in general, and none more so than James Magee, an artist he frequently called the most underrated in the country. He was central to the ongoing effort to protect  Magee’s extraordinary project in the desert outside of El Paso, The Hill, a hand-built mytho-poetic compound that has taken the bulk of Magee’s artistic life.

A famous raconteur, fabulous cook, witty tour guide, emotional lover of beauty and gossip, Brettell was roundly adored. He leaves behind his wife Caroline, his 94 year-old mother, his assistant Pierrette, and legions on every continent who basked, however briefly, in the warmth of his attention. A celebration of his life will be held at a later date. But those who wish to remember Brettell are encouraged to make donations to the University of Texas at Dallas’ Richard Robson Brettell Reading Room in the future UTD Athenaeum, which Brettell helped conceive.

Remembrance by Jonathan D. Katz.

Filed under: Art History, Obituaries

From left to right: Natalia Nakazawa, Meme Omogbai, and Deborah Obalil.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020
2 PM – 3:15 PM (ET)

RSVP HERE

Hosted by Art World Conference

Facilitator: Natalia Nakazawa, Artist, Arts Administrator, and Educator

Participants: Deborah Obalil, President and Executive Director of AICAD; Meme Omogbai, Executive Director and CEO of CAA

In 2020, colleges and universities across the world have rushed to adapt to a new reality that questions the very nature of their work: a pandemic sent students home and protests shone a spotlight on inequality supported by many of our institutions, including those in higher education. Since March, everyone involved in education has had to rethink fundamentals and challenge core assumptions ranging from the format of instruction to what and who creates value. Since arts education is historically vulnerable to funding cuts and much of the instruction relies on hands-on studio classes, specialized equipment, in-person mentorship, and tuition dollars, the systemic changes necessary to thrive require radical, ethical thinking. What are the responsibilities and priorities being considered going into this exceptional academic year?

Artist and educator Natalia Nakazawa will facilitate a discussion between two important leaders in arts education: Deborah Obalil, the President and Executive Director of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), and Meme Omogbai, the Executive Director and CEO of the College Art Association (CAA). Both institutions support and advocate for artists, arts workers, and scholars in the art and design fields. Together, they will discuss the evolving paths forward for higher education in the arts, including structural changes and very significant challenges. What is the role of higher education in times of crisis? Since creativity is nurtured by the institutions they oversee, what are the creative solutions being implemented to address health concerns, anti-racism efforts, adjunct culture, and affordability? What are their hopes and expectations for the future?

This 75-minute webinar is designed with everyone in the art world from current students to artists, arts administrators, and art historians in mind. Questions submitted during registration will be incorporated into the discussion as appropriate.

RSVP HERE

PARTICIPANT BIOGRAPHIES

Natalia Nakazawa is a Queens-based interdisciplinary artist working across the mediums of painting, textiles, and social practice. Utilizing strategies drawn from a range of experiences in the fields of education, arts administration, and community activism, Nakazawa negotiates spaces between institutions and individuals, often inviting participation and collective imagining. She has held the position of Assistant Director of EFA Studios for over 8 years, supporting a large network of contemporary artists through subsidized studio spaces and professional practice opportunities in midtown Manhattan. Nakazawa received her MFA in studio practice from California College of the Arts, a MSEd from Queens College, and a BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work has recently been exhibited at Wave Hill (Bronx, NY), Arlington Arts Center (Washington, DC), Transmitter Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), Wassaic Project (Wassaic, NY), The Old Stone House in Brooklyn (Brooklyn, NY), and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY). Nakazawa has been an artist-in-residence at MASS MoCA, SPACE on Ryder Farm, The Children’s Museum of Manhattan, and Wassaic Project. She teaches at CUNY.

Deborah Obalil has over twenty years experience as a leader in the national arts and culture industry. She was appointed the Executive Director of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design (AICAD) in June 2012, and then President in the fall 2015. Prior to her appointment with AICAD, Obalil operated a successful boutique arts management consulting firm, Obalil & Associates for four years. The firm provided consultation and facilitation in strategic business planning, marketing research and planning, and board development for non-profit arts organizations, independent artists of all disciplines, and creative for-profit ventures. Obalil has also served as Executive Director of the Alliance of Artists Communities and Director of Arts Marketing Center & Research at the Arts & Business Council of Chicago.

Meme Omogbai is Executive Director and CEO of College Art Association (CAA), the preeminent international support organization for professionals in the visual arts. Before joining CAA, Omogbai served as a member and past Board Chair of the New Jersey Historic Trust, one of four landmark entities dedicated to preservation of the state’s historic and cultural heritage and Montclair State University’s Advisory Board. Named one of 25 Influential Black Women in Business by The Network Journal, Meme has over 25 years of experience in corporate, government, higher education, and museum sectors. As the first American of African descent to chair the American Alliance of Museums, Omogbai led an initiative to rebrand the AAM as a global, inclusive alliance. While COO and Trustee, she spearheaded a major transformation in operating performance at the Newark Museum. During her time as Deputy Assistant Chancellor of New Jersey’s Department of Higher Education, Omogbai received Legislative acknowledgement and was recognized with the New Jersey Meritorious Service Award for her work on college affordability initiatives for families. Omogbai received her MBA from Rutgers University and holds a CPA. She did post-graduate work at Harvard University’s Executive Management Program and has earned the designation of Chartered Global Management Accountant. She studied global museum executive leadership at the J. Paul Getty Trust Museum Leadership Institute, where she also served on the faculty.

RAAMP (Resources for Academic Art Museum Professionals) has a new home! Moving forward, you can find all the resources you know and love here on our website at: collegeart.org/raamp

A project of CAA with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, RAAMP aims to strengthen the educational mission of academic museums and their parent organizations by providing a publicly accessible repository of resources, online forums, and relevant news and information. RAAMP’s coffee gatherings and video practica cover a wide variety of topics including advocacy, engagement, curricula building, cross-disciplinary collaboration, technology, development, and censorship.

EXPLORE RAAMP

To receive updates and invitations to upcoming RAAMP programming, sign up for the RAAMP mailing list.

For any questions regarding the RAAMP program, please contact Cali Buckley, grants and special programs manager, at: cbuckley@collegeart.org

Coffee Gathering: Reimagining Engagement in Academic Art Museums

On Thursday, July 23, 2020 at 2:00 PM (EDT) CAA’s Cali Buckley will speak with Berit Ness, Assistant Curator of Academic Initiatives, Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, and Celka Straughn, Andrew W. Mellon Director of Academic Programs at the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas. To RSVP to this Coffee Gathering, please fill out this form

Berit Ness is the Assistant Curator for Academic Initiatives at the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, where she oversees the museum’s active study room, manages curricular exhibitions, and serves as a specialist for the museum’s permanent collection. She regularly engages with UChicago faculty and students to foster interdisciplinary approaches for using the museum’s collections and exhibitions as a resource for teaching and learning. Berit has co-organized curricular-driven exhibitions such as Down Time: On the Art of Retreat and The History of Perception.

Since joining the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas in 2009 Celka Straughn has worked to integrate the museum into the life of the university, and university teaching, learning, research and other activities into the life of the museum. This includes collaborative exhibition projects with faculty and students, such as American Dream, a student-generated exhibition with Dr. Ellen Raimond in conjunction with the 2016 KU Common Book (2017). Her teaching and scholarly work on museums explores collecting practices, museums and markets, colonial and global museum discourses, cross-disciplinary museum learning and engagement, and museum ethics. She regularly teaches courses for KU’s Honors Program, and is affiliate faculty in Museum Studies and German Studies. From 2012-2019 she served on the CAA Museum Committee and contributed to the formation of RAAMP.

The COVID-19 pandemic and greater awakening of museums to the pandemic of structural racism have further pushed museums to rethink how they engage with their communities. For museums embedded within colleges and universities, this has brought a reexamination of the fundamental ways they act as sites for teaching and learning on campus. As educational institutions are pivoting to new curricular models for socially-distanced and remote learning, campus museums also have to envision new ways to support teaching with art. How can academic museums learn from these experiences to strengthen their missions for inclusion and accessibility, meet emerging academic and community needs, and catalyze structural change?

This participatory conversation is designed to bring colleagues together in discussion. The bulk of the session will take place in smaller break-out rooms for participants to individually share and learn from each other. Below are some prompts for generating conversations.

Prompts

  1. What is the landscape of teaching at your institution this the fall?
  2. How is your museum reimagining engagement with your academic and public audiences?
  3. Are there any pedagogical methods, programs, or projects that felt successful last spring?
  4. What are some strategies you are planning/developing?
  5. What are your persistent challenges and what further resources are needed?
  6. How might this moment inform your future practice?
If you have examples of class sessions, assignments, or other resources that you are willing to share with colleagues, RAAMP can host them. We will also have a shared document for models and ideas as well as questions during the breakout sessions. 

RAAMP Coffee Gatherings are monthly virtual chats aimed at giving participants an opportunity to informally discuss a topic that relates to their work as academic art museum professionals. Learn more here.

Submit to RAAMP

RAAMP (Resources for Academic Art Museum Professionals) aims to strengthen the educational mission of academic art museums by providing a publicly accessible repository of resources, online forums, and relevant news and information. Visit RAAMP to discover the newest resources and contribute.

RAAMP is a project of CAA with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

 

Coffee Gathering: Gender Equity in the Museum (and Arts) Workplace

On Thursday, July 2 at 2:00 PM (EST) we will speak with Anne Ackerson and Joan Baldwin on gender equity in museums and workplaces.

To RSVP to this Coffee Gathering, please fill out this form

A former museum director, Joan H. Baldwin is the Curator of Special Collections at The Hotchkiss School. She is the principal writer for the Leadership Matters blog which had 55,000 views in 2018. Her work has also appeared in The Museum Blog Book, “History News,” and “Museum” Magazine, Museopunks, and “The Guardian.” She is a co-founder of the Gender Equity in Museums Movement, and teaches in the Johns Hopkins University museum studies program. With Anne Ackerson, she is the co-author of Leadership Matters (2013) and Women in the Museum: Lessons from the Field (2017). She and Ackerson published a revision of Leadership Matters: Leading Museums in an Age of Discord in August 2019.

Anne W. Ackerson is a former history museum director, director of the Museum Association of New York, and director of the national Council of State Archivists. She is currently an independent consultant to cultural and educational nonprofits, specializing in leadership, governance, and management issues. With Joan H. Baldwin, she is the co-author of Leadership Matters, a book examining history museum leadership for the 21st century, and Women in the Museum: Lessons from the Workplace. She is a co-founder of the Gender Equity in Museums Movement (GEMM), which is focusing its recent efforts on education, advocacy, and policy development around pay equity, salary transparency, and sexual harassment in the museum workplace. In 2018, she and Baldwin spearheaded research, revealing that 62% of the museum workforce are affected by some form of gender discrimination. In addition to research and writing about gender inequity, she and Baldwin have presented their findings to the Texas and Pennsylvania Associations of Museums as conference keynoters and via their blog, Leadership Matters.

RAAMP Coffee Gatherings are monthly virtual chats aimed at giving participants an opportunity to informally discuss a topic that relates to their work as academic art museum professionals. Learn more here.

Submit to RAAMP

RAAMP (Resources for Academic Art Museum Professionals) aims to strengthen the educational mission of academic art museums by providing a publicly accessible repository of resources, online forums, and relevant news and information. Visit RAAMP to discover the newest resources and contribute.

RAAMP is a project of CAA with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.