CAA News Today

IN MEMORIAM: Wilbur Niewald

posted by May 11, 2022

Wilbur Niewald, a longtime CAA member and artist, recently passed away at the age of 97. He was professor emeritus at the Kansas City Art Institute and a recipient of CAA’s Distinguished Teaching of Art Award in 1988.

Read more about Wilbur’s life and work here.

Filed under: Obituaries

In Memoriam: Dr. Margaret Rose Vendryes

posted by May 11, 2022

Dr. Margaret Rose Vendryes unexpectedly passed away on March 30, 2022. A former member of CAA, Dr. Vendryes was most recently appointed as the incoming Dean of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University. Dr. Vendryes Professor was in the Department of Performing and Fine Arts and Director of the Fine Arts Gallery at York College at the City University of New York (CUNY) and Professor of Art History for more than two decades. Additional information on the life and work of Dr. Vendryes can be found in the announcement Tufts University issues upon her appointment as Dean. That announcement can be found here.

Filed under: Obituaries

IN MEMORIAM: CHARLES DEMPSEY

posted by March 03, 2022

Longtime CAA member and renowned art historian, Charles Dempsey, passed away on February 22, 2022. Professor emeritus in the Department of the History of Art in Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Dempsey’s specialized in Renaissance and Baroque art. In his long career, Dempsey mentored hundreds of students and shaped his field, publishing widely, including in CAA’s The Art Bulletin. He also received CAA’s A. Kingsley Porter Prize. To read more about his life and career, please visit this page.

Filed under: Obituaries

IN MEMORIAM: CARMEN HERRERA

posted by February 15, 2022

Image source: The New York Times by Todd Heisler

CAA mourns the loss of artist Carmen Herrera who died February 12, 2022 at the age of 106. Recognized by CAA in 2016 as the Distinguished Artist for Lifetime Achievement, Herrera’s career received attention in the last few decades of her life. Born in Cuba in 1915, she originally studied architecture but switched her focus to painting when she moved to New York City in the 1930s. At the age of 89 in 2004, she had her first major show and review at Manhattan’s Latin Collector Gallery. Now her minimalist and hard-edged paintings, with a focus on line, form, and color, are widely celebrated in the collections of major museums around the world. In a 2009 interview she said, “It’s a compulsion that also gives me pleasure. I never in my life had any idea of money and I thought fame was a very vulgar thing. . . . And at the end of my life, I’m getting a lot of recognition, to my amazement and my pleasure.”

Filed under: Obituaries

In Memoriam: Jonathan Brown

posted by January 19, 2022

Image source: Institute of Fine Arts, New York University


CAA mourns the loss of Jonathan Brown, an art historian and curator who has had an immense impact on the study of art in the Hispanic world. With over fifty-one years of teaching, eight at Princeton and forty-three at the Institute of Fine Arts (IFA), Brown’s influence was far-reaching. As he put it, “Without modesty, I believe I have made a mark in my field—Hispanic art—and in the wider world of art history.”

As a student at the beginning of his career, Brown studied Spanish literature at Dartmouth College and studied abroad in Madrid, where he discovered and cultivated his lifelong interest in Velázquez and Spanish Baroque art. After finishing his doctorate at Princeton in 1964, he joined the Princeton Department of Art and Archeology from 1965–73 and then ultimately decided to pursue scholarship and teaching, publishing his first book in 1973 based on his dissertation, Images and Ideas in Seventeenth-Century Spanish Painting. He said that he was told “that it fell like a bombshell in the ranks of Spanish art historians. Implicitly, the book created a bridge between the iconographical approach of Panofsky and a contextual reading . . . ” This was just the start of a long career that included exhibitions at major museums, scholarly publications, awards, and other accomplishments. In his tenure, his work shaped the study of Spanish Baroque art and defined the practice of Velázquez, producing texts and surveys that have become standard references for the field. In the last decades of his life, as the Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts at the IFA, he expanded his practice to include Hispanic and colonial art in the Americas.

In 2011, Brown served as the Distinguished Scholar for CAA’s Annual Conference. This honor invites preeminent scholars in the field to participate in a session at the conference along colleagues and former students. The session can therefore be viewed as the equivalent of a living Festschrift: an occasion for applauding, examining, and extending a distinguished career in art history and an opportunity for encouraging dialogue between and among several generations of scholars. In recognizing the significance of this moment, he said that he had “received many awards for my contributions to the field, of which the most important is the Distinguished Scholar by the College Art Association . . .”

Read more about the remarkable career of Jonathan Brown here.

Filed under: Obituaries

IN MEMORIAM: Amy Kirschke

posted by December 14, 2021

Longtime CAA member, Amy Kirschke, passed away on November 27, 2021. Kirschke was a UNCW faculty member, a recent department chair, and a Professor Emerita in Art and Art History.  Her family has established the UNCW Dr. Amy Kirschke Scholarship in Art and Art History in her memory.

Amy Kirschke specialized in modern art, including the art of the African Diaspora and African contemporary art and was a prolific scholar and professor. She published, edited, and contributed to several books including Aaron Douglas: Art, Race and the Harlem Renaissance (1995, University Press of Mississippi), Art in Crisis: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Art of African American Identity and Memory (2007, Indiana University Press), Women Artists of the Harlem Renaissance. (2014, Mississippi University Press), and Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist (Yale University Press, 2007).

Image source.

Filed under: Obituaries

In Memoriam: Robert Farris Thompson

posted by December 10, 2021

Robert Farris Thompson

Robert Farris Thompson, an eminent art historian recognized for his field-leading research and writing on the art, history, culture, dance, and music of Africa and the Afro-Atlantic world, and who was the longest serving head of college in Yale’s history, died on Nov. 29. He was 88.

Thompson was professor emeritus of African American studies and the former Colonel John Trumbull Professor of the History of Art at Yale. For more than a half-century on Yale’s faculty, and during his 32 years as “Master T” at the helm of Timothy Dwight College, he secured his place in the pantheon of beloved professors and university leaders.

In recognizing Thompson with its inaugural Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Art in 2003, the College Art Association described him as a “towering figure in the history of art, whose voice for diversity and cultural openness has made him a public intellectual of resounding importance.” In May 2021 he was honored with an honorary degree from Yale celebrating his lifetime of academic achievement.

Above excerpts and image from, “Robert Farris Thompson, pioneer in study of African and Afro-Atlantic art,” YaleNews (December 1, 2021). Please click this link to read the full article.

 

Filed under: Obituaries

In Memoriam: Julie L. Green

posted by November 04, 2021

Artist Julie Green in front of one of their pieces in The Armory Show 2020, which included a salon-style presentation of Fashion Plate works, painted on Chinet plates and platters. (Photo by Theo Downes-Le Guin/Upfor Gallery)

Artist and educator Julie Green died at home on Tuesday, October 12, 2021. Green (who preferred gender neutral pronouns) was diagnosed with ovarian cancer nearly two years ago.

Julie Lynn Green was born in 1961 in Yokosuka, Japan to Frederick William (Bill) Green and Jane Green. Green’s birth wasn’t without excitement: their father was airlifted by helicopter off a Navy ship to support Jane during pregnancy complications. Both mother and child were fine. As a child, Green lived in Washington State, Ohio, New Jersey, Illinois, and Iowa, where they attended Des Moines Roosevelt High School, graduating in 1979. From an early age, Green shared their mother’s passion for creative projects, thriving as an artist and performing with a high school mime group. One of Green’s favorite pastimes was to play Scrabble with grandmother “GrandMary.” In 1995, Green married longtime partner Clay Lohmann, who encouraged a lifelong interest in yoga and expanded Green’s artistic pursuits.

Green wrote that they wanted to be a stewardess until age four, but became a painter instead. Green received a B.F.A. and M.F.A. from The University of Kansas, studying with noted artist Roger Shimomura, who remained a lifelong mentor and friend. Green joined the faculty at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon in 2000 as a professor in the Art and Art History Department. While garnering admiration and affection from a generation of students, Green also maintained an active studio practice. Green started their best-known work, a series of paintings on second-hand plates depicting the last meal requests of death row prisoners titled The Last Supper, in 2000. A few weeks before their death, Green decided to end the project at 1,000 plates. The first 800 plates are currently on view at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Bellevue, Washington.

Green worked in a variety of mediums but identified primarily as a painter, often combining humble materials and techniques with art historical traditions. Green painted on linens, Tyvek, and Chinet-brand paper plates as well as paper and canvas, with pigments from sources as diverse as industrial waste byproducts, rare earth elements and 7UP. Awarded a Hallie Ford Fellowship in the Visual Arts from The Ford Family Foundation, Green’s accolades also included grants and fellowships from the Oregon Arts Commission, the ArtPrize 3-D Juried Award, and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant. Green’s work was featured in a variety of publications and programs including The New York Times, Rolling Stone, NPR, and PBS, and was exhibited widely in museums and galleries throughout the United States. Green’s final public exhibition in their lifetime, at The Armory Show in New York in 2020, garnered the Presents Award.

Green was preceded in death by their father Frederick WIlliam Green. Green is survived by their husband, artist Clay Lohmann, brother Scott Green, and mother Jane Hamilton.

–Theo Downes-Le Guin and Scott Green

Filed under: Obituaries

Remembering Rick Asher

posted by July 13, 2021

Rick Asher

Rick Asher. Photograph by Ben Fractenberg.

Frederick M. Asher, beacon of collegiality and builder of institutions, died on June 26, 2021, having turned 80 just one month earlier. His generosity of spirit guided many scholars through their graduate years and beyond: at the University of Minnesota, where he spent his academic career, and around the world. With Catherine B. Asher, his wife and fellow historian of South Asian art, he led initiatives to document and preserve images of art, archaeological, and architectural objects and sites in India; mentored numerous colleagues and students; and contributed his energies to making academic organizations flourish across the world. He was an early, active member of the American Council for Southern Asian Art (ACSAA); served as president of the American Institute of Indian Studies; and played many roles at CAA, most recently as part of the CAA-Getty International Program where his energies encouraged many of us to reach out across physical and intellectual distances to begin new conversations.  

His early research, published in 1980 as The Art of Eastern India, 300–800 (Minnesota), draws connections across the Gupta and Pala eras, thinking deeply about continuities across media—terracotta, bronze, and stone—and across belief systems. His subsequent research led him to study contemporary sculptural practices as a way of understanding the work of unnamed historical sculptors and to a deep engagement with the materiality, crafting, and afterlives of both sculptural objects and the sites where they were worshipped and excavated. His final book, Sarnath: A Critical History of the Place Where Buddhism Began (Getty 2020), published just months before his death, focused on the place where the historical Buddha preached his first sermon, tracing the establishment, excavation, and reimagining of the monastic site from that founding moment to the present. In April, Rick discussed the book with James Cuno for a Getty podcast, giving us a glimpse into his intellectual process and offering many of us a reminder of the rhythms of his class lectures. With his students, Rick always ran toward questions and tantalizing bits of information, wondering at what we don’t know about the past and at the same time marveling at contemporary uses of ancient sculptures and sites. At Sarnath, this meant both the tourists shuttling in from Varanasi with their local guides (guides who almost certainly had met Rick and discussed their mutual love of the site with him) and the international monastic Buddhist communities with pilgrimage centers nearby. Rick cared deeply about his students, and his engaging, dynamic teaching was renowned. He received the University of Minnesota’s Morse-Alumni Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2005–2006, one of his most treasured moments of recognition.  

I was incredibly fortunate to visit Sarnath for the first time with Rick and Cathy as part of a trip they organized for the cohort of graduate students in the late 1990s. The trip was exemplary of the Ashers’ generosity and openness—recognizing the hurdles associated with pursuing academic research in India, they sought to pass on their extensive experience by offering us the opportunity to shadow them in their respective projects. Rick had been working with a scientist at the University of Minnesota to ascertain the locations of quarries for various Pala-era (8th–12th century) sculptures by matching stone samples. The project focused on both the materiality and the process of crafting the sculptures—he considered how stone was separated from the earth, how it would have been chosen for a sculpture, and then how it was carefully carved with the detailed iconographies of a Vishnu or a Tara.1 The project’s success relied on his ability to bring people together in a common project: Rick recruited curators and conservators at museums around the world to undertake the delicate process of excising a thin section from the back of these sculptures to compare to the samples he gathered from quarries in Bihar and Bengal. It was this latter piece of the project that he embarked on that summer, taking two of us green graduate students with him into remote areas of Bihar, where we stayed in dak bungalows (remnants of the nineteenth-century postal system) and revisited many of his early research sites from his own graduate days. Rick’s enthusiasm for reconnecting with the people of the region and introducing us to them still resonates with me today, guiding my own fieldwork experiences beyond the inert object to understand the deep interconnections between art, history, and the people who made and continue to interact with the “works of art” we study, works that remain very much alive in the present. 

Rick had an incredible gift for open and positive leadership. He hosted ACSAA’s first conference in 1981, and he made sure that the group served as a space of warm, collegial exchange as it grew over the decades. He attended every conference, symposium, workshop, and meeting, seeking out the panels where colleagues and former students were presenting. He would often ask the first question, to draw out commonalities across a diverse panel and also, I came to realize, to facilitate discussion and to give everyone else in the audience time to formulate their own questions. It was primarily at conferences that he would make connections between scholars, a kind of academic matchmaking, if you will. One of the truths of my academic life is that if we have met, Rick probably introduced us. He would stride over, beaming, happy to see you, and then almost immediately say, “there’s someone here you should meet.” Then he would bound off, urging you to follow, to joyfully connect you to a towering senior scholar or newly minted PhD, offering a few choice intellectual threads to solidify the link. Rick understood that the big institutions—CAA prominent among them—only worked because of the dedication of an interconnected group of individuals who recognized their shared commitment to the field. These introductions wove the fabric of these institutions such that when he passed, my email inbox was filled with loving notes and remembrances from colleagues around the world—his colleagues, and also, because of him, my colleagues. 

Rick, whose intellectual pursuits focused on the material connections between works of art and people and who cared deeply for makers of objects and sites and the ways in which places and people shaped one another over time, thus continues to connect us even at the moment of his passing. His own post-history has yet to be written, but I have a strong feeling that his energy and presence will be with us at each future academic meeting, in each future encounter. So wonderful to see you! Come, there’s someone here you should meet. 

–Rebecca M. Brown, Johns Hopkins University 

Filed under: Obituaries

In Memory of Moira Roth

posted by June 29, 2021

Moira Roth, photo by Max Kozloff, courtesy of Sue Heinemann

Moira Roth, photo by Max Kozloff, courtesy of Sue Heinemann

Moira Roth, one of the last of the founding generation of feminist art historians, died on June 14, 2021, at the age of 87. Famously warm, gracious, and charming, Roth was an outsized figure in progressive art history who treated internationally celebrated artists and her Mills College undergraduates with equal solicitousness and respect. Despite a perfectly preserved British accent after over fifty years in the US, she identified with outsiders, chiefly those who stood as the obverse of her own origins, e.g., African Americans, Jews, queers, Asian Americans—the women among them most of all. Persistent and profoundly subversive, she could electrify: at a conference on John Cage shortly after his death, amidst a welter of traditional academic papers, Roth simply read the day’s New York Times front page, a perfectly Cageian act that at once brilliantly distilled his aesthetic politics and echoed his repeated attempts to link his art with a larger politics of power and control.

A pioneering figure in multiple fields, Roth cofounded, with Flo Oy Wong and Betty Kano, the Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA) in San Francisco and wrote one of the earliest articles in queer studies in art history, her celebrated 1977 “The Aesthetic of Indifference” about the queer post–Abstract Expressionist generation of Johns, Rauschenberg, Cage, etc. That article became, for me and many others, a singular intellectual touchstone, demonstrating not only that a queer art history was possible, but that taking sexuality seriously offered up a new and powerful lens to the field. Equally precocious was her The Amazing Decade: Women and Performance Art, 1970–1980, an important archival resource published in 1983 that also anticipated the development of a new field. Roth was a scholar, a celebrated interviewer of artists, a poet, performance artist, and dinner host extraordinaire. Long after the era of Bay Area communes, friendship for her was something she took very seriously—a way of being in the world in close communion and interdependence with the like-minded, creating a coalition of mutual support and activist change.

Roth’s generosity was legendary, with students, colleagues, and artists alike. Those of us lucky enough to be invited to dinner would find a beautifully set, colorful table, always water in blue bottles, a written menu of dishes lovingly wrought from the wonders of Berkeley’s farmers’ markets, and Roth at her most wistful; indeed, dinners were often moved back in time and place to reflect her current imaginative engagements. The twinned currents of her life, friendship and scholarship, often intertwined, and artists, scholars, and students were frequent dinner guests in her Berkeley home with its laden lemon tree right by the door. Her generosity toward younger scholars knew no bounds, and she generously promoted their work to editors seeking her contribution. When she was approached about publishing a volume of her early work on the post–Abstract Expressionist generation, she asked me to contribute a critique of her early works from a queer studies perspective, knowing full well that as much as I loved her early writing, I also felt it didn’t go far enough in its queer analysis. The book that resulted from that astounding act of generosity, Difference/ Indifference: Musings on Postmodernism, Marcel Duchamp and John Cage, was couched less as a tribute to her historical import and more as a present-tense debate over politics and methods—a classically Roth move to all who knew her.

Roth was an artist in her own right, doing performances, writing short stories and poems, traveling the world to offer up criticism while exploring new national cultures. Her investigation of the world of Rachel Marker was a thinly disguised imaginative re-creation of the pre-Holocaust context of her “other” mother, Rose Hacker, a remarkable feminist politician in the UK who first entered Roth’s life as a Jewish refugee from the bombings in London and entranced her with her bold refusal to submit to gendered expectations and codes. Roth was also effectively the founder of a new performative approach to art history, stressing work done in collaboration, often across widely dispersed national boundaries. Her gift of uniting disparate communities and forging powerful connections among people who previously didn’t know one another remains in evidence today. Among the many artists with whom she collaborated, either on writing projects or performances, were Faith Ringgold, Suzanne Lacy, Carlos Villa, Pauline Oliveros, Rachel Rosenthal, and Dinh Q. Lê.

Roth received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Caucus for Art in 1997 and a National Recognition in the Arts Award from the College Art Association in 2006. She was interviewed by Sue Heinemann for the Smithsonian Archives of American Art Elizabeth Murray Oral History project.

Remembrance by Jonathan D. Katz, University of Pennsylvania

Filed under: Obituaries