Vanderbilt University History of Art Blog

Rebecca VanDiver Awarded Dean’s Faculty Fellowship

rebecca2Rebecca VanDiver, assistant professor of African American art, has received a Dean’s Faculty Fellowship that was recently awarded by John Geer, dean of the College of Arts and Science. VanDiver, one of seven A&S tenure-track faculty members to be named a Dean’s Faculty Fellow, will hold the title for two years and receive additional support for her research.

The Dean’s Faculty Fellows Program was launched this year to support untenured faculty in their research, scholarship, and creative expression during their probationary period. “These faculty were selected because of their scholarly accomplishments and the promise they show to make an impact in their respective fields,” said Dean Geer. “We look forward to continuing this program in the coming years as a way of providing additional support to our junior faculty and helping to advance their creativity and discovery.”

Named a 2018-2019 Faculty Fellow with the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, VanDiver is currently participating in a year-long interdisciplinary faculty seminar to explore the significance of printed words and images in early modern Europe and North America. She teaches courses on modern/contemporary African American and African art and visual culture.

Her research, centered on 20th-century black women artists, African American artistic engagements with Africa, and the politics of exhibition and display, has appeared in Archives of American Art JournalSpace and Culture, Callaloo, and Transition.  Her book-length manuscript on Loïs Mailou Jones will be published by the Pennsylvania State University Press under the title Negotiating Traditions: Loïs Mailou Jones and the Composite Aesthetics of Blackness.

Posted by on November 16, 2018 in HART, News, Vanderbilt University, VRC

Matthew Worsnick to Present Paper at Conference Held in Rome November 15-16

Matthew Worsnick, assistant professor of the practice of art history, will present his paper, “Excavating the Contested Adriatic Borderlands: Historiography and Preservation in Fascist Italy and Communist Yugoslavia,” on November 16 at a two-day hertzianaposterconference held in Rome at the Villino Stroganoff and hosted by the Bibliotheca Hertziana–Max Planck Institute for Art History. “Crossing the Adriatic: Networks of Cultural Exchange Beyond the Yugoslav Region” is the overall theme of the program.

Organized within the framework of the exhibition “Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980” on view through January 19 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the “study day” on November 16, convened by co-curators Martino Stierli and Vladimir Kulić with curatorial assistant Anna Kats and Tristan Weddigen, director of the Biblioteca Hertziana, will not be limited solely  to architecture. Worsnick and other participants will also look at networks of cultural production and exchange more broadly along the Adriatic coasts.

Posted by on November 15, 2018 in Conferences, Events, HART, Lectures, News, Vanderbilt University, VRC

Wikipedia Edit-a-thon on Asian Culture Set for November 14 in the Fine Arts Gallery

Editing is welcome on all aspects of Asian the Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon that will be held from 9 to 11 a.m.on Wednesday, November 14, in the Fine Arts Gallery, Cohen Memorial Hall on the Peabody campus.

Bring your own material or choose from our selections. No prior editing experience required. Bring your laptop and power cord. Snacks will be provided.

For more information, email, Wikipedian-in-Residence.

Posted by on November 13, 2018 in Events, Fine Arts Gallery, HART, Vanderbilt University, VRC

Lillian Boyle Reflects on Highlights of Class Field Trip to New York City

traversingNYCIn an action-packed three days (October 25-27), my curation seminar class (Exhibiting Historical Art: Architecture at MoMA) traversed New York City from Columbia University on the Upper West Side to the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown and all the way downtown to Greenwich Village to attend a symposium at the Remarque Institute, New York University. The symposium featured experts speaking on Yugoslav history and architecture, including two Vanderbilt University professors, Matthew Worsnick, assistant professor of the practice of art history, and Emily Greble, associate professor of history. The panel also included Svetlana Broz, political activist and granddaughter of the Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito.

averyHighlights of our trip included visits to the archives of the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University as well as to MoMA’s groundbreaking exhibit, “Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980.”

Jennifer Gray, chief curator of drawings and archives at Avery, led the class through selections from the library’s extensive archives of the legendary American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Gray discussed the curatorial choices she made that shaped MoMA’s exhibit “Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive,” which she co-curated with historian Barry Bergdoll. This major retrospective, a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the architect’s birth,  examined his drawings and models from a variety of critical perspectives. In keeping with the exhibition’s title, Gray “unpacked” the Avery archives for the class and brought the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit to life again for those who did not see the exhibit during its run in 2017.

galleryMoMAqisenAfter spending the greater part of the semester studying Yugoslav history, architecture and the exhibition itself, we were all eager to experience “Toward a Concrete Utopia” firsthand—initially with Professor Worsnick, who had worked on the exhibit and contributed essays to the companion volume. The exhibit introduces the viewer to Yugoslavia’s modernist tradition, showcasing the often-daring forms and innovative designs of its architects from 1948 to 1980, including Bogdan Bogdanović, Juraj Neidhardt, Svetlana Kana Radević, Edvard Ravnikar, Vjenceslav Richter, and Milica Šterić, among others. It focuses on the period of intense construction in the former Yugoslavia from its break with the Soviet bloc in 1948 to the death of the country’s longtime leader Josip Broz Tito in 1980. The works on display—around 400 drawings, models, photographs, and film reels—are drawn from an array of more than 50 municipal archives, private collections, and museum holdings in the region and across Europe and the United States.galleryMoMA

On a second visit to MoMA, Mack Cole-Edelsack, architect and senior design manager in the department of exhibition design, offered the class another perspective on the exhibit, namely its exceptional design. Organized thematically, the galleries are divided into four broad categories or sections: modernization, global networks, everyday life, and identities. Original drawings and models are interspersed with Swiss photographer Valentin Jeck’s contemporary photographs of some of the most iconic buildings and monuments of the historically multiethnic region. Video installations by the filmmaker Mila Turajlić, drawn from documentary footage, newsreels, feature films, and TV shows, introduce some of galleryviewerthe themes that structure the show, such as large-scale urbanization, design for everyday life, the global reach of Yugoslav architecture, and the reconstruction of the city of Skopje after the devastating 1963 earthquake, among others.

Our time at the Museum of Modern Art that day ended on a high note with a roundtable discussion with Vladimir Kulić, co-curator of the “Toward a Concrete Utopia” exhibit, Svetlana Broz, and the MoMA Mellon MRC Fellows. I had the opportunity to ask Svetlana Broz about her experience as a woman and the feminist movement in Yugoslavia. Her insightful response enhanced my understanding of the female experience in her country, greatly contributing to my final paper on female architects in socialist Yugoslavia.

We spent our morning on Museum Row at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts where the class discussed curatorial strategy with Jean-Louis Cohen, esteemed architectural scholar and curator of many exhibitions, including “Le Corbusier: An discussionAtlas of Modern Landscapes” at the Museum of Modern Art in 2013. Our discussion provided the perfect ending for our ongoing conversations throughout the weekend about curatorial decision making, theory, and practice. In addition, Professor Worsnick led an architectural tour of the James B. Duke mansion, a historic landmark that is now home to the Institute. Afterwards, in the time remaining, we split up to visit the museum of our choice before heading to the airport.

This wonderful weekend profoundly inspired my fellow students and me to continue our study of the history of art, pursue graduate degrees, and explore careers in curation. Thank you to Professors Matthew Worsnick, Betsey Robinson, and Kevin Murphy, and Julia Kamasz and the History of Art department for making the class trip possible!—Lillian Boyle

*Photographs courtesy of Matthew Worsnick

Posted by on November 13, 2018 in Events, HART, News, Student/Alumni, Vanderbilt University, VRC

Matthew Worsnick Leads Curation Seminar Trip to New York City October 25-27

bookcoverMoMAexhibitionFrom the sculptural interior of the White Mosque in rural Bosnia, to the post-earthquake reconstruction of the city of Skopje based on Kenzo Tange’s Metabolist design, to the new town of New Belgrade, with its expressive large-scale housing blocks and civic buildings, the exhibition examines the unique range of forms and modes of production in Yugoslav architecture and its distinct yet multifaceted character. (The Museum of Modern Art’s “Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980”)

Matthew Worsnick, assistant professor of the practice of art history, and students in his advanced seminar and exhibit course, “Exhibiting Historical Art: Architecture at MoMA,” recently returned from New York City where they viewed MoMA’s exceptionally designed show, “Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980,” and met with members of the curatorial team. In their seminar the students are investigating both the curation of the exhibition and its subject matter, which Worsnick describes as “the philosophically intricate, sometimes surreal, often spectacular architecture produced by the communist state of Yugoslavia during the Cold War.” As a Mellon Foundation Fellow in MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design, Worsnick worked on the exhibition and contributed to a companion volume published to coincide with the exhibition.

Read more about the class trip in a blog post contributed by Lillian Boyle, a Vanderbilt graduate student pursuing a masters degree in the department of history of art.



Posted by on November 13, 2018 in Events, HART, News, Student/Alumni, Vanderbilt University, VRC

Vanderbilt’s ‘Art, Democracy and Justice’ Lecture Series to Open at the Frist on November 14

MagdaCampos-PonsMaria Magdalena Campos-Pons, the Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair of Fine Arts and professor of art, will launch the lecture series “Art, Democracy and Justice” with three prominent artistic voices at the Frist Art Museum on Wednesday, November 14. The event, free and open to the public, will begin at 6:00 pm in the Frist Auditorium.

“This is a deeply important time in our nation’s history for these conversations on the integral relationships between art, democracy and justice,” said Campos-Pons. “Art does not happen in a vacuum. Art mirrors society, and is a testimony to our time.”

Campos-Pons, whose own work investigates themes of history, memory, gender and religion and how they inform identity, wants to connect the Department of Art and Vanderbilt, more broadly, to a growing dialogue around the world about what is shifting in the practice of art and democracy.

“I’m particularly excited for our visiting speakers to add to the expanding reach and rigor of our department’s curriculum,” Campos-Pons said. Joining her for the inaugural event are:

Holland Cotter, co-chief art critic and a senior writer at The New York Times; His numerous awards include the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism and the Lifetime Achievement Award for Art Writing from the College Art Association. Cotter, a former contributing editor to Art in America, earned a master of philosophy in South Asian art from Columbia University.

Olu Oguibe, Nigerian-born artist and writer; His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world, and he is a senior fellow of the Smithsonian Institution. He received the 2017 Arnold Bode Prize of the City of Kassel for Documenta14.

Adam Szymczk, Polish artist who was artistic director of Documenta14 (Athens/Kassel). He co-founded the Foksal Gallery in Warsaw and served as director of Kunsthalle Basel, a place for innovative contemporary art exhibitions of an emerging generation of artists. He is a recipient of the Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement from the Menil Foundation.

“Our panelists are current thinkers and makers who will bring their fresh perspectives to the role of art as a social and cultural shaper,” said Campos-Pons. “And having an artist, administrator and critic engage face-to-face on our topic could provide some interesting dynamics. I’m also excited for the expertise of our visiting speakers to add to the expanding reach and rigor of the curriculum of Vanderbilt’s Department of Art.”

Campos-Pons, who joined the faculty in 2017, said she is pleased to have the Frist Art Museum and Fisk University as partners, as her department wants to develop more synergy with community organizations and institutions on art-related issues of broad public and academic interest.

This event is also made possible with collaboration and generous support from Vanderbilt’s Department of Art, Office of the Chancellor, and Dean’s Office of the College of Arts and Science.—Ann Marie Deer Owens (MyVU: Vanderbilt News, November 10, 2018)

*Photo of Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum

Posted by on November 12, 2018 in Events, HART, HART in Nashville, Lectures, News, Student/Alumni, Vanderbilt University, VRC

William Wylie to Lecture November 14 on The Possibility of Ruins: A Pompeii Archive

wyliepompeiibodycastDestroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE, the ancient city of Pompeii has captured the imagination of the public since it was first excavated in 1748. Pompeii Archive: Recent Photographs by William Wylie, currently on view in the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery through December 6, features a selection of recent work by artist and photographer William Wylie (American, born 1957) that explores the famous archaeological site. In conjunction with the Fine Arts Gallery exhibit, Wylie, professor of art, University of Virginia, will deliver a lecture, “The Possibility of Ruins: A Pompeii Archive,” on Wednesday, November 14, at 4:10 pm in 203 Cohen Memorial Hall.

“For me, much of the mystery of Pompeii lies in the site’s layers,” said Wylie. “Archaeologists work by uncovering and studying the deposits of past eras, but even visitors experience the site in this way. I was motivated to try and make photographs that revealed some of Pompeii’s complexity, the way multiple pasts intersect there with our 21st-century present.”

The exhibition features eighteen large-scale photographs focused on the ongoing process of restoration, discovery and collection of archival remains and materials from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. Through Wylie’s photographs, Pompeii is seen as a constantly changing—not static—archaeological site. Ever curious as to how landscapes accumulate visual markers and meanings, Wylie notes in his artist statement that “change is inescapable at Pompeii. . . .I document the changing relationships between artifacts, ruins, spaces, and the passage of time.”

His working method incorporates repeated visits to a site, an immersion in which he gains an understanding of both the cultural and natural landscapes that create place. For the ongoing Pompeii project, Wylie traveled extensively to the archeological site.

Pompeii Archive: Recent Photographs by William Wylie, organized by the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art at Colorado State University, is brought to the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, in part, through the generous support of the Program in Classical and Mediterranean Studies, with additional support provided by the Department of History of Art and the Department of Art.

The Fine Arts Gallery is located in Cohen Memorial Hall at 1220 21st Avenue South on the Peabody College campus. Gallery hours are from 11 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday, and from 1 to 5 pm weekends. Parking is available in all non-reserved spaces in Lot 95 near Cohen Hall on the Peabody campus.


*William Wylie. Body cast, Macellum (VII.9.7), Pompeii,” 2015, archival pigment print, 37 x 45 inches

Posted by on November 9, 2018 in Events, Fine Arts Gallery, HART, Lectures, News, Student/Alumni, VRC

Update from a HART Student Studying Abroad This Semester

 I was thinking of the department lately and thought I would send a quick hello and update you on my art history adventures in Florence! So far we’ve seen Orsanmichele, Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise, Donatello’s Mary Magdalene, bronze David, and Saint George, the Palazzo Medici Riccardi’s Magi Chapel frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli, Masaccio’s Holy Trinity, the Brancacci Chapel, and Fra Angelico’s frescoes in San Marco. I still plan to see Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell’Accademia and visit the Uffizi—we are going as a class in just a few weeks.

In Paris we visited the Louvre, Versailles, Sainte-Chapelle, Notre Dame, Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie (the Monets in the Musée d’Orsay were absolutely stunning and probably my favorite works that I’ve seen so far!). In Rome we visited the Colosseum, Pantheon, and toured the Vatican, including the Sistine Chapel which was unbelievably crowded! I also traveled to Padua to see the Scrovegni Chapel and Giotto’s frescoes, which were incredible! I have attached a few pictures from my adventures….can’t wait to see all of you in the New Year! —Delaney Houston ’20 (History of Art & Medicine, Health and Society)


Posted by on November 9, 2018 in HART, News, Student/Alumni, Vanderbilt University, VRC

Rebecca VanDiver to Deliver Paper at American Studies Association Conference

Rebecca VanDiver, assistant professor of African American art, will present a paper at the annual conference of the American Studies Association held in Atlanta November 8-11. Her paper is entitled “Black, White, and Read All Over: Artistic Representations of Black Struggle and Resistance from Katrina to Ferguson,” and the theme of her session is “Constant Crisis: Bodies and the Routinization of Emergency.”  Organized around this year’s overall theme of “States of Emergence,” the conference features sessions that address the contemporary challenge of crisis and commitment.

Posted by on November 6, 2018 in Conferences, Events, HART, Lectures, News, Vanderbilt University, VRC

Vivien Fryd’s Book Explores Sexual Violence as Subject of American Art Since 1970

CaptureAs part of the feminist movement of the 1970s, female artists began consciously using their works to challenge social conceptions and the legal definitions of rape and incest and to shift the dominant narrative of violence against women. In her book, “Against our Will”: Sexual Trauma in American Art Since 1970 (The Pennsylvania State University Press, forthcoming February 2019), Vivien Green Fryd, professor of history of art, chronicles this decades-long radical intervention through an art historical lens.

Focusing on the efforts by such American artists as Suzanne Lacy, Leslie Labowitz, Faith Ringgold, Judy Chicago, and Kara Walker, Fryd shows how this key group insisted on ending the silence surrounding sexual violence and helped to construct an anti-rape, anti-incest counternarrative that remains vibrant today.

Fryd looks at how second-wave feminist artists established and reiterated the importance of addressing sexual violence against women and how those in the third wave then framed their works within the visual and rhetorical tradition established by their predecessors. Throughout the book she highlights specific themes—rape and incest against white and black female bodies, rape against white and black male bodies, rape and pornography—that intersect with other challenges to and critiques of the sociocultural and political patriarchy from the 1970s through the present day.

While working on this book, Fryd served as director of “New Directions in Trauma Studies,” the  2008-2009 Fellows Program at the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities. She and her colleagues examined the emerging field of trauma studies and worked to define its boundaries and enhance the field through interdisciplinary discussion. In 2017 the College Art Association awarded Fryd the Wyeth Foundation for American Art publication grant ($5,000) for her book.

Posted by on November 5, 2018 in HART, News, Vanderbilt University, VRC

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