Vanderbilt University History of Art Blog

Joseph Mella to Discuss Gallery Exhibit on Death in Art and Illustration on September 19

MementoMoriJoseph Mella, director of Vanderbilt’s Fine Arts Gallery, will discuss a previous gallery exhibit, Memento Mori—Looking at Death in Art and Illustration, at the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities on Wednesday, September 19, from 3 to 4:30 pm. The French and Francophone Studies group are hosting Mella’s presentation.

Memento Mori—Looking at Death in Art and Illustration was organized by the the Fine Arts Gallery and co-curated by Mella, Holly Tucker, professor of French studies and professor of biomedical ethics and society at the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, Christopher Ryland, assistant director at the Eskind Biomedical Library, and James J. Thweatt, coordinator for historical collections at the Eskind Biomedical Library. This collaborative effort made it possible for the Fine Arts Gallery to present an interdisciplinary approach to our awareness of mortality from the sixteenth century to the present.

*Willem van Swanenburgh, Dutch, 1581/2-1616. Death with an arrow about to strike the man down, plate four from Allegory of the Misuse of Worldly Property, after Maarten van Heemskerck, 1609, engraving.

Posted by on September 18, 2018 in Events, Fine Arts Gallery, HART, Lectures, News, Vanderbilt University, VRC

Downing Grant Applications for HART Undergraduate Research and Travel Due September 28

HART students interested in applying for a Fall 2018 Downing undergraduate research grant must submit their applications via email to Professor Elizabeth Moodey at no lajust-a-reminder-just-a-little-reminder-1sI7va-clipartter than Friday, September 28..

The department awards these Downing grants for travel to exhibitions and research centers to supplement academic instruction for HART majors who are in the Honors Program, in advanced seminars, or in upper-level “W” (writing) courses. These grants provide assistance for up to $1,500 in travel costs and are awarded in the fall and spring semesters of each academic year.

The application should consist of a detailed proposal of one page explaining the purpose and rationale of the proposed travel; projected costs (accommodation, food, travel expenses, and research costs); and a supporting letter by the instructor in charge of the project.

To read about HART alumna Ellen Dement’s travel and research experience on a Downing grant, see a previous HART blog post.

Posted by on September 18, 2018 in HART, News, Student/Alumni, Vanderbilt University, VRC

Kevin Murphy and Rebecca VanDiver Among 2018-2019 Warren Center Faculty Fellows

DurerMelencoliaThe Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities will host a year-long interdisciplinary faculty seminar to explore the significance of printed words and images in Early Modern Europe and North America. Kevin Murphy, Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Humanities and professor of history of art, and Mark Hosford, chair and associate professor of art, will co-direct the 2018-2019 Warren Center Fellows Program entitled “The World of Print(s): Multiples and Meanings in Early Modern Europe and North America.”

Other Vanderbilt professors participating in the program are José A. Cárdenas Bunsen (Spanish and Portuguese), Jana Harper (art), Paul C. H. Lim (Divinity School and history), David Price (religious studies), and Rebecca VanDiver (history of art). The visiting fellow is Patricia Fumerton (English) from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Though the current age is often considered unique in terms of the amount of information constantly flooding the airwaves and the Internet, it is important to historicize the current phenomenon in comparison to the Early Modern period when there was an explosion of printed materials that similarly saturated the West. The advent of cheap print in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries meant that larger audiences than ever before had access to the marketplace of written words, some serious and thoughtful, some salacious and sensational. Images on woodblocks combined with moveable type made possible the publication of a variety of illustrated texts as well. The visual culture brought about by the advent of this technology in the Early Modern period was the backdrop to the work of some of the most celebrated printmakers of all time.

The seminar participants will put printed works—comprising both textual and visual elements—at the center of an analysis that sees them as representations of discourses external to the objects and, at the same time, as material things. Seminar participants will draw upon contemporary scholarship through various disciplinary lenses, including literary theory and art history.  By bridging a variety of disciplines, scholars in the seminar will produce a synthetic view of Early Modern visual culture and its role in shaping political and social opinion. This collaborative work will lead to new perspectives on current debates regarding the presentation and circulation of information and images in the twenty-first century.

The group will meet regularly and will have access to generous program funds from the Warren Center that can be used for visiting speakers, conferences, or other appropriate program‑related expenses. The seminar provides an unusual opportunity for scholars with a variety of specializations to work cooperatively on a common issue in a sustained manner.

*Albrecht Dürer (German,1471–1528). Melencolia I, engraving, 1514.

Posted by on September 17, 2018 in HART, News, Vanderbilt University, VRC

Vivien Fryd to Present Paper at Smithsonian Archives of American Art

GreenFrydFlierAbstract_Page_1 (1)Vivien Fryd, professor of history of art, will deliver a paper, “Henry Ries’ Iconic Photograph of the Berlin Airlift,” on October 18 at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Washington, DC. The seminar is sponsored by the Archives, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The iconic photographs of Henry Ries (1917-2004), a celebrated photojournalist for the New York Times (1947-1955), especially in Germany, documented the destruction of Berlin after WWII and the Berlin Blockade and Airlift (1947-1949). His most iconic photograph, Landing of the Candy Bombers at Tempelhof Airport (1948), can be found on post cards sold in various Berlin museums and tourist destinations (i.e., the TV Tower, Holocaust Museum, and Museum Berggruen), on the U.S. Commemorative Postage Stamp in 1998 to honor the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Blockade, and on Wikipedia under “Berlin Blockade.”

The photograph also formed the basis of a variety of exhibitions in Berlin and the United States between 1948 and 2008, including the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the Goethe Haus in New York City, the Willy-Brandt Haus in Berlin, the Berlinische Galerie in Berlin, and the German Historical Museum in Berlin. It was on display in an exhibition held in 2003 in conjunction with the German government awarding Ries the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit, the highest award for citizens of other countries.

“This paper will argue that the photograph, taken by this transatlantic photojournalist who is my uncle, signifies not only hope but also the transformation of the U.S. from an enemy to a friend, indeed a rescuer in the midst of what marks the end of WWII, the beginning of the Cold War, and the resultant division between East and West Berlin,” said Fryd.

Posted by on September 14, 2018 in Events, HART, Lectures, News, Vanderbilt University, VRC

Photographer B. S. Shivaraju Documents the Lives of Unsung Heroes

Cop-Shiva-1Named one of India’s top 15 rising artists, photographer B. S. Shivaraju (aka Cop Shiva) documents the complexity of rural and urban India through portraiture. He is fascinated with the idea of masquerade and the roles people play in public and private. His first professional project, “Being Gandhi,” reflects this interest in documenting the lives of unsung heroes.

Shivaraju will present a talk at 4:10 pm on Thursday, September 20, in Buttrick Hall 206 in conjunction with the exhibition On Being Gandhi: The Art and Politics of Seeing at the Leu Art Gallery in the Lila D. Bunch Library, Belmont University (opening September 28). One of Shivaraju’s most critically acclaimed projects, the exhibition features his photographs of Bagadehalli Basvaraju, a village schoolteacher who routinely impersonates Mahatma Gandhi. “This project has evolved to include a broader reach, which is to look at Gandhi’s ideals in contemporary India,” wrote Shivaraju.

His lecture at Vanderbilt is sponsored by the Departments of History, Political Science, Art, History of Art, Religious Studies, and Asian Studies.

Posted by on September 14, 2018 in Events, HART, Lectures, News, Vanderbilt University

Rebecca VanDiver to Coordinate Seminar at Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities

africaglobeRebecca VanDiver, assistant professor of African American art, Moses Ochonu, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of History, and Tasha Rijke-Epstein, assistant professor of history, will coordinate a seminar this fall at the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities. This seminar, entitled “Critical Approaches to African Studies,” will bring together faculty and students from diverse fields across campus to explore cutting-edge topics relating to Africa’s past and present. Meetings are scheduled at noon on September 19, October 31 (featuring Abdulbasit Kassim, doctoral student in religion, Rice University), and November 14.

Reflecting Africa’s long-standing central place in the modern world, the seminar will foreground historical and contemporary experiences of commercial, political, cultural and ecological changes across and beyond the continent. Participants will delve into such subthemes as entrepreneurialism, urban life, religious traditions, violence, and artistic expression. Through engagement with leading scholarship across a range of fields, this workshop invites participants to sharpen their analytical and theoretical approaches to African studies.


Posted by on September 11, 2018 in HART, News, Vanderbilt University, VRC

Fine Arts Gallery Features Panel Discussion About Current Exhibit on September 12

ViewingIAMexhibitMore than 200 people filled the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery and atrium of Cohen Hall for the opening of I AM: Middle Eastern Women Artists and the Quest to Build Peace on Thursday, August 30.

“We fail to leave an impact on the world unless we broadly engage the many ways that people are experiencing it,” said Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos who hosted the event. “Vanderbilt and Nashville are uniquely positioned as a beacon for driving global understanding. We welcome all voices and all ways that lead to learning.”

Other special guests included The Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler, founding president of CARAVAN, and featured Bahranian artist Sheikha Lulwa Al-Khalifa.

On view through October 10, the exhibit features the work of 31 premier Middle Eastern women artists from 12 countries, visually celebrating the pivotal contributions that women make to the enduring global quest for harmony and peace.

The next program scheduled in conjunction with the exhibit is a panel discussion on Wednesday, September 12, at 5 pm in Cohen 203. Free and open to the public, this panel will feature Nahed Artoul Zehr, executive director of the Faith and Culture Center; Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Cornelius Vanderbilt Endowed Chair of Fine Arts, and Joseph Mella, director of the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery, as moderator. The exhibit and program are supported by the Office of the Chancellor.

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.

Posted by on September 7, 2018 in Events, Fine Arts Gallery, HART, Lectures, News, Vanderbilt University, VRC

Heeryoon Shin Presents Paper at European Conference on South Asian Studies

Heeryoon Shin, Mellon Assistant Professor of Asian Art, presented a paper, “Winged Fairies in the City of Shiva: The Amethi Temple in Banaras and Courtly Culture at the Margins,” at the European Conference on South Asian Studies (ECSAS) held July 24-27 in Paris, France. The overall theme addressed by Shin’s conference panel was “Major Patrons in Minor Courts: Rethinking Early Modern Cultural Production.” Her paper will be published in an edited volume on Banaras.Amethi 222

Shin and other panelists examined the role of patrons and artists “at the margins” in the fashioning of early modern culture, i.e., outside the main cultural centers of North India, including small courts, religious centers, and elite households.

*Winged bracket figures from the Amethi Temple in Banaras, India

Posted by on September 7, 2018 in Conferences, Events, HART, Lectures, News, Vanderbilt University, VRC

Application Deadline for Downing Undergraduate Research Grants: Friday, September 28


Posted by on August 30, 2018 in HART, News, Student/Alumni, VRC

Opening Tonight! I AM: Contemporary Middle Eastern Women Artists and the Quest to Build Peace

I_AM_Maitha_DemithaJoin us tonight (Thursday, August 30) for the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery opening reception from 5 to 7pm in Cohen Memorial Hall on the Peabody campus. Special guests include Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos, Vanderbilt University; the Rev. Canon Paul-Gordon Chandler, founding president of CARAVAN; and Sheikha Lulwa Al Khalifa, featured artist.

I AM: Contemporary Middle Eastern Women Artists and the Quest to Build Peace will be on view through October 10.

*Maitha Demithan, Emirati, Mother, 2017, Scanography, 39.4 x 31.5 inches (framed). © Maitha Demitha. 



Posted by on August 30, 2018 in Events, Fine Arts Gallery, HART, News, VRC

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