Release Date: September 22, 2015
National Gallery of Art’s World-Renowned Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) to Host Wyeth Lecture on Post–Civil War Funerary Monuments on October 21, 2015, at the National Gallery of Art, Washington
Washington, DC—The world-renowned Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery of Art has announced that Kirk Savage, professor of history of art and architecture at the University of Pittsburgh, will present the 2015 Wyeth Lecture in American Art. Entitled "The Art of the Name: Soldiers, Graves, and Monuments in the Aftermath of the Civil War," the lecture will take place October 21, 2015, from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. in the West Building Lecture Hall at the National Gallery of Art, Washington. The lecture is supported by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.
Kirk Savage is a professor of the history of art and architecture at the University of Pittsburgh, where he has taught since 1990. He served as chair of the department from 2004 to 2011. He has also been a visiting professor at Cornell University (1998) and visiting assistant professor at the College of William and Mary (1991–1993). He received his BA from Yale University (1979) and his MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley (1990).
The author of numerous books and essays, Savage has lectured at institutions such as Brown University, University of Maryland, University of Virginia, Cornell University, Lawrence University, University of Tennessee, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Sixth Floor Museum, and the U.S. Capitol Historical Society. He is the author of the award-winning books Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America (Princeton University Press, 1997) and Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape (University of California Press, 2009).
Savage’s lecture builds on his recent research on the recovery, identification, and commemoration of those who died in the Civil War. He is the editor of The Civil War in Art and Memory, a forthcoming volume to be published by the National Gallery of Art in the series Studies in the History of Art, which includes his essay "The Unknowable Dead: The Civil War and the Origins of Modern Commemoration."
On a scale unprecedented in the history of the United States, Savage suggests, the Civil War led to a massive physical displacement of bodies in life and in death. Equally, if not more troubling, however, the war caused a shocking metaphysical displacement of bodies from their names, creating legions of the "unknown" (bodies without names) and the "missing" (names without bodies). His lecture will focus on how art was used to come to terms with what he calls the "metadata crisis" of the war dead through the long postwar effort to reattach names to bodies. These efforts had far-reaching impacts on the American landscape—generating a national cemetery system and revolutionizing the gravestone industry. In addition, Savage will investigate the deliberate detachment of names from bodies and the creation of ever-longer lists of names in bronze and stone, eventually culminating in abstract monuments like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. At once material and immaterial, the art of the name provides a lens through which to plumb the transformations in personal and national identity wrought by the catastrophe of mass warfare.
Since its inception in 1979 the Center has promoted the study of the history, theory, and criticism of art, architecture, and urbanism through the formation of a community of scholars. A variety of private sources supports the program of fellowships, and the appointments are ratified by the Gallery’s Board of Trustees.
CASVA currently supports the Andrew W. Mellon Professor, a two-year appointment of a midcareer scholar; the Samuel H. Kress Professor, an appointment of one academic year of a distinguished scholar; the Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professor, a six-month appointment of a scholar who advances his or her own research on subjects associated with the Gallery’s permanent collection; and senior fellows, visiting senior fellows, postdoctoral fellows, and predoctoral fellows. A board of advisors, composed of seven art historians appointed to rotating terms, serves as a selection committee to review all fellowship applications.
Established in 2003, the Wyeth Lecture in American Art is a biennial event hosted by CASVA and supported by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art. Wyeth lecturers are chosen on the basis of their outstanding contributions to the study of and scholarship on American art. Established in 2003, the Wyeth Lecture in American Art is a biennial event hosted by the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, and supported by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art. Wyeth lecturers are chosen on the basis of their outstanding contributions to the study of and scholarship on American art. Lectures are available as podcasts as indicated.
CASVA publishes the proceedings of symposia, part of the Gallery’s series Studies in the History of Art, and Seminar Papers. Both series are available for purchase on shop.nga.gov. Volumes of Studies in the History of Art published more than five years ago can be accessed and downloaded on JSTOR. An annual report, Center, published each fall, summarizes research and activities that took place during the preceding academic year. The full archive of Center is available for free download on CASVA’s publications page on the Gallery website.
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