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    Center 41

    During the academic year, the Center organizes scholarly meetings that range in size and duration from multiday gatherings and individual lectures with audiences to small roundtable discussions. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all meetings were held virtually for the 2020–2021 academic year.


    Colloquia are meetings in which current research is presented and discussed through multimedia lectures and audience participation. 

    April 16, 2021

    James A. Porter Colloquium on African American Art and Art of the African Diaspora

    Defining Diaspora: 21st-Century Development in Art of the African Diaspora
    Cosponsored with Howard University

    Lisa Farrington, Howard University
    Welcome and moderator

    Steven Nelson, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts

    Erica Moiah James, University of Miami
    Undress to Redress: African Diasporic Art History and Archives of Black Representational Bodies

    Freida High Wasikhongo Tesfagiorgis, University of Wisconsin–Madison
    Lifetime Achievement Lecture
    Reflections on My Personal/Professional Journey That Continues amid Crises in the 21st Century

    Kobena Mercer, Yale University
    James A. Porter Distinguished Lecture
    Flowback—How Africa Is Redefining Today’s Diaspora

    Renée Stout, Washington, DC
    Floyd W. Coleman Sr. Distinguished Lecture
    Thank You for Talking to Me Africa: Trusting the Voice Within


    Colloquies are small gatherings of curators, conservators, and researchers focusing on specific themes or topics relevant to the National Gallery of Art and related collections in the region.

    May 4, 2021

    Edmond J. Safra Colloquy

    Working with Collections
    Organized by Penelope Curtis, Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professor, spring 2021

    Rachel E. Boyd, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford University
    Kit Brooks, National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution
    Maria Castro, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
    Alisa Chiles [University of Pennsylvania]
    Gwendolyn Collaço, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
    Patrick R. Crowley, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts
    Penelope Curtis, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts
    Tandazani Dhlakama, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa
    Jessica Hong, Toledo Museum of Art
    Shruthi Issac, Savara Foundation for the Arts
    Annika Johnson, Joslyn Art Museum
    Peter M. Lukehart, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts
    Steven Nelson, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts
    Therese O’Malley, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts
    Julia Perratore, The Cloisters at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
    Lauren Taylor, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts
    Kevin Tervala, Baltimore Museum of Art
    Kjell Wangensteen, Indianapolis Museum of Art

    Lectures and Incontri

    The Center organizes a number of endowed annual and biennial lectures that are open to the public. Following most lectures, the Center hosts an incontro, a meeting for members of the Center and invited guests, led by the lecturer. Incontri provide opportunities for questions and further discussions.

    October 30, 2020

    Sydney J. Freedberg Lecture on Italian Art

    Telling the Past Differently: Italian Renaissance Art in the Hands of the Beholder
    Megan Holmes
    , University of Michigan

    Collections of Italian Renaissance panel paintings were in many cases assembled through a process of connoisseurial evaluation. The National Gallery of Art collection is no exception. A number of its paintings passed that evaluative scrutiny in spite of surface damage in the form of intentional scratches—noted in later conservation reports as “vandalism.” Defacement and disfiguration are, in fact, fairly common features of panel paintings, but they are rarely mentioned in art-historical accounts. The paintings, once installed in religious, domestic, and civic spaces in Renaissance Italy, were acted upon and transformed by the people who encountered and used them in their daily lives. The recovery of representational scratches provides a timely opportunity to tell the history of Italian Renaissance art differently, revealing the complex earlier “lives” of paintings in the hands of beholders.
    Watch Listen

    November 2, 2020

    Sydney J. Freedberg Lecture on Italian Art Incontro
    Reading Italian Panel Paintings against the Grain
    Megan Holmes
    , University of Michigan

    New research demonstrates that in late medieval and early modern Italy, people routinely and intentionally marked and modified pictorial imagery in panel paintings when encountering these works in churches, palaces and town houses, and civic and corporate spaces. The tormentors of Christ and saints were defaced and disfigured; the devil and demons were entrapped within webs of incisions; devotional and apotropaic crosses were inscribed within narrative scenes; and panel surfaces were tagged with personal marks. Scratched panel paintings constitute a rich visual archive revealing a fascinating new dimension of reception history that involved complex cultural understandings about the activation, efficacy, and mediation of visual images. This reception history embraces a broad spectrum of viewers, including non-elite members of society, who are rarely considered in histories of art written about the Renaissance period.

    This incontro was a timely opportunity to explore more profoundly with the Center community how “reading Italian panel paintings against the grain” can productively unsettle preconceptions and dominant narratives about Renaissance visual culture.

    April 25–May 30, 2021

    The 70th A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts

    Contact: Art and the Pull of Print
    Jennifer L. Roberts, Harvard University

    April 25: Pressure
    May 2: Reversal
    May 9: Separation 
    May 16: Strain
    May 23: Interference
    May 30: Alienation

    May 10, 2021

    A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts Incontro
    Jennifer L. Roberts
    , Harvard University
    70th A. W. Mellon Lecturer in the Fine Arts

    A discussion of the 2021 A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, Contact: Art and the Pull of Print.

    May 3, 2021

    Edmond J. Safra Lecture

    Space and Time in the Museum
    Penelope Curtis, Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professor, spring 2021

    Penelope Curtis was director of Tate Britain (2010–2015) and of the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian (2015–2020). At the former, she had the chance to manage a rehang of the entire collection (16th century to present day) to coincide with the remodeling of the gallery in 2013. At the latter, she brought together two collections (the Founder’s Collection and the Modern Collection) into one museum, and in light of this devised a new pattern of programming. The Gulbenkian’s exhibition Art on Display 1949–69 was planned to mark the museum’s 50th anniversary and bring to light some of the thinking about the new postwar museum. New research in the archives led to a fuller understanding of the international prototypes at play, which were then placed in comparison with contemporary examples by Franco Albini and Franca Helg, Carlo Scarpa, Aldo van Eyck, Alison and Peter Smithson, and Lina Bò Bardi, made at 1:1 scale. This lecture was an informal review of some of the thinking that lay behind these initiatives in terms of how we use museums, consciously and subconsciously, and how we navigate their spaces and meanings.

    Members’ Presentations

    Colloquia, presented by the senior members of the Center, and shoptalks, given by the postdoctoral fellows, predoctoral fellows, and guest scholars, occur throughout the academic year and are by invitation.


    October 15, 2020
    Dell Upton, Kress-Beinecke Professor
    Graven Images: Monuments Beyond the Confederacy

    October 29, 2020
    Stuart Lingo, Samuel H. Kress Senior Fellow
    Bronzino’s Bodies and Mannerism’s Masks

    November 19, 2020
    Madhuri Desai, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Senior Fellow
    Sacred Geographies: Mughal Temples and the Politics of Empire

    December 3, 2020
    Elena M. Calvillo, Samuel H. Kress Senior Fellow, fall 2020
    Drawing Collection and Cultural Brokerage in Late 16th-Century Italy

    January 7, 2021
    Byron Ellsworth Hamann, William C. Seitz Senior Fellow
    A History of Mexico through Histories of “The Conquest”: The Lienzos of Tlaxcala Remade, 1552–2012

    February 18, 2021
    André Dombrowski, Paul Mellon Senior Fellow
    Monet’s Minutes: On the Temporality of the Instant

    March 18, 2021
    Oscar E. Vázquez, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Senior Fellow
    The Body of Work: Life Drawing in Academies of Art

    April 1, 2021
    Patrick R. Crowley, Samuel H. Kress Senior Fellow, spring 2021
    Death, Indexicality, and the Look of Roman Portraits

    Shoptalks 243–251

    October 26, 2020
    Ellen Tani, A. W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
    Objectified beyond Recognition: The Early Systems Art of Charles Gaines

    November 9, 2020
    Kimia Shahi, Wyeth Fellow
    “Peculiar” Pictures: Martin Johnson Heade and the Science of Shorelines

    December 14, 2020
    Teresa Soley, Samuel H. Kress Fellow
    Carving Out a Reputation: Knightly Tombs in the Early Portuguese Empire

    January 11, 2021
    Thadeus Dowad, Paul Mellon Fellow
    A Tale of Two Sultans: Empire and Portraiture Between Paris, Cairo, and Istanbul, 1798‒1817

    January 25, 2021
    Melanee C. Harvey, Paul Mellon Guest Scholar
    Charting a Tradition: 19th-Century African Methodist Episcopal Aesthetic Practices

    February 1, 2021
    Andrew Sears, David E. Finley Fellow
    Saint Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins: Patron Saints of Trade

    March 1, 2021
    Susan Eberhard, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow
    Placing a Six-Sided Silver Teapot, c. 1682

    March 15, 2021
    Johanna Sluiter, Twenty-Four-Month Chester Dale Fellow
    Building Evolution: ATBAT and Habitat in Late Colonial North Africa

    April 12, 2021
    Ziliang Liu, Ittleson Fellow
    Cosmic Bronze in Western Han China


    Seminars are small gatherings focused on a particular topic. Each year, a Center postdoctoral fellow designs and directs an intensive weeklong seminar for the predoctoral fellows in residence.

    July 6–10, 2020

    A. W. Mellon Predoctoral Seminar

    Rethinking Art-Historical Geographies and Temporalities
    Organized by Rachel Grace Newman, A. W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

    This seminar thought through current divisions within the discipline of art history, many of which are designated by geographic and temporal models that reinscribe colonial modes of thinking. For example, the term “medieval art” signals a focus on European medieval art, while other art from that period is included in distinct geographic regions (Islamic art, African art, etc.) This seminar considered geographic and temporal divisions by asking what happens when we begin to draw art-historical threads around bodies of water, trade routes, diasporas, and Indigenous concepts of geography and temporality. What happens when we truly consider the implications of these divisions and the alternatives that might exist for art-historical pedagogy?


    Rachel E. Boyd, David E. Finley Fellow, 2017–2020
    Alicia Caticha, Twenty-Four-Month Chester Dale Fellow, 2018–2020
    Samuel Luterbacher, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow, 2018–2020
    Rachel Grace Newman, A. W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, 2018–2020
    Julia Oswald, Samuel H. Kress Fellow, 2018–2020 
    James Pilgrim, Paul Mellon Fellow, 2017–2020
    Miriam K. Said, Ittleson Fellow, 2018–2020
    Michelle Smiley, Wyeth Fellow, 2018–2020


    Symposia are open to the public and feature a number of presenters and/or panels on a specific topic. They may be planned in conjunction with exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art.

    December 4–11, 2020

    Wyeth Foundation for American Art Symposium

    Feminism in American Art History

    Friday, December 11
    Panel Discussion
    A discussion with all symposium presenters, moderated by Steven Nelson, dean, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts. Presentations were available to stream December 4–11, 2020.

    Kirsten Pai Buick, University of New Mexico
    The Flesh Made Word: Soft Power, the Female Nude, and the Autobiography of Louisine Havemeyer

    Aruna D’Souza, Williamstown, MA
    Lorraine O’Grady, Simone Leigh, and the Problem and Power of Invisibility

    Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center
    The Radicality of Latina/x and Chicana/x Feminisms

    Lisa Farrington, Howard University
    Black Feminist Art: Genesis

    Jessica L. Horton, University of Delaware
    Diné-Mapuche Weaving and the Relational Roots of Ecofeminism

    Jenny Lin, University of Southern California
    Another Beautiful Country: Cross-Cultural Hauntings in Chinese American Art

    Helen Molesworth, Los Angeles
    How Many Feminists Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb? More Thoughts on Lee Lozano

    Jennifer Van Horn, University of Delaware
    Shades of Her Ancestors: Early American Silhouettes and Enslaved Women

    March 5–6, 2021

    Middle Atlantic Symposium in the History of Art, 51st Annual Sessions

    Cosponsored with the Department of Art History and Archaeology, University of Maryland

    Friday, March 5
    Evening Session
    Finbarr Barry Flood, New York University
    George Levitine Lecture in Art History
    Modernity, Iconoclasm, and Anticolonialism—Other Statue Histories

    Saturday, March 6
    Morning Session
    Steven Nelson, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts

    Therese O’Malley, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts

    Rachel Patt [Emory University]
    Multum in Parvo: The Exquisite Portrait Miniature in Ancient Rome
    Introduction: Professor Eric Varner

    Kaylee P. Alexander [Duke University]
    Selling Eclecticism: “Trickle Round” and the Market for Funerary Monuments in 19th-Century Paris
    Introduction: Professor Neil McWilliam

    Kristen Nassif [University of Delaware]
    Seeing Blindness: Randolph Rogers’s Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii
    Introduction: Professor Wendy Bellion

    Brooke Wyatt [University of Pittsburgh]
    Nature vivante: Material Innovation and Representational Inquiry in the Work of Séraphine Louis
    Introduction: Professor Barbara McCloskey

    Afternoon Session
    Tess Korobkin, University of Maryland

    Sarah Edith Kleinman [Virginia Commonwealth University]
    Kynaston McShine, Auteur-Curator
    Introduction: Professor Margaret Lindauer

    Alyson Cluck [University of Maryland]
    Zilia Sánchez’s Classical Turn: Theater, Diaspora, and Politics in Antígona (1969)
    Introduction: Professor Abigail McEwen

    Tyler Shine [University of Pennsylvania]
    Pictures More than Pictures: Dawoud Bey’s Abstract Polaroids
    Introduction: Professor Karen Redrobe

    Olga Zaikina-Kondur [The Pennsylvania State University]
    Speech, Discourse, Space: Conceptual Art in Late Soviet Private Apartments
    Introduction: Professor Sarah Rich


    Workshops bring together a small group of scholars to plan a future publication or presentation of new research on a topic of current inquiry. 

    May 17, 2021

    Fragments and Frameworks: Illuminated Manuscripts and Illustrated Books in Digital Humanities

    Organized by Matthew J. Westerby, Robert H. Smith Research Associate

    Heather Bamford, The George Washington University
    LauraLee Brott [University of Wisconsin–Madison]
    Lisa Fagin Davis, Medieval Academy of America
    John K. Delaney, National Gallery of Art
    Elisabeth Doulkaridou-Ramantani, École nationale supérieure des sciences de l’information et des bibliothèques
    Michelle Facini, National Gallery of Art
    Bryan Keene, Riverside City College
    Matthew J. Westerby, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts

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