Faculty and scholars within the Graduate Center Art History program are prolific authors. Learn more about the books published by members of our community in the archive below.
Alexander at the end of the World
The Forgotten Final Years of Alexander the Great
A riveting biography of Alexander the Great’s final years, when the leader’s insatiable desire to conquer the world set him off on an exhilarating, harrowing journey that would define his legacy.
By 330 B.C.E., Alexander the Great had reached the pinnacle of success. Or so it seemed. He had defeated the Persian ruler Darius III and seized the capital city of Persepolis. His exhausted and traumatized soldiers were ready to return home to Macedonia. Yet Alexander had other plans. He was determined to continue heading east to Afghanistan in search of his ultimate goal: to reach the end of the world.
In Alexander at the End of the World, renowned classicist and art history professor Rachel Kousser vividly brings to life Alexander’s labyrinthine, treacherous final years, weaving together a brilliant series of epic battles, stunning landscapes, and nearly insurmountable obstacles. Meticulously researched and grippingly written, Kousser’s narrative is an unforgettable tale of daring and adventure, an inspiring portrait of grit and ambition, and a powerful meditation on the ability to learn from failure.
Published July 2024
Photography and Korea
Authored by GC alumna Jeehy Kim, Ph.D. '15, Art History.
From the late nineteenth century, when Korean travellers brought Western photographic technology home from China, to modern times, photography has been interwoven into Korea’s political and cultural history. In Photography and Korea, the first history of Korean photography for a Western readership, Jeehey Kim presents multiple visions of the country, including the divided peninsula, Korea as imagined through foreign eyes, key Korean artists, Korean diasporas and local professional and vernacular photographers. Kim explores studio and institutional practices during the Japanese colonial period, and the divergence of practices after the division of Korea.
Published May 2023
Mount Rushmore, Four Presidents, and the Quest for National Unity
In recent years the United States has witnessed major controversies surrounding past American presidents, monuments, and sites. Consider Mount Rushmore, which features the heads of the nation’s most revered presidents—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. Is Rushmore a proud national achievement or a symbol of the U.S. theft and desecration of the Lakota Sioux’s sacred land? Is it fair to denigrate George Washington for having owned slaves and Thomas Jefferson for having had a relationship with Sally Hemings, an enslaved woman, to the point of dismissing these men’s accomplishments? Should we retroactively hold Abraham Lincoln accountable for having signed off on the largest single-day mass execution in U.S. history, of thirty-eight Dakota men? How do we reckon with Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy? He was criticized for his imperialist policies but praised for his prolabor antitrust and conservation programs. These charged issues and many others have been plaguing our nation and prompting the removal of Confederate statues and flags amid racial unrest, a national pandemic, and political strife.
Noted art historian Harriet F. Senie tackles these pivotal subjects and more in Monumental Controversies. Senie places partisan politics aside as she investigates subjects that have not been adequately covered in classrooms or literature and require substantial reconciliation in order for Americans to come to terms with their history. She shines a spotlight on the complicated facts surrounding these figures, monuments, and sites, enabling us to revisit the flaws of our Founding Fathers and their checkered legacies while still recognizing their enormous importance and influence on the United States of America.
Published April 2023
Exhibitions and Memory from the Fall of Mussolini to Today
Alum Raffaele Bedarida, co-editor with contributions by alum, Vanessa Rocco, and Professors Romy Golan and Emily Braun.
On the centenary of the fascist party's ascent to power in Italy, Curating Fascism examines the ways in which exhibitions organized from the fall of Benito Mussolini's regime to the present day have shaped collective memory, historical narratives, and political discourse around the Italian ventennio. It charts how shows on fascism have evolved since the postwar period in Italy, explores representations of Italian fascism in exhibitions across the world, and highlights blindspots in art and cultural history, as well as in exhibition practices.
Featuring contributions from an international group of art, architectural, design, and cultural historians, as well as journalists and curators, this book treats fascism as both a historical moment and as a major paradigm through which critics, curators, and the public at large have defined the present moment since World War II. It interweaves historical perspectives, critical theory, and direct accounts of exhibitions from the people who conceived them or responded to them most significantly in order to examine the main curatorial strategies, cultural relevance, and political responsibility of art exhibitions focusing on the Fascist period. Through close analysis, the chapter authors unpack the multifaceted specificity of art shows, including architecture and exhibition design; curatorial choices and institutional history; cultural diplomacy and political history; theories of viewership; and constructed collective memory, to evaluate current curatorial practice.
In offering fresh new perspectives on the historiography, collective memory, and understanding of fascist art and culture from a contemporary standpoint, Curating Fascism sheds light on the complex exhibition history of Italian fascism not just within Italy but in such countries as the USA, the UK, Germany, and Brazil. It also presents an innovative approach to the growing field of exhibition theory by bringing contributions from curators and exhibition historians, who critically reflect upon curatorial strategies with respect to the delicate subject of fascism and fascist art, into dialogue with scholars of Italian studies and art historians. In doing so, the book addresses the physical and cultural legacy of fascism in the context of the current historical moment.
Published November 2022
In the Mind's Eye / La Mirada de Quien Contempla
Landscapes of Cuba / Paisajes de Cuba
This English/Spanish bilingual volume explores Cuban and U.S. landscape painters largely active from 1850 to 1910 whose portrayals of Cuba reflect political, social, and ideological changes in both countries.
In the Mind's Eye tells many stories about Cuba that reflect the island's significance, both as the place from which Cubans fled, and a destination to which Americans flocked. While the dynamics of the Revolution in 1959 frame many conversations about Cuba, this volume seeks a longer historical trajectory by focusing on the 19th century--with visual interpretations and commentary by 21st-century artists. American artists William Glackens, Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, and Willard Metcalf are featured alongside contemporary artists including Juan Carlos Alom, Mar a Magdalena Campos-Pons, and Juana Vald's. Two new interviews with artists Juana Vald's and Carlos Martiel conducted by Donette Francis and Elvia Rosa Castro highlight the importance of contemporary Cuban art.
A ground-breaking exploration of the Cuban landscape in the imagination of American and Cuban artists, In the Mind's Eye opens new avenues of inquiry about the Caribbean island which has played an outsized role in global politics, economics, and culture. For centuries an Edenic image of fantasy and escapism has been projected onto Cuba by observers from North America and Europe. Until recent times, the harsh historical and contemporary realities of servitude, racial strife, and environmental degradation rarely colored artists portrayal of the country, presenting a skewed perspective on this nation.
Published October 2022
| Giles |
Exhibiting Italian Art in the U.S.
Futurism to Arte Provera
Author: Raffaele Bedarida, Ph.D. Art History, 2016
This volume explores how Italian institutions, dealers, critics, and artists constructed a modern national identity for Italy by exporting – literally and figuratively – contemporary art to the United States in key moments between 1929 and 1969.
From artist Fortunato Depero opening his Futurist House in New York City to critic Germano Celant launching Arte Povera in the United States, Raffaele Bedarida examines the thick web of individuals and cultural environments beyond the two more canonical movements that shaped this project. By interrogating standard narratives of Italian Fascist propaganda on the one hand and American Cold War imperialism on the other, this book establishes a more nuanced transnational approach. The central thesis is that, beyond the immediate aims of political propaganda and conquering a new market for Italian art, these art exhibitions, publications, and the critical discourse aimed at American audiences all reflected back on their makers: they forced and helped Italians define their own modernity in relation to the world’s new dominant cultural and economic power.
Published October 2022
Inside the Spiral
The Passions of Robert Smithson
Author: Suzaan Boettger, Ph.D. Art History '98
An expansive and revelatory study of Robert Smithson’s life and the hidden influences on his iconic creations
This first biography of the major American artist Robert Smithson, famous as the creator of the Spiral Jetty, deepens understanding of his art by addressing the potent forces in his life that were shrouded by his success. Featuring copious illustrations never before published of early work, it offers unprecedented insight into the hidden impulses of one of modern art’s most enigmatic figures.
Published October 2022
University of Minnesota Press
Freedom, Control and the Computer in 1960s Italy
Tracing the evolution of the Italian avant-garde’s pioneering experiments with art and technology and their subversion of freedom and control
In postwar Italy, a group of visionary artists used emergent computer technologies as both tools of artistic production and a means to reconceptualize the dynamic interrelation between individual freedom and collectivity. Arte Programmata traces the multifaceted practices of these groundbreaking artists and their conviction that technology could provide the conditions for a liberated social life.
Lindsay Caplan holds a Ph.D. in Art History from CUNY Graduate Center.
Published October 2022
University of Minnesota Press
The Letters of Rosemary and Bernadette Mayer 1976-1980
Co-edited by Marie Warsh and Gillian Sneed (Ph.D. Art History, Graduate Center, 2019).
This collection of the correspondence between artist Rosemary Mayer and poet Bernadette Mayer occurs between the years of 1976 and 1980, a period of rich creativity in New York’s artistic avant-garde, and one which includes the development of major bodies of work by the two women.
Rosemary Mayer was creating sculptures, watercolours, books and “temporary monuments” from weather balloons and snow, while Bernadette Mayer was working on some of her best-known publications, including the book-length poem Midwinter Day and the poetry collection The Golden Book of Words.
Spanning the worlds of Conceptual art, Postminimalism, feminism, the New York School, Language poetry and more, these letters elucidate the bonds of sisterhood through intimate exchanges about art, relationships and everyday life.
Published on occasion of the touring exhibition ‘Rosemary Mayer: Ways of Attaching’, 9 Sep 2021 – 9 Jan 2022, Swiss Institute of Contemporary art, New York; 5 March – 22 May 2022, Ludwig Forum Aachen; 11 Jun – 18 Sep 2022, Lenbachhaus, München; and 8 Oct 2022 – 15 Jan 2023, Spike Island, Bristol.
Co-published with Swiss Institute.
Published October 2022
The Owls Are Not What They Seem: Artist as Ethologist
The Owls Are Not What They Seem is a selective history of modern and contemporary engagements with animals in the visual arts and how these explorations relate to the evolution of scientific knowledge regarding animals. Arnaud Gerspacher argues that artistic knowledge presents a valuable supplement to scientific knowledge when it comes to encountering and existing alongside nonhuman animals and life worlds.
Though critical of art works involving animals that are unreflective and exploitative, Gerspacher’s exploration of aesthetic practices by Allora & Calzadilla, Pierre Huyghe, Agnieszka Kurant, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Martin Roth, David Weber-Krebs, and others suggests that, alongside scientific practices, art has much to offer in revealing the otherworldly qualities of animals and forging ecopolitical solidarities with fellow earthlings. This book is part of the series Forerunners: Ideas First.
Arnaud Gerspacher, Ph.D. Art History, 2017, is an adjunct professor at City College, CUNY.
Published May 2022
University of Minnesota Press
Turks, Jews, and Other Germans in Contemporary Art
With Turks, Jews, and Other Germans in Contemporary Art, Peter Chametzky presents a view of visual culture in Germany that leaves behind the usual suspects — those artists who dominate discussions of contemporary German art, including Gerhard Richter, Anselm Kiefer, and Rosemarie Trockel — and instead turns to those artists not as well known outside Germany, including Maziar Moradi, Hito Steyerl, and Tanya Ury. In this first book-length examination of Germany's multicultural art scene, Chametzky explores the work of more than 30 German artists who are (among other ethnicities) Turkish, Jewish, Arab, Asian, Iranian, Sinti and Roma, Balkan, and Afro-German.
With a title that echoes Peter Gay's 1978 collection of essays, Freud, Jews and Other Germans, this book, like Gay's, rejects the idea of “us” and “them” in German culture. Discussing artworks in a variety of media that both critique and expand notions of identity and community, Chametzky offers a counternarrative to the fiction of an exclusively white, Christian German culture, arguing for a cosmopolitan Germanness. He considers works that deploy critical, confrontational, and playful uses of language, especially German and Turkish; that assert the presence of “foreign bodies” among the German body politic; that grapple with food as a cultural marker; that engage with mass media; and that depict and inhabit spaces imbued with the element of time.
American discussions of German contemporary art have largely ignored the emergence of non-ethnic Germans as some of Germany's most important visual artists. Turks, Jews, and Other Germans in Contemporary Art fills this gap.
Chametzky received a Ph.D. in Art History from the Graduate Center in 1991.
Published December 2021
MIT Press, 2021
Flashback, Eclipse: The Political Imaginary of Italian Art in the 1960s
Zone Books, 2021
Flashback, Eclipse is a groundbreaking study of 1960s Italian art and its troubled but also resourceful relation to the history and politics of the first part of the twentieth century and the aftermath of World War II. Most analyses have treated the 1960s in Italy as the decade of “presentism” par excellence, a political decade but one liberated from history. Romy Golan, however, makes the counterargument that 1960s Italian artists did not forget Italian and European history but rather reimagined it in oblique form. Her book identifies and explores this imaginary through two forms of nonlinear and decidedly nonpresentist forms of temporality—the flashback and the eclipse. In view of the photographic and filmic nature of these two concepts, the book’s analysis is largely mediated by black-and-white images culled from art, design, and architecture magazines, photo books, film stills, and exhibition documentation.
The book begins in Turin with Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Mirror Paintings; moves on to Campo urbano, a one-day event in the city of Como; and ends with the Vitalità del Negativo exhibition in Rome. What is being recalled and at other moments occluded are not only episodes of Italian nationalism and Fascism but also various liberatory moments of political and cultural resistance. The book’s main protagonists are, in order of appearance, artists Michelangelo Pistoletto and Giosetta Fioroni, photographer Ugo Mulas, Ettore Sottsass (as critic rather than designer), graphic designer Bruno Munari, curators Luciano Caramel and Achille Bonito Oliva, architect Piero Sartogo, Carla Lonzi (as artist as much as critic), filmmakers Michelangelo Antonioni and Bernardo Bertolucci, and, in flashback among the departed, painter Felice Casorati, writer Massimo Bontempelli, art historian Aby Warburg, architect Giuseppe Terragni, and Renaissance friar-philosopher-mathematician Giordano Bruno (as patron saint of the sixty-eighters).
Published November 2021
Dressing Up: The Women Who Influenced French Fashion
How wealthy American women — as consumers and as influencers — helped shape French couture of the late nineteenth century; lavishly illustrated.
French fashion of the late 19th century is known for its allure, its ineffable chic — think of John Singer Sargent's Madame X and her scandalously slipping strap. For Parisian couturiers and their American customers, it was also serious business. In Dressing Up, Elizabeth Block examines the couturiers' influential clientele — wealthy American women who bolstered the French fashion industry with a steady stream of orders from the United States. Countering the usual narrative of the designer as solo creative genius, Block shows that these women — as high-volume customers and as pre-Internet influencers — were active participants in the era's transnational fashion system.
Block describes the arrival of nouveau riche Americans on the French fashion scene, joining European royalty, French socialites, and famous actresses on the client rosters of the best fashion houses—Charles Frederick Worth, Doucet, and Félix, among others. She considers the mutual dependence of couture and coiffure; the participation of couturiers in international expositions (with mixed financial results); the distinctive shopping practices of American women, which ranged from extensive transatlantic travel to quick trips downtown to the department store; the performance of conspicuous consumption at balls and soirées; the impact of American tariffs on the French fashion industry; and the emergence of smuggling, theft, and illicit copying of French fashions in the American market as the middle class emulated the preferences of the rich. Lavishly illustrated, with vibrant images of dresses, portraits, and fashion plates, Dressing Up reveals the power of American women in French couture.
Winner of the Aileen Ribeiro Grant of the Association of Dress Historians; an Association for Art History grant; and a Pasold Research Fund grant.
Block received a Ph.D. in Art History from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2011.
Published October 2021
The MIT Press, 2021
Designing Motherhood: Things that Make and Break Our Births
Michelle Millar Fisher and Amber Winick
While birth often brings great joy, making babies is a knotty enterprise. The designed objects that surround us when it comes to menstruation, birth control, conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and early motherhood vary as oddly, messily, and dramatically as the stereotypes suggest. This smart, image-rich, fashion-forward, and design-driven book explores more than eighty designs — iconic, conceptual, archaic, titillating, emotionally charged, or just plain strange — that have defined the relationships between people and babies during the past century.
Each object tells a story. In striking images and engaging text, Designing Motherhood unfolds the compelling design histories and real-world uses of the objects that shape our reproductive experiences. The authors investigate the baby carrier, from the Snugli to BabyBjörn, and the (re)discovery of the varied traditions of baby wearing; the tie-waist skirt, famously worn by a pregnant Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy, and essential for camouflaging and slowly normalizing a public pregnancy; the home pregnancy kit, and its threat to the authority of male gynecologists; and more. Memorable images — including historical ads, found photos, and drawings — illustrate the crucial role design and material culture plays throughout the arc of human reproduction.
The book features a prologue by Erica Chidi and a foreword by Alexandra Lange.
Millar Fisher is a Ph.D. candidate in Art History at the CUNY Graduate Center.
Published August 2021
MIT Press, 2021
From City Space to Cyberspace: Art, Squatting, and Internet Culture in the Netherlands
The narrative of the birth of internet culture often focuses on the achievements of American entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, but there is an alternative history of internet pioneers in Europe who developed their own model of network culture in the early 1990s. Drawing from their experiences in the leftist and anarchist movements of the '80s, they built DIY networks that give us a glimpse into what internet culture could have been if it were in the hands of squatters, hackers, punks, artists, and activists. In the Dutch scene, the early internet was intimately tied to the aesthetics and politics of squatting. Untethered from profit motives, these artists and activists aimed to create a decentralized tool that would democratize culture and promote open and free exchange of information.
Wasielewski received a Ph.D. in art history in 2019 from the CUNY Graduate Center.
Published August 2021
Amsterdam University Press, 2021
Teachable Monuments: Using Public Art top Spark Dialogue and Confront Controversy
Sierra Rooney. Jennifer Wingate and Harriet F. Senie
Monuments around the world have become the focus of intense and sustained discussions, activism, vandalism, and removal. Since the convulsive events of 2015 and 2017, during which white supremacists committed violence in the shadow of Confederate symbols, and the 2020 nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, protesters and politicians in the United States have removed Confederate monuments, as well as monuments to historical figures like Christopher Columbus and Dr. J. Marion Sims, questioning their legitimacy as present-day heroes that their place in the public sphere reinforces. The essays included in this anthology offer guidelines and case studies tailored for students and teachers to demonstrate how monuments can be used to deepen civic and historical engagement and social dialogue. Essays analyze specific controversies throughout North America with various outcomes as well as examples of monuments that convey outdated or unwelcome value systems without prompting debate.
Published August 2021
Restless Enterprise: The Art and Life of Eliza Greatorex
University of California Press, 2020
Eliza Pratt Greatorex (1819–1897) was America’s most famous woman artist in the mid-nineteenth century, but today she is all but forgotten. Beginning with her Irish roots, this biography brings her art and life back into focus. Breaking conventions for female artists at that time, Greatorex specialized in landscapes and streetscapes, traveling from the Hudson River to the Colorado Rockies and across Europe and North Africa. Her crowning achievement, a monumental tome of drawings and narratives titled Old New York, awakened the public to the destruction of the city’s architectural heritage during the post–Civil War era. Exploring Greatorex’s fierce ambition and creative path, Katherine Manthorne reveals how her success at forging an independent career in a male-dominated world shaped American gender politics, visual culture, and urban consciousness.
Published December 2020
Claire Bishop in conversation with/en conversación con Tania Bruguera
Fundación Cisneros/Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros; Bilingual edition, 2020
A controversial figure working in installation and performance, Cuban artist Tania Bruguera (born 1968) has consistently blurred the lines between art and activism. Defining herself as an initiator rather than an author, she often invites spectator participation and works in a collaborative mode, working with various organizations, institutions and individuals to challenge political and economic power structures and the control they hold over society. She researches and executes the ways in which art can be applied to everyday life, and how its effects can translate into political action. From offering Cubans one minute of uncensored time in Havana's Plaza de la Revolución (#YoTambienExijo, 2014) to operating a flexible community center in Corona, Queens (Immigrant Movement International, 2011), Bruguera strives to make Arte Útil (Useful Art), an art that imagines and provides tools to bring about social change.
This volume is the eleventh title in the Fundación Cisneros' Conversaciones/Conversations series, and features an in-depth conversation between the artist and the renowned art historian Claire Bishop. In this interview, Bruguera tells her own story, recounting the development of her early work in 1980s Cuba, motivated by her political activism, and her shift from intimate performances to the orchestration of the large-scale interactive situations and events that characterize her work today.
Published October 2020
Film and Modern American Art: The Dialogue Between Cinema and Painting
Between the 1890s and the 1930s, movie going became an established feature of everyday life across America. Movies constituted an enormous visual data bank and changed the way artist and public alike interpreted images. This book explores modern painting as a response to, and an appropriation of, the aesthetic possibilities pried open by cinema from its invention until the outbreak of World War II, when both the art world and the film industry changed substantially. Artists were watching movies, filmmakers studied fine arts; the membrane between media was porous, allowing for fluid exchange. Each chapter focuses on a suite of films and paintings, broken down into facets and then reassembled to elucidate the distinctive art–film nexus at successive historic moments.
Published September 2020
Women in the Dark: Female Photographers in the U.S., 1850-1900
Recover the stories of long-overlooked American women who, at a time when women rarely worked outside the home, became commercial photographers and shaped the new, challenging medium. Covering two generations of photographers ranging from New York City to California’s mining districts, this study goes beyond a broad survey and explores individual careers through primary sources and new materials. Profiles of the photographers animate their careers by exploring how they began, the details of running their own studios, and their visual output. The featured photos vary in form—daguerreotype, tintype, carte de visite, and more—and subject, including Civil War portraits, postmortem photography, and landscape photography. This welcome resource fills in gaps in photographic, American, and women's history and convincingly lays out the parallels between the growth of photography as an available medium and the late-19th-century women's movement.
Published September 2020
Theodore Wendel: True Notes of American Impressionism
One of the first American artists to bring French Impressionism home to develop on native soil, Theodore Wendel is likely the last to have a monograph that records his remarkable career and stunning oeuvre. His portraits and still lifes, and especially his landscapes, not only exemplify the joyous palette and vigorous brushwork of the genre, but they also mirror the idyllic, transient beauty of rural hamlets along the Massachusetts coast — Gloucester and Ipswich, the dual epicenters of his distinguished career.
One of the original "Duveneck boys" who studied in Munich at the Royal Academy, Wendel followed his mentor to Florence and Venice; he later went on to Paris and ultimately joined a colony of young artists at Giverny. The scenes and subject matter in the works he completed there are among the earliest by an American artist to adopt and evolve Impressionist strategies. Upon his return to America, he spent the next decades rendering scenes of the farmland and coast north of Boston that contemporary critics acclaimed as some of the best they had seen. Yet despite his talent and the significant accolades earned during his career, in the near-century following his death the recognition of his achievements has faded. The Artist Book Foundation is delighted to have the opportunity to remedy this situation with this monograph on the artist, Theodore Wendel: True Notes of American Impressionism.
Laurene Buckley's years of exhaustive research inform an engaging and detailed narrative of Wendel's time in Europe and his many years capturing the essence of the farms and fishing villages along the rural coast of Massachusetts. Thanks to her efforts, the book features many of his best works, a number of which are in private collections. An informative introduction by William H. Gerdts provides significant artistic context for Wendel and explains the artist's deft ability to draw the viewer into a scene.
Buckley received her Ph.D. in art history in 1996 from The Graduate Center.
Published September 2019
The Artist Book Foundation, 2019
From Darkness to Light: Writers in Museums, 1798-1898
Open Book Publishers, 2019
Katherine Manthorne and Rosella Mamoli Zorzi
From Darkness to Light explores from a variety of angles the subject of museum lighting in exhibition spaces in America, Japan, and Western Europe throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Written by an array of international experts, these collected essays gather perspectives from a diverse range of cultural sensibilities. From sensitive discussions of Tintoretto’s unique approach to the play of light and darkness as exhibited in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice, to the development of museum lighting as part of Japanese artistic self-fashioning, via the story of an epic American painting on tour, museum illumination in the work of Henry James, and lighting alterations at Chatsworth (to name only a few topics) this book is a treasure trove of illuminating contributions.
The collection is at once a refreshing insight for the enthusiastic museum-goer, who is brought to an awareness of the exhibit in its immediate environment, and a wide-ranging scholarly compendium for the professional who seeks to proceed in their academic or curatorial work with a more enlightened sense of the lighted space.
Published April 2019
Visions of a Sacred Buddhist Mountain
The northern Chinese mountain range of Mount Wutai has been a preeminent site of international pilgrimage for over a millennium. Home to more than one hundred temples, the entire range is considered a Buddhist paradise on earth, and has received visitors ranging from emperors to monastic and lay devotees. Mount Wutai explores how Qing Buddhist rulers and clerics from Inner Asia, including Manchus, Tibetans, and Mongols, reimagined the mountain as their own during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Wen-Shing Chou examines a wealth of original source materials in multiple languages and media — many never before published or translated—such as temple replicas, pilgrimage guides, hagiographic representations, and panoramic maps. She shows how literary, artistic, and architectural depictions of the mountain permanently transformed the site’s religious landscape and redefined Inner Asia’s relations with China. Chou addresses the pivotal but previously unacknowledged history of artistic and intellectual exchange between the varying religious, linguistic, and cultural traditions of the region. The reimagining of Mount Wutai was a fluid endeavor that proved central to the cosmopolitanism of the Qing Empire, and the mountain range became a unique site of shared diplomacy, trade, and religious devotion between different constituents, as well as a spiritual bridge between China and Tibet.
A compelling exploration of the changing meaning and significance of one of the world’s great religious sites, Mount Wutai offers an important new framework for understanding Buddhist sacred geography.
Published April 2018
Princeton University Press
The Rockies and the Alps: Bierstadt, Calame & the Romance of the Mountains
Katherine Manthorne and Tricia Laughlin Bloom
Inspired by the grandeur of the Rockies and the Alps, American and European artists strove to capture their power in paint. Landscapes of soaring peaks and spectacular vistas became increasingly popular in the mid-nineteenth century, when photographers, scientists, and armchair travelers were awakening to these wonders. Artistic interests coincided with the rise of tourism, as improved transportation and accommodations made mountains and glaciers more accessible. This richly illustrated volume brings together dazzling depictions of the Rockies and the Alps, while examining the dialogue between artists who visited and recorded these geographically distant ranges.
Two key figures highlighted are Swiss painter Alexandre Calame (1810–1864), frequently identified with Alpine views of torrents, glaciers, and gorges, and Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902), whose impressive canvases often provided American audiences with their first glimpse of the Rockies and the western frontier. Their contemporaries included J.M.W. Turner, John Ruskin, painters of the Hudson River School Thomas Cole, Worthington Whittredge, and John F. Kensett, and photographers Carleton Watkins and Eadweard Muybridge.
The Rockies and the Alps features contributions by four outstanding scholars who investigate how geology, flora and fauna, and social and literary contexts relate to the rise of alpine landscape painting. Each essay explores the close connections among these artists and diverse layers of symbolism these mountain images carried, revealing how the same landscape paintings that became archetypal symbols of American identity were in fact the product of a dialogue between American and European artists.
Published February 2018
California Mexicana: Missions to Murals, 1820-1930
University of California Press, 2017
Following the U.S.-Mexican War (1846–1848), lands that had for centuries belonged to New Spain, and later to Mexico, were transformed into the thirty-first state in the United States. This process was facilitated by visual artists, who forged distinct pictorial motifs and symbols to establish the state’s new identity. This collective cultural inheritance of the Spanish and Mexican periods forms a central current of California history but has been only sparingly studied by cultural and art historians. California Mexicana focuses for the first time on the range and vitality of artistic traditions growing out of the unique amalgam of Mexican and American culture that evolved in Southern California from 1820 through 1930. A study of these early regional manifestations provides the essential matrix out of which emerge later art and cultural issues. Featuring painters, printmakers, photographers, and mapmakers from both sides of the border, this collection demonstrates how they made the Mexican presence visible in their art. This beautifully illustrated catalogue addresses two key areas of inquiry: how Mexico became California, and how the visual arts reflected the shifting identity that grew out of that transformation.
Published in association with the Laguna Art Museum, and as part of the Getty's Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.
Published October 2017
The Afterlives of Greek Sculpture
Interaction, Transformation, and Destruction
Winner: Archaeological Institute of America Publication Subvention Award, 2015. Shortlisted: Runciman Book Award for a work on Greek history or culture, Anglo-Hellenic League.
The Afterlives of Greek Sculpture is the first comprehensive, historical account of the afterlives of ancient Greek monumental sculptures. Whereas scholars have traditionally focused on the creation of these works, Rachel Kousser instead draws on archaeological and textual sources to analyze the later histories of these sculptures, reconstructing the processes of damage and reparation that characterized the lives of Greek images. Using an approach informed by anthropology and iconoclasm studies, Kousser describes how damage to sculptures took place within a broader cultural context. She also tracks the development of an anti-iconoclastic discourse in Hellenic society from the Persian wars to the death of Cleopatra. Her study offers a fresh perspective on the role of the image in ancient Greece. It also sheds new light on the creation of Hellenic cultural identity and the formation of collective memory in the Classical and Hellenistic eras.
Published February 2017
Cambridge University Press
Traveler Artists: Landscapes of Latin America from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection
Fundación Cisneros/Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, 2015
In the 19th century, European and North American travelers illustrated narratives of their explorations in the New World that were published in Europe. Europeans imagined the tropics as a site for cultural imperialism and fantasies of self-realization. Traveler artists often authenticated this perception by presenting the landscape as an enchanted land. Later in the century, native artists began to pick up the European landscape tradition and reflect on their own culture through a different lens. Traveler Artists contributes new scholarship to this burgeoning field and offers original research on 52 artworks by such key figures as Frans Post, Frederick Edwin Church, José María Velasco and Auguste Morisot, many of which are reproduced here for the first time.
Published October 2015
Radical Museology, or, What's Contemporary in Museums of Contemporary Art?
Koenig Books, 2014
In the face of austerity cuts to public funding, a handful of museums of contemporary art have devised compelling alternatives to the mantra of ‘bigger is better and richer’.
In Radical Museology, art historian and critic, Claire Bishop presents the collection displays of the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Museo Nacional de Reina Sofía in Madrid and MSUM in Ljubljana as outlines of a new understanding of the contemporary in contemporary art.
Rather than denoting presentism, the contemporary comes to signal a dialectical method: scouring the past for the origins of our present historical moment, which in turn is the determining motivation for our interest in the past. It is an anachronic action that seeks to reboot the future through the unexpected appearance of a relevant past.
Accompanying and complimenting Claire Bishop’s text are illustrations by artist Dan Perjovschi.
Published February 2014
Theresa Bernstein: A Century in Art
The American artist Theresa Ferber Bernstein (1890-2002) made and exhibited her work in every decade of the twentieth century. This authoritative book provides an overview of her life and artistic career, examining her relationships with contemporary artists. Working in realist and expressionist styles, she treated the major subjects of her time, including the fight for women's suffrage, the plight of immigrants, World War I, jazz, unemployment, racial discrimination, and occasionally explicitly Jewish themes. This volume includes thematic essays and more than two hundred images, from full-color reproductions of her art to rare documentary photographs, many published here for the first time. The book also includes a detailed chronology of Bernstein's life, a list of public collections, and a list of her writings.
Published November 2013
University of Nebraska Press, 2013
Strange Beauty: Issues in the Making and Meaning of Reliquaries, 400 - circa 1204
Reliquaries, one of the central art forms of the Middle Ages, have recently been the object of much interest among historians and artists. Until now, however, they have had no treatment in English that considers their history, origins, and place within religious practice, or, above all, their beauty and aesthetic value. In Strange Beauty, Hahn treats issues that cut across the class of medieval reliquaries as a whole. She is particularly concerned with portable reliquaries that often contained tiny relic fragments, which purportedly allowed saints to actively exercise power in the world. Above all, Hahn argues, reliquaries are a form of representation. They rarely simply depict what they contain; rather, they prepare the viewer for the appropriate reception of their precious contents and establish the 'story' of the relics, and thus engage the viewer in ways that are persuasive or rhetorical.
Published July 2012
Penn State University Press, 2012
Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Separation
A searing critique of participatory art by an iconoclastic historian.
Since the 1990s, critics and curators have broadly accepted the notion that participatory art is the ultimate political art: that by encouraging an audience to take part an artist can promote new emancipatory social relations. Around the world, the champions of this form of expression are numerous, ranging from art historians such as Grant Kester, curators such as Nicolas Bourriaud and Nato Thompson, to performance theorists such as Shannon Jackson.
Artificial Hells is the first historical and theoretical overview of socially engaged participatory art, known in the US as “social practice.” Claire Bishop follows the trajectory of twentieth-century art and examines key moments in the development of a participatory aesthetic. This itinerary takes in Futurism and Dada; the Situationist International; Happenings in Eastern Europe, Argentina and Paris; the 1970s Community Arts Movement; and the Artists Placement Group. It concludes with a discussion of long-term educational projects by contemporary artists such as Thomas Hirschhorn, Tania Bruguera, Paweł Althamer and Paul Chan.
Since her controversial essay in Artforum in 2006, Claire Bishop has been one of the few to challenge the political and aesthetic ambitions of participatory art. In Artificial Hells, she not only scrutinizes the emancipatory claims made for these projects, but also provides an alternative to the ethical (rather than artistic) criteria invited by such artworks. Artificial Hells calls for a less prescriptive approach to art and politics, and for more compelling, troubling and bolder forms of participatory art and criticism.
Published July 2012
Lee Krasner: A Biography
This first full-length account of Lee Krasner's colorful life challenges previous portrayals of the painter and wife of Jackson Pollock, showing that she was an independent and resourceful woman of uncompromising talent and prodigious energy. She emerges as a significant artist who deserves her place in the twentieth century's cultural lexicon and artistic pantheon. Levin also probes Krasner's relationship with Pollock, examining how this strong woman struggled to meet the challenges of their poverty, as well as her husband's alcoholism and extramarital affairs, all the while encouraging his art. Drawing on new sources and numerous personal interviews-including with Krasner, whom Levin interviewed during the last years of the artist's life-the author uncovers never-before-told stories of how Krasner skillfully marketed Pollock's work and how this eventually raised prices for all the abstract expressionists. The book was listed as an editors' choice in the New York Times on July 17.
Published March 2011
William Morrow, 2011
Installation Art: A Critical History
What has been loosely termed Installation Art, dominates the exhibition programmes of galleries worldwide. However, while it is much discussed it has rarely been clearly defined. Installation Art provides, for the first time, a clear account of the rise of this now prevalent strand of contemporary art. Author Claire Bishop provides both a history and a full critical examination of installation art, in a survey of the form that is both thorough and accessible. While revising and, in some cases, re-assessing many well-known names in post-1960 art, it will also introduce the audience to a wider spectrum of younger artists yet to receive serious critical attention.
Artists featured include Vito Acconci, Michael Asher, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Marcel Broodthaers, Judy Chicago, Olafur Eliasson, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Dan Graham, Group Material, Ann Hamilton, Thomas Hirschhorn, Carsten Holler,, Robert Irwin, Isaac Julien, Ilya Kabakov, Yayoi Kusama, Cildo Meireles, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Mike Nelson, Helio Oiticica, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Smithson, Paul Thek, Rirkrit Tiravanija James Turrell, Bill Viola and Richard Wilson.
Published January 2011
Fern Hunting among These Picturesque Mountains: Frederic Edwin Church in Jamaica
In 1865 the American landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church and his wife, Isabel, traveled to Jamaica on a sojourn of recovery after the tragic deaths of their two young children. A time to mourn and escape from the constant reminders found at their home, Olana, the Churches' trip to Jamaica also provided ample inspiration for Frederic. The Olana Collection includes eight oil sketches, an ink drawing, and a pencil drawing Church made in Jamaica. Five of these oil sketches on paper Church chose to mount to canvas and frame for his and Isabel's enjoyment; from these works, and others held by the Cooper-Hewitt, Church created two major studio oils, The Vale of St. Thomas, Jamaica (1867) and The After Glow (1867). The volume includes 48 color illustrations, as well as essays by Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser (on Church's Jamaica work) and Katherine Manthorne (about Church's friends and fellow artists who also traveled to Jamaica to paint).
Published June 2010
Cornell University Press, 2010
Muralnomad: The Paradox of Wall Painting, Europe 1927-1957
In this fascinating and generously illustrated book, Romy Golan explores mural and mural-like works in Europe from the 1920s to the 1950s, beginning with Monet’s installation of the Nymphéas at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, and ending dramatically with Le Corbusier’s huge tapestries in Chandigarh, India.
Many artists and critics looked to the mural as a corrective to the ills of painterly Modernism: the disruption of the pictorial field at the hands of Cubism and other avant-garde practices; the commodification of painting through the market for easel paintings; and more generally the alienation of man and the anomie of art in the modern condition.
At the same time it was clear that a return to the mural format would never be more than an anachronistic and futile gesture. This book is therefore about mural paintings that are not convinced they belong on walls: such strange objects as mosaics designed to be disassembled; paintings that resemble large-scale photographs, or photomurals; and tapestries that functioned as portable woolen walls. The author argues that the uncertain relation of these objects to the wall is symptomatic of the dilemmas that troubled European art, artists, and architects during the middle decades of the twentieth century.
Published September 2009
Yale University Press (translated in French and published by Macula, 2018)
Double Agent is the exhibition catalogue for London's Institute of Contemporary Arts exhibition which ran from February 14 to April 6, 2008, featuring international artists Pawel Althamer, Phil Collins, Dora Garcia, Joe Scanlan, Christoph Schlingensief, Barbara Visser, Donelle Woolford, and Artur Zmijewski. The works of these artists raise questions of performance and authorship, and particularly the issues that arise when the artist is no longer the central agent in his or her own work, but instead operates through a range of individuals, communities, and surrogates. Double Agent explores the ethics of performance and representation, including the power relations involved in the use of non-professional subjects.
Published January 2009
Institute of Contemporary Arts, 2009
Eve's Daughter/Modern Woman: A Mural by Mary Cassett
Sally Webster reevaluates the typical dismissals of Mary Cassatt as an artist lacking radical convictions with an historical, aesthetic, and symbolist analysis of Cassatt's Modern Woman, a unique venture into the male-dominated realm of large-scale mural painting commissioned for the Woman's Building at Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. The author undertakes a complete overview of the mural, synthesizing a wide variety of interpretations and original observations to present the first complete treatment of the work. She connects the symbolism of the painting to Cassatt's life as a woman artist and a member of the Parisian avant-garde, and to the history of woman's emancipation. Dr. Webster ends with a detective story as she joins the hunt to unravel the mystery of the now-missing mural, last known to be in the possession of Mrs. Potter Palmer (of Chicago's Palmer House family). Sally Webster is a professor of art history at Lehman College and the Graduate Center.
Published August 2008
University of Illinois Press, 2008
Hellenistic and Roman Ideal Sculpture: The Allure of the Classical
While searching for the origins of classicism in Western art, Rachel Kousser offers a case study of a sculptural type most often deemed as extraordinarily conservative: the forceful yet erotic image of Venus, as found in Hellenistic and Roman ideal sculpture. Her scholarly analysis, the first of this type, argues that the Romans self-consciously employed such sculpture to represent their ties to the past in a rapidly evolving world, thereby subtly exemplifying their preference for the retrospective. She addresses historical evolution and the Roman adaptation for context, rather than adherence to an original. At the same time, Kousser reevaluates major monuments, including the Venus de Milo, the Column of Trajan, and the Arch of Constantine.
Published June 2008
Cambridge University Press, 2008
Encyclopedia of Society and Culture in the Ancient World
From prehistory to the fall of Rome, this encyclopedia takes stock of the ancient world in four comprehensive volumes. Each entry explores a specific topic, beginning with an introduction that outlines the major developments in chronological order, followed by sub-sections on Africa, Egypt, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Greece, Rome, and the Americas. Every entry concludes with a list of "see also" references to related entries and a list of further recommended readings. Primary source documents, sidebars, and more than 250 black-and-white photographs and maps supplement the text. Editor-in-chief: Peter Bogucki. Editorial Advisor, Americas section: Eloise Quinones Keber.
Published January 2008
Facts on File, 2008
Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography
Essential reading for anyone interested in the world-famous realist artist, this biography, now in a second, expanded edition, doubles the number of illustrations, and includes a section of paintings in color as well as a section on Hopper's international influence on culture, especially on contemporary art, poetry, and cinema. The original biography (Knopf, 1995) has long been considered the seminal review of Edward Hopper's life and work. The biography's focus is the laconic, introverted painter's stormy forty-three-year marriage to outspoken and gregarious Josephine (Jo") Nivison, herself an artist, and draws extensively on Jo Hopper's intimate diaries, which she kept from the early 1930s until shortly before her death in 1968 (just ten months after her husband died).
Published April 2007
Rizzoli Books, 2007
Becoming Judy Chicago: A Biography of the Artist
Judy Chicago, artist, author, feminist, educator, and intellectual whose career now spans four decades, radically changed our understanding of women's contributions to art and to society. Although once disparaged and misunderstood by the critics, Chicago's innovative works, such as The Dinner Party (1974-79), have become icons of the feminist art movement, earning her a place amongst the most influential artists of her time. Gail Levin draws upon Chicago's personal letters and diaries, her published and unpublished writings, and more than 250 new interviews with her friends, family, admirers, and critics, to give a richly detailed story of a great artist, a leader of the women's movement, a tireless crusader for equal rights, and a complicated, vital woman who has dared to express her own sexuality in her art and demand recognition from a male-dominated culture.
Published February 2007
Random House, 2007
MIT Press, 2006
Art that seeks to produce situations in which relations are formed among viewers is placed in historical and theoretical context in key writings by critics and artists.
The desire to move viewers out of the role of passive observers and into the role of producers is one of the hallmarks of twentieth-century art. This tendency can be found in practices and projects ranging from El Lissitzky's exhibition designs to Allan Kaprow's happenings, from minimalist objects to installation art. More recently, this kind of participatory art has gone so far as to encourage and produce new social relationships. Guy Debord's celebrated argument that capitalism fragments the social bond has become the premise for much relational art seeking to challenge and provide alternatives to the discontents of contemporary life. This publication collects texts that place this artistic development in historical and theoretical context.
Participation begins with writings that provide a theoretical framework for relational art, with essays by Umberto Eco, Bertolt Brecht, Roland Barthes, Peter Bürger, Jen-Luc Nancy, Edoaurd Glissant, and Félix Guattari, as well as the first translation into English of Jacques Rancière's influential "Problems and Transformations in Critical Art." The book also includes central writings by such artists as Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica, Joseph Beuys, Augusto Boal, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Thomas Hirschhorn, and Rirkrit Tiravanija. And it features recent critical and curatorial debates, with discussions by Lars Bang Larsen, Nicolas Bourriaud, Hal Foster, and Hans-Ulrich Obrist.
Published December 2006
Husbands, Wives and Lovers: Marriage and Its Discontents in Nineteenth-Century France
Patricia Mainardi has written a lively, interdisciplinary exploration of the cultural and social history of early nineteenth-century France, focusing on what was considered a major social problem of the time-adultery. In a period when expectations about marriage were changing, the problems of husbands, wives, and lovers became a major theme in theater, literature, and the visual arts. This intense interest was grounded in the post-Revolutionary collision between a new concept of the individual's right to happiness and the traditional prerogatives of family and state, Mainardi demonstrates. Examining the questions that permeated French culture and society-about duty vs. happiness-about arranged marriage vs. love, and the penalties for adultery-Mainardi argues that such legal, social, and cultural debates led to modern bourgeois family values.
Published October 2003
Yale University Press, 2003
The Titled Arc Controversy
Senie discusses, in a rich, journalistic style free of art-world jargon, Richard Serra's controversial public sculpture Tilted Arc," a 10-foot-high, 120-foot long curved wall of self-rusting steel that was installed in New York's Federal Plaza in 1981 and removed, after a lengthy public debate, in 1989. While one part of the nation's arts funding debate was focused on censorship in the performance arts and photography (Karen Finley and Robert Mapplethorpe most notably), another was asking whether the removal of the government-commissioned abstract sculptureâ€”called the city's worst public sculpture by the New York Times and the Village Voice-was poetic justice or a dangerous precedent that would scare commissioned artists from doing serious, engaging work.
Published December 2001
University of Minnesota Press, 2001
Modernity and Nostalgia: Art and Politics in France Between the Wars
Yale University Press, 1995
For most of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth, France embodied the very essence of artistic modernism. However, in this original and perceptive study, Romy Golan argues that, after the First World War, traumatized by the experience of the trenches and then by the stranglehold of the Depression, France suffered a crisis of confidence so profound that it initiated a period of cultural, political, and economic retrenchment that lasted into the Vichy years. The image that France acquired of itself—as a rural, feminine, feudal, and victimized society—was not only reflected in the art of the period but was to a large extent fashioned and conditioned by it.
Golan argues that reactionary issues such as anti-urbanism, the return to the soil, regionalism, corporatism, and doubts about the new technology became central to cultural and art historical discourse. Focusing on the overlap of avant-garde and middle-of-the-road production, she investigates the import of these issues not only in painting, sculpture, and architecture (concentrating on the work of Léger, Picasso, Le Corbusier, Ozenfant, Derain, the Surrealists, and the so-called naïfs), but also in the decorative arts, in the spectacle of world and colonial fairs, and in literature. Throughout she finds evidence that artists turned from the aesthetics of the machine age toward a more xenophobic, organic, naturalistic art. This leads her to ask whether the famous and momentous shift of the avant-garde from Paris to New York in 1939 did not, in fact, begin two decades earlier, in 1918. According to Golan, it was in democratic France of this period, rather than in Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany, that one finds the most compelling demonstration of the hidden interaction of art and ideology.
Published October 1995