About

Dear Colleagues, Students, Alumni and Friends:

The 2018-19 academic year is upon us. I’m pleased to be stepping in as Interim Chair, and look forward to helping Art History see another productive and successful year of teaching, scholarship and outreach.

I wish, first of all, to thank Anna Andrzejewski who served as chair during the 2017-18 academic year. As Anna assumes new responsibilities, including helping shepherd the department’s new Board of Visitors, we are grateful that she will continue to serve the department in this leadership capacity, and also wish her the best as she returns to her research program.

Times change – and we see that in our unit. We said farewell last year to two colleagues who provided vital services to the department in the last decade. Prof. Shira Brisman departed in May to take up a new position as tenure-track professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Shira’s classes inspired graduate and undergraduate students alike, and she will be dearly missed. We also said goodbye to our Visual Resources Curator, Jacob Esselstrom, after more than a decade of service. Jacob’s creativity and unceasing devotion to the department left a gaping hole – and yet we are so much richer for having benefitted from his talents.

With change comes opportunity. Thanks to the generosity of Letters & Science, we hired Carolina Alarcon as a Visiting Assistant Professor for 2018-19. A recent Ph.D. from Florida State University focusing on Spanish Renaissance art, Carolina will be teaching courses in early modern this year while also filling a needed gap by teaching Art History 202. We also hired Kelly Fox to help us modernize our visual resources collection. Kelly has experience in visual resources and archives, and with her assistance, we hope to bring our collections and practices in line with current practices and look ahead to the future. We’re also pleased to welcome six new graduate students to the department, and look forward to seeing their research added to our already diverse mix.

We invite you to be a part of our mix of classes, programs, and opportunities for 2018-19. In November, we will welcome Lauren Kroiz back to campus to give a talk on her recently-published book on 20C regionalism. Lauren taught for the department for several years before moving to the University of California-Berkeley. We also hope to host several events around our 20C theme of race and representation that complement Nancy Rose Marshall’s new 100-level course on this topic. Watch our website and Facebook page for announcements.

Finally, there is the sad news of the passing of Professor Emeritus Narciso Menocal. Many faculty and students, past and present, remembered Narciso at a memorial service held in August. I urge you to read more about Narciso’s research and legacy on our website, and look for more in the department newsletter to come later this fall.

As Chair, I look forward to working with everyone and meeting as many of you as possible. It goes without saying that we value your participation in the Department. If you are interested in getting involved, please feel free to reach out to me.

Warm regards,

Steven Nadler, Professor of Philosophy

smnadler@wisc.edu

MISSION STATEMENT

Through our innovative research, teaching, and outreach activities, the department takes a leading role in promoting visual literacy, emphasizing careful attention to continuities and differences across time and space. Examining expressive media, from archaeological artifacts to new media technologies, we explore the ways in which art and visual and material culture are fully integrated into larger cultural histories. In our specialized focus on images, objects, and the built environment, we promote critical and creative approaches to analysis, problem-solving, writing, and visual communication in a variety of media. Through interdisciplinary collaborations, we aim to encourage aesthetic, historical, economic, and ethical questions in order to produce new knowledge, sophisticated readers, engaged writers, critical viewers, and confident cultural citizens who are well prepared to thrive in global society.

Our strengths lie in the great breadth of our faculty’s areas of specialization and course offerings, the diversity of our approaches, the interdisciplinary emphasis of our research and teaching, and our engagement with curatorial and museum studies. The department pursues innovative research and offers engaging courses in a wide range of areas, including to name a few: African and African Diaspora art; American material culture; Contemporary art and theory; Chinese Art; Curatorial Studies; Early Modern European art; Islamic art and architecture; Japanese art; Medieval European art; Print Culture; Photography, Film, and Video; Vernacular architecture; Victorian art and material culture, and Visual studies and Critical Theory.

HISTORY

PRIDE IN PURPOSE AND ACHIEVEMENT

Founded in 1925 by the distinguished German scholar Oskar Hagen, Art History is a dynamic department that teaches and pursues cutting-edge research in the history of art, material culture, and visual culture, ranging from the prehistoric to the contemporary and from Africa, Asia, and Europe to the Americas. Through the 1970s, James Watrous, one of Hagen’s doctoral students, continued the department’s growth in size, scholarship, and significance. He fulfilled Hagen’s dream of building a museum as a laboratory for the Department of Art History. Today, Art History shares a handsome building with the Chazen Museum of Art and the Kohler Art Library. Here students pursue original research that draws on the resources of theses collections. In partnership with the Chazen and other local and regional museums, we offer our students rare opportunities to engage in hands-on learning about objects and the curatorial process through special exhibitions

  • Each year, the Department of Art History serves more than 100 undergraduate art history majors and approximately 35 graduate students who are in various stages of their master’s and Ph.D. programs.
  • We recruit students from throughout the United States, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe.
  • Art History graduates have continued their studies at the graduate level at other top schools.
  • Art History graduates are pursuing a broad range of careers, including faculty and curatorial positions at major universities, colleges, galleries, and museums where they are making significant contributions through important publications and exhibitions.
  • Our internationally recognized faculty have held prestigious fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Museum and Library, the Getty Research Foundation, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, and the Center for Advance Study in the Visual Arts.