Category: Director’s Report

Report of the Founding Director

Richard R. Brettell, Ph.D.; Founding Director, The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History and the Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair

We at the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History are readying ourselves for our fifth anniversary this coming fall semester, and we have pushed the reset button already. 

As of June 1, I will be succeeded as Director by Dr. Michael Thomas, Director of the Center for the Study of Ancient Italy at the University of Texas at Austin. 

A Dallas native, Michael had his secondary education at St. Mark’s School and matriculated to Duke University for his BA in Art History, followed by an MA at SMU, where he worked on Roman and Etruscan Art and Architecture under the direction of Dr. Greg Warden, and a Ph.D. at UT Austin on Roman Imperial Architecture under Dr. John Clarke. 

As a native Texan, Michael is familiar with the art historical traditions of the state, but is also a confirmed internationalist with major research project at Oplontis, a Roman site near Naples where he leads a major international study of what is  one of the largest and most important Roman villas ever discovered. Michael has also worked extensively at Etruscan and Roman sites in Tuscany. 

During the course of these projects, Michael’s experience includes significant collaboration with archeologists, architects, biologists, historians, geographers, and computer specialists on digital mapping and restoration. As such, he is ready to lead EODIAH, as an interdisciplinary art history institute at a STEM University, into the future.  

Michael’s tenure at UT Austin has coincided with the struggle to retain the spaces and collections of the university’s Fine Arts Library. This trying period for art history and the arts at UT Austin has underscored the value of scholarly research libraries and their invaluable role in our state’s leadership in the field of art history. 

Hence, Michael will be a powerful advocate for the Wildenstein Plattner Library at UTD with the additions of the private libraries of Dr. Alessandra Comini, Mr. S. Roger Horchow, Mr. Ivan Phillips, Mr. Nash Flores, the late Mr. John Buchanan, the late John Wilcox, and Luba and Richard Barrett as well as the extensive library of the Crow Museum of Asian Art. 

Because of his work in the Naples area, Michael naturally will be an advocate for EODIAH’s imaginative center in Naples, The Center for the Art and Architectural History of Port Cities, founded by Associate Director, Dr. Sarah Kozlowski. 

Lest one think that I will disappear utterly, I will return to EODIAH in the fall of 2019, retaining the symbolic title of Founding Director, but occupying the Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair and one of the O’Donnell Distinguished Chairs, both of which can be filled with distinguished scholars at my formal retirement.  

Dr. Richard R. Brettell

Founding Director

The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History

Director’s Welcome

Richard R. Brettell, Ph.D.; Founding Director, The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History and the Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair

We have had an unusually busy spring term—even by our own usually busy standards. Our Senior Visiting Research Fellow, Professor Suzanne Blier from Harvard University, not only delivered a stimulating public lecture at the Dallas Museum of Art on newly identified sources for Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, but also has guided seminar students through the technological marvels of Harvard’s WorldMap project. She has even proposed a long-term relationship between Harvard and UT Dallas on this latter project.

We also held major public lectures by three distinguished art historians: Dr. Abigail Solomon-Godeau, the historian of photography; Dr. Yve-Alain Bois, art historian at the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton; and Dr. Thomas Gaehtgens, the recently retired Director of the Getty Research Institute. Two of the lectures were held at our partner institution, the Dallas Museum of Art.

Another important partner of EODIAH is our sister institution in California, the Getty Research Institute, the largest and wealthiest art history research center in the world. Its Director, German-born Dr. Thomas Gaehtgens, has been so impressed by our progress at the O’Donnell Institute that he brought his National Advisory Council and key staff members to visit us in Dallas, starting their trip at UT Dallas to the Institute’s headquarters and learn about our plans for the future. With their blessing, we are sure to head in the right direction.

Former Getty Director Dr. Thomas Gaehtgens, seated, left, with his National Advisory Council staff members visit EODIAH

Our two international partnerships in Naples and Nanjing are humming along. Dr. Kozlowski will soon be able to announce the names of the first group of research residents at our new center in Naples, and in this newsletter I will report on the extraordinary series of research trips arranged for Drs. GAO Xin and LIU Yi, our two Visiting Research Fellows from Nanjing University, organized with real aplomb by Lauren LaRocca with the collaboration of our Amon Carter Museum partners.

My news is that my wife Carol and I, after nearly half a century in academic life, have each been granted a one-year leave from our respective universities and will be away from UT Dallas for the academic year 2018-2019. Dr. Sarah Kozlowski will serve as Acting Director of the Institute. Dr. Max Schich, our large-data art historian who is returning to Dallas after a leave of absence in Munich, will be Acting Assistant Director and will be in charge of our Nanjing University partnership.

While on leave, I will concentrate on the completion of my longest-term research project, the Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings of Paul Gauguin, which will be published by the Wildenstein-Plattner Institute.  I will be ably assisted by one of our own, Dr. Elpida Vouitsis, who completed her Ph.D. in Art History in 2016 and who will work with me as a Senior Research Associate. Of course, I will make myself readily available to my colleagues for Wallace Athenaeum matters as needed.

 

The Wildenstein-Plattner Library

The Institute’s library consultant, Mr. Milan Hughston, recently retired Director of Libraries and Archives at the Museum of Modern Art, has been negotiating a formal memorandum of understanding between UT Dallas and the Wildenstein-Plattner Institute in New York, Paris, and Berlin, for the digitization gift of the entire Paris-based art library to UT Dallas. It too will be housed in its own named building and form part of the Wallace Athenaeum.

The Wallace Athenaeum

After more than a year of planning and meeting, the team of consultants hired by the Institute to envision and program an Athenaeum for UT Dallas concluded their work in March. Members included Peter Walker, the University’s landscape architect; Gary Cunningham, the architect of the O’Donnell Institute’s UT Dallas headquarters and our architectural consultant; Ginger Geyer, an Austin-based artist who has worked extensively in fine arts programming including at the DMA; Milan Hughston, retired Director of Libraries and Archives at the Museum of Modern Art, who served as library consultant; Dr. Anne Balsamo, Dean of the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication at UT Dallas, as our technology consultant; Lucy Buchanan, as the Institute’s Director of Development; and EODIAH Distinguished Scholar in Residence Bonnie Pitman as our museum consultant.

As the chair of the committee for its many meetings in Massachusetts, Austin, New York, and Dallas, I can say that we have completed our work and have planned an ambitious complex of buildings for UT Dallas, the first phase of which will include the Wildenstein-Plattner Library (with other private libraries), and a building to house all the public and scholarly activities of the Wallace Athenaeum. This process of careful team-based planning is unusual in any university, but to my mind it was essential to programming a building that will be completely new to American campus life. The only functioning Athenaeum at any American university is the Athenaeum at Caltech, founded in 1929 and now used as a faculty club and event center.

The very first public presentation of the Athenaeum occurred at “the mother ship,” The University of Texas at Austin, in a fascinating conference organized around the idea of the destruction of archives, books, and thus history. Attended by a wide cross section of faculty and students, particularly art historians, the symposium was the direct result of the evisceration of the Fine Arts Library at UT Austin by the College of Fine Arts’ own Dean. The faculty and students were impressed by the efforts of a science and technology university to put the arts–and related libraries—at the very center of its campus.

Richard R. Brettell, Ph.D.

Founding Director, The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History and the Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair

Director’s Welcome

Richard R. Brettell, Ph.D.; Founding Director, The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History and the Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair

The W. Ray Wallace Athenaeum

The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History is already a vital part of the intellectual landscape of both UT Dallas and the art history community of North Texas. Our headquarters in the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building at UT Dallas and at the Dallas Museum of Art buzz with activity as visiting scholars, faculty, area art historians, museum professionals, graduate students, and members of the art-loving public come together for meals, discussions, formal seminars, lectures, and receptions.

But the ambitions that Mrs. O’Donnell has for her Institute of Art History are greater than those two headquarters can contain, and we are now ready to complete fundraising and begin construction on a much larger home for the O’Donnell Institute, to be called The W. Ray Wallace Athenaeum.

The Wallace Athenaeum will be built at the very center of campus and near its east entrance, allowing residents of Dallas’s northern suburbs to come together with University students, staff, and faculty in a new institution that will link what are usually the separate functions of museums, libraries, and academic teaching facilities.

We chose the word Athenaeum because it includes all of those functions under the umbrella of a term with roots in the very origin of western civilization in ancient Greece. The Wallace Athenaeum will be only the second such institution formed at a University; it is perhaps not an accident that the first was founded at the California Institute of Technology (CalTec) in 1929. Other Athenea in the United States are places where books and art create a context for people of all ages and levels of education to meet for discussions, reading groups, art groups, formal and informal courses, research, meals, and receptions. An Athenaeum is less about its collections than about the way people gather to use them to create knowledge.

To anchor the Athenaeum, a small group of world-class libraries will be combined in a new art history research library, among the best in Texas and the entire center of the U.S. It will be named after the largest library to come to UT Dallas, the Wildenstein-Plattner Library. Amassed over the course of the twentieth century by the Wildenstein family, it is the largest and finest private art library ever formed, comprising more than 250,000 volumes as well as rare pamphlets, prints, sales catalogues, exhibition catalogues, and art periodicals from the eighteenth century to the present. That library will be joined by the private library of Dr. Alessandra Comini, Professor Emerita at Southern Methodist University and the collector of over 34,000 volumes related to art and architecture in Europe, including central and northern Europe. The Comini Library will join the Wildenstein-Plattner Library along with portions of the private libraries of Mr. Nash Flores, S. Roger Horchow, Mr. and Mrs. Ivan Phillips, Peter and Perry Rathbone, Gail Sachson, Oliver Watson, John Wilcox, and myself as well as other libraries that will come to us in years ahead. Although a good deal of information about art is available digitally, web-based information is less accurate and comprehensive than the seven generations of art historical scholarship in print represented in these libraries.

 

Crow Museum of Asian Art

Another development over the past months is the prospect that the Crow Museum of Asian Art will build a North Dallas facility at UT Dallas as part of the Wallace Athenaeum. The Crow will keep its Arts District facility with its intimate galleries for about 200 works of art from the collection. But, with a collection of around 1,000 objects from China, Japan, Korea, India, Pakistan, and Cambodia, the museum needs space for exhibitions and storage as well as for study and research. A collection of Asian and South Asian art is especially fitting at UT Dallas, since a significant portion of our faculty and student body are Asian or Asian-American, and the center for the large Asian population of greater Dallas is the city’s northern suburbs.

Bringing together the Wildenstein-Plattner Library, the Crow Museum of Asian Art, and the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History, as well as exhibition spaces, seminar rooms, a lecture/performance hall, and facilities for dining and events, current plans for the Athenaeum call for four interconnected buildings that open onto three enclosed gardens. These lush landscapes will have water features, seating, shady paths, and places to sit and meditate or simply to stroll. What better environment to reflect on the visual arts in world history than in a library, a museum, and an institute surrounded by gardens?

Mrs. W. Ray Wallace has made a naming gift of $10,000,000.00 and Mrs. Eugene McDermott has donated $5,000,000.00, so we are launched. With an additional sum of $5,000,000 we will officially begin the architectural and landscape plans. We hope to do this by summer of this year, and aim to break ground toward the end of 2018.

 

Richard R. Brettell, Ph.D.

Founding Director, The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History and the Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair

Director’s Welcome

Richard Brettell – AH – Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair in Aesthetic Studies – Art History

 

Fall 2017 marks the beginning of the fourth full year of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History. We have already done a good deal for the discipline of art history in North Texas—sponsored and co-sponsored symposia, scholars’ days, lectures, workshops, and festive gatherings for art historians in museums, universities, colleges, and galleries—and beginning to fulfill the mission encouraged by Mrs. O’Donnell of bringing the scattered community of art historians in Dallas-Fort Worth together as often as possible. We have also done very well in providing a nurturing environment for UT Dallas doctoral students, and six newly minted “Drs.” have been sent out into the world. We have brought scholars to Dallas from Switzerland, Italy, and Canada and are about to welcome a new colleague for a year-long visit from Harvard University. All in all, we can look back with pride on three action-packed and exciting years.

We will hold our Fourth Annual Dinner this Fall, and it will be our first to be held at UT Dallas rather than at the wonderful home of our partner, the Dallas Museum of Art. At the dinner we will honor our founder with a premier of a newly commissioned film about her philanthropy and we will let our inner circle in on our ambitious plans for the future. This Fall, we will also inaugurate two international partnerships which we hope to grow into long-term scholarly programs—the first with our colleagues at Nanjing University in China and the second with the Capodimonte Museum in Naples. Who knows—when we begin to think about Africa, perhaps will add Nairobi to Nanjing and Naples!

This Fall, we said a fond, if reluctant, “goodbye” to two esteemed colleagues, Dr. Sabiha Al Khemir, who plans to start an ambitious new foundation for Islamic Art in New York, and Dr. David McPhail, who is returning to London after launching our Conservation Science Program, a partnership with the Department of Chemistry in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at UT Dallas and its Dean, Dr. Bruce Novak. Look forward to news on both of those fronts.

Dr. Suzanne Preston Blier
Allen Whitehill Clowes Chair of Fine Arts and of African and African American Studies
Department of History of Art & Architecture and Department of African and African American Studies, Harvard University

We extend a big Texas welcome to Dr. Suzanne Preston-Blier, the Allen Whitehill Clowes Professor of Fine Arts and of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University. Dr. Blier will be with us for a full academic year, has rented an apartment in the heart of downtown Dallas, and is trying to figure out how to live in Dallas without knowing how to drive! She will work both on campus and in an office at EODIAH-DMA (the latter a short walk from “home”), and her plan this year is to complete a new book and to develop an interactive digital map of Africa throughout human history (the longest of any continent). She will work with our colleagues in Arts and Humanties and ATEC as well as with Dr. Roslyn Walker, Acting Chief Curator at the DMA and curator in charge of the museum’s superb collection of African Art.

As for faculty news, Dr. Mark Rosen is in the throes of completing an important new book on the representation of cities from above from its beginnings in the fifteenth century through the era of hot-air balloons in the late eighteenth century—a study which links the arts and the sciences of observation. Dr. Charissa Terranova has completed an edited series of articles, and is hard at work on her third scholarly book, all of which are involved with the history of the visual arts in their intense interaction with the sciences. Dr. Sarah Kozlowski has pursuing projects on fourteenth-century diptychs in Naples and on fictive porphyry versos in Italian panel painting, and will soon be promoted to Associate Director of EODIAH.

This semester we look forward to a series of workshop talks, a study day in collaboration with the DMA, a co-sponsored symposium around the Meadows Museum’s Zurbaràn exhibition, and a number of site visits to Dallas collections.

 

Richard R. Brettell, Ph.D.

Founding Director, The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History and the Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair

Report of the Director

Richard Brettell - AH - Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair in Aesthetic Studies - Art History

Richard Brettell – AH – Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair in Aesthetic Studies – Art History

 

 

For an institution just a little less than three years old, we have a lot to be proud of. The O’Donnell Institute has used its funds to inject new life into Dallas-Fort Worth’s art history world, and our joint programs with the Meadows Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Crow Collection, and the Amon Carter Museum, as well as our series of Workshop Talks, have created a true discourse of art history in the Metroplex. Our skeletal staff has worked incredibly hard, and by this time next year we will welcome our first class of Art History MA students and will be well on the way to the first Art History PhD program at UT Dallas. 

 

What is most gratifying is the number of PhD dissertations in the existing program in Aesthetic Studies that have been completed since the O’Donnell Institute was formed. Last year, Monica Salazar’s dissertation, Death and the Invisible Hand: Contemporary Mexican Art, 1988-Present, was recognized as the finest dissertation in the university. Melinda McVay completed a dissertation on art museum installations by modernist architects John Yeon, A. James Speyer, and Lina Bo Bardi. In just a few weeks Elizabeth Ranieri will defend her dissertation on the architectural and artistic patronage of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples. Together, our students’ dissertations have already made a significant contribution to the field.

 

With newly formed institutes affiliated with the O’Donnell Institute in Naples (with the Museo di Capodimonte) and Nanjing (with the Institute of Art at the University of Nanjing), we have dipped our toe into global art history and have taken on the solemn task of training Chinese art historians in the histories of American Art. Three Chinese art historians will spend a good portion of 2017-18 traveling throughout the heartland of the United States to visit museums, universities, and research libraries–all funded jointly by the Amon Carter Museum, the O’Donnell Institute, the Terra Foundation for American Art, and the University of Nanjing. 

 

Next academic year, our ranks will be enriched by a year-long visit of Dr. Suzanne Preston Blier, the Allen Whitehill Clowes Professor of Fine Arts and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, who will be working on her book on African global trade and working with her colleagues at the DMA and with our own graduate student Edleeca Thomson to set the superb collections of African art at the DMA, the Kimbell, and the little-known collection at the University of Texas at Arlington in a global context. We will also have eminent Chinese art historian Dr. Zhou Xian of the University of Nanjing in our midst for the Fall term. 

 

Our ATEC colleague Dr. Maximilian Schich will be on leave next year, completing an ambitious book on digital aspects of cultural analysis and art history in his native Munich at the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte. Already, the Director of that important art history think-tank has visited our Institute, and we are actively pursuing partnerships with our colleagues in that great center of collecting and scholarship. 

 

If it sounds a little breathless, IT IS. But that is only the tip of an iceberg of important announcements that will come in the Fall of this year.

 

Richard R. Brettell, Ph.D.

Founding Director, The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History and the Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair

Report of the Director

Richard Brettell - AH - Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair in Aesthetic Studies - Art History

Richard Brettell – Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair in Aesthetic Studies – Art History

The specialist history of Chinese Art in America is now more than a century old, and we have important collections of Chinese Art and concomitant art historians who specialize in Chinese art in virtually every American city. Yet, with Maoist China, both commerce in Chinese art and active scholarly interchange was in hiatus. Now, with the openness of China and with the competitive edge in the world economy swinging in its direction, any serious art history institute must reckon with China.

Fortunately, we at UTD have one of the first Confucius Institutes in the US, and its Director, Dr. Ming Dong Gu, is a native of the great imperial and university city of Nanjing (which we used to call Nanking). Through Dr. Gu’s efforts, we at the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History were invited by the Institute of Art to the University of Nanjing.

Our idea was simple, to introduce for the first time in a major Chinese university (whose origins go back to the third century of the common era!) an Institute of the Study of American Art in China (ISAAC). Our partner in this endeavor is the Amon Carter Museum, whose collection of American Art and whose unparalleled library and archive of American Art history is one of the great resources of North Texas. Dr. Andrew Walker and I went to China under Dr. Gu’s expert guidance and spent several days in Nanjing.

It was, for both of us, our first trip to China and was in every way life-changing. We landed in Shanghai, took the fast train to Nanjing, and were immediately immersed in the graduate school campus of the University of Nanjing. Our tour of the beautiful old campus included the Pearl Buck House, where the first American Woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature lived in the 1920’s and early 1930’s when Nanjing was the capital of Republic China. This block-like, grey brick house now stands empty in the center of the campus and is, for Americans, an architectural talisman of a time when Americans played a vital role in the international understanding of China.

In our conversations with Dr. Zhou Xian, the distinguished Director of the Art Institute of Nanjing University, the graduate students in its distinguished program of aesthetics and art history, and the undergraduates at the new suburban undergraduate campus of the University of Nanjing, both Andrew and I were impressed by the rare combination of knowledge and curiosity that is essential to the most important scholarship.

We began to conceive together an Institute for the Study of American Art in China that has four components: 1. Systematically training Chinese Art historians to teach and research the history of American Art, 2. Publishing an evolving series of important titles in American Art History in Chinese, 3. Bringing distinguished American art historians to Nanjing for a series of Summer Courses in American Art History, and 3. Imagining with colleagues at Chinese museums a program of exhibitions of American Art in China.

Before we left and in more intensive conversations after our return, we discussed these efforts with Chicago’s Terra Foundation for American Art, who will become the fifth partner in an initial three-year joint funding of this institute with the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History and the Confucius Institute at UTD, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, and the University of Nanjing.

This program of cooperation among a Chinese and an American university, an American museum, and an American foundation committed to promoting knowledge of American Art history outside our borders, can—and will—have a profound effect both on China and on the US. American Art historians have contributed so much in the past century to the art historical knowledge of European, Latin American, African, and Asian institutions. With ISAAC (our felicitous acronym), we will create a fertile context for US in the United Sates to learn about ourselves from Chinese scholars.

With wonderful direct flights from DFW airport to China, the work already accomplished by our Dean, Dr. Dennis Kratz, and the director of our Confucius Institute, will take on a new dimension and add the University of Nanjing to the highly “curated” international alliances of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History. We will have active programs in Nanjing and Naples, in Munich and Zurich, and, perhaps, in France. Edith O’Donnell has allowed us at UTD to spread our wings, and we have flown far and wide.

Report of the Director

Richard Brettell - AH - Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair in Aesthetic Studies - Art History

Dr. Richard R. Brettell

The fall semester of 2016 has been almost volcanic with activity at the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History. We have welcomed a new visiting scholar from the University of Victoria, Professor Allan Antliff, who is in Dallas for the 2016-2017 academic year to work on a new book dealing with contemporary art and anarchist philosophy. Allan and I became friends through our mutual study of Camille Pissarro, whose anarchism is well known, and my students and I have learned a great deal from his imaginative and morally bracing kind of art history. His presence at UT Dallas will result not only in a major book but also in a long-term collaboration with the superb art history faculty at the University of Victoria, a collaboration which will be enriched by the presence on campus of Dr. Melia Belli-Bose of the University of Victoria in the spring term of 2017.

Most recently we co-organized with the Ackerman Center a symposium on the School of London, the post-WWII painters of Britain that included Freud, Bacon, Kossoff, Auerbach, Andrews, and Kitaj. The symposium coincided with a major exhibition of the group at the Getty. We have also planned a symposium with our colleagues at the Crow Collection of Asian Art devoted to the global ceramics trade centered in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Puebla, Mexico. The markets of Puebla linked the Islamic ceramic tradition via Spain with the Chinese tradition via the Mexican-ruled Phillipines and the Manila galleons.

Our goal of making our DMA headquarters a “Living Room” for art historians in Dallas-Fort Worth continues to advance, and later this month we will welcome as many of our metroplex colleagues as possible to meet the DMA’s new director, Agustín Arteaga. Our schedule of workshops masterminded by Lauren LaRocca continues apace, involving O’Donnell Institute scholars and fellows as well as distinguished guests.

This fall, we have also had a good many distinguished visitors to the Institute’s UT Dallas home, including Mr. and Mrs. O’Donnell, UT Dallas’s new President, Dr. Richard Benson, and the French Ambassador, Gérard Araud.

French Ambassador Gérard Araud (middle) and Consul General of France Sujiro Seam (right) visit EODIAH

French Ambassador Gérard Araud (middle) and Consul General of France Sujiro Seam (right) visit EODIAH

 

For me, the semester is filled with preparations for the lectures in what might well be the largest course in UT Dallas’s history, Introduction to the Visual Arts, taught to an eager group of almost 350 undergraduates in the lecture hall of the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology building. Using works of art in Dallas-Fort Worth museums as portals onto other places and other times, I endeavor to excite UT Dallas’s supremely intelligent undergraduates, the vast majority of whom major in sciences, technology, management, or social sciences, to pause and think about human history and its artistic and architectural heritage.

We have also progressed this term in our partnerships with the Wildenstein Institute in Paris, the Capodimonte Museum in Naples, the Swiss Institute of Art History in Zurich, the University of Victoria, and, soon, a new Institute for the Study of American Art at the University of Nanjing in China.

Not bad for a little more than two years.

 

Richard R. Brettell, Ph.D.

Founding Director, The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History and the Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair

Report of the Director

Richard Brettell - AH - Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair in Aesthetic Studies - Art History

Dr. Richard R. Brettell

In the land of art history, summer was the time to travel to research sites and work on projects before the busy fall at the O’Donnell Institute. EODIAH’s faculty, fellows, and graduate students have done just that as we continue to make an impact on art history throughout the country and the world. Two of our fellows, James Rodriguez and Kristine Larison, have been launched into the world, bringing news of EODIAH to their new homes in Indiana and Pennsylvania. Fellow Fabienne Ruppen from the University of Zürich visited museums and collections in the U.S. and Europe and spent time with her family in the Swiss Alps before returning to Dallas refreshed and ready to tackle her dissertation on Cézanne’s drawings. And Fellow Paul Galvez spent the summer in Princeton with trips to New England and California museums in his quest to finish his book on Gustave Courbet’s landscapes.

Our biggest achiever since our last newsletter was UT Dallas Distinguished Scholar in Residence Bonnie Pitman, who worked with EODIAH and DMA colleagues to create a pathbreaking conference at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Its focus was on partnerships between art museums and medical schools to cultivate the art of observation in medical students and physicians. By all accounts it was a great success. Congratulations, Bonnie–we await the story in the New York Times!

Assistant Director Dr. Sarah Kozlowski and I worked hard to further two of the Institute’s international partnerships. Sarah made an important trip to Naples to meet with our partner, Dr. Sylvain Bellenger, Director of the Capodimonte Museum in that extraordinary city and to make headway on a multi-year project of collaboration between EODIAH, the Museum in Naples, and the Sorbonne in Paris. She reveals more below. I had a bracing tour of our new Swiss partner’s headquarters, The Swiss Institute for Art Research (www.sik-isea.ch/en-us). Located in a stunningly restored and expanded villa in the hills above Zürich, the Swiss Institute is the most important place globally for advanced research on Swiss Art.

Giacometti plasters in the Kunsthaus Zürich

Giacometti plasters in the Kunsthaus Zürich

Our ATEC-EODIAH faculty member Dr. Max Schich had a summer of global travel in his quest to make UT Dallas a world center for large data art history. He also is working on a promising partnership with the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich, whose former Director Dr. Wolf Tegethoff spoke at our founding. Under Max’s leadership we will see a steady stream of visitors from Munich to Dallas in the 2016-2017 academic year.

In one year, we have established alliances with important museums and institutes in three European cities. These are multi-year commitments that will insure that EODIAH has an important foothold in the places where our discipline was born.

This fall we welcome the return of Drs. Mark Rosen and Charissa Terranova, who each had academic leaves in 2015-2016 and are returning to the fold refreshed by a solid year of research. Each of their reports is below. While they were away, we constructed exciting new offices for these important scholars in the EODIAH complex at UT Dallas so that they can say farewell to their old offices in the Jonsson Building and come to be with us. This fall, we will ALL be together in the ATEC Building for the first time since our founding two years ago. We thank the new Dean of ATEC, Dr. Anne Balsamo, for allowing the Institute’s expansion in her wonderful building.

One of our most important accomplishments this past year has been to dramatically increase the Institute’s collection of scholarly books about art. This effort was begun at our founding with the gift of New York and London auction catalogues by the New York collectors Mr. and Mrs. Ivan Phillips. This gift has truly started an avalanche of books from institutional and private donors. The first was a complete set of contemporary auction catalogues from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and this was followed by the American auction catalogues and private library of the late Perry Rathbone, the distinguished museum administrator and scholar who recently died at his home in Connecticut. From this followed the gift of substantial parts of the art libraries of S. Roger Horchow and the late Nash Flores, each important collectors of art books in areas not covered seriously at UT Dallas. All of this material was capably catalogued and organized on our Cunningham-designed book shelves by students from The Greenhill School. We have also just acquired a private library devoted to Islamic art formed by Dr. Oliver Watson, the I.M. Pei Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at Oxford. This library will support ongoing study and research focused on the Keir Collection at the DMA.

About one 20th of the Comini library

About one 20th of the Comini library

And, if all of this was not enough, an Institute mailing that featured photographs of our book-lined offices so inspired the great art historian Dr. Alessandra Comini, Professor Emerita at SMU, that she has decided to bequeath her extraordinary library devoted to German, Austrian, and Scandinavian art as well as art produced by women artists to the Institute. When Sarah Kozlowski and I went with Alessandra through this private library, which approaches 30,000 volumes, we were in complete awe. The Comini library will be the largest gift of scholarly books in UT Dallas’s history.

This fall, our wonderful new staff member Lauren LaRocca is going to bring EODIAH-DMA alive. Lauren is curating an exhibition of Carolyn Brown’s architectural photographs of the Mexican Baroque city of Puebla and made possible a joint installation of global works of art in the DMA’s collection that use trade beads, the latter co-curated by the DMA’s superb Dr. Roslyn A. Walker, Senior Curator of the Arts of Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific and The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art, and myself. Both installations will open this fall. Lauren has also worked with us and the DMA to create an incredible fall lineup of programs for the Institute at both the DMA and UT Dallas. And she worked with the DMA so that its new mobile app was conceived and worked through in EODIAH’s research center.

The DMA is our full partner, and it is exciting that we will do so much more in the Museum this year than we did in the months after the opening of our wonderful mirror-ceilinged space. We eagerly await the DMA’s new Director, Augustín Arteaga, so that we can work together even more. And we thank the departing Olivier Meslay for working so well with us thus far.

In the short two-year period since the Institute was founded, we have tried to become THE place for art history in North Texas and to make a global footprint as well. This next year will be devoted to hiring another O’Donnell Chair and to launching our Master’s Program in Art History. As we move forward, we are sprinting, not walking! What has made me the happiest is the number of individual donors who have decided to join us on our race toward excellence. Our wonderful Director of Development, Lucy Buchanan, will tell you all about our new friends!

 

Richard R. Brettell, Ph.D.

Founding Director, The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History and the Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair