Tag: Dr. Alessandra Comini

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.

Nona and Richard Barrett Collection of Swiss Art

The second exciting prospect is that the Nona and Richard Barrett Collection of Swiss Art will also be coming to UT Dallas, first as a loan and finally as a gift. Comprising more than 400 paintings and sculptures by every major artist born in Switzerland between 1600 and 1940 (with some rare earlier material), it is the largest private collection ever formed of Swiss art. Swiss art is not only fascinating and aesthetically diverse, but also among the least studied areas of European art history, giving our faculty, graduate students, and visiting scholars the chance to do important original research.

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 Barrett Collection of Swiss Art, 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

Kimbell Art Museum Programs & Lectures

Kimbell Lecture Hall  

Friday, April 21  6 pm, Lecture Louis I. Kahn: Light, Pastel, Eternity—Michael Lewis    


Wednesday, May 3  12:30 pm, Lecture From the “Three Strides” to Dharmic Order: Vishnu in Hindu Art—Steven E. Lindquist    


Saturday, May 13  10:30 am, Inaugural Lecture: A Modern Vision: European Masterworks from the Phillips Collection Duncan Phillips’s Modern Vision—Susan Behrends Frank    


Friday, June 16  6 pm, Lecture Monet Before Monet—Joachim Pissarro    


Friday, June 23  6 pm, Lecture Vienna 1900: Redefining Portraiture in the Age of Angst—Alessandra Comini  


Friday, July 7  6 pm, Lecture Georges Braque: Within Reach of the Hand—Karen Wilkin  




Kahn Auditorium

Free; no reservations required



Pioneers of Modern Art series: Wassily Kandinsky (2004, 56 min.)

Selected films chronicle the careers of six celebrated masters whose work helped to define the major European art movements of the first half of the twentieth century. Different stories highlight the concerns that shaped their creative output, sweeping social and political changes during the period, and the enduring artistic legacies that influenced subsequent generations on both sides of the Atlantic. This series is offered in conjunction with the special exhibition A Modern Vision: European Masterworks from the Phillips Collection.



Pioneers of Modern Art series: Paul Klee (2004, 56 min.)



Pioneers of Modern Art series: Joan Miró (2004, 56 min.)



Pioneers of Modern Art series: Piet Mondrian (2004, 50 min.)




Artful Readings


Participants explore connections in the literary and visual arts through group discussions and special presentations on selected books. Includes wine and light refreshments, as well as a 20% discount on Artful Readings selections in the Museum Shop. To be placed on a wait list, please call 817-332-8451, ext. 351, or email edassist@kimbellmuseum.org.



You Say to Brick: The Life of Louis Kahn, by Wendy Lesser (2017)



Pictures at an Exhibition: A Novel, by Sara Houghteling (2010)

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), with whom we are working closely as we contemplate the future of a Barrett Museum of Swiss Art at UT Dallas. 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

Report from the EODIAH Research Center

Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Apples on a Sideboard, 1900–1906, Dallas Museum of Art

Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Apples on a Sideboard, 1900–1906, Dallas Museum of Art

We are excited to offer a full slate of programs for the coming semester. Fall workshops by guest speakers include the newly appointed curators at the Crow Collection of Asian Art, Dr. Jacqueline Chao and Dr. Qing Chang; Dr. Davide Gasparotto, Senior Curator of Paintings at the Getty; and Dr. Julian Henderson, Professor and Chair of Archaeology at the University of Nottingham.  As a testament to the richness of local scholarship, a number of workshops will be given by UT Dallas and UT Arlington affiliates including Dr. Roger Malina, Dr. Mary Vaccaro, and Dr. David McPhail in his new conservation lab at the UTD Bioengineering and Science Building. Our very own fellow, Fabienne Ruppen, will lead a discussion on Cezanne’s Still Life with Apples on a Sideboard in the DMA study room.

In September, fellows have the special opportunity to tour the contemporary art collection and library of art curator and collector Charles Dee Mitchell. October promises a lively conversation between Dr. Brettell and Dr. Alessandra Comini to discuss the making of cultural capitals as illustrated by Paris and Vienna. The semester will culminate with an enlivening lecture in late November by Dr. Phillipe de Montebello followed by our annual EODIAH dinner.

Carolyn Brown, Workmen: San Francisco Acatepec, Puebla, Mexico, 1995

Carolyn Brown, Workmen: San Francisco Acatepec, Puebla, Mexico, 1995

The Research Center will host two new exhibitions this fall; both explore the global trade of ideas and materials.  Carolyn Brown’s photography captures the innovative brilliance of Talavera tiled churches in Puebla, Mexico. I curated the installation in conjunction with the Crow Collection’s special exhibition Clay Between Two Seas: From the Abbasid Court to Puebla de los Angeles. Our second vitrine installation, a collaborative effort between Dr. Brettell and DMA Curator Dr. Roslyn Walker, showcases the museum’s vast collections of beaded objects.  The international trade of artworks like beads introduced a vivacity of color and design into works of art.

Finally, we’re thrilled to announce that DMA Curator Dr. Anne Bromberg will teach a UT Dallas graduate seminar at the Research Center in Spring 2017 on Indian Art. Dr. Bromberg will use the superb collections at the DMA, much of which has been acquired under her leadership. This is a unique opportunity for students to study with one of the foremost scholars of Indian Art.

Our institutional partnership with the DMA continues to thrive and develop in new ways.  We hope you’ll join us this fall for our many exciting programs!


Lauren LaRocca
Coordinator of Special Programs
The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History