Tag: Dr. Sarah Kozlowski

Report on the 2018 Andrew Ladis Memorial Trecento Conference

In early November the Edith O’Donnell Institute for Art History helped to support a biannual conference of specialists in 14th-century Italian art. The Andrew Ladis Memorial Trecento Conference is not only very specialized, it is also a very special conference! Unlike most art history conferences, this one is small: 24 papers are presented over 2 1/2 days in a series of single sessions so that all participants listen and respond to each paper. 

The conference is also distinctive in its emphasis on new works in progress and extended dialogue on fourteenth-century art and culture. The selection committee accepts papers on all materials, regions, and approaches to trecento art history, although it also looks for new perspectives on trecento visual culture. With this in mind, it also accepts papers on trecento topics written by non-trecentists. 

Our goals also include reaching out to international colleagues and to researchers at varying stages in their careers. Part of the tradition of the conference is to provide meals and several breaks during which the intellectual conversations sparked by the papers can continue, and both new and established collegial friendships develop. According to the comments and emails of numerous participants this second conference was spectacularly successful and exceeded even the expectations that arose from the first one, hosted in 2016 at Tulane University. 

The character of these conferences was inspired by special, workshop-like gatherings once held by Andrew Ladis at the University of Georgia. Ladis was a major scholar of fourteenth-century art, and a mentor and inspiration to many younger art historians; the title of the conference honors his legacy. Shortly after Prof. Ladis’s premature demise in 2007, a small group of trecento art historians began an email list that has grown to number about 150 members in 10 countries. 

The group constitutes a private listserv that functions not only to advance scholarly discourse, but also to organize conferences in honor of Andrew’s spirit and goal of promoting a long and rigorous life for trecento art history.

The 2018 Andrew Ladis Memorial Trecento Conference, co-hosted by the University of Houston and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, was only the second one held by the group. About 60 people attended, including 12 graduate students, 5 of whom presented papers. We also received a small amount of designated funding to help bring our Italian colleagues, who often don’t have the means to attend conferences in the U.S. Support from EODIAH made possible a special dinner at the end of the first full day of the conference, which otherwise would not have been possible. The dinner helped create a special bonding among the presenters and other participants as well as bring the day to a festive conclusion. 

The participation of EODIAH also included the presentation of a fascinating paper by Associate Director, Sarah Kozlowski (selected independently by the planning committee). Dr. Kozlowski’s paper brought up new questions and proposed interesting conclusions about the significance of painted fictive porphyry (a type of colored marble) on the backs of small diptychs and triptychs commissioned by the Angevin rulers of 14th century Naples.

In addition to the paper by Sarah Kozlowski, presented in a session entitled “Art as Politics”, papers included another paper on the Neopolitan Angevin ruler, Robert of Anjou’s, political aims and the iconography of works he commissioned to support them. It was exciting to hear about a vibrant region of the trecento mediterranean that has only recently begun to receive the scholarly attention it deserves and in ways that often bring new approaches to the larger field of trecento art history. 

True to the group’s goals, a wide range of other types of subjects were also presented. Several of them are noted here: the meaning and function of the image type known as the “Triumph” of a Saint (here specifically  those of St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas) based on diagramming those images; differences in the cut of Franciscan habits in life and in art and their significance; the social functions of painted saints’ tombs in the Veneto; sources and significance of simulated textiles in trecento painting; and the relationship between Persian and Italian trecento religious architecture. 

Topics also included a new iconographic and historical analysis of an altarpiece painted for the Dominicans of San Gimignano by the Sienese painter, Bartolommeo Bulgarini, based on new excavations in the archives; a reading of the unusual and previously inscrutable narrative strucutures of frescoes in San Francesco, Prato as based on the  structure of sermons; the reconstruction of images destroyed in WWII; images of a changing social order through the astrological program in Padua’s town hall; visual representation of women’s legal duties in trecento Siena, and many more. One of the most intriguing and novel papers analyzed concepts of time in trecento thought, the development of mechanical clocks, and their impact on the design of Giovanni Pisano’s much-studied Pisa Pulpit. We were also treated to a special talk by the Curator of Italian art in the National Gallery of the UK, in London, that highlighted the various ways past and present curators have engaged audiences with art of this period, that audiences often find difficult to relate to, and a presentation of an in-progress digitization project focused on Medieval and Renaissance Florence.

The proceedings of this conference will be published by Brepols Press, as were those of the 2016 conference. The essays will be short and similar to the presentations, so if you are interested you can look at them in more depth than I could possibly give here.

The next bi-annual conference will take place in Nashville, where it will be hosted by trecentist and curator of the Frist Art Center, Trinita Kennedy. It will be held to coincide with an exhibition she will be curating on trecento art in Bologna, a center that is often neglected in in this period.  Undoubtedly several papers will pick up the them of the trecento in Bologna and the proceedings will again be published and available to the public.

Judith Steinhoff

Associate rofessor of Art History

University of Houston

Organizer of the 2018 Ladis Memorial Trecento Conference

Greetings from the Associate Director

Dr. Sarah K. Kozlowski, Assistant Director
The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History

As the 2017-2018 academic year draws to a close and I look ahead to a summer of research, writing, and ongoing work on our projects in Naples at the Capodimonte and here in Dallas at the Wilcox Space, I’m already anticipating the launch of the Fall semester, when our community of scholars and students at the O’Donnell Institute will change and grow.

In addition to the three new Visiting Research Fellows from Nanjing University, we will welcome new Edith O’Donnell Graduate Fellows. 

Madhavi Biswas will join us to complete her dissertation on Globalization and New Bollywood Cinema, which explores the interplay between the global and the local in the work of the most recent generation of South Asian filmmakers. Jacquelyn Delin will pursue research on the nineteenth-century German-born, Texas-based sculptor Elisabet Nay. Rebecca Quinn Teresi, a specialist in painting of the Spanish Baroque who is completing a dissertation at Johns Hopkins called Images of the Immaculate Conception and the Rhetorics of Purity in Golden Age Spain. Rebecca will also teach a Master’s seminar this Fall on the History of Collecting. 

We are happy that current Fellows Virginia Curry and Fatemeh Tashakori, working on the history of Athenaea in the United States and eroticized images of western women in Persian art of the 17th-19th centuries, respectively, will remain with us in the Fall as well.

In Spring 2019 we will be delighted to welcome into the fold Ali Asgar Alibhai, who is completing a PhD at Harvard and will offer a Master’s seminar on the material and social histories of the medieval Islamic world, with special focus on “contact zones” like Sicily and North Africa, and working closely with objects held in the Keir Collection at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Benjamin Lima, Editor of Athenaeum Review, will chart next steps toward a publications program for the UT Dallas Athenaeum that is now in the works. 

Finally, we look forward to welcoming the inaugural class of our new Master’s program in Art History, a small group of outstanding students whom we look forward to teaching and mentoring, and who will make important contributions to the intellectual life of the O’Donnell Institute family.

Happy Summer!

Dr. Sarah K. Kozlowski

Associate Director

The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History

Greetings from the Assistant Director

Lectures, symposia, and study days are the intellectual oxygen of the O’Donnell Institute, and a chance to bring together the scholarly community from Dallas and Fort Worth and farther afield. At the end of February we enjoyed the success of our Spring symposium, Artists’ Writings on Materials and Techniques, held over the course of two days at UT Dallas, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Nasher Sculpture Center.

In presentations and conversations ranging from the fifteenth century to the present, participants investigated intersections (and disconnects) between artists’ visual and textual practices. Along with scholars from the O’Donnell Institute, Southern Methodist University, and the Nasher, presenters included honored guests James Meyer from the National Gallery of Art and Carol Mancusi-Ungaro from The Whitney Museum of American Art.

Naples V


We were particularly pleased to have the participation of many conservators from private and institutional studios in Dallas and Fort Worth, as well as from the Harry Ransom Center in Austin and the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles. The theme of the conference proved to be one around which academic art historians, museum curators, conservators, and conservation scientists could come together in productive conversation. On the strength of the Institute’s conservation science initiative, we will continue to present programs like this that bring together colleagues from the academy, the museum, the studio, and the laboratory.


I continue my work to spearhead a new partnership with the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte in Naples. In October the O’Donnell Institute and the Capodimonte will present a first annual symposium in Naples, with two days of gallery talks and site visits that will set Naples and the Capodimonte in a global context. The symposium will launch the new Center for the Art History of Port Cities (Centro per la Storia dell’Arte delle Città Portuali).


Naples III


Based in the Capraia, an 18th-century structure on the grounds of the royal bosco, the Center will open its doors in Fall 2018 and will be dedicated to on-site study of art and architecture in Naples and to the incubation and dissemination of new research, with special emphasis on the cultural histories of port cities, the mobilities of artworks, and processes of circulation, encounter, and exchange. Programs at the Capraia will include research residencies, an annual symposium, and an open-access digital publication.


Naples II


Together these three program streams will support scholarly access to Naples, foster new research on Naples and on other port cities, create a collaborative network of students and scholars working on related projects, and communicate new research to the academic and museum communities and the general public. I am thrilled to be working in my beloved Naples with wonderfully open and creative colleagues at the Capodimonte, and I look forward to keeping our O’Donnell Institute friends and colleagues apprised of our progress.

Dr. Sarah Kozlowski

Assistant Director

The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History

Greetings from the Assistant Director

Thanks to all of you who joined us on September 2 at The Wilcox Space to celebrate the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic year, and the close of the two-part installation John Wilcox: Diptychs and Polyptychs. Stay tuned for news of the next installation, which will open in mid-Fall.

This Fall we are pleased to welcome four new O’Donnell Fellows to the Institute, where they will pursue research on topics from Cuba to Ethiopia. Leslie Reid is a UT Dallas doctoral candidate completing a dissertation entitled Abu Dhabi, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, and Shigaraki: A Comparative Analysis of the Modernist Architecture of Five Universal Art Museums. Evan (Poe) Johnson, also a doctoral student at UT Dallas, will join us as he completes his dissertation, The Fandom of Lynching and the Remediated Black Body. Joseph Hartman comes to us from Southern Methodist University and is in the final stages of his dissertation, Modern Dreams: Image, Space, and Politics in Machado’s Cuba, 1925-1933. And Jacopo Gnisci, who just completed his PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, will be in residence to work on the Dallas Museum of Art’s collection of Ethiopian crosses and to continue his research on fifteenth-century icon painting in Ethiopia.

We have a full slate of programs for the coming semester, which Lauren LaRocca highlights in her noteWith Lauren’s leadership we continue to develop our partnership with the DMA and with other area institutions including the Crow Collection of Asian Art, with whom we will present a symposium in January in conjunction with the exhibition Clay Between Two Seas: From the Abbasid Court to Puebla de los Angeles. We are also happy to collaborate with the DMA Conservation Studio and the Nasher Sculpture Center to present a symposium in February called Artists’ Writings on Materials and Techniques. We will welcome James Meyer from DIA and Michael Cole from Columbia as keynote speakers. As these programs demonstrate, one of our goals at the O’Donnell Institute is to foster collaborations between the academy and the museum, and to create a space for generative dialogue among academics, curators, conservators, and conservation scientists.

It’s just those kinds of dialogues that will unfold every Friday afternoon this Fall in my graduate seminar, The Material Lives of Artworks. Based at the DMA and at collections throughout Dallas and Fort Worth, the seminar will explore the history of artistic materials and techniques and the broader question of how materials and the act of making create meaning. Each seminar meeting will focus on a single medium (silver, ceramic, or paint, for example), and will combine close visual and physical analysis of artworks, conversations with scholars, curators, and conservators, and readings in both artists’ writings and recent art historical literature.

In July I traveled to Naples, where Sylvain Bellenger, Director of the Museo di Capodimonte and I continued our work on plans to launch a collaboration dedicated to incubating and communicating innovative research on the history of art in Naples, with particular focus on the cultural histories of port cities and the mobilities of artworks. While centered on Naples, our work will inform understanding of port cities and cultural centers throughout the world, from antiquity to the present. The Capodimonte/O’Donnell Institute collaboration will take the form of two programs: Workshops and Research Residencies. In an annual spring Workshop or Laboratorio, the O’Donnell Institute and the Capodimonte will convene an international group of scholars in Naples for two days of site- and collection-based presentations and roundtable discussions on a chosen theme. In our Research Residency program, advanced graduate students and early-career scholars will pursue research in residence at the Capodimonte on projects related to Naples and the cultural history of port cities. Our long-term vision is to expand the collaboration by inviting other institutions to sponsor Workshops and Residencies that will support the work of scholars from around the world in Naples. The Université Paris-Sorbonne, the Soprintendenza di Genova, and the Soprintendenza di Pompeii have already expressed interest in participating in the project. Our goal is to open the Capodimonte and the city of Naples to an international scholarly community, making the city a laboratory for creativity and collaboration. Sylvain, Rick and I all look forward to sharing news of the project with colleagues and friends of the Institute in the coming months.

As the slower pace of the Summer months set in, I had the chance to immerse myself in a new project on diptychs in fourteenth-century Naples. The project brings together for the first time a small but significant corpus of diptychs commissioned and collected at the Angevin court, with particular focus on how these mobile artworks fit into a whole network of artists, patrons, and objects in motion throughout the Mediterranean.

It’s with great anticipation that I look ahead to the coming year and to welcoming you to our many Fall programs and gatherings, which you will find on our website: utdallas.edu/arthistory/programs. Join us!

Dr. Sarah K. Kozlowski
Assistant Director
The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History