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
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
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