Tag: Jacopo Gnisci

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

Meet the New EODIAH Fall 2016 Graduate Fellows

This Fall we welcome to the O’Donnell Institute four new fellows. Their project abstracts are below—please join us in welcoming them into the fold!
Jacopo Gnisci
Visiting Research Fellow, August 2017-February 2017
PhD, University of London/SOAS

Art and Faith: Panel Painting in Fifteenth-Century Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Cross Collection of the Dallas Museum of Art

This research project has a two-fold purpose. On the one hand, it aims to improve our understanding of the history of panel painting in fifteenth-century Ethiopia by reassessing the available evidence in light of a small corpus of newly-discovered or unpublished works from this period. More specifically, it will demonstrate that a small group of icons are the work of a hitherto unidentified artist whom I refer to as “the Master of the Scale Pattern.” On the other hand, it will examine the extensive collection of Ethiopian crosses of the Dallas Museum of Art with the aim of assigning a more precise date to each example.

Joseph Hartman
Visting Research Fellow, Fall 2016-Spring 2017
Doctoral Candidate, Southern Methodist University
Modern Dreams: Image, Space, and Politics in Machado’s Cuba, 1925-1933

This dissertation examines the public works program of Cuba’s infamous President-then-Dictator Gerardo Machado, 1925-1933. Machado’s unprecedented building campaign included a U.S.-style Capitol building; a 700-mile highway; French-designed parks in Havana; and a state-of-the-art penitentiary. These monumental works served as tropes in the regime’s reformist agenda. These spaces spoke to a broader nationalist dream of sovereignty in the face of U.S. hegemony. Eight years after his inauguration, however, Machado was deposed for corruption and the bloody repression of Cuba’s citizenry. These works were his last defense. “In regard to my presidency,” Machado bristled, “save your words and ink. The stone and marble speak for me and mine.”

But what do these works really have to say about republican Cuba under Machado? Machado’s public works, this dissertation argues, articulated a highly nuanced politics of space, vision, and cultural experience.  Machado’s prisons, palaces, and parks soon defined the urban and rural landscapes of Cuba.  Their likeness was reproduced, disseminated, and refracted in photographs in newspapers, magazines, and tourist brochures. Machado’s works emerged in dialogue with histories of Pan-Americanism, U.S. imperialism, and continental modernism. These spaces and their representations mobilized multiple geographies and temporalities that were quickly woven into the cultural politics of twentieth-century Cuba and the wider hemisphere. The regime’s U.S. and French-style monuments were a dream of a dream, a copy of a copy. But they were also a Cuban dream; a dream in which context ultimately quells any aesthetic debates surrounding the ambivalent status of model and copy, real and imagined.


Evan Johnson
Edith O’Donnell Graduate Fellow, Fall 2016-Spring 2017
Doctoral candidate, The University of Texas at Dallas
The Fandom of Lynching and the Remediated Black Body

From its earliest visual inceptions in American media through nineteenth century blackface minstrelsy performances and photography, images of the black body have been delineated into two separate categories that attempt to distinguish respectable behavior of black people from the deviant.  As such, black bodily performance is, at least in part, a mediated object. Cultural notions surrounding visual mediated objects are not solely the creation of artists for consumer consumption, but constructs devised within a recursive system of give and take between creators and spectators. The artistic and discursive content produced by spectators is what we now call fandom. This dissertation argues that cultural reception toward the black body inspired a fandom that had a significant impact on the history of media representation and the ongoing oppression of black people.

This dissertation examines images of the mediated black body from its earliest representations to its contemporary position as a fundamental unit of grammar within digital culture (Internet memes, Black Twitter, etc.). Further, I employ critical race theory, digital culture theory, Afro-Pessimism, and theories of fan scholarship, to argue that visual media representations of blackness have been used to discipline misbehaving black bodies in a fashion that mirrors another cultural practice that systematized the lack of black agency post-emancipation: lynching. Lynching culture has physical, textual, and imagistic manifestations; each of which, I argue, are fandoms in their own right. This dissertation reveals that much of the internal logic associated with participatory contemporary media consumption originates in lynching culture.


Leslie Reid
Edith O’Donnell Graduate Fellow, Fall 2016-Spring 2017
Doctoral candidate, The University of Texas at Dallas
Abu Dhabi, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, and Shigaraki: A Comparative Analysis of the Modernist Architecture of Five Universal Art Museums

Rooted in the late 18th and 19th century idea of the museum as a “library of past civilizations,” the universal or encyclopedic museum attempts to cover as much of the history of mankind through “art” as possible. The prototypes for this kind of museum are the Louvre, the British Museum, the Hermitage, and the Metropolitan Museum, which are enormous in scale and cover millennia of global cultural production.

This dissertation will examine this model of the inclusive art museum—essentially unbounded chronologically and geographically—and study its transformation in newer institutions less tied to national ideologies by analyzing five museums on three continents in buildings designed by six architects between 1971 and the present.  
Three of these institutions in buildings by Gio Ponti and Daniel Liebeskind (Denver), Edward Larrabee Barnes (Dallas), and Peter Zumthor (LA, the latter in construction) were selected because each was planned after the museum had already decided to be “universal” and had selected an architect to design a building that would embody that universality in “modern” terms. None of these American urban museums have “national” agendas, and their buildings are NOT rooted in the neo-classical or neo-baroque tradition of the universal museum– thus linking “universality” with “modernity.”

They will be contrasted with two museums in parts of the world in which the universal art museum is a “European” implant—Abu Dhabi and Shigaraki. One, a “branch” of the first great universal museum—the Louvre—is situated in a massive building by the French architect Jean Nouvel. The other, a private “universal” museum in Japan, is rooted in the archeological prototype of the British Museum and is housed in a purpose built building by the Chinese -American Architect, I. M. Pei.