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.
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