Interviewing Historians of Art and Architecture

Sources for Interviews, Conversations, and Oral Histories

This summer, the College Art Association (CAA) launched a new monthly series of interviews with artists, art historians, theorists, and other art professionals. The first interview, in June, was with art historian Linda Nochlin. The second, in July, with the theorist Lev Manovich. I noted the new series with great interest, since one of my current projects involves interviewing distinguished architectural historians and preparing transcripts of the conversations for publication (more on this project in the coming months). The CAA Conversations join a substantial body of interviews and oral histories documenting the disciplines of art history and architectural history, some of which date back a half century. Since I have found no central catalogue for this material, it seemed useful to collect links to relevant resources in this post.

The list presented here is highly subjective and limited to interviews available open access online. The conversations vary greatly in length, scope, and method. With some exceptions, only interviews with transcripts have been included. I ignored promotional interviews for book releases or upcoming events, instead looking for reflections on the history of the discipline, historiography, and other big questions. The selection is skewed to historians of pre-modern and early modern topics, with few conversations focusing purely on contemporary art and architecture. Anglophone sources predominate, only because little seems available in other languages. Some interviews were conducted decades ago, in the 1960s through 1990s, while others record more recent conversations. The links are grouped into interviews conducted by organizations, institutions, journals, and other publications.

Organizations

● College Art Association
The new CAA Conversations include a video and a transcript of the fifteen to twenty-minute interviews.

● Association for Art History (formerly Association of Art Historians)
The British professional organization for art history AAH (currently in the process of changing its name and design identity) has undertaken two interview projects in recent years. The first, AAH Oral Histories, consists of conversations with sixteen scholars involved in establishing and administering the organization from its foundation in 1974 (no transcripts available). The second, entitled Day in the Life of an Art Historian, comprises online interviews with a wide range of art historical professionals, each of whom answers ten standard questions about their day-to-day practice of the discipline.

Institutions

● Archives of American Art
As described on the website of the Smithsonian affiliate, “The Archives of American Art has one of the oldest and most respected oral history collections in the country.” Begun in 1958, the program has interviewed several dozen art historians, with transcripts available for twenty-eight interviews. The site also includes resources for oral history available to download (such as guidelines and sample questions).

● Dumbarton Oaks
The Harvard research center for Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and Garden and Landscape Studies describes its oral history project as follows: “The Oral History Project at Dumbarton Oaks was begun in 2008 with the mission of interviewing and recording all people who are or have been significantly associated with Dumbarton Oaks and/or its founders, Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss.” Transcripts of over 120 conversations are currently available.

● UCLA / Getty Art History Oral Documentation Project
As described on the project webpage: “This series, a cooperative venture between the [UCLA] Oral History Program and the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, documents a generation of scholars who developed and elaborated paradigms of art history established in the late nineteenth century to forge a twentieth-century discipline.” Transcripts of eighteen interviews conducted between 1991 and 1995 are available.

● Getty Art History Oral Documentation Project
Twenty-two additional interviews conducted by the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities between 1994 and 2001. The scope is comparable to that of its joint project with UCLA (above).

Journals

Architectural Histories
The open-access journal of the European Architectural History Network (EAHN) has published two interviews with scholars: James S. Ackerman and Kenneth Frampton. Future conversations will be included in the journal’s interview rubric.

Journal of Art Historiography
To date, the Journal of Art Historiography has published two interviews with scholars: Michael Baxandall and Donald Preziosi.

Perspective
The in-house journal of the Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA), Paris, has published seven interviews with scholars: Hubert Damisch, James Elkins, Tonio Hölscher, Jean-Paul Leclercq, Michel Melot, Jennifer Montagu, and Linda Nochlin.

Miscellaneous Publications

Brooklyn Rail
The arts journal published an interview with Barbara Novak in April 2007, and a particularly fascinating interview with Willibald Sauerländer in February 2010.

Enfilade
The serial newsletter of the Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art and Architecture published an interview with Mary Sheriff in July 2010.

Forma de Vida
This online journal published by the program in literary theory at the University of Lisbon presented a conversation with Jennifer Montagu in its issue no. 5, January 2015.

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Have I missed something? Please use the contact form to send ideas for future updates to this list.

Call for Papers: EAHN 2018 in Tallinn

European Architectural History Network Fifth International Meeting, 13-16 June 2018

Tallinn, Toompea moat
Source: Europeana Collections / Harjumaa Muuseum / Public Domain (CC0 1.0)

Although I am not involved with planning the next biennial EAHN conference, I am delighted to note the rich and stimulating Call for Papers for the Fifth International Meeting in Tallinn next year. The conference website describes the twenty-seven panels in detail. If you prefer a PDF, download it here. Take a look, there’s something for (almost) everybody!

Submission deadline: 30 September 2017

Abstracts are invited for the fifth European Architectural History Network International Meeting, in Tallinn, June 2018. Please submit your abstract by 30 September 2017 to one of the sessions and round tables listed below. Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted straight to the session convenor(s). Include your name, affiliation, title of paper or position, a C.V. of no more than five pages, home and work addresses, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers.

Sessions will consist of either five papers or of four papers and a respondent with time for questions and dialogue at the end. Each paper should take no more than 20 minutes to present. Abstracts for session presentations should define the subject and summarize the argument to be made in the presented paper. The content of that paper should be the product of well-documented original research that is primarily analytical and interpretive rather than descriptive.

Round tables will have no more than six participants plus chairs and an extended time for dialogue, debate and discussion among participants and their public. Each discussant will have 10 minutes to present a position. Abstracts for round tables should summarize the position to be taken.

Papers may not have been previously published, nor presented in public. Only one submission per author will be accepted. All abstracts will be held in confidence during the selection process.

Session and roundtable chairs will notify all persons submitting abstracts of the acceptance or rejection of their proposals and comment upon accepted ones no later than 31 October 2017. Authors of accepted paper proposals must submit the complete text of their papers to their chairs by 15 February 2018. Chairs may suggest editorial revisions to a paper or position in order to make it satisfy session or round table guidelines and will return it with comments to the speaker by 15 March 2018. Chairs reserve the right to withhold a paper or discussion position from the program if the speaker has refused to comply with these guidelines. It is the responsibility of the chair(s) to inform speakers of these guidelines, as well as of the general expectations for both a session and participation in this meeting. Each speaker is expected to fund his or her own registration, travel and expenses to Tallinn, Estonia.

Consult the EAHN 2018 conference website for full details about deadlines, venue, and other conference information.

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Additional Guidelines for Paper Sessions:

No paper may have more than two authors. Final presented papers should be no more than 2500 words, although texts of up to 4000 words, including notes, may be included in the proceedings (submission to the proceedings is optional).

Additional Guidelines for Roundtables:

Initial position statements should be no more than 1250 words. Position statements of up to 2500 words including notes will be accepted for the proceedings (submission to the proceedings is optional).

Deadlines:

Submissions of paper proposals and roundtable discussions to session chairs:
30 September 2017

Communication by session chairs of acceptance or rejection and comments on accepted abstracts:
31 October 2017

Submission of Final Edited Abstracts to Session and Conference Chairs:
30 November 2017

Submission of Complete Draft of Paper or Position Statement to Session Chairs:
15 February 2018

Comments on Papers and Position Statements to be Returned by Session Chairs:
15 March 2018

Submission of Final Paper or Position Statement to Chair and, if to be included in Conference Proceeding, to Conference Chair:
1 April 2018

Download CFP
Click here to download this CFP in PDF form.

San Nicolò da Tolentino: Study Day in Venice

14 June 2017
Fulvio Lenzo has organized the upcoming study day I Tolentini da convento a università at the IUAV in Venice. The event will examine the history of the church and convent of San Nicolò da Tolentino from its origins as a Theatine church designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi to its current incarnation as the IUAV School of Architecture.

I am looking forward to participating with my talk “‘The First of the Congregation’: From the Tolentini toward a Theatinerarchitektur.” Other speakers will offer detailed looks at key episodes in the history of the church, the convent, and the restorations by Daniele Calabi and Carlo Scarpa.

Download the complete program here or view it on the IUAV website.

San Nicolò da Tolentino, Venice, facade by Andrea Tirali, begun 1706
Photo: Susan Klaiber / Creative Commons License

Fellowships on the Age and the Culture of the Baroque

Deadline 16 July 2017

I am delighted to share this information about the fellowship program for emerging scholars in Baroque studies run by my friends at the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura in Turin. The topic for this year’s edition is “The Portrait, 1680-1750.” Please use the links below to learn more, and address any questions directly to the Fondazione 1563.

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The Fellowships Program aims to assign individual fellowships to promote original studies on the Age of Baroque, also in an international comparative perspective.

Research proposals for the 2017 call will need to pertain to the following theme:

The Portrait
Mandatory formulas, fortunate source of various models, vehicle of the affirmation of new directions in the narration of identity and in the culture of representation for figures, places, and contexts. The theme of the Portrait (as a genre, a product, an allegory, a testimony, and a memory) may be applied to various disciplines connected to historical, political, philosophical, musical, literary, historical-artistic, and historical-architectural culture, also with regard to art collecting, museology, art literature and treatises. The research proposal, unpublished and original, will need to focus on the period 1680 to 1750, it may follow a diachronic or synchronic approach depending on the scientific requirements of the project.

The competition is open to researchers born after 1st January 1982 holding a university or master’s degree, or other equivalent degrees, issued by an Italian or equivalent foreign University.

Priority will be given to applicants holding a PhD or equivalent from an Italian or foreign university.

Applications will be submitted exclusively using the forms available online and following the procedure indicated on the Foundation’s website under Bandi/ Borse di studio sull’Età e la Cultura del Barocco 2017 at www.fondazione1563.it.

Applications must be submitted by 16 July 2017 at h 24.00 (midnight).

Important: For the complete Notice of Competition for the fellowships, consult the PDFs in English or Italian.

A Souvenir Shroud of Turin

Replica of the Shroud of Turin, possibly 19th century, Italian, painted cloth, H. 7 3/4″ x W. 21″ (19.7 x 53.3 cm)
Gift of Coudert Brothers, 1888
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 88.3.45

With Easter approaching, the annual sindonology season is upon us. This year’s curiosity comes from the vast, encyclopedic collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York: a miniature replica of the Shroud of Turin. While the original relic is around 4.5 meters long, this small version measures just over a half-meter in length.

According to the museum’s catalogue record, the replica is painted on the cloth and was acquired in 1888. The image of the Shroud – complete with the burn marks from the fire in Chambéry in 1532 – is surrounded with a floral border, an inscription, images of symbols and instruments of the passion at the corners, and two baskets of flowers at either side. The textile probably dates to the nineteenth century, and must have been intended as a devotional souvenir for pious pilgrims to the venerated relic.

The Metropolitan Museum also holds a photographic souvenir of the Shroud of Turin in its collection. The negative image of the face on the textile was taken by Giuseppe Enrie and dates to the 1931 ostension of the Shroud. The museum’s website offers an extremely informative catalogue entry on the photo and its context in Enrie’s career.

The video below gives a glimpse of the souvenirs available for contemporary pilgrims to the relic.


A souvenir stand at a recent ostension of the Shroud

Guercino and the Theatines

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Guercino, Madonna with the Saints John the Evangelist and Gregory the Wonderworker, c. 1630 (San Vincenzo, Modena).
Image: Wikimedia Commons / public domain

Earlier this month, Italian media reported (here, here, or here) that a stolen painting by Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) of the Madonna with Saints John the Evangelist and Gregory the Wonderworker had been recovered in Casablanca. The altarpiece disappeared from San Vincenzo in Modena in August 2014, prompting heavy criticism of security measures at the former Theatine church. San Vincenzo happens to be the home church of Guarino Guarini, where he first joined the Theatine order as a novice in November 1639, and to which he returned for his ordination and first years as a priest beginning in 1647.

The altarpiece had been commissioned by the d’Este family in Modena – perhaps during the brief reign of Duke Alfonso III d’Este in the late 1620s. The painting was completed and installed in the first chapel on the left, dedicated to St. Gregory, in 1630.

This thus makes it the earliest of three works by the painter from Cento commissioned for Theatine churches in the region. An altarpiece of The Vocation of Saint Aloysius (Luigi) Gonzaga, dated c. 1650, was originally located in the right transept of the Theatines’ Santa Maria del Castello in Guastalla, and is now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York.  It too was a prestigious ducal commission, in this case by by Duke Ferrante III Gonzaga. The unusual inclusion of a beatified Jesuit in a Theatine church can be explained by the duke’s desire to promote the cult of his distant relative, canonized only in 1726. Guarini would have seen the painting in December 1656, when he is recorded in Guastalla (Sandonnini 494-495).

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Guercino, The Vocation of Saint Aloysius (Luigi) Gonzaga, ca. 1650
Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art / public domain

The third altarpiece by Guercino (1591-1666) at a Theatine church in his native region is found in Santa Maria della Pietà in Ferrara. The painting depicting the Purification of the Virgin was commissioned by the lawyer Claudio Bertazzoli for his family chapel in the church in 1654, with the final payment recorded the following year. The painting remains in the church today, the third altar on the left.

guercino_-_virgin_and_child_with_four_saints_-_wga10952

Guercino, Virgin and Child with Four Saints, ca. 1649.51
Image: Louvre / Wikimedia Commons / public domain

Of course, the Theatines were not the only people or institution in what is now present-day Emilia-Romagna to commission works by the accomplished local artist. Much of the responsibility for the commissions mentioned here resided with their wealthy or aristocratic patrons. For instance, in 1649 the d’Este ordered another painting from the artist for the church of San Pietro Martire in Modena (today in the Louvre). This altarpiece depicts the Madonna and Child with the four patron saints of Modena: San Geminiano, San Giovanni Battista, San Giorgio, and San Pietro Martire.

The central years of Guercino’s career also happened to coincide with the construction and furnishing of these churches begun exactly four centuries ago: the one in Guastalla was founded in 1616, while those in Modena and Ferrara were both founded in 1617. Although a general overview of seventeenth-century Theatine artistic policies remains to be written, these three examples show the order readily welcomed works of the highest quality when appropriate donors provided the necessary financial backing.

One big question remains: where should the painting recovered in Morocco go when it returns to Modena? According to the Gazzetta di Modena, the church of San Vincenzo still lacks adequate security measures. Some have suggested displaying it in a local museum such as the Galleria Estense, at least temporarily. In the meantime, the diocese is exploring ways to improve security at all of its churches.

By the way, the exhibition Guercino a Piacenza opens 4 March 2017 and runs until 4 June at the Palazzo Farnese in Piacenza. It also offers the opportunity to climb the dome of the cathedral to view the artist’s frescoes there up close.

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Further reading:

Daniela Sinigalliesi, “La Madonna in trono con San Giovanni Evangelista e San Gregorio Taumaturgo di Giovanni Francesco Barbieri detto il Guercino,” in E. Corradini, E. Garzillo, G. Polidori, eds., La chiesa di San Vincenzo a Modena. Ecclesia Divi Vincentii, Modena: Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena, 2001, pp. 136-141.

William M. Griswold, “Guercino“: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v. 48, no. 4 (Spring, 1991): 38-40.

Barbara Ghelfi, “Il talento naturale e la ricerca dell’equilibrio. Il Guercino a Ferrara,” MuseoinVita.

Open Access Sources on Guarini and Piedmontese Baroque Architecture

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Three Free Downloads
Birthdays are for celebrating and for birthday presents. So to mark the birthday of Guarino Guarini (born 17 January 1624), this post highlights three useful publications on the architect that are freely available online. The first two are traditionally included in any bibliography on Guarini and Piedmontese Baroque architecture, and the third one should be more widely known. Two of the items date to the heyday of studies on Piedmontese Baroque in the 1960s, while the third represents the state of Guarini scholarship at the turn of the millennium. All are hosted by generous institutional repositories: two at universities, and the third at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. As for language, there’s something for everyone, take your pick of German, Italian, or English.

1. Maria Anderegg-Tille, Die Schule Guarinis (Winterthur: P. G. Keller, 1962).
andereggtilleThis study originated as a dissertation at the ETH Zürich. It focuses primarily on architects operating and buildings constructed in Guarini’s wake in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Piedmont. Some projects discussed, however, are directly tied to Guarini himself. Wittkower deemed it a “somewhat pedantic work, based on the categories developed by A. E. Brinckmann half a century before.” Yet it remains useful as one of the few publications to consider neglected projects such as the model for San Giacomo Maggiore in Campertogno or the chapel in Gerbido.

Download (17 MB)

2. Carlo Brayda, Laura Coli, and Dario Sesia, “Specializzazioni e vita professionale nel sei e settecento in Piemonte” and “Ingegneri e architetti del Sei e Settecento in Piemonte,” Atti e Rassegna Tecnica / Società Degli Ingegneri e Degli Architetti in Torino n.s. 17:3 (1963): 73-174.
brayda-coli-sesiaWittkower described this lengthy article as “731 names with brief biographies and chronological oeuvre catalogues. Extremely useful.” Although some of the information here is outdated (or was inaccurate to begin with, such as the specious attribution of Sant’Andrea in Bra to Bernini and Guarini, based on campanilismo), the catalogue remains the only convenient source of information on many minor architects of the Piedmontese Baroque. On Guarini, see pp. 113-114.

Download (75 MB)
Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Generic License.

 

3. Martha Pollak, “Guarino Guarini (1624-1683),” in The Mark J. Millard Architectural Collection, Volume IV: Italian and Spanish Books, Fifteenth through Nineteenth Centuries (Washington DC: National Gallery of Art, 2000): 178-183.
pollak-millardAn interesting account of Guarini’s career centered on his architectural treatise Architettura civile, published posthumously in 1737. Martha Pollak is one of the leading scholars of Piedmontese Baroque architecture and urbanism, and she provides valuable personal interpretive accents.
As a bonus, do take a look at the other three volumes cataloging the Mark Millard Architectural Collection at the National Gallery of Art in Washington: Vol. I: French Books; vol. II: British Books; and vol. III: Northern European Books.

Download (177 MB)

Fortuna del Barocco Conference Recap

The following material, mostly pulled from social media, offers a glimpse of the proceedings at the conference Fortuna del Barocco in Italia: Le grandi mostre del Novecento held in Turin last week (28-29 November 2016). Click here for the conference program. Thanks again to the conference convenors, Michela di Macco and Giuseppe Dardanello, as well as the Compagnia di San Paolo and the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura for organizing and sponsoring such a stimulating event.

Monday, 28 November 2016

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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

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The screening of a film documenting the legendary exhibition L’idea del Bello. Viaggio per Roma nel Seicento con Giovan Pietro Bellori (Rome, 2000) concluded the conference, before the closing discussion.

Postscript

Fortuna del Barocco in Italia

Historiography of Baroque Art in Twentieth-Century Exhibitions

conference-poster

As part of its Programma di studi sull’Età e la Cultura del Barocco, the Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura has organized the upcoming conference Fortuna del Barocco in Italia: Le grandi mostre del Novecento (Turin, 28-29 November 2016).

The conference, based on a related research project headed by Michela di Macco and Giuseppe Dardanello, will examine issues concerning the reception of Baroque painting, sculpture, and architecture in twentieth-century exhibitions. The first day of the conference features a special emphasis on the exhibitions of Piedmontese Baroque art and architecture in 1937, 1963, and 1989, as well as exhibitions of Baroque sculpture and architecture in general. The entire second day of the conference will be devoted to exhibitions of Italian Baroque painting as reflected in shows focusing on the various regional schools in places like Bologna or Naples.

Speakers include Tomaso Montanari and Joseph Connors, and special appearances will be made by the grandes dames of Piedmontese Baroque studies, Andreina Griseri and Mercedes Viale Ferrero. I am delighted to be participating as a respondent for the discussion of architectural exhibitions.

Download the conference program for full information about schedule and venue, as well as the contact for RSVP (by 23 November).


Newsreel clip showing the eighteenth-century Peota Bucintoro gondola of the Savoy being transported to the Palazzo Carignano, Turin, for the 1937 exhibition Mostra del Barocco Piemontese
Source: Cinecittà Luce / YouTube

Histories in Conflict: Cities | Buildings | Landscapes

Jerusalem: panoramic view taken from the Mount of Olives, photograph by Joseph Philibert Girault de Prangey Source: Gallica / Bibliothèque nationale de France

Jerusalem: panoramic view taken from the Mount of Olives, photograph by Joseph Philibert Girault de Prangey
Source: Gallica / Bibliothèque nationale de France

EAHN 2017, Jerusalem: Call for Papers

Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, Jerusalem
13-15 June 2017

The European Architectural History Network is pleased to announce its Third Thematic Conference Urban Histories in Conflict. On the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem and the contentious unification it legislated, the conference aims to open up questions about the purpose of writing histories of urban conflicts. We ask how can historians account for the predicaments of violence and uneven distributions of power in the built environment, particularly in the face of current worldwide geo-political crises.

Download the full call for papers or consult the EAHN website for the latest conference updates.

Key Dates: abstract submission by 2 December 2016, full papers due by 1 May 2017.

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Reminder:

The EAHN Fifth International Meeting (Tallinn, 13-16 June 2018) Call for Session Proposals deadline is 12 December 2016. Download the call for sessions, or visit the conference website for more information.

Tallinn (Reval), by Matthäus Merian, 1640Source: ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv / Fotograf: Unbekannt / Fel_038335-RE / Public Domain Mark

Tallinn (Reval), by Matthäus Merian, 1640
Source: ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv / Fotograf: Unbekannt / Fel_038335-RE / Public Domain Mark