UC Berkeley History of Art Department



  • CANCELED: In My Backyard: Conversations with Art History Neighbors

    In support of the strike this Thursday by the UC Student-Workers Union on campus and system-wide, the Lecture Committee will be cancelling "In My Backyard: Conversations with Art History Neighbors" (5:30pm). We will reschedule this important event in the fall semester.Gwen Allen, Santhi Kavuri-Bauer, and Valerie Soe from San Francisco State University, Department of Art and Department of Asian Studies, in conversation with Berkeley History of Art faculty.

  • Folklore Roundtable: Pertti Anttonen, Mario Wimmer, and Deniz Göktürk

    In folklore studies, scholars have tended to draw a major distinction between pre- and post-archival folklore. The mode of circulation is regarded as being different, tradition is said to end at the door to the archive, and archival documents are considered dead artifacts. This talk will discuss the idea of viewing the archive as a link, rather than a cut, in the circulation of folklore. It will focus on two aspects in this circulation: intersemiotic translation in folklore collecting, and the subsequent act of curation.

    Pertti Anttonen is University Lecturer in folklore studies at the University of Helsinki in Finland. He is a docent in folklore studies at the University of Helsinki and the University of Turku, as well as a docent in ethnology at the University of Jyväskylä. His publications include Tradition Through Modernity: Postmodernism and the Nation-State in Folklore Scholarship.  

    In Conversation With:

     Mario Wimmer teaches Modern European Cultural and Intellectual History in the Dept. of Rhetoric. His research focuses on the cultural and institutional history of knowledge, the critical history of rationality, and the history of an historical sense.

    Deniz Göktürk is Associate Professor and currently Chair in the Dept. of German at the UC Berkeley. Her publications include a book on literary and cinematic imaginations of America in early twentieth-century German culture as well as seminal articles on migration, culture, and cinema.

    Sponsored by Berkeley Folklore Program, the Graduate Assembly, and the Townsend Center for the Humanities.  For more information: ucbfolklore@berkeley.edu.


  • Archives, Censors, Wives: Research in Contemporary Asian Art

    A conversation with Jane DeBevoise moderated by Winnie Wong (Department of Rhetoric, U.C. Berkeley).   Jane DeBevoise is Chair of the Board of Directors of Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong and New York.

    Organized by the Department of History of Art and the Townsend Working Groups in Contemporary Art, and Asian Art and Visual Culture. Co-sponsored by the Department of Rhetoric, the Arts Research Center, the Center for Chinese Studies and the Institute of East Asian Studies. 

  • ". . . desired and sought by the rest of the world . . . "

    The Circulation of Japanese and Mexican Art in the Colonial World

    Sofia Sanabrais, Getty Research Institute.

  • Ruin in Progress: How its Buildings Reflect the University's Changing Mission

    A talk by Gray Brechin, Project Scientist, Department of Geography.  Followed by a round-table discussion with Margaretta Lovell, Professor of History of Art, and Roberta Park, Professor Emerita, Department of Integrative Biology.

    As costly new structures rise around the campus perimeter, neglect eats the historic buildings at its core. Do administrators regard the older structures as sites of opportunity for yet more revenue-enhancers?  In 1898, Phoebe Hearst launched an international competition to make the University of California an incomparable "Acropolis of Learning" facing the Golden Gate.  Her subsequent generosity built a preeminent public university available to all eligible Californians.  After her death in 1919, William Randolph Hearst paid for a magnificent women's gymnasium to launch a vast memorial to his mother.  As Hearst Gym approaches irreparability and other extant structures of the two Hearst plans face a similar fate in the midst of a manic building boom, the Berkeley campus offers a textbook of changing priorities in a time of forgetting.  Audience participation is invited.

  • 2014 Mario Del Chiaro Lecture

    Nancy de Grummond, Florida State University

    Divination by Thunder and Lightning in Etruscan Religion

    Nancy de Grummond is the third Del Chiaro Lecturer.  Read more about the Mario Del Chiaro fund here.   

  • Sacred Mud: The Idea of Art in Bangladesh

    Henry Glassie, Professor Emeritus, Indiana University

    During years of ethnographic work in Bangladesh, living with creators and talking with them about their work, Henry Glassie came to an understanding of their idea of art. Their ideas, grounded in ecology and religious principle, united use and beauty, need and aspiration, providing a challenge to Western conventions.  History of Art is happy to have the annual Alan Dundes Lecture in Folklore in Doe Library this year.


  • Reviving the Image of the Black in Western Art for the 21st Century

    Until 8:00 pm | 02/27/2014

    David Bindman, Professor Emeritus, University College London and Visiting Professor, Harvard University, Spring 2014

  • Chigusa in kuchioi and net bag

    Embodying the Ceramic Vessel in Sixteenth-Century Japanese Tea Culture

    Andrew Watsky, Princeton University

    Chanoyu has always entailed multiple overlapping activities, including the preparation and consumption of tea, the collecting and use of a repertoire of requisite objects, and the understanding and articulation of the relative quality of those objects. This paper focuses on sixteenth-century chanoyu, for which there are both extant objects and a rich trove of textual evidence, and especially on ōtsubo, “large jars,” then the most highly valued of all chanoyu objects. We will consider how sixteenth-century tea men assessed and amplified the significances of treasured ōtsubo, through the formulation of aesthetic criteria, the bestowal of proper names, and an inclination for anthropomorphic embrace.

    Co-sponsored by the Center for Japanese Studies.


  • Motherwell’s Mother: An Iconography in Abstraction

    Jonathan Fineberg
    Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Professor of Art History Emeritus
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Tremors and Remedies: Images, Intercessions and Ritual Efficacy in Colonial Cuzco

    Patrick Hajovsky, Southwestern University

    Patrick Hajovsky, Assistant Professor of Art History at Southwestern University, has submitted the following abstract for his January 30 talk:

    On March 31, 1650 a catastrophic earthquake ravaged the city of Cuzco, Peru, yet its Cathedral survived and soon after housed a colossal votive painting of the event—a panorama of the city during its turmoil. This painting is one of the earliest city views of Latin America, and a visual heteroglossia of the disaster, bringing together multiple evidentiary sources into its grand perspective. While it was a collaborative project between its unidentified Andean artist and its Spanish patron, its painted image and its text-caption credit two different miraculous images for intervening on behalf of the city. This begins an era of competition between these two images—a Spanish painting of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios and a sculpted crucifix named Taytacha Temblores—whose efficacies, it appears, correlate with ethnic divisions of viewership and ritual participation into the eighteenth century.

  • Gaganendranath Tagore, The King of Dark Chambers, Gouache on paper, ca. 1925

    The Cubist with his Kaleidoscope, The King in His Dark Chambers

    Atreyee Gupta

    Atreyee Gupta is a candidate for our faculty position in Global Modern Art History.

  • Neoconcrete Culture: Modern Art and Rio de Janeiro in the 1950s and 1960s

    Mariola V. Alvarez

    Mariola Alvarez is a candidate for our faculty position in Global Modern Art History. 

  • The Arabesque in a Global Mode, 1930-1960

    Anneka Lenssen

    Anneka Lenssen is a candidate for our faculty position in Global Modern Art History.  A summary of her presentation follows.

    The global exceeds the nation-state. The expectation that this transition – keenly anticipated but perpetually deferred – must take place is one of the central promises of a global history of modern art, and also one of its most persistent methodological problems. In my talk, I examine this problem of forging a global conceptualization of modern art by a close historical reading of artworks that adopted a global mode, i.e. a mode of placing their spectators beyond the boundaries of state power. Specifically, I track a series of deployments of an arabesque line – a rhythmic arrangement of a continuous line that manifests itself as if in durational time rather than as gestalt effect or material presence – as a means to achieve an organization of space that rivaled the institutions of the state and their imperative to manufacture the experience of the real as different from representation. The talk begins with an elucidation of the radical qualities of the arabesque paintings that Syrian artist Adham Ismail made in the aftermath of French colonial control, and in particular the modern doctrine of self-determination that had placed the artist's hometown of Antioch in a disputed border region between Turkey and Syria into a crisis of political filiation (1936-1939). At the discursive heart of Ismail's “Arab abstraction” as he practiced it in 1950s Syria, one finds a claim to the ahistorical validity of line as pure form that derives from a lineage of French Modernist writing on the arabesque as unmediated sense-data. The second part of the talk considers contemporaneous deployments of unending or capricious lines as a site of recuperative corporeal experience – pieces by Egyptian artist Mounir Canaan, Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair, and Argentine-Italian artist Lucio Fontana – and analyzes them as analogous impulses to recalibrate the national against the state. My guiding concern is to treat these counter-deployments of Modernist theories of spatial composition not as mere colonial legacy, but rather as an effect of the modern crises of political representation that motivate the imagination of the global.

  • 'Woven Paintings?' Flemish and French Tapestry 1660-1770: A Two-Day Conference

    Until 5:00 pm | 11/23/2013

    The conference will convene for a second day on Saturday, November 23 at 9:00 a.m. in the Geballe Room of the Townsend Center.