UC Berkeley History of Art Department



  • Enduring Truths

    Book Talk: Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby on Enduring Truths

    Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby

    Professor of Art History Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby specializes in eighteenth — through early twentienth century French art and visual and material culture, particularly in relation to colonial politics. In her new book, Enduring Truths: Sojourner's Shadows and Substance (University of Chicago Press, 2015), she uncovers how Sojourner Truth made her photographic portrait worth money in order to end slavery — and also became the strategic author of her public self.

    Runaway slave Sojourner Truth gained fame in the nineteenth century as an abolitionist, feminist, and orator and earned a living partly by selling photographic carte de visite portraits of herself at lectures and by mail. Similar in format to calling cards, cartes de visite were relatively inexpensive collectibles that quickly became a new mode of mass communication. Despite being illiterate, Truth copyrighted her photographs in her name and added the caption "I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance. Sojourner Truth."

    Featuring the largest collection of Truth’s photographs ever published, Enduring Truths is the first book to explore how she used her image, the press, the postal service, and copyright laws to support her activism and herself. Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby establishes a range of important contexts for Truth's portraits, including the strategic role of photography and copyright for an illiterate former slave; the shared politics of Truth's cartes de visite and federal banknotes, which were both created to fund the Union cause; and the ways that photochemical limitations complicated the portrayal of different skin tones.

    Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby will speak briefly about her work and then open the floor for discussion.

    Berkeley Book Chats: Enduring Truths

  • "Tablet of Being": Persian Painting and the Demiurgic Artist in Fifteenth-Century Iran and Central Asia

    Berkeley Seminars in Art and Religion presents "Tablet of Being": Persian Painting and the Demiurgic Artist in Fifteenth-Century Iran and Central Asia by Professor Lamia Balafrej, Assistant Professor of Art, Wellesley College.

    In the fifteenth century, Persian book painting becomes filled with extra-textual figures, deviating from and subverting the textual story they supposedly illustrate. Through a careful analysis of aspects of facture and composition, combined with an exploration of primary art historiographical sources, this talk suggests that this departure from illustration transformed the painting into a reflexive medium commenting on art itself, its function and its status, and above all, its relationship to God's creation. Through the proliferation of forms and its polished appearance, the painting becomes a catalog of ideal, primordial forms, paradoxically emphasizing both its unmade aspect and the Demiurgic talent of the painter.

    Lamia Balafrej is an Assistant Professor of Art at Wellesley College working on the Islamic world. Her current book project examines the visual culture of late Timurid painting (c.1470-1500) and its intersection with shifting paradigms of authorship and issues of reception. She has degrees from the Sorbonne, the École Normale Supérieure in Paris and the University of Aix-Marseille, and held a number of research fellowships in France, Turkey and the United States.

    Co-sponsored by the History of Art Department.

  • Umberto Boccioni, Dynamism of a Soccer Player, 1913. Oil on canvas. Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection, 580.1967

    Jewel City: Art from San Francisco's Panama-Pacific International Exposition

    Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby will be speaking at a symposium at the de Young Museum on the Panama-Pacific International Exposition and its art.

  • Digital Karnak and VSim: Exploring Karnak temple in 3D

    Elaine Sullivan

    Digital Karnak is a 3D, immersive, interactive model of Egypt’s Karnak site, one of the largest temple complexes in the world, and one with a rich political, religious, and architectural history. At the core of the Digital Karnak project is a 3D reconstruction of the complex that illustrates the major phases of construction in the site’s 2,000 year history. While video of the model has been shared through the project website, scholars and the public have never been able to interact dynamically with the model themselves. The recent release of the VSim prototype, a new NEH- funded software to facilitate educational use of academically generated 3D content, now allows 3D projects like Karnak to be annotated, shared, and viewed in real-time by researchers and students. This workshop will present the Karnak model utilizing VSim and show participants how to "fly" and interact with the model on their own computers. Please RSVP if you you plan to attend.

    Elaine Sullivan is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her work focuses on applying new technologies to ancient cultural materials. She acts as the project coordinator of the Digital Karnak Project, a multi-phased 3D virtual reality model of the famous ancient Egyptian temple complex of Karnak. She is project director of 3D Saqqara, which harnesses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technologies and 3D modeling to explore the ritual and natural landscape of the famous cemetery of Saqqara through both space and time.

    This workshop is sponsored by the UC Santa Cruz Department of History, Digital Humanities at Berkeley, and the UC Berkeley Department of Near Eastern Studies. Inquiries may be directed to Prof. Rita Lucarelli (rita.lucarelli@berkeley.edu).

  • 3D Modeling with Photoscan

    Isabella Warren

    3D Modeling with Photoscan

    Please RSVP

    This workshop will provide a demonstration of Agisoft Photoscan, a software package that turns 2D images into 3D models using photogrammetric processing. This approach to 3D modeling has applications in archaeology, art history, new media, and other disciplines that work with physical objects and their digital representations. The workshop will be led by Isabella Warren, an M.Arch student at the College of Environmental Design who was a Digital Humanities Intern at the Art History Visual Resources Center during summer 2015.

    This workshop is sponsored by Digital Humanities at Berkeley and hosted by the Art History VRC.

  • Bhikkhuni Images
  • International Workshop The Other and the Others. The Reception of Antiquity in Early Modern Europe

    1:10: Welcome and Introductions – Dr. Todd Olson and Dr. Letha Ch'ien (University of California, Davis)

    1:20: Dr. Luis Arciniega (University of Valencia, Spain)
    Hankering for the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Visual manifestations in the Early Modern Western Mediterranean

    2:00: Dr. Mercedes Gómez-Ferrer (University of Valencia, Spain)
    Center and Periphery: The Perception of Renaissance Architecture in Early Modern Iberia

    2:40: Response and Debate – Dr. Henrike Lange (University of California, Berkeley)

    Organized by Dr. Todd Olson (University of California, Berkeley) and Dr. Borja Llopsis Franco (University of Valencia, Spain)

    Financed by: VLC/CAMPUS, Valencia International Campus of Excellence – California Campus and sponsored by the Designated Emphasis in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies


  • Imogen Hart, "Transatlantic Arts and Crafts"

    Exhibition of Modern British Crafts toured North America from 1942­ to 1945, opening at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Described by its British organizers and by American critics as a legacy of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement he inspired on both sides of the Atlantic, the exhibition reinforced the idea of a cultural heritage shared by Britain and the United States. It was also understood as a manifesto for modern craft. This lecture examines the contents, layout, and reception of the exhibition and compares it to related wartime exhibitions.

    Imogen Hart is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of History of Art. Professor Hart works on modern art and material culture in Britain, especially the objects and interiors associated with the Arts and Crafts movement. She is the author of Arts and Crafts Objects (Manchester University Press, 2010) and co-editor, with Jason Edwards, of Rethinking the Interior, c. 1867-1896: Aestheticism and Arts and Crafts (Ashgate, 2010). She has published articles and book chapters on William Morris, the Arts and Crafts movement, and Victorian and Edwardian painting. Hart is currently working on a book, provisionally entitled Sculpture in the Age of Darwin, which explores the production and reception of modern sculpture in Britain and the United States in relation to evolutionary theory.

  • In My Backyard: Conversations with Art History Neighbors

    Makeda Best, Jacqueline Francis, Tirza Latimer, and Tina Takemoto from California College of the Arts, in conversation with Berkeley History of Art faculty.

  • Robert Motherwell, At Five in the Afternoon, 1950. Oil on hardboard. FAMSF, bequest of Josephine Morris, 2003.25.4

    Lauren Kroiz Lectures at the de Young Museum

    Lauren Kroiz will give a guest lecture at the de Young Museum on Color as a Thing: Robert Motherwell's Elegies. More information is available here.

  • International Workshop: "The Other and the Others in Europe and Beyond"

    Organized by: Professor Todd Olson and Dr. Borja Franco Llopis
    Financed by: VLC/CAMPUS. Valencia International Campus of Excellence, California Campus and sponsored by the Department of History of Art and the Designated Emphasis in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies
    10.30: Welcome and presentation: Todd Olson and Borja Franco Llopis
    Session 1: Chair: Beate Fricke (University of California, Berkeley)
    10.40: Conference 1: Borja Franco Llopis (University of Valencia): Art to convert, Art to be destroyed? The problematic coexistence between Moriscos and Old Christians in Iberia and its visual representation (15-17th Centuries).
    11.20: Conference 2: Todd Olson (University of California, Berkeley): Ribera, Bartholomew and the Terror of Resemblance
    12.00-12.30: Debate
    Session 2: Chair: Lisa Trever (University of California, Berkeley)
    14.30: Conference 2: Thadeus Dowad (University of California, Berkeley): “Collodion & Ink: Writing Race into Mexican Antiquity with Charnay and Viollet-le-Duc”
    15.10: Conference 3: Dr. Cristina Vidal Lorenzo (University of Valencia): "Tikal revisited. Post-abandonment cultural process and the perception of the ruins in Colonial and Contemporary times"

    15.50: Debate and conclusions 

  • "Imaginary Activism: The Role of the Artist Beyond the Art World" -- A Spoken Word Monologue by Guillermo Gómez-Peña

    Presented by the Department of Ethnic Studies and the Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies in collaboration with the Center for Race and Gender and UC Berkeley’s Arts Research Center. Organized by Marco A. Flores and Stephanie Sherman. Please see this page for more information. 

  • History of Art Commencement

    Colin Bailey, Director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco will address the 2015 graduates at this year's Commencement Exercises. This is a ticketed event; please get in touch with us if you are interested in attending. 

  • Kobena Mercer

    Afromodern versus Post-Black? A Diasporic Historiography for African American Art

    Kobena Mercer

    Scholarship in African American art history has flourished between 2000 and 2015, yet this was also when "post-black" gained currency to suggest race no longer matters in culture and society. Arguing that "Afromodernism," a term Robert Farris Thompson coined in 1991, offers a more flexible analytical tool for diaspora-based research, this paper argues that conceptual resources for such an undertaking are nothing new but have been waiting for us in the picture book Alain Locke published in 1940, The Negro in Art.

    Kobena Mercer is a Professor in History of Art and African American Studies at Yale University. His teaching and research focusses on the visual arts of the black diaspora, examining African American, Caribbean, and Black British artists in modern and contemporary art, with a focus on cross-cultural aesthetics in transnational contexts where issues of race, sexuality, and identity converge.

    His first book, Welcome to the Jungle (1994), introduced new lines of inquiry in art, photography, and film, and his work features in several interdisciplinary anthologies including Art and Its Histories (1998), The Visual Culture Reader (2001) and Theorizing Diaspora (2003). He initiated and edited the Annotating Art’s Histories series, published by MIT and INIVA, bringing a global perspective to modernist art history and the titles are Cosmopolitan Modernisms (2005), Discrepant Abstraction (2006), Pop Art and Vernacular Cultures (2007), and Exiles, Diasporas and Strangers (2008).

    Professor Mercer is an inaugural recipient of the 2006 Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing awarded by the Sterling and Francise Clark Art Institute in Massachussetts. His next book, Travel and See: Black Diaspora Art Practices since the 1980s, is a collection of essays forthcoming from Duke University Press, and also published in 2014 is, "New Practices, New Identities: Hybridity and Globalization," the closing chapter in The Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume V, The Twentieth Century (Harvard University Press).

    About the other sponsors:

    The Black Room: Revisiting "Blackness" in the Global 21st Century

    The Institute of International Studies

  • The Cult of the Virgin Mary: Chronology, Meaning, and the Role of Images

    Diliana Angelova

    AHMA Noon Colloquium