UC Berkeley History of Art Department



  • Visual Literacy workshop: Learning to Look and Looking to Learn

    Jessica Sack, Jan and Frederick Mayer Senior Associate Curator of Public Education at the Yale University Art Gallery

    Visual Resources Association Foundation regional workshop
    University of California Berkeley

    February 26th, 2016
    Session 1: 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Berkeley Art Museum
    Session 2: 2:00 p.m.-4:45 p.m., Visual Resources Center, 308A Doe Library

    The Visual Resources Association Foundation is pleased to announce that Visual Literacy: Learning to Look and Looking to Learn will be held at University of California Berkeley on February 26th, 2016, one of two workshops being offered in the first year of the VRAF Regional Workshop Program. This workshop will be hosted by the Visual Resources Center in the History of Art Department at UC Berkeley, and is open to image management professionals, image users, and the broader information and educational community. The VRAF is grateful to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation for their generous support of this new opportunity.

    Part one of this workshop will focus on visual literacy skills and pedagogical approaches by exploring objects at the new Berkeley Art Museum. In part two of the workshop, participants will discuss and develop ways to implement their own visual literacy program at their institutions, and learn how staff, students and faculty can use digital archives, art objects, and other primary sources in developing visual literacy skills.

    Visual Literacy: Learning to Look and Looking to Learn will be taught by Jessica Sack, the Jan and Frederick Mayer Senior Associate Curator of Public Education at the Yale University Art Gallery. During her fifteen years in the field of museum education, Jessica has developed training programs in visual literacy for information professionals, teachers, faculty, and students. To learn more about Jessica and the workshop, please visit:

    Registration for Visual Literacy: Learning to Look and Looking to Learn is now open. The fee for the workshop is $75 for either the morning or afternoon session, or $125 for the full day. You may register from the workshop website: http://vrafoundation.org.s119319.gridserver.com/index.php/projects/visual_literacy_regional_workshop/

    If you have questions about registration, feel free to contact Betha Whitlow, VRAF Director, bwhitlow@wustl.edu For questions about the University of California Berkeley venue, please contact Lynn Cunningham, Curator of Visual Resources, lynncunningham@berkeley.edu.

    Click for registration and more information

  • Hannah Baader, "Vows on Water: Maritime Iconospheres and the Votive Offering of Ships"

    Read about Hannah Baader here.

    This talk will take a canvas that was presented at the Salon in Paris in 1881- showing a maritime votive scenario - as a starting point for a fragmentary history of Christian maritime ex-votos. Stretching back far before the nineteenth century, this history reflects the strong fears, anxieties and hopes that arise from seafaring, leading to specific religious practices, beliefs, and aesthetics. Although there is a wide range of local documentation, we are still missing any overall research on the topic or any attempt at a more systematic approach. Maritime ship ex-votos are indeed the fragile documents of a long Mediterranean and Atlantic history, a history of longue durée, but nevertheless with significant changes and breaks. This long history might be a tacit history of the worlds of fishermen and seafarers with their specific forms of religiosity and community, but at the same time of many other parts of society - as merchants, churchman, and slaves.
    The talk focuses on the status of maritime ex-votos in the form of ships as objects or things, on the metaphoricity of ships as bodies and figures of transfer, on the seriality of votive vessels, and on their capacity for creating communality.

  • Art History in the Age of Big Data

    Elizabeth Honig, Associate Professor of History of Art, UC Berkeley, specialist in European art 1400-1700
    Melissa Geisler Trafton, Senior Researcher, Fitz H. Lane Project, specialist in nineteenth-century American art

    Art history's data-based foundation has regained interest in the digital age, as new tools are developed to create interactive learning and research experiences. The presenters will discuss their online projects linking information about artworks to rich caches of data.

    Please bring your own sandwich; sodas will be provided.

    Margaretta M. Lovell, Jay D. McEvoy, Jr., Professor of American Art, UC Berkeley, specialist in American and English art and architecture 1700–present

    Co-Sponsored by:

    The Townsend Center for the Humanities
    Digital Humanities, Arts & Humanities Division, College of Letters & Science
    Jay D. McEvoy, Jr., Chair in American Art Funds
    History of Art Department

  • Shawn Michelle Smith, "Photographic Returns: Lorna Simpson's 9 Props"

    This lecture is cosponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities Working Group on Race, Gender, and Black Popular Culture, the Working Group on Contemporary Art and the Black Room Collective, an Interdisciplinary Faculty Program funded by the Institute of International Studies.

    The talk will explore the complex web of associations Lorna Simpson evokes with her apparently minimalist work, 9 Props (1995). An homage to James VanDerZee, the work provokes thoughts about the promises and limits of photographic portraiture. Through a series of material translations, 9 Props also comments on the haptic qualities of the photograph and the touch of the photographic past. Simpson’s return to VanDerZee calls forth ideas not only about the history of photography, but also about the photography of history.

    Shawn Michelle Smith is Professor of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


  • 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).

  • 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.