UC Berkeley History of Art Department



  • Luis Montero, Peruvian, 1826␣1869  The Funerals of Inca Atahualpa  Oil on canvas, 1867  Museo de Arte de Lima

    Indigenismos: Amerindian Inscriptions in the Art of the Americas

    Mariana Wardwell

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

    My presentation will examine the ideological tensions and contradictions implicit to the political use of the indigenous as a symbol—to what extent it operates as an ideological slippage between nation and state, as cultural Other and fantasy of the race, as a critique of capitalism and colonialism and as supplement to the formation of Latin American revolutionary ideology. The lines of inquiry that I will be proposing suggest that the iteration of Indigenism is in fact a constitutive element of hegemonic and counter-hegemonic cultural formations across the hemisphere. By presenting a critical revision of the many modalities of Indigenism, as discrete modernist idioms, my research premise underlines the extent to which it becomes necessary to mark a theoretical distance from the common conceptualization of the “indigenous problem” in social, political, and anthropological discourses and move toward the construction of an “empty signifier” or “constitutive foreclosure” (phantasmagoria) that punctuates and operates in the cultural text—that is, connecting the points of dissemination and tension between the figurations and inscriptions of Indigenous America during the development of modernity as a horizon of signification.

  • Huey Copeland, "Solar Ethics"

    In this lecture, art historian Huey Copeland charts Sun Ra’s evolving import as icon, model and prophet for a range of visual artists, Rashid Johnson foremost among them. Ultimately, Copeland argues, a critical re-examination of Johnson's work alongside that of the jazz musician allows us to freshly understand the ethical stakes involved when contemporary practitioners turn to the past in conjuring utopian visions of the future. 

  • Stoddard Lecture -- Beyond Aniconism and Iconoclasm: Refiguring the Image in Islam

    Finbarr Barry Flood, New York University, is this year's Stoddard Lecturer.

  • Amy Powell, "A (Long) History of the Picture as Box"

    Amy Powell, UC Irvine

  • From Francisco Pizarro to Louis Sullivan: A Short (Confused) History of Inca Architecture

    Stella Nair, University of California, Los Angeles

    Stella Nair

  • Now Here! History of Art 2013-14 Visitors

    Visitors Roundtable: Qamar Adamjee (Asian Art Museum of San Francisco), Imogen Hart (formerly Yale Center for British Art), Jessica Maxwell (formerly Princeton University), and Heba Mostafa (formerly University of Cambridge), all teaching for the Department in 2013-14, present their recent work in an informal roundtable moderated by Associate Professor Julia Bryan-Wilson

  • Castrum Inui Rediscovered: Sixth Century BC Sanctuary in Latium

    Mario Torelli

  • To Catch the Eye: Revisiting Harriet Powers's Visionary Textiles

    Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    When Harriet Powers' "Bible Quilt" was exhibited at the Smithsonian in 1974, its label read, "Made by Harriet, An Ex-slave, Athens, Georgia." A curator at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which had recently acquired another of her visionary textiles, quickly provided Harriet’s last name and a bit more of her history. Made in Georgia in the late 1880s, Powers' quilts had been exhibited at so-called "Colored Fairs" in Georgia and then at the Atlantic Exhibition in 1895, but for most of the twentieth century, they remained in private hands. Their rediscovery in the 1970s reinforced an already growing interest in American quilting and in the African roots of American culture. By 1991, Powers was so-well known among the general public that when the Smithsonian attempted to have her "Bible Quilt" reproduced in China, a phalanx of quilters picketed the museum. Powers' continues to inspire contemporary quilters, poets, filmmakers, writers, artists, and amateur historians. But, curiously, her work has received surprisingly little attention from scholars, including those who specialize in women's history or the American south. Ulrich’s lecture will introduce Powers' quilts to those who don't yet know them and make an argument for why they matter.

  • Etruscan snakes

    Five Centuries of Etruscan Tomb Painting (700-200 BC): New Discoveries, Research, and Approaches

    Stephan Steingräber

  • The Kushans and the Earliest Depictions of Brahmanical Divinities in Gandhara

    Osmund Bopearachchi

  • The Aesthetics of Ornament in the Sixteenth-Century Ottoman and Safavid Courts

    Gülru Necipoglu

  • Abstraction and Intimacy

    W.J.T. Mitchell