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Letter from the Chair

2 Mar

Dear Students, Alumni, Colleagues, and Friends,

A great department deserves a great blog.  Thus, it gives me real pleasure to inaugurate the blog of the Department of Art History and Program in Urban Design and Architecture Studies, Fields of Vision.  As the subtitle of this blog suggests, we hope that all readers – faculty, staff, students, and alumni — will consider Fields of Vision a vehicle for sharing their news and their views, whether reports of travels to sites of art historical or archeological importance, reviews of museum exhibitions, accounts of professional experiences and achievements, or anything else of interest to the Art History and Urban Design communities.  Please send your text, photos, videos, podcasts, and links to Kathryn Smith at kathryn.smith@nyu.edu, with a copy to Peggy Coon at peggy@nyu.edu.

2010-11 has been a banner academic year for the Department of Art History and Urban Design Program in many respects.  More than 2,300 undergraduates from across the University – including the College of Arts and Science, Tisch, Steinhardt, Gallatin, the Liberal Studies Program, and Stern – enrolled in a broad range of departmental courses in the history and criticism of the visual arts and architecture.  Both the Art History and Urban Design and Architecture Studies majors have grown steadily:  with over 320 majors and 150 minors, our department is currently the seventh largest major in the College and one of the largest undergraduate art history programs in the United States.

As a result of the renovation and expansion of our physical plant accomplished during the chairmanship of my predecessor, Pepe Karmel, the Department of Art History now offers an increased number of advanced undergraduate research seminars each semester, and Art History majors may take two (or even more) seminars during their careers here.  Our students continue to produce impressive work, including well-researched, insightful term papers, independent studies, and honors theses, and they constitute a strong presence at important College events such as the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Conference.  Our CAS student club, the Fine Arts Society, is enjoying an exceptionally active year, thanks to the energetic leadership of its current officers and the vibrant guidance of its Faculty Adviser, Julia Robinson.  The department’s annual, student-edited journal of undergraduate research in art and architectural history, Ink & Image, will publish its third issue this spring.  Our graduates continue to be admitted to the top graduate programs in art history, architecture, and urban planning.  It gives us the greatest satisfaction that so many of our former students make the effort to keep in touch, whether their paths lead them to art-related professions or to careers in law, medicine, business, journalism, publishing, education, the not-for-profit sector, or other fields.  Indeed, we hope that alumni and current students alike will view this blog as an opportunity to make contact and stay in touch with an even wider circle of the Art History and Urban Design communities.

Our faculty continues to be exceptionally productive in research and scholarship.  In addition to articles, essays, and reviews, they have produced numerous important books and edited volumes this year.  Mosette Broderick’s long-awaited Triumvirate:  McKim, Mead & White: Art, Architecture, Scandal, and Class in America’s Gilded Age, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in October 2010.  Globalizing Cultures: Art and Mobility in the Eighteenth Century, a special volume of the journal Ars Orientalis co-edited by Barry Flood, appeared this spring.  Other faculty members, including Miriam Basilio, Elizabeth Mansfield, and Kathryn Smith, completed book projects.  Department of Art History faculty lectured on four continents and curated major exhibitions at important museums and galleries.  Kenneth Silver’s guest-curated show, Chaos and Classicism: Art in France, Italy, and Germany, 1918-1936, opened at the Guggenheim Museum in New York on October 1, 2010, and at the Museo Guggenheim, Bilbao, on February 21, 2011, and both the show itself and the accompanying catalogue continue to garner accolades.  Edward Sullivan co-curated or contributed significantly to several exhibitions and their allied catalogues, including Rafael Ferrer and Nueva York 1613-1945 at New York’s El Museo del Barrio and Concrete Improvisations:  Esteban Vicente.  Collages and Sculptures at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery.  Julia Robinson’s exhibition, John Cage and Experimental Art: The Anarchy of Silence, traveled to three European cities in 2010; another show that Robinson curated, New Realisms — 1957-62:  Object Strategies Between Readymade and Spectacle, opened at Madrid’s Museo Reina Sofia in summer 2010.  The achievements of several current faculty and emeriti, including Kenneth Silver, Shelley Rice, Ann Roth, and Lucy Freeman Sandler, were recognized by major national and international awards and fellowships.

The Department of Art History continues to be a vibrant center for research, teaching, and learning.  Thanks to the efforts of faculty coordinators Louise Rice, Elizabeth Mansfield, and Julia Robinson, our departmental lecture series brought several internationally renowned scholars and museum professionals to speak to students, scholars, and others in the NYU and wider New York academic communities. As in years past, in 2010-11 the department hosted numerous lectures on visual culture, the arts, and architecture co-sponsored with other CAS departments and New York City organizations, including the departments of Anthropology, Italian Studies, Museum Studies, the Grey Art Gallery, the Medieval and Renaissance Center, the Center for Religion and the Media, and the New York Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians.  Faculty members Mosette Broderick, Dennis Geronimus, Pepe Karmel, Carol Krinsky, Elizabeth Mansfield, Jon Ritter, and Kenneth Silver were valued participants in the Presidential Scholars Program, the NYU-co-sponsored symposium, “Alfred Stieglitz:  Photographs of the Changing City,” the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Conference, and/or the Borgman Thesis Prize Selection Committee.

And, 2010 witnessed the successful launch of the department’s first Master’s program, the London-based M. A. in Historical and Sustainable Architecture. Developed by Mosette Broderick, Director of the undergraduate Urban Design and Architecture Studies Program, and implemented with the invaluable assistance of Jon Ritter and Peggy Coon, the M.A. in Historical and Sustainable Architecture is the first academic program to unite the topics of sustainable architecture, adaptive reuse, and historic preservation within a single curriculum.

There are many who deserve thanks for their assistance in making this blog a (virtual) reality.  Foremost among them is Peggy Coon, our Departmental Administrator, who has done much of the difficult work to design and shape this blog, and who coordinated the collection of the information published in it.  Hannah Thomas, Maya Dean, Miriam Basilio, Shelley Rice, and Kathleen Weil-Garris Brandt lent their sharp eyes and expertise to the task of designing it.  Dima Todorova-Lilavois, Manager of Interactive Communications, FAS, provided critical assistance and advice as we got started, as did Christine Mladic of NYU’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), whose attractive blog served as an inspiration and a model.  And, I owe a large debt of gratitude to former department chairs Pepe Karmel, Kenneth Silver, Edward Sullivan, and Lucy Freeman Sandler; to our Director of Undergraduate Studies, Carol Krinsky; and to Mosette Broderick, Director of our Urban Design and Architecture Studies Program.  Without the benefit of their insight, assistance, and advice, this blog would not have been possible.

Kathryn A. Smith

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