Crossing Boundaries: Making World Art History

Crossing Boundaries was conceived as an informal and experimental series of workshops in which scholars, curators, and artists of different backgrounds and disciplinary specializations within the field of art history and beyond may come together to discuss ways in which the discipline is changing, growing, and evolving. Our aim is to generate dynamic ideas and resources for future directions in this area of study, to expand the scope of discourse throughout arts and cultural institutions, and ultimately to introduce a more multidimensional, pluralistic way of thinking, studying, writing, and talking about art and art history. This fall, we direct our focus towards access and engagement. Our program centers around issues and ideas of movement, migration, and diaspora; language, translation, and gesture; regional identities and areas of self-identification; pedagogy and education; networks and technology. Fall 2016 sessions have been coordinated by the Institute's PhD candidate Allison Young and MA student Rebecca Cuomo.

Session 4

Friday, November 4, 2016
11:00 AM 
Watch video from session 4 online


11:00 / Welcome and Introduction

11:15 – 12:00 / Interview: Shelley Rice with Milagros de la Torre

12:00 – 1:15 / Panel 1: Pedagogy

Edward Sullivan (Moderator), Professor, The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Yaëlle Biro, Associate Curator for African Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Mark Jarzombek, Professor of the History and Theory of Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Jay Levenson, Director, International Program, The Museum of Modern Art

This panel engages leaders in academies and museums to reflect upon the methodologies, practices, and strategies they employ in order to present and contextualize world art history in increasingly global environments. How do educational programs address new ideas, demographics, technologies, and political realities?

Eurocentrism in the art historical survey course, premised as a general overview of the field, has been a topic of critique and debate in recent years. Efforts have been made to “globalize” the survey, but as the field continuously expands, it is harder to define the boundaries of the introductory canon. How can we renegotiate canonical borders and restructure the scope of the survey? Relatedly, how might universities serve progressively diverse student bodies? How do global “franchise” institutions, such as NYU and the Guggenheim, address the needs of international audiences? How do pedagogical practices shift according to place?

The origin of Western encyclopedic museums can be traced to 19th-century colonialism, a legacy embodied in many collection histories and organizational structures. How have such institutions evolved and adapted to suit 21st century society? Contemporary art galleries, on the other hand, seem to have moved beyond the mere presentation of artworks to function as hybrid spaces – sites of communal gathering and exchange, effectively reducing divisions between artists, artworks, and the public. Do social interventions and participatory projects constitute pedagogical acts of mediation? How can education increase access and engagement among communities traditionally neglected from spaces of art and culture?

1:15 – 2:15 / Lunch

2:15 – 3:30 / Panel 2: Networks

Networks defy limitations imposed by borders, transcending boundaries as interconnective structures for transmitting and receiving information. This discussion approaches networks as systems of material and virtual exchange and interaction. How do artistic networks (institutional, commercial, creative, etc.) intersect and influence processes of dissemination, circulation, and mediation? How do institutions, collections, exhibitions, and individual artworks serve as nodal points within these systems? Diasporic networks – which trace the voluntary and forced dispersals of people around the world – are historically overlooked due to a discursive cohesion to national or regional narratives in the field of art history; since the late 20th century, however, the diaspora has increasingly become a topic of scholarly and curatorial innovation and investigation. How might we integrate or pay homage to transnational networks and the experienced realities of those traveling across and among them? 

Recently, digital networks have become conceptual, methodological, and practical tools for many art historians and curators – how do these emergent networks function with or against preexisting systems? How has the advent of a virtual infrastructure influenced theories, approaches, and experiences of physical places and objects? 


Session 3

Monday, September 26, 2016
10:00 AM 


10:00 – 10:30 / Welcome and Introduction

10:30 – 11:45 / Panel 1: Border Crossings: Passage and Blockage

Borders are the outer limits of a given physical or conceptual space; they are usually considered in terms of the areas they define, rather than spaces or entities in their own right. In the age of Brexit, mass migration of refugees, right-wing campaigns for tightened border security, academic boycotts, and visa control, borders have become focal points in our contemporary zeitgeist. This inaugural panel of the fall series takes the title of this program as a more literal object of critique. Ever-changing border politics can complicate visa acquisition for traveling academics and artists, lead to internet and media censorship in certain countries, and threaten cultural artifacts in war-torn or environmentally-unstable regions: what happens when artists and artworks cross – or cannot cross – borders and boundaries? When the movement of people and objects is increasingly monitored and sanctioned, is global or world art possible?

11:45 – 12:15 / Break

12:15 – 1:30 / Panel 2: Linguistic Dissonance

Language plays a crucial role in accessibility: it can build bridges or barriers. Language exists in a multiplicity of forms and structures, each carrying a constellation of unique meanings and associations. When a word or concept is translated from one language to another, some of its contents are irretrievably lost. How can we minimize entropy while communicating across linguistically-diverse disciplinary communities? On the other hand, can linguistic inconvertibility, misperception, and nuance be productive?

Art historians are expected to be proficient in languages relevant to their areas of study. What are the benefits and limits of polylingual scholarship, and to what extent should it be put into practice? What is absent when scholars are not proficient in non-colonial languages such as kiSwahili, Yoruba, Nahuatl, Tamazight (Berber), or local dialects? Beyond the verbal, this panel might also consider alternative forms of communication: how can we record and preserve ephemera such as movement and gesture, modulation and tone? 

1:30 – 2:30 / Lunch

2:30 – 3:45 / Panel 3: Area Focus: Expanding American Art

Is art history strengthened or attenuated by regional and geographic categories? How can the discipline adapt with shifting demographics, additive historical narratives, and geopolitical volatility? Can there exist a balance between global and local art histories?

The word “America” embodies such concerns in every sense of its use: as a name, identity, ideology, and place. We take this as a cogent opportunity to direct our focus to the evolution and plurality of America through an art historical lens. “America” is commonly used as a synonym of the United States: how might we benefit from a more complex, hemispheric understanding of America? How do we confront a discourse that has traditionally neglected the contributions of countless communities, such as First Nation, Latinx, African-American, Asian-American, and others? What are some challenges and limitations to expanding the scope of American art history, trans-historically and cross-culturally? What areas of expertise are – or should be – required of Americanist art historians and curators?

3:45 / Reception

Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, Director and Chief Curator, Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros
Irene Small, Assistant Professor, Princeton University
André Lepecki, Associate Professor of Performance Studies, NYU Tisch
Joshua Cohen, Assistant Professor, The City College of New York
Reiko Tomii, Independent Art Historian, Critic, and Curator
Kathleen Ash-Milby, Associate Curator, National Museum of the American Indian
Donna De Salvo, Deputy Director for International Initiatives and Senior Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art
Yasmín Ramírez, Research Associate, Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños at Hunter College
Joseph Roach, Professor of Theater and English / Director of Theater, Yale University

Session 2

Monday, May 9, 2016
Watch video from session 2 online


Monday, May 9, 2016
10:30 – 11:00 am / Check in
Coffee, tea, and refreshments available to participants in the Loeb Room

11:00 / Welcome and introduction
Patricia Rubin and Alexandra Munroe

11:10 / Interview: “New Models of Art Historical Inquiry on the Global”, Alexandra Munroe with Reiko Tomii
Reiko Tomii, Author, Radicalism in the Wilderness: International Contemporaneity and 1960s Art in Japan (MIT Press, 2016)

12:00 - 1:15 / Panel 1  What Do Objects Want?
Andrew Finegold (Moderator)
Joshua Cohen
Christian Scheidemann
Glenn Wharton
This panel looks at questions of global/international art history from the perspective of conservation, and technical art history. In addition to addressing technical concerns, participants will discuss whether more materialist methodologies (as demonstrated, in particular, by WJT Mitchell) can add to global art histories by locating discourse at the site of the art object itself or by charting the image's migrations, afterlife, appropriation, or reception in new contexts.

1:15 – 2:15 / Break

2:15 - 3:30 / Panel 2  Inside Out: New Art Histories
Steven Nelson (Moderator)
Clare Davies
Yukio Lippit
Alexander Nagel
Shelley Rice
Arguably, the field of global art history has developed since the mid-1980s largely as a critique of modernist Eurocentric narratives, challenging such prevailing discourses as avant-garde originality and the binary structures of East/West, modern/tradition, high art/folk art.  Still, the “history” under review often follows the familiar trajectory from Dada to Surrealism to Abstraction to Conceptualism. How can we recuperate movements germane to a particular region or culture and write them into a larger history of modern art? At museums, how can we make this work in displays and acquisition programs?

3:30 – 3:45 / Break
Coffee, tea, and refreshments available to everyone in the Loeb Room

3:45 - 5:00 / Panel 3   In Transit: Distribution and Circulation
Ming Tiampo (Moderator)
Bruce Altshuler
Rafal Niemojewski
Ksenia Nouril
The last several decades have seen the rise of biennials and international art fairs in “non-Western” regions. What is the impact of “biennialism” and global museums on contemporary art? Has the West/non-West binary been genuinely disrupted or restructured, or have other art worlds simply become “Westernized” in this process? Is there an impact on artistic style? This panel interrogates both the discursive and economic implications of the “globalization” of art.

5:00 - 5:30 / Brainstorm directions for fall workshop sessions

5:30 / Conclusion and Public Reception
Drinks and refreshments available to everyone in the Loeb Room


Bruce Altshuler is Director of the Program in Museum Studies at New York University.  His prior positions include Director of the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum and Director of Studies at Christie’s Education, New York. He is the author of Biennials and Beyond: Exhibitions that Made Art History, 1962-2002; Salon to Biennial: Exhibitions that Made Art History, 1863-1959; The Avant-Garde in Exhibition and Isamu Noguchi, and editor of Collecting the New: Museums and Contemporary Art. He has been a member of the graduate faculty of the Bard Center for Curatorial Studies, and the Board of Directors of the International Association of Art Critics/U.S. Section.

Joshua I. Cohen (B.A. Vassar College, Ph.D. Columbia University) is Assistant Professor of African Art History at The City College of New York. He is currently working on a book that tracks Paris-based modernist appropriations of African sculpture by European and African artists between 1905 and 1980.  A second book-length project examines twentieth-century international staged productions of West African dance, music, theater, and masquerade. His research and writing have received support from Fulbright, Lurcy, Kittredge, Dedalus, Mellon, Whiting, and other grant programs. For 2016-17 he has been awarded a Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellowship at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Clare Davies joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York as Assistant Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey in Fall of 2015. She received her PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts in 2014 with a dissertation entitled "Modern Egyptian Art: Site, Commodity, Archive, 1891-1948" and was the recipient of the inaugural Irmgard Coninx Prize in Transregional Studies 2014/2015, Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin.

Andrew Finegold is an art historian specializing in the cultures of the ancient Americas. Since receiving his doctorate from Columbia University in 2012, he has held Visiting Assistant Professorships at Skidmore College and Wake Forest University and offered courses on ancient American topics at Columbia University and Pratt Institute. Currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts, he is working on a book that examines the real and symbolic values ascribed to holes, cavities, and voids across a variety of media in Mesoamerica.

Yukio Lippit is Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Japanese Art at Harvard University. His research interests focus primarily on premodern Japanese painting, with a special emphasis on Sino-Japanese painting associated with Zen Buddhism during the medieval and early modern periods. His book Painting of the Realm: The Kano House of Painters in Seventeenth Century Japan (University of Washington Press, 2012) was awarded the John Whitney Hall Book Prize in addition to the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award. Lippit is also active in the museum world: he is currently Johnson-Kulukundis Family Director of the Arts at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, where he helped open the Johnson-Kulukundis Family Gallery and curate its inaugural exhibition teamLab at Radcliffe: What a Loving and Beautiful World (2015).

Alexandra Munroe is Samsung Senior Curator of Asian Art and Senior Advisor of Global Arts at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation. A pioneering authority on modern and contemporary Asian art and transnational art studies, she has led the Guggenheim’s Asian Art Initiative since its founding, while also working on the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum Project and Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative. Munroe has organized numerous award-winning and critically-acclaimed Guggenheim exhibitions, including Gutai: Splendid Playground (2013 with Ming Tiampo), Lee Ufan: Making Infinity (2011), Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe (2008), and The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989.

Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, Alexander Nagel has published widely the areas of medieval, Renaissance, and contemporary art. His book, Michelangelo and the Reform of Art (2000) won the Gordan Prize from the Renaissance Society of America for the best book in Renaissance studies. His book The Controversy of Renaissance Art (2011) won the top book award from the College Art Association. Anachronic Renaissance, co-authored with Christopher Wood (2010), has appeared in French and Italian translations. His Medieval Modern: Art out of Time, was published by Thames and Hudson in 2012. He is currently working on questions of place and displacement in Renaissance art.

Steven Nelson is Professor of African and African American Art and Director of the UCLA Center for African Studies. His writings on contemporary and historical art, architecture and urbanism of Africa and its diasporas, African American art history, and queer studies have appeared in anthologies, exhibition catalogues, and publications including African Arts, Artforum, Art Journal, Journal of Homosexuality, and Museums International, among others, and his book From Cameroon to Paris: Mousgoum Architecture In and Out of Africa (University of Chicago Press, 2007) has won multiple awards. Nelson has received numerous fellowships, and in 2014-15 Nelson was the Cohen Fellow at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research. His books “Structural Adjustment: Mapping, Geography, and the Visual Cultures of Blackness,” and “On The Underground Railroad” are forthcoming.

Rafal Niemojewski is Director of the Biennial Foundation. An experienced cultural producer and scholar of contemporary art and its institutions, his research interests include the history of exhibitions and institutions in relation to the changing ecology of the expanded artistic field. Niemojewski has lectured extensively on the topic of biennials and his writings have appeared in numerous books and journals. He has taught at Central Saint Martins, Sotheby’s Institute, Royal Institute of Art (Stockholm), and was Course Director at Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. Niemojewski has led projects for the Serpentine Gallery, Bergen Kunsthall, Manifesta and dOCUMENTA(13); he was Curator of Programs at the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre and Director of Programs and Education at the Neuberger Museum of Art. In 2103, he was appointed as accredited Expert at the Education, Culture and Audiovisual Executive Agency (EACEA) at the European Commission.

Ksenia Nouril is a Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives (C-MAP) Fellow at MoMA, where she researches and plans programs related to Central and Eastern European art. Previously, she was the Research and Editorial Assistant for MoMA’s Thomas Walther Collection in the Department of Photography, where she co-organized the exhibition Production-Reproduction: The Circulation of Photographic Modernism, 1900-1950. A PhD candidate at Rutgers University, Ksenia is writing her dissertation on contemporary Eastern European artists who question and engage the history and historical representation of socialism since 1989. At the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers, Ksenia has assisted in organizing numerous exhibitions of the Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union, including Leonid Sokov: Ironic Objects and Putting a Face to the Name: Artist Portraits from the Dodge Collection. Most recently, she curated Dreamworlds and Catastrophes: Intersections of Art and Technology in the Dodge Collection. Ksenia has published in The Calvert Journal and Art Margins Online.

Critic, historian, and arts professor Shelley Rice has lectured on photography and multi-media art in the USA, Europe, South America, Asia, Australia and Africa. She is the author of Parisian Views (MIT Press, 1997; shortlisted for the Kraszna-Krausz Award, 1999); Inverted Odysseys: Claude Cahun, Maya Deren, Cindy Sherman (MIT Press, 1999), and Xing Danwen (Prestel: 2015). She has co-authored numerous catalogues and books — most recently Marc Ferrez: Rio (2015) and Hank Willis Thomas’ Unbranded: A Century of White Women (Jack Shainman Gallery, 2015) — and has published extensively in Art in America, Art Journal, Etudes Photographiques, Bookforum, Aperture, Tate Papers, The Art Newspaper and, among others. Rice has curated several important exhibitions; her most recent, The View from Left Field: Photographs from the Photo Morgue of the Daily Worker (NYU, 2013), was organized with Michael Nash. Recipient of numerous awards, fellowships, residencies, and grants, in 2015 she was honored with the Tisch School of the Arts’ David Payne-Carter Award for Teaching Excellence.

Christian Scheidenmann received his training in the conservation of medieval paintings and polychromed sculptures, as well as in art history, in Bonn, Germany. After further studies in conservation labs in museums (Pinakothek Munich, Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Hamburger Kunsthalle), he opened his own practice in Hamburg in 1983. Since then, Christian has worked with some of the most important collections in Europe and the US, and specializes in the conservation of works from artists who have been charging non-traditional materials such as petroleum jelly, elephant dung, chewing gum, soap or chocolate with iconographic significance. Christian has lectured and published extensively on the conservation and on the meaning of material and process in contemporary art. In 2015, Christian and his team organized ‘The First Crack,’ a symposium on the conservation and value in contemporary art. 

Reiko Tomii is an independent art historian who investigates post-1945 Japanese art in global and local contexts. Her research topic encompasses “international contemporaneity,” collectivism, and conceptualism in 1960s art, demonstrated by her contribution to Global Conceptualism (Queens Museum of Art, 1999), Century City (Tate Modern, 2001), and Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art (Getty Research Institute, 2007). She has worked closely with numerous artists including Yayoi Kusama, Xu Bing, and Ushio Shinohara. In 2003, she co-founded PoNJA-GenKon), a listserv group of specialists interested in contemporary Japanese art, and organized a number of symposiums and panels in collaboration with Yale University, Getty Research Institute, UCLA, Guggenheim Museum, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Asia Society Museum, University of Southern California, and Japan Society. Her book, Radicalism in the Wilderness: International Contemporaneity and 1960s Art in Japan, has just been published by MIT Press this spring.

Ming Tiampo is Associate Professor at the School for Studies in Art and Culture and the Director of the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture at Carlton University in Ottawa. She specializes in post-1945 Japanese art, and examines the cultural consequences of globalization through her interest in transnational modernism. Tiampo’s Gutai: Decentering Modernism (University of Chicago Press, 2011) is the first book in English to examine Japan’s best-known modern art movement. In 2013, she co-curated the critically-acclaimed exhibition Gutai: Splendid Playground at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum with Alexandra Munroe. Tiampo has also published and curated exhibitions on Japanese modernism, war and art in Japan, globalization and art, multiculturalism in Canada, and connections between Inuit and Japanese prints.

Glenn Wharton is an art conservator and Clinical Associate Professor of Museum Studies at New York University. Specializing in conservation and the study of modern and contemporary art collections, his interests include contemporary art and archaeology, public participation in conservation, and the history and philosophy of conversation. From 2007-2013, he served as Time-Based Media Conservator at the Museum of Modern Art, where he organized MoMA’s digital collection repository, documented and re-formatted media works for conservation and future exhibitions, ensuring operability on new technologies. During this time, he was also a part of the international project Matters in Media Art, conceived to establish guidelines for managing time-based media. He has written extensively in various journals and publications and was recently awarded the Heritage Preservation Award for Distinction in Scholarship and Conservation by the College Art Association, as well as the Preservation Media Award by the Historic Hawai’i Foundation for his book The Painted King: Art, Activism, and Authenticity in Hawai’i (University of Hawai’i Press, 2012).
Methodologies of the “Global”: Resource Bibliography
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Session 1

Monday, April 18, 2016
Watch video from session 1 online


Monday, April 18, 2016
11:00 – 11:10am
Patricia Rubin, Judy and Michael Steinhardt Director, and Professor of Fine Arts, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
11:10 – 12:00pm Introductory Remarks
Alexandra Munroe
, Samsung Senior Curator of Asian Art, and Senior Advisor, Global Arts, Guggenheim Museum 

12:00 – 1:15pm: Panel I
“Global Art History”: Terminologies and Methodologies 
David Joselit, Distinguished Professor in the History of Art, the CUNY Graduate Center (Moderator)
Ilona Katzew, Curator and Department Head of Latin American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art 
Joan Kee, Associate Professor in the History of Art, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Avinoam Shalem, Riggio Professor of Islamic Art, Columbia University

1:15 – 2:15pm: Break

2:15 – 3:30pm: Panel II
Curating the Global: Peripheries (Global and Local)
Pepe Karmel, Associate Professor of Art History, New York University (Co-moderator)
Ming Tiampo, Associate Professor, SSAC, and Director of ICSLAC, Carleton University (Co-moderator)
Lynn Gumpert, Director, Grey Art Gallery, New York University
Jessica Morgan, Director, Dia Art Foundation

3:30 – 3:45pm: Coffee Break

3:45 – 5:00pm: Panel III
Alexander Nagel, Professor of Fine Arts, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Tim Barringer, Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art; Department Chair of the History of Art at Yale University
Navina Haidar, Curator of Islamic Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Anna Indych-López, Professor of 20th-Century Latin American Art, City College of New York and the CUNY Graduate Center

5:00pm: Reception

About the Series:
 “Crossing Boundaries: Making World Art History” is the first of a series of workshops aimed at providing a space for creative thinking, where ideas and views can be shared and tested, and cross-institutional collaborations can be formed. They will grapple with issues facing museums and academic departments taking on concerns with consequences for our practice as we make history for the future. The Spring 2016 sessions have been coordinated by IFA PhD candidates Julia Pelta Feldman, Kara Fiedorek, Allison Young, and PhD student MadelineMurphy Turner, with MA student Rebecca Cuomo.