Robert Lubar Messeri

(on sabbatical fall 2023 and spring 2024)

Associate Professor of Fine Arts

PhD 1988, M.A. 1981, New York University; B.A. 1979, SUNY (Stony Brook)

My research interests focus primarily on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century art in Spain and France. I am trained as a historian of modern art and teach a range of courses that extend my interests beyond my immediate areas of scholarly investigation. I have taught graduate courses on German Art Between the World Wars, Russian Constructivism, Central European Avant-Gardes, The Revival of Classicism in the 20th century, Critical Theory, Queer Theory, The Western Marxist Paradigm, Art-Historical Hermeneutics, and monographic courses on such artists as Giacometti, Picasso, Miró, and Dalí. As a social historian of art I am particularly interested in the intersection of art and social movements, with a strong focus on anarchism and modern nationalist formations. I look closely at painting, sculpture and architecture in relation to mass culture, print ephemera and photography. My theoretical interests focus largely on the construction of identity and I have been actively involved in Queer and Feminist studies.

I have contributed to numerous anthologies, exhibition catalogues, and books.  Two of my monographic publications are the scholarly catalogue of the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida (Little Brown, 2000) and a study of the Catalan artista Joan Ponç (Polígrafa, 1993). Most recently I co-edited the volume Transatlantic Avant-Gardes with Dr. María Dolores Jiménez Blanco (Center for Spain in America, 2013). In spring 2016 I will be editing another volume on Joan Miró and twentieth-century sculpture, based on the international symposium I am organizing for CaixaForum in Madrid on April 15 and 16. The volume will appear in autumn 2016.

For the past two years I have dedicated most of my time to my position as Director of NYU Madrid. Among recent initiatives I have engaged in a complete curricular review to bring our courses up to the proper academic level. I have retired a number of under-producing courses and added new subjects in an attempt to build synergies and pathways across disciplines and to rationalize our curricular offerings. I have also instituted an Oral Histories Project focusing on African immigrants to Madrid and I have established a number of diversity programs. I have also been working closely with my faculty to raise their academic profiles and to encourage advanced research. To this end I am currently organizing an international symposium on “Islam in Spain” for the Abu Dhabi Institute, scheduled for January 2017. The proceedings of the symposium will be published.

In addition to my administrative duties at NYU Madrid I am actively engaged in research as a Joan Miró scholar. In 2014 I was appointed a trustee of the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona. I also direct the Càtedra Joan Miró (Miró Research Chair) at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, for which I designed a 30 credit postgraduate diploma course on Miró Studies. Related to the Càtedra Miró and in conjunction with the Fundació Miró I also preside over the International Miró Research Group, which brings together scholars from the United States, France, England and Spain to study the work of the artist. Our first international initiative is the symposium “Miró and Twentieth Century Sculpture’  (April 2016), to be followed by an exhibition curated by Christopher Green of the Courtauld Institute on the Joan Miró/Paul Eluard collaboration, A Toute Epreuve (Fundació Joan Miró, Spring 2017). In 2018 I am organizing another international symposium on Miró’s dealers and collectors (either for New York or NYU Paris, with Getty Research Institute support), and in 2019 I am developing an exhibition for the Fundació on Miró and ADLAN (Amics de l’Art Nou). Finally, in 2020 I will be curating a large format exhibition on Miró’s series of Paintings on Masonite of 1936, with the collaboration of my doctoral student at the IFA, Rachel Boate. I will contribute papers and essays to each of these projects and will edit the accompanying books and/or exhibition catalogues.

Research interests

20th-century European art (France and Spain)
Art since 1945 in Europe and America
Critical theory

Sample courses

Painting in Spain from the Generation of 1898 to the Civil War (lecture)
French Art Between the World Wars (lecture)
German Art from Secessionism to the End of Expressionism (lecture)
Art in Paris, 1900-1914 (lecture)
Identity and Difference: Queer Theory and Modern Art (seminar)
From Boys to Men: Masculinities in Visual Representation (seminar)
Cubism and the Body (seminar)
Art and Nationalism (colloquium)
The Interpretation of Paintings (colloquium)

Selected works

“Joan Miró en 1924: Cubism et le sujet du désir.” In Joan Miró. Paris: Musée Nationale d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, 2004.

“Painting and Politics: Miró’s ‘Stil Life with Old Shoe’ and the Spanish Republic.”In Surrealism and Culture, edited by Don la Cross.London: Ashgate Press, 2003.

Dali: the Salvador Dali Museum Collection.Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 2000.

“Barcelona Blues.”In Picasso: the early years, 1892-1906: National Gallery of Art, Washington, March 20-July27, 1997, 87-101.Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1997.

“Unmasking Pablo’s Gertrude: Queer Desire and the Subject of Portraiture.” Art Bulletin 70, no. 1 (March 1997): 56-84.

Selected honors

1997 Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize for "Unmasking Pablo's Gertrude, "College Art Association of America"
1996 Premi Espais/Special Prize for Art Criticism
1994 Presidential Fellowship, New York University
1992-94 Spain/United States Joint Committee for Cultural and Educational Cooperation (Comité Conjunto)