Mellon Research Initiative: Events


March 30 – 31, 2012
The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
1 East 78th Street, New York

The first Art History colloquium of the Mellon Research Initiative reflected upon the strengths and weaknesses of comparative practice in art history. It served as an initial basis for understanding the place of the comparative in the future study of art history, and for examining the parallel problems of comparativism in the Initiative’s two other fields – archaeology and conservation.

The History of Art is comprised of a series of scholarly fields with a visual emphasis, whose specific historical and contextual focuses center on very different temporal and cultural contexts, while still regarding themselves as one coherent discipline. There are, however, deep problems in how the sub-fields within this big and broad-brush generalization called ‘Art History’ can speak clearly and coherently to each other. This question is in the subject’s history, and remains compelling for both its present and its future. It cannot be ‘solved’ simply or easily. 


Whitney Davis, George C. and Helen N. Pardee Professor of Art History, UC Berkeley 
Finbarr Barry Flood,  William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of the Humanities, Institute of Fine Arts and College of Arts and Science 
Christopher P. Heuer, Assistant Professor, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University
Matthew Jesse Jackson, Associate Professor of Art History, University of Chicago  
Richard Neer, David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor of Humanities, Art History and the College, University of Chicago 
Margaret Olin, Senior Research Scholar, Yale Divinity School 
Avinoam Shalem, Professor of the History of Islamic Art, Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich 
Ittai Weinryb, Assistant Professor, Bard Graduate Center, New York
Wu Hung, Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor of Art History, East Asian Languages & Civilizations, and the College
Convened by Jas Elsner, Humfrey Payne Senior Research Fellow in Classical Archaeology at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University and Visiting Professor of Art History at the University of Chicago


Saturday March 31, 2012:
Open to the public.

9:00 Registration

9:30 – 11:00 Session 1
Richard Neer, Recognizing Ancient Depictions

Wu Hung,
 What are “Chinese ruins”? A comparative inquiry into the notion and representation of ruins in Chinese art from ancient times to the present

11:30 – 1.00 Session 2

Avinoam Shalem,
 Intersecting Historiographies and the Global Birth of Medievalism: The case of Henri Pirenne and Ernst Herzfeld
Ittai Weinryb,Marvelous in our Eyes
Lunch Break

2:00 – 3:30 Session 3

Christopher Heuer  & Matthew Jesse Jackson,
 Our Literal Speed


4:00 – 5:30 Session 4

Finbarr Barry Flood, 
Selective Affinities vs. Common Genealogies: Comparativism, Reception and the Medieval Modern