Welcome to my personal website. I am a cultural historian working at the intersection of history, art history, anthropology, museology, and philosophy. I incorporate philosophy of art and artifacts into historical writing and exhibition practice.
New:† In January I took up a new position as professor of cultural history and of museum studies, and curator and head of the Focus Project, at the Bard Graduate Center, New York City.
I realize that my combination of interests confuses people—it confuses me—but interdisciplinarity, rather than narrow academic specialization, is our fate. Itís also in my temperament to define and ask the question behind the question (and the question behind that question). It annoys so many people.
In a career at London Universityís Warburg Institute, Cambridge University, Harvard University, and—since January 2012—the Bard Graduate Center, I have written, edited, and contributed to a bunch of books and academic journals, and published contemporary art criticism. My subject matter is diverse because I am concerned with the principles of writing history from art and artifacts. My work on early modern Dutch and Flemish art—notably Johannes Vermeer— attracts some readers, while that on museum practice engages others. Yet others dip into my philosophy contributions, notably Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and the Arts, the book series I edited with Salim Kemal.
I have curated numerous long-term museum installations and art exhibitions, mostly at Harvard, but am now looking after a new initiative at the Bard Graduate Center—the Focus Project—comprising faculty-led endeavors combining teaching, research, publishing, and exhibiting in the Centerís new Focus Gallery.
While acknowledging the inescapability of my European and American identity, I promote cultural decentering (no more centers and peripheries). I advocate attention to the visual creativity of a wide range of societies. Recently, I have written and lectured on topics from Polynesia, Congo, and Native American nations in the USA.
I am starting to make podcasts of lectures available: try listening by following the link to my podcast page. Hereís a link to a video of a lecture I gave at the Getty in June, 2009, ďArt and Beyond: Some Contemporary Challenges for Art and Anthropology Museums.Ē Itís far longer than anyone could reasonably bear.
Prospective students who are interested in working with me should also visit my Bard Graduate Center webpage.
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