My research has drawn upon art, architecture and other visual sources — from masterpieces to material culture — to address problems in early modern intellectual history, with special attention to Renaissance, Reformation and Baroque art, especially those objects produced by the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Portuguese and Dutch trading networks that situate European art in its world context. Topics have included the impact of the world-wide circulation of objects on issues like authenticity, reproduction, the original, multiplicity and quantifications of pictorial value. I have been particularly concerned with what constitutes a global Renaissance and the importance of having many perspectives at the table to reconsider the basic tenets of art history after my own experiences working not only in the US and Canada, but also in many parts of Europe (chiefly Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UK), Asia (Australia, Japan, and Singapore), and now the Middle East, where I have a joint appointment with NYU Abu Dhabi.
Trained as a historian of seventeenth-century Dutch art at Yale (Department of the History of Art, Ph.D., 2001), previous appointments have ranged across the Departments of Art History, Dutch Studies, History and Religious Studies at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. My own reading ranges quite broadly, including forays into anthropology, literary criticism, philosophy and economics. I would characterize my work as unapologetically grounded in the object and original archival sources leavened by a theoretical fluency across a range of humanist and social science disciplines. Much of my research and teaching is informed by the belief that we find ourselves at a moment in history when the responsibility of being a global citizen requires a deep knowledge of and engagement with many cultures.
Recent articles have treated the importance of materials in religious art from the New World in Art History (Special Issue for the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, eds. Bridget Heal and Joseph Koerner, 2017); the role of place in cross-cultural interpretation in The Japan Review (29, 2016) in English and The University of Tokyo Art History Journal (2016) in Japanese; the changing status of copy and original initiated by the transmission of images overseas in Sacred and Profane in Early Modern Art (Kyoto University Press, 2016); the community of a “Republic of Images” along the Portuguese eastern trading network in Ellipsis: Journal of the American Portuguese Studies Association (12, 2014); the trials of mimetic reproduction on the world stage in Illustrated Religious Texts in the North of Europe, 1500-1800 (Ashgate, 2014); the appeal to the senses of missionary art in Sensational Religion (Yale, 2014); a summary essay on iconoclasm for the Oxford Handbook of Religion and the Arts (Oxford University Press, 2013); and the reception of linear perspective via western art in Japan in Seeing Across Cultures in the Early Modern Period (Ashgate, 2012).
Past books include The Netherlandish Image after Iconoclasm, 1566-1672 (Ashgate, 2008), which received the College Art Association Publication Award, the ACE/Mercers’ International Book Award for Religious Art and Architecture, and the Ashgate Editor’s Choice Selection. This book considers the delicate negotiation of making art for a public hostile to imagery. I have edited, with Prof. Amy Golahny (Lycoming College) and Prof. Lisa Vergara (Hunter College, CUNY), In His Milieu. Essays on Netherlandish Art in Memory of John Michael Montias (Amsterdam University Press, 2006), which highlights the archival and socio-economic study of art.
Currently, my major task is the completion of a monograph on The Jesuit Global Baroque (Brill, under contract, expected 2017). I am overseeing the translation into Japanese of a selection of essays by myself and Prof. Yoriko Kobayashi-Sato (Mejiro University, Tokyo) for a volume entitled Dawn of the Global Age: Cultural Exchange between the West and Edo Japan as part of my belief in the importance of reaching international audiences for western art. In addition, I am editing, with Prof. Christine Göttler (Universität Bern), the proceedings of an international conference I recently hosted, sponsored by the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute, on “The Nomadic Object: Early Modern Religious Art in Global Contact” that considered the effect of mobility on the object. These thirty papers will be published as a volume of the interdisciplinary journal Intersections. Yearbook of Early Modern Art (Brill, 2017) that I was asked to guest edit for an issue devoted to global art history. Besides editing and providing the book’s introduction, I will write an essay on how the emergence of a “universal museum,” like the Louvre Abu Dhabi, will affect the status of art history’s canons. And I have committed to providing an article on the afterlives of prints abroad for Culture visuelle et histoire spirituelle dans la première modernité mondiale: les Evangelicae Historiae Imagines (L'École Française, Rome, forthcoming 2017). Further, I have accepted an invitation to offer a guest lecture and a doctoral workshop in a series on Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies dedicated to key concepts in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the Walter Benjamin Kolleg (Graduate School of the Humanities) at the Universität Bern in November 2016. And since the year 2017 is the fifth centennial of Martin Luther’s posting of his ninety-five theses on the door of Wittenberg Castle Church, I have already agreed to provide a keynote address for the Reformation celebrations at Azusa Pacific University in October 2017.
From the start of my career, I have been committed to going out into the field, to the source, to find original, unpublished visual and textual sources, first throughout the Netherlands, from the border with Belgium in the South to the end of the train line at the North Sea in Harlingen to the North. Supported by fellowships from the J. William Fulbright Foundation / Netherland-America Foundation, the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation, my dissertation research culminated in the Theron Rockwell Field Prize for the best doctoral dissertation in the Humanities at Yale. My research on objects transported by Jesuit missionaries along the Portuguese eastern trade route brought me to spend sequential sabbaticals researching in Portugal (merchant records), Italy (Jesuit records), and Japan (the terminus of the route). This kind of extended archival research would not have been possible without awards from the American Council of Learned Societies (Charles A. Ryskamp Fellowship), the Association of Theological Schools (Henry Luce III Fellowship in Theology) and a stay at the very collegial International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto (Nichibunken), the preeminent national research center for the humanities in Japan.
As a measure of my gratitude and recognition for how decisive these interventions were at critical moments in my intellectual formation, I have continued to serve on award committees for the American Council of Learned Societies and the Netherland-America Foundation, New York. In addition, I have regularly reviewed applications for the College Art Association (Millard Meiss Book Award Jury), the American Academy of Religion (Religion and the Arts Award Jury), the American Academy in Berlin, the Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Vlaanderen (VWO, Flanders Research Foundation), the Historians of Netherlandish Art, the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie voor Wetenschappen (KNAW, Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences), and the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO, The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research).
On a personal note, having been born in Tokyo and reared in diplomatic communities around the world, I believe in the value of nurturing long-established relationships with scholars in universities and museums across the US and UK, Europe, Asia and now the Middle East, as part of the NYU Abu Dhabi venture, to ensure the development of a more truly global art history. I see my participation in various multi-year international workgroups in aid of this goal. To this end, I have co-directed multi-year workgroups at Yale with Prof. Sally Promey (Yale University) and Prof. Richard Meyer (Stanford University) on the sensory study of religious art, and at New York University Abu Dhabi on the mobility of objects that move around the world. And I am still engaged in three other on-going workgroups: one on the first edition of Jerome Nadal’s Evangelicae Historiae Imagines, jointly organized by Prof. Pierre-Antoine Fabre (L’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and L'École Française in Rome) and Prof. Ralph Dekoninck (Université catholique de Louvain); one on the state of Reformation studies at the Institute for Reformation Studies at the University of St. Andrews organized by Prof. Bridget Heal (University of St. Andrews) and Prof. Joseph Koerner (Harvard University); and one on Christian culture in Japan initiated by Prof. Nanyan Guo (International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto).
From these research and lecturing experiences in many scholarly centers, I feel I have been lucky to be in a position to garner a perspective on early modern art history as it is practiced around the world today. Most recently, I was invited to be a Visiting Research Professor at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, as part of their project on the “Global Knowledge Society,” which unfortunately I had to decline due to previous engagements. But I frequently speak at universities and museums in the United States and abroad (Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Berlin, Bern, Geneva, Kyoto, Lisbon, Leuven, London, Rome, St. Andrews, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto and Utrecht). I acted as a founding co-director of the Yale Initiative for the Study of the Material and Visual Cultures of Religion (2008-2012), and as a founding board member, helped launch the Journal for Jesuit Studies (Leiden: Brill, 2012-present) and the Journal for Early Modern Christianity (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012-present). I regularly provide national and international peer reviews for journals of record in my field (Art Bulletin, Journal of Early Modern History, Journal of Jesuit Studies, Oxford Art Journal, Renaissance Quarterly, Sixteenth-century Studies Journal, The Low Countries Historical Review) and academic publishers (Ashgate, Brill, Penn State Press, Pickering & Chatto).
At my home institutions, I have been concerned with making early modern art history inclusive and accessible. I counted it as a special honor when an undergraduate junior at NYUAD called my “Global Renaissance” course “the best class I have ever taken at NYUAD” and the recent external accreditation report described it as a “prescient model for the discipline.” Earlier, I received the Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award (2013) from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, and my investment in pedagogical and mentoring skills has been recognized by a Newhall Fellowship Award (2007), a Teagle- Wabash Learning and Teaching Academy Award (2008), and a role as a faculty advisor to a UC Berkeley Townsend Center Work Group on “Mobilities and Materialities of the Early Modern World” (2013-2014). To date, I have acted as chair of four and as a member of eleven doctoral committees in early modern and religious art history at universities in the US and the Netherlands; as chair of six and member of ten masters-level theses; as a member of the committee of five undergraduate theses; and I informally advise many others.
My interest in the early modern culture of the Netherlands grew out of my abiding interest in other cultures. It was this curiosity that shaped my commitment to a global art history in objects, ideas and audiences that takes the best of the traditional emphasis on depth of knowledge to help address the challenges that breadth and relevancy bring to the role of art history in the public square today.