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Edward J. Sullivan

Helen Gould Sheppard Professor in the History of Art; Institute of Fine Arts and College of Arts and Sciences

My intellectual formation at the IFA in Early Modern art with a concentration on southern Europe was an excellent preparation for my later studies in the art of the Americas. I have a long-standing interest in the arts and visual cultures of the Americas with a particular concentration in the Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Nonetheless what characterizes my own work and my teaching perhaps more than anything else is my desire to cross borders and look beyond the confines of the places I examine. I am interested in socio-political approaches to art history combined with broader theoretical concerns. In all of my work, however, the object is the main focus of my interest. My 2007 book The Language of Objects in the Art of the Americas (Yale) may be taken as an example of my dedication to observation, description and analysis of individual works of art.

My scholarship has been based in the arts of the Americas from the later nineteenth century to the present. Although I take a trans-national approach, I would say that places such as Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay are of particular importance. The Caribbean is an area in which I have concentrated my efforts to a great extent recently. My latest book (2014) From San Juan to Paris and Back: Francisco Oller and Caribbean Art in the Era of Impressionism (Yale) is the result of seven years of research in this area. The Francophone nations of the region are also of interest to me.

Throughout my career I have worked as both an academic and a curator. Working in museums in the U.S., Latin America and Europe since the 1980s, I have organized or collaborated on numerous exhibitions of modern and contemporary Latin American art. My next exhibition (2015), on which I have worked with The Brooklyn Museum, derives its subject from the most recent book on nineteenth century art in the Caribbean (a site of cultural convergence for local, European and North American artists).

My teaching varies between lecture courses and seminars. I have co-taught several seminars with colleagues from other disciplines, such as a course on Surrealism in the literature and art of the Caribbean and Mexico and another on the history of collecting Latin American art in the U.S. These team-taught courses have been stimulating and successful.

The panorama of Latin American art at the IFA is enhanced by the Latin American Forum, which I began in 2012. This is a platform for artists, curators and scholars to come to the IFA and present their work in a seminar format. The Colloquium on Spanish and Latin American Art is an equally important format for discussion of work in a wider variety of areas.

The IFA has become a hub of activity in my field and I believe that it has served as a very positive force in the intellectual formation of students from around the world interested in the arts of the Americas.

Sample courses

Abstractions in the Americas
Surrealism in the Caribbean and Mexico
Modernism in Latin America
Caribbean Art
Arts of Brazil
Mexican Painting 1875-1950


Selected Books and Book-length Exhibition Catalogues

From San Juan to Paris and Back: Francisco Oller and Caribbean Art in the Era of Impressionism (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2014)
Observed: Milagros de la Torre (New York: Americas Society and Lima, Peru: Museo de Arte de Lima, 2012) curated exhibition and wrote principal essay in catalogue
Concrete Improvisations: Collages and Sculptures by Esteban Vicente (with Lynn Gumpert) exhibition catalogue (New York: Grey Art Gallery, NYU) 2011
Nueva York: 1613-1945 (editor and essayist) (New York: Scala Books, 2010)
Fragile Demon: Juan Soriano in Mexico 1935-1950 (Philadelphia Museum of Art and Yale University Press, 2008)
Continental Shifts: The Art of Edouard Duval Carrié (editor and author of principal essay) (Miami: Haitian Cultural Alliance, 2008)
The Language of Objects in the Art of the Americas (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007)
Emilio Pettoruti (with Nelly Perrazo) (Buenos Aires: LaMarca Editora, 2004)
Tomas Sánchez (with Gabriel García Márquez) (New York: Skira, 2003)
Brazil: Body & Soul (editor and principal author) (New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Harry N. Abrams, 2001)

 

Selected articles

“Landscapes of Desire: The Land as Resource in the Caribbean,” in exhibition catalogue From Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic: Landscape Painting in the Americas (Art Gallery of Ontario, forthcoming May 2015)

"La magie de l'authenticité: Deux décennies d'exposition et d'étude de l'art haïtien aux Etats-Unis et au Royaume-Uni" forthcoming in Gradhiva. Revue d’Anthropologie et d’Histoires de l’Art  (Paris: Musée du Quai Branly), (forthcoming, spring 2015)

“Artists Before the Lens: Painters and Photographers in Haiti,” in the exhibition catalogue Through the Lens: Haiti from Within and Without, Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Art (forthcoming June, 2015)

“Du Musée des Origines au Musée Afro-Brasil” Réinventer l’Institution Artistique,” Perspective. Actualités de la Recherché en Histoire de l’Art. La Revue de l’INHA, no.2, 2012-13, pp. 224, 238 (intervention in a debate about Brazilian museums with three Brazilian and French scholars)

“José Gurvich,” exhibition catalogue, PINTA: The Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art Show. Wrote catalogue and curated exhibition, November, 2013

“Gurvich en Nueva York: una relación conflictiva,” in exhibition catalogue José Gurvich. Cruzando Fronteras (Buenos Aires: Museo de Arte Moderno, 2013) pp. 151-167

“Geometry and Gesture: Notes on Abstractions in the Americas,” in exhibition catalogue Pan American Modernism. Avant-Garde Art in Latin America and the United States. University of Miami: Lowe Art Museum, 2013, pp. 25-51

“Information Networks: Collecting and Display of Latin American Art in the United States,” in the exhibition catalogue Order, Chaos and the Space Between. Contemporary Latin American Art from the Diane and Bruce Halle Collection(Phoenix Art Museum: 2013, pp. 105-118

“From the Studio to the Street,” in Juan García de Oteyza (ed.) Laura Anderson Barbata: Transcommunality (Mexico City: Turner Libros), 2012, pp. 9-12

“Displaying the Caribbean. Thirty Years of Exhibitions and collecting in the United States,” in Deborah Cullen and Elvis Fuentes (eds.) Caribbean. Art at the Crossroads of the World (New York: el Museo del Barrio and Yale University Press, 2012), pp. 343-365

“Revelando los inicios de una carrera excepcional,” in Christian Padilla,Fernando Botero. La búsqueda de un estilo (Bogotá, Editorial La Bachué, 2012) pp. 12-13

“Cesar Paternosto: A Celebratory Interchange” and “Edward J. Sullivan Interview with Cesar Paternosto,” in exhibition catalogue Cesar Paternosto. Painting as Object: The Lateral Expansion. New Works (New York: Cecilia de Torres Gallery, 2012), pp. 35-45

“Erasing Borders,” Art in America, September, 2012, pp. 49-52

“Introduction” Bonevardi Works. Bonevardi-Bennett Collaborations (Buenos Aires, Fundación Alón para las Artes, 2012) pp. 9-16ó

“Silent Witness: The Photographic Art of Milagros de la Torre,” in exhibition catalogue Observed. Milagros de la Torre (New York: Americas Society and Lima: MALI, 2012) pp. 10-25

“Mario H. Gradowczyk: Scholar of Modern and Contemporary Art,” in exhibition catalogue Esteban Lisa: Playing with Lines and Color  (Long Beach, Ca. Museum of Latin American Art, 2012) pp. 45-56

“Entre la estática y el movimiento: La naturaleza muerta de José Gurvich,” in anthology Los mundos fantásticos de José Gurvich (Montevideo: Museo Jose Gurvich, 2011), pp. 75-89

“Señas de la luz: Caminos de creatividad y significado en la obra de Ada Balcácer,” in the exhibition catalogue Alas y raices: Ada Balcácer (Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic: Centro cultural Eduardo León Jiménez, 2011), pp. 9-39

“The Lives of Objects: Remembering Claudio Bravo,” Art News, November, 2011, p, 60

“The Art of Claudio Bravo (1936-2011)” Confrontation, no. 110, Fall, 2011, pp. 158-170

“Between Two dimensions: Paintings by Isabel Obaldía,” in exhibition cataloguePrimordial: Paintings and Sculpture by Isabel Obaldía Museum of Art/Fort Lauderdale, 2011, pp. 37-45

“Art Worlds of Nueva York” in Sullivan (ed.) Nueva York. 1613-1945 (New York: Scala Publishers, 2010), pp. 173-215

“Rafael Ferrer in the Tropics: Encounters with Caribbean Art,” in exhibition catalogue Rafael Ferrer (New York: El Museo del Barrio), 2010, pp. 53-65

“Navigating Between the Continents: Further Thoughts on Edouard Duval Carrié’s Work,” Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, 27, October, 2008, pp. 165-174

“Lost in Translation? Juan Luna Between Manila and Madrid” in exhibition catalogue Pioneers of Philippine Modernism(San Francisco: The Asian Art Museum, 2006 pp. 54-82)

“The Black Hand: Notes on the African Presence in Brazil and the Caribbean in the Colonial Period,” in exhibition catalogue The Arts of Latin America 1492-1820(Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2006 pp. 39-55)

“Naturalezas mexicanas: Objects as Cultural Signifiers in Mexican Art c. 1760-1885,” in Stephen Melville (ed.) The Lure of the Object(Clark Studies in the Visual Arts) (Williamstown: Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute, 2005, pp. 59-71)