The Connoisseurs Circle Courses

Lecture Courses
Connoisseurs Circle members may audit all lecture courses at the IFA. Registration is not

Registration and pre-approval is required to audit a colloquium. To register, please contact Andrea at or 212-992-5812. Members are permitted to audit one to two colloquia per semester, based on availability.

Spring 2015(For the Fall 2014 courses, click here)

January through May
Courses Available to the Connoisseurs Circle

Clemente Marconi
Monday 10:00AM–12:00PM

This colloquium is devoted to the literature on excavations at Selinunte, the Greek colony in Western Sicily where the Institute of Fine Arts has an ongoing archaeological dig. After exploring the history of the city, the course, which has a strong contextual approach, will focus on the urbanism, architecture, and visual arts from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period.

Philippe de Montebello
Tuesday 10:00AM–12:00PM

How works of art are displayed materially affect our response as well as our interpretation of their meaning. The philosophical and aesthetic framework to these questions will be discussed. A history of public and private installation methods will serve as a background against which specific issues such as permanent installations versus temporary exhibitions will be further developed. The course will include a number of case studies based on museum visits and readings.

Jonathan Hay
Tuesday 10:00AM–12:00PM

This lecture will focus on skills of looking and seeing, offering in-depth accounts of a selection of Chinese paintings. The paintings will represent a wide range of historical periods and artistic traditions. The goal of this course is to discern the full range of an artist's craft—technical, formal, and conceptual—as seen in an individual painting, with particular emphasis on reconstructing the visual and material thinking behind the painting’s creation. An additional goal is to develop the equally necessary skill of articulating what has been discerned in clear language. With these pedagogical purposes in mind, the instructor is creating a glossary of around relevant terms that will serve as an essential resource for this course. No prior knowledge of Chinese art is necessary for this course.

Barry Flood and Dipti Khera
Tuesday 3:00–5:00PM

Over the past decades, the Deccan region of south India has emerged as a major area of scholarly enquiry. Long known for its maritime and terrestrial connections with the Indian Ocean littoral, Central and even South-East Asia, from the fourteenth-century onwards, the region was home to a series of culturally cosmopolitan rajas and sultans, whose kingdoms were connected not only to Delhi in the north, but also to Iran and the Arab world. Assuming a longue durée approach to the art and architecture of south Asia between roughly 1100 and 1700, this colloquium seeks to explain the socio-cultural context from which the Deccani kingdoms emerged and their significance for the making and reception of art both within and beyond South Asia. The colloquium is planned to coincide with a major exhibition, The Art of the Deccan Sultans, c. 1500-1700, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Hsueh-man Shen
Wednesday 12:30-2:30PM

In view of the vastly diversified approach to Chinese ceramics, this course sets out to review the different research methods put forth thus far. We will study selected groups of ceramics within their original context of use (eg. in the temple, in the tomb, at court, in daily life) to see what alternative approaches are there for further exploration. Visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other museums or galleries in New York are mandatory. Knowledge of either the Chinese or Japanese language is preferred, but not a prerequisite.

Robert Maxwell
Thursday 10:00AM-12:00PM

This colloquium focuses on a growing area of medieval art study, namely that which argues art's capacity to convey religious truths and realities of faith. From discussion of the Holy Face and other religious icons, to body-part reliquaries, to sacred presence in architectural spaces, medievalists have increasingly calibrated medieval art's value against a register of truth. This approach merits a closer look not only as it touches on a wide range of images and scholarly opinions, but also as it conveys specific modern desires and heuristic assumptions.  This colloquium will review recent research and also examine the bases and assumptions of the approach, exploring both its possibilities and limitations.  

Robert Slifkin
Thursday 12:30-2:30PM

Emerging in the mid-1960s as a definitive style and mode of artistic production, conceptualism can be seen to represent both the culmination of various prewar avant-gardist strategies and the generative foundation for a great deal of contemporary artistic practices. This course will survey the history of conceptual art as a burgeoning international movement, taking into account artists’ statements and interviews, the works’ original critical reception, and more recent art historical scholarship on the subject. We will consider the ways in which conceptual art challenged various institutions associated with the art world as well as the ontological status of the work of art itself, paying special attention to how the characteristically ephemeral and reproducible gestures associated with conceptualism allowed the works to circulate within non-traditional channels of communication.

Marvin Trachtenberg
Thursday 3:00-5:00PM

This course is designed to challenge certain commonly held assumptions that have long determined architectural scholarship of this period. It is also intended to serve those who want to generally explore or extend specific interests in the field. The various issues that these interests bring to the table will be studied through critical reading, visual analysis, and presentation of individual work, following a workshop format.

Alexander Nagel and Noemie Etienne
Thursday 3:00-5:00PM

This course reviews the practical remanaging, reframing, replacement, and restoration of works of art in Europe from the Middle Ages to the foundation of modern museums in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-centuries. Our premise is that these practices offer material testimony, practical thinking concerning the status and historicity of art from the centuries that preceded the development of the discipline of art history. Past art conservation practices, we propose, are forms of embedded theories of art, ones that need to be excavated from beneath the more familiar modern theories that have founded our discipline. We will concentrate on works of art in local collections where possible. 

Connoisseurs Executive Committee

Stephen R. Beckwith, Chairman
William L. Bernhard
Jane Draizen
Roberta Huber
Guillaume Malle
Judy Steinhardt
David Tobey
Alicia Volk
Patricia Rubin, Ex-Officio

The IFA Legacy Society
Corporate Patron Program