2014 Summer Institute in Technical Art History For Doctoral Students in Art History

The Summer Institute in Technical Art History (SITAH) is an intensive two-week course, geared towards PhD candidates in art history who are looking to delve more deeply into technical studies.  Students are immersed into the world of technical art history and conservation of works of art, with faculty ranging from conservators to conservation scientists, curators, art historians, and artists.  The course takes full advantage of the wonderful resources of New York City, and many sessions are held in local conservation labs, where attendees have the opportunity to closely examine works of art with experts in the field.  Off-site visits also include artists’ studios, museum permanent collections, and, where relevant, special exhibitions and galleries.  A priority is placed on case studies and discussions, and students are encouraged to build relationships within the group, in the hopes of enriching their own research. 

Course Topic

The Artist’s Book: Materials and Processes
June 9-20, 2014

A good understanding of material aspects of works of art is becoming increasingly important to art historical studies. The Artist’s Book is a two-week, intensive seminar that examines how technical art history might simultaneously clarify and complicate established art historical narratives of this important art form. The program will focus on works from the modern era, and will consider a variety of different formats. These might include: traditional letterpress printed books, deconstructed texts and book blocks, artists’ photo books, and other unique works. Bound volumes, as well as forms like scrolls, fold-outs, concertinas, loose leaves kept in boxes, and e-books may all be examined.  This topic will allow us to explore the intersections of book construction, photography, printmaking, and graphic design within the context of literature, both experimental and traditional.

Under the direction of Professors Constance Woo (Long Island University) and Michele Marincola (Institute of Fine Arts, New York University), participants will study with distinguished conservators, book artists, scholars and master craftspeople.  We will consider specific artworks as case studies, examine materiality and process through close looking and recreation of techniques and processes, and create a book in the studio. Participants will ascertain how these methodologies materially and theoretically inform their own diverse research interests.  This seminar will provide a forum to develop critical skills in the interpretation of object-based analyses related to the scholarship of artist’s books.

Generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the seminar will be held at the Institute of  Fine  Art's Conservation  Center,  with  selected  sessions  at  area libraries, artist  studios  and  in  the conservation labs of New York City’s leading museums.

Eligibility and Application Process:
Students currently enrolled in or completing a doctoral program in the US and Canada are eligible to apply. No background in science or conservation is required. A maximum of fifteen participants will be admitted to the program. Applicants will be evaluated on the basis of their academic accomplishment to date and on their expressed interest in integrating technical art history into their own research.

Applicants should submit  a  cover  letter addressed to Professor Michele Marincola, Sherman Fairchild Chairman of the Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts, NYU; a  statement  of  purpose  of  interest  in  integrating technical art history into their research; a letter of support from their advisor that addresses their academic standing and their interest in the topic; and an academic and professional CV.

The application deadline is March24, 2014.
Please submit applications in electronic format to: Sarah Barack, course coordinator, sb340@nyu.edu

Funding:
Participants will receive housing (single room occupancy) and stipends of $1,300 to help defray travel and living costs. For further information, please contact Professor Michele Marincola at 212-992-5849, email: michele.marincola@nyu.edu

Archive

Course Topic: Theoretical Subjectivities and The Critical Eye
June 10-21, 2013

Can the technical analysis of works of art reconcile an object’s conflicting interpretative subjectivities? How might material analysis redefine the ontological status of an artwork? What does an object’s physical evolution over time reveal about the nature of material authenticity? How can diverse approaches to technical art history vocalize aspects of an artist’s intent, which may otherwise remain mute?

Technical methodologies and material analyses are becoming increasingly prevalent in the scholarship of Modern and Contemporary art. Theoretical Subjectivities is a two-week, intensive seminar that examines how technical art history might simultaneously clarify and complicate established Post-war art historical narratives. Under the direction of distinguished conservators, scholars and technical art historians, participants will consider specific artworks as case studies, examine materiality and process, and receive an introduction to imaging and analytical techniques. Participants will ascertain how these methodologies materially and theoretically inform their own diverse research interests.  This seminar will provide a forum to develop critical skills in the interpretation of object-based analyses related to the scholarship of Post-war art.

Artworks under consideration will span multiple decades, including objects associated with Kinetic Art, Minimalism, Post-Minimalism and Conceptualism, as well as contemporary examples that defy genre. Specific case studies will question whether kinetic artworks must be functional to have agency. How might issues of material authenticity and post studio fabrication challenge the ontology of an object? How might the degradation of an object’s materials disavow its status as a work of art? What does the shifting nature of the readymade tell us about issues of originality?

Generously funded by the Mellon Foundation, the seminar will be held primarily at the Institute of Fine Art’s Conservation Center, with selected sessions at artist studios and in the conservation labs of New York City’s leading museums.

Course Topic: Replication and Its Processes
June 18 – 29, 2012

How do questions of materiality affect the way we see works of art? What impact does the physical reality of an object have on how we understand and interpret it? To what extent does the development of artists’ materials and material technology influence artistic innovation and choice? How can technical analysis help illuminate the process of creation, the relationships between artists and workshops, and the changes that occur to objects over time?

These kinds of questions are proposed for exploration in a two-week, intensive seminar on technical art history to be offered for doctorial students in art history by New York University's Institute of Fine Arts, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

During the Summer Institute, participants will be introduced to the materials and methods of art making, and will learn to recognize and characterize the traces of process left on the work of art, as well as how materials typically change over time. Using Walter Benjamin’s distinction between manual and process reproduction, the course will begin with an overview of traditional techniques of copying both images and artifacts: replication as part of studio practice and the education of the artist, and artists’ copies as agents of dissemination. However, the bulk of the course will be spent studying the processes of mechanical reproduction of works of art. Casting techniques, stamping and striking images, printmaking techniques, photographic processes and replication in contemporary art are subjects that will be explored in a series of lectures, object-based discussions, and studio visits. Faculty will be drawn from leading conservators and technical art historians, and much of class time will be spent in direct examination of works of art in area museums.


Image: Rabbit-shit-rabbit, Dieter Roth. Straw and rabbit dung, 1972.
Image courtesy of Galerie van Gelder, Amsterdam.