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Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Noémie Etienne

The two-year Fellow is given the opportunity to pursue a research project while gaining teaching experience at a graduate level, and participating in a major international research initiative on the state of scholarship in the fields of art history, archaeology, and conservation.

In Fall 2013, we welcome Dr. Noémie Etienne as our new Postdoctoral Fellow (2013-2015) at the Institute. Dr. Etienne holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Geneva and University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, where she completed the dissertation The Restoration of Paintings in Paris (1750-1815).

The development of technical art history, conservation history, consumption studies, and material culture studies shows a growing interest in the material dimension of artworks. These perspectives call attention to the physical and social life of things. Addressing the artwork as a continuum, i.e., as a material object undergoing perpetual transformations, Dr. Etienne’s research focuses on the material existence of objects in time rather than on the context in which they were created.

Her current research project looks to analyze the transformation and display of “exotic” objects in connection with their various uses and contexts during the same period. She proposes a material and visual history of goods—in particular furniture and accessories coming from the Arab world—in Parisian society in the eighteenth century. A historiography that examines the construction of international spaces and exchanges through the movements of things and artworks is currently on its way. Her focus will be on their use and repair: When necessary, how are they repaired, restored, or redesigned? Rebuilt and recomposed? By whom and how? Taking into consideration the notion of agency, her research method aims to mix practices and representations while engaging with the interplay between visual and material cultures. From this perspective, Dr. Etienne is interested in the “carriers” of Native American objects during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in anthropology and art museums. Furthermore, she will explore cross-cultural conservation issues including topics such as public participation and non-professional expertise.