Monumental mistakes? The Statue and Its Discontents

Lecture and panel discussion with Jeanette Kohl and Malcolm Baker, Universität Hamburg, June 8, 2023.

HIAS Monumental MistakesFor those concerned with the history of sculpture Robert Musil’s remark that “There is nothing in this world as invisible as a monument” has, alas, always rung very true.

But suddenly over the past three years, everyone is talking about statues. Except they are not. Instead, they are talking about the subjects these statues represent and the culpability of these historical figures for involvement in the slave trade and other crimes of various colonial pasts.

But in this talk four art historians will focus on an aspect of the current debate about statues that has received much less attention.  This is the question about how statues work as representations and the roles played by the conventions and visual rhetoric they employ. How might the terms of the debate shift if more attention was paid to the aesthetics of the statue? Is there an opportunity to think about the aesthetics and politics of the monument together?


  • Malcolm Baker, Art Historian, University of California, Riverside
  • Frank Fehrenbach, Art Historian, Universität Hamburg
  • Jeanette Kohl, Art Historian, University of California, Riverside
  • Iris Wenderholm, Art Historian, Universität Hamburg

Universität Hamburg
Lecture Hall H, Main Building
Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1




Join Us for the 2023 Undergraduate Paths Series!

Undergraduate Paths SeriesDemystifying Graduate School in Art History
Tuesday, May 9 at Noon via Zoom

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This panel brings together current graduate students and faculty in art history. Panelists will discuss graduate school, applications, including how to put together and application and how to choose which programs are appropriate for you. Panelists will discuss their own experiences as graduate students of art history, what it entails, managing expectations and workloads, and strategies for successfully navigating graduate school.

Lily Allen, PhD candidate, UCR
Alan Carillo, PhD student, University of Iowa
Yong Cho, Assistant Professor, UCR
Rebekkah Hart, PhD student, Case Western Reserve University

Putting Your Art History Degree to Work

Tuesday, May 16 at Noon via Zoom

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This panel brings together working professionals with undergraduate and advanced degrees in art history who have gone on to have a broad range of careers. Panelists will discuss their positions and their career paths, including how their art history degrees prepared them for their positions.

Cosette Bruhns Alonso, Contemporary Publishing Fellow, Penn Libraries, University of Pennsylvania
Maite Alvarez, Project Specialist, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Karen Gudino-Flores, Riverside Public Library, Main Library
Diego Roberto Irigoyen, Digital Resource Specialist, Department of Art History, UCR




2023 Brink Carrott Forster-Hahn Lecture Series

Join Us on Thursday, April 27, 2023 at 5pm in ARTS 333

Brink Carrott Forster-Hahn Lecture Series 2023Lily Allen, 2022 Barbara B. Brink Travel Award
Mabel Alvarez’s Portraits in Hawaii, 1939-40
Mabel Alvarez (1891-1985) is one of four artists in my dissertation, which reevaluates the social and creative dynamics of one of L.A.’s first modern art groups — the Art Students League of Los Angeles — through intertwining analyses of the lives and works of Alvarez, Hideo Date, Benji Okubo, and Stanton Macdonald- Wright. Born in Oahu, Hawaii, Alvarez returned to the island in 1939 where she produced portraits of children of mixed Hawaiian, Asian, and Iberian heritage. My initial thoughts on this series was that the images’ modernity, sensitivity, and subjectivity made them prime evidence of an argument central to my dissertation: that Alvarez and her fellow artists painted pictures exploring concepts and sentiments that would later resonate with the Asian American Movement. However, what I saw in the various archives I visited in Honolulu has caused me to re-evaluate my hypothesis about this series, revealing connections to dark histories that clash with the portrayals’ apparent progressive potential and make them, in my mind, fraught objects both historically and currently.

Molly Bond, 2022 Françoise Forster-Hahn Travel Award
The Spaces of Relief: A Research Itinerary Across Italy
Relief sculpture flickers between the real and the virtual, mediating between tangible form and illusionistic space — in Renaissance terms, partaking of both “sculptural” and “painterly” effects. My dissertation takes this artform as its focus, broadly seeking to illuminate the complex and dynamic legacy of relief sculpture during the late 16th century in Italy. Primarily I concentrate on a group of bronze casters working in the Marche region during the late Cinquecento, who produced a number of bronze reliefs in and around the Basilica della Santa Casa in Loreto — home to the Virgin Mary’s miraculous flying house! In this presentation I will speak about
my time as a doctoral fellow at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, especially my travel throughout the Marche as supported by the Forster-Hahn Award. This travel has been crucial for advancing my project: from completing archival and library research, to conducting an extensive photographic campaign of late Cinquecento relief, to exchanging ideas with a diverse, international group of experts in the field of Renaissance studies.

Becky Luo, 2022 Richard G. Carrott Travel Award
Articulating Sociality: Martin Wong Papers at the Fales Library and Special Collections
In a 1991 lecture at the San Francisco Art Institute, Martin Wong announced, “Everyone thinks all I paint are Puerto Ricans, but secretly I paint Chinatown. For about the last ten years I’ve been accumulating a secret stash.” The following photograph documents an underpainting that would become the back of Iglesia Pentecostal, one of nine in a series of storefront paintings. The painting on the verso reveals inklings of secrecy throughout the artist’s interplay of language, visual motifs, and faces, signaling an ambiguous position within the communities he represented. Such ambiguities destabilize belonging as a constant; his acceptance into various social spheres is conditional and mutable. The research trip to NYU’s Fales Library and Special Collections critically contributed to my understanding of Wong’s artworks as occupying a social function. In the fragmented phrases and unfinished sketches of his papers, Wong reflects on, interrogates, and utilizes art to navigate community.



Laura / Aura. Tête-à-tête with a Renaissance Bust

Lecture by Jeanette Kohl at Freie Universität Berlin, April 25, 2023.

Tête-à-tête with a Renaissance bustThe lecture is dedicated to an attempt at a “phenomenology” of female bust portraits of the Quattrocento. The focus is on the enigmatic bust of an unknown woman by Francesco Laurana in the Viennese Kunstkammer, which is characterized by its unusual polychrome. In the context of a comparative object analysis and against the cultural-historical background of a Petrarchan topic, the question of how this and other female busts ‘communicate’ with the viewer and what significance their fragmentary object character has will be pursued. Although not primarily motivated by the art-historical “passion for identifying” (Didi-Huberman), the considerations ultimately lead to a proposed new identification.

Read more (in German) at
Dr. Kohl’s presentation will be streamed live via WebEx. To register, email


Vision, Touch, and Memory. Rembrandt’s Aristotle with the Bust of Homer.

Lecture by Jeanette Kohl as part of the exhibition Idols & Rivals at the Kunsthorisches Museum in Vienna.

Rembrandt, Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, 1653

Rembrandt, Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, 1653

A contextualized interpretation of Rembrandt’s famous Portrait of Aristotle with the Bust of Homer (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), this lecture discusses the importance of sculpture as a key medium of memory. A detailed analysis will show how Rembrandt transformed established thought patterns of competition (among the arts, among artists, with antiquity) and traditional art-historical dichotomies (seeing vs. feeling, materiality vs. intellect, presence vs. impermanence) into a remarkably complex play across genres creating a painted philosophy of touch.

Read more (in German) at
View Dr. Kohl’s entire presentation at


Professor Johannes Endres recieves fellowship at the IAS (Institute for Advanced Study) at Van Mildert College, University of Durham, January-March 2023

At Durham, Professor Endres will work on his current book project on “Style” as an interdisciplinary category of the study of texts, images and music. As part of his project, he will be in close collaboration with Professor Jonathan Long from Durham’s School of Modern Languages & Cultures. Professor Long is also the co-director of the Center for Visual Arts and Culture at Durham. The collaboration is based on their mutual research interest in German Literature, literary theory, and the study of visual culture in relation to literary artefacts.