Jeanette Kohl

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Jeanette KohlAssociate Professor
Co-Director, Center for Ideas and Society (CIS)

Ph.D., University of Trier

225 Arts Building
 (951) 827-5919
 Curriculum Vitae
 Academia website

Biography/EducationResearch/TeachingSelected PublicationsBooks

Jeanette Kohl earned her Dr. phil. (PhD) in 2001 from the University of Trier/Germany. She is an expert in the Art of the Italian Renaissance, with a particular interest in Renaissance sculpture and material culture, portraiture and the history of the human face, concepts of mimesis and representation, visualizations of the body in early modern medicine, and the afterlives of the Renaissance in modern and contemporary art. She was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute for Art History (Kunsthistorisches Institut) in Florence/Italy from 2001-2004, followed by positions as Assistant Professor at the University of Leipzig (2004-2008) and as Visiting Professor at Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena (2007). From 2006 to 2009, she chaired the international academic network The Power of Faces, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. She joined UCR’s Department of Art History in 2008, and from 2015 to 2018 she served as Department Chair. She is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Getty Research Institute, the Mellon Foundation, the NEH, the Kaete Hamburger Institute Morphomata in Cologne/Germany, and the Hamburg Institute for Advanced Study HIAS. In 2018/19, she was the Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro Member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and a Director’s Guest at the Kunsthistorisches Institute in Florence. In Princeton and Florence, she worked on her new book “The Life of Busts. Sculpted Portraits in Fifteenth-Century Italy,” the first book-length study of bust portraits and their functions, materials, and meanings in Renaissance Italy. From 2017 to 2021, she co-chaired (with Juliet McMullin) the new Medical and Health Humanities program at UCR, and in the winter of 2020 she served as Acting Director of the Center for Ideas and Society (CIS). Since July 2021, she is one of the Center’s two new Co-Directors and serves as PI for its Mellon Investment in Humanities Faculty program.

Dr. Kohl will be on fellowship leave from September 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023

Areas of Specialization

Italian Renaissance Art with an emphasis on Sculpture and Architecture
Object and Material Culture
Portraiture and the History of the Human Face
Theories and Concepts of Mimesis and Representation
Early Modern Medicine and History of the Body in Art
Afterlife of the Renaissance in Contemporary Art

Professor Kohl teaches Honors Freshmen Seminars on a regular basis and has taught several ‘CHASS F1RST’ classes for freshmen. In both class types, targeted at students from the Humanities and Social Sciences, she concentrates on the history of the body and concepts of identity and individuality in Art History, from Ancient to Contemporary Art and Culture. She is currently involved in a novel Medical Humanities program with new course offerings at UCR. She also teaches AHS 017B, a survey in Art History from Early Medieval to Late Renaissance and a variety of courses on Renaissance Art History: an upper-division class series on the “Renaissance in Rome: Art, Papacy, Power”, “Renaissance in Venice: West meets East” and “Visual Culture in Renaissance Florence,” and Junior-Senior Seminars on topics such as “Art and Love in the Renaissance,” “Masterpieces of Interpretation / Interpretation of Masterpieces,” and “The Artist as Artwork: Concepts of Self.” Among her topics for Graduate Seminars are “What is the Renaissance? New Readings in Art History and Theory,” “Renaissance Portraiture” and “Thinking with Images: Warburg to Didi-Huberman.” Over the past four years, she has taught AHS 280, the department’s capstone graduate course on “Research, Critical Analysis, and Thesis Writing.”

Professor Kohl’s research focuses on image concepts and strategies of representation in the Italian Renaissance with a particular interest in portraiture, object and material culture, and – more recently – the history of medicine. She is involved in several interdisciplinary projects on the role of the face in western cultures. The author of a book on famous mercenary Bartolomeo Colleoni’s burial chapel (Fama und Virtus, Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2004), she is also co-editor of five other books, most recently Similitudo. Concepts of Resemblance, 2012; EN FACE. Seven Essays on the Human Face, 2012; Renaissance Love. Eros, Passion, and Friendship in Italian Art Around 1500 (2015). Her new book, Facing Objects. Sculpted Portraits in the Renaissance, which is in preparation, will re-evaluate the materials, forms, and meanings of bust portraits from the 14th to the 16th century. She was awarded a Getty Scholarship in the fall of 2014, a Fellowship at ‘MORPHOMATA’ Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Cologne/Germany in spring/summer 2015, and a Getty Summer Fellowship to work on her book. As of July 2015, she is Chair of the department.


Facing Objects. Sculpted Portraits in the Renaissance (in preparation for 2015)
Fama und Virtus. Bartolomeo Colleonis Grabkapelle. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 2004 (377 pages)

Reviewed in:
Sehepunkte 4, 2004, Nr. 9 (by Joachim Strupp)
Süddeutsche Zeitung, Feb. 22, 2005 (by Michael Thimann),
Journal für Kunstgeschichte 2/2007, pp. 122-126 (by Antje Fehrmann)
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians/JSAH, No. 67/2, 2008, pp. 280-281 (by Charles Morscheck)


Renaissance Love. Eros, Passion, and Friendship in Italian Art Around 1500. Jeanette Kohl, Marianne Koos, and Adrian Randolph (eds.) Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich/Berlin 2014

Similitudo. Konzepte der Ähnlichkeit in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit (Similitudo. Concepts of Likeness in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance). Jeanette Kohl, Martin Gaier, Alberto Saviello (eds.), Fink, Munich 2012

Reviewed in:
Renaissance Quarterly 66/1, 2013, pp. 195-197 (by Jacqueline N. Coutré)

En Face. Seven Essays on the Human Face. Jeanette Kohl, Dominic Olariu (eds.), kritische berichte, 1/2012, Marburg 2012

Kopf / Bild. Die Büste in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit (Head / Image. Bust Portraits in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance). Jeanette Kohl, Rebecca Müller (eds.), in collaboration with Gerhard Wolf, Kunsthistorisches Institut, Max-Planck-Institute in Florence. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich/Berlin 2007

Re-Visionen. Zur Aktualität von Kunstgeschichte (Re-Visions. Art History Today). Richard & Barbara Hüttel, Jeanette Kohl (eds). Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 2002

Reviewed in:
Süddeutsche Zeitung, June 30, 2002 (by Michael Thimann)

Renaissance Love

Renaissance Love: Eros, Passion, and Friendship in Italian Art Around 1500
2014, Deutscher Kunstverlag
Jeanette Kohl, co-edited

Love is not blind. On the contrary, love is highly visual and the visual arts above all others have the capacity to enflame its passion – an idea that goes back to Leonardo da Vinci. This volume, ‘Renaissance Love: Eros, Passion, and Friendship in Italian art around 1500’, presents the view of internationally renowned specialists in a collection of studies devoted to the intermeshing of art, love, and attraction. The essays not only provide valuable insights into contemporary research on the subject, but also afford new and surprising perspectives on Italian Renaissance art; in their scholarly approach to the topic they are a long-overdue contribution to the interdisciplinary discourse on love in Italian culture around 1500.

Featured authors: Hans Aurenhammer, Stephen J. Campbell, Elisa de Halleux, Giancarlo Fiorenza, Jeanette Kohl, Marianne Koos, Alessandro Nova, Christopher J. Nygren, Jill Pederson, Ulrich Pfisterer and Adrian W.B. Randolph.


Similitudo: Concepts of Likeness in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
2012, Fink Wilhelm GmbH
Jeanette Kohl, author

“Similitudo” discusses the role of realism and likeness in different media and time periods, from the 14th to the 17th century, with a particular emphasis on its relevance for the arts, philosophy, and the psychology of perception.”

Review in Renaissance Quarterly:
Reviewed work(s): Martin Gaier, Jeanette Kohl, and Alberto Saviello, eds. Similitudo: Konzepte der Ähnlichkeit in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit. Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2012.

“The paradigm of resemblance (similitudo in Latin) offers one mode for the assessment of visual images. Yet as a discrete concept, it is too infrequently the subject of examination, relegated as it is to one aspect of the larger discussions of portraiture, scientific illustration, or art theory. The threats of similitude as a broader topic of art-historical inquiry are clear: in its subjectivity and ephemerality, resemblance is volatile and changeable, that is, contingent. The current volume of essays, one product of the German research project The Power of Faces: The Bust, the Head, and the Body in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (2006–09), marks an important step in the historiography of the concept, for it takes this thorny issue as its central theme. The book ventures beyond the simple comparison of model and image to posit new understandings of likeness informed by the perspectives of philosophers like Charles Sanders Peirce and Hans-Georg Gadamer. This conceptual framework, which motivates many of the contributions, makes Similitudo a welcome addition to the literature on image theory.  Read More →

cover_issue_1323_de_DEEn Face. Seven Essays on the Human Face
2012, Marburg
Jeanette Kohl, co-edited

This thematic issue of the German art history journal kritische berichte gathers analytical approaches to the ‘phenomenon face’ from different disciplines: neurophysiology, philosophy of the body, cultural history, surgery, medieval history, and the history of art. In their contributions, the authors examine the face as medium and material, as mise-en-scene and matter, as mirror and membrane, producer and recipient – as a cultural construction and a human determinant. The essays are spurred by their author’s profound involvement with the questions: WHAT IS A FACE? What did and what does it mean, culturally, socially, psychologically, physiologically, aesthetically, historically? What might it look like in the future? What are our assumptions about what a face represents, what it means to lose one’s face, or live with someone else’s face. Often enough, we think of faces as identities. But, what does a face tell about ‘us’ – individually, culturally, and as a species? Perception and imagination, the belief in images and image making, they all overlap in the face. The book’s trans-disciplinary approach is a first step toward a cultural history of the face. It includes essays by Jean-Claude Schmitt, Bernard Andrieu, Sigrid Weigel, Georges Didi-Huberman, Claudia Schmoelders, Jonathan Cole, and an interview with the facial surgeon Rainer Schmelzeisen.

Kopf / Bild

Kopf / Bild: Die Büste in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit
2007, Deutscher Kunstverlag
Jeanette Kohl, co-edited

Ein breites Spektrum methodischer Ansätze beleuchtet in diesem Band profane und sakrale Kopf- und Büstenbildnisse und gelangt zu einer Neubewertung dieser zentralen Gattung. Die Kontinuität der Bildform und ihre Ambivalenz zwischen Individualität und Typus, Bildnis und Kultobjekt, Lebendigkeit und Fragmentierung lassen die Objekte für eine Vielzahl von Fragestellungen fruchtbar werden. Dreizehn Beiträge beleuchten die Spannungsfelder »Paradigma Antike«, »Fiktives Porträt, wahres Antlitz«, »Status und Memoria«, »Performanz des Fragments« sowie »Material und Illusion«. Anstelle eines Überblicks wurde bewusst eine Konzentration auf Italien verfolgt, die sich als gewinnbringend für die Diskussion aus unterschiedlichen methodischen Blickwinkeln erweist. Beiträge zur deutschen Klassik und dem 18. Jahrhundert in England erweitern die Perspektive und zeigen auf, in welcher Form Topoi, etwa jener der Lebendigkeit, reflektiert werden.


Fama und Virtus: Bartolomeo Colleonis Grabkapelle.
2004, Akademie Verlag GmbH
Jeanette Kohl, author

“In sum, this is by far the most useful study of the Colleoni Chapel and the most thorough, insightful study ever done on the iconography of a Lombard Renaissance sculptural monument.” Charles Morscheck in: Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians JSAH, 67/2, June 2008

“Die Kunsthistorikerin Jeanette Kohl hat der Grabkapelle Colleonis nun ein wunderbar kluges Buch gewidmet, in dem sie das Denken dieses Soldnerführers im Spannungsfeld von fama und virtus anhand des Bildprogramms erläutert.” (“The art historian Jeanette Kohl has dedicated a wonderfully erudite book on the chapel of Colleoni, in which she unfolds the mercenary’s representational thinking between the poles of fame and virtue through the chapel’s image program.”) Michael Thimann in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, February 22, 2005

“Die Stärke der Arbeit liegt in der ikonographischen Analyse der Fassaden- und Grabmalsskulptur, deren kontextgebundene Bedeutung die Autorin souverän und kritisch zur Diskussion stellt.” (“The book’s strength lies in its icongraphic analysis of the sculptural program on façade and tomb, whose context and meaning the author discusses both masterfully and with a critical eye.”) Antje Fehrmann in: Journal fur Kunstgeschichte, 2/2007


Re-Visionen: Zur Aktualität von Kunstgeschichte
2002, Akademie-Verlag
Jeanette Kohl, author

This book is an homage to Swiss art historian Alexander Perrig, whose incorruptible eye and unconventional thinking inspired 15 case studies, written for this book. They all revise established interpretations, with Perrig’s work in mind, from the façade of the Trier Cathedral to scientific illustrations of the 17th century to the Latin Lover in the era of silent films. With essays by Wolfgang Kemp, Hans Joachim Kunst, Norberto Gramaccini, Jeanette Kohl, Roberto Zapperi, Jochen Staebel, Christina Riebesell, Horst Bredekamp, Barbara und Richard Huettel, Ursula Harter, Monika Wagner, Peter Rautmann, Renate Berger, Joerg Jochen Berns, Werner Hofmann, and an introduction by Leo Steinberg.

Review by Michael Thimann, Sueddeutsche Zeitung