Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowships in the History of Art

The Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowships in the History of Art support an academic year of research and/or writing by early career scholars for a project that will make a substantial and original contribution to the understanding of art and its history.

This program is made possible by a generous grant from the Getty Foundation.

Read more about this fellowship program.

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Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 

Monica Bravo
Monica Bravo  |  Abstract
Three minerals necessary to most photographic processes—mercury, silver, and gold—were all discovered in present-day California and Nevada within a few years of photography's 1839 invention. The co-existence of these raw materials in one geographic region—together with an abundance of timber, water, light, and, crucially, access to cheap immigrant labor—allowed photography to flourish in the West in the era of Manifest Destiny. Contributing to the emergent field of ecological art history, this project denaturalizes assumptions of photography as a technology that is inorganic, machine-made, and removed from natural conditions. Instead, drawing on the methods of technical art history, it resituates photography within its contingent material contexts and those associated with extractive human labor. This research radically transforms the geographies heretofore associated with "American photography" to consider transpacific networks, particularly between the western United States, Mexico, Chile, and China.

Assistant Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture, California College of the Arts  -  Silver Pacific: A Material History of Photography and its Minerals, 1840-1890

Andrew P. Griebeler
Andrew P. Griebeler  |  Abstract
In myth, the gorgon Medusa was said to petrify those who saw her. Images of gorgons spread across the ancient Mediterranean as a way to ward off evil. Although these images became rarer in the Middle Ages, they continued to appear as hidden talismans and medical amulets in Byzantium. The efficacy of the gorgon's image was consequently defined more by its presence than by its visibility. Medusa Underground outlines the transformation of the Medusa image from visible warning to occult icon in the Late Roman and Byzantine Mediterranean. It follows the changing status and power of the gorgon image through a variety of objects and contexts, from the rewriting of pagan myths as horror stories about the occult to the adaptation of the image for medical amulets and pharmacology. The project explores the entanglement of material and iconic efficacy, and maps intersections in histories of medicine, myth, and art.

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Southern California  -  Medusa Underground: An Occult Icon in Byzantium

Kent Cao
Kent Cao  |  Abstract
In the 15th century BCE, the rapid expansion of the Erligang culture from the Yellow River valley triggered the transregional spread of bronze art and technology, a scale unprecedented in the East Asia continent. As the first book in English, On Their Own Merits interweaves art history, archaeology, metallurgy and epigraphy to present a multivalent perspective on the indigenous societies and their original bronze art in South China's Yangtze River valley (modern-day Wuhan to Shanghai). To strengthen the spotty archaeological findings in South China, this project explores the environment of the Yangtze River that conditioned ore procurement and knowledge dissemination, argues for the seminal role of bronze casters in the lower Yangtze plains, and reconstructs a tightly-knit exchange network along the river that gave rise to a prominent bronze center in the middle Yangtze hills in the 12th to 9th century BCE.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Division of Humanities, New College of Florida  -  On Their Own Merits: Indigenous Bronze Cultures in the Yangtze River Valley, c. 1500-900 BCE

Lillian Makeda
Lillian Makeda  |  Abstract
The Diné hogan is one of a small number of traditional Native American dwellings still in use during the 21st century. Part of the reason for the hogan's persistence has been the widespread adoption of a particular form able to accommodate modern building technologies while functioning as a distinctive symbol for tribal identity. This book demonstrates that the octagonal "tsin bee hooghan" emerged as a Navajo icon between 1890 and 1950, and that during this period the octagon became characteristic of Diné-inflected architecture. Although the octagon recurs as a theme across the Navajo reservation, the inventiveness of vernacular builders and professional architects has ensured a wide diversity of octagonally-inspired architecture serving to create the most distinctive Native American landscape in the United States.

Independent Scholar  -  The Octagon: A Symbol of Native American Identity in Diné Architecture

Sandrine Colard
Sandrine Colard  |  Abstract
The history of photography in Africa has primarily been understood as an opposition between colonial stereotypes and African counter-visions. Taking the Belgian Congo as its subject, this book argues that the medium has also been the instrument of an ambiguous proximity between metropole and colony, not only in the hands of Europeans, but also in those of Africans. A paradoxical reaction against the worldwide diffusion of the “Congo atrocities” pictures (1904–1908), the development of a redeeming and seductive iconography of colonial “intimacy” is examined through the Belgian Congo’s illustrated press and state photographic agency, together with Congolese families’ albums. By cross-examining European and African photography, my project re-evaluates colonial regimes’ visual strategies, as well as redefines the formation of modern African subjectivities as a dialogue at the intersection of two usually contraposed impulses: imperial propaganda and African self-imaging. The book is based on research carried out in Belgium and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Assistant Professor, Arts, Culture and Media, Rutgers University-Newark  -  Double Exposures: A History of Photography in the Colonial Congo

Brian Martens
Brian Martens  |  Abstract
This is the first book to examine holistically the making and trading of marble sculpture at Athens, Greece, from the late second century BCE to the fourth century CE, when Athenian marble-carvers were among the leading producers of figural sculpture in the Mediterranean basin. The study takes at its heart the archaeological evidence found at Athens, which includes over 300 unfinished sculptures and at least 10 workshop spaces. The approach moves away from a canon of isolated works and named artists, and toward a community of carvers and the gathered evidence for their activities, offering new perspectives on the social and economic networks that supported the industry. It demonstrates a thriving demand for Athenian-made sculpture abroad and, most especially, in local marketplaces.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Athenian Agora Excavations, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece  -  Sculptors at Work in Roman Athens: Production, Trade, and Economics

Douglas Gabriel
Douglas Gabriel  |  Abstract
While the Korean Demilitarized Zone stands as a testimony to the violence of the Cold War, the art produced on either side of the 38th parallel has not always neatly corresponded with this bifurcation. Between 1980 and 1994, North Korean state-sponsored artists, and South Korean artists associated with the Minjung (literally “People’s”) democratization movement repeatedly circumvented the division, even illicitly sending their works across the border. Scholars often cite these years as marking the demise of socialist realism in tandem with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of neoliberal network societies. By focusing on the aesthetic affinities that emerged between the work of North and South Korean artists, however, this book argues that realism was mobilized at this critical juncture as a means of destabilizing the Cold War ideological forces dividing the peninsula and shaping the world at large.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Korean Studies, The George Washington University  -  Over the Mountain: Realism, Reunification, and the Resounding Cold War Across the Two Koreas

Sara Maria Öberg Strådal
Sara Maria Öberg Strådal  |  Abstract
This project traces the development of volvelles in medieval and early modern Europe. Volvelles are wheel charts used for varied purposes: to calculate the date of Easter, convert non-Christians to Christianity, compute the positions of the moon and planets in their movements around the central Earth. The origin of this communicative device can be found in the computus tradition. This project investigates the changing iconography of volvelles as they are adopted and adapted to suit varied communicative needs and new audiences, as they move from manuscripts produced for elite patrons to codices produced in the vernacular for practical purposes, to printed texts and removed from their original textual contexts incorporated into the dials on monumental astronomical clocks.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Manuscripts and Printed Books, Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, UK  -  From Manuscripts to Clock Tower: A History of the Volvelle, 1240-1540

Ximena A. Gómez
Ximena A. Gómez  |  Abstract
This book investigates the visual culture of Black and Indigenous confraternities in Lima during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by embracing the generative possibilities of colonial erasure. With limited extant visual evidence, the project takes advantage of Lima’s rich documentary record for the early colonial period and uses the confraternities of the Virgin of Copacabana and of the Virgin of the Antigua as case studies for how subalterns can be incorporated into the history of Lima’s colonial art. By prioritizing confraternity members’ self-identifications, and taking interdisciplinary and anti-colonial approaches, the book demonstrates that Indigenous and Black people in colonial Lima were active patrons, defined the city’s visual culture through religious and social engagement, and applied their own cultural lenses in their use of sacred images and ritual objects.

Assistant Professor, History of Art and Architecture, University of Massachusetts Amherst  -  Indigenous and Black Confraternities and the Creation of Visual Culture in Colonial Lima

Levi Prombaum
Levi Prombaum  |  Abstract
“Disagreeable Mirror Though One May Be” illuminates early portrait collaborations between the author and civil-rights activist, James Baldwin, and the visual artists who were his imagers, readers and friends, reconsidering Baldwin’s iconic status today through his impacts on the visual cultures of his time. Baldwin's portraits, this study argues, visually translated and critically inhabited his written repertoire of sagacious cultural analysis. Painters and photographers alike paralleled Baldwin’s literary strategies, developing distinctly modernist portrait vernaculars that put Baldwin's intersubjective insights and historical orientations to work. These ambitious experiments, which distill and interrogate the psychical stakes of civil rights era image making, are located squarely within and productively beyond American histories of feminist and conceptual art.

Fellow, Education, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art  -  "Disagreeable Mirror Though One May Be": Portraits of James Baldwin, 1945-65