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GRI Scholars Program Welcomes Jan Bremmer as the 2006-2007 Villa Professor

September 12, 2006

LOS ANGELES—No force in history has motivated the production of art more than religious belief.  Yet within post-Enlightenment thought about the visual arts there has been difficulty in coming to grips with the significance that sacred objects and spaces have held for their original beholders, not only as instruments for spiritual observance but also as forms of cognition over a much wider sphere.

At a time when religious belief is only erratically visible in the intellectual realm, the Getty Research Institute (GRI) has selected Religion and Ritual as its theme for the 2006–2007 scholar year to focus on the interrelation of religion and the visual arts, both taken in the broadest senses.  In conjunction with the theme and with the beginning of the first full scholar year at the Getty Villa, Jan Bremmer, professor of the history and science of religion at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, and one of the world’s leading authorities on ancient religion, has been named Villa Professor for 2006-2007.  In residence August 2006 to June 2007, the Villa Professor collaborates with the GRI staff responsible for the intellectual direction of the scholars program.
“This year’s research theme looks at how religious habits of mind have been transformed into artifacts and how artifacts have affected religious belief, with an emphasis on trying to find new ways to understanding those transactions,” explains Director of the Getty Research Institute, Thomas Crow.  “Under Dr. Bremmer’s direction and with the team of scholars that have come to the Getty to study this theme, we hope to stimulate new thinking on the subject by the end of the scholar year.”

While most art-historical investigation into religious works has taken the art as its point of departure, visiting scholars will be encouraged to look at the subject from different points of view, perhaps focusing more directly on religious habits themselves to see how they express
themselves in other areas of creativity.  Scholars might even look to what degree traces of a culture's religious or spiritual mentality are registered in art where no overt religious purpose is expressed.  Finally, given that the categories currently used to think about the exchange between art and religion were not in place when many works were produced, scholars will be asked to think about to what degree can one gain access to a religious sensibility through art history in its present condition.

Getty scholars doing work on the research theme will find a wealth of materials to study in Getty collections, ranging from liturgical and devotion books in the Museum's collection of illuminated manuscripts, to contemporary photographs at the Research Institute documenting the vanishing religious festivals of Spain, to antiquities at the Getty Villa that provide evidence for the reconstruction of religious customs long lost from view.

Additionally, the Research Institute’s digital programs are actively developing and applying digital technology to create innovative Web-based approaches to scholarly communication.  Engaging with partners in the international digital library community, work will focus on digital imaging, capture of texts, non-traditional modes of knowledge capturing and interfaces to support scholarly collaborations.

Over the course of their stay at the Getty, scholars will have the opportunity to collaborate with curatorial and conservation staff, and give presentations and seminars.  Throughout the course of the scholarly year, a variety of lectures and conferences related to the theme will bring the scholar’s explorations to the attention of the local and international communities and to the broader public.

Getty Scholars

Jan Bremmer – Villa Professor, 2006-2007
Chair in General History of Religion and the Comparative Science of Religion
University of Groningen, The Netherlands
The Rites of the Life Cycle in Ancient Greece

Claudine Cohen
Professor (Maître de Conferences) of the History of Science
Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris
Religious and Rituals in Prehistory? A Critical Approach to Interpretations of Paleolithic Art

Simon Critchley
Professor of Philosophy
New School for Social Research in New York.
Civil Religion: Concept, History and Image

Megan Holmes
Associate Professor in the Department of the History of Art
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Cult and Visual Culture in Renaissance Florence

Lynn Hunt
Eugen Weber Professor of Modern European History
University of California, Los Angeles
Visualizing the Social: Comparative Religion and the Origins of Social Criticism in the Early 18th Century

Margaret Jacob
Professor of History
University of California, Los Angeles
Bernard Picart and the Critical Turn Toward Modernity

JoAnne Mancini
Lecturer in History
National University of Ireland in Maynooth
Faith and Beauty: Chinese and Filipino Art and the Aesthetics of Conversion in the California Missions

Wynand Mijnhardt
Professor of Cultural History
University of Utrecht, The Netherlands
On the Crossroads of Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism

Jack Miles
Senior Fellow, Pacific Council on International Policy
Fellow, Occidental College in Los Angeles
(1) Norton Anthology of World Religions
(2) God, Again: The Qur'an for Jews and Christians

Eric Palazzo
University of Poitiers, Centre d'Études Supérieures de Civilisation Médiévale, Poitiers, France
Religion and Ritual in the Middle Ages

Visiting Scholars

Mary Beard
Professor of Classics, University of Cambridge
Fellow, Newnham College
Roman Domestic Religion: Image, Text and the Invention of Tradition

Silvia Berti
Professor – Faculty of Humanistic Sciences, Department of Modern and Contemporary History
University of Rome La Sapienza
Reconstructing the Enlightenment Mind: Bernard Picart's Cérémonies as a Mirror of a Zeitgeist

Barbara Bloom
Artist and Teacher, ICP-Bard Program in Advanced Photographic Studies
International Center of Photography, New York
Relationships Between Art and Gifts

Julie Codell
Professor at the School of Art
Arizona State University, Tempe
Sanctification of Empire in the Delhi Coronation Durbars
Robert DeCaroli
Associate Professor of History and Art History
George Mason University
Portraits and Presence: Understanding Images in Early South Asia

Finbarr Flood
Assistant Professor in the Department of Fine Arts
New York University
Altered Images: Theories and Practices of Islamic Iconoclasm

Richard Gordon
Independent Scholar
Saselberg, Germany
Exoticism in the Rituals of the Oriental Religions of the Roman Empire

Geoffrey Hartman
Sterling Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature
Yale University
The Contest between Poetry and Divinity

Andrew Holmes
Artist and Senior Lecturer
Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, United Kingdom
Gas Tank City

Anja Klöckner
Chair of Classical Archaeology
University of Greifswald in Greifswald, Germany
Religion and Ritual in Classical Athens, as Seen in Attic Votive Reliefs

Justin Kroesen
Assistant Professor of Christian Architecture and Iconography
Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Space, Performance, and Identity: Medieval Churches in Spain and Their Interiors
Thomas Lentes
Director of the Junior Research Group Cultural History and Theology of the Image in Christianity
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany
On the Truth of Rituality: Idolatry, the Construction of Otherness and the Presence of the Sacred in the Middle Ages and the Reformation (12th—16th centuries)

Donald Lopez
Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Uses of the Buddha

Tomoko Masuzawa
Professor in the Program in Comparative Literature and Department of History
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
From Customs and Ceremonies to Sacred Doctrines: How Rituals Became Religions

Artist and Professor
Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Art de Cergy-Pontoise, France
Religious Pressures Imprinted in the Flesh

Hendrik Van Veen
Professor in the Department of Art and Architectural History
University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Civil Religion: Concept, History and Image
Nicholas Vella
Senior Lecturer in Archaeology in the Department of Classics and Archaeology
University of Malta
Art and the Religion of Mobility: Phoenicians in the Mediterranean in the Archaic Period

Yana Zarifi
Honorary Research Associate
Royal Holloway, University of London
Ritual and Politics of the Other in a Modern Performance of Aeschylus' Persians

Predoctoral Fellows

Chris Bennett
Ph.D. Candidate in History of Art
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Responses to Mass Culture: Ritual and Religious Sensibility in the Art of Boetti and Pascali

Cristina Gonzalez
Ph.D. Candidate in Art
University of Chicago
Landscapes of Conversion: Franciscan Politics and Sacred Objects in Late Colonial Mexico

Bertram Kaschek
Doctoral Candidate in Art History
Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
Transforming Ritual: Pieter Bruegel's Series of the Months

Gil Klein
Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Architecture
Cambridge University.
Consecrating the City: The Ritual Topography of Art and Architecture in the Late Antique Rabbinic Town

James Terry
Ph.D. Candidate in Art History
Yale University
Signifying Architecture: Maya Architecture of Chicanna and the Central Yucatan

Postdoctoral Fellows

Todd Cronan, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, Department of Art History
Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History
Virginia Commonwealth University
The Authority of Things: The Cathedral Facade in Modernist Painting

David Doris, Ph.D., Yale University
Assistant Professor in the Department of the History of Art and at the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Vigilant Things: The Strange Fates of Ordinary Objects in Southwestern Nigeria
Amy Powell, Ph.D., History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University
Lecturer and Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University
The Whitewashed Image: Iconoclasm and Seventeenth-Century Dutch Landscape

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John Giurini  
Getty Communications

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