Art History News
Dr. Richard Brettell, 71, longtime professor of art and aesthetic studies and founding director of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History at The University of Texas at Dallas, passed away Friday, July 24.
“Rick was a remarkable scholar and educator and one of the leading voices in the world of art,” said UT Dallas President Richard C. Benson, who holds the Eugene McDermott Distinguished University Chair of Leadership. “His charismatic lectures have introduced thousands to great art as has his work to build the arts culture in Dallas. No one better epitomized a life well-lived than our brilliant, adventurous friend.”
Dr. Inga Musselman, UT Dallas provost, vice president for academic affairs and the Cecil H. Green Distinguished Chair of Academic Leadership, said, “He will be greatly missed as a key member of our arts faculty. Our founding director of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History has been an exceptional colleague. Dr. Brettell’s inspired teaching, his exquisite scholarship and his compassionate leadership are among UTD’s irreplaceable treasures. Our community has richly benefited from his devotion and influence at our school. All of us at UT Dallas are profoundly grateful for his amazingly unique and unbelievably nuanced contributions to the University.”
Brettell was one of the world’s foremost authorities on impressionism and French painting from 1830 to 1930 and was revered in the Dallas arts community for his leadership, vision and knowledge.
“Rick’s infectious personality was invaluable in growing the arts in Dallas,” said Dr. Michael Thomas, director of the O’Donnell Institute. “It was his dynamic disposition and his friendship with so many successful people in the city that made all of his causes so successful.”
Brettell, who recently was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and to the board of directors of the Hermitage Museum Foundation, held the Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetic Studies and the Edith O’Donnell Distinguished University Chair. Before joining UT Dallas in 1998, he was the Eugene McDermott Director at the Dallas Museum of Art and the Searle Curator of European Painting at the Art Institute of Chicago. He was also an assistant professor of art history at UT Austin from 1976 to 1980, where he taught a famous course titled Modern Art and the City of Paris.
Brettell was instrumental in developing the vision for an institute at UT Dallas that would be dedicated to the elevation of preserving and expanding the knowledge of art throughout the world. With a $17 million gift from arts patron Edith O’Donnell, the art institute was created in 2014. It has since become a center dedicated to elevating, preserving and expanding innovative research and education in art history with a community of scholars dedicated to collaboration and exchange.
Under Brettell’s leadership, the institute created a partnership with the Dallas Museum of Art, launched major international research partnerships with Nanjing University in China and the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte in Naples, Italy, and collaborated with partner institutions to present symposia, exhibitions and publications. In 2018 the O’Donnell Institute inaugurated a new master’s degree program in art history.
“The Edith O’Donnell Institute, in many ways, typifies the strength of Rick’s vision and his effectiveness in conveying that vision to others,” said Thomas, who holds the Richard R. Brettell Distinguished University Chair and is a professor in the School of Arts and Humanities (A&H). “He wasn’t just an idea guy. He was an idea guy who made things happen.”
Many colleagues said it was Brettell’s loyalty and friendships that allowed him to take ideas and turn them into significant projects.
“Rick Brettell had an amazing number of vibrant, close, admiring friends — the cultural leaders of Dallas and beyond,” said Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, UT Dallas Distinguished Scholar in Residence, professor of physics, and former provost and executive vice president. “People loved to be around him because he was dynamic, amusing and affectionate. And he also was full of knowledge.”
Dr. Nils Roemer, interim dean of A&H, director of the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies, and the Stan and Barbara Rabin Professor in Holocaust Studies, said Brettell was known for being very daring.
“Rick was relentless in his pursuit to build, create and shape the arts at UT Dallas and throughout the city; his energy was also infectious,” he said.
In addition to Brettell’s acclaimed status as an art historian, Roemer said, he also was a big advocate for his UT Dallas graduate students.
“He would spend a lot of time reviewing dissertations, as well as supervising and counseling. He would do anything to help students get their degrees,” he said.
In 2017, with a generous gift from philanthropist Margaret McDermott, the University honored Brettell through the establishment of the Richard Brettell Award in the Arts, a biennial honor recognizing established artists whose body of work demonstrates a lifetime of achievement in their field. Winners receive a $150,000 prize and participate in a campus residency, where they spend time interacting with faculty and students.
The award is just one of the many Brettell-inspired legacies that will continue to increase UT Dallas’ ability to provide deep and wide resources for research and teaching in the arts.
Brettell also organized numerous, high-profile exhibitions, which he believed were an impactful way to teach people about art and its importance. He was a prolific author and lectured nationally and internationally. Prior to his death, he was completing the definitive catalogue raisonné of the work of Paul Gauguin.
Longtime friends and colleagues Rob Kendall and Tony Holmes recently established the Rob Kendall and Tony Holmes Travel Award To Honor Rick Brettell. The fund will provide UT Dallas students opportunities to design and experience one-of-a-kind trips, both international and domestic, unrelated to specific academic requirements.
Architectural renderings soon will be done on an art and performance complex called, under Brettell’s inspiration, the Athenaeum. Among the pieces that will be on display at the new complex will be those from the Barrett Collection and the Trammell and Margaret Crow Museum of Asian Art, both of which were donated to UT Dallas in the last two years.
Wildenthal said the Athenaeum, along with the scholarly work done at the O’Donnell Institute, ensures that Brettell’s vision for UT Dallas as a center of arts excellence will come to fruition.
“We have lost a great colleague and a great inspirational friend, but his legacy of arts excellence will continue to grow at UT Dallas,” he said.
Statement from UT System Chancellor
UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken released the following statement on the death of Dr. Richard Brettell:
“Nana and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Rick Brettell, a friend whose visionary leadership enriched two UT institutions and helped transformed the arts landscape in Dallas.
“In the 1970s, Rick spent four years teaching at UT Austin, rising to become the head of the art history department. He went on to serve as director of the Dallas Museum of Art for several years. But it was at UT Dallas that he created his unmatched legacy and raised UTD’s national profile in the arts immeasurably. As founding director of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History, he was instrumental in bringing the Barrett Collection of rare Swiss art to the University, and in the acquisition of the Crow Museum of Asian Art in the Dallas Arts District. His impact on the future of UTD will benefit generations.
“Throughout his career, Rick harnessed his enormous energy and talent to share his love of the arts with Dallas, Texas, and the world. And the same spirit that made him a professional force made him a beloved and unforgettable friend to thousands. It was a privilege to be one of those thousands, and our hearts go out to his wife, Caroline, the entire Brettell family and all who loved Rick. He truly was one of a kind.”
Inspired by a common love of travel and worldly experiences, Rob Kendall and Tony Holmes are honoring their longtime friend and colleague Dr. Richard Brettell, founding director of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History at The University of Texas at Dallas, with a major planned gift to fund transformative travel experiences for University students.
Kendall and Holmes have committed a significant contribution — the University’s largest planned gift of cash recorded to date — to establish the Rob Kendall and Tony Holmes Travel Award To Honor Rick Brettell. The fund will provide UT Dallas students opportunities to design and experience one-of-a-kind trips, both international and domestic, unrelated to specific academic requirements.
“I have loved to travel as long as I can remember,” said Kendall, owner of Rob Kendall Presents, a company that organizes unique experiences for small group travel. “Before, during and after my airline career, I traveled extensively. That included nine documented trips around the world, as well as countless other journeys. But it was Rick Brettell who taught me how to add purpose, depth and meaning to travel.”
Kendall and Brettell first met in the late 1980s when Brettell was the Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. For three decades, the two have collaborated on delivering art-centric educational experiences around the world for travelers from Dallas and beyond. In 2016, Brettell arranged for two UT Dallas students to join one of the trips to Mexico, where the group explored Puebla and Mexico City.
“Kathleen (Alva BA’17) and I were given the opportunity to study baroque architecture in the churches of Puebla under the guidance of Dr. Brettell, to taste mole sauce and learn how it is prepared, and to see the fantastical creatures displayed on the streets of Mexico City for the annual Alebrijes competition,” said Nancy Fairbank BA’17. “It is this type of experience that made my education at UTD truly holistic, extending far beyond the confines of just my degree courses.”
The company of the two students, who were both Eugene McDermott Scholars, brought a new element to the travel experience, ultimately planting the desire for Kendall and Holmes to provide similar opportunities for future generations of UT Dallas students.
“The experiential aspect of travel is so important: It not only teaches us to be better students and academics, but to be better human beings by exposing us to new ideas and cultural norms,” said Fairbank, who is pursuing her law degree at Harvard Law School. “I am so grateful that Rob and Tony are honoring Dr. Brettell with such an amazing gift — one that will undoubtedly change the lives of countless UT Dallas students.”
Once established, the competitive travel awards will be distributed annually to fund what the donors affectionately call the “Rick and Rob trips.”
“Rob and Tony have decided to commit their lifetime assets to fund what will surely become the premier travel program for undergraduates and graduate students in the nation,” Brettell said. “UTD students will be able to travel from Easter Island to Ireland, from Naples to Nanjing, from prehistoric to postmodern landscapes. There are, in short, no limits to the temporal geography of Rob Kendall and Tony Holmes’ travel program for UT Dallas.”
Kendall and Holmes said the planned gift is “an expression of their respect and affection for Brettell.” They hope it adds a new dimension to the University’s educational portfolio while complementing the offerings of the UT Dallas Athenaeum, Brettell’s visionary campus project to enhance art access and appreciation throughout the North Texas region.
Brettell, who also holds the Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetic Studies and the Edith O’Donnell Distinguished University Chair, is one of the world’s preeminent scholars of impressionism and French painting from 1830 to 1930. He is currently completing the definitive catalogue raisonné of the work of Paul Gauguin and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
“It is Rick who inspired this gift of experience for many future students,” Kendall said. “For years, we have led art-centric educational journeys across the globe. To be able to offer those experiences to young minds — especially those who may not otherwise have the financial means to fund such opportunities — is priceless.”
Dr. Mark Rosen, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies in the School of Arts and Humanities, has been elected president of the Italian Art Society, an academic group that organizes and encourages the study of Italian art.
Rosen, an associate professor of art history and aesthetic studies, examines the relationship between art and cartography in early modern Europe as well as Italian art from the late Middle Ages through the middle of the 17th century.
“This is the era of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello and Raphael — once considered at the very center of all art history and the first era to fuse classicism and modernity,” Rosen said. “But as the field has necessarily expanded to think about global patterns, non-European traditions, and the economics of art, teaching and studying those artists is newly challenging and exciting.”
The Italian Art Society has a membership of more than 350 established and emerging scholars, graduate students and museum professionals. It promotes scholarly exchange through lectures and conferences on topics such as medieval studies, the Renaissance and architectural history. It also hosts lectures and awards travel and research grants to member scholars.
During his two-year tenure as president, Rosen said he hopes to arrange an Italian art conference at UT Dallas.
“This society is great for connecting scholars who are studying Italian art, whether ancient Rome, the Baroque, Futurism, or Arte Povera. It’s an honor to lead it,” he said. “It’s also a tremendous opportunity to get the word out about UT Dallas and all the good things happening here and through the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History,” where Rosen is a scholar.
The School of Arts and Humanities at The University of Texas at Dallas has three new tenured and tenure-track faculty members who bring a wide range of expertise — in gender, race and law enforcement studies, poetry and creative writing, and art history.
“I am excited about our new hires, who already are very accomplished. They bring fresh perspectives in their respective fields and already have expressed an interest in collaborating across disciplines,” said Dr. Nils Roemer, interim dean of the School of Arts and Humanities and the Stan and Barbara Rabin Professor in Holocaust Studies.
Roemer assumed the interim dean role Sept. 1 and continues his position as director of the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies.
Earlier this year, Dr. Michael Thomas was named director of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History and teaches classes in art history. The institute, created in 2014 with a generous endowment from arts patron Edith O’Donnell, is the first art history research institute founded in the digital age. Thomas also holds the Edith O’Donnell Distinguished University Chair and serves as a professor of arts and humanities while directing the school’s art history graduate studies program.
Dr. Anne Gray Fischer’s research focuses on the ways that women in history have been policed by law enforcement officers — why some are targeted and others are not. She uses the information to examine how and why police power expanded in America in the 20th century. Fischer received her master’s and doctoral degrees from Brown University.
Roemer said Fischer is a true believer in the importance of historical research and thinking.
“Her research and teaching offer a much-needed historical perspective on political issues of our societies,” he said.
Dr. Nomi Stone, an anthropologist, poet and scholar, is writing a collection of poems about science and scientists. Her most recent collection of poems, “Kill Class,” is based on her anthropological fieldwork on American militarism and the 2003 Iraq War. Stone received a PhD in cultural anthropology from Columbia University, a Master of Philosophy in Middle East studies from the University of Oxford and a Master of Fine Arts in poetry from Warren Wilson College.
“Students will be excited to travel with her to the boundaries of anthropological fieldwork and poetic creativity,” Roemer said.
In addition to the O’Donnell Institute and the Ackerman Center, the school is home to a number of centers for research and scholarly study, including the newly established Center for Asian Studies. The school offers degree programs in visual and performing arts, art history, historical studies, history, history of ideas, humanities, Latin American studies, literature and philosophy.
New Tenure-Track Faculty
Dr. Anne Gray Fischer, assistant professor of history
Previously: visiting assistant professor at Indiana University Bloomington
Research Interests: gender, race and law enforcement, specifically policing in U.S. cities during the 20th century
Quote: “I’m very excited about the STEM-forward profile of the students at UT Dallas because one of my favorite things to do is to expose history to students who otherwise might not have encountered a lot of these stories. I hope that students, regardless of their future career paths, will feel the lasting benefit and reward of engaging in historical thinking. I’m also very excited to discover collaborative possibilities with faculty across campus. I look forward to seeing what happens when faculty members get together, create an inspired spark and develop new insights.”
Dr. Nomi Stone, assistant professor of creative writing and literature
Previously: postdoctoral research assistant at Princeton University
Research Interests: poetry and poetics; anthropoetics; empire and militarism; phenomenology and affect; science studies
Quote: “I love the hybridity and cross-pollination at UT Dallas. I’m an anthropologist and a poet — a scholar who also writes creatively — so this is just the exact right fit for me. Braiding these things together is my passion. I haven’t seen a place that does collaboration as well as this place. I see a real investment in bringing seemingly disparate things together.”
Senior Rebekah Rodriguez loves the complexities of science and the details of art history. A recent study abroad trip gave her an opportunity to combine her passions into a semester of inspirational research.
Earlier this year, Rodriguez worked with researchers at the University of Vienna in Austria who study neuroaesthetics, an emerging science of how neural mechanisms influence how people perceive and interact with art.
“I wanted to explore empirical research within art history a little more — pushing the edge between science and art in a way that I think is ultimately insightful for both disciplines,” she said.
Rodriguez is seeking two bachelor’s degrees — one in visual and performing arts from the School of Arts and Humanities and the other in cognitive science from the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
In Austria, Rodriguez put her training to use as she worked with investigators at the Laboratory for Cognitive Research in Art History. Her main task was to assist with a study that used mobile eye-tracking devices to determine what museumgoers look at when viewing art in a museum. She had a range of duties, including organizing materials, assisting in data collection and preparing information for analysis.
“We connected everyday museumgoers to mobile eye-tracking units, which are basically a pair of goggles connected to a tablet in a backpack. The volunteers were allowed to examine the exhibit as they normally would, with no constraints, while we monitored their gaze,” Rodriguez said.
Data is still being collected and compiled, but Rodriguez said the research team noticed some interesting, preliminary trends while she worked on the project.
“When people enter a room within a museum, they typically give a general glance across the entire room before moving to individual pieces of work,” she said. “When they exit the room, they do a similar, sweeping glance across the room and tend to focus on their favorite artwork or artworks in the room.”
Rodriguez said the study will determine how a person’s gaze can be affected by social situations within the museum as well as by the composition of elements in the space.
While Rodriguez’s trip was supported through UT Dallas’ International Education Fund Scholarship, she made many of the arrangements herself. In addition to the research work, she earned additional academic credits by studying European architecture and history.
A highlight of her trip was visiting Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris one week before it caught fire.
Rodriguez said her semester in Europe gave her a chance to grow as a researcher and to experience a scientific field very different from her previous experience. She said that after earning her bachelor’s degrees from UT Dallas, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in art history or cognitive science. She also said she was informally invited back to the University of Vienna to pursue a PhD, which she is considering.
“My trip to Vienna was filled with profound experiences, both with the people I met and the things I got to see. It really connected a lot of dots,” she said.
The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History at The University of Texas at Dallas recently opened a retrospective exhibition of photography by Carolyn Brown, who is known for her architectural pictures of the Middle East, Latin America and Texas.
UT Dallas President Richard C. Benson joined Dr. Richard Brettell, director of the O’Donnell Institute, the Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetic Studies and the Edith O’Donnell Distinguished University Chair, at a recent reception to welcome Brown and her exhibition to the SP/N Gallery on campus. Benson also holds the Eugene McDermott Distinguished University Chair of Leadership.
Approximately 75,000 photographs — transparencies, digital scans, digital photographs and prints — already are archived at the O’Donnell Institute where, in collaboration with Brown, the institute is organizing and digitizing the archive and, over time, will make it accessible through an online research portal.
The SP/N Gallery hosts numerous exhibitions for the institute and the School of Arts and Humanities. Accompanying the Brown retrospective at the gallery is an exhibition of the Comer Collection, which captures scenes of American life from the middle to late 20th century. Both exhibitions will end Feb. 16.
From March 1 through March 24, the gallery will present its annual high school juried art exhibition. After that, from April 26 to May 11, UT Dallas’ art students will display their artworks at the gallery in a juried competition.
To read more, including about the SP/N Gallery photo exhibit, visit the original article on the UTD News Center.
UT Dallas President Richard C. Benson and Amy Lewis Hofland, director of the Trammell and Margaret Crow Museum of Asian Art, talk about the museum’s collection and the impact of the gift to the University. If you don’t see the video, watch it on Vimeo.
The Trammell and Margaret Crow family has donated the entire collection of the Trammell and Margaret Crow Museum of Asian Art, together with $23 million of support funding, to The University of Texas at Dallas to create the Trammell and Margaret Crow Museum of Asian Art of The University of Texas at Dallas.
The University will continue to operate the Trammell and Margaret Crow Museum of Asian Art in its current space in the downtown Dallas Arts District, where it has been located for more than 20 years. The gift funding will provide for the design and construction of a second museum on the UT Dallas campus, which will allow for a wider range of the full collection to be viewed by the public.
The Crow Museum’s growing permanent collection demonstrates the diversity of Asian art, with more than 1,000 works from Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, Tibet and Vietnam, spanning from the ancient to the contemporary. The collection also includes a library of over 12,000 books, catalogs and journals.
The collection was started by Dallas residents Trammell and Margaret Crow in the 1960s. Trammell Crow was legendary in the business world, known as one of the most innovative real estate developers in the United States. At one point in the mid-1980s, he was said to be the nation’s biggest developer, with more than 8,000 properties in over 100 cities. During numerous business trips to Asia, he developed an appreciation for its unique and diverse art. Over the course of three decades, the Crows assembled a vast and distinguished collection, including a 6-foot Ming dynasty seated Vairocana Buddha and one of the finest collections of later-period Chinese jades in the United States, including such works as the 18th-century Qing dynasty sculpture titled Jade Mountain.
“Like the gift of art from Avery Brundage to the City of San Francisco more than 50 years ago to found the Asian Art Museum, the Crow Museum joining forces with The University of Texas at Dallas forges another powerful connection between Asia, the United States and beyond,” said Dr. Jay Xu, director and CEO of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. “I look forward to partnering with both institutions in showcasing how beautiful artworks, and the living cultures that created them, can expand a conversation for all to participate in.”
In 1998, the Crow family opened the current museum with the goal of keeping the collection intact and increasing the American public’s knowledge and appreciation of the arts and cultures of Asia. Trammell S. Crow, president of the Crow Family Foundation and son of Trammell and Margaret Crow, has overseen the development of the museum during the past 20 years as a point of connection between the U.S. and Asia.
“We are excited to see The University of Texas at Dallas bring the museum that our parents built into a new era,” Crow said. “It is our hope that the museum will continue to create global awareness and conversation through the power of the collection and its programs and reach new audiences, both among UT Dallas students and the broader North Texas community.”
The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) announced the gift to the University of the Barrett Collection, consisting of over 400 works of Swiss art. It is the single-largest donation ever made to UTD as well as the largest gift of art to any school in The University of Texas System. This unparalleled collection of paintings, sculpture, drawings and prints is the only definitive collection of Swiss art outside of Switzerland and is considered the largest and finest private collection of Swiss art ever formed. With works dating from the late 14th through the mid-20th century, the Barrett Collection includes important pieces by every major artist born in Switzerland, from Caspar Wolf (1735-1783), the first painter of the Swiss Alps, to Cuno Amiet (1868-1961).
Recognized for its excellence in science, engineering and business, UTD has recently placed greater emphasis on the arts. With the creation of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History in 2014, the University has fostered innovative research and graduate education in the history of art, embracing a global history of art that ranges across geography, chronology and medium. The gift of the Barrett Collection, which will be housed in a new Barrett Museum to be built on campus, will extend the vision for the O’Donnell Institute, attracting new scholars and expanding the role of the arts across the University.
“The arts are an essential facet of any great university,” said Dr. Richard C. Benson, president of UTD. “I am grateful to the Barretts for this generous gift, which will catalyze the development of arts programs at the O’Donnell Institute at UTD and provide our students with direct access to an extraordinary collection.”
The collection was started in the 1990s by Dallas residents Nona and Richard Barrett. As a result of extensive travel in the country, they realized early on that, outside of Switzerland, Swiss art was widely unknown, underappreciated and undervalued. After an early visit to the collection of Mme. Monique Barbier-Mueller in Geneva, they made their first acquisition at Art Basel of a painting by Ferdinand Hodler. Relying on knowledge gleaned through research and their rapidly developing private library, along with guidance from curators, dealers and art historians, the Barretts have become the most knowledgeable American collectors of Swiss art of the past two generations. This has enabled them to build the present collection, often acquiring works before they reach the market. Since Nona’s death in 2014, Richard and his present wife, Luba, have continued to expand the collection.
“We have benefited so much from our city of Dallas and are glad to have an opportunity to give something back. Our wish is for our collection to remain intact and have a permanent, public home in our own city as well as in Texas. The building of the Barrett Museum on the UTD campus not only will achieve that, but will enable the collection to continue to grow through future support from the Barrett Collection Foundation,” said Richard Barrett. “Our dearest hope is that this gift will enhance the cultural fabric of this fine university.”
Noted both for its completeness and the depth of holdings of works by the most important Swiss-born artists, the Barrett Collection has drawn the attention of art historians, curators, and museum directors from around the globe. Works from the collection have been on view at major art institutions internationally, including the Tate Britain, Kunsthaus Zurich, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Musée d’Orsay, among others. Representative works in the collection include:
- Swiss Carnation Master, Hubert and St. Catherine of Alexandria, c. 1490, oil on panel
- Jean-Etienne Liotard, Portrait of the Empress Maria Theresa, 1762, pastel on vellum
- Caspar Wolf, View Across Lake Seeberg to the Muntigalm, 1778, oil on canvas
- Johann Heinrich Füssli, The Expulsion from Paradise, 1803-05, oil on canvas
- Angelika Kauffmann, Ulysses on the Island of Circe, 1793, oil on canvas
- Arnold Böcklin, Loneliness, 1875, oil on canvas
- Alexandre Calame, Vue du Handeck, c. 1837, oil on canvas
- Ferdinand Hodler, Landscape with Rhythmic Shapes, 1908, oil on canvas and Woman with Flowers (The Song), 1909, oil on canvas
- Felix Vallotton, Femme au Miroir, 1909, oil on canvas
- Cuno Amiet, Self-Portrait, 1921, oil on canvas and Portrait of Anne Amiet with Red Background, 1913, oil on canvas
- Giovanni Giacometti, Bagnanti (Alberto and Diego), 1919, oil on canvas
- Augusto Giacometti, Amaryllis, 1942, oil on canvas
Dr. Richard Brettell, a scholar of modern painting and founding director of the O’Donnell Institute, has known the collection since its inception. He has worked closely with the Barretts to develop plans for the museum, which will be unique in the world outside Switzerland.
“The creation of a museum with a collection of this breadth and depth of Swiss art at its core is unprecedented in the United States. But bringing this collection to a major research university makes the significance of the gift even greater,” Brettell said. “The focus and range of the Barrett Collection will spark many new dissertations, articles and books written by our graduate students and faculty.”
In addition to the works currently in the collection, UTD will also receive funding from the Barrett Collection Foundation for future acquisitions, including works by post-World War II and contemporary Swiss artists.
To read more, including about the Barrett collection, visit the original article on the UTD News Center.
Ekaterina Kouznetsova BS’16 is making her mark on the local and international art scene as the founder of ArtMail, a subscription art service she conceptualized and launched just months after graduating.
The Russian-born Dallas resident serves as both creative force and personal curator at the company that mails subscribers museum-quality prints of new works from emerging international artists.
Kouznetsova parlayed the skills she learned in the University’s marketing, global business and art history programs with immersion in the local arts that began her first year in college.
“When I was just a freshman, I started getting very, very involved in the Dallas arts scene, and it became apparent that that was the industry I wanted to work in,” she says.
As a freshman, Kouznetsova landed a position at a local art gallery, followed by a fashion editor gig for Dallas-based magazine THRWD.
From there, she was asked to manage marketing for Dallas designers Susie Straubmueller and Lucy Dang, and was soon brought on as the international art editor for Nakid Magazine, where she reviewed the work of eight to 10 new artists each week for two years.
All this exposure to the arts industry started to add up, she says, noting that “patterns began to emerge.” Kouznetsova observed how talented artists from around the world were facing similar challenges, namely a lack of both exposure and sustainable income.
“So often, [the art industry] comes off as a very sterile, unwelcoming place,” she says. “And I thought, there’s got to be a better way to fix all these issues.”
In her final semester at UT Dallas, Kouznetsova was taking 21 hours while also working as Nakid’s international arts editor — the same semester she decided to start building her new business.
“I’m one of those people that unless I’m overwhelmingly busy, I feel like I’m wasting time,” she says with a laugh.
In 2016, Kouznetsova spent the summer abroad exploring the international market, primarily in London, as part of her global business studies. Following her August graduation, she drew from her expanded knowledge of art curation and launched ArtMail to the public later that year with a roster of 20 artists.
Kouznetsova used Instagram and a website to market the new business, which earned her a hat tip in the visual arts section of The Dallas Morning News.
The goal, she says, was simply to craft an open atmosphere for artists intimidated by traditional galleries, while also making emerging art and decor accessible to the general public.
“I try to ensure a steady stream of income for the artists so that they can keep on creating work,” she adds. “Each artist receives a very, very generous commission that is higher than any other printing company by far, on both prints and originals.”
Kouznetsova explains that most galleries and curators will keep as much as half of a work’s selling price, but she takes “much less.”
The subscriber receives a certified giclée print guaranteed to last 150 years, along with an artist interview and certificate of authenticity.
“I work to promote the stories behind the art and to create multicultural connections between artists and clients,” Kouznetsova says. “This creates an extra level of connection and education between the collector and artist; it’s not just going to a store and buying a random print.”
So how does it all work? Kouznetsova says art lovers can sign up online, where they are prompted to pick their favorite paintings from a menu of options. The process, which takes about three minutes on the subscriber’s end, provides Kouznetsova with enough information to curate a customized selection of artists and prints.
Prints are matted in specially designed environmentally sustainable frames “made of recycled biomatter with a clear light acrylic on the front with UV coating,” she says.
The bonus: They’re incredibly light.
The company also offers original works for purchase, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.
As for the future for ArtMail, “We’re building a neural net,” she says, “an AI as an experiment in art curation.”
“We’ve actually already built it out in print data, with tens of thousands of referral points. For now, it’s been surprisingly accurate, predicting pieces that I personally curate.”
Kouznetsova hopes to eventually release the technology, but for now, all works are selected by the entrepreneur herself. Her stake in the international art scene is expanding.
Kouznetsova reports that she recently began a collaboration with curator Deve Sanford and the Ritz-Carlton in Abu Dhabi.
“ArtMail is creating connections between an artist in Thailand and a software engineer in Dallas,” she says. “I’m very glad that I live in a world where I’m able to do that and facilitate those connections.”
The fall 2018 semester will welcome the first students admitted to the master’s program in the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History (EODIAH). The curriculum is tailored around faculty members’ varied backgrounds and access to extensive catalogs, collections and institutions throughout the Dallas area.
The new degree, offered through UT Dallas’ School of Arts and Humanities, is a major milestone in a plan first laid out by Mrs. Edith O’Donnell when she provided the initial gift that led to the institute’s creation in 2014. Prospective students have until Jan. 15 to apply for the inaugural class.
“This program will be part of our young but already flourishing research institute,” said Dr. Sarah K. Kozlowski, assistant director of EODIAH. “We are looking for strong undergraduate applicants with a background in art history who want to take the next steps in either their professional or academic career.”
Dr. Paul Galvez, research fellow and curriculum coordinator for the master’s program, stressed the value of their “object-based program.” Students can look forward to accessing the expansive galleries and collections on the UT Dallas campus, along with others housed at the Dallas Museum of Art, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center and The Warehouse.
The intensive 16-month program also has a unique approach to curriculum. A student’s first year will cover foundational skills and knowledge taught by faculty, and will include critical curatorial skills.
“If you’re interested in art history but don’t want to spend all of your time in a library, we offer training for students who want to be in the reserves or our galleries,” Galvez said. “This training normally happens informally, but we are making it part of the curriculum for all our students.”
Students also will take 15 hours of master’s seminars covering a range of topics beyond what comparable programs offer, such as architecture and photography.
EODIAH faculty and staff are most excited about the final year practicum.
“Traditionally, the MA thesis has been exactly that — a long research paper,” Galvez said. “And that’s certainly one route, but what we are offering — which is unique — is a practicum that doesn’t have to just be writing.”
Examples of alternative projects include a catalog of interviews with a studio artist, developing an exhibition proposal, or refining curatorial skills.
“There’s a conservation project where we can hook the interested student up with a conservationist in the area so that they can study the process and learn from a professional,” said Lauren LaRocca, coordinator of special programs.