Art History and Biography

2002–2003

In these workshops, scholars considered the status of biography in art history today. Surveying an artist's work and relating it to his or her life history has been criticized for relying on false assumptions about unities of period, life, and work. Even the very possibility of a coherent "subject" for biography has been questioned. Critics have emphasized that biography is a genre, conforming to rhetorical conventions and historically specific traditions of use. A generation of sustained critique has weakened biography's authority, but it is by no means certain that a wholesale jettisoning of biographical method would not entail significant losses for art historical research.

Participants included


Marc GotliebUniversity of Toronto and Clark Fellow
James HerbertUniversity of California, Irvine and Clark Fellow
Rosalind KraussColumbia University
Kathleen NicholsonUniversity of Oregon and Getty Scholar
Adrian RifkinMiddlesex University
Debora SilvermanUniversity of California, Los Angeles and Getty Scholar
Paul SmithUniversity of Bristol and Getty Scholar
Sally SteinUniversity of California, Irvine and Getty Scholar
Ceclie WhitingUniversity of California, Los Angeles and Clark Fellow