Faculty Books

Oglethorpe University Museum of Art in Atlanta is pleased to announce a first-of-its-kind exhibition—Goddess, Lion, Peasant, Priest: Modern and Contemporary Indian Art from the Collection of Shelley and Donald Rubin. This is the first public display of this collection of more than 50 works from 28 of India’s most famous artists, including Francis Newton Souza, Sakti Burman, and Seema Kohli.

Shelley and Donald Rubin, passionate collectors of Himalayan art for over 30 years, are the founders of the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. Mr. Rubin is a 1956 Oglethorpe alumnus.

With imagery from all walks of life, from the poorest citizens to dynamic deities, the works of Goddess, Lion, Peasant, Priest focus on India’s people: individual characters gazing back at us, men and women inhabiting spaces urban and rural, kneeling bodies meditating and praying. India’s modern and contemporary art affirms that the modern is global.

“These works celebrate everyday life in South Asia and its diasporas, from the most mundane moments to the most transcendent,” said curator Dr. Rebecca M. Brown. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for museum visitors to connect with the art of modern India.”


Gandhi’s use of the spinning wheel was one of the most significant unifying elements of the nationalist movement in India. Spinning was seen as an economic and political activity that could bring together the diverse population of South Asia, and allow the formerly elite nationalist movement to connect to the broader Indian population.

This book looks at the politics of spinning both as a visual symbol and as a symbolic practice. It traces the genealogy of spinning from its early colonial manifestations in Company painting to its appropriation by the anti-colonial movement. This complex of visual imagery and performative ritual had the potential to overcome labour, gender, and religious divisions and thereby produce an accessible and effective symbol for the Gandhian anti-colonial movement. By thoroughly examining all aspects of this symbol’s deployment, this book unpacks the politics of the spinning wheel and provides a model for the analysis of political symbols elsewhere. It also probes the successes of India’s particular anti-colonial movement, making an invaluable contribution to studies in social and cultural history, as well as South Asian Studies.


In 13 essays by leading art historians, and a critical introduction by the editor, Beyond the Yellow Badge seeks to reframe the relationship between European visual culture and the changing aspect of the Christian majority’s negative conceptions of Jews and Judaism during the Middle Ages and early modern periods. By situating their subjects within a broad continuum of historical and critical issues, the authors inquire into such questions as the shifting politics of toleration and intoleration; the role played by anti-Judaic legends in the formation of Christian cults; the role of positive evaluations of Hebrew, Jewish learning and Christian hopes for Jewish conversion; and the transformation of religious anti-Judaism into its modern racial and nationalistic counterparts. The book will be of special interest to art historians, cultural historians, students of Christian theology and Jewish history, and to educated general readers.


This is a groundbreaking examination of one of the most important artists in the Western tradition by one of the leading art historians and critics of the past half-century. In his first extended consideration of the Italian Baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573-1610), Michael Fried offers a transformative account of the artist’s revolutionary achievement. Based on the A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts delivered at the National Gallery of Art, The Moment of Caravaggio displays Fried’s unique combination of interpretive brilliance, historical seriousness, and theoretical sophistication, providing sustained and unexpected readings of a wide range of major works, from the early Boy Bitten by a Lizard to the late Martyrdom of Saint Ursula. And with close to 200 color images, The Moment of Caravaggio is as richly illustrated as it is closely argued. The result is an electrifying new perspective on a crucial episode in the history of European painting.

Focusing on the emergence of the full-blown “gallery picture” in Rome during the last decade of the sixteenth century and the first decades of the seventeenth, Fried draws forth an expansive argument, one that leads to a radically revisionist account of Caravaggio’s relation to the self-portrait; of the role of extreme violence in his art, as epitomized by scenes of decapitation; and of the deep structure of his epoch-defining realism. Fried also gives considerable attention to the art of Caravaggio’s great rival, Annibale Carracci, as well as to the work of Caravaggio’s followers, including Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi, Bartolomeo Manfredi, and Valentin de Boulogne.


Following India’s independence in 1947, Indian artists creating modern works of art sought to maintain a local idiom, an “Indianness” representative of their newly independent nation, while connecting to modernism, an aesthetic then understood as both universal and presumptively Western. These artists depicted India’s precolonial past while embracing aspects of modernism’s pursuit of the new, and they challenged the West’s dismissal of non-Western places and cultures as sources of primitivist imagery but not of modernist artworks. In Art for a Modern India, Rebecca M. Brown explores the emergence of a self-conscious Indian modernism—in painting, drawing, sculpture, architecture, film, and photography—in the years between independence and 1980, by which time the Indian art scene had changed significantly and postcolonial discourse had begun to complicate mid-century ideas of nationalism.

Through close analyses of specific objects of art and design, Brown describes how Indian artists engaged with questions of authenticity, iconicity, narrative, urbanization, and science and technology. She explains how the filmmaker Satyajit Ray presented the rural Indian village as a socially complex space rather than as the idealized site of “authentic India” in his acclaimed Apu Trilogy, how the painter Bhupen Khakhar reworked Indian folk idioms and borrowed iconic images from calendar prints in his paintings of urban dwellers, and how Indian architects developed a revivalist style of bold architectural gestures anchored in India’s past as they planned the Ashok Hotel and the Vigyan Bhavan Conference Center, both in New Delhi. Discussing these and other works of art and design, Brown chronicles the mid-twentieth-century trajectory of India’s modern visual culture.


From the late 1970s onward, serious art photography began to be made at large scale and for the wall. Michael Fried argues that this immediately compelled photographers to grapple with issues centering on the relationship between the photograph and the viewer standing before it that until then had been the province only of painting. Fried further demonstrates that certain philosophically deep problems—associated with notions of theatricality, literalness, and objecthood, and touching on the role of original intention in artistic production, first discussed in his contro­versial essay “Art and Objecthood” (1967)—have come to the fore once again in recent photography. This means that the photo­graphic “ghetto” no longer exists; instead photography is at the cutting edge of contemporary art as never before.

Among the photographers and video-makers whose work receives serious attention in this powerfully argued book are Jeff Wall, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Cindy Sherman, Thomas Struth, Thomas Ruff, Andreas Gursky, Luc Delahaye, Rineke Dijkstra, Patrick Faigenbaum, Roland Fischer, Thomas Demand, Candida Höfer, Beat Streuli, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno, James Welling, and Bernd and Hilla Becher. Future discussions of the new art photography will have no choice but to take a stand for or against Fried’s conclusions.


Through published works and in the classroom, Irene Winter served as a mentor for the latest generation of scholars of Mesopotamian visual culture. The contributions to this volume in her honor represent a cross section of the state of scholarship today.


Art and international relations during the Late Bronze Age formed a symbiosis as expanded travel and written communications fostered unprecedented cultural exchange across the Mediterranean. Diplomacy in these new political and imperial relationships was often maintained through the exchange of lavish art objects and luxury goods. The items bestowed during this time shared a repertoire of imagery that modern scholars call the first International Style in the history of art.

Marian Feldman’s Diplomacy by Design examines the profound connection between art produced during this period and its social context, revealing inanimate objects as catalysts—or even participants—in human dynamics. Feldman’s fascinating study shows the ways in which the exchange of these works of art actively mediated and strengthened political relations, intercultural interactions, and economic negotiations. Previous studies of this international style have focused almost exclusively on stylistic attribution at the expense of social contextualization. Written by a specialist in ancient Near Eastern art and archaeology who has excavated and traveled extensively in this area of the world, Diplomacy by Design provides a much broader consideration of the symbolic power of material culture and its centrality in the construction of human relations.