Assistant Professor & Director of Undergraduate Studies
My research and teaching focus on art and critical theory primarily in Europe and the Americas from early 20th-century modernism to the present, with a special interest in the stakes and claims of abstraction. In my first book Penser la peinture: Simon Hantaï (Gallimard, 2012), I explore the work of a Hungarian-born French painter who is just beginning to be recognized as one of the most important figures in later 20th-century painting—a reputation based principally on the abstract, often large-format canvases he made between 1960 and 1982 in the medium he called pliage, or “folding.” I set the historical genesis and development of that body of work in a remarkably rich context conditioned by the Surrealist discourse of “psychic automatism,” the French philosophical reception of G.W.F. Hegel, and the first stirrings of interest in the work of Jackson Pollock. My current book projects include a new Hantaï monograph, covering the entirety of his career, for English-language audiences, as well as a study of artistic practice and theory in the context of the Paris-based journal Tel Quel. Both singly and together, these projects aim to provide a sustained and fundamentally new account of the practical, theoretical, and philosophical situation of painting in France since Surrealism. In so doing, they also interrogate the continued and perhaps surprising centrality of that medium in a period of extraordinary theoretical ferment and the proliferation of new practices.
Other recent and forthcoming essays concern artists as diverse as post-WWII painters Georges Mathieu and Joan Mitchell and contemporary figures Alan Uglow, Julia Fish, James Bishop, and Michel Parmentier.
I was educated at The Ohio State University (BA 2000) and Johns Hopkins University, where I completed a joint PhD in The Humanities Center and History of Art (2009). My doctoral work included several years as a Foreign Scholar in Residence at the École Normale Supérieure, Paris (2004-06) and was supported by generous grants and fellowships from the Mellon Foundation (2000-01), the Terra Foundation for American Art (2004), and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington (2005-07). Before joining the faculty of Johns Hopkins in 2013, I held a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Princeton University (2008-10), an ACLS-Mellon New Faculty Fellowship at the University of Chicago (2010-12), and an Assistant Professorship at Emory University (2012-13). In 2010, I curated a double exhibition of Hantaï’s work for the Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris, and the Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, and wrote the accompanying catalogue, Simon Hantaï (2010). I am a frequent contributor to Artforum.
In addition to critical surveys of modern and contemporary art, my recent and forthcoming undergraduate courses include several seminars with curatorial components, each focused on a major movement or topic in the historical avant-garde (Surrealism, Dada) and culminating in an exhibition of journals and other ephemera from the Special Collections of the Sheridan Libraries. Recent and forthcoming graduate courses consider aspects of postwar European art, problems in abstraction, and the concept of medium.