Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowships in the History of Art

The Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowships in the History of Art support an academic year of research and/or writing by early career scholars for a project that will make a substantial and original contribution to the understanding of art and its history.

This program is made possible by a generous grant from the Getty Foundation.

Read more about this fellowship program.

Related Links

Search for Fellows and Grantees

Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 

Elizabeth Ann Cecil
Elizabeth Ann Cecil  |  Abstract
From the riverine coast of central Vietnam, to the highland jungles of southern Laos, and the wetland mangroves of northwest Java, Southeast Asia’s earliest Hindu polities were defined by their unruly geography. The kingdoms of Champa, Zhenla, and Taruma were archipelagos of power—distinct nodes of governance separated by intractable regions. This project develops the concept of “landscape manipulation” to explore the technologies of power used to cultivate these non-state spaces. Extending beyond utilitarian modes of territorialization, landscape manipulation emphasizes the strategic use of art and architecture to fundamentally, and often violently, transform features of local sacred geographies into political landscapes. Examining the architectonics of three monumental temple complexes from Vietnam, Laos, and Java between the fifth and the tenth centuries CE, this study uses structural remains, hydrological systems, monumental inscriptions, and iconographic programs to show how centuries of directed labor and accretional building practices produced architectures of intimidation designed to civilize wild places.

Assistant Professor, Religion, Florida State University  -  Architectures of Intimidation: Political Ecology and Landscape Manipulation in Early Southeast Asia

Kelema Lee Moses
Kelema Lee Moses  |  Abstract
“Island Modernism/Island Urbanism” centers architectural modernism in the Pacific Basin. Island cities offer a place-based perspective to architectural and urban studies that take into account spatial limitations, where architects and planners are compelled to develop inventive approaches to balance economic interests, environmental issues, and indigenous imperatives. Through an examination of the design processes, political actors, and policies involved in the construction of the Hawai’i State Capitol, the project explores Honolulu’s mid-century built environment within the context of US empire and Native Hawaiian self-determination. By emphasizing the strategies involved in constructing the State Capitol in Honolulu's Civic Center, the book critiques notions of the US city by confronting the (dis)junctures between Hawaiian epistemologies of space/place and Euro-American planning traditions.

Assistant Professor, Art and Art History, Occidental College  -  Island Modernism/Island Urbanism: Encountering Statehood in Honolulu, Hawai'i

Kyrah Malika Daniels
Kyrah Malika Daniels  |  Abstract
“The Art that Heals” investigates how sacred art objects mediate relationships between humans and spirits in contemporary central African and Caribbean healing ceremonies. The project examines ritual art forms using an interdisciplinary methodology that combines material culture, comparative religion, and ethnography in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo, two nations directly linked by legacies of the transatlantic slave trade. Grounded in the fields of black Atlantic art history and religion, the book is the first to comparatively theorize the Africana religious art forms of: 1) ritual rattles (bisangu/ason), 2) sacred vessels (minkisi/pakèt kongo), and 3) divine mirrors (ditensi/miwa). From an art historical perspective, the work analyzes the meaning of ritual art objects in African and African diaspora religious communities, while a material culture approach provides deeper insight into how sacred arts embody indigenous knowledge production in the black Atlantic world.

Assistant Professor, Art History, and African and African Diaspora Studies, Boston College  -  The Art that Heals: Spiritual Illness and Sacred Arts of the Black Atlantic

Clarissa Ricci
Clarissa Ricci  |  Abstract
The Venice Biennale is one of the world’s most important exhibitions of international contemporary art since 1895. From this vantage point it’s possible to investigate the changes in the exhibitionary system after World War II: a crucial moment when the contemporary art ecosystem, as it is currently known, was crafted. The Venice Biennale’s responses to such makeovers epitomized this new course. In those years, the Biennale was completely reformed and transformed from a proto-fair international exhibition into a platform for contemporary art. The project thus aims to explore the crucial pathways towards the formation of the contemporary art system and to correct a flawed image of the role of the Biennale.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Culture del Progetto, Università Iuav di Venezia, Italy  -  Shifting Platforms: The Venice Biennale and the Formation of the Contemporary Art System

Jacopo Gnisci
Jacopo Gnisci  |  Abstract
Ethiopia is home to one of the largest and oldest collections of Christian manuscripts in the world. However, the country’s extraordinarily rich cultural and artistic heritage is still poorly understood. This project remedies this deficiency by providing the first comprehensive in-depth study of Ethiopian manuscript illumination from late antiquity to the end of the medieval period. It focuses on a corpus of two dozen little-known Ethiopic Gospels whose illuminations—with scenes from the life, death, and resurrection of Christ—open a fascinating window onto the religious, spiritual, and daily life of Christian Ethiopians during the medieval period. By focusing on the iconography of the illuminations and on dynamics of cross-cultural interaction, the project rejects past narratives of Ethiopia as timeless, isolated, and dependent on foreign inputs and recontextualizes its material culture within a Eurasian framework that defies conventional academic boundaries and rejects Eurocentric attitudes towards the arts of Africa.

Research Associate, Classics, University of Oxford  -  Illuminated Ethiopic Gospel Books, 350-1400

Alice Isabella Sullivan
Alice Isabella Sullivan  |  Abstract
The project centers on the painted and fortified Orthodox monastic churches of late medieval Moldavia built in the decades after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. These churches offer an unprecedented mixture of Byzantine, Slavic, western Gothic, and even Islamic architectural and iconographic features integrated with local forms and developments. In engaging with the architecture, image programs, and functions of the Moldavian churches in the context of religious politics and patronage, the Orthodox liturgy, the cult of saints, and the theory of images, the project illuminates the various dimensions of Orthodox religious spaces and charts the complexities of cultural contact in eastern Europe during the late medieval period. Notions of history, cultural memory, artistic integration, spatio-temporal experiences, kinds of cross-cultural rapport, and modes of translation are among the study’s central concerns.

Lecturer, History of Art, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Byzantium Reimagined in Moldavian Art and Architecture

Helen Rose Hughes
Helen Rose Hughes  |  Abstract
“Forger—Convict—Artist” is the first book-length study of the significant contribution that convicted forgers made to the visual iconography of colonial Australia, focusing on the period of convict transportation from Great Britain to Australia from 1788 to 1868. Analyzing a range of artworks, as well as examples from architecture, decorative arts, and even the design and manufacture of financial currency, the study maps the work of convicted forgers onto an analysis of the criminalization of forgery—a crime entwined with the expansion of a credit system dependent on paper instruments and the development of property law—in Great Britain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Utilizing an interdisciplinary methodology grounded in art history and combined with legal, literary, colonial, and convict studies, it examines the extent to which Australian art—whose historiography has, since colonization, self-consciously orbited around the binaries of original and copy, center and periphery—originated in a culture of forgery.

Lecturer, Art, Design, and Architecture, Monash University  -  Forger—Convict—Artist: The Criminalisation of Forgery and Colonial Australian Art, 1788-1868

Steffen Zierholz
Steffen Zierholz  |  Abstract
This project focuses on early seventeenth-century depictions of demons in connection to the use of copper and stone as support media, concentrating on the scientific networks of Italian, Flemish, and Dutch painters who lived in Naples, whether permanently or temporarily. Considering this Neapolitan context as a center of knowledge, the study explores the early modern understanding of copper and stone in the natural sciences, including demonology, mineralogy, metallurgy, mining, and quarrying, to demonstrate that, in creating demonic representations, the artists consciously explored and employed their scientific understanding of these materials, their medium-specificity, and, in the case of painting on stone, the aesthetic structure of its natural pattern.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Art History, Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Italy  -  Demons, Minerals, and Media-Specificity: The Subterranean as a Productive Force in Early Modern Naples

Angelina Lucento
Angelina Lucento  |  Abstract
“Moving the Masses” constitutes the first book-length study of the influence of modern painting on the evolution of early twentieth-century visual culture and mass media communication in general. From their inception, the leftist modernisms that moved across East Central Europe and the Soviet Union in the wake of the October Revolution emphasized that the future of politically radical, collectivist movements depend on the ability of art, and specifically figurative realist painting, to infiltrate the technical means of mass media production. By focusing on the history of these movements, “Moving the Masses” shows that the unique material and affective properties of painting played as critical a role in the evolution of modern visual culture as photography and film. In so doing, the project offers new perspectives on both politically engaged modern art and the broader history of the painterly medium within twentieth- and twenty-first-century communication culture.

Assistant Professor, History and Art History, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russia  -  Moving the Masses: Painting and Communication from Budapest to Bishkek, 1918-1941

Daniel Michael Zolli
Daniel Michael Zolli  |  Abstract
“Donatello’s Promiscuous Technique” is the first book-length study devoted to that sculptor’s lifelong preoccupation with material experimentation. Specifically, it recuperates a set of practical commitments in the culture of Donatello’s workshop: a culture that fostered unprecedented traffic between media and across professional boundaries, and which was amply theorized in popular oral traditions, especially shop talk. The study thus offers a new approach to fifteenth-century Italy’s foremost sculptor by drawing attention away from his well-known intellectual influences and considering instead how his unusual approach to facture arose from concerns particular to his artisanal milieu. It also reshapes narratives about artistic innovation at the dawn of Italian modernity, demonstrating that new representational possibilities in the period were not only the consequence of individual accomplishment, or of the fine arts’ intellectual separation from craft traditions, but also of collaborative transfers of skill and craft know-how between makers.

Assistant Professor, Art History, Pennsylvania State University  -  Donatello’s Promiscuous Technique: Experimentation and Collaboration in an Italian Renaissance Workshop