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Benjamin West Lecture

2022 Benjamin West Lecture in Art History poster. Guest lecturer is Professor Charlene Villasenor Black from UCLA

The Benjamin West Lecture, made possible by gifts from members of the Class of 1905 and other friends of the College, is given annually on some phase of art. It is the outgrowth of the Benjamin West Society, which built up a collection of paintings, drawings, and prints that are exhibited, as space permits, in the buildings on campus. The lecture was named for the American artist who was born in a house that stands on the campus and became president of the Royal Academy.

2021-2022 Benjamin West Lecture:

Wednesday, April 13, 2022
Kohlberg Hall, Scheuer Room

Please view a video of the lecture below:

Professor Charlene Villaseñor Black, University of California, Los Angeles
Art and Radical Hospitality

What is the role of art and artists in the face of human suffering? This lecture considers that question, focusing on Chicana (Mexican American) artist Sandy Rodriguez’s 2019 installation You Will Not Be Forgotten. Dwelling on her series of seven portraits of Central American children who died in US Customs and Border Protection in 2018 and 2019, I contextualize her art in relation to global migration crises. Investigation of Rodriguez’s work in relation to historical precedents and contemporary Latinx art, as well as theories of memory, postmemory, and trauma, elucidates the power of art to inspire empathy. How can art enact radical hospitality?

Charlene Villaseñor Black is Professor of Art History and Chicana/o and Central American Studies Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, editor of Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, and founding editor-in-chief of Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture. She publishes on a range of topics related to the early modern Iberian world, Chicanx studies, and contemporary Latinx art. Her books include including Creating the Cult of St. Joseph: Art and Gender in the Spanish Empire (2006); Renaissance Futurities: Art, Science, Invention (2019); and The Chicano Studies Reader (2020), among others. Her latest book, Transforming Saints: From Spain to New Spain, is forthcoming from Vanderbilt University Press in July 2022. In 2016 she was awarded UCLA’s Gold Shield Faculty Prize for Academic Excellence. She has held grants from the Fulbright, Mellon, Borchard, and Woodrow Wilson Foundations, the NEH, the ACLS, and the Getty. Currently, she is the Terra Foundation Visiting Professor of American Art at the University of Oxford (2021-22).

Past Benjamin West Lectures:

  • 2020-2021
    Professor T.J. Demos, University of California, Santa Cruz
    Racial Capitalocene: Visual Cultures and Abolitionist Ecologies

  • 2017–2018
    Professor Kellie Jones, Columbia University
    Women and the Dreamwork
  • 2016–2017
    Professor Paul Jaskot, DePaul College of LAS
    Mapping German Architecture in an Era of Crisis (1914-1924): Digital Methods for Art Historical Work
  • 2015–2016
    Professor Elizabeth W. Hutchinson, Barnard College/Columbia University, NYC
    Seeing Sovereignty in Early Portraits of Native Americans
  • 2014–2015
    Dr. Susan Walker, Sackler Keeper, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
    Crossing Cultures, Crossing Time: New Displays for Historic Collections at the Ashmolean Museum
  • 2013–2014
    Dr. Renata Holod, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Professor in the History of Art 
    On Interiors and the Regimes of Lighting: Vision in the Mosque of Cordoba
  • 2012–2013
    Critical Histories of Modern Architecture and the Built Environment
    Kathleen James-Chakraborty, University of Dublin
    From the Bauhaus in Calcutta to the Swiss Minaret Debate: Who Wants Modern Architecture and Why?
    Alice Friedman, Wellesley College
    American Glamour and the Evolution of Modern Architecture
    Zeynep Celik, New Jersey Institute of Technology
    Archaeologistsí Palaces, Indigenous Villages, & Life at the Dig Swati Chattopadhyay, University of California, Santa Barbara City and Country in South Asia
  • 2011–2012
    Steven LeBlanc, Peabody Museum, Harvard University
    Individuals, Specialization, and Prehistoric Pottery
  • 20102011
    William Wallace, Washington University

    Writing Michelangelo's Biography
  • 20092010
    Margaret S. Nesbit, Vassar College

    Gordon Matta-Clark in Italy
  • 20072008
    Leo Steinberg

    O! Say, Can You See?
  • 20062007
    Richard Meyer, University of Pennsylvania

    What Was Contemporary Art?
  • 2005–2006
    Masatomo Kawai, Keio University
    Tea Ceremony as Environment: Historical Considerations on the Display and Reception of Japanese Art
  • 20042005
    John Clark, University of Texas at Austin

    Power Over the Other — or the Other's Power? Laughing at the ‘Pygmy’ and the ‘Black’
  • 2003–004
    Stephen J. Campbell, Johns Hopkins University

    Decentering Rome:  Mantegna, Correggio and the Gonzaga
  • 2002–2003
    Joan Brenton Connelly, New York University

    Beyond the Icon: The Parthenon and Its Sculptured Frieze
  • 2001–2002
    Samuel Y. Edgerton, Williams College

    The Cross and The Tree; The Arch and The Cave
  • 2000–2001
    Cècile Whiting ’80, UCLA
    Pop Outside Manhattan/Inside L.A.
  • 1999–2000
    Madeline Caviness, Tufts University

    Norman Knights, Anglo-Saxon Women, and the Third Sex: Re-evaluating Gender in the Bayeux Tapestry
  • 1997–1998
    Joseph Leo Koerner, Harvard University
    Reformation Portraits & the Routines of Modern Belief
  • 1996–1997
    Rowland Abiodun, Amherst College

    What follows six is more than seven
  • 1995–1996
    Carol Armstrong, Graduate Center, CUNY

    Julia Margaret Cameron and the Feminization of Photography
  • 1994–1995
    Michael Camille, University of Chicago

    Illuminating Philosophy:  Art and Science at the Medieval University
  • 1993–1994
    Norman Bryson, Harvard University

    Orientalism and Occidentalism
  • 1992–1993
    Suzanne Preston Blier, Columbia University

    The Danger of Art: Anomie, Alchemy, and African Vodun
  • 1991–1992
    Madeline Caviness, Tufts University

    The Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux: A Medieval Discourse of Sexuality
  • 1990–1991
    Michael Fried, The Johns Hopkins University

    Manet in his Generation
  • 1989–1990
    Eunice Lipton, 
    Imagining a Woman's Life: The Case of Victorine Meurent
  • 1988–1989
    Esin Atil, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

    Origins of Islamic Iconography
  • 1987–1988
    Robert Herbert, Yale University

    Impressionism and Tourism Along the Channel Coast
  • 1986–1987
    Irene Winter, Harvard University

    Reading Concepts of Space from Ancient Mesopotamian Monuments 
  • 1985–1986
    Robert Venturi, Architect

    Current Works and Ideas
  • 1984–1985
    Ernst Kitzinger, Harvard University

    A Donor Portrait in Norman Sicily and its Byzantine Context
  • 1983–1984
    Richard Brilliant, Columbia University

    On Portraits: Modes of Representation
  • 1982–1983
    James Cahill, University of California, Berkeley

    Quickness & Spontaneity in Chinese Ptg: The Ups and Downs of an Ideal 
  • 1981–1982
    Albert Elsen, Stanford University

    In Rodin's Studio: The Sculptor and the Photographers
  • 1980–1981
    George Kubler, Yale University

    A Sixteenth Century Meaning of the Escorial
  • 1979–1980
    Meyer Schapiro, Columbia University

    The South Tower of Chartres Cathedral
  • 1978–1979
    Colin Eisler, Institute of Fine Arts

    Titian's Marsyas: Art's Martyr
  • 1977–1978
    Alfred Frazer, Columbia University

    The Emperor Claudius as Architect
  • 1976–1977
    James Ackerman, Harvard University

    Michelangelo's Religion
  • 1975–1976
    Oleg Grabar, Harvard University

    The Meaning of Ornament in Islamic Art
  • 1974–1975
    Vincent Scully, Yale University

    Modern Architecture
  • 1973–1974
    Helen Frankenthaler

    Helen Frankenthaler Presents Her Work
  • 1972–1973
    Irving Lavin, New York University

    Bernini's Chapel of Saint Theresa in Santa Maria Vittoria, Rome
  • 1971–1972
    Leo Steinberg, Hunter College, CUNY

    Picasso at Large, or The Art of Being Everywhere
  • 1970–1971
    Andrew Sarris, Columbia University and Village Voice

  • 1969–1970
    Michael Sullivan, Standord University

    The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art
  • 1968–1969
    John Rosenfield, Harvard University

    Classical and Pre-Classical in North Indian Sculpture
  • 1967–1968
    Lotte Brand Philip, Queens College, CUNY

    The Ghent Altarpiece: A New Solution to an Old Problem
  • 1966–1967
    Seymour Slive, Harvard University

    Rembrandt's Self-Portraits