Lives: Biography and Autobiography in New Writing on American Art

Amalie Boye's picture
June 3, 2021
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Fine Arts, Humanities

The John F. Kennedy Institute of American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, and the Terra Foundation for American Art are pleased to invite you to this year’s Berlin Terra symposium, Lives: Biography and Autobiography in New Writing on American Art which will be delivered online via Webex on June 3, 2021, 4.00 pm - 8.15 pm (Central European Summer Time). (USA start times: 7:00 am PDT/8:00 am MDT/9:00 am CDT/10:00 am EDT.)

The origins of art history privileged the artist’s biography in the explanation and interpretation of artworks, but such narratives came to be rejected for their heroic and exclusionary narratives of the exceptionalism and isolated genius. In their place, questions of historical, social, and intellectual context took precedence, and the writing of an artist’s life came to seem conservative and unconnected to larger social, political, and aesthetic concerns. However, recent art historical scholarship has found a renewed interest in the details of the lives of artists as embedded in their social and artistic worlds, and these new approaches aim to create a more equitable and diverse narrative of art’s many histories. Biography and autobiography have come to be newly relevant as art history struggles with its legacies of exclusion based on race, gender, sexuality, class, and ability. This symposium will showcase some new biographical and autobiographical approaches to writing American art’s histories, with a view toward the ways in which the life experiences of artists and writers afford opportunities for counternarratives and new ways of understanding the diverse histories of American art. Lives: Biography and Autobiography in New Writing on American Art brings together scholars and curators who discuss the intertwinement and intersectionality of artists’ life experiences with the work they produced from them. 

Speakers include C. Ondine Chavoya, Joan Kee, Cyle Metzger, and Helen Molesworth. It is convened by David J. Getsy, 2020-2021 Terra Foundation Professor of American Art.

Please visit the event website for a detailed schedule and log-in details:

The symposium is free and open to the public. No registration required. Event language is English. 


Contact Info: 

Amalie Boye

Terra Student Assistant, John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin

Contact Email: