Undergraduate Travel Research ReportsAdriana Romo Research Report
Whitney Museum and Archives of American Art in New York
Artist Jay DeFeo
Throughout my research trip, I realized that the most important part of this thesis is trying to see primary sources and articles that talk about Jay DeFeo’s The Rose directly. Since I was not able to see the piece in person due to storage and display constraints, the Whitney Museum allowed me to do research in its library, as well as see the books and exhibition catalogues that included The Rose. The Archives of American Art also allowed me to look through the artist file of Jay DeFeo, as well as have an intimate look in her personal collection of documents, correspondence, and photographs.
Altogether, my research trip was beneficial to my thesis writing because I was able to see what I wanted to focus my attention on for the rest of this quarter. At the Whitney Museum Library, I was able to read information from articles and catalogues that were exclusively in Jay DeFeo’s artist folder. These documents outline important information about The Rose and specifically a response to the way in which the painting was perceived.
The Rose is described as a mysterious piece, one that stands alone, and completely immersed Jay DeFeo for years and affected her pieces after its completion. Some authors read the after effects as a form of enlightenment, where she had to leave the painting techniques which she used prior, and worked her way through different mediums because the aftershock of the creation of The Rose was too much to handle again. Others speak of the growth that Jay DeFeo had before its creation and they base their theories on the fact that her style became more refined. As for the way in which these articles helped me shape my thesis, they gave me a very specific way of viewing her art style as a link between her works prior and after The Rose’s creation.
At the Archives of American Art, I was able to see documentation of her life, as well as get a glimpse of the lifestyle that she led and other works of art that she created. The artist file that the Archives of American Art was extensive and included about 30 individual folders of photographs, collages, biographical information, financial documents, and her personal correspondence. The way in which this material shaped my thesis was significant.
I was able to see the artistic community that she lived in, the places she traveled to, and the people who supported her work. I learned that she was in a constant struggle with The Rose, after reading through her financial documents and correspondence. She elevated her piece because she considered it the most important work that she created in her lifetime. There were issues about the buyers, the restoration and conservation of the piece, and where it would ultimately end up.
The countless letters to her artist friends, the various institutions interested in the piece, and the art dealers that were trying to place the work of art in a prestigious institution, made up the majority of Jay DeFeo’s correspondence. She fought for the piece, protected it, and always stated that she wanted it to be safe, be restored properly, and be housed in an institution that truly believed in the importance of The Rose.
I can personally say that The Rose has made an impact on me, and this research trip allowed me to be able to see the importance of the piece, as well as tie in the spiritual aspects that surrounded it by getting a glimpse of the world that surrounded Jay DeFeo before and after its creation. I also benefited from the texts that were written about DeFeo as an artist, as well as the articles and catalogues that described The Rose in different ways because I am now able to pinpoint the importance of the piece, as well as the effect that it had when it was displayed and the reactions that various people had to its presence in an institution.
Jasmin Pannier (Ad)dressing Afghanistan Photography and the Ethnic ‘Type’ Genre University of Minnesota UCI Art History Research Travel Report
I would first like to thank my thesis advisor Associate Professor Alka Patel. Without her assistance and involvement with my project, this research trip would never have been fully realized or accomplished. I would also like to thank the Art History department at the University of California Irvine for its financial support as well as the insight and expertise of the faculty, which greatly assisted my research and made my travels possible.
In March 2017, I was able to travel to Minneapolis, Minnesota for several days to conduct research at the Ames Library Collection at the University of Minnesota. My time in Minneapolis was highly productive and the rare item collection housed in the Ames basement proved extremely valuable to my research. The expansiveness of the collection at the University of Minnesota directly related to my area of research, which is focused on early commercial photography, the intended audience, and the role of costume in the process of creating an ethnic type.
Many of the primary sources that I examined were not fully cataloged or examined in detail, so one of the projects I undertook to become familiar with the objects was to create a detailed catalog entry. Setting up a catalog entry not only benefited the library but also allowed me to see overlapping patterns in the costume depictions of Afghanistan. The library associates were very patient, helpful, and provided much support as I combed through their collection. Introduction The relationship between photographer and subject in nineteenth-century photographs of Afghanistan operates as a component of identity construction. To date, this interaction is theorized in terms of power between the photographer and the colonial apparatus and results in labels such as orientalist, colonializing, and ethnographic. I propose an additional perspective that places consumer interests in costume at the forefront of image construction.
While Western photographers have left us with a perception of nineteenth-century Afghanistan, the social and economic impetus of these images require further analysis. An examination of British cultural and photographic practices reveals the role clothes played in the creation of the ethnic ‘type.’ My research addresses these principal themes: the continuities between photographic and pre-photographic visualities; the relationship between European cultural attitudes, the creation of costume books, and reception of commercial photography; how visual information was repurposed and influenced the development of anthropology as a discipline.
The importance of studying costume and costume books in the nineteenth century is instrumental to understanding Europe’s transition to a culture focused on classification and commodification. Costume books not only allowed for the creation of a consumable ‘type’ in photography, they also permit us to examine the actual mechanics of commodification. Catalog Entry Characters and Costumes of Afghanistan Author/Creator: Captain Lockyer Willis Hart (1804-1847), James Atkinson (1780-1852), and Charles Haghe (-1888) Creation Date: 1843 Publisher: Henry Graves and Company, Publishers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, and His Royal Highness Prince Albert, 6, Pall Mall Bio./History
Note: James Atkinson was an accomplished Persian scholar, born in the county of Durham, 9 March 1780. After studying medicine at Edinburgh and London, he accepted the post of medical officer on board an East Indiaman, and in 1805 was appointed an assistant surgeon in the Bengal service, and placed in medical charge of the station of Backergunj, near Dacca. Atkinson's Persian translations are his chief title to fame, and of these his selections from the ‘Shâh Nâmeh’ of Firdausi are the most notable, inasmuch as they were the first attempt to make the great Persian ‘Epic of Kings’ familiar to English readers.
Physical Description: 26 lithographic prints in one publication; a description of plates; map of Afghanistan; prints 25.5 x 38.5 cm Summary: The publication depicts 26 lithographic prints by Charles Hague from original sketches by Captain Lockyer Willis Hart, of the 22nd Bombay Native Infantry and Dr James Atkinson, Superintending Surgeon of the Army of the Indus. The book is comprised of scenes of everyday life in Afghanistan, historical landmarks, tribal groups, occupational portraits, street scenes, and specific Afghani leaders. The publication opens up with the reader entering Afghanistan through the Khyber pass in northeast Afghanistan. The title is followed by images that trace a journey from the south of Afghanistan through Kuchee, Kandahar, Guznee, Cabul, and all the way north to Kondooz. The twenty-six images are accompanied with both identification and caption describing who the figures or groups are.
Images (in Order): Kurachee, lower sinde-A Sindian and attendants State Barge of the Umeers of Sinde-a Sindian woman-priest and soldier-ancient castle of Sehwun on the Indus Dadur-Hajee Ebrahim, commandant of the Bolan Rangers, and men of the Brahooee tribe Kaukers of the Bolan Range Fort of Killeh Abdooleh, troopers of the Auchukzye horse A Dooranee noble and his attendant at the Palace, Candahar Fort of Kelat-e-Giljee, a chieftan and female of the Giljee tribe and Huzzareh peasants Exterior of the tomb of Sultan Mahmood, Gunzee-Abdool Rusheed Khan-Yacoob Beg, Toorkumun, ambassador from Khiva to Cabul Interior of the Tomb of Sultan Mahmood, Gunzee-Khan Sheeren Khan, Chief of the Juwansheer Kuzzilbashes-Hajee Khan, Kauker Shah Shoojau Ool Moolk 1) Meer Alum Khan, Umleh Bashee 2) Dost Mahomed Khan, Chaoosh Bashee 3) Meer Alee, Umleh Bashee 4) Surfuraz Khan, Rikab Bashee *Officers of the kings household Umeer Dost Mahomed Khan Aga Jan, an officer of the Kohistan Rangers-Meer Humzu, trooper of the first regiment, Janbaz Cavalry-a sejeant of Affghan infantry-Ahmed Khan, private Kohistan Rangers Cabul-a Fulloodeh stall, with Huzzarehs carrying snow, &c., to market Castle of Zohauk-i-Maran-the British commandant of Shah Shoojau’s second Janbaz cavalry, and Affghan troopers of the Corps. Bameean. Tajuks of Bameean and the Kohistan Mahomed Umeen Khan-Walee of Khooloom, with his minister and attendants Cabul-retinue of Shah Shoojau Ool Moolk-Mahomed Shah Giljee, chief executioner, Ghufoor, a mutilator Cabul, Affghan and Kuzzilbash ladies Cabul, a “Kuttar” or string of blind beggars Cabaub shop-Cabul Atmaram, prime minister of the chief of Koondooz-Naib Mahomed Shuree-Ghoolam Mahomed, Barakzye-Jan Fishan Khan, Pergamee-the plain of Begram, Reg Ruwan and part of the Kohistan Perganeh, near Istalif-Huzzareh’s firing with Juzzaeels Jellalabad-Sidar Mahomed Ukbar Khan The newphew of Dost Mahomed Khan, on the celebrated horse “Koh-i-Noor,” or the Mountain of Light The Sandalwood Gates of Somnauth Languages: English Notes: Image sixteen depicts the Bamiyan Buddhas in the background; interestingly, the historic landscape is not included in the description of the ethnic group. Form/Genre: lithographic prints-Afghanistan-19th century publication (book)-Afghanistan-19th century-sketches-Afghanistan-19th century lithographs Subjects: Afghan Wars, Buddhist Shrines-Afghanistan, Kandahar, Kabul, Costume-Character-Afghanistan, Hart, Atkinson, Haghe, Tomb-Afghanistan-Palace, Group portraits-Afghan tribes, 19th century-First Anglo-Afghan War Sources Examined A ride through Islam : being a journey through Persia and Afghanistan to India viâ Meshed, Herat, and Kandahar. Hippisley Cunliffe MarshLondon : Tinsley Bros. 1877 Letter : to "my own precious darling wife", Camp Kandahar, Afghanistan, 1880 Mar. 24.C. W Griffith. Ames Library manuscript collection. 1880 The costumes of the various tribes, portraits of ladies of rank, celebrated princes and chiefs, views of the principal fortresses and cities, and interior of the cities and temples of Afghanistan. James Rattray 1790-1862. London : Hering & Remington 1848 The expedition into Afghanistan ; notes and sketches descriptive of the country. James Atkinson 1780-1852. London : W. H. Allen & co. 1842. India, comprising a view of the Afghaun nation, and a history of the Dooraunee monarchy. Mountstuart Elphinstone 1779-1859. New and rev. ed.. London : Bentley 1839 Character & costumes of Afghanistan. Lockyer Willis Hart; James Atkinson 1780-1852.; Charles Haghe -1888, London : Henry Graves & Co. 1843 Private journal of Henry Francis Brooke : late brigadier-general commanding 2nd infantry brigade, Kandahar Field Force, southern Afghanistan, from April 22nd to August 16th 1880. Henry Francis Brooke 1836-1880.; Annie Brooke. Dublin : William Curwen 1881 The textile manufactures and the costumes of the people of India. J. Forbes Watson (John Forbes), 1827-1892. London : Printed for the India Office, by G. E. Eyre and W. Spottiswoode 1866
Maps: Map of Afghanistan 1871. Survey of India. Temporary ed.. Calcutta : Survey of India 1872 Stanford's map of the seat of war in Afghanistan. Edward Stanford Ltd. London : Published by Edward Stanford, 55, Charing Cross 1880 Map of Afghanistan, Caubul, the Punjab, Rajpootana, and the River Indus. James Wyld 1812-1887. London : James Wyld 1842
Jenny Nguyen Travel Research Report
The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena
For my thesis, I am analyzing how the label, "Asian Art Collection," misrepresents and misinterprets the Asian objects displayed in the Norton Simon Museum. I used the travel funds to go to the Norton Simon Museum because one of the challenges I faced in my research was the lack of information and images available online about the Asian art galleries. Seeing the museum and walking through the galleries in person was helpful to me because I was able to take photographs of the galleries, and create a map of the gallery space, which I can use as a reference when writing my thesis. I was also able to experience and sit in the galleries and take notes about how the museum displayed the Asian art collection.
I compared my observations and experience in the Asian art galleries with Surbhi Bajaj's article, “The New Asian Galleries at the Norton Simon Museum: An Interview with Pratapaditya Pal," which discusses the Asian art galleries, redesigned by deconstructivist architect, Frank Gehry and scholar of Indian, Himalayan and South Asian art, Dr. Pratapaditya Pal. There were three main architectural features that I focused on when I was in the museum: the stairwell, the galleries, and the garden, which Pal also notes in Baja’s article.
The Asian art galleries are placed at the bottom level in comparison to the European and American art galleries. In order for visitors to get to the Asian art galleries, they must take a winding stairwell, which is used to transport them into a new and unfamiliar realm. Pal is content with the Asian art galleries on the lower floor because the stairwell connects the floors together. Another reason why Pal was content was that the stairwell follows a mandala pattern and is reminiscent of the domes of the stupas at Sanchi. The issue with this argument is that at the stupas of Sanchi, visitors would circumambulate the dome, which contained the remains of the Buddha, in a clockwise direction.
In the Norton Simon, the visitor does not walk around a dome. Instead, they walk around the stairwell, which contains information about the religions that were influential in South and Southeast Asia. After the visitor descends from the stairwell, the visitor enters the Asian art galleries. The galleries have an open floor plan, which offers easy access from room to room with columns spaced far apart to divide the floor, allowing accessibility through space. This open floor plan also allowed Pal to organized the objects to show the exchange of ideas in South and Southeast Asia. The objects are displayed together chronologically to show the similarities in aesthetics to reflect this trade.
The issue with organizing the objects like this is that it generalizes the Asian objects to look the same and ignores the individual country that the object originally came from. Behind the Asian art galleries is the Asian sculpture garden. The Asian sculpture garden was very frustrating to research because the overall aesthetics and design leaned more towards a patio space than a garden. The garden is small and does not have the same aesthetic and design as the European and American gardens. Pals placed the sculpture against the wall and in between are plants from Asia. This arrangement illustrates the generalization of Asia by placing together different objects and plants together because they all come from Asia.
Overall, traveling to the museum allowed me to collect information about the museum that I was not able to get online. Although Gehry and Pal wanted to create a space that included all Asian cultures and designed the galleries to emulate a sacred temple space, I concluded that this arrangement generalizes Asia to be timeless and coalesces Asian cultures together.
Nicole Block Travel Research Report
San Francisco’s SFMOMA and the Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena
California painter Sam Francis
For my Campuswide Honors Program senior thesis, I began by exploring the later works of the California painter Sam Francis, as I was interested in his work Free Floating Clouds (1980) at the Huntington Library and Gardens. I was also intrigued by the fact that his work was affiliated with the French art style that paralleled Abstract Expressionism, Tachisme. Tache means “blot,” a term I learned about in Professor Amy Powell’s Images By Chance class in 2016. I was interested in the notion that these random blots were created through chance techniques, but also entailed a degree of planning and intention. I was also interested in the ways in which they could be a symbol of the sublime.
I expanded my research to include artistic predecessors who depicted clouds, utilized abstraction to varying degrees, and achieved a similar sublime effect: J.M.W. Turner, Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe. To get a better understanding of these images beyond their digital representations, I traveled to several museums to view the works in person. I made arrangements with museum staff to see works that were not on view and saw a few within gallery spaces. In San Francisco, I visited the SFMOMA’s offsite storage to view Sam Francis’s Untitled (1978), another large scale abstract grid painting. I also saw seventeen of Alfred Stieglitz’s Equivalents in the new research center at SFMOMA’s main location.
In March, I drove to the Sam Francis Foundation in Pasadena to see some of their archival materials about Francis’s performance art, which involved planes trailing colored smoke, and photos of his studio space in the 1970s and 80s. I also visited the Huntington Library to observe Free Floating Clouds again. Later in the month, I travelled to Santa Fe, New Mexico to see works in the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum collection, including The Beyond (1972), Above the Clouds I (1962-63), and An Island with Clouds (1962) in the vault and Sky Above the Flat White Cloud II (1960-64) and a few of Alfred Stieglitz's Equivalents in the museum. I also attended a lecture by the museum curator, Carolyn Kastner, and received a tour of their research center and buildings. Additionally, I was able to tour O’Keeffe’s homes in Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch and take in the beautiful desert landscape she so often painted.
With the support of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and the Art History department I was able to see most of the works I discuss in my thesis. It’s an invaluable experience to see the works in person, to get a true sense of their scale and impact, as well as to observe more easily overlooked details. I feel much more comfortable writing about the works and speaking about them at the UROP Symposium after getting to interact with them in person and I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to do so.