HAA 259 - The Autobiographical in Art History





Shawon Kinew

“Ogni dipintore dipinge se”—every painter paints himself—is a Renaissance proverb that posited every artist would inevitably replicate himself in his artwork, try as he might to avoid this. In short, no artist can escape himself. Are art historians really any different? Can the highly subjective experience of art be rendered objectively? Always embedded in the third person is a perspective and worldview that is specific and individual. This seminar will explore those art historians and scholars who dared to use “I” in their writing. We will begin with Giorgio Vasari’s experiment in writing his own biography and proceed with writing that is unashamed in its subjectivity and/or disastrous at disguising it. This seminar is open to graduate and undergraduate students. Enrollment is limited. For consideration please submit two paragraphs (via my.harvard) outlining your interest in the topic and your broader interests in art history.