Horace D. Ballard on the First Americas and Creative Intentionality – ARTnews.com

Portrait of Horace Ballard.
Photo Jessica Smolinski

I am a curator of pre-1900 American art. Right now we are in that moment in history where, out of necessity, we are questioning everything. Coming to this moment, as the first African American to hold the position, means to me that there are two things that I have to do very quickly: the first is to listen and, in doing so, to know Harvard Art. Museums, history and the people who enter and leave them every day, such as staff and team members; the second is to listen to where people want to go, where their dreams are, where the sticky and sticky places in history are, and see where collaboration and relationship building are possible. And I think so. The benefit of having someone new to this job is that I am open to understanding where we can go.

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Album pasted by William Burroughs.

In my research, I am interested in the borders and limits between things. I consider many different questions, among which, where do the British colonies end and where the Federal era begins; what is American and when did the United States begin to see itself as such, instead of being a confederation of states? what are the trade relations beyond the british and american colonies? I often consider 17th and 18th century trade between Mexico and Japan, and how these material goods, especially textiles and spices, made their way to the ports of Savannah, Baltimore, and then Philadelphia, as well as the history behind the fashion sale. goods and furniture in New York and Providence. I think of America’s early history at the continental level and look forward to bringing that perspective to the forefront at Harvard Art Museums, so every time we say “American” we are thinking beyond United States.

Bronzino: Portrait of a Young Man, ca.  1530s, Oil on wood, 37 5/8 by 29 1/2 inches.

Bronzino: Portrait of a young man, California. 1530s, Oil on wood, 37 5/8 by 29 1/2 inches.
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

I found the volume of Leanne Betasamosake Simpson Like we always have [2017] especially useful during the time of the United States’ national reckoning with the race last year. The author’s engagement with his own Indigenous community as well as critical race theory reminds readers to come to terms not only with healing and strength methodologies, but with deep pedagogies of resistance rooted in theorizing, thinking, organizing and writing. She specifies that everyone must be part of this resistance for the freedom of the Aboriginals, not just those who are directly affected. Ultimately, she reminds us that there are many ways to be an ally of the people of BIPOC, and one is simply to provide support as well as physical and mental space.

Right now, we are asking big questions about the mind and the space between people during the global pandemic. She PérezThe photographs of are deeply interested in the subtle interplay between physical environments, whether natural or man-made, and the intimacy expressed by humans in love, sex and friendship. Many of the moments depicted in the artist‘s exhibit “Devotions” at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh last summer were so genuinely honest it felt like coming home.

“The Medici: portraits and politics,recently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, showed how visual culture can be used to influence an entire society. It begins with the rise of the Italian banking family in the 16th century and shows how its members have legitimized themselves on the local, regional and then international scene. We will probably never see so many portraits of Medici, especially those of Raphael and Bronzino, gathered in the same place in our lifetime.

A golden-faced model walks around in a dress with a white top and dramatically flared orange bottom, and nude gloves.

Courtesy of Valentino

I used fashion as a loophole while writing my thesis five years ago. Thinking through fashion designs allowed me to think about how materials are used. The presentation of Valentino Spring / Summer 2021 Haute Couture Collection was filmed in an Italian villa, where he winked at natural elements such as sunlight, which reflected off mirrors, crystals and polished floors. The designs really picked up on a 21st century world with free flowing recycled materials, and yet everything was still lavish and radiant.

Ali Smith’s novel How to be both [2014] reminds me of what it’s like to walk through an art gallery. Half of the copies of the book begin with the ghost of a 15th-century Italian painter, while the others begin with a young woman who has just lost her mother. The woman, who recently fell in love for the first time, visits her mother’s favorite painting in a Renaissance palace in Italy. As the ghost painter meets the woman looking at his work, he tries to understand societal changes, such as the emergence of new gender norms. Both versions tell the full story, but changing the sequence of events affects the derived meaning.

—As said to Francesca Aton

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