Svetlana Alpers

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Svetlana Leontief Alpers (born February 10, 1936 [1] ) is an American art historian, also a professor, writer and critic. [2] Her specialty is Dutch Golden Age painting, a field she revolutionized with her 1984 book The Art of Describing. [3] She has also written on Tiepolo, Rubens, Bruegel, and Velázquez, among others. [4]

Professor academic rank at universities and other post-secondary education and research institutions in most countries

Professor is an academic rank at universities and other post-secondary education and research institutions in most countries. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences, a teacher of the highest rank.

Writer person who uses written words to communicate ideas and to produce works of literature

A writer is a person who uses written words in various styles and techniques to communicate their ideas. Writers produce various forms of literary art and creative writing such as novels, short stories, poetry, plays, screenplays, and essays as well as various reports and news articles that may be of interest to the public. Writers' texts are published across a range of media. Skilled writers who are able to use language to express ideas well, often contribute significantly to the cultural content of a society.

Critic professional who makes a living communicating their opinions and assessments of various forms of creative work

A critic is a professional who communicates an assessment and an opinion of various forms of creative works such as art, literature, music, cinema, theater, fashion, architecture, and food. Critics may also take as their subject social or government policy. Critical judgments, whether derived from critical thinking or not, weigh up a range of factors, including an assessment of the extent to which the item under review achieves its purpose and its creator's intention and a knowledge of its context. They may also include a positive or negative personal response.


Education and career

Svetlana Alpers received her B.A. from Radcliffe College in 1957 and a Ph.D.from Harvard in 1965. [1] She was a professor of art history at the University of California at Berkeley from 1962 to 1998, and by 1994 she was named Professor Emerita. [1]

Radcliffe College former womens college in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Radcliffe College was a women's liberal arts college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and functioned as the female coordinate institution for the all-male Harvard College. It was also one of the Seven Sisters colleges, among which it shared with Bryn Mawr College, Wellesley College, Smith College, and others the popular reputation of having a particularly intellectual, literary, and independent-minded female student body. Radcliffe conferred Radcliffe College diplomas to undergraduates and graduate students for the first 70 or so years of its history and then joint Harvard-Radcliffe diplomas to undergraduates beginning in 1963. A formal "non-merger merger" agreement with Harvard was signed in 1977, with full integration with Harvard completed in 1999. Today, within Harvard University, Radcliffe's former administrative campus is home to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and former Radcliffe housing at the Radcliffe Quadrangle has been incorporated into the Harvard College house system. Under the terms of the 1999 consolidation, the Radcliffe Yard and the Radcliffe Quadrangle retain the "Radcliffe" designation in perpetuity.

Harvard University private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with about 6,700 undergraduate students and about 15,250 post graduate students. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the United States' oldest institution of higher learning, and its history, influence, and wealth have made it one of the world's most prestigious universities.

In 1983 Alpers co-founded the interdisciplinary journal Representations with American literary critic Stephen Greenblatt. [5]

Academic journal peer-reviewed periodical relating to a particular academic discipline

An academic or scholarly journal is a periodical publication in which scholarship relating to a particular academic discipline is published. Academic journals serve as permanent and transparent forums for the presentation, scrutiny, and discussion of research. They are usually peer-reviewed or refereed. Content typically takes the form of articles presenting original research, review articles, and book reviews. The purpose of an academic journal, according to Henry Oldenburg, is to give researchers a venue to "impart their knowledge to one another, and contribute what they can to the Grand design of improving natural knowledge, and perfecting all Philosophical Arts, and Sciences."

Stephen Greenblatt American literary critic, theorist and scholar

Stephen Jay Greenblatt is an American Shakespearean, literary historian, and author. He has served as the John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University since 2000. Greenblatt is the general editor of The Norton Shakespeare (2015) and the general editor and a contributor to The Norton Anthology of English Literature.

In 2007 she collaborated with artists James Hyde and Barney Kulok on a project entitled Painting Then for Now. The project consists of 19 photographic prints based on the suite of three paintings by Giambattista Tiepolo that hang at the top of the main staircase in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The project was exhibited at David Krut Gallery, NY. [6] Six of the prints were later acquired for the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. [7] [8]

Barney Kulok is an American artist and photographer who lives and works in New York City. Kulok earned a Bachelor of Arts from Bard College in 2005. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at the Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, Wentrup Gallery (Berlin), Elizabeth Kaufmann Galerie and de Pury & Luxembourg (Zurich), Shinsegae Gallery, and Galerie Hussenot (Paris), where he is represented.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Art museum in New York City, New York

The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City, colloquially "the Met", is the largest art museum in the United States. With 7.06 million visitors to its three locations in 2016, it was the third most visited art museum in the world, and the fifth most visited museum of any kind. Its permanent collection contains over two million works, divided among seventeen curatorial departments. The main building, on the eastern edge of Central Park along Museum Mile in Manhattan 's Upper East Side is by area one of the world's largest art galleries. A much smaller second location, The Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, contains an extensive collection of art, architecture, and artifacts from Medieval Europe. On March 18, 2016, the museum opened the Met Breuer museum at Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side; it extends the museum's modern and contemporary art program.

Museum of Modern Art Art museum in New York, N.Y.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is an art museum located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

In Spring 2014 Alpers was made an officier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Republique Francaise. On May 28, 2015, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by Harvard University. [9]

Critical responses

In a critical review of Rembrandt's Enterprise: The Studio and the Market, for conservative magazine The New Criterion , Hilton Kramer described it as an emblematic event "As far as the study of art history is concerned" and more particularly, what has gone wrong with it". He argues that it attacks Rembrandt for "having commodified himself by virtue of having painted and marketed his own self-portraits". He describes a debt to Fredric Jameson's "Postmodernism and Consumer Society", with "Professor Alpers's "Rembrandt" coming to resemble an artist like Andy Warhol, the most successful "entrepreneur of the self". He accuses Alpers of removing the greatest art categorically from the realm of aesthetics, using it as "just another counter in the dialectic of material culture. Such, too, is the dismal fate of art history when the study of art is no longer its primary concern." [10]

<i>The New Criterion</i> magazine

The New Criterion is a New York-based monthly literary magazine and journal of artistic and cultural criticism, edited by Roger Kimball and James Panero. It has sections for criticism of poetry, theater, art, music, the media, and books. It was founded in 1982 by Hilton Kramer, former art critic for The New York Times, and Samuel Lipman, a pianist and music critic. The name is a reference to The Criterion, a British literary magazine edited by T. S. Eliot from 1922 to 1939.

Hilton Kramer was an American art critic and essayist.

Fredric Jameson American academic

Fredric Jameson is an American literary critic and Marxist political theorist. He is best known for his analysis of contemporary cultural trends, particularly his analysis of postmodernity and capitalism. Jameson's best-known books include Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991) and The Political Unconscious (1981).

Personal life

Svetlana Leontief was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was the only child of Wassily Leontief, a political refugee from the Soviet Union and Nobel laureate economist who pioneered computer modeling, and the poet Estelle Marks. In 1958 she married and changed her last name to Alpers. [1]


Selected publications

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  2. Ross, Alex (1999). "Stanford Presidential Lectures in the Humanities and the Arts, Svetlana Alpers". Stanford University. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
  3. Shone, Richard and Stonard, John-Paul, eds.. The Books That Shaped Art History: From Gombrich and Greenberg to Alpers and Krauss, chapter 14. London: Thames & Hudson, 2013.
  4. "Svetlana Alpers Professor Emerita - UC Berkeley History of Art Department". Retrieved 2015-10-10.
  5. "Editorial Board | Representations". Retrieved 2015-10-10.
  6. "Painting Then For Now. Fragments of Tiepolo". Retrieved 2015-10-10.
  7. "Svetlana Alpers | MoMA". Retrieved 2015-10-10.
  8. "School of Visual Arts presents Svetlana Alpers, James Hyde and Barney Kulok | Art & Education". Art & Education. Retrieved 2015-10-10.
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  19. "Scholars | College Art Association | CAA | Advancing the history, interpretation, and practice of the visual arts for over a century". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
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Works cited