David Young Kim

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Assistant Professor of History of Art
306 Jaffe Building
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David Young Kim is Assistant Professor in the Department of History of Art at Penn.  He teaches and researches Southern Renaissance art, with focus on the issues of cross-cultural exchange, geography, art literature, and material culture. He received his B.A. in English and French literature from Amherst College (1999) and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard (2009), in addition to attending the Humboldt University in Berlin and the Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7. Before joining the Penn faculty in 2013, he was a postdoctoral faculty fellow (wissenschaftlicher Assistent) at the University of Zurich in Switzerland (2009-2013) and a visiting faculty member at the Universidade Federal de São Paulo in Brazil (2011-2013).  He has held residential fellowships at Villa I Tatti, The Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies and the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz-Max Planck Institut

His book The Traveling Artist in the Italian Renaissance: Geography, Mobility, and Style was published by Yale University Press in 2014. It explores sixteenth-century discourse concerning artists’ travels and the impact of that travel on artistic process, in particular on stylistic change. More broadly, the book examines artists’ journeys in relation to Renaissance ideas concerning geography, the environment, the act of creation, and selfhood.  He has also published essays on cartographic images of the New World, the horror of realistic images, cross-cultural exchange in the Mediterranean, the reception of Gentile Bellini’s sojourn at the Ottoman court, and architectural representation. He has edited a volume of essays entitled Matters of Weight: Force, Gravity, and Aesthetics in the Early Modern Era (Berlin: Edition Imorde, 2013) which examines the theory and exploitation of weight as an aesthetic category in works of art, 1350-1700.

His current book project, titled Groundwork, examines how grounds and backgrounds in Italian Renaissance art engage changing ideas about materiality, pictorial composition, artistic selfhood, and the representational aims of the painting medium, 1400-1600. Other research projects include: an essay on Lorenzo Lotto’s carpets, a study of Giorgio Vasari’s technical treatise, an edited translation of Cristoforo Sorte’s Osservazione nella pittura (1580) from the perspective of environmental criticism, and an essay on the use of masks in Mannerist painting. 

Born in the United States to Korean immigrants to São Paulo, he is also developing a secondary teaching and research field in the global art of the Lusophone world, with emphasis upon the notion of utopia in early modern Brazil.  At Penn, he is spearheading a series of global initiatives with partner institutions to establish collaboration possibilities for graduate students, doctoral candidates, and faculty pursuing early modern research topics in the History of Art department. 




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