The study of nineteenth- and twentieth-century art at Penn comprises painting, graphic arts, sculpture, photography, optical devices, cinema, and architecture. Specialists in this period often collaborate in advising students who may choose to work on the art of Europe, America, East Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. We encourage interdisciplinary work and cross-border dialogues.
Karen Redrobe has written about and continues to explore the visual and audio-visual terrains of photography, stage magic, philosophical toys, and cinema. Kaja Silverman researches and teaches courses on time-based art and photography. Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw’s research illuminates major questions about American art from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries through the study of race, gender, sexuality, and class. Michael Leja’s work on nineteenth- and twentieth-century American art has charted the crosscurrents between popular culture and the making and reception of high art. André Dombrowski has written widely about French art of the late nineteenth century, with a special focus on its political and cultural meanings, but his interest covers all aspects of nineteenth-century European art and material culture, including new media, technology, science, and sexuality. Julie Nelson Davis specializes in the arts of modern Japan and is a leading scholar of the prints and paintings of Ukiyo-e, which chronicle life in Edo (modern-day Tokyo) from the eighteenth through the later nineteenth century.David Brownlee is a historian of European and American architecture and urbanism who has written about German neoclassicism, the English Gothic Revival, and the monumental architecture and city planning of America in the Progressive Era.
The study of nineteenth- and twentieth-century art at Penn is supported by faculty and colleagues in other departments and by close relationships with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and other regional institutions.