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History of Art & Architecture

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A MiddLab Project

Degas, Gauguin and the Theme of Isolation in Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Art

Learn more about French and the History of Art at Middlebury College.

Paul Gaugin and Edgar Degas were working side by side, though they had never collaborated on a project. In 1892, Gauguin took an unprecedented step in his career and completed the unfinished drawing of Degas titled Nude Woman Drying Herself. Degas and Gauguin are two of the most celebrated nineteenth-century French artists. Degas’ art focuses primarily on the urban Parisian figure, while Gauguin is more fascinated with the rural character, enhanced by his sojourns in both Brittany and Tahiti. What unites the two artists’ work is their fascination with the depiction of the human figure in intimate contexts and the theme of isolation. In nineteenth-century art, the capturing of private moments was not a theme exclusive to Gauguin and Degas; however, these two artists are linked by inextricable similarities in their art. My research focuses on these aforementioned similarities that scholars have yet to explore.

People

Anna Zauner
Researcher

John Hunisak
Sponsor &  Professor of History of Art & Architecture

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Beginning in the thirteenth-century, artists in Cologne created reliquary busts to contain the physical remains of Saint Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins. These reliquaries are visually unique because they are strikingly life-like and coney obvious feminine qualities. It is odd that the reliquaries’ approachable femininity is celebrated because women were often damned as the instigators of the original sin. With this central Christian idea in mind, it is therefore all the more surprising that Christians venerated Saint Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins, a group of female martyrs, whose reliquaries and legend have highly gendered characteristics. In my presentation, I explicated the significance of these reliquaries through examining the symbolism of the Passion of Saint Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins, the formation of the cult of their relics, and the meaning of these reliquary busts in late medieval society.

People

Elizabeth Hirsch
Researcher

Eliza Garrison
Sponsor and Assistant Professor of History of Art & Architecture

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Photographer James Welling’s career has variously explored ideas of transparency, color theory, and abstraction through his vibrant images. The most recent exhibition of Welling’s work, which debuted at the David Zwirner Gallery in early 2010, showcased his Glass House Series – a collection of digital images taken around the Connecticut estate of Phillip Johnson’s Glass House. The photographs are compelling not only for their technical use of cinema gels to extract monochromatic tones, but also for what architectural critic Sylvia Lavin describes as a “promiscuous transformation” of an American icon of orthodox modernism. Through a preoccupation with surface, reflection, fragmentation, and arbitrariness, Welling’s photographs arrive at a contemporary understanding of Johnson’s house. The argument will reference the series as a whole, but will discuss as an example the specific photograph that the Collecting Photography Now J-term class has recommended for acquisition by the Middlebury College Museum of Art.

People

Derek Matus
Researcher

Emmie Donadio
Sponsor & Chief Curator for the Middlebury College Museum of Art

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It is impossible to understand a nation’s motivations and actions without being familiar with its national identity and the circumstances that shaped it. In the early twentieth century, Germany and Italy were both governed by authoritarian regimes that intertwined extreme nationalism with fascist ideology. After WWII, each nation faced the difficult task of redefining the political, social, and ethical terms of its national identity. We ask the question “How did Italy and Germany come to terms with their fascist past, and to what extent is the legacy of fascism still alive in national discourse?” Our research, which uses Italian, German and English sources, shows that despite underlying similarities, each nation has taken a different approach to integrating their fascist past into national identity. We look, for example, at how Hitler and Mussolini are differently remembered and the effect of their political and cultural legacies. The larger aim of this presentation is to show how, generally speaking, memory is a key factor in national identity.

People

Ashley Litzenberger
Mark Turpin
Researchers

Natasha Chang
Sponsor & Professor of Italian

Natalie Eppelsheimer
Sponsor & Assistant Professor of German

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Team Middlebury College has earned the opportunity to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011, a competition which challenges students from around the world to design and build 100% solar-powered homes. In September 2011, our student-led team will be one of 20 finalists to erect a complete, fully-functioning, net zero-energy home on the National Mall in Washington D.C., facing competitors like Team China and Team California. The competition is a chance for our team to redefine the future of residential energy use and home design, and to educate large audiences about sustainable living. It is also an opportunity for students studying different disciplines to come together, work as a team, and gain real life experience that will prove invaluable when entering the job market. Currently, our team is comprised of more than 80 students from 20 different majors. We tackle challenges from how to use computer modeling to optimize a home’s energy system to how to educate the Middlebury community about green building. At the end of March, we began constructing our vision of the New England farmhouse, Self-Reliance, which is designed for a Vermont family of four. It features a green wall and ample public living space, as well as locally sources, environmentally friendly materials.

People

Spring Symposium Presenters

Benjamin Brown
Chester Curme
Astrid Schanz-Garbassi

Melissa Segil
Presenters

Faculty Advisors

Andrea Murray
Architecture Faculty Advisor & Visiting Lecturer in Architecture, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP

Ashar Nelson
Construction Faculty Advisor & Visiting Asst. Professor of Architecture

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Solar Decathlon Project Team

Students

RJ Adler, MEP Team
Benjamin Brown, Project Safety
Jesse Catalano, Graphic Design Lead
Alex Colucci, Interiors Team
Gwendolyn Cook, Interiors Team Lead
Carson Cornbrooks, Construction Team
Charlie Cotton, Site and Architecture Design Lead
Hilary Cunningham, Design Coordinator
Chester Curme, Student Engineering Lead
Evan Deutsch, Construction Team
John Dinning, Design Team
John Diebold, Scheduling Team
Peter DiPrinzio, Foundations Fundraising Lead
Emma Drucker, Communications
Mark Esposito, Materials Research Team
Erik Fendik, Revit Lead and Fire Watch Captain
Melake Getabecha, PV/Electrical Team
Addison Godine, Student Project Lead
Hilary Hall, Communications Team
Christine Hsieh, Schematic Designs
Alex Jopek, Construction Lead
Aaron Kelly, Electrical Lead
Jack Kerby-Miller, REVIT Team
James Knelman, Construction Skills Team
Wyatt Komarin, Architecture Co-Lead
Yen Le, Cost Estimation Co-Lead
Yangli Lenard Lim, Cost Estimation Lead
Afsana Liza, Logistics Team
Gillian Lui, Education Outreach
Bente Madson, Construction Team

Jake Manoukian, Construction & Security
Onelissa Martinez, Scheduling Team
Stanis Moody-Roberts, Architecture Team
Hannah Orcutt, Alumni & Parent Relations
John Portman, Interiors Team
Amanda Powers, Construction Team
Danny Powers, Logistics
Mathew Rojas, Landscape Team
Jay Saper, Creative Writing & Expression Lead
Astrid Schanz-Garbassi, Communications
Shane Scranton, Revit Lead
Melissa Segil, Team Manager
Camille Seyler, Education Lead
Ben Silton, PV/Electrical Team
Sarah Simonds, Landscape Design Team Lead
Martin Sweeney, Student Controller/Budget Manager
Chelsea Ward-Waller, Landscaping Team
Harrison Watkins, Scheduling Team
Ben Wessel, Policy & Activism
Daisy Zhuo, Energy Modeling Lead 

 

Faculty, Staff & Community Members

Abe Bendheim, Architecture Co-Lead and Construction Documentation Lead
Andrea Kerz-Murray, Lead Architecture Faculty Advisor
Ashar Nelson, Lead Construction Faculty Advisor
Lindsay Selin, Videographer
Sarah Franco, Special Projects Coordinator for the Vice President for Administration
Karen Maxon, Revit Maven

This research explores these markets from  cultural, geographic, political, and economic angles, concentrating on an aspect peculiar to each city. Thanks in part to its strategic crossroads location, the Antwerp market developed earliest, nurturing a dynamic, cosmopolitan scene. In Amsterdam, we shall also discuss financial difficulties that artists, notably Rembrandt, may have faced. Lastly, we shall leave the continent, venturing across the English Channel to roost in London, which itself came to showcase a glittering auction and art market, dominated by the royalty and aristocracy.

People

Sophia Wang
Researcher

Pieter Broucke
Professor of History of Art and Architecture; Associate Curator of Ancient Art

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