Religion and Ritual


No force in human life has motivated the production of art more than religious belief. Yet within post-Enlightenment thought about the visual arts there has been difficulty in coming to grips with the significance that sacred objects and spaces have held for their original beholders, not only as instruments for spiritual observance but also as forms of cognition over a much wider sphere. At a moment when religious belief is only fitfully visible in the intellectual realm, the Getty Research Institute will focus in 2006–2007 on the interrelation of religion and the visual arts, both taken in the broadest senses.

In recent decades there has been enormous growth in the study of non-western cultures, where the intersection of art and religion is a primary concern. Historians of religious art in the West have shifted attention away from traditional concerns such as iconography, orthodoxy, and great monuments, focusing instead on popular piety, on magic and the survival of pagan beliefs, and on more demotic media. The ways that religion is actualized in rituals—for example, in liturgies, performances, and pilgrimages—and how those rituals mobilize a wide array of works we now call art have also emerged as a major area of study. Although the scope of inquiry is much broader, efforts to describe the conceptual relationship of religion to art, especially in the West, remain surprisingly few. We will be interested in how religious habits of mind have been transformed into artifacts and how artifacts have affected religious belief—with an emphasis on new ways of understanding those transactions.

Most art-historical investigation into religious art has taken the art as its point of departure. It may be beneficial to focus more directly on religious habits of mind themselves and see how they express themselves in other areas of creativity. We might even ask to what degree traces of a culture's religious or spiritual mentality are registered in art where no overt religious purpose is expressed. Conversely, emergent secular outlooks may most vividly be registered in ostensibly religious images and symbols. We might also ask whether an emphasis on visual interest excludes a large body of material deemed "minor" or "popular," a good deal of it ephemeral, which may tell us more about a historical religious culture than works that lend themselves to elegant formal analysis. Finally, given that the categories now used to think about the transaction between the arts and religion were not in place when many of the works were produced, to what degree can one gain access to a religious sensibility through art history in its present condition?

Researchers will find a wealth of materials in Getty collections, ranging from liturgical and devotion books in the museum's collection of illuminated manuscripts, to contemporary photographs at the Research Institute documenting the vanishing religious festivals of Spain, to antiquities at the Villa that provide evidence for the reconstruction of religious customs long lost from view.



Getty Scholars


Jan Bremmer is chair in general history of religion and the comparative science of religion at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, The Netherlands.
The Rites of the Life Cycle in Ancient Greece
(August–June)

Claudine Cohen is professor (Maître de Conferences) of the History of Science at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris.
Religious and Rituals in Prehistory? A Critical Approach to Interpretations of Paleolithic Art
(September–March)

Simon Critchley is professor of philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York.
Civil Religion: Concept, History and Image
(September–June)

Megan Holmes is associate professor in the department of the history of art at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Cult and Visual Culture in Renaissance Florence
(September–June)

Lynn Hunt is Eugen Weber Professor of Modern European History at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Visualizing the Social: Comparative Religion and the Origins of Social Criticism in the Early 18th Century
(September–June)

Margaret Jacob is professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Bernard Picart and the Critical Turn Toward Modernity
(September–June)

JoAnne Mancini is lecturer in history at the National University of Ireland in Maynooth.
Faith and Beauty: Chinese and Filipino Art and the Aesthetics of Conversion in the California Missions
(September–June)

Wijnand Mijnhardt is professor of cultural history at the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.
On the Crossroads of Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism
(September–June)

Jack Miles is a senior fellow with the Pacific Council on International Policy and a fellow at Occidental College in Los Angeles.
(1) Norton Anthology of World Religions
(2) God, Again: The Qur'an for Jews and Christians
(September–June)

Eric Palazzo is professor at the University of Poitiers, Centre d'études supérieures de civilisation médiévale, Poitiers, France.
Religion and Ritual in the Middle Ages
(September–June)



Visiting Scholars


Mary Beard is professor of classics at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Newnham College.
Roman Domestic Religion: Image, Text and the Invention of Tradition
(April–June)

Silvia Berti is a professor at the Università degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza," Faculty of Humanistic Sciences, in the department of modern and contemporary history.
Reconstructing the Enlightenment Mind: Bernard Picart's Cérémonies as a Mirror of a Zeitgeist
(September–December)

Barbara Bloom is an artist and teaches in the ICP-Bard Program in Advanced Photographic Studies at the International Center of Photography in New York.
Relationships Between Art and Gifts
(January–March)

Julie Codell is a professor at the School of Art, Arizona State University, Tempe.
Sanctification of Empire in the Delhi Coronation Durbars
(September–December)

Robert DeCaroli is associate professor of history and art history at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.
Portraits and Presence: Understanding Images in Early South Asia
(January–March)

Finbarr Flood is assistant professor in the department of fine arts at New York University.
Altered Images: Theories and Practices of “Islamic” Iconoclasm
(January–March)

Richard Gordon is an independent scholar in Saselberg, Germany.
Exoticism in the Rituals of the “Oriental Religions” of the Roman Empire
(January–March)

Geoffrey Hartman is Sterling Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at Yale University.
The Contest between Poetry and Divinity
(January–March)

Andrew Holmes is an artist and senior lecturer at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, United Kingdom.
Gas Tank City
(April–June)

Anja Klöckner is chair of classical archaeology at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität Greifswald in Greifswald, Germany.
Religion and Ritual in Classical Athens, as Seen in Attic Votive Reliefs
(January–March)

Justin Kroesen is assistant professor of Christian architecture and iconography at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, The Netherlands.
Space, Performance, and Identity: Medieval Churches in Spain and Their Interiors
(January–March)

Thomas Lentes is director of the junior research group Cultural History and Theology of the Image in Christianity at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany.
On the Truth of Rituality: Idolatry, the Construction of Otherness and the Presence of the Sacred in the Middle Ages and the Reformation (12th—16th centuries)
(September–December)

Donald Lopez is Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Uses of the Buddha
(April–June)

Tomoko Masuzawa is a professor in the program in comparative literature and department of history at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
From Customs and Ceremonies to Sacred Doctrines: How Rituals Became Religions
(April–June)

Orlan is an artist and professor at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Art de Cergy-Pontoise, France.
Religious Pressures Imprinted in the Flesh
(September–March)

Nicholas Vella is senior lecturer in archaeology in the department of classics and archaeology at the University of Malta.
Art and the Religion of Mobility: Phoenicians in the Mediterranean in the Archaic Period
(April–June)

Yana Zarifi is honorary research associate at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Ritual and Politics of the “Other” in a Modern Performance of Aeschylus' Persians
(September–December)



Predoctoral Fellows


Chris Bennett is a Ph.D. candidate in history of art at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Responses to Mass Culture: Ritual and Religious Sensibility in the Art of Boetti and Pascali
(September–June)

Cristina González is a Ph.D. candidate in art history at the University of Chicago.
Landscapes of Conversion: Franciscan Politics and Sacred Objects in Late Colonial Mexico
(September–June)

Bertram Kaschek is a doctoral candidate in art history at Technische Universität Dresden, Germany.
Transforming Ritual: Pieter Bruegel's Series of the Months
(September–June)

Gil Klein is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of architecture at Cambridge University.
Consecrating the City: The Ritual Topography of Art and Architecture in the Late Antique Rabbinic Town
(September–June)

James Terry is a Ph.D. candidate in Art History at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Signifying Architecture: Maya Architecture of Chicanna and the Central Yucatan
(September–June)



Postdoctoral Fellows


Todd Cronan received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, department of art history. He is assistant professor in the department of art history at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The Authority of Things: The Cathedral Facade in Modernist Painting
(September–June)

David Doris received his Ph.D. from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. He is assistant professor in the department of the history of art and at the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Vigilant Things: The Strange Fates of Ordinary Objects in Southwestern Nigeria
(September–June)

Amy Powell received her Ph.D. in history of art and architecture from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is assistant professor in the art history department at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Whitewashed Image: Iconoclasm and Seventeenth-Century Dutch Landscape
(September–June)



Museum Guest Scholars


Judy Annear is senior curator of photography at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.
(January–March)

Xavier Bonnet is a master upholsterer and historian of 18th-century French upholstery based in Paris.
(July–September)

Keith Busby is professor of French at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
(October–December)

David Ekserdjian is professor of the history of art and film at the University of Leicester, United Kingdom.
(July–September)

Herbert George is associate professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago.
(January–March)

Gunnar Heydenreich is head of the Department of Paintings Conservation and deputy director at the Restaurierungszentrum der Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf in Germany.
(January–March)

Martin Juergens is a conservator of photographs with a private practice in Hamburg, Germany.
(October–December)

Alexander Vergara is senior curator of Flemish and Northern European Pantings at the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid.
(October–December)