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Kunsthistorisches Institut

Lecture with Denise Murrell: Posing Modernity in Retrospect. Implications for Critical Art Histories

3 DECEMBER 2021, 5:00 - 6:30 PM (Zurich, CET)

Organized by: CARAH - Collective for Anti-Racist Art History

Funded by Graduate Campus UZH and UZH Alumni-Fonds

Online (Zoom), free and open to the public, Zoom-Link via:



Lecture with Denise Murell

Denise Murrell will present an overview and critical framework for her 2018 exhibition Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today (Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York) and its 2019 expansion as Le Modèle Noir de Géricault à Matisse (The Black Model from Géricault to Matisse) at the Musée d’Orsay Paris. She will discuss the revisionary methods deployed for the project’s representation of a multinational Black presence in the artistic milieu of late nineteenth century Paris, including the excavation and restitution of the identities of models and artists of color, a multiple-medium approach to gallery displays and the retitling of racialized nomenclature. She will outline a continuity of interventions with histories of early twentieth century art, including the re-centering of the Harlem Renaissance in juxtaposition with European and trans-Atlantic modernism. Her presentation will conclude with observations about the project’s implications for revisioning the representation of Black subjects in gallery displays and the development of a multiple voices approach to curatorial practice for 19th and early 20th century modern art. Denise Murrell, PhD, is an Associate Curator, Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (January 2020–present). She was the curator of the 2018 exhibition Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today at Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery, as the Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Research Scholar. She was a co-curator of the exhibition’s expansion at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, as Le Modèle Noir de Géricault à Matisse and a guest lecturer for its final tour as Le Modèle Noir de Géricault à Picasso at the Memorial ACTe, Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe. Dr. Murrell is the author of the Posing Modernity exhibition catalogue (Yale University Press and Wallach Art Gallery, 2018), which was based on her 2014 Columbia University PhD thesis. The catalogue received book awards from the College Art Association and the Dedalus Foundation. She was an essayist for the related Orsay exhibition catalogue. She held a Mellon pre-doctoral fellowship at Princeton University Art Museum (2012–2013) for gallery installations related to the exhibition “Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe.” She has taught art history at Columbia University in New York and in Paris. The lecture is organized by the Collective for Anti-Racist Art History (CARAH) at the University of Zurich, which advocates for anti-racist research and teaching in art history. In preparation for the lecture CARAH is organizing a reading session (optional).

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