An Interview with Blair Kamin '79 and Professor Joel Upton


"Every building, of course,  doesn't have to be a cathedral, but in my view at least, every building, no matter how humble should try to raise our spirits and make a contribution to the whole even if it's in a small way." - Blair Kamin

In this interview Blair Kamin '79, Pulitzer-prize winning architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune, and Joel Upton, Professor of Art and the History of Art, thoughtfully and thoroughly discuss the emotional, cultural and artistic dimensions of architecture.



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Joel Upton is Professor of Art and the History of Art at Amherst College.

Graduated from Rutgers University in January, 1963 with a major in American Civilization;

Officer in the USAF, 1963-1965, assigned to AirCent Headquarters in Fontainebleau, France;

Studied at the Goethe Institute in Berlin, Germany from 1965 to 1966;

Graduate study as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in the History of Art at Bryn Mawr College and Fulbright Scholar at the Institut Royal du Patrimoine Artistique, Centre National de Recherches Primitif Flamands in Brussels, Belgium;

Received M.A. in 1967 and Ph.D. in 1972 with a dissertation on the 15th century Netherlandish painter, Petrus Christus, published by the Pennsylvania University Press as Petrus Christus: His Place in Fifteenth-Century Flemish Painting;

Member of the Department of Art and the History of Art at Amherst College from 1972 to present, offering courses in the history of medieval art and architecture in Europe, the history of Netherlandish painting of the 15th to the 17th centuries, the construction of space in pre-modern architecture in Japan, the theory and practice of ‘beholding’ and the conjunctive role of erôs and insight in the contemplative integration of Art and Science.

Research and teaching interests focus on the nature and character of the ‘art’ of works of art, including the psychological, physiological and spiritual foundations of artistic aspiration, its material realization and the experiential intersection of contemplative ways of knowing and being in the world, artistic construction and encounter. Current projects include a contemplative guide to Netherlandish painting and the definition and pictorial presentation of ‘Ai-no-ma,’ a Japanese architectural and spatial equivalent of ‘beholding.’