Denise Murrell is the curator behind the highly praised exhibition Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today that opened last year at the Museé d’Orsay in Paris. Murrell’s new analyses and rigorous research into social and art histories resulted in the writing of significant biographies for previously unknown Black models and muses, and the suggestion of new titles for paintings by Matisse, Gauguin, Picasso and others where those depicted had previously been reduced to words like “negro” or “mulatto.” Beyond the focus on 19th- and 20th-century art, the exhibition and accompanying catalogue have created entirely new paradigms for research and teaching, and have transformed perspectives in the history of art.
Murrell was recently appointed to the post of associate curator of 19th- and 20th-century art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, a newly created position that will involve her working closely with both the museum’s modern and contemporary department and its European painting department. The first new appointment by the Met director Max Hollein signals that new perspectives are being pursued at the museum, moving beyond the Western lens. “Max and his team want to proactively move toward a more inclusive presentation of art history across all periods,” Murrell told The New York Times (November 20, 2019).
Murrell’s lecture is sponsored by the Georges Lurcy Lecture Series and the Department of Art and the History of Art at Amherst College. Following her Friday lecture, Murrell will be leading a faculty seminar and a workshop with students at the Smith College Museum of Art. Murrell’s visit is being organized by Karen Koehler, visiting faculty in art and the history of art at Amherst and professor in architectural and art history at Hampshire College, and Darcy Buerkle, associate professor of history and affiliate in the study of women and gender at Smith College.
Image: Frédéric Bazille, Young Woman with Peonies
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, photo by Eileen Travell