Art Historian Maria H. Loh joins Historical Studies Faculty at IAS
Maria Hsiuya Loh, an internationally recognized expert in the field of early modern Italian art, has joined the Institute for Advanced Study as Professor in the School of Historical Studies, effective July 1, 2023. Loh comes to the Institute from CUNY Hunter College, where she served as Professor in Art History.
Loh is best known for her work on Venetian art of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particularly Titian and the numerous copies and variants that his works have inspired. Through her scholarship, she has developed radical new approaches to key issues in the field of art history, producing groundbreaking work on originality and repetition, and the emergence of the early modern artist. However, her expertise is not confined to this temporal realm. Loh also writes on contemporary artists and critics, drawing meaningful comparisons between sixteenth-century European painting and the output of modern and conceptual artists and filmmakers such as Sherrie Levine and Alfred Hitchcock.
“Loh is remarkable in her field for her ability to bring together keen observation, sophisticated theory, and historical context, all in the most lapidary and engaging prose,” stated IAS Director and Leon Levy Professor, David Nirenberg. “She has offered compelling insights, not only about the work of individual artists, but also about the nature of art itself. I look forward to the many ways her presence will enrich our intellectual community.”
Loh’s work builds upon that of past art historians from the Institute’s Faculty. In her first monograph, Titian Remade: Repetition and the Transformation of Early Modern Italian Art (2007), she discusses an often-overlooked essay by Erwin Panofsky, past Professor (1935–62) and Professor Emeritus (1962–68) in the School of Historical Studies, which questioned the opposition between the concepts of “original” and “copy” in order to rethink the motif of the reclining Venus as explored previously by Millard Meiss, past IAS Professor (1958–75). Building on these studies, Loh emphasizes the generative power of repetition, working to revise the standard narrative according to which European art moved away from imitation and embraced the cult of novelty and singularity. In so doing, her work also draws on readings of French theorists such as Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari as well as film scholars writing about remakes. Loh has previously spent time at IAS as a Willis F. Doney Member in the School of Historical Studies (2012–13), where she completed her second book Still Lives: Death, Desire, and the Portrait of the Old Master (2015).
In the words of Francesca Trivellato, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the School of Historical Studies, the School “could not be more pleased” at the news of Loh’s appointment. “Professor Loh is a profoundly imaginative scholar who has made novel and lasting contributions to one of the most crowded areas of study in the history of Western art,” Trivellato continued. “As many of her predecessors at IAS, she has led her career in both Europe and North America. Widely admired for her intellectual breadth and open-mindedness, Professor Loh will continue to nourish the Institute's stellar reputation in this field and take it in new directions.”
“As the incoming Professor of Art History, I will be standing on the shoulders of the giants that came before me from Erwin Panofsky to Yve-Alain Bois,” remarked Loh. “To think of my name alongside these scholars is an honor and privilege that I could not have imagined possible when I first began my studies. It is at once exhilarating and humbling to be joining one of the most fabled research institutions in the world. I look forward to advocating for the arts and humanities and welcome this opportunity with immense gratitude and wonder.”
Loh gained her B.A. in History and Art History at McGill University (1993), a Certificat des Études from the École Régionale des Beaux Arts in Rennes (1995), a Licence from the Université de Rennes II (1996), and her Ph.D. in the History of Art at the University of Toronto (2003). Following this, she was a Joanna Randall-MacIver Junior Research Fellow at St Hilda’s College, Oxford University (2003–04) and a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) and a Reader (Associate Professor) at University College London’s History of Art Department (2004–16). In 2016, she joined the Department of Art and Art History, CUNY Hunter College as a Professor. She is the recipient of multiple competitive grants, including the Philip Leverhulme Prize for early career scholars (2007–09); a Samuel H. Kress Foundation Fellowship in Renaissance Art History (2014); and an NEH Public Scholars Grant (2021). She has been a pre-doctoral fellow at the Getty Research Institute (2000–02) and a Visiting Professor at the Villa I Tatti (2018).
In addition to Titian Remade and Still Lives, Loh is the author of Titian’s Touch: Art, Magic, and Philosophy (2019). Her books range widely in topic and intended audience. She is currently completing a book for the general public on the representation of the sky in early modern art.
About the Institute
The Institute for Advanced Study has served the world as one of the leading independent centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry since its establishment in 1930, advancing the frontiers of knowledge across the sciences and humanities. From the work of founding IAS faculty such as Albert Einstein and John von Neumann to that of the foremost thinkers of the present, the IAS is dedicated to enabling curiosity-driven exploration and fundamental discovery.
Each year, the Institute welcomes more than 200 of the world’s most promising post-doctoral researchers and scholars who are selected and mentored by a permanent Faculty, each of whom are preeminent leaders in their fields. Among present and past Faculty and Members there have been 35 Nobel Laureates, 44 of the 62 Fields Medalists, and 23 of the 26 Abel Prize Laureates, as well as many MacArthur Fellows and Wolf Prize winners.