Home Morningside Events - Morningside Area Alliance Literary Celebrating Recent Work by Alessandra Russo


Columbia University - The Heyman Center
74 Morningside Dr, New York, NY 10027


Read More


Mar 07 2024


6:15 pm - 8:00 pm

Formats (virtual, in person, hybrid)


Celebrating Recent Work by Alessandra Russo

A New Antiquity: Art and Humanity as Universal, 1400–1600
by Alessandra Russo

We tend to think of sixteenth-century European artistic theory as separate from the artworks displayed in the non-European sections of museums. Alessandra Russo argues otherwise. Instead of considering the European experience of “New World” artifacts and materials through the lenses of “curiosity” and “exoticism,” Russo asks a different question: What impact have these works had on the way we currently think about—and theorize—the arts?

Centering her study on a vast corpus of early modern textual and visual sources, Russo contends that the subtlety and inventiveness of the myriad of American, Asian, and African creations that were pillaged, exchanged, and often eventually destroyed in the context of Iberian colonization—including sculpture, painting, metalwork, mosaic, carving, architecture, and masonry—actually challenged and revolutionized sixteenth-century European definitions of what art is and what it means to be human. In this way, artifacts coming from outside Europe between 1400 and 1600 played a definitive role in what are considered distinctively European transformations: the redefinition of the frontier between the “mechanical” and the “liberal” arts and a new conception of the figure of the artist.

Original and convincing, A New Antiquity is a pathbreaking study that disrupts existing conceptions of Renaissance art and early modern humanity. It will be required reading for art historians specializing in the Renaissance, scholars of Iberian and Latin American cultures and global studies, and anyone interested in anthropology and aesthetics.

About the Author

Alessandra Russo is a Professor in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures at Columbia University. She is the author of The Untranslatable Image: A Mestizo History of the Arts in New Spain, 1500–160 and El realismo circular: Tierras, espacios y paisajes de la cartografía indígena novohispana, siglos XVI y XVII and a coeditor of Images Take Flight: Feather Art in Mexico and Europe. Her research studies the theory, practice and display of the arts in the early modern times, with a special emphasis on the artistic dynamics in the context of the Iberian colonization.

Event Contact Information:
Erin Fae