Later this month, Wagner College art history professor Laura Morowitz will be one of the presenters at a very special scholarly conference, “Strange Beauty: Masters of the German Renaissance,” being held in London’s National Gallery.
“In England, the old-fashioned — and culturally chauvinistic — term for 14th and 15th century German art was ‘primitive’,” Morowitz said. “There’s a big collection of them in the National Gallery, but for a long time they were considered sub-par. Only at the turn of the (20th) century were they rediscovered.”
That fin de siècle “rediscovery,” however, came from avowed nationalists — Belgian, British, German, French — who claimed the work of these “primitive” artists as their own, Morowitz said, “even though, during the Renaissance, there was no ‘Belgium,’ and Germany was just a collection of separate, sometimes warring principalities.”
The conference in which Professor Morowitz is participating is being held in conjunction with a new exhibition by the same name at the National Gallery. The exhibition opened Feb. 19 and runs through May 11.
“The show and conference, together, are taking these great German Renaissance pieces out for another look,” Morowitz said.
LAURA MOROWITZ received her B.A. from Brooklyn College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. She taught at many colleges — including Hunter College, the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Art and Science, Yale University and the Pratt Institute — before joining the faculty at Wagner College in 1996, where she is currently a professor of art history.
Morowitz’s scholarship focuses on a variety of issues and periods. While her books, “Artistic Brotherhoods in the Nineteenth Century” (with William Vaughan) and “Consuming the Past” (with Elizabeth Emery) highlight medievalism in 19th century Europe, Morowitz has also written on forms of popular culture, including television sitcoms and artistic exhibits in department stores and world’s fairs. Examining issues of nationalism, consumerism, historiography and gender, Laura Morowitz has published on artists including Paul Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Gustave Moreau, Vincent Van Gogh and Edouard Vuillard as well as important writers and cultural figures in nineteenth century France.
With Laurie Albanese, Morowitz co-authored a historic novel, “The Miracles of Prato” (William Morrow 2009). It brought to life the romantic story of the famed painter-monk Fra Filippo Lippi and the beautiful Florentine nun who was to become his muse, lover, and the mother of his children.
Morowitz is currently at work on a second historic novel focusing on the art and cultural legacy of the Viennese artist Gustav Klimt, for which she and Albanese received a 2011 Hadassah-Brandeis Research Award.