Category Archives: Book and Trade Fair

Adrian R. Duran

Adrian R. Duran received his PhD from the University of Delaware in 2006, where his dissertation “Il Fronte Nuovo delle Arti: Painting and Politics in Italy at the Dawn of the Cold War, 1944-50” won the Sypherd Prize for Best Dissertation in the Humanities.  He is currently Assistant Professor of Art History at the Memphis College of Art where he teaches courses in Modern and Contemporary Art, Critical Theory, and Art Criticism. He has received grants from The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD).  His recent publications include exhibition criticism for Number, SECAC Review, and Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide.

Dwayne Butcher: So, should we start by addressing how I misquoted you earlier in the week by stating, “CAA may want to rethink its current format or risk losing its members and effectiveness as a conference.”

Adrian Duran: No, what happened was I just choose my words poorly. I do not think that CAA is going out of business or that it is under siege. CAA is the mountain that we all come to. CAA will never go anywhere as it does what it does extremely well. I do not think it is a failing business model, that it will lose to its competition. But what I do think is interesting is when I go to other conferences, particularly interdisciplinary conferences like the American Association for Italian Studies, the Italianist conferences are filled with literature people, theatre people, language people, history people, art historians there are the minority. I think there is an interesting dialogue that emerges when art historians are the minority. It pulls us into the interdisciplinarity that art history is supposed to manifest. If art history is good at anything it is interdisciplinarity. To have our national conference be populated by mostly art historians, it just gives me pause. It makes me wonder whether or not we are more fruitful with other disciplines rather than on our own island I suppose.

DB: Can you talk about your process of interviewing at CAA?

AD: The year I interviewed for real was in Atlanta in 2005. I was fortunate to have a number of interviews. There were some in the bullpen, I had some in the hotel rooms, and several off-site ones. It is so tense, I can not even explain it. This is before the regulators of the traffic were in place. People could go into the bullpen and just be there. I remember thinking that the whole room smelled of desperation. There were fifty tables and over five hundred people in the room. Anytime there was a single break for anyone interviewing, someone would approach the table with a packet. It made for manias and it created a degree of stress that I think was not native to me. It is good to see that CAA has cleaned that up. That being said, the job I took was at that table, so maybe it worked?

DB: So, what brings you to CAA this year? Sessions, panels, the book fair?

AD: It’s everything. The great thing about CAA is that it is academic with a family reunion. If only to be around the people I haven’t seen in many moons. It is the place to be for that. Where are you going to find this many artists and art historians in one place. This alone makes it worthwhile. It is an ideas blizzard. It is a beautiful to be around people who are thinking about what we all think about. Maybe no one will admit this, but, I think a lot of people come to CAA because if they don’t they fear they may miss something. A lot of important things happen here, like interviews with Dwayne Butcher on the CAA Blog.

DB: Of course, that is the most important part, probably. Anyways, can you talk about the book fair a little bit. Were there any new books or a particular publisher you were excited about?

AD: The book fair is great as it is where you get the lay of the land. You see all the new stuff that is out, the recent stuff that is out. There isn’t an art historian on earth who isn’t a book addict and the book fair can be like free day at the methadone clinic, at least for me. None of us want to stop, however. You get to see so many books and it is so much fun. I cannot wait to give my list to the librarian at (Memphis College of Art.) I am excited about Christine Poggi’s book about Futurism, which I should have read already. There is a book, “Rethinking the Contemporary Art School,” published by D.A.P. that looked pretty good.  There is Eamonn Canniffe’s “The Politics of the Piazza,” looks really awesome, which is about urban space in Italy.

DB: Can you talk a little bit about your current research or projects?

AD: Talking about the book fair earlier, my editor at Ashgate, this is the first time I have ever met her in the flesh. I have been communicating with her via email. I did not know what she looked like and now I do. I am working on a project with Anne Massoni for Aspect: The Chronicle of New Media Art, “Hi-Tech” and got to meet one of their interns at the book fair. I am working on my manuscript, “Paintings, Politics and the New Front of Cold War Italy.” It is about Italian painting between the fall of Fascism and the first years of the 1950’s. It is a book that explores the intersection of politics and art discourse at the beginning of the Cold War. Other than that, a review of mine was recently published on CAA reviews about a really great show at The Nasher Museum of Art titled The Record – Contemporary ART and Vinyl.

DB: What is your favorite artist? Book? Color? Smell? Food?

AD: My favorite artist changes depending on what work of art I am standing in front of…I will go to my grave defending Titian. My favorite book ever? This is a great one for CAA. E.L. Konigsburg’s “From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” It is about two kids that runaway and move into the Met. I read this book when I was six or seven and I am convinced this is why I am an art historian. My favorite colors are blue and gold because they were the colors of my high school, college and grad school. My wife and oil paint are my favorite smells, in that order. My favorite food is pizza, real pizza, New Jersey pizza, Nino’s Pizza in North Brunswick, NJ.

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