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Alex Del Dago is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Art & Architectural History graduate program at the University of Virginia. Working with David Getsy, Alex studies and works in the field of Modern & Contemporary American Art, with an emphasis on gender & sexuality, queer studies, and social/political art and material culture.
Prior to arriving in Charlottesville, Alex earned his B.A. in Art History & History, graduating summa cum laude and with University Honors from the University of North Florida. His senior thesis, “The Humanity of a Moment: Individuality, Identity, and Illness in the Art and Life of Hugh Steers,” focused on the American figurative painter Hugh Steers, whose portrayals of the HIV/AIDS crisis in New York during the early 1990s used ‘high art’ to humanize those living with AIDS and draw the viewer into the intimate embrace of loss, remembrance, and longing.
His master's thesis at UVA focuses on the later-career of the queer figurative painter George Tooker (1920-2011) and his work with the theater space. Within this research, he argues that Tooker’s 1983 Un Ballo in Maschera represents a scene from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera using a specific cast of characters that centers a conversation around visibility as well as the physical and moral principles that make up diverse bodies and expanded notions of individual personhood. This print signals one of the rare moments in Tooker’s career where he engaged directly with the opera as a site for artistic production and his social and political endeavors, and as a result, it should be considered in line with Tooker’s larger body of work that engages with the complicated status of American culture and identity in the post-war world and the convoluted ways in which one makes ties to an increasingly industrialized and disconnected society.
Other research and work by him include “The Topes de Collantes Sanatorium: A Look at the Global Sanatorium Movement, the Climate Cure theory, and How Tuberculosis Influenced Modern Architecture” and “Crafting an Image: Love, Confidence, and Representation in Leonard Fink’s Photographs of the Gay Liberation Movement.” These projects opened the door to conference presentations, publications in undergraduate research journals, the ‘Outstanding Undergraduate History Paper Prize’ at the University of North Florida accompanied with a grant, and the University of North Florida Hicks Honors College Top Award for Academic Distinction. This also led him to a curatorial & research internship at the Norton Museum of Art in the summer of 2021, where he researched and wrote text for the exhibition For the Record: Celebrating Art by Women, created new & diverse summer programming, and offered guided tours of the museum’s permanent collection.
Alex looks forward to continuing his research at the University of Virginia, networking with scholars and peers in similar disciplines, and studying how art informs people’s lives, particularly the lives and work from marginalized communities, to better understand the ways in which artistic production offers outlets to explore various social, political, and economic factors.