David J. Getsy appointed as inaugural Eleanor Shea Professor of Art History

Friday, June 11, 2021

The Department of Art is delighted to announce the appointment of David J. Getsy as the inaugural Eleanor Shea Professor of Art History. During a fifteen-month search, the Art Department sought a scholar of international standing who was invested in Art History and Studio Art undergraduate education, who could attract and train high caliber PhD students, and who would strengthen the department’s commitment to equity and inclusion. Professor Getsy was an exceptional candidate on each of those fronts, and we look forward to working with him in the years ahead to raise the level of our undergraduate and graduate programs. 

Getsy’s scholarship complements some of the Department’s current strengths, while significantly extending its reach in others. Working at the intersection of art history, queer studies, and transgender studies, his writings have addressed the ways in which non-normative genders and sexualities have been fundamental to the shape of art history’s narratives. His book Abstract Bodies: Sixties Sculpture in the Expanded Field of Gender (Yale University Press, 2015) was the first study to bridge art history and transgender studies, and he is also editor of the widely-read anthology of artists’ writings, Queer (MIT Press, 2016).  

A specialist in the history of sculpture, Getsy is the author of Rodin: Sex and the Making of Modern Sculpture (Yale University Press, 2010) and Body Doubles: Sculpture in Britain, 1877–1905 (Yale University Press, 2004). His newest book, Queer Behavior: Scott Burton and Performance Art, is forthcoming from University of Chicago Press in May 2022. These pioneering monographs intersect with the work of UVa Professors Sarah Betzer on European sculpture, Douglas Fordham on British Art, and Christa Robbins on artistic agency and American Modernism, and we look forward to developing new directions and advising opportunities in our graduate program. 

In addition to his monographs, Getsy is the editor of From Diversion to Subversion: Games, Play, and Twentieth-Century Art (Penn State University Press, 2011); Scott Burton: Collected Writings on Art and Performance, 1965–1975 (Soberscove, 2012); and Sculpture and the Pursuit of a Modern Ideal in Britain, c.1880–1930 (Ashgate, 2004). Getsy’s curatorial work includes the retrospective exhibition Rubbish and Dreams: The Genderqueer Performance Art of Stephen Varble (Leslie-Lohman Museum, New York City, 2018) and a related satellite exhibition that is traveling to its fourth venue, the Schwules Museum in Berlin, later in 2021. In addition, Getsy writes about recent artistic practices that engage with queer and transgender themes, including artists such as Cassils, Elmgreen & Dragset, Kehinde Wiley, Christina Quarles, Yan Xing, Ernesto Pujol, and Carlos Motta. His writings on contemporary art have been published in Artforum, GLQ, TSQ, Criticism, PAJ, Art Journal, ASAP/Journal, and numerous exhibition catalogues. 

Getsy comes to the University of Virginia from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he taught from 2005 to 2021 and was the Goldabelle McComb Finn Distinguished Professor of Art History since 2011. At SAIC, he also served as Interim Dean of Graduate Studies, Interim Director of the Low-Residency M.F.A. in Studio program, and Chair of the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism. He received SAIC’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, given annually to one full-time faculty member, in 2007 and the Jean Goldman Book Prize for best book published by a faculty member in 2015.

An impressive list of fellowships and awards demonstrates Getsy’s international standing in the field. He is the recipient of a 2019 Senior Fellowship from the Dedalus Foundation, an Ailsa Mellon Bruce Senior Fellowship from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, a Clark Fellowship from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship from Dartmouth College, a Kress Foundation Fellowship at the Courtauld Institute of Art, and two research fellowships from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. Internationally, he has been the 2020–2021 Terra Foundation Professor of American Art at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin, a Distinguished Visiting Fellow in the School of English and Drama at Queen Mary University of London, and an Honorary Visiting Professor in the Department of History of Art at the University of York, United Kingdom. In 2021, his lecture appearances include the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Institute for Cultural Inquiry Berlin, the University of Exeter, the Freie Universität Berlin, the Universität Zurich, the Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien, the Zentrum für GegenwartsKunst at the Universität Graz, and the United Kingdom’s Association for Art History, for which he gave a keynote lecture at its annual conference. He also organized the 2021 symposium “Lives: Biography and Autobiography in New Writing on American Art” for the Freie Universität Berlin and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

The Department of Art looks forward to supporting Getsy’s current research on archive-based recoveries of queer performance art in 1970s New York City. In addition to his forthcoming book on Scott Burton’s performance art, he is currently working on two book projects: first, a monograph on Stephen Varble based on his curatorial research and, second, a book on performance art’s geographic and social proximities to the Stonewall uprising and the modern LGBT rights movement in the United States. 

Professor Getsy’s dynamic research agenda, his proven dedication to students in the classroom, and his experience working with art students and studio artists makes him an ideal addition to the Art Department faculty. We welcome Professor Getsy to campus this fall, and we look forward to writing the next chapter of the Art Department at UVa together.