The LSU School of Art welcomes two new faculty members for 2018: assistant professors of art history Ludovico Geymonat and William Ma, who joined the faculty this semester. Both Geymonat and Ma will add to the rich international perspective of the art curriculum at LSU.
Ludovico Geymonat teaches medieval art at LSU. His research has developed from doctoral studies on Byzantine and Romanesque wall painting to focus on medieval drawings, monumental programs, and the question of how images and ideas circulated in the Middle Ages. His work includes a focus on Italian medieval sculpture, with an emphasis on early Gothic sculpture in San Marco, Venice.
“I am excited to be here at LSU, very much so,” Geymonat said. “Coming to LSU for me means coming back to teaching, which I love, and conducting research within a larger intellectual context.”
Geymonat had previously worked at the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History, a research institute in Rome for art historians, and missed interacting with students and scholars of other disciplines. The university setting provides unique opportunities for collaboration between different areas of research, he said.
During a fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2006-07, Geymonat identified a sculpture of a seated king as connected to a series from Venice; it had previously thought to have been from elsewhere (and at one time even suspected forgery, later proven to be real.) He worked with geologist Lorenzo Lazzarini to study the sculptures, resulting in an innovative collaboration between science and art history.
Before joining the art history faculty at LSU, Geymonat was a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame. He has published on 13th- and 14th-century Venetian painting and sculpture, the Baptistery of Parma, and medieval drawings. His teaching includes the history of medieval art and architecture in Europe and the Mediterranean. Geymonat received his BA in art history from the Universitá di Torino in Turin, Italy, and his MA and PhD in art history from Princeton University.
He is currently working on two book projects. The first focuses on wall paintings in the Baptistery of Parma, Italy, and the second, Monumental Decorations and the Medieval Perception of Space, investigates how ideas are translated into visual representations on a monumental scale.
Another art history professor focusing his research on a different area of the world, William Ma is a Chinese art historian. Ma specializes in the artistic exchanges among China and the world during the late-imperial and modern periods. His research interest includes material culture, workshop practices, aesthetic pedagogy, Jesuit missionary art in late imperial China, and the relationship between export art and the imperial court during the High Qing.
“I am a Chinese art historian who thinks a lot about art on the margin – whether because they are products of encounters between different cultures, commercial or decorative objects, and art objects made by unnamed individuals or communities,” said Ma. “Though often neglected, they accounted for a majority of artistic output in the arts of Asia.”
Ma is interested in what art objects – through their meanings, ornaments, material, function, etc. – can tell us about the people, the society, and the time that made them. “I think a lot about stereotypes about the Other as revealed through these art objects – not only how the Euro-American West saw Asia and China, but also how China saw the rest of the world – and take seriously these often-problematic modes of representations and see what lessons they could teach us today,” he said.
A fellow faculty member of the Doctor of Design in Cultural Preservation program, Ma is teaching courses “China and the World” and “Contemporary Asian Art” this semester. He typically teaches courses about the art of China, Japan, or India, and also offers special topics addressing artistic issues in Buddhism, Christian missionaries, and gender and sexuality, in Asia. The classes explore non-western art themes, contributing to the LSU School of Art’s diverse curriculum offerings.
Ma received a BA (2002) and PhD (2016) from the University of California at Berkeley. In addition to teaching at his alma mater, he has taught courses in Asian art history at the University of San Francisco. During the academic year of 2016–17, he was a visiting professor at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Ma also has extensive curatorial experience; a former Mellon Curatorial Fellow at the Peabody Essex Museum, Ma has worked at the Berkeley Art Museum, the Guggenheim-Hermitage Museum, the Las Vegas Art Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
“The School of Art is very pleased indeed to have been able to recruit and welcome two such capable scholars. With degrees from top tier institutions and track records of scholarship and teaching, they have hit the ground running in the areas of medieval and non-western art history,” said Professor Rod Parker, director of the School of Art.
The LSU School of Art offers programs in art history, digital art, fine arts, and graphic design. For more information about the school, visit art.lsu.edu.