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Jessamine Batario Headshot

The Dedalus Foundation Dissertation Fellowship for 2015 – 2016 has been awarded to Jessamine Batario of The University of Texas at Austin for her dissertation The Art and Intellectual History of Byzantine Modernism”. The award carries a stipend of $20,000.

Batario’s dissertation The Art and Intellectual History of “Byzantine Modernism” will establish the significance of a “Byzantine Modern” art history. The project begins with an analysis of key texts written by Roger Fry, Georges Duthuit and Clement Greenberg, whose writings develop connections between the Byzantine and the Modern. In tandem with textual analysis, there is an examination of the artistic practices of Cézanne, Matisse and Newman, the painters that the critics respectively identify as the modern counterparts to a Byzantine ethos. Batario locates this “Byzantinophilia” in a discourse on “primitivism,” extending beyond formal consideration to analyze how the Byzantine came to be “primitivized” in the first place as a result of the Othering of Byzantine art history and archaeology relative to the larger canon during the early twentieth century. In addition to formal similarities, there is an analysis of the ontological connections between these two very disparate periods through a discussion of Byzantine animism and image theory, modern pragmatism and phenomenology. Batario’s intention is to contribute to a process of reciprocal understanding, involving these two subfields of art history, and to offer a reevaluation of the role of periodization within the discipline.