Getsy, David J. 1973–

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Getsy, David J. 1973–

(David John Getsy, Jr.)


Born May 5, 1973. Education: Oberlin College, B.A. (with honors), 1995; Northwestern University, M.A., 1996, Ph.D., 2002.


Office—Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism, Art Institute of Chicago, 112 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60603; fax: 312-345-3789. E-mail—[email protected].


Academic, historian, and critic. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, assistant professor, 2005-08, Goldabelle McComb Finn Distinguished Associate Professor of Art History, 2008—, director of the Graduate Program in modern and contemporary art history, theory, and criticism, 2006—. Served as a curator for a number of exhibits; Andrew W. Mellon fellow in Humanistic Studies, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, 1995-96; Henry Haskell alumni research fellow, Oberlin College, 1999; research fellow, Centre for the Study of Sculpture, Henry Moore Institute, 1999; junior fellow, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Yale University, 1999; W.M. Keck Foundation fellow for young scholars and Robert R. Wark fellow, Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, 2000; Samuel H. Kress Foundation fellow in the History of Art, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, 2000-02; postdoctoral fellow, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Yale University, 2002; Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Leslie Center for the Humanities, Dartmouth College, 2002-04; research fellow, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, 2003; faculty fellow in Digital Media, Leslie Center for the Humanities, Dartmouth College, 2003; J. Paul Getty postdoctoral fellow in the History of Art and the Humanities, Harvard University, 2004-05; Everett Helm visiting fellow, Lilly Library, Indiana University, 2006; research fellow, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library and Center for Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Studies, University of California Los Angeles, 2008.


Historians of British Art, College Art Association, Phi Beta Kappa.


Recipient of numerous research grants; Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year Award, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 2007, for excellence in teaching.


(Editor) Sculpture and the Pursuit of a Modern Ideal in Britain, c. 1880-1930, Ashgate (Burlington, VT), 2004.

Body Doubles: Sculpture in Britain, 1877-1905, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2004.

Contributor to periodicals and academic journals, including Revue de l'Art, PAJ: A Journal of Art and Performance, Visual Culture in Britain, Walpole Society, Art History, Chicago Art Journal, Journal of Visual Culture, Oxford Art Journal, Documents, International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies, and Sculpture Journal.


David J. Getsy is an academic, historian, and critic. Born on May 5, 1973, he started his higher education studies at Oberlin College, earning a bachelor of arts degree in both art history and cultural philosophy and criticism in 1995. He completed his graduate studies at the department of art history of Northwestern University, earning a master of arts degree in 1996 and a Ph.D. focusing on theory and interpretation in 2002.

Getsy held a number of fellowships at various institutions during and after his studies. In 2005 he began working at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as an assistant professor. He was appointed to the position of director of the Graduate Program in Modern and Contemporary Art History, Theory, and Criticism in 2006. In 2008 he was promoted to associate professor and named to the Goldabelle McComb Finn Distinguished Chair in Art History.

Getsy edited his first book, Sculpture and the Pursuit of a Modern Ideal in Britain, c. 1880-1930, for publication in 2004. The study groups essays on the British revival in sculptures in the late nineteenth century. Mark Stocker, writing in Victorian Studies, summarized that the book helps to "form an invaluable ‘second generation’ contribution to scholarship of the New Sculpture."

That same year he also published Body Doubles: Sculpture in Britain, 1877-1905. This book also examines the late Victorian revival in sculptures, focusing on the New Sculpture movement and its leading artists, including Frederic Leighton, Hamo Thornycroft, Edward Onslow Ford, Alfred Gilbert, and James Havard Thomas.

Tim Barringer, reviewing the book in Art Journal, remarked that "Getsy's argument about the New Sculpture as a founding moment of modern art in Britain emerges most explicitly in the final case study, of James Havard Thomas's Lycidas (1905)." He appended that "readers in search of a narrative history of late Victorian sculpture will still need Susan Beattie and Benedict Read, but Getsy has made an important step toward reintegrating sculpture into more general concerns about modernity and the body in Victorian art." Barringer noted that "Getsy's strategy of reproducing multiple views of individual works—there are eight images of the various versions of the Athlete—is highly effective in drawing attention to the crucial role of viewing position in appreciating this sculpture. In particular, Getsy points out the ubiquity of a frontal viewpoint of the Athlete—the one insisted upon not only by all hitherto available reproductions, but also by the installation of the work in the retrospective exhibition of his work held at the Royal Academy and in the Royal Academy's permanent collection." Barringer mentioned that "Getsy's contribution takes a cue from revisionist work on painting in the last decade, seeing Leighton as a transitional and in many ways radical figure—a ‘modern,’ despite Clement Greenberg's placing him among the archdemons of modernism. He offers the fullest account yet of Leighton's unexpected move into sculpture." Barringer pointed out that "Getsy provides an important contribution to the history of British sculpture, revising, if not altogether replacing, Susan Beattie's established account of The New Sculpture and arguing for the centrality of figural sculpture in the development of modern British art." In short, Barringer called Body Doubles a "luscious study."

Ann Compton concluded her review in Art Book by saying that the book "rises above the division it maintains between the ideal and architectural because it equips the reader with the visual and analytical tools to investigate a wider range of works than those few discussed in the book. It would certainly have been interesting, however, to have some data on the financial and creative relationship between the works made for the gallery and the artists' commissions for public places. If it sometimes leaves us wishing, a little wistfully, for more, Body Doubles is a substantive contribution to sculpture studies and affirms David Getsy as a significant voice in the field." Stocker, again writing in Victorian Studies, observed that "Getsy sometimes strains too hard, however, in attempting to provide a theoretical framework for the New Sculpture and creates interpretations that reveal more about current art historical agendas than about what was said or thought in the late nineteenth century," singling out that "this criticism applies particularly to his first case study, of Frederic Leighton's Athlete Wrestling with a Python (1877)." Stocker conceded, however, that "Getsy's subsequent essays are more impressive. His discussion of Hamo Thornycroft's early ideal statuary offers many valuable observations."



Art Book, November, 2005, Ann Compton, review of Body Doubles: Sculpture in Britain, 1877-1905.

Art History, 2006, Jason Edwards, review of Body Doubles, pp. 526-528.

Art Journal, spring, 2006, Tim Barringer, review of Body Doubles.

Nineteenth-Century Contexts, December 1, 2006, Caterina Y. Pierre, review of Sculpture and the Pursuit of a Modern Ideal in Britain, c. 1880-1930, p. 395.

Sculpture Journal, Volume 15, number 1, 2006, Benedict Read, review of Body Doubles, pp. 119-121.

Sehepunkte, winter, 2005, review of Body Doubles.

Victorian Studies, January 1, 2005, Mark Stocker, review of Body Doubles and Sculpture and the Pursuit of a Modern Ideal in Britain c. 1880-1930, p. 312.


Art Institute of Chicago Web site, (June 12, 2008), author profile.