Dr. Charles L. Venable, The Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art
, announced the appointments of Dr. Christian Feest and Dr. Constantine Petridis as the next Mellon Curators-at-Large Program scholars. Feest and Petridis will assess the entirety of the IMAs Native American and African collections, respectively, concentrating on the aesthetic quality of pieces as works of art and their historical importance.
One of the worlds leading experts on Native American art, Dr. Christian Feest has studied Native American collections in Europe and America for more than 50 years, with much of his work focusing on the early collecting of Native American material in central Europe and the accurate documenting of those collections. He is the author of numerous books and articles in the Native American field.
Commenting on his upcoming work at the IMA, Feest said, The Native American collections at the IMA were neither systematically developed, nor have they ever been the subject of extensive research. So there is much work to be done. The Early C. Townsend Collection of prehistoric material will merit special attention as the largest group of objects, as will the Admiral Albert P. Niblack collection from Alaska, the most historically important collection at the IMA.
In addition, Feest is hoping to further develop already existing collaborations with the Childrens Museum of Indianapolis and The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, both of which have substantial holdings of Native American art.
Dr. Constantine Petridis has been active in the field of African art for nearly 25 years, both as a scholar and a curator, and has had the privilege to work with a wide variety of private and public collections in both Europe and the United States.
I am particularly interested in having a closer look at those works in the IMAs African collection that appear quite extraordinary or extremely rare. The donor of the vast majority of the IMAs African holdings, Harrison Eiteljorg, collected on a massive scale and from a wide variety of sources. The ability to systematically study the collection with new research in mind is most exciting, said Petridis.
Initiated in 2011, after the IMA received a $1.025 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the program has allowed the IMA to engage renowned scholars in conducting cutting-edge research on the IMAs collections while simultaneously experimenting with new ways of enhancing scholarly breadth across a large and encyclopedic collection. Drs. Feest and Petridis are the first scholars appointed to the Mellon Curators-at-Large program since Dr. Venable became the Melvin and Bren Simon Director & CEO in late 2012.
Having gotten to know Christian Feest over the past few years and Constantine Petridis during my time at the Cleveland Museum of Art, I am thrilled to have them coming to Indianapolis to engage with our staff and other colleagues while researching our Native American and African collections , said Venable. The Mellon Curator-at-Large program has allowed us to advance the understanding of our permanent collection by having exceptional guest scholars in residence, and we are most grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for making this possible.
Christian Feest was born in Broumov, Czech Republic. Presently Feest serves as a Guest Curator at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, KY and the Lokschuppen Museum in Rosenheim, Germany. In addition, since 1968, Feest has curated or co-curated numerous exhibitions at the world-renowned Museum of Ethnography in Vienna, where he was director from 2004 to 2010. Since 2004, Feest has taught as an Associate Professor at the University of Vienna, from which he earned his PhD in 1969, and has also held professorships at the University of Chicago and the Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität.
Constantine Petridis was born and educated in Belgium. He has been Curator of African Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art since January 2002, and in 2007 Co-Chaired the Coordination of the Interpretation for a new installation of the collection. From 2005 to 2008, Petridis also served as Consulting Curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Canada, where he oversaw the installation of the renowned Frum Collection of African Art. He has held pre- and postdoctoral fellowships from the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Belgian American Educational Foundation. Petridis holds an MA in art history and archaeology (1991) and a PhD in art history (1997), both from the University of Ghent in Belgium.