Joan Kerr: The Making of a Feminist Art Historian
Free Public Lecture
Ursula Hoff Lecture 2017
When Professor Joan Kerr was diagnosed with terminal cancer in the year before her death in 2004, her friends were determined that her intellectual legacy should continue. The reason for this was not just friendship, nor a determination that a great feminist scholar should survive the strange machismo of Australian art historiography. Rather it was a recognition that Kerr’s inclusive approach was especially rewarding as a way of mapping Australian art and its objects. By challenging the traditional hierarchies of media and association that privileged both oil painting and networks of mateship, Kerr revealed a rich tapestry that not only expanded the number of people considered to be artists but also questioned the nature of what we call art.
Despite the radical outcomes of her research, Kerr’s methodology was based on the observational methodology of Nikolaus Pevsner and the lessons learnt by ‘reading’ the object. This public lecture – delivered by Associate Professor Joanna Mendelssohn, art historian, University of New South Wales – will examine Joan Kerr’s eminent career and provide insights into the events and intellectual movements that shaped her thinking.
The Australian Institute of Art History is pleased to assist the Ursula Hoff Institute in presenting the annual Ursula Hoff Lecture for 2017 and acknowledges the generous support of the S R Stoneman Foundation.
Image: Joan Kerr with the Dictionary of Australian Artists Working Paper 1, published in 1984.