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Maria Hsiuya Loh, expert in the field of early modern Italian art, joins the Institute for Advanced Study

Maria Hsiuya Loh Photo courtesy of the Institute for Advanced Study.

Maria Hsiuya Loh, an expert in the field of early modern Italian art, has joined the Institute for Advanced Study as a professor in the School of Historical Studies.

Loh comes to the Institute from Hunter College, where she served as a professor of art history. She is best known for her work on Venetian art of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particularly Titian and the numerous copies and variants that his works have inspired. Through her scholarship, she has developed new approaches to key issues in the field of art history, producing groundbreaking work on originality and repetition, and the emergence of the early modern artist. Loh also writes on contemporary artists and critics, drawing comparisons between sixteenth-century European painting and the output of modern and conceptual artists and filmmakers such as Sherrie Levine and Alfred Hitchcock.

“Loh is remarkable in her field for her ability to bring together keen observation, sophisticated theory, and historical context, all in the most lapidary and engaging prose,” said Institute for Advanced Study Director David Nirenberg. “She has offered compelling insights, not only about the work of individual artists but also about the nature of art itself. I look forward to the many ways her presence will enrich our intellectual community.”

Loh’s work builds upon that of past art historians from the Institute’s faculty. In her first monograph, “Titian Remade: Repetition and the Transformation of Early Modern Italian Art,” she discusses an often-overlooked essay by Erwin Panofsky that questioned the opposition between the concepts of “original” and “copy” in order to rethink the motif of the reclining Venus as explored previously by Millard Meiss. Building on these studies, Loh emphasizes the generative power of repetition, working to revise the standard narrative according to which European art moved away from imitation and embraced the cult of novelty and singularity. In so doing, her work also draws on readings of French theorists such as Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari as well as film scholars writing about remakes. Loh has previously spent time at the Institute as a Willis F. Doney Member in the School of Historical Studies (2012–13), where she completed her second book “Still Lives: Death, Desire, and the Portrait of the Old Master.”

“As the incoming Professor of Art History, I will be standing on the shoulders of the giants that came before me from Erwin Panofsky to Yve-Alain Bois,” Loh said. “To think of my name alongside these scholars is an honor and privilege that I could not have imagined possible when I first began my studies. It is at once exhilarating and humbling to be joining one of the most fabled research institutions in the world. I look forward to advocating for the arts and humanities and welcome this opportunity with immense gratitude and wonder.” 

Loh earned her bachelor’s degree in history and art history at McGill University, a Certificat des Études from the École Régionale des Beaux Arts in Rennes, a Licence from the Université de Rennes II, and her doctorate in the history of art at the University of Toronto. She was a Joanna Randall-MacIver Junior Research Fellow at St Hilda’s College, Oxford University, and a lecturer and a reader at University College London’s history of art department. In 2016, she joined CUNY’s Hunter College as a professor. She is the recipient of several grants, including the Philip Leverhulme Prize for early career scholars, a Samuel H. Kress Foundation Fellowship in Renaissance Art History, and a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholars Grant. She has been a pre-doctoral fellow at the Getty Research Institute and a visiting professor at the Villa I Tatti.

In addition to “Titian Remade” and “Still Lives,” Loh is the author of “Titian’s Touch: Art, Magic, and Philosophy.” She is currently completing a book on the representation of the sky in early modern art.