History of Art and Architecture

Kirk Savage

Professor

Area of Specialization

Art of the United States
Advisees:

Biography

Past PhD(s): Annika Johnson, Travis Nygard, Paul Scolari, Anne Knutson, Ivy Schroeder Cooper, co-supervised: Lihui Dong, Rachel Miller, Donald Simpson, Maria D'Annibale, Carolyn Butler-Palmer; See a listing of Past PhDs for details

Constellation(s): AgencyIdentityVisual Knowledge

Kirk Savage has written extensively on public monuments within the larger theoretical context of collective memory and identity. He is the author or editor of three prizewinning books. The Civil War in Art and Memory is an anthology exploring the intertwined themes of race, militarism, heroism, and domesticity. Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape (2009) reconsidered the key public monuments and spaces of the capital within a narrative of nation building, spatial conquest, ecological destructiveness, and psychological trauma. Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America (1997; 2nd edition 2018) investigated the themes of slavery and emancipation in the monument boom that followed the U.S. Civil War.  He is at work on two new book projects. Co-authored with Elizabeth Thomas, His Father’s Son: Yonaguska, Will Thomas, and the Forgotten History of Cherokee Resistance on the Appalachian Frontier, tells the story of the extraordinary Cherokee chief Yonaguska (1760-1838) and his agent and adopted son William Holland Thomas (1805-1893), and how one family descendant has come to terms with the repression and manipulation of this history.  Another project focuses on the Civil War dead in a local Pittsburgh “rural cemetery” in order to examine the much larger movement of bodies, names, and memorials in Civil War commemoration.

Education Details

PhD, University of California, Berkeley

Selected Publications

In press: With co-author Elizabeth Thomas, “William Holland Thomas and the Myth of  the White Chief,” Journal of Cherokee Studies.

In press: “No Time, No Place: The Existential Crisis of the Public Monument,” Future Anterior, for the special issue, Ex-Situ: On Moving Monuments, Winter 2019.

Editor, The Civil War in Art and Memory, in the series Studies in the History of Art (Washington DC: National Gallery of Art and Yale University Press, Spring 2016).  Author credits: Introduction, 1-4, and essay, “The Unknowable Dead: The Civil War and the Origins of Modern Commemoration,” 81-102.

Guest Editor, Memorials War and Peace, Special Issue of Public Art Dialogue, 2 (September 2012).

“Afterword: War/Memory/History: Toward a Remixed Understanding,” in Remixing the Civil War: Meditations on the Sesquicentennial, ed. Thomas Brown (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), 180-88.

“The Obsolescence of Sculpture,” American Art 24 (Spring 2010): 9-14.

“The War Memorial as Elegy,” in The Oxford Handbook of Elegy, ed. Karen Weisman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 637-657.

“Shock and Awe: The Horse in Battle and Art, American Style,” in Hoofbeats and Heartbeats: The Horse in American Art, Ingrid Cartwright curator (Lexington, KY: Art Museum of the University of Kentucky, 2010), 10-29.

“John Rogers, the Civil War, and “the subtle question of the hour,” in John Rogers: American Stories, ed. Kimberley Orcutt (New York: New York Historical Society, 2010), 59-75.

 “Between Diaspora and Empire: The Shevchenko Monument in Washington, D.C.,” in Transnational American Memories, ed. Udo J. Hebel (Berlin/New York: Walther de Gruyter, 2009), 333-350.

Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009).

“The Impossible Monument: A Response to Wodiczko’s ‘Memorial for September 11,’” in Krzysztof Wodiczko, City of Refuge: a 9-11 Memorial, ed. Mark Jarzombek and Mechtild Widrich (London: Black Dog, 2009), 56-60.

“Trauma, Healing, and the Therapeutic Monument,” in Terror, Culture, Politics:  Rethinking 9/11, ed. Daniel Sherman and Terry Nardin (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2006), 103-120. [Reprinted in part in Public Art Review, Issue 35 (Fall/Winter 2006): 41-45.]

Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997; 2nd edition 2018).

Forthcoming: Editor, The Civil War in Art and Memory, in the series Studies in the History of Art (Washington DC: National Gallery of Art, 2015).

“Leere Gräber. Bürgerkrieg und nationale Gedenkpraktiken” [“Empty Graves: The Origins of Civil War Commemoration”], Mittleweg 36 (Zeitschrift des Hamburger Instituts fur Sozialforschung), 23:2 (April/May 2014): 54-61.

Selected Awards

Public Art Dialogue Award for Achievement in Public Art, 2016.

Recipient of the 2012 J.B. Jackson Prize, Foundation for Landscape Studies, for Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape

Recipient of the 2010 Charles C. Eldredge Prize, Smithsonian American Art Museum for Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009).

Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2010 for Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009).

Recipient of the 1998 John Hope Franklin Publication Prize, American Studies Association, for best book published in American Studies for Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997).