Benedetta Cestelli Guidi

Università di Siena

The Art Criticism of Franz Boas and Gladys A. Reichard (1897-1933)


After studies at the University of Rome 'La Sapienza' (Italy), Benedetta Cestelli Guidi received her MA in 1994 at the Warburg Institute, London: both her researches dealt with cultural and visual politics in Renaissance Italy (Venice and Ferrara). A portion of her part time research project dealt with the materials (both written and figurative) that Aby Warburg collected during his 'fieldtrip' during his American journey (1895-1896). From this research came two publications: Warburg's photographs, published in the English-German volume 'Photographs at the Frontier. Aby Warburg in America 1895-1896' co-edited by Cestelli Guidi and Nicholas Mann (Merrell Holberton and The Warburg Institute, London, 1998), and the first comprehensive study of Warburg's Pueblo collection, published in the French volume 'Le Rituel du Serpent. Art et Anthropologie' (Macula, Paris 2003). She co-organized the international conference on the legacy of Aby Warburg including panels on aesthetics, art history and anthropology (Rome, 2001). The collected works of the conference are published under the title 'Lo sguardo di Giano. Aby Warburg fra tempo e memoria'; papers in the collection which concern anthropology were also edited by Cestelli Guidi (Nino Aragno, Torino 2005).
In her Ph.D. she conducts a comparative study between Aby Warburg's Kulturwissenschaft and Franz Boas's research on cultural anthropology as seen in their respective approaches to museum display and the visual arts (University of Siena, Italy, 2005).
Her research at the Italian Academy focuses on Boas and Reichard's framework for art criticism with respect to native art. Boas and Reichard's methodologies concerning native art are compared to European art criticism developed in the 19th and 20th centuries in German speaking countries (G.Semper; A.Riegl; H.Wolfflin; A.Warburg) in order to prove if, and to what extent, the two disciplines - anthropology and art history - have had an influence in methods and analysis.