Alison Boyd

Alison Boyd studies modern and contemporary art, arts of African Diaspora, and feminist art history. She is also a Mellon Fellow in Northwestern’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Cluster. Her dissertation, “Modernism for America: Africanism and other Primitivisms at the Barnes Foundation 1919-1951,” investigates the racial underpinnings of modern art’s reception in the first half of the 20th Century. She argues that Philadelphia art collector, Albert Barnes, used primitivism—first in relation to African sculpture and African American music and, later, Native American and Pennsylvania German art—to re-contextualize his collection of modern art into displays that were uniquely relevant to his vision of the United States. As a fellow at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut she works with the research group “Objects in the Contact Zone: The Cross Cultural Lives of Things” to study how non-European objects are mediated through museums, collections, publications, and other cultural practices in the West.