Rex Koontz, Professor and Director

BA, American College in Paris
MA, University of Texas, Austin
PhD, University of Texas, Austin

Prof. Koontz’s research focuses on the public sculpture of Ancient Mesoamerica and includes articles, book chapters and the books, Lightning Gods and Feathered Serpents (University of Texas Press, 2009) and Organized Violence in the Art and Architecture of Mesoamerica (with Heather Orr, UCLA, 2009). His more general interests include the design and communicative function in non-Western art. His review article “Visual Culture Studies in Mesoamerica” appeared recently in the journal Ancient Mesoamerica, and in 2011 he was one of three North Americans chosen to contribute to the country’s bicentenary exhibition catalog at the National Museum of Anthropology and History in Mexico City (Seis Ciudades Antiguas de Mesoamérica). Other books include Landscape and Power in Ancient Mesoamerica, edited with Kathryn Reese-Taylor and Annabeth Headrick, and Mexico (5th, 6th and 7th editions, 2002, 2008, and 2013) with Michael Coe. He is the recipient of fellowships at Dumbarton Oaks (Harvard) and the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

Prof. Koontz teaches courses in Pre-Columbian Art, Ancient Gulf-Coast (Mexico), and Latin American Art.

Fine Arts Building, Room 100

Natilee Harren, Assistant Professor

History of Contemporary Art
B.A. Rice University

Natilee Harren, an art historian and practicing critic, specializes in modern and contemporary art history and theory from 1900 to the present with a particular focus on experimental, interdisciplinary practices after 1960. Her current book project, Objects without Object: Fluxus and the Notational Neo-Avant-Garde, examines the international Fluxus collective amid transformations of the art object wrought by score-based practices of the 1960s and the epochal shift from modernism to postmodernism. Harren is also co-editor of an interdisciplinary electronic publication, forthcoming from the Getty Research Institute, that surveys and theorizes a range of 20th-century experimental notations from the fields of performance art, dance, literature, and music within a media-rich digital platform. Prof. Harren’s research engages the history and theory of Euro-American avant-gardes across the 20th and 21st centuries; intermedia art and theories of translation between artistic mediums and disciplines; the role of notations, scores, and diagrams in conceptual and performative art practices; institutional critique; social practice; and theories of appropriation. Harren’s essays and criticism have appeared or are forthcoming in Art Journal and Getty Research Journal, among other publications, and she has been a regular contributor to Artforum since 2009. Her research has been supported by a Getty Research Institute Predoctoral Fellowship, a Fulbright Graduate Fellowship at the Kunsthistorisches Institut of the Universität zu Köln, the UCLA Center for European and Eurasian Studies, and the University of California Office of the President. She currently serves on the Executive Board of the Society of Contemporary Art Historians and as field editor for exhibition reviews in the Southwest. Prof. Harren previously taught in the departments of art and art history at UCLA and Occidental College.

H. Rodney Nevitt, Jr., Associate Professor
Northern Renaissance and Baroque

BA, Rice University
MA, Williams College
PhD, Harvard Universit

Prof. Nevitt’s field of research is seventeenth-century Dutch art. His publications include Art and the Culture of Love in Seventeenth-Century Holland (in the series “Studies in Netherlandish Visual Culture,” W. Franits, ed.), Cambridge University Press 2003, and “Bridal Decorum and Dangerous Looks: Rembrandt’s Wedding Feast of Samson (1638),” in Rethinking Rembrandt, A. Chong and M. Zell, eds., Waanders 2002; “Vermeer on the Question of Love,” in The Cambridge Companion to Vermeer, W. Franits, ed., Cambridge 2001; “Rembrandt’s Hidden Lovers,” Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 1997 (Natuur en landschap in de Nederlandse kunst 1500-1800), vol. 48, 1998; and “The Herdsman, the Rowboat, the Beetle and the Ant in Two Marriage Portraits by Gerrit Adriaensz. de Heer,” in Shop Talk: Studies in Honor of Seymour Slive, C. P. Schneider, W. W. Robinson, A. I. Davies, eds., Harvard University Art Museums, 1995. In 2004, Prof. Nevitt received a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend for research on changes in Dutch genre painting.  He has delivered papers at the College Art Association, Historians of Netherlandish Art, and South-Central Renaissance Conferences. He has also been an invited speaker in several symposia and lecture series on Rembrandt and Dutch art, including at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. 

Prof. Nevitt teaches courses in European Baroque Art, Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art, Northern Renaissance Art, and seminars on Methods of Art History.

Fine Arts Building, Room 104E

Raphael Rubenstein, Professor

Critical Studies / Theory / Criticism

Raphael Rubinstein is the author of numerous books of poetry, prose, and criticism, including Critical Mess: Art Critics on the State of Their PracticeThe Basement of the Cafe Rilke, and Polychrome Profusion: Selected Art Criticism 1990–2002. Since 1986, his art writing has appeared in ArtsArt NewsArt in AmericaFlash ArtArtforum and other magazines, and has significantly influenced the critical landscape. From 1997–2007, he was Senior Editor for Art in America. Rubinstein has lectured internationally, curated exhibitions and received numerous awards including the French government’s Chevalier dans l’Order de Arts et des Lettres.

Professor Rubenstein teaches courses on Virtual Curating, and Art Theory and Criticism.

Fine Arts Building, Room 322

Judith Steinhoff, Associate Professor
Medieval (Northern Europe and Italy)

BA, Sarah Lawrence College
MFA, Princeton University
PhD, Princeton University

Prof. Steinhoff’s primary area of research is Italian Gothic (14th century) art and particularly the social and political uses of images and artistic style in the fourteenth century. Currently, her principal research focus is on the ways grieving was gendered, represented, and performed in Italian Gothic art and social ritual. Her publications include Art as Politics in Medieval and Renaissance Siena (with Timothy B. Smith; Ashgate Press, 2012); “Weeping Women: Social Roles and Images in 14th century Tuscany” (Crying in the Middle Ages: The Tears of History. E. Gertsman, ed., Routledge Press, 2012), and Sienese Painting After the Black Death: Artistic Pluralism, Politics, and the New Art Market, (Cambridge University Press, 2007). She has also published articles in Renaissance Studies and The Art Bulletin and presented papers at regional, national, and international art history and interdisciplinary conferences. 

Prof. Steinhoff teaches courses on Medieval Art, Illuminated Manuscripts, and Italian Gothic Art. She has taught two courses that involved creating exhibitions of medieval illuminated manuscripts held in the MD Anderson Library at UH as well as accompanying catalogs: “Lustre: Spiritual Treasures & Sensory Pleasures. Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts in Houston Collections” (2005–2006), and “Sacra et Profana: Music in Medieval Manuscripts,” (2012–2013).

Fine Arts Building, Room 104F

Sandra Zalman, Associate Professor
Modern and Contemporary Art

BA, University of California, Berkeley
MA, University of Southern California
PhD, University of Southern California

Dr. Zalman’s research develops out of a broad interest in the interplay between high and low forms of the visual, especially as that interaction has shaped the discourses of art in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She is also interested in the examination of institutions that consciously worked to present modern art to public audiences, ranging from museums and world’s fairs to department stores, Hollywood movies, and popular magazines. Dr. Zalman is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant, and was a 2012–2013 Fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies. Her writing has been published in Art JournalGrey RoomHistoire de l’Art and the Journal of Surrealism and the Americas. Her current book project analyzes Surrealism’s reception in the U.S. and argues that Surrealism worked as a powerful agitator to disrupt dominant narratives of modern and contemporary art in the United States. 

Fine Arts Building, Room 104D

Luisa Orto, Affiliate
BA, Boston University
MA, New York University
PhD, New York University

In addition to her degrees in Art History, Dr. Orto also completed a minor in Art Conservation at New York University, Institute of Fine Arts. Her PhD research addressed the exchange between the fine arts and design as demonstrated by central figures of postwar design in Milan, and was supported by the Fulbright Foundation. Following two years of teaching at New York University, Dr. Orto came to the University of Houston where she teaches in the Art History Department and the College of Architecture.

Dr. Orto teaches courses on the history of design including a Twentieth Century survey, as well as courses on Italian art and design, Scandinavian design and contemporary design.

Fine Arts Building, Room 104A

Affiliated Faculty in Other Departments
Students are also encouraged to take courses related to their art historical studies with faculty throughout the University.

Humanities faculty affiliated with the Art History Program include:
Roberto Tejada, Professor of Creative Writing and Art History (joint appointment)
Dr. Francesca Behr, Associate Professor Modern and Classical Languages
Dr. Casey Due-Hackney, Professor Modern and Classical Languages

Art History / BA

Art History Overview