Alexander Alberro

Virginia Bloedel Wright '51 Professor of Art History, Barnard

Modern and Contemporary Art; History of Photography
Ph.D., Northwestern, 1996

Contact Information

Phone: (212) 854-0311
Office: 503C Diana Center
Office Hours: Thursdays, 2-4


Alexander Alberro's courses and graduate advising is in the area of modern and contemporary European, U.S., and Latin American art, as well as in the history of photography and film. Recent lecture courses include "Histories of Photography"; "Early Modernism and the Crisis of Representation"; “In and Around Abstract Expressionism”; and “Contemporary Art.” Graduate seminars taught include "The Infrastructure of Contemporary Art," “Contemporary Caribbean Art,” "Photography and Camera Work"; "Spectatorship, Participation and Interaction in Contemporary Art"; " Contemporary Art and the Global Turn"; and "Abstract Art and its Legacies in South America." Recent dissertations that he has directed or codirected have focused contemporary art in localities such as Iran, India, Iraq, Algeria, Japan, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, Germany, France, Canada, and the United States.

Professor Alberro's writings have been published in a broad range of journals and exhibition catalogues, and translated into numerous languages. He is also the author and editor of numerous books, including Abstraction in Reverse: The Reconfigured Spectator in Mid-Twentieth Century Latin American Art (2017), Luis Camnitzer In Conversation with Alexander Alberro (2014); What is Contemporary Art Today? (2012); John Miller: The Ruin of Exchange (2012); Institutional Critique: An Anthology of Artists Writings (2009); Art After Conceptual Art (2006); Museum Highlights (2005); Conceptual Art and the Politics of Publicity (2003); Recording Conceptual Art (2001); Two-Way Mirror Power (1999); and Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology (1999). Professor Alberro is presently completing a book-length study, "The Shape of Contemporary Art," that focuses on the transformation of the infrastructure of contemporary art in the new geography of globalization. He is also the founding editor of the University of California Press’ book series “Studies on Latin American Art,” which commissions publications of art history and cultural practices emerging from Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the Latin American diaspora in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Professor Alberro has been the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the Howard Foundation, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and others. He has also been a featured speaker at many universities and cultural institutions throughout the world, and has appeared in several documentary films on contemporary art.

Selected Publications

François Morellet’s Concrete Art of the 1950s,” in François Morellet, ed. Béatrice Gross (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2019), 38-45.

'Like the Skin of A Whale': The Pluri-sensorial Art of Lygia Pape,” in Lygia Pape, ed. Olivier Renaud-Clément (New York, NY: Hauser & Wirth, 2018), 8-25.

Sculpture Palimpsests: Michael Asher in Münster,” Out of Time, Skulptur Projekte Münster 2017 (Autumn 2016). 

To Find, To Create, To Reveal: Torres-García and the Models of Invention in Mid-1940s Rio de la Plata,” Joaquín Torres-Garcia: The Arcadian Modern (Museum of Modern Art, 2015), 106-121.

“Media, Art, and Politics in the Work of Roberto Jacoby,” October, 153 (Summer 2015), 3-13.

“Alice Creischer, Andreas Siekmann, and Max Jorge Hinderer, The Potosí Principle, 2010,” Mousse, 45:4 (2014), 21-33.

“A Messier Coherence,” Modernism/modernity, 20:2 (April 2013), 371-381.

Life Models,” Frieze, 148 (June/July/August 2012), 154-159.

“Murder, He Wrote,” John Miller: The Ruin of Exchange (JRP/Ringier, 2012), 11-19.

Picturing Relations: Images, Texts and Social Engagement in the Work of Barbara Kruger,” Barbara Kruger (Rizzoli, 2010), 193-200.

Institutions, Critique, and Institutional Critique,” Institutional Critique: An Anthology of Artists’ Writings (MIT Press, 2009), 2-19.

Periodising Contemporary Art,” Crossing Cultures: Conflict, Migration, Convergence, Proceedings of the 32nd Congress of the International Committee for the History of Art, ed. Jaynie Anderson (Melbourne University Press, 2009), 961-965.

“Mimicry, Excess, Critique,” Museum Highlights: The Collected Writings of Andrea Fraser (MIT Press, 2005), xxi-xxxvii.

“Specters of Provenance: National Loans, the Königsplatz, and Maria Eichhorn’s `Politics of Restitution’,” Grey Room, 18 (Winter 2005), 65-81.

Beauty Knows No Pain,” Art Journal, 63:2 (Summer 2004), 36-43.

“The Catalogue of Robert Smithson’s Library,” Robert Smithson, ed. Eugenie Tsai (University of California Press, 2004), 244-248.

“Meaning at the Margins: The Semiological Inversions of John Knight,” 870: John Knight (Storm King Art Center, 2002), 16-31.

“Unraveling the Seamless Totality: Christian Philipp Müller and the Reevaluation of Established Equations,” Grey Room, 6 (Spring 2002), 5-25.

“At the Threshold of Art as Information,”Recording Conceptual Art (University of California Press, 2001).

“The Fragment and the Flow: Sampling the Work of Renée Green,” Renée Green: Ombres i senyals, ed. Nuria Enguita (La Fundació Antoni Tápies, 2000), 20-43.

Blind Ambition: Andreas Gursky’s Big Picture,” Artforum International, 39:5 (January 2001), 104-114.

Reconsidering Conceptual Art, 1966-1977,” in Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology (MIT Press, 1999), xvi-xxxvii.

“Demystifying the Image: The Film and Video Work of Rodney Graham,” in Rodney Graham: Cinema Music Video, ed. Yves Gevaert (Kunsthalle Wien, 1999), 13-29, 73-87.

“A Media Art: Conceptualism in Latin America in the 1960s,” in Rewriting Conceptual Art, eds. Michael Newman and Jon Bird (Reaktion Books, 1999), 140-151, 233-236.

 “The Dialectics of Everyday Life: Martha Rosler and the Strategy of the Decoy,” Martha Rosler: Positions in the Life World, ed. Catherine De Zegher (MIT Press, 1998), 72-112.

"The Turn of the Screw: Daniel Buren, Dan Flavin, and the Sixth Guggenheim International Exhibition," October, 80 (Spring 1997), 57-84.