Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetic Studies and Edith O'Donnell Distinguished Chair
Co-Director of CISM
Yale University B.A. (1971), M.A. (1973), Ph.D. (1977)
Areas of Specialization
19th- and 20th-century visual representation: mechanical, assisted, and handmade; the history of art museums and of private collecting in capitalist societies; visual "translation" of texts; artists as writers; 19th and 20th-century architecture.
Richard Brettell is among the foremost authorities in the world on Impressionism and French Painting of the period 1830-1930. With three degrees from Yale University, he has taught at The University of Texas, Northwestern University, The University of Chicago, Yale University, and Harvard University and is currently Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetics in the Interdisciplinary Program in Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas. He is also an international museum consultant with projects in Europe, Asia, and the United States. He established the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Museums at UT Dallas.
In 1980, Dr. Brettell was appointed Searle Curator of European Painting at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1988, he became the McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. Since leaving the Dallas Museum of Art, Dr. Brettell has been involved with the purchase of the M. H.W. Ritchie Collection for the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, with the building and renovation
program of the Portland Museum of Art (Oregon), and with the Millennium Gift of the Sara Lee Collection, for which the company won the National Medal for the Arts in 1999. He is Senior Advisor for International Art for the National Gallery of Australia and has worked with Professor Stephen Eisenman of Northwestern University to catalogue the collection of 19th and 20th century French Paintings at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California. Dr. Brettell worked with Elizabeth and Felix Rohatyn, former Ambassador to France, and Françoise Cachin, former Director of the French National Museums to create FRAME, the French Regional and American Museum Exchange.
More recently, he has also been appointed the Director of the Paul Gauguin Catalogue Raisonné for the Wildenstein Institute in Paris and was recently named Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture for the work he accomplished within FRAME (French Regional/American Museum Exchange).
Dr. Brettell is actively engaged with architecture in Dallas, as a board member and founding president of the Dallas Architecture Forum, and as a Consultant to Philip Johnson for The Cathedral of Hope in Dallas.
Dr. Brettell is the author of many books, essays and articles and travels often to give lectures.