January 26, 2015
Aesthetic Studies Prof Named Dallas Morning News Art Critic
Sept. 10, 2013
Dr. Richard Brettell is an internationally known expert on Impressionism and French painting from 1830 to 1930.
Dr. Richard Brettell, who holds the Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetic Studies at UT Dallas, has been selected as the new art critic for The Dallas Morning News. He will hold the one-year appointment concurrently with his role as a professor of art and aesthetic studies in the School of Arts and Humanities.
Brettell will review exhibitions at both major institutions and small galleries, highlight talented artists and be the face of The Dallas Morning News for visual arts news. He will blog regularly and appear in the Arts & Life section of the newspaper at least once a week.
“Scott Cantrell has pitched in for several years to write wonderful art criticism for The Dallas Morning News in addition to all his duties as the classical music critic,” Brettell said. “In that time, DFW has become one of the most important art cities in the country, with seven major art museums, countless contemporary spaces and an ever-expanded gallery scene. It is too much to be covered part time, and I am excited about telling the story of this region’s art scene to its people in the traditional form of the daily newspaper and its online outlets.”
One of Brettell’s goals is to become the agenda-setting voice for the arts in Dallas.
“This welcome appointment enhances the educational mission of both the University and The Dallas Morning News. One aspect of Brettell’s brilliance as a teacher is his ability to clarify complex ideas and matters of artistic excellence. Another is that those who take his classes, hear his lectures or read his books learn more,” said Dr. Dennis M. Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities and holder of the Ignacy and Celina Rockover Professorship.
“Rick brings a masterful expertise to this assignment. His criticism will be deeply informed, intelligent and readable. I have no doubt that readers who care about art will be richly rewarded by his commentary,”
Brettell founded the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Museums at UT Dallas in 1998. His museum experience includes serving as the Eugene McDermott Director at the Dallas Museum of Art and Searle Curator of European Painting at the Art Institute of Chicago.
An internationally known expert on Impressionism and French painting from 1830 to 1930, Brettell has published more than 20 books. His expertise is sought by museums and collectors worldwide. His work on projects in Europe, Asia and the United States includes the Millennium Gift of the Sara Lee Collection, the largest corporate gift to the arts in American history, for which he and the corporation received the National Medal for the Arts in 2001.
Brettell helped create FRAME (French/Regional/American Museum Exchange), a formal collaboration of museums in the United States and France that serves as a catalyst for cultural exchange. As a result of his work with FRAME, he received a commandeur certificate from the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters). Fellow commandeurs include T.S. Eliot, Clint Eastwood, Marcel Marceau, Bob Dylan and Ray Bradbury.
In 2010, Brettell curated the exhibition Pissarro’s People at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass. The Impressionist exhibit displayed 92 works, including portraits of artist Camille Pisarro's family members alongside pictures of artists, neighbors, domestic help and rural workers.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Brettell published an archival study that included interviews with surviving family members of the artist and research from newly discovered letters.
“Rick brings a masterful expertise to this assignment. His criticism will be deeply informed, intelligent and readable. I have no doubt that readers who care about art will be richly rewarded by his commentary,” said Bob Mong, editor of the News.
Brettell earned his undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees from Yale University. He has taught at The University of Texas at Austin, Northwestern University, The University of Chicago, Yale University and Harvard University.