Alexander Alberro

Virginia Bloedel Wright '51 Professor of Art History


Art History


Alexander Alberro's areas of specialization are modern and contemporary European, U.S., and Latin American art, as well as the history of photography. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including fellowships from the Howard Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. His recent lecture courses include "Histories of Photography"; "Early Modernism and the Crisis of Representation"; “In and Around Abstract Expressionism”; and “Directions in Contemporary Art.” Recent seminars include "Contemporary Photography and Camera Work"; "Spectatorship, Participation and Interaction in Contemporary Art"; " Contemporary Art and the Global Turn"; and "Abstract Art and its Legacies in Latin America." 

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 of Conceptual Art and the Politics of Publicity (MIT 2004), Abstraction in Reverse: The Reconfigured Spectator in Mid-Twentieth Century Latin American Art (Chicago 2017), and the editor of numerous books, including Working Conditions: The Writings of Hans Haacke (MIT 2016), Luis Camnitzer In Conversation with Alexander Alberro(Cisneros Foundation, 2014), What is Contemporary Art Today? (University of Navarra, 2012), John Miller: The Ruin of Exchange (JRP/Ringier, 2012), Institutional Critique: An Anthology of Artists Writings (MIT 2009); Art After Conceptual Art (MIT, 2009); Museum Highlights: The Collected Writings of Andrea Fraser (MIT, 2005), Recording Conceptual Art (University of California, 2001), Two-Way Mirror Power: Dan Graham’s Writings on Art (MIT 1999); and Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology (MIT, 1999). Prof. Alberro is currently completing a book-length study of the newly-formed transnational web of individuals and institutions that has in the past three decades fundamentally changed the nature of contemporary art, exploring not only what has led to this complex transformation but also the impact it has had on the current conditions of artistic practice. He has been a featured speaker at many universities and cultural institutions throughout the world, and has appeared in several documentary films on contemporary art.

Ph.D., Northwestern University

“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,” in The Artist as Curator: An Anthology, ed. Elena Filipovic (Mousse Publishing/Konig Books, 2017), 359-372.

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

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

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

“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.

“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,” in John Knioght, ed. André Rottmann (MIT Press, 2014), 133-157.

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

“The Fragment and the Flow: Sampling the Work of Renée Green,” Renée Green: Shadows and Signals, 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.

“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.

  • Modern art 
  • Contemporary art
  • History of Photography

In The News

Art history professor reflects on expansiveness of new museum and its inaugural exhibition

May 1, 2015

Congratulations to the recipients of 2013 Teaching Awards

May 24, 2013

A major contemporary work now graces the lawn.

November 1, 2011