James Nisbet

Picture of James Nisbet
Chair, Art History
School of Humanities
Associate Professor, Art History
School of Humanities
Associate Professor, Visual Studies
School of Humanities
Director, Environmental Humanities Research Center
Ph.D., Stanford University, 2011, Art History
M.A., Williams College, 2004, History of Art
B.A., Saint Edward's University, 2002, Philosophy
University of California, Irvine
Department of Art History
2130 Humanities Gateway
Mail Code: 2785
Irvine, CA 92697
Getty Research Institute, Consortium Scholar and residential fellowship, 2019–20

Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, research fellowship, 2014

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Society for the Humanities and Department of the History of Art, Cornell University, 2011-12

Georgia O'Keeffe Research Center, residential fellowship, 2011

Dumbarton Oaks, Garden and Landscape Studies, residential fellowship, 2011
Research Abstract
My research addresses modern and contemporary art, theory, and criticism, with particular interests in environmental history, modern science, abstraction, conceptualism, and the history of photography.

My first book, which is titled Ecologies, Environments, and Energy Systems in Art of the 1960s and 1970s, was published by MIT Press in 2014. It examines the breadth of ecological thought across artistic and social practices during these formative decades for environmentalism. More recent projects include Second Site, which explores new methodologies for understanding the relationship between site-specificity and duration, and The Invention of the American Desert: Art, Land, and the Politics of Environment (volume co-edited with Lyle Massey), that examines interdisciplinary perspectives on the role of desert environments in both experimental modernist culture and ecological disaster.

Second Site. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2021.

Ecologies, Environments, and Energy Systems in Art of the 1960s and 1970s. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014.

Co-edited Book and Special Journal Issue

The Invention of the American Desert: Art, Land, and the Politics of Environment, edited with Lyle Massey. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2021.

“Climate Crisis and Visual Culture,” edited with Lucas Hilderbrand, Afterimage 47, no. 2 (Summer 2020), 12–58.

Selected Articles and Review Essays

“On the Recalcitrance of the Desert Island, by way of Andrea Zittel’s A–Z West,” in The Invention of the American Desert: Art, Land, and the Politics of Environment, ed. Lyle Massey and James Nisbet (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2021): 185–208.

“On and Off the Grid,” in Picture Ecology: Art and Ecocriticism in Planetary Perspective, ed. Karl Kusserow (New Haven and Princeton: Yale University Press and Princeton University Art Museum, 2021): 222–239.

“Beauty for America,” in Alma W. Thomas: Everything is Beautiful, ed. Jonathan Frederick Walz and Seth Feman, exh. cat. New Haven, CT and Columbus, GA: Yale University Press and The Columbus Museum, 2021, 166–173.

“Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time: Robert Barry’s Inert Gas Series,” in "Sublimation: Redefining Materiality in Art after Modernism," ed. Christian Berger and Annika Schlitte, Zeitschrift für Ästhetik und Allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft, Special Issue 19 (2021): 89–113.

“History Painting After Conceptual Art,” in What Was History Painting and What Is it Now, ed. Mark Phillips and Jordan Bear (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019), 182–203.

“Photography as Photoenergy,” in Energies in the Arts, ed. Douglas Kahn (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2019), 87–126; with Daniel Hackbarth.

“The Ecological Site,” in Ecologies, Agents, Terrains, ed. Christopher Heuer and Rebecca Zorach (Williamstown, MA and New Haven: Clark Art Institute and Yale University Press, 2018), 3–33.

“Energia, Optics, and Photography’s Formation in England,” in Kraft, Intensität, Energie. Zur Dynamik der Künste in der Frühen Neuzeit, ed. Frank Fehrenbach, Robert Felfe, and Karin Leonhard (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017), 289–299.

“Mark Dion’s Tropical Ecology,” in Mark Dion: The Culture of Nature, exh. cat., ed. Ruth Erickson (Boston: Institute of Contemporary Art, 2017), 70–79.

"Negative Process," In Focus: Salt Flat 1968 by Dennis Oppenheim, ed. John R. Blakinger (Tate Research Publication, 2017), http://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/in-focus/salt-flat/negative-process.

"Environmental Abstraction and the Polluted Image," American Art 31, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 114–131.

"Contemporary Environmental Art," in The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities, ed. Ursula Heise, Jon Christensen, and Michelle Niemann (London: Routledge, 2016), 301–312.

"Surface/Sphere: Walter De Maria's Geopolitical Dimensions," The Art Bulletin 98, no. 3 (September 2016): 373–394.

“Atmospheric Cameras and Ecological Light in the Landscapes of Eadweard Muybridge,” Photography & Culture 6, no. 2 (July 2013): 131–156.

“A Brief Moment in the History of Photo-Energy: Walter De Maria’s Lightning Field.” Grey Room 50 (Winter 2013): 66–89.

Book review for The Ethics of Earth Art by Amanda Boetzkes. Art Journal 71, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 161–64.

“Walead Beshty: PROCESSCOLORFIELD.” X–TRA 14, no. 2 (Winter 2012): 45–53.

“Material Propositions on the Individual/Collective: The Work of Vladimir Tatlin.” Modernism/modernity 17, no. 1 (January 2010): 109–134.

Book review for The Lightning Field by Kenneth Baker. caa.reviews (June 24, 2009). doi:10.3202/caa.reviews.2009.62, http://caareviews.org/reviews/1291.

“Coast to Coast: Land Work Between the N. E. Thing Co. and Lucy Lippard.” Archives of American Art Journal 47, nos. 1-2 (Spring 2008): 58–65.
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