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< All Fellows and Scholars

Dr. Caroline Riley

Caroline Riley
Judith B. and Burton P. Resnick Postdoctoral Fellow

Thérèse Bonney’s Photography: The Intermedial Syndication of Art, the Body, and War from 1920 to 1970

Professional Background

Dr. Caroline Riley received her PhD from Boston University, receiving the Jan and Warren Adelson Fellowship in American Art, her MA in material culture from the Winterthur Program/University of Delaware, and she serves as a Research Associate at the University of California, Davis. 

Dr. Riley has published numerous works on Pictorialist photography, nineteenth-century portrait painters, women’s photobooks, vernacular art, the formation of the American art canon, and the politicization of American art in Europe. Her first book, MoMA Goes to Paris in 1938, explores American art’s canonization during the interwar period and deployment of an exhibition as a form of soft diplomacy. Dr. Riley has worked at the Boston University Art Gallery, Cincinnati Art Museum, Gunston Hall, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, MFA, Boston, and Winterthur Museum and taught at Boston University, San Jose State University, and the University of California, Davis. Her most recent exhibition was Craft & Modernity: Professional Women Artists in Boston (1890–1920). She has given over 40 lectures at a range of venues including the American Studies Association, Association of Historians of American Art, College Art Association, École du Louvre, MESDA, Musée Goupil, New York University, SECAC, Stanford University and University of Oxford.

Dr. Riley further serves on the boards of the Association of Historians of American Art and the journal Panorama, on the Services to Historians of Visual Arts Committee of the College Art Association, and as a peer reviewer for the Journal of Transnational American Studies and Feminist Studies. She has received generous support from, among other institutions, Boston University’s Center for the Humanities, CASVA, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the Terra Foundation, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Fellowship Research

Dr. Riley was awarded a 2020-2021 Judith B. and Burton P. Resnick Postdoctoral Fellowship for her research project and second book, Thérèse Bonney’s Photography: The Intermedial Syndication of Art, the Body, and War from 1920 to 1970. Her research focuses on art’s cross-cultural dimensions from the seventeenth century to today with a specialization in transnationalism and canon formation.

During her fellowship, Dr. Riley will research how Americans, and the broader global public, learned through Thérèse Bonney’s photography about the Holocaust and Nazi looted artworks. Bonney’s trail-blazing life had a dramatic impact on the progress of women in the male-dominated professions of photographer, journalist, spy, business owner, and curator. She photographed seven Nazi camps in France and Germany from 1939 and 1946. Further, Bonney’s photographs of Buxheim, Königsee, and Neuschwanstein Castle complicate looted art’s theoretical dimensions and Dr. Riley considers specifically the performative nature of the photos and the labeling of art as looted. Fundamentally, she argues the syndication of Bonney’s photographs permitted a duplication and dissemination of Bonney herself as a professional woman artist and writer.

Residency Period: September 1, 2020, through April 30, 2021