“Fragmentary Ruins and the Enduring Image”: Cammy Brothers on Drawing as a Way of Thinking 

Art historians think of a lot about, what was the artistic intention? How was it realized? But what I was trying to say is that there’s a lot that just happens spontaneously on the page. And what’s so exciting about looking at a page is that you can see that idea, that visual idea, in formation.”

In this episode

Sara Houghteling speaks with Cammy Brothers, a scholar of art and architecture at Northeastern University, as well as a journalist and regular art critic for the Wall Street Journal. In this episode, Brothers examines Michaelangelo’s drawing practice and that of his contemporary, Giuliano da Sangallo, and the ways in which da Sangallo’s architectural drawings aim to assemble fragmentary images of Rome on the page. Brothers also reflects on her career and writing practice: on publishing a first book that was not an adaptation of her doctoral dissertation; on the ways in which recitation is integral to clear and compelling scholarship; and on composing endings that open new lines of thought rather than summarizing or foreclosing meaning. She also discusses her role as a critic for the Wall Street Journal and the craft of writing for a public readership.   


Cammy Brothers specializes in Italian Renaissance and Mediterranean art and architecture. She is an associate professor at Northeastern University, where she holds a joint appointment in Architecture and in Art & Design. Previously she taught at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she held the Valmarana Chair and was director of the Venice Program. In recent years, she has been a visiting professor at Harvard University and a guest professor at the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta) in Zurich. She is the author of two monographs, Michelangelo, Drawing, and the Invention of Architecture (2008) and Giuliano da Sangallo and the Ruins of Rome (2022).

This conversation was recorded on June 5, 2023.


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