Gray Sweeney

Professor
Faculty
TEMPE Campus
Mailcode
1505
Professor
Faculty
TEMPE Campus
Mailcode
1505
Professor
Faculty
TEMPE Campus
Mailcode
1505
Professor
Faculty
TEMPE Campus
Mailcode
1505

Biography

J. Gray Sweeney is a nationally recognized leader in the fields of publishing and teaching of American art. He has published more than 200 books, peer-reviewed journals articles, single- and multiple-author catalogues and museum collection catalogue entries. Professor Sweeney produced more than $1 million in private, federal and state funds in support of his publications, exhibitions, and other scholarly endeavors. Professor Sweeney is nationally known as an expert on the art of the American West, the Hudson River School, and American painting in the 19th century. He is frequently quoted in The New York Times and has appeared on PBS's History Detectives.

Professor Sweeney received his doctorate in 1975 from Indiana University. His awards include numerous prestigious fellowships including the Smithsonian Senior Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, where he investigated critical issues in American art. His research has been supported by the Luce Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies, The Tweed Foundation, Carnegie, Kress, Ford Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Cargill Corporation.

His most recent book, "Fantastic Embodiment: Art, Imagination and the Ecocritical history of Personification," is in final preparation. This book investigates aesthetic conventions of anthropomorphic imagery from the Renaissance to the present. The study investigates the artistic conventions of perceiving fantastic personifications in clouds, rock faces, and gesturing trees in European and American landscape paintings from the Renaissance to the present.

Sweeney's teaching and mentoring philosophy is to help students develop ways of thinking that lead to “critical vigilance.” As art historians, art critics, or studio producers, his ultimate goal is to enable students to produce new methods of “embodying history” for themselves. He applies current theoretical and methodological discourses in my teaching and research. His instruction shows an impressive range and development culminating more than two decades of effort to rethink the belief system of traditional art history. His current focus is on the future of visual arts disciplines, and how they will be transformed by new conceptions, theories, technology, and globalization. He introduced a number of exciting and challenging courses in Methods and Theories of Art History, Visual Culture Studies and Theories of Contemporary Art. His courses deal with issues of critical theory, ideological and institutional critique, class, race and gender. His course on the art and ecology of visual cultures includes issues of “eco-criticism” and sustainability, and connects to his research on vitalistic personifications or anthropomorphic embodiments in the history of art. The focus of his teaching and research, as a publishing scholar, is based on excellence rather than quantity. 

Education

Ph.D. Indiana University

Publications

Gilbert Munger: Quest for Distinction, with Michael D. Schroeder, Afton Historical Society Press &  University of Minnesota, Tweed Museum of Art, Afton & Duluth, Minnesota, 2003.

“Inventing Luminism: Labels are the Dickens,” Oxford Art Journal, 26. 2, 2003, 93-120.

Inventing Acadia: Artists and Tourists at Mount Desert. "An 'Indomitable Explorative Enterprise': Inventing National Parks." The Farnsworth Art Museum, University Press of New England. 2003

Drawing the Borderline: Artist-Explorers of the U. S. - Mexico Boundary Survey.   University of New Mexico Press & Albuquerque Art Museum, Albuquerque, 1996

“The Advantages of Genius and Virtue: Thomas Cole's Influence, 1848-1876,” in Thomas Cole and the Course of American Empire, Yale University Press & National Museum of American Art, New Haven, 1994.

The Columbus of the Woods: Daniel Boone and the Typology of Manifest Destiny , Washington University Gallery of Art, St. Louis, & University of Washington Press. 1992

Masterpieces of Western American Art, Bantam/Doubleday/Dell, New York 1991. 2 nd revised Edition, New York, Random House, 1996.

“Racism, Nationalism and Nostalgia in Cowboy Art,” Oxford Art Journal, Winter 1992. Reprinted in Race-ing Art History: A Critical Anthology, ed. Kymberly N. Pindar, Routledge, 2002.

Courses

Fall 2018
Course Number Course Title
ARS 442 Critical Issues in Am Painting
ARS 498 Pro-Seminar
ARS 499 Individualized Instruction
ARS 590 Reading and Conference
ARS 591 Seminar
ARS 598 Special Topics
ARS 599 Thesis
ARS 692 Research
ARS 790 Reading and Conference
ARS 792 Research
ARS 799 Dissertation
Spring 2018
Course Number Course Title
ARS 102 Art from Renaissance/Present
ARS 493 Honors Thesis
ARS 498 Pro-Seminar
ARS 499 Individualized Instruction
ARS 591 Seminar
ARS 599 Thesis
ARS 690 Reading and Conference
ARS 692 Research
Fall 2017
Course Number Course Title
ARS 394 Special Topics
ARS 442 Critical Issues in Am Painting
ARS 480 Research Methods
ARA 484 Internship
ARS 492 Honors Directed Study
ARS 493 Honors Thesis
ARS 499 Individualized Instruction
ARA 499 Individualized Instruction
ARA 584 Internship
ARS 590 Reading and Conference
ARA 592 Research
ARS 592 Research
ARS 598 Special Topics
ARS 599 Thesis
AMS 599 Thesis
ARS 690 Reading and Conference
ARS 692 Research
ARS 790 Reading and Conference
ARS 792 Research
ARS 799 Dissertation
Spring 2017
Course Number Course Title
ARS 394 Special Topics
ARA 394 Special Topics
ARS 442 Critical Issues in Am Painting
ARA 484 Internship
ARS 493 Honors Thesis
ARS 499 Individualized Instruction
ARA 499 Individualized Instruction
ARS 590 Reading and Conference
ARS 591 Seminar
ARS 592 Research
ARS 598 Special Topics
AMS 599 Thesis
ARS 599 Thesis
ARS 690 Reading and Conference
Fall 2016
Course Number Course Title
ARS 394 Special Topics
ARA 394 Special Topics
ARS 442 Critical Issues in Am Painting
ARS 480 Research Methods
ARA 484 Internship
ARS 492 Honors Directed Study
ARS 493 Honors Thesis
ARS 499 Individualized Instruction
ARA 499 Individualized Instruction
ARA 584 Internship
ARS 590 Reading and Conference
ARA 592 Research
ARS 592 Research
ARS 598 Special Topics
AMS 599 Thesis
ARS 599 Thesis
HST 599 Thesis
ARS 690 Reading and Conference
ARS 692 Research
ARS 790 Reading and Conference
ARS 792 Research
ARS 799 Dissertation
Spring 2016
Course Number Course Title
ARS 394 Special Topics
ARA 394 Special Topics
ARS 442 Critical Issues in Am Painting
ARA 484 Internship
ARS 492 Honors Directed Study
ARS 493 Honors Thesis
ARS 498 Pro-Seminar
ARA 499 Individualized Instruction
ARS 499 Individualized Instruction
ARS 590 Reading and Conference
ARS 591 Seminar
ARS 592 Research
ARS 598 Special Topics
ARS 599 Thesis
ARS 690 Reading and Conference
HST 790 Reading and Conference
Fall 2015
Course Number Course Title
ARS 394 Special Topics
ARA 394 Special Topics
ARS 442 Critical Issues in Am Painting
ARA 484 Internship
ARS 492 Honors Directed Study
ARS 493 Honors Thesis
ARS 499 Individualized Instruction
ARA 499 Individualized Instruction
ARS 501 Methodologies and Art History
ARA 584 Internship
ARS 590 Reading and Conference
ARA 592 Research
ARS 592 Research
ARS 595 Continuing Registration
ARS 598 Special Topics
ARS 599 Thesis
ARS 690 Reading and Conference
ARS 692 Research
ARS 790 Reading and Conference
ARS 792 Research
ARS 795 Continuing Registration
ARS 799 Dissertation
Spring 2015
Course Number Course Title
ARS 394 Special Topics
ARA 394 Special Topics
ARS 442 Critical Issues in Am Painting
ARA 484 Internship
ARS 492 Honors Directed Study
ARS 493 Honors Thesis
ARS 498 Pro-Seminar
ARA 499 Individualized Instruction
ARS 499 Individualized Instruction
ARS 590 Reading and Conference
ARS 591 Seminar
ARS 592 Research
ARS 598 Special Topics
ARS 599 Thesis
ARS 799 Dissertation
Fall 2014
Course Number Course Title
ARS 394 Special Topics
ARA 394 Special Topics
ARS 442 Critical Issues in Am Painting
ARA 484 Internship
ARS 492 Honors Directed Study
ARS 493 Honors Thesis
ARS 499 Individualized Instruction
ARA 499 Individualized Instruction
ARS 501 Methodologies and Art History
ARA 584 Internship
ARS 590 Reading and Conference
ARA 592 Research
ARS 592 Research
ARS 595 Continuing Registration
ARS 598 Special Topics
ARS 599 Thesis
ARS 690 Reading and Conference
ARS 692 Research
ARS 790 Reading and Conference
ARS 792 Research
ARS 795 Continuing Registration
ARS 799 Dissertation
Spring 2014
Course Number Course Title
ARA 394 Special Topics
ARS 442 Critical Issues in Am Painting
ARA 484 Internship
ARS 492 Honors Directed Study
ARS 493 Honors Thesis
ARS 499 Individualized Instruction
ARA 499 Individualized Instruction
ARS 590 Reading and Conference
ARS 591 Seminar
ARS 592 Research
ARS 595 Continuing Registration
ARS 598 Special Topics
ARS 599 Thesis
ARS 795 Continuing Registration
ARS 799 Dissertation

Expertise Areas