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Biography

A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Claudia Mattos Avolese obtained her PhD in art history from the Free University in Berlin, Germany, and was an associate fellow at the Courtauld Institute in London for a year. In 2003 she became a professor for the history of art at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), in Brazil, where she taught visual arts and art history until moving to the United States in 2019. At the University of Campinas, her courses focused on various topics, including image theory, 19th century landscape traditions, ecology, German Avantgarde and Brazilian Modernism, among others. In 2017, she was a visiting professor at Harvard University, teaching the course “Academies in the non-Western World”, together with Prof. Yukio Lippit. At Tufts she has offered a course on the concept of Antropofagia in Brazil, examining it as decolonial strategy. Dr. Mattos Avolese continues to collaborate with the Graduate Program in Art History and Visual Studies at UNICAMP, especially in support of the Getty’s Connecting Art Histories Program. Her principal areas of interest are visual culture in Brazil, indigenous art, material culture, global art history and theory. Her recent research focuses on indigenous arts in Brazil, the imaginary of the forest and ecology. She has published widely on global exchanges in the 19th century, including scientific expeditions by explorers to Brazil, and the creation and development of art academies in South America. Additionally, she has published on connections between German art theory and 19th century visual culture in Brazil, and on the history of art history with special focus on Winckelmann and Aby Warburg. Her scholarly work has appeared in many peer review journals including, The Art Bulletin, Perspective, Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics, and Journal of Art Historiography.

Dr. Mattos Avolese is seriously committed to decolonizing the field of art history, visual culture, and helping to produce a more inclusive and diverse approach to the art and material culture created across the planet. With the support of The Getty Foundation in Los Angeles, she created a new Graduate Program in non-Western art history at UNICAMP. She was president of the Brazilian Art Historical Committee (CBHA) for three years and is presently a member of the board of CIHA, the International Art Historical Committee. In 2020/21 during the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Mattos Avolese coordinated the online lectures series “Art Worlds of Brazil” at The Clark Art Institute, which offers an overview of Brazilian art and patrimony to a wide international public—much of this research work was completed before the present museum representation crisis that continues today. At Tufts, Dr. Mattos Avolese will be running an international online teaching program devoted to Brazilian non-Western art traditions, with the support of The Getty Foundation, in collaboration with UNICAMP and three other universities in Brazil.