Denise Budd
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Denise Budd

Fee Range1: $ 4000 - $6000

Art Historian, Renaissance Expert


Art HistoryArts/Culture/MusicHistory


New York


Denise Budd

Denise BuddArt Historian, Renaissance Expert

Dr. Denise Budd received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2002, and she has taught courses over the past two decades that cover the entire history of art at institutions such as Columbia University, where she was a Lecturer-in-Discipline of its renowned Core Curriculum, and Rutgers University.  A scholar of Leonardo da Vinci and an “archival detective”, she has published articles based on her research which serve to de-mythologize and humanize his exceptional genius.  While expert in all things Italian Renaissance, including other great masters such as Michelangelo and Raphael, Dr. Budd has also extended her research into the history of collecting and issues of cultural preservation.  With an understanding that the works of the distant past continue to be a vibrant part of our lives today, she has served as director of the not-for-profit organization ArtWatch International, which brings attention to the way we restore and treat our artistic heritage, as in the case of Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling.

In addition to her work as a professor, Dr. Budd has appeared on television speaking about Leonardo, including on A&E’s Biography and Movie Reel series.  Dr. Budd lectures throughout the country and internationally, bringing a dynamic style which is aimed at engaging art lovers and not-yet art lovers alike.  


The Groundbreaking Genius of Leonardo da Vinci

When considering artistic genius in the Italian Renaissance, the individuals who most commonly come to mind are the great triad of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Michelangelo and Raphael. These three often contentious rivals have been categorized as Universal Men, gifted in many arts and areas of intellectual pursuit. It is Leonardo who is most often imagined in this multifaceted way, as artist, scientist, engineer, and musician. Yet, in reality, unlike his more productive counterparts, Leonardo was a painter who infrequently completed a painting, a sculptor who rarely sculpted, and architect who never built anything. He penned drafts of treatises on the arts, and planned many more on wide-ranging subjects, although none of these were completed or published in his lifetime.

Even more elusive than his artistic identity is his personality. Described in the 16th century as possessing a divine combination of beauty, grace and talent, the several thousand pages of notes he carefully penned reveal almost nothing about himself. What they do demonstrate, however, is Leonardo’s genius of sheer invention and investigation, with ideas that he envisaged so relentlessly that they became his art. That he rarely had the will, time, or even ability to carry them out is beside the point. This presentation will discuss Leonardo’s career, examining several of his most canonical works, as well as considering his most ambitious plans that never came to fruition.


Why Art Matters: Creation and Destruction, From Ancient Times Through Today

Recently, all of the country turned its eyes towards the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the removal of a statue became central to an ofttimes violent and polarizing discussion about race and history in America. To be sure, the destruction of images has been a means of both expressing and challenging authority, since ancient times and across many cultures, so that the destruction of a likeness has often been considered tantamount to the destruction of the very thing it represents. For the Romans, this act of damnatio memoriae, or the condemnation of memory, equated the erasure of an image with erasure from history. During the Protestant Reformation, the removal of altarpieces and the whitewashing of churches was an expression of changing religious ideologies. In modern times, vandalism of artwork has become a means of political protest.

This lecture will examine selected works of art from antiquity through the 20th Century, examining not only the importance of the works themselves, but the way that their destruction, or attempted destruction, demonstrates the power of images.


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