Randall K. Van Schepen is an Art and Architectural Historian who researches and teaches the Modern and Contemporary periods. He is also a University Core Professor, teaching university Core courses at the introductory and advanced level and participating in General Education reform at RWU. After receiving an undergraduate degree in Art and teaching art at the secondary school level for a few years, he pursued a Masters degree in Art History and Criticism at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Minnesota.
Van Schepen’s dissertation, entitled American-Type Formalism: The Art Criticism of Alfred Barr, Clement Greenberg, and Michael Fried, traces the intellectual sources of formalist art criticism, particularly in America and as evident in the writing and curatorial work of these three important American critical voices in the arts. His research covers formalism as the dominant critical discourse in the middle third of the twentieth century and also uncovers its intellectual sources in German Idealist philosophy and late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century figures such as Conrad Fiedler, Heinrich Wölfflin and Roger Fry. He has published essays in this area of research on Clement Greenberg, Michael Fried, the spiritual roots of aesthetic philosophy, as well as on alternative critical voices such as Leo Steinberg.
In addition, Van Schepen’s interest in critical theory also leads him to engage with contemporary art. He has published essays on conceptual themes such as death as a subject in art, memorials and memory, and trash as art. The exploration of these themes appears in essays on the contemporary artists Ilya Kabakov, Eric Fischl, Jeffrey Silverthorne, Gerhard Richter, Lyle Ashton Harris, and Sherrie Levine and which use various theoretical models such as the Frankfurt School, anthropological theories and psychoanalysis.
Van Schepen has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at Rice University, The University of Minnesota, The University of Wisconsin-Stout, St. Olaf College, Bethel University, and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He presents his research at a wide variety of multi-disciplinary venues across the United States and Europe, including conferences in Dublin, the Netherlands, Leeds, London, Chicago, and New York.