Randall K. Van Schepen

A photo of Randall K. Van Schepen
Randall K. Van Schepen, Ph.D.Associate Professor of Art and Architectural History

Contact Information

x5340rvanschepen@rwu.eduAR 258Curriculum Vitae

Areas of Expertise

Art and Architectural History/Modern Art/Theory
/Contemporary Art/Photography


Ph.D. University of Minnesota
M.A. State University of New York at Stony Brook
B.A. Trinity Christian College

Randall K. Van Schepen is an Art and Architectural Historian who received his Master’s in Art Criticism and History from Stony Brook University studying under Donald Kuspit and then went on to receive a Ph.D. in Art History at the University of Minnesota, where he studied modern and contemporary European and American art and architecture. Before coming to Roger Williams, Van Schepen 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.

Van Schepen researches and teaches the Modern and Contemporary periods of art and architecture. His dissertation, entitled American-Type Formalism: The Art Criticism of Alfred Barr, Clement Greenberg, and Michael Fried, traced the intellectual sources of modernist art criticism, particularly in America and as evident in the writing and curatorial work of these three historian/curators/critics. His ongoing research in this area covers the dominant critical discourses in the middle third of the twentieth century. An interest in aesthetic theory and philosophy leads him to connects this modernist artistic discourse to its intellectual sources in German Idealist philosophy as well as to late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century figures such as Conrad Fiedler, Heinrich Wölfflin and Roger Fry. Published essays and book chapters on Clement Greenberg, Michael Fried, Friedrich Schiller, the spiritual roots of aesthetic philosophy, as well as essays on alternative critical voices, such as Leo Steinberg drawn from this field of study.

In addition, Van Schepen’s interest in contemporary critical discourse also leads him to engage with more recent artistic production. He has published essays and book chapters on conceptual themes such as death as a subject in art, memorials and memory, trash as art, and the use of archaic technologies in contemporary photography. The essays address the work of contemporary artists such as Ilya Kabakov, Eric Fischl, Jeffrey Silverthorne, Gerhard Richter, Lyle Ashton Harris, Sherrie Levine, Adam Fuss and Alison Rossiter. His work is also widely presented in multi-disciplinary scholarly conferences across the United States and Europe, including forums in Dublin, the Netherlands, Leeds, London, Krakow, Chicago, and New York.

Van Schepen currently serves as the Director of the Art and Architectural History program at Roger Williams University.


Publications (Selected)

“Avant-Garde and Contemporary Retro-Photography,” in The Avant-Garde: Aesthetic Strategies and Participatory Art (Jagiellonian University Press, forthcoming in 2022).

“Contemporary Misticism: Recovering Sensible Aesthetics in an Age of Digital Production,” Religions (2019).

“Gerhard Richter’s Critical Artistic Strategies: Politics, Terrorism and War,” Messages, Sages and Ages (2017).

“200 Years of Schiller’s Aesthetic Modernism: Criticism, Abstraction and Revolution,” in Aesthetics and Modernity (Bern: Peter Lang, 2012).

“Dialectic and Selfhood in Donald Kuspit’s Criticism,” in Dialectical Conversions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011).

“The Heroic ‘Garbage Man’: Trash in Ilya Kabakov’s The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away,” in Trash Culture: Objects and Obsolescence in Cultural Perspective (Bern: Peter Lang, 2010).

“Falling/Failing 9/11: Eric Fischl’s Tumbling Woman Debacle,” Aurora: The Journal of the History of Art (2008).

“From the Form of Spirit to the Spirit of Form,” in Re-Enchantment (London: Routledge, 2008).