Natasha Ruiz-Gómez specializes in French art of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She recently completed a five-year Research Councils United Kingdom (RCUK) Academic Fellowship in the School of Philosophy and Art History. She received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania; her doctoral thesis proposes a new reading of Auguste Rodin’s sculpture based on an examination of the science of the time. Her publications include essays on Rodin’s sculpture, on his collection of photographs and on contemporary architecture.
Her current book project examines the ‘scientific artworks’ of Dr Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-1893) and the Salpêtrière School, with particular attention to the work of Dr Paul Richer (1849-1933). Charcot became one of the founders of modern neurology by studying the patients of the ‘living pathological museum’, as he called it, of the Hôpital de la Salpêtrière in Paris, where he was head of the medical service for more than thirty years. Charcot nurtured the artistic sensibilities of the many doctors who worked under him, especially those of Richer, who was one of the most important members of the Salpêtrière School and who would later spend the first three decades of the twentieth century as Professor of Anatomy at the Ecole des beaux-arts. In their drawings, photographs and sculptures, they demonstrated a clear engagement with contemporary artistic practices and discourses, all the while protesting their own objectivity. Her project questions the elasticity of the concept of ‘objectivity’, avowed by the doctors at the Salpêtrière even as they employed artistic skill, and thereby subjective interpretation, to visualise pathology. Natasha’s work seeks to demonstrates that objectivity was not compromised by the artistic intervention of the Salpêtrière School, but realised.
Natasha was recently awarded a Wellcome Trust grant, along with Dr Mary Hunter of McGill University, to host a conference in June 2014 entitled 'Collect, Exchange, Display: Artistic Practice and the Medical Museum'. She has been the recipient of numerous fellowships, including a curatorial fellowship in European art at the Brooklyn Museum awarded by the Kress Foundation. She is also passionate about teaching and was honoured with a ‘Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Graduate Student’ by the University of Pennsylvania.
Natasha welcomes proposals for doctoral projects that treat French art of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, especially sculpture and photography, or that engage with the intersection of art and science in a historical context.
‘Metamorphoses of a History Painting: André Brouillet’s Une Leçon clinique à la Salpêtrière (1887)’, panel: ‘Action Painting: The Theatrical and the Dramatic in Narrative Art’, Association of Art Historians annual conference, Reading, April 2013
‘Exposing the Musée Charcot: The Medical Museum as Cabinet of Curiosities’, Probing the Interior 1800-2012 conference, Courtauld Institute of Art and King’s College London, London, May 2012 [invited lecture]
‘Sculptural Diagnostics: Paul Richer’s Pathological Portraits for the Musée Charcot’, Patient Portraits Workshop, Centre for the Humanities and Health, King’s College London, London, May 2012 [invited lecture]
‘The “Scientific Artworks” of Paul Richer’, Spring Academy [Ecole de Printemps]: Arts and Knowledge, International Consortium on Art History, Paris, May 2012
‘The Embellished Objective: The Art of Retouching at the Salpêtrière’, The Madness of Photography conference, SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) Fourth Biennial Art History Symposium, Savannah, Georgia, February 2012
‘Le Musée Charcot et l’art de la pathologie’, colloque: Le théâtre des nerfs : cultures neurologies, psychologiques et spectaculaires autour de 1900, Centre des Sciences historiques de la culture, Université de Lausanne, Lausanne, November 2011
‘“My Wax Lady Has Made a Sensation”: Charcot and the Art of Illness on the Fringes’, Medicine at the Margins: Ideas, Knowledge and Practice, ca. 1500-2000 conference, University of Glamorgan, Cardiff, April 2011
‘Palpable Illness: The Manipulation of Medical Photographs at the Salpêtrière’, panel: ‘Medical Media: The Aesthetic Language of Medical “Evidence”’, Association of Art Historians annual conference, Warwick, April 2011
‘Individual and Multiple: Rodin and Physiognomy’, AHRC-funded Likeness and Facial Recognition Workshop, Wellcome Trust, London, March 2011 [invited lecture]
‘Abstracting from Life: Photography and the Sculpture of Obrist and Rodin’, Obrist, Sculpture and Abstraction conference, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, June 2010 [invited lecture]
‘Jean-Martin Charcot and the Diagnosis of Art’, panel: ‘Crossings: Art, Medicine, Visual Culture’, Association of Art Historians annual conference, Manchester, April 2009
‘Rodin et Freud: les liens inconnus à travers l’hystérie et Jean-Martin Charcot’, journées d’étude: ‘La passion à l´oeuvre, Rodin et Freud collectionneurs’, Musée Rodin, Paris, January 2009 [invited lecture]
‘A Modern Proteus: Rodin and the Camera’, Society for French Historical Studies annual conference, New Brunswick, April 2008 [organizer of panel on ‘The Self-Fashioning of the Artist in Twentieth-Century France’]
'Modern Machinations: Figurative Sculpture and the Machine Aesthetic in the Early Twentieth Century’, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, March 2008 [invited lecture]