Leora Maltz-Leca

An associate professor of contemporary art history, Leora Maltz-Leca grew up in Durban, South Africa before moving to the US where she received a BA in painting and philosophy from Yale, an MA in modern art history from Brown and, in 2008, a PhD from Harvard in contemporary art history. At RISD she teaches large lectures on global contemporary art and focused seminars on globalization, post-colonialism, race and critical theory. She is recipient of a 2016 CAA Millard Mess publication award, a 2011/2012 Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship, a 2011 Creative Capital/ Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writer's Grant and a 2010 Library of Congress Swann fellowship for her forthcoming book on William Kentridge, Process as Metaphor & Other Doubtful Enterprises (University of California Press, 2017). The book explores how the South African artist renders the physical processes of the studio – cutting, pasting and projecting light – as metaphors for the way we think and live. Her second book, Material Politics, continues to explore the politics embedded in material choices, focusing on how some of the most compelling artists working today plumb the histories and associations of specific materials to literally materialize the political through the formal.

Recent essays include “The Politics of Collaboration: Drowning the Piano and Other Southern Tales” in the 2016 Routledge volume Collaborative Art in the Twenty-First Century, which examines what happens when collaboration goes south, and “The Politics of Excess” for Worldshare, Pascale Martine Tayou’s 2015 exhibition at the Fowler Museum, UCLA. She explored Rhode’s ambivalent relationship to ground, both formal and geographic, in “Grounding Robin Rhode” for the artist’s 2014 retrospective at the Neuberger Museum, NY, and wrote on the politics of nude female resistance in postcolonial Africa in “Specters of the Original and the Liberties of Repetition,” African Arts (winter 2013). Writings on William Kentridge include “Process/ Procession: William Kentridge and the Process of Change,” Art Bulletin (March 2013), “Thinking about the Forest and the Trees: William Kentridge’s Second-Hand Reading,” Invisible Culture and a review of “Nose” for Art South Africa. She has also written on Marlene Dumas, David Goldblatt, Santu Mofokeng, Malick Sidibé and other artists for Artforum; on “Lyric Documentary" for Art South Africa; on Guy Tillim for ArteEast and on Paul Stopforth for Taxi. (Scroll over titles to download.)

  • BA, Yale University
  • MA, Brown University
  • MA, Harvard University
  • PHD, Harvard University


  • HAVC-H101-09 History Of Art & Visual Culture 1
  • GRAD-148G-01 The Gradual Contemporary: Conversations On Contemporary Art


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