Rachael Z. DeLue

Christopher Binyon Sarofim '86 Professor in American Art and Faculty in American Studies
American Art
Office Phone
3S-19 Green Hall


Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University, 2001

Professor DeLue’s area of specialization is the history of American art and visual culture, with particular focus on intersections between art and science and the theory and practice of knowledge.  She is the author of George Inness and the Science of Landscape (2004) and Arthur Dove: Always Connect (2016) and she co-edited Landscape Theory (2008) with James Elkins.  In addition, she serves as editor-in-chief for the Terra Foundation Essays, a series of multi-author volumes on salient concepts in the history of American art, including picturing, scale, color, intermedia, circulation, and experience.  Her own volume in the series, Picturing, is forthcoming in 2016.  Professor DeLue has also published on the French painter Camille Pissarro, Spike Lee’s Bamboozled, Darwin and the visual arts, the relationship between art writing and medical diagnosis in America circa 1900, beauty and stereotype in the work of the contemporary artists Kara Walker and Michael Ray Charles, and Romare Bearden’s collages.  Her most recent publications include essays on abstract art in the early twentieth century; natural history, geography, literature, and medicine as possible models for Samuel F.B. Morse’s painting The Gallery of the Louvre; Mark Steven Greenfield’s Animalicious; and the idea that landscape might have a point of view.

In addition to presenting at domestic and international conferences and symposia, Professor DeLue has served as a consultant to various museums and collections, including the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  In June 2005 she was a faculty member for a Terra-sponsored professional development program for public high school teachers in Chicago, and in 2010 and 2011 she served as faculty for a similar program for New Jersey public school teachers, sponsored by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, on race in American history and culture.  For three years Professor DeLue served as the Reviews Editor for The Art Bulletin (2012–2015) and she is a member of the Editorial Board of the journals American Art and nonsite.org.  At Princeton, she serves on the Executive Committee for the American Studies Program and is affiliated faculty in the Program in Media & Modernity.

Teaching Interests

Professor DeLue teaches courses on a wide range of topics, including American modernism, African American art, critical race theory, picture theory, landscape representation, and the visual and material culture of science.  Her courses make regular use of area collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the American Museum of Natural History as well as Princeton’s own art museum.  A recent graduate seminar, “Terrains of Knowledge,” included a trip to the Great Salt Lake, Utah, to see Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty.  Professor DeLue regularly teaches for the American Studies Program at Princeton, including team-teaching the program’s introductory course, AMS 101 America Then and Now.  

Current Research

Current projects include an essay on the archival and artifactual value of diaries, a study of Charles Darwin’s diagram in On the Origin of Species, and a book tentatively titled At the Limit: Impossible Images and the Perils of Picturing that considers the myriad ways that artists and other image-makers in America from a range of disciplines, including the sciences, have endeavored to create images of ideas, entities, or phenomena that should be impossible to depict.

Selected Publications

Arthur Dove: Always Connect (University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Editor, Picturing (Terra Foundation and University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Landscape Theory, coedited with James Elkins (Routledge, 2008).

George Inness and the Science of Landscape (University of Chicago Press, 2004).

“Morse’s Models,” in Samuel F. B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre and the Art of Invention, ed. Peter John Brownlee (Terra Foundation, 2014).

“Arthur Dove: la peinture comme translation,” in Carrefour Stieglitz, ed. Jay Bochner and Jean-Pierre Montier (Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2013).

“Mark Steven Greenfield’s Reanimation,” in Animalicious (Pasadena, 2013).

“With Color” and “Against the Circle,” in Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925: How a Radical Idea Changed Modern Art, ed. Leah Dickman (Museum of Modern Art, 2012).

“Conjure and Collapse in the Art of Romare Bearden,” nonsite.org, October 2012.

“Arthur Dove, Painting, and Phonography,” History and Technology 27.1 (March 2011).

“Dreadful Beauty and the Undoing of Adulation in the Work of Kara Walker and Michael Ray Charles,” in Idol Anxiety, ed. Josh Ellenbogen and Aaron Tugendhaft (Stanford University Press, 2011).

“Art and Science in America,” American Art 23.2 (Summer 2009).

“Envisioning Race in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled,” in Fight the Power! The Spike Lee Reader, ed. Janice D. Hamlet and Robin Means-Coleman (Peter Lang, 2009).

“Diagnosing Pictures: Sadakichi Hartmann and the Science of Seeing, ca. 1900,” American Art 21.2 (Summer 2007).