Faculty of Arts - Art History

Professor Elizabeth Rankin

BA(Hons), PhD, HDipLib (Witwatersrand)

Professor of Art History

Professor Elizabeth Rankin

Art History, Humanities

Email: e.rankin@auckland.ac.nz

Extension: 88098 (ph + 64 9 373 7599)

Arts 2
18 Symonds St
Level 5
Room 508

Research interests

The representation of culture in museum practice, cross-cultural exchanges in South African art, printmaking.


Current research

In 2011 Elizabeth Rankin completed, with co-researcher Philippa Hobbs, a book on South African artist Peter Clarke, who has achieved a life-long career as a painter, printmaker and writer, despite being denied art training and forced from his home because of apartheid policies.  The book was launched at a large-scale retrospective exhibition in Johannesburg in May 2011, and subsequently at Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town where the exhibition ran from October 2011 to May 2012. She is also writing papers on printmakers: an exhibition with accompanying catalogue, Collateral: Printmaking as Social Commentary was shown at Auckland University's Gus Fisher Gallery in 2011 and included the work of New Zealanders Michael Reed and Sandra Thomson, American Daniel Heyman and South African Diane Victor. Another recent catalogue essay addresses the work Titokowaru's Dilemma by printmaker Marian Maguire. In June 2011, Fiona Pardington: The Pressure of Sunlight Falling with co-editor Kriselle Baker, was published by Otago Press.

A new project on the development of the Great Trek in visual form for the historical frieze at the Voortrekker Monument, Pretoria, has been initiated with Professor Rolf Schneider of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, where she was an invited research fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in April 2012.

Professor Elizabeth Rankin's Research

Postgraduate supervision

PhD students

Kriselle Baker: Ralph Hotere 1968-1977: A Decade of Black and Light (completed 2009)

Celia Walker: Tracking Heaphy: Travels in the New Zealand Landscape (completed 2009)

Mary Barker: Marian iconography in Rembrandt, second supervisor (completed 2010)

Katherine Higgins: Pacific residencies, second supervisor (completed 2011)

Natalie Bell: The Other Woman: Non-Marriage Portraits of Women in Renaissance Italy - second supervisor (commenced 2009)

Christopher Sommer: The representation of immigration in New Zealand museums - second supervisor (commenced 2010)

Ian Cooke: American exhibitions in New Zealand (commenced 2011)

Chiara Mannoni: Antiquities legislation in Athens and Rome (commenced 2013)


Professor Elizabeth Rankin's Postgraduate Supervision

Recent publications


2013 Rankin, E. ‘Creating/Curating Cultural Capital: Monuments and Museums for Post-Apartheid South Africa’. Humanities 2 (1), 72–98. www.mdpi.com/journal/humanities

2012 Rankin, E. ‘Negotiating narrative interstices: the lithographs and etchings of Marian Maguire.’ In Luke Morgan (ed), IMPACT 7: Intersections and Counterpoints, Melbourne: Monash University Publishing.

2012 Rankin, E. ‘Evocations of distance’ (sculpture by John Edgar), Art News New Zealand 32.3 (Spring):116-119.

2011 Rankin, E., Hobbs, P. Listening to Distant Thunder: The Art of Peter Clarke. Johannesburg: Standard Bank Gallery. (221 pp)

2011 Rankin, E., Baker, K., (eds.) Fiona Pardington: The Pressure of Sunlight Falling. Dunedin: University of Otago Press. (160 pp)

2011 Rankin, E. ’Facing difference: Casts as document and display.’ In K. Baker and E. Rankin (eds.), Fiona Pardington: The Pressure of Sunlight Falling. Dunedin: University of Otago Press, pp 93-101.

2011 Rankin, E. Collateral: Printmaking as Social Commentary, Christchurch: Caxton Press. (36 pp)

2011 Rankin, E. ‘Socratic questions and colonial answers.’ In Marian Maguire: Titokowaru’s Dilemma.Christchurch: Papergraphica, 2011, pp. 9-30.

2011 Rankin, E. ‘Lonely Road: Formative episodes in the development of black artists in early twentieth-century South Africa’. In G. Jantjes (ed.) Visual Century: South African Art in Context 1907-2007, (volume 1, ed. Jillian Carman) Johannesburg: Wits University Press, pp 97-116.

2011 Rankin, E. ‘Creating communities: art centres and workshops and their influence on the South African artscene.’ In G. Jantjes (ed.) Visual Century: South African Art in Context 1907-2007, (volume 2, ed. Lize von Robbroeck) Johannesburg: Wits University Press.

2010 Rankin, E. ‘Disturbing Drapes: the subversive power of printed textiles’, Art New Zealand 134 (winter): 52-55.

Professor Elizabeth Rankin's Publications

Career history

Elizabeth Rankin began teaching in the 1960s while studying for her first postgraduate degree at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, initially as a Graduate Assistant, then a Junior Lecturer. She was to pursue motherhood and research concurrently with her lecturing, with two sons born in 1968 and 1970 and a PhD awarded in 1978. The first doctoral degree in Art History at that university, her thesis was a study of the development of knowledge and taste in the rediscovery of Greece, entitled "Englishmen on the Acropolis: an historiography of the Parthenon, c. 1750-1850".

In 1982 she was appointed to the new Chair of the History of Art at the University of the Witwatersrand. She became increasingly involved in the development of her discipline in South Africa, shifting her research interests to cross-cultural developments and the retrieval of lost histories in South African art, not only in publications but also in the curating of exhibitions. She was elected to the Chair of the newly established South African Association of Art Historians in 1985.

In 1990 her Faculty elected her as the first woman Dean of Arts for a challenging three-year term at a time of transition in South Africa. The many committees she served on at that time included the Minister of Education’s Advisory Council on Universities and Technikons.

In 1998 she took up the Professorship of Art History at The University of Auckland, where she has enjoyed extending her interests to include New Zealand topics. She was the first coordinator of a new postgraduate programme in Museums and Cultural Heritage, and teaches one of its core papers, Museums and the Politics of Culture. Her research on museum practice has extended to include examples from the Pacific area, and her writing has also come to include a number of New Zealand artists, particularly printmakers.

Current teaching

Art History
Course Title Availability in 2014
ARTHIST 330 Art Writing and Methodology Semester 2
ARTHIST 715 Special Topic: Museums and Politics of Culture Semester 2
ARTHIST 721 A B Museums and the Politics of Culture Not offered in 2014.

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