Robert Jensen

Rob Jensen headshot


School of Art and Visual Studies

Unit Head
Director of SA/VS
20th Century and Contemporary Art History
Art History and Visual Studies
Office Location
Office Number
Office Phone

Robert Jensen is a professor of art history with field emphases in the history of modernism and the economics of art. Since joining the University of Kentucky faculty in 1994, Dr. Jensen has taught numerous undergraduate and graduate courses on a wide range of subjects, ranging from contemporary art to colonial American art. Included among his seminars have been courses on abstract art, the art of the 1960s, the representation of the body in early 20th-century European art, and the self-portrait in Western art. Dr. Jensen has been the principal reader on a number of diverse M.A. thesis paper projects, including  “Georges Seurat: Port-en-Bassin, Le Pont et les Quais (1888)”; “Conceptual Art and the Interpretive and Exhibition Functions of the Museum”; “Elements of Market Recognition: The Early Targets and Flags of Jasper Johns,” and “‘Malignant Passions’: George Caleb Bingham and Order No. 11.”

Dr. Jensen’s first book Marketing Modernism in Fin-de-siècle Europe (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994) extends the analysis found in his dissertation, “The Marketing of an Avant-Garde. Dealers, Ideology and the Trade in Modernism Between France and Germany”.  Dr. Jensen has also long been interested in theoretical issues related to photography and mechanical reproduction, and has published essays on such diverse topics as “The Photographic Grotesque” and “Against Photography: Reading Barthes on the Photograph.” More recently, Dr. Jensen has been working in close collaboration with the University of Chicago economist, David Galenson, on the econometric study of artistic importance, especially in regard to the varied life cycles of artists’ careers.  These efforts have been described in his essay “Anticipating Artistic Behavior: New Research Tools for Art Historians,” Historical Methods, vol. 37, no. 3 (Summer 2004). This work has led Dr. Jensen to explore the technical examination of paintings as a means of reconstructing the creative behavior of artists. He has done an extensive reconstruction of the first Paul Cézanne show at the Galerie Vollard in Paris in 1895, based on an analysis of the artist's rolled canvases.  The essay was published as "Cezanne and Vollard: An Anatomy of a Relationship," in Cezanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006): 28-47.  For use in the School's post-medieval Western art history survey (A-H 106), Dr. Jensen authored the free textbook Artists' Genres.  He is currently working on a book provisionally titled The Geography of Innovation.

Created 06/29/2021
Last Updated 10/04/2021