Rachael Z. DeLue

Christopher Binyon Sarofim '86 Professor in American Art
Professor of Art and Archaeology and American Studies
Chair, Department of Art and Archaeology
Office Phone
Green Hall, Room 3-S-19
  • Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University

Rachael Z. 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 (University of Chicago Press, 2005) and Arthur Dove: Always Connect (University of Chicago Press, 2016) and she co-edited Landscape Theory (CRC Press, 2007) 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 volume in the series, Picturing, distributed by the University of Chicago Press, was published in 2016. 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 20th 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, 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. She served as the reviews editor for The Art Bulletin from 2012-15, and on the editorial board of the journal nonsite.org. She serves on the editorial board of American Art. At Princeton, she serves on the executive committee for the Effron Center for the Study of America and is affiliated faculty in the Program in Media & Modernity.

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. DeLue regularly teaches for the Program in American Studies at Princeton, including team-teaching the program’s gateway course, “America Then and Now.”

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,” 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.