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Suzanne P. Blier

Allen Whitehill Clowes Professor of Fine Arts and Professor of African and African American Studies

(on leave 2013-2014)

Contact Information
Sackler Museum
(617) 495-0781
(617) 495-1769
Sackler Museum
485 Broadway Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138


Suzanne Preston Blier (Ph.D. 1981 Columbia, Allen Whitehill Clowes Professor of Fine Arts and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University) is an historian of African art and architecture in both the History of Art and Architecture and African and African American Studies Departments. She also is a member of the  Institute for Quantitative Social Science  Her first book The Anatomy of Architecture: Ontology and Metaphor in Batammaliba ArchitecturalExpression (Cambridge University press; paperback, Chicago University Press, 1987) won the Arnold Rubin Prize. Her second book, African Vodun: Art, Psychology, and Power (1995) received the CharlesRufusMorey Prize. Other books include: African Royal Art: The Majesty ofForm (1998), Butabu: Adobe Architecture in West Africa (2004 NY Times, Holiday Selection), and Art of the Senses: Masterpieces from the William and Bertha Teel Collection (Editor 2004). A new volume is now in press: Art and Risk in Ancient Yoruba: Ife History, Power and Identity c.1300. (Cambridge University Press). She is a member of the College Art Association editorial board where she serves as Vice President for Publications; in 2011 two of her articles were selected for the Centennial Anthology of the journal. She is a member of the Collège de France International Scientific and Strategic Committee (COSS)(2011-2013) and on the Board of the Society of Architectural Historians. Past fellowships include: CASVA (Paul Mellon Senior Fellow, the National Gallery of Art), John Simon Guggenheim, the Radcliffe Institute, NEH, the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, Fulbright Senior Research, Social Science Research Council, ACLS, the Clark Art Institute,  and  the Getty Center for the Study of Art. She is Co-Chair of an Electronic Geo-Spatial Database: Africamap, a site expanding into Worldmap, where she serves as chair of the Faculty Steering Committee. In addition to serving as Co-Editor of the book series, Worlds of Experience(With Joseph Miller, Oxford University Press) and co-editor of The Image of the Black in African and Asian Art (Harvard University Press (2015), her own forthcoming books include:  Imaging African Amazons: The Art of Dahomey Women Warriors; Picasso’s Demoiselles: Pornography, Primitivism, and Darwin. A profile on Blier’s contributions to the field has appeared in the spring 2013 Harvard Graduate School publication, Colloquy essay, "Facing African Art". A June 2013 Interview with Blier on WorldMap is posted the ASLA website.