Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico
Dr Jennifer Sliwka

Dr Jennifer Sliwka

  • Research fellows
  • Visiting

Deputy Director of the VCS project, Senior Research Fellow and Visiting Lecturer

Contact details

Biography

An art historian and curator specialising in Italian Renaissance and Baroque art, Jennifer is also interested in transhistorical studies, making connections between historic and contemporary art in particular. She received her PhD from the Johns Hopkins University and MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Her research has been supported by the Getty Research Institute, the Kress Foundation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Villa I Tatti, The Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies.

At King's she is responsible for overseeing the Visual Commentary on Scripture project (theVCS.org), a free online resource which commissions scholars to curate digital exhibitions on art and the bible, and for convening and teaching KCL’s collaborative MA ‘Christianity & the Arts’ with the National Gallery.

From 2007-17 she worked as a Curator at the National Gallery, curating exhibitions including: ‘Devotion by Design: Italian Altarpieces before 1500’ (2011), ‘Visions of Paradise: Botticini’s Palmieri Altarpiece’ (2015-16) and ‘Monochrome: Painting in Black and White’ (2017-18). Her next exhibition ‘The Woman at the Window’ opens at Dulwich Picture Gallery in 2021.

Research interests and PhD supervision

  • Sacred art and architecture of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque
  • The relocation and repurposing of works of art over time
  • The persistence and transformation of artistic techniques and motifs across chronological periods and geographic boundaries

Jennifer Sliwka’s research interests draw on both art-historical and anthropological models to consider the ways space, architecture, memory, and tradition might condition our experience and understanding of sacred works of art.

She is particularly interested in the ways in which historic artworks have been relocated and repurposed over time, accruing new meanings and possibilities for interpretation. This transhistorical approach has led to exhibitions exploring themes and techniques across many centuries and joint projects with a number of contemporary artists.

Jennifer has published in a variety of academic journals, books and international exhibition catalogues and is currently working on two books, one on the sixteenth-century Sienese artist Domenico Beccafumi and another on the visual and theological legacy of John the Baptist co-written with Professor Ben Quash.

Teaching

I co-teach the two modules of the Christianity & the Arts MA at the National Gallery.

Expertise and public engagement

I have appeared as a guest on radio on BBC 4 ‘Start the week’ and BBC Radio 3 ‘Free Thinking’ and have authored and presented the following digital resources/films:

Altarpieces in Context (a narrated slideshow explaining the history and development of the altarpiece and its various liturgical, spiritual and aesthetic functions)

https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/learn-about-art/altarpieces-in-context

Saint John the Baptist: From Birth to Beheading (10 short films on the life and representation of John the Baptist with Professor Ben Quash, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, King’s College, London)

https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/research/about-research/art-and-religion/saint-john-the-baptist

Reconstructing San Pier Maggiore (a film made to accompany the exhibition ‘Visions of Paradise: Botticini’s Palmieri Altarpiece that showcases a collaborative project with the University of Cambridge to digitally reconstruct the former Florentine church of San Pier Maggiore)

https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/exhibitions/past/visions-of-paradise-botticinis-palmieri-altarpiece

I have also presented in films made to accompany the exhibitions ‘Danh Vo: Chicxulub’ at White Cube, London (2020), ‘Monochrome: Painting in Black and White’ (2017), ‘Visions of Paradise: Botticini’s Palmieri Altarpiece’ (2015), ‘Michael Landy: Saint’s Alive’ (2013) and on representations of Mary Magdalene in association with the John Adams Opera ‘The Gospel According to the Other Mary’ at English National Opera with director Peter Sellars (2014). I have appeared as an art historical specialist for television programs for NHK Japan (2007) and in the recent ‘Exhibitions on Screen’ films ‘The Curious World of Hieronymous Bosch’ (2016), ‘Michelangelo: Love and Death’ (2017) and ‘Easter in Art’ (2021).

A number of my lectures have been recorded and appear online, a selection are viewable via the links below:

My talk on Francesco Botticini at New York University’s Villa La Pietra, Florence (2016)

https://lapietra.nyu.edu/event/florentine-paradise-london-exhibiting-francesco-botticini-national-gallery/

My interview with the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson (2017) at the National Gallery, London https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9QPDgKsRlY&feature=youtu.be

My lecture on Piero della Francesca and the Language of Trees (2020) for Bridge Projects Gallery, Los Angeles

https://www.bridgeprojects.com/programs/piero-della-francesca-jennifer-sliwka

My exhibition tour with Danh Vo of Chicxulub’ at White Cube, Bermondsey London (2020)

https://whitecube.com/channel/channel/danh_vo_bermondsey_tour_2020

Selected publications

  • Monochrome: Painting in Black and White, National Gallery Company, London 2017. [co-authored book]
  • ‘Exhibiting Christian Art’ in Material Religion, J. Vereecke and D. Apostolos-Cappadona (eds.), New York, 2016, pp. 321-342. [chapter]
  • Visions of Paradise: Botticini’s Palmieri Altarpiece, National Gallery Company, London 2015. [authored book]
  • with Donal Cooper, ‘In Context: San Pier Maggiore’, Apollo: The International Art Magazine(November, 2015), pp. 78-83. [article]
  • 'Armet se duritia: Domenico Beccafumi and the Politics of Punishment’ in Art as Politics in Late Medieval and Renaissance Siena, ed. T. Smith and J. Steinhoff, Aldershot, 2012, pp. 163-194. [chapter]