Sometime in 1975, I walked into the office of Arnold Rubin (1937–1988), an associate professor in the department of art at the University of California, Los Angeles, inquiring about graduate study in Africanist art history. Students of African art, he assured me, would be at the forefront of mighty changes in the academic world. He promised that we would blow the dust off the hidebound field of art history. Rather shaken by his passionate rhetoric, I left thinking I might be too conventional for such an avant-garde enterprise. So after a much more pragmatic conversation with Herbert M. (“Skip”) Cole about the shrinking number of teaching positions in art history, I headed to the University of California, Santa Barbara, for my graduate work. There I was plunged into a program of instruction...

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