Michelle Foa is an Associate Professor of European art from the 18th through the early 20th centuries in the Newcomb Art Department of Tulane University, with a particular focus on 19th-century French art, visual and material culture, and criticism. Her first book, Georges Seurat: The Art of Vision, was published in 2015 by Yale University Press. Professor Foa situates Seurat’s body of work as a sustained meditation on different forms of visual engagement with the outside world and the diverse states of mind that these visual experiences can elicit. She places particular emphasis on Seurat’s investigation into the relationship between vision and knowledge, interpreting his work in close relation to 19th-century scientific discourses on the operation of the senses and their role in how we come to understand the world. In addition to her work on Seurat, Professor Foa has published numerous essays on 19th- and 20th-century painting, photography, art criticism, and literature, and she has lectured domestically and internationally on her research.
Professor Foa’s current book project focuses on the diverse body of work of Edgar Degas, which she interprets as a reflection of the artist’s profound and long-standing interest in materiality. Her other research and teaching interests include Europe’s global encounters in the 18th and 19th centuries, the materials of art, the relationship between art and science, and art historiography and criticism.
Professor Foa completed her doctorate at Princeton University in 2008, the same year that she began teaching at Tulane. She has also taught at Mount Holyoke College, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton.
She is currently the William L. Duren ’26 Professor at Tulane and a Monroe Research Fellow at Tulane’s New Orleans Center for the Gulf South.