Danny Smith is an artist and art historian based in Brooklyn, New York. He is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Art at Stanford University. 

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Exquisite Reality: Photography and the Invention of Nationhood, 1851-1900

Exquisite Reality: Photography and the Invention of Nationhood 1851-1900, the Cantor Arts Center's first born-digital exhibition, documents the political role of early photography across the Mediterranean. Works included photographs by Pascal Sébah, the Gaetano Pedo Studio, Giorgio Sommer, Francis Frith, and William Henry Fox Talbot.

Cantor Arts Center
29 March 2021 - 31 March 2022

Miracole de Roma

Miracole de Roma is an ongoing project about the sonic and historical landscape of Rome. The work consists of binaural field recordings made at every site listed in the Miracole de Roma, a thirteenth-century pilgrims' guide to the city and the first guidebook to Rome written in vulgate Italian.


Aqua Traiana
American Academy in Rome
July 2021

Ongoing project

“The Painted Logos: Abstraction as Exegesis in the Ashburnham Pentateuch”

An essay on abstraction as a medieval art form. This chapter rereads four daubs of pink paint added in the ninth century to the first folio of the Ashburnham Pentateuch. Instead of seeing this overpainting as iconoclastic I argue it served as a kind of nuanced and theologically significant form of abstract art.

Abstraction in Medieval Art: Beyond the Ornament
Edited by Elina Gertsman, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2021, 141-166.

Architecture, Urbanism, and Empire: England, France, Spain, and Italy

A term-long off-campus studies program directed by Professor Baird Jarman for which I was assistant director and architectural history instructor in 2018 and a visiting lecturer in 2020. Students visited sites across western Europe and had regular readings and writing assignments on architectural history, historic preservation and heritage management. Additionally students made and maintained personal sketchbooks of architectural drawings and plans.

Read more about the program...
Carleton College
Off-Campus Studies
Winter 2018, Winter 2020

“Viewer Ascending a Staircase”

An essay on the value of long and plodding museum staircases. Commissioned for the fifth anniversary catalogue of the Anderson Collection, Stanford University.

Left of Center: The Anderson Collection
Edited by Jason Linetzky, Stanford: Anderson Collection, 2019, 12-16

Writing About Art

A writing course for Art History and Studio Art majors in SFSU's School of Art designed to create a hybrid lecture class, writing workshop, and seminar.

Lectures focus on the importance of close looking and visual analysis, empathy and openness as prerequisites for art criticism, the contemporary role of the art critic, and research and scholarship as an artistic practice.

Download the syllabus here...
San Francisco State University
School of Art
Fall 2018, Fall 2019

Guerre aux Demolisseurs!

The first English translation of Victor Hugo’s 1834 essay “Guerre aux Demolisuers!” Published with an introduction.

Read the translation here...
West 86th: A Journal of 
Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture.

25:2 (Fall/Winter 2018): 224-48.

Medieval Myth of Notre Dame

An essay about restoration and renewal at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris in the wake of the April 2019 fire.

Read the essay here...
Los Angeles Review of Books
7 October 2018

Published in German as
“Der mittelalterliche Mythos von Notre-Dame”
in Notre-Dame de Paris: Bilder einer Kathedral,
edited by Lothar Schirmer, 9-19. Munich: Schirmer/Mosel Verlag, 2020.


A 5-channel video and audio installation exploring time and space and light at the Calera Chapel, Toyahvale, Texas.

With Lora Webb.

Coulter Gallery
Stanford University
11 July - 20 August 2017