Shawon Kinew

Shawon Kinew

Director's Appointment
Baroque Softness: Melchiorre Cafà and the Sculpture of Mysticism
2022-2023 (September-December)
Shawon Kinew


Shawon Kinew is an art historian of early modern Italy at Harvard University, where she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History of Art and Architecture. Her scholarship has been supported by numerous organizations, which have included residential fellowships at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Getty Research Institute and the Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max Planck Institute for Art History, where she was a Samuel H. Kress Foundation Institutional Fellow. Prior to her appointment at Harvard, Kinew was a postdoctoral fellow in the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for Scholars in the Humanities and lecturer in the Department of Art and Art History at Stanford University. From 2018- 2021, Kinew was a Shutzer Assistant Professor at the Radcliffe Institute.

Project Summary

At I Tatti, Kinew will focus on a book manuscript in preparation, Baroque Softness: Melchiorre Cafà and the Sculpture of Mysticism. This monograph traces the Maltese artist Cafà’s development of sensual, “soft” marble sculptures during the so-called Golden Age of European sculpture, a period marked by the violence of colonial expansion. Cafà’s softly rendered sculptures in their fervor, emotionalism and spirituality are occasions to understand the machinations of the Baroque, its terror and beauty, its politics and aesthetics.