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Researcher profile for Federico Freschi

Research Outputs
FF headshot Sept 2015

Federico Freschi


Federico was appointed Professor and Head of College of Te Maru Pūmanawa | Creative Practice & Enterprise at the Otago Polytechnic in October 2019. Before that, he was the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. He began his academic career as a lecturer in History of Design at what was then the Cape Technikon (now the Cape Peninsula University of Technology). He taught subsequently at the Universities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch and the Witwatersrand. In his PhD thesis, Federico considered the political iconography of South African public buildings in the 1930s in relation to the political tensions between nationalism and imperialism at the time. As an ongoing research project, the scope of this work has subsequently expanded to encompass post-Second World War as well as post-apartheid public architecture and the extent to which the decorative programmes of public buildings are implicated in the construction of imaginaries of national belonging. A secondary line of research has been into the construction of the canon of modern South African art, and more recently, how the art market is implicated in this. He has published widely on these and other subjects and is frequently invited to speak in national and international forums. He holds a C1 rating from the South African National Research Foundation. He has taken occasional breaks from academia to work briefly as a researcher and consultant in human resources, and more recently as Executive Manager and Senior Curator of the Goodman Gallery, Cape Town. In 2016, Prof Freschi was the South African curator (with Patrice Deparpe of the Musée Matisse in Le Cateau-Cambrésis, France) of the exhibition ‘Henri Matisse: Rhythm and Meaning’, at the Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg. This was the first exhibition devoted to Matisse on the African continent. He has active relationships with several professional bodies and has served on various boards. Amongst others, he is a former Vice-President on the board of Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art (CIHA); formerly held the position of President of SAVAH (South African Visual Arts Historians; was a member of the editorial boards of De Arte (University of South Africa Press) and is on the advisory committee of Forum Kunst und Markt (Technische Universität Berlin), and a member of the Committee on Design of the College Art Association (CAA) in the United States.

Recent publications (ORCID ID

Freschi, F., B. Schmahmann and L van Robbroeck (eds.) (2020). Troubling Images: Visual Culture & the Politics of Afrikaner Nationalism. Johannesburg: Wits University Press.
Freschi, F. (2020). From Volksargitektuur to Boere Brazil: Afrikaner Nationalism and the Architectural Imaginary of Modernity, 1936-66 (pp. 66-91). In F. Freschi, B. Schmahmann & L. van Robbroeck (eds.) Troubling Images: Visual Culture and the Politics of Afrikaner Nationalism. Johannesburg: Wits University Press.
Freschi, F. 2019. Art Deco, Modernity and the Politics of Ornament in South African Architecture, 1930-1940 (pp. 253-271). In B. Elliott & M. Windover (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Art Deco (252-270). New York: Routledge.
Freschi, F. 2017. ‘Poetry in Pidgin’: Notes on the Persistence of Classicism in the Architecture of Johannesburg’ (pp. 55-87). In G. Parker (ed.) South Africa, Greece, Rome: Classical Confrontations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Freschi, F. (Ed.). 2016. Henri Matisse: Rhythm and Meaning. Johannesburg: Standard Bank Gallery

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