Tom Cummins

Tom Cummins

Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian and Colonial Art
Tom Cummins
  • Region(s): Latin America
  • Time Period(s): 16th century; 17th century
  • Theme(s): Latin American Art; Pre-Columbian Art; Systems of Knowledge; Ceramics


After being spawned at the bottom of the Hoboken River, birthplace also of Frank Sinatra, TBFC left the hallowed waters of New Jersey’s most famous water way and went on to prove Darwin’s theory of evolution and received his PhD from UCLA. (Actually he never picked the diploma up, but it is out there, somewhere, he believes.)  His research and teaching focuses on Pre-Columbian and Latin American Colonial Art.  Recent research and teaching interests include the analysis of early Ecuadorian ceramic figurines and the study of late Pre-Columbian systems of knowledge and representation, especially Inca, and their impact on the formation of 16th and 17th century colonial artistic and social forms (Toasts with the Inca: Andean Abstraction and Colonial Images on Kero Vessels).   He has also published essays on New World town planning, the early images of the Inca, miraculous images in Colombia, on idolatry and on the relationship between visual and alphabetic literacy in the conversion of Indians.  Most recently, he collaborated with a team of scholars at the Getty Research Institute to study two illustrated manuscripts from 17th-century Peru.  He edited two volumes of essays on these manuscripts that have been published by the Getty Research Institute, 2008.  Beyond the Lettered City: Visual and Alphabetic Literacy in the New World is co-authored with Joanne Rappaport, was published by The Duke University Press. 2012.

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