IDSVA International Residencies | One-of-a-Kind Global Residency PhD

The IDSVA Topological Studies Program may be the only one of its kind in the world.

During first and second year residencies, students travel internationally from one historic site to another. Each site is looked at as a key intersection between art and ideas. Residency site visits can last from one or two days to several weeks.

International Studies

The IDSVA Topological Studies Program

GLOBAL TRAVEL: The IDSVA Topological Studies Program may be the only one of its kind in the world.

During first and second year residencies, students travel internationally from one historic site to another. Each site is looked at as a key intersection between art and ideas. Residency site visits can last from one or two days to several weeks. Current sites, historical designations, and the order in which they are visited are as follows:


Rome - Ancient
Spannocchia Castle - Feudal/Agrarian
Siena - Medieval/Urban
Florence - Renaissance
Venice - Baroque
Berlin - Late Neoclassical - Early Industrial
Paris - Modernism
Athens - East/West Transhistorical
Madrid - Neoclassical/Romantic
Barcelona - Catalan

The residency site visits are to be experienced as successive historical strata that set up a three-level (topological) critique.

In the first place, each site is considered in terms of its historically designated period vis-à-vis art and ideas; secondly, the sites are considered in topological relation to one another (inter-textual critique); and thirdly, each site’s contemporary situation with respect to art and ideas is looked at as an extended moment in its historical development and in topological relation to each of the other sites.




The first residency begins in Rome, where students experience the art and architecture which testifies the city’s development as kingdom, republic and empire of the Ancient Western world, as well as its subsequent role as the center of religious power through the Vatican Museum collections.  

Spannocchia Castle, in Tuscany






From Rome, they move on to Spannocchia Castle, in Tuscany. A restored eleventh-century tower and fourteenth-century villa and 1100-acre working farm, Castello di Spannocchia blends feudal traditions with the goings on of contemporary life. While living and studying at Spannocchia, students conduct fieldwork in Siena, and Florence. 

the Piazza Del Campo





As a banking city and site of incipient middle-class capitalism, medieval Siena stood in geo-political tension with the aristocratic/agrarian economics and cultural ethos that still informed a more strictly two-class social system at nearby Spannocchia. Students consider this tension in terms, for instance, of Lorenzetti’s Allegory of Good and Bad Governments, painted in 1338 in Siena’s Palazzo Pubblico, adjacent to the city’s famous public square, the Piazza Del Campo. 

Siena, Florence




In contrast with Siena, Florence represents the site where the Renaissance and early capitalism flourished. Students study first-hand the architecture and aesthetics of the 15th and 16th Centuries, through fieldwork at The Uffizi Museum and the Accademia di Belle Arti, where the Botticelli’s Venus is compared and contrasted with Michelangelo’s David.



In Venice students think about the city’s history as an early version of globalized markets and question the significance of architectural and artistic practices as the Renaissance gives way to Baroque ideas and aesthetics. This critique is set against the current role of the city as capital of the global art scene during the Venice Biennale, which is the focus of student’s activities. In 2015, IDSVA took part in the ‘Biennale Sessions’ with lectures delivered by distinguished scholars.




In Berlin, they look at how the Baroque shifts to early modern industrialized thought. And again, signs of these cultural mutations are to be discerned and felt in the architectural design of the city of Berlin as well as in the collections of art and cultural artifacts to be seen in the city’s museums and private collections.




In Paris, Modernism emerges full-blown in the mid-19th-c Haussmannization of boulevards, public gardens, and architecture, and students trace the cultural/aesthetic contours of these developments by exploring the city’s streets & cafés and by conducting field work at the Louvre, the d’Orsay, and the Centre Pompidou—to name but a few of the cultural/aesthetic sites studied in Paris.


New York City



In New York City, students live and breathe the post-industrial urban experience. The Metropolitan Museum, MoMA, the Guggenheim, and the Whitney, are among the museums in which students conduct fieldwork, along with the Uptown and Chelsea galleries, artist studios, and other cultural sites.




In Athens, the rich heritage of classic Greek culture stands at the crossroads with the city’s Byzantine and Ottoman past, and the contemporary art scene. Students experience first-hand the monuments of the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, and Delphi.




The Madrid residency will focus on the great Prado Museum, giving particular attention to Velazquez and Goya. Both artists served in the Spanish Court, Velazquez the leading light of Spain's Golden Age and Goya bringing forward Spanish Romanticism. These two periods will have much to say to us about Spanish colonialism.


The Barcelona residency will focus on the history of Catalan architecture, culture, and political history and will pay special attention to the studies Picasso made of Velazquez's Las Meninas, housed in the Picasso Museum. 



Mexico City will start in January 2020 for 1st and 2nd year students.


Casablanca will start in May 2020 for 3rd year students.

At each of these places, world renowned philosophers, critics, and artists join in on a running discussion about the ideas and art forms that brought these places and times together in what remains an ever unfolding of the future.

Museums & Monuments visited during the Topological Studies Program

Roman Forum
Capitol Hill and Michelangelo Square
MACRO (Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma)
Vatican Museums
St Peter’s Church

Palazzo Pubblico
Santa Maria della Scala Museum
San Galgano
Pinacoteca Nazionale


Venice Biennale (including off-site pavilions)
Palazzo Ducale
Fondazione Prada
Guggenheim Museum
Punta della Dogana
Studio visit: Debra Werblud

Acropolis Museum
Ancient Agora and Museum
Ancient Delphi and Museum
Cycladic Art Museum

Hamburger Banhof Museum
Jewish Museum
Hoffmann Collection
Boros Collection
Pergamon Museum
Neue National Galerie
Martin Gropius Bau
House of World Cultures
Peter Eisenman’s Holocaust Memorial
Berlin Biennial
Studio visits: Vadim Zakharov, Franz Ackermann, Aura Rosenberg

Musée du Louvre
Musée d'Orsay
Centre Pompidou
Muée national de l'Orangerie
Musée national Picasso
Musée Rodin
Musée du quai Branly

New York
Guggenheim Museum
The Whitney Museum of American Art
Metropolitan Museum
MoMA (Museum of Modern Art)
New Museum
Studio Museum Harlem
Museo del Barrio
International Center for Photography
Museum of Arts and Design (MAD)
Brooklyn Museum
Neue Galerie
Jewish Museum
Judd Foundation
Dia: Beacon
Morgan Library and Museum
Park Avenue Armory
High Line Park
Chelsea Galleries
Studio Visits: Paul Bloodgood, Liam Gillick, Simonetta Moro


"IDSVA's interactions with the best theoreticians and artists during residencies promote independent original research and build intellectual community."

Ewa Ziarek
Julian Park Professor of Comparative Literature and Founder and Director, Humanities Institute at the University of Buffalo

IDSVA: The World-Class Low-Residency PhD in Visual Arts