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Preston McLane

Published September 10, 2018


Museum Director


(850) 644-6836

Dr. Preston McLane is the Director of the Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts. Dr. McLane’s doctoral research focused on the conceptual relationships between the Baroque genre paintings of Alessandro Magnasco and the Spanish picaresque novels of the 17th and 18th centuries. Prior to coming to Florida State, he lived in Moscow, Russia, where he received his MA from Lomonosov Moscow State University with a thesis on the emergence of synthetic realism in early Soviet easel painting. Dr. McLane previously served for six years on the staff of the Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts and has been a curatorial fellow at the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the Appleton Museum of Art, and the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. Dr. McLane’s research interests include artistic adaptations of the picaresque literary genre and Don Quixote; fictitiousness in early modern and contemporary art; nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian and Soviet art; art and authoritarianism; public art; environmental art; and the application of property theory to cultural resources and heritage sites.


PhD Florida State University
JD Florida State University
Curriculum Vitae

Selected Publications

“Černý’s Counterfeit Collaborators,” Forum for Modern Language Studies 48:4, Special Issue: “Artists’ Statements: Origins, Intentions, Exegesis” (October 2012).

“Stop and Go: Semiosis on the Artist’s Highway,” in High Roads and Low Roads: Anthems, Dirges, Myths, Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts Press, 2006.

“‘Taking Villages for Breakfast’: Painting the Power of Volcanoes,” in Terrestrial Forces, Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts Press, 2004.

“Some Textual Sources for the Purse as Reliquary,” Athanor 21 (2002): 17-22.

Courses Offered

Communication for Arts and Design

In Communication for Arts and Design students will develop their critical analysis and public speaking skills with particular emphasis on short-form writing and speaking contexts and circumstances encountered in the contemporary world of design and the arts (including both the visual and performing arts) ca. 1960 to the present. The texts, lectures, and labs focus on core concepts of art criticism, together with principles of effective written and speech communication and their practical applications. In the lecture component of the course, students will become familiar with the fundamental tenets of contemporary art theory and criticism and the skills needed to succeed in writing and speaking critically (i.e., describing, interpreting, judging, and theorizing) through examples drawn from diverse arts contexts including the visual arts, architecture, design, and the performing arts. In the lab component of the course, students will further explore the concepts and contexts of contemporary arts criticism and hone their skills through guided discussions, and a range of writing and speaking exercises. This course meets the university’s Oral Communication Competency Requirement (OCCR).

Environmental and Site-Specific Art

In the 1960s and 70s the traditional landscape genre was transformed. Instead of seeking merely to represent nature, artists worked directly within the landscape. Drawn by vast, uncultivated spaces of desert and mountain, as well as by parklands, blighted urban terrains, and post-industrial brownfields, artists such as Michael Heizer, Nancy Holt, and Robert Smithson moved earth to create primordial symbols. Others like Christo and Jeanne-Claude and Walter de Maria punctuated the skyline with monumental signposts. This seminar explores the history of land and environmental art and the theories and practices that informed these movements, traces the development of major public sculpture, earthwork, environmental, and site-specific art projects through to the present day, and through critical engagement with primary sources, contemporary criticism, and scholarly writing, anatomizes the theories and controversies that attended these projects to give fuller meaning to the artists’ efforts.

Art of Russia and the Soviet Union

This course surveys the history of the visual arts in Russia from its Christianization in 988 through the Soviet era. Emphasis will be on major trends in Russian painting—including icon painting, portraiture, romanticism, critical realism, symbolism, the avant-garde, constructivism, and socialist realism—and the social, political, philosophical, and theoretical contexts that fostered the development of each.

Art and Cultural Heritage Law and Policy

This seminar explores the complex and controversial relationships between the history of art, cultural heritage sites, and cultural artifacts through detailed analysis of legal doctrines, ethics, and philosophies, both in the United States and internationally. We will look critically at the conflicts and contradictions in existing art and cultural heritage law and policy in their diverse sectors, including art theft and plunder during wartime, illicit trade in stolen art and cultural artifacts, provenance and ownership disputes, cultural reparations and repatriation, art forgery and counterfeiting, copyright and originality, and artists’ moral rights, among other topics.