Book of Condolence: Dr Jutta Vinzent
Staff and students are shocked and saddened by the passing of Dr Jutta Vinzent, Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) in Art History, Curating and Visual Studies.
Jutta joined the department in 2001 and was a specialist in modern and contemporary art with a specific focus on issues of migration and mobility, and on art and curatorial practices in historical perspectives to challenge fixed notions of art. She published widely on her research topics and her most recent book, From Space in Modern Art to a Spatial Art History: Reassessing Constructivism through the Publication "Circle" (1937) was published in 2019. Jutta had an extensive and varied international research network, having worked as an Adjunct Professor in Korea as part of Universitas 21 and obtaining a fellowship at the Max Weber Center for Advanced Social and Cultural Studies, University of Erfurt, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). She explained that the “experience of having taught at a South-Asian university in particular, provided me with a global outlook and understanding of cultural diversity at HE level regarding student learning, assessment strategies and teaching management. This has increasingly become relevant at a time, when the internationality of studentship and staff has become normality, as it provides a grounding for a better understanding and therefore an opportunity to communicate more successfully with those we consider to be different from us. In this way, the topics of my modules, which relate to my research expertise in migration, postcolonial theories and decolonising politics, are not an empty vessel, but inform my practice and vice versa”. This gives a clear insight into the way Jutta approached her research as well as her teaching.
In addition to her modules on migration and postcolonial studies in art – especially on migrant artists in England – Jutta was instrumental in embedding curating in the department’s programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Her module ‘Inside the Gallery’ is a lynchpin in our undergraduate programme in which students gain valuable experience in gallery studies. She also set up the module that would become Curatorial Practices and the core of our extremely successful MA Art History and Curating which launched in 2014 and also set up placements with local partners for a credit-bearing module offering students hands on practice in galleries. She has also been so important to the department’s development of British Art Studies, bringing her unique perspective on this topic that has encouraged students to interrogate what we mean by ‘British’ Art. In recent weeks, Jutta had new and exciting plans to propose a module and eventually develop an MA in Provenance and Repatriation studies.
Jutta served for several years as our departmental postgraduate lead and her dedication to her students and their success as art historians was tangible - she often referred to her students as her extended family. She extended this keen interest in postgraduate students and programmes by taking up the role of Postgraduate Lead (Taught) for the School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music in August 2021. In all of her roles – as a teacher, an administrator, and research – Jutta exuded energy, ideas, and enthusiasm. It is testimony to the central role that her work played in her life that she was developing ideas and seeking to support students right up until the end. Her work was, as her family describe, more than a job – it was the heart of her life. Jutta’s energy and drive are an enormous loss to the department and to the School. We will miss her enthusiasm and her passion for her research which would emerge in intense, sometimes impromptu conversations in the department’s corridors or on a shared commute to work. What also often emerged in conversation with Jutta was her immense love for her family, for her husband, Markus, also an academic, with whom she clearly enjoyed an intellectual debate, and for her children, Cyril and Charlotte: she often spoke proudly of their academic and musical successes. The thoughts of all her colleagues in AHCVS are with her family at this time and this book of condolences is intended for anyone who knew Jutta to share their memories and to record our gratitude for her service to the department and its students. A celebration of Jutta’s life and contribution to Birmingham will be organised in due course.
Book of condolence
Tributes to Dr Jutta Vinzent for this page can be sent to email@example.com. Please make sure to include your name and any institutional affiliation that you wish included in the attribution.
Due to our mutual specialist interests, I became acquainted with Dr Jutta Vinzent during her PhD research in the Department of History of Art at the University of Cambridge. In 2000, along with the late Professor “Hamish” Ritchie, doyen and founder of the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies at the University of London, I served as an examiner of her remarkable dissertation. This was subsequently published as Identity and Image: Refugee Artists from Nazi Germany in Britain, 1933-1945 (Weimar: Schriften der Guernica Gesellschaft, 2006). My notes at the time of the viva examination convey my respect for Dr Vinzent’s scholarship, her efforts to bring interdisciplinary methodologies—derived from the spheres of literary, cultural, social and gender studies—to bear on art historical enquiry: “She must be congratulated,” I said, “for providing a unique resource at the cutting edge of the discipline.” I was fortunate to retain a collegial relationship with Jutta and greatly value memories of past collaborations, energetic conversations, and her gracious warmth. I offer my sincerest commiserations to her dear family and colleagues.
Dr Shulamith Behr, Honorary Research Fellow/Courtauld Institute of Art
It is so heart-breaking to learn that Jutta is no longer with us. Impossible to believe that such energy, passion and commitment can be extinguished. Her dedication to her students and patience with all their needs was unwavering. Jutta supervised my PhD and I will never forget how much she helped me. She arranged our meetings for early in the mornings so that I could get to the Gallery in good time. She read so many drafts with care and offered such insightful comments.
We also worked together on professional collaborations, with Jutta inviting me to participate in seminars for her Gallery module and encouraging students to take part in RBSA projects. All this alongside her complete devotion to her own research. I was lucky enough to see her again a few times when she was just back from Erfurt and wanted some help with a funding bid, of course it was a real pleasure to assist ... and she was just as fiery and vivacious as ever. Inspiring and unforgettable. Sincerest sympathy to all her family and colleagues who must all be grieving so much.
Dr Marie Considine, Former Gallery Director, RBSA Gallery
It has been a privilege working with Jutta over the years, as she had such a contagious sense of warm collegiality, combined with impeccable professionalism. As Head of Internationalization, I thoroughly enjoyed working with her on matters relating to how we project globally the relevance of the research emanating from the School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music. As scholars, our interest in colonialism and postcolonialism intersected, and it has been a pleasure to exchange with Jutta about her current research projects, including the one on German Artists in the British Colonies at the time of the Third Reich. Like many other colleagues, I will miss dearly working with Jutta.
Dr Berny Sèbe, Assistant Professor in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, Head of Internationalization, School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music.
Jutta was the first academic I spoke to when arriving at the department in 2019. I sat down at my desk in an empty office and, within a few minutes, heard a knock at the door and opened it to reveal a beaming Jutta. Her smile was infectious and immediately made me feel at ease. She sat with me and welcomed me to the department, showing a genuine interest in my life and goals, which led to an interesting conversation about philosophy and future research interests. My first thought when she left was ‘I’m going to like it here’. Throughout my time knowing Jutta this warmth and enthusiasm never faded. Her passion for the department became immediately clear during departmental meetings, and this persisted throughout our work together on the department’s social media steering committee. She was clearly excited to share what was going on in this department she loved, and always expressed gratitude to the rest of us on the committee for helping achieve this goal. If you shared a good idea with Jutta you would know about it. She didn’t hold back on praise and something you’d assumed to be a relatively small and inconsequential idea suddenly felt brilliant. I felt this gave a small insight into her teaching style and how she uplifted her students through her unfaltering enthusiasm. Thank you for making the department such a warm, welcoming and fun place Jutta. You will be dearly missed. My deepest condolences to her friends and family, my thoughts are with you.
Christopher Salt, Visual Resources Librarian, Art History, Curating and Visual Studies, University of Birmingham
I was greatly saddened to hear this news. Whilst I didn’t know Jutta well, she was an excellent colleague, and I was always struck by her energy and enthusiasm for her subject. My heartfelt condolences to her family and friends.
Patricia de Montfort, University Of Glasgow
I was very shocked by the death of Jutta Vinzent. She was not only an outstanding scientist and faculty member of the International Graduate School "Resonant Self-World Relations in Ancient and Modern Socio-Religious Practices" of the Universities of Graz and the Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt, she was also a very sympathetic personality and nice conversationalist whom I liked so much. I will miss her very much.
Dr. Wolfgang Spickermann
I’m so sad to read the news of Jutta’s passing. I feel honored that I had the opportunity to meet Jutta several times in Erfurt, so in 2016 when she prepared this impressive exhibition with Teary Kim, one part situated in the medieval High Choir of the Dominican Church (Predigerkirche) in Erfurt, dedicated to the attempt of referring some of Eckhart´s ideas with visual art forms. Meister Eckhart and his influence on modern art, especially on contemporary art – this topic was the connective element between us and she never got tired to discuss it with this wonderful enthusiasm she was representing. I always was astonished to follow her quick mode to think and talk, her vivid expression of excitement about all what we are possible to create in mental and material forms. I remember, she burned for the intellectual encounter with art as well as for meeting people, communicating with them, exploring their opinions, and expressing her own opinion, inspiring everyone who was listen to her, feeling her kindness and her optimistic view to the world. I’m so sad to read that she, a woman so full of energy, lost the battle against cancer now. My thoughts are with her family – her children Cyril and Charlotte and her husband Markus.
Kai Uwe Schierz, Kunstmuseen Erfurt
How deeply sad it is to know that Jutta has died. We have lost an incredibly generous colleague, a passionate and insightful researcher, a superb teacher, and a friend. As external examiner at the University of Birmingham I was impressed by the way she led the MA and developed the curating strand offering students new ways of working with and responding to art and developing new skills. She was a joyful, compassionate and kind individual who we will all sorely miss. My thoughts are with her family, her colleagues and friends.
Fran Lloyd (Kingston School of Art, Kingston University London)
I am deeply saddened by the news of Jutta’s passing. Jutta provided me with a lot of support when I started researching art in exile back in 2005, as this was an area she was passionate about. Her guidance and suggestions were invaluable and I wish we had a chance to work together more often. Coincidentally, Jutta was also the external examiner for my PhD thesis in 2011. I remember Jutta as a meticulous scholar and a joyful, positive person. My thoughts are with Jutta’s family at this tragic time.
Adriana Kiss-Davies, PhD (Aberystwyth University)
I first met Jutta back in 2002, when she kindly agreed to give a Barber Institute tour for some visiting speakers at a conference I co-organised. I was able then to form an impression of her depth of knowledge and passion for art history, as well as her collegiality and kindness. It was only much more recently that we worked together more closely on preparing the Masters that she led for the new semesterised teaching year at the University of Birmingham. It was in that context that I got to see at close range Jutta's expertise and pedagogical knowledge, as well as her passion for teaching. Jutta invited me to the wonderful exhibition The Paper Museum: The Curious Eye of Cassiano Dal Pozzo, which was co-curated by her MA students, and I'll never forget her pleasure and pride when it earned a five-star review in the Guardian. That was absolutely Jutta: so kind and so pleased about others' achievements, and particularly those of her students. I will miss her very much. My deepest condolences to her family.
Dr Elystan Griffiths, Department of Modern Languages, University of Birmingham
I should like to express my appreciation of Jutta Vinzent’s help with a research matter in my early days as a PhD student, and heartfelt sympathy for her family.
Dr Jana Buresova
I would like to extend my sincere condolences to Jutta's family and all those who loved her. I was so saddened to hear of her passing. I first met Jutta when she was my personal tutor in my first year as an undergraduate and remember her warmth and care for everyone in the Barber. As I got to know her more as a postgraduate, I had some insight into her amazing ability to juggle family life with numerous exciting academic projects, giving her all to everything she did. While working on our postgraduate exhibition we could approach her about anything, and nothing was too much trouble. Jutta was truly inspirational. I can’t imagine the department without her at its heart – my thoughts are with her colleagues and students. I hope that Jutta’s family can find some comfort in knowing how many people she touched, I am very sorry for their loss.
Lauren Dudley, Newcastle University
Jutta was an extremely kind person, a wonderful colleague and a brilliant scholar. I will remember the stimulating conversations about network theory, memory and migration, but also the mutual love of the city of Erfurt. Officially, I was her research mentor, but it really was a relationship of mutual exchange and I learned so much from her. In the last few months of her life, we worked together on postgraduate matters; she was dedicated to supporting students and enriching their experience to the end. My thoughts are with her family.
Professor Sara Jones, Department of Modern Languages
My contact with Jutta Vinzent startet nine years ago, when she started as Fellow at the Max Weber Institute in Erfurt. I was in this time Emeritus for Theological Ethics at the Catholic Faculty of Theology at the University of Tuebingen, president of the International Meister Eckhart Society in Germany and director of the Meister-Eckhart-Research-Center at the Max Weber Institute. The first contact with the family of Markus and Jutta Vinzent was the beginning of a deep friendship. On the professional level I honored Jutta Vinzent especially as a specialist for Narrative Ethics in the German Literature. She offers to me as a gift her Doctor-Dissertation of Cologn about the work of Edlef Koeppen in the Nazi-Time. We started an intensive exchange about literature, about jewish and other exiliations, and about her speciality in arts-theory and arts-exhibitions. We found a common research in the entourage of Meister Eckhart on two levels: she prepared an exhibition in Erfurt with Teary Kim for the transformation of Eckhart´s thinking into art (2016), a transformation, which she continued in 2019 with her expertise in the exhibition of modern scupltures concerning some intellectual and spiritual impulses by words of Eckhart, for which I give the general "motto": "Lassen und wirken" - "detachment and activity". She died when our group occupied with Eckhart-Lecture by Zoom tried to comment the exhibition of scuptures near Erfurt with some interpretations of ideas and spiritual stimulations of Meister Eckhart. The other level of our coperation was our common preparation of an new project concerning the reception of Meister Eckhart in the 20th century: by historical poets, artists, mediaevists, ideologists, philosophers, theological confessions.
We all as Juttas friends know her medical situation under the burden of cancer and we admired her courage in the battle with this aggressive monster. It was wonderful how she beared all this medical examinations, operation, chemical therapies. She used the intervals, which she has taken as special gifts or graces, for a good corparal performance, walking and running over distances. I remember that she in this time was also able to make and obtain a driver license for motorboats on a German lake.
She saw her two children growing up into their self-management. Her shortened life stood out with great intensity. This life was also fulfilled by love from her husband, from the two children and from her friends. We share with Jutta her always good mood and her good humour, when she thought on the possibilty to plant a new tree even if death is coming the next day (Martin Luther). The unforgotten feelings with her and for her will remain in our hearts.
Dietmar Mieth, Vicepresident of the "Meister Eckhart Gesellschaft"
The sad news of Jutta’s death comes as a great shock. I first met her when we co-convened the session Exhibition Practices During War and Conflict at the AAH conference at Warwick in 2011. It was a delight to work with Jutta on that: during the whole process, she was positive, enthusiastic, well-organised and intellectually rigorous. When one of our speakers was unable to travel from Sarajevo, she set up an internet connection so the speaker could still participate. Later, I co-examined a dissertation by one of her post-graduate students, and could see that she set very high standards, and how well her students responded to that. Since then, we have seen each other at conferences from time to time, given our interests in common, and it is very sad to know that won’t happen again. My sincere condolences to her much-loved family, and to all her colleagues in Birmingham.
Veronica Davies, The Open University
I got to know Jutta as the dearest wife of my colleague Markus some thirty or more years ago and then as a friend. I had the privilege of a conversation with her prior to publication of From Space in Modern Art when she showed me with great enthusiasm the pencil drawings of the German refugees interned in the late 1930s on which her later work was to be based in part. I remember her sheer joy at first obtaining them as she traced how they expressed human hopelessness and despair that reflected the European situation of the time and of their homeland.
Jutta was a wonderful person, full of life and joy, and gifted in her study of art. I remember a guest night at my Cambridge College, St Edmunds where she came with Markus as my guest. Her sheer joy on the occasion when she was clearly expectant with Cyril radiated the occasion with young women Junior Research Fellows showing great happiness for this scene in a Cambridge that resembles collegiately too often a gentleman’s club. I feel for Markus, and also for dear Charlotte and Cyril.
Professor Allen Brent, M.A., D.D (Cantab)
I was greatly shocked and saddened to hear of the untimely passing of Jutta Vinzent, as were all my colleagues at the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies. We worked with Jutta frequently over the years and valued her enthusiasm, expertise and helpfulness. She made many contributions to our conferences and our Yearbooks, and we were looking forward to hearing her speak at a symposium the week after next. She will be greatly missed.
Anthony Grenville, Research Centre for German & Austrian Exile Studies, University of London.
It is so very sad to hear of Jutta’s passing. My thoughts are with her loved ones.
I was based in the History of Art department for over a decade. I was lucky that I had Jutta as a lecturer on undergraduate modules that shaped my world view and intellectual thinking (notably the special subject Contemporary Visual Art and Postcolonialism) and that I was able to gain experience volunteering on an exciting exhibition project that she was leading.
Jutta was on her Fellowship in Erfurt while I was studying for my PhD, but she was supervising my good friend and so she felt very much a part of my experience at Birmingham in those years. It meant a lot that she often took the time to ask after me and to send her best wishes, and it was always good to be in her company on the occasions when she was back in the department - in those moments, it felt like being swept up under her wing. She once treated a few of us doctoral students to dinner and a quality bottle of Chablis (her suggestion) in an understated way. She had to leave early for a flight and she paid the bill before she left, without saying a word.
As well as her intellect, I will remember how attentive Jutta was, asking questions about life outside of the PhD as often as about the research, and her positivity, warmth and smile.
So sorry to hear about Jutta, whose sharp, polite, amusing intelligence brought such clarity to my postgraduate researches. She was always prepared to offer another view. Even recently whilst working overseas she took time out to help me with a troublesome query. Thanks Jutta.
Mike McKiernan MPhil (2007) FRCP FFOM Art and Occupation Society of Occupational Medicine
This is very sad news. May I offer my profound condolences to Jutta's husband and family. I valued her greatly as a colleague with a shared interest in exile studies and a genuine commitment to reaching out across disciplines. I learned a lot from her and I will keep the memory of her warmth and that wonderful smile
Bill Dodd (Emeritus Professor of Modern German Studies)
I was deeply sad to hear of Jutta’s sudden and tragic death. I was privileged to be Jutta’s colleague at the University of Birmingham, where we worked together in the History of Art Department for a number of years. I always admired Jutta’s energy, enthusiasm and commitment to her students and research. We will miss her very much.’
Shearer West, University of Nottingham
Jutta and I shared a research interest in the work of the European émigré artists who came to Britain to escape Nazi persecution. I had the good fortune to meet her at academic conferences and she was always a lively and encouraging person to share ideas with. My condolences go to her family, friends and colleagues.
Associate Professor Robert Burstow, University of Derby
Jutta has been a very important part of my adult life. She supervised my undergraduate dissertation, my MPhil and PhD, and continued to be an inspiring mentor, colleague and friend to me right up until her final weeks. Jutta encouraged, pushed and challenged me intellectually and helped to shape me as the academic that I am today.
I vividly remember her enthusiastic response in our first meeting about my BA dissertation in 2009 when I presented her with my first archival finds, made in the Carlisle Record Office, as a 20-year-old student. Jutta’s support for me in the twelve years following this has been unwavering. I will always be grateful to her.
I enjoyed that our PhD supervisions took place at the British Library, in cafes and restaurants, at train stations in Watford, London and Berlin, and on Skype (in an era before that became the norm) as well as in Birmingham. In and amongst our discussions of concepts, theories and methodologies, Jutta would share with me thoughts on life and her experiences which I appreciated and found insightful.
I would always eagerly anticipate Jutta’s comments on drafts of my work both as a student and, later, as I began a job at another university. Jutta never held back in either her praise, or her criticisms. I remember once when she told me, the night before one of my first conference papers, with her characteristic frankness, that my conclusion ‘was a bit lame.’ Of course, she was right, and I set about re-writing it.
I feel honoured that our relationship developed into one of exchange. I remember so clearly how warm I felt inside when Jutta had the generosity to mention in a conference paper that she delivered at the Barber in 2014 that our discussions during my supervisions had ‘fundamentally changed’ her outlook on social art history. I had the same glow years later when I read my name in her acknowledgements in her book on modernist space, published in 2019. I was thrilled to have Jutta’s involvement in a conference I organised earlier this year, to which she brought her incisiveness and energy, as I knew she would.
Jutta was kind, caring and protective of me to the very end of her life. I am filled with immense sadness that we will not work together on the projects and ideas we discussed in recent months, but I know my work has been and will be marked by what she taught and fostered in me for over a decade. I will miss her so much. She leaves a big gap.
My thoughts are with Markus, Cyril and Charlotte.
Imogen Wiltshire, University of Leicester
Having admired her work, the History of Art Department at UCL was fortunate to be able to get to know Dr. Vinzent as our BA External Examiner for the Modern and Contemporary from 2012-2015. Jutta was impressively energetic and thoughtful, bringing critical perspective and wise counsel as we developed the curriculum and its assessment. Above all she was enormously supportive of the work of tutors and students. So we think of her with admiration and a keen sense of the loss felt by colleagues at Birmingham.
Alison Wright, Professor of Italian Art and Chair of the Board of Examiners for History of Art, UCL
I met Jutta as a student and got to know her best during our work on post applicant open days. During this time she would oscillate through multiple topics of conversation; swapping seamlessly between tales of her family (often with accompanying videos which she had saved on her phone), direct, often unasked for, but inevitably helpful opinions on my PhD research, and her own detailed plans on how to ‘improve’ the open day system - inevitably starting with the need for better snacks. I will always feel flattered that she once declared that we had ‘bonded’ during these hours spent together and I will remember them fondly. Thank you Jutta, you will be sorely missed
Rebecca Savage PhD, Art History, Curating and Visual Studies, University of Birmingham
I met Jutta in 2018, having started working in the department two years previously; she had returned to teach with us again after a period of time back in Germany. She was given the office next door to mine in the Barber and I was immediately swept up in the whirlwind of helping Jutta settle back into the department. I don’t think I was quite prepared for her energy and urgency on that first meeting, but I was quickly charmed by it and got to know her quickly over those first few weeks of term. Over the last few years, it has been a joy to see students swept up by Jutta’s infectious spirit – first with disorientation, then with delight – in the same way. She was a transformative colleague and teacher to all of us in this respect.
I will remember Jutta striding into department most days around lunchtimes, after a busy morning of research that she somehow managed to carve out every day. It is unfathomable to me that I will not look up from my desk to see her doing this again. I will remember one occasion like this when she arrived in this way just a few minutes after I had received a crushing peer review of my own research. She stopped in my doorway, sensing that something wasn’t quite right I think, and then sat with me and gave me incredibly kind and supportive advice, telling me about how she had dealt with similar things. I will remember exchanging pieces of writing and grant applications with her, and the inspirational and practical advice I received from her. I will remember discussing our modules together, as our teaching and research interests sometimes overlapped – she was so generous, encouraging, and enthusiastic here when I was still working out how to develop my own modules.
I will remember Jutta’s unique approach to picketing when we went on strike. I will remember how she would often be the last person in our offices in the Barber and how, on one occasion, the Barber attendants accidentally locked her in her office – and I will remember the telling-off that they received that meant that they were extra careful never to make the same mistake again. Over the last year and a half, it was always a joy to see her on Zoom to discuss the MA teaching we shared in meetings that always went on, happily, far too long. We will all miss Jutta very much.
Greg Salter, Art History, Curating, and Visual Studies, University of Birmingham
Jutta was a dear friend, mentor, colleague and my postgraduate tutor. Thinking back over the last few days, I realise I’ve had the privilege of knowing her over twenty years.
I vividly recall her first office in the basement of the Barber Institute. There were photographs of her trips to Berlin with students pinned on the walls, and paper models perched on shelves or chairs that undergraduates had made as part of the gallery module she had devised. Art-historical and literary texts were ordered on shelves, along with a shelf behind her desk, set apart from the others, for her students’ research theses, of which she was immensely proud. There was also the photograph of her Cambridge graduation and those official school photographs of Cyril and Charlotte on her table. Her door was always open, as was David Hemsoll’s next door, and they would sometimes talk loudly to each other.
Over the years we developed a close friendship: we would discuss and read each other’s work and talk about our goals. She motivated and inspired you and was always generous in her responses. Jutta is the only person I have ever sat and worked alongside in libraries and archives in the UK and Germany. I’m not sure I realised it then, but she helped you concentrate and focus. We had our fair share of laughter too – discussing (and swapping) trashy German novels, talking about films – our admiration of Romy Schneider and there was usually something sweet involved, coffee and in more recent years, herbal tea. An utterly devoted and proud mother, Jutta was one of the first to congratulate us on the birth of our son and was just so excited by the births of the children of some of her research students. More recently, she was also the first to congratulate art history colleagues on their promotions, because that’s the sort of person Jutta was – genuinely excited and happy for others.
In 2014, I was fortunate enough to travel to Erfurt for a surprise birthday party that Markus had organised. A large room in an Erfurt University boarding house was packed with friends. Jutta was entirely unaware and came down the stairs beautifully dressed for dinner and was ushered into the room. I cannot describe her look of utter amazement and sheer joy when she suddenly saw us all there. She went around the room hugging each of us – crying and laughing. She was radiant. This is how I’ll remember Jutta.
Camilla Smith, Art History, Curating and Visual Studies, UoB
I am so sad that we have lost Jutta. She has been such a wonderful colleague to me since I joined the History of Art Department. I will always be grateful to her for mentoring me through the first three years of my role: helping me complete my probation, reading drafts of articles, pushing me in my research, helping me develop my teaching practice- essentially being incredibly generous with her time and her knowledge. She has made me a better scholar. I know that so many of her colleagues and students will feel the same.
But I also feel that Jutta wasn’t just my colleague but my friend too. She was such a lively, friendly, optimistic person- and fun. I fondly remember corridor wines in the Barber, evening Zoom chats (also with wine), and Jutta arriving for a meetings with cake and chocolate, always very generously sharing them out.
She will be very much missed, remembered with great respect and fondness. My deepest condolences to her husband and children.
Sophie Hatchwell, Art History, Curating and Visual Studies, University of Birmingham
I’m so sad to hear the news of Jutta’s passing. She was so vibrant, inspiring us all through our MA course, and ever so thoughtful, stopping to have a chat when we passed each other on campus. Jutta always encouraged everyone to make the most out of every opportunity, and her door was always open to offer advice along the way. She was clearly passionate that everyone should feel heard and supported, and I know that was really appreciated by many of my peers.
She will be dearly missed, and my thoughts are with her family, who were frequently mentioned in our seminars and meetings. I feel very lucky to have had Jutta as a mentor and tutor.
Alexandra Sheen, MA Art History and Curating, 2019-2020
I am heartbroken to hear that Jutta Vinzent left this world. I was lucky to met her personally numerous times in the period of 2014-2016 when I was PhD student in Erfurt at the Max Weber Kolleg. She was an elegant, calm, amazing scholar, always with unusual, creative and thought provoking questions. Together with Markus Vinzent, they formed the most adorable couple at that institute in that period. She helped me a lot also to understand the notion of space sacralisation and helped me a lot with rich bibliography on space theory. Her kindness, warm person and scholarly work will be missed by those, who met her. S T T L.
Dr. Csaba Szabó, University of Szeged, Hungary
I was very sorry to learn of Jutta Vinzent’s death. We worked together in 2007, when I taught in the History of Art Department at Birmingham just after completing my PhD. I remember Jutta as a generous colleague and an attentive mentor. She was an important influence on me early in my career and I learned a lot from her. My heart goes out to Jutta’s family and friends and to her colleagues and students, past and present.
Dr Imogen Hart, University of California, Berkeley
I am so deeply saddened by the loss of Jutta. While I never got to meet her in person, due to the pandemic, she had a profound impact on my time at the University of Birmingham. I started my Masters Degree in September 2020 and as a late addition to the course I spent a lot of time speaking to Jutta as she guided me through the enrolment process and the start of the year. While she never taught me, I always felt as though I could go to her with anything. She went above and beyond to give advice, support and encouragement. She championed me the whole way through my degree and her kind words always encouraged me to do my best. I owe a lot of what I have achieved this last year to her and I am so grateful to have met her. She will be deeply missed. My thoughts are with her family at this time.”
Mya Roberts, MA Art History and Curating 2020-2021
I first met my beloved friend and colleague when we were co-fellows at the Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt. She had a smile and charisma that lit up a room. Her incisive intellect was only surpassed by her generosity and kindness. I could trust Jutta to speak clearly and directly to the strengths and weaknesses of my ideas and to challenge me to think in new ways. O how I will miss her. Rest eternal grant my dear friend O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjdbbbJhuAM
Harry O. Maier, Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Studies, Vancouver School of Theology; sometime fellow of the Max Weber Center, Erfurt
I had the pleasure of knowing Jutta for many years; she was already at Birmingham when I arrived in 2004, and like others, I was slightly in awe of her when I first met her. She was very sharp and knowledgeable, and had a range of intellectual reference that was really impressive, as well as strong views on complex topics. I soon learned that she was also a lot of fun, and loved to chat and laugh. I too have had to back out of her office when late for another appointment, wishing I could stay and chat since talking to her opened up multiple worlds. I worked quite closely with her in recent years on PGT issues, and was inspired by her commitment to her students and to working for positive change in our academic communities. She made many, vibrant and important contributions to academic discourse and enriched the lives of her students and all those who knew her. She will be much missed.
Dr Charlotte Ross, Department of Modern Languages, University of Birmingham
I first met Jutta when I joined the University of Birmingham Careers Network Team in September 2018. In my role as Lead Careers Adviser for the School of Languages, Culture, Art History and Music (LCAHM), I worked closely with her to develop and deliver a range of careers activities and support for UG and PG students from the Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies. The highlight was working together on the ‘Careers in Museums, Galleries and Academia’ event which she was so passionate about, and successfully brought together an inspiring and esteemed group of alumni to share their career journeys and experiences.
It was an absolute pleasure to work with Jutta; she was a real advocate for Careers Network and worked tirelessly to ensure students made the most of the support we offer. She was a very kind, caring and lively person, and I will fondly remember our chats in her office about family and our children. My sincere condolences to her family, friends and colleagues,
Monira Ahmed, Careers Adviser (College of Arts and Law), Careers Network.
I undertook my PhD on the Brücke group of Expressionist artists at Birmingham University between 1999 and 2005. Prof Shearer West was my supervisor, but I soon became aware of another highly committed and dynamic member of staff in the department, Dr Dr Jutta Vinzent. I thought anybody who had and used a double ‘Dr’ title (and Jutta insisted on it in those days) would be a force to be reckoned with and I was right. She was a completely committed and much respected member of staff, but when Shearer suggested that Jutta be my internal examiner, I was rather more worried about what she would think of my work than the external, the eminent Professor William Vaughan. As predicted, Jutta was a ‘tough cookie’ during the viva, certainly tougher than my external. With sharp intelligence, she questioned my invented concept of ‘Arboreal Expressionism’ and took no nonsense during the rigorous discussion, but she gave me some terrific constructive advice for my minor corrections. Some years later, she came up to me on a visit to Birmingham and told me that she had come around to the idea of my concept and now liked it very much, and that furthermore, she was looking forward to reading more of my published work. I was touched by her humility and kindness. She was warm and supportive and while our contact was only infrequent after I left Birmingham, it was always a pleasure to correspond with her. She was much loved by her students and her colleagues. An outstanding scholar and person, she will be greatly missed both within and outside the university.
Dr Christian Weikop, Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary German Art, University of Edinburgh
I never met Jutta in person but we once had an hour long conversation over the phone on short term teaching contracts as part of her work for the AAH's precarity report. That conversation was years ago but I still remember how warm Jutta was. She took seriously the issues I shared and I know she was fighting for a sustainable way forward for the next generation of art historians. May her memory be a blessing.
Dr Maddie Boden, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
It is with the greatest shock and sadness that I am writing a condolence for the astoundingly intellectual and unreservedly kind Jutta. She was a privilege to have known, and a blessing to have had as my dissertation tutor; I have much to thank her for. Reading these beautiful tributes it is clear that the encouragement, intellectual stimulation, support and commitment she offered to me as her student were qualities that she shared willingly throughout every interaction in her life, be it as a friend or a mentor. Through her warmth and that limitless enthusiasm, I often felt like she was both.
Jutta, it breaks my heart that we won’t be able to do that MRes we were planning together. The image of your brilliant smile emerging underneath a nest of scarves on our zoom tutorials will stay with me for life. I will miss you immensely.
I only got to know Jutta in 2020 when she developed a terrific bid for a Collaborative Doctoral Award that partnered the University with the National Portrait Gallery. Working in the College’s Graduate School I had, however, been aware of Jutta’s exemplary work with postgraduates for many years. During that time, I became very aware of how highly Jutta was thought of in the Graduate School both for her exemplary supervision of students and for the wider responsibilities she took on in relation to postgraduate work.
What that knowledge hadn’t really prepared me for was just how much fun Jutta was to work with! This really became apparent as we met to talk over her project with the National Portrait Gallery and then as we interviewed candidates for the award. Through this work Jutta seemed to me to be the epitome of what an academic should be – scholarly and insightful but kind and generous at the same time. And although the time I spent with her was limited I know, from my colleagues in the Graduate School and from the other wonderful comments in this book of condolence, that it was an absolutely typical experience of Jutta. She will be missed.
Rex Ferguson, English Literature and College of Arts and Law Graduate School, University of Birmingham
Dear Jutta, I wanted to thank you for the energy, dedication and openness you have shown in supporting me whilst being my supervisor.
I started my MRes in possibly the hardest times in my life, whilst in the middle of a pandemic, attending university online, and feeling very disconnected from the university community. I remember how you set up some online hang out sessions, just for us masters students to meet each other and get to know each other better. Despite the enourmous amounts of work that you must have had on, at the beginning of the year and in the uncertainty of COVID-19, you went above and beyond to connect us with each other.
During our dissertation supervisions, we have not always agreed, and I must admit I found your bluntness quite challenging at times. But your criticisms were always valid; they made me a better thinker and writer, solidified my ideas, and allowed me to grow by pushing me out of my comfort zone. I think those are the marks of a great teacher and educator.
Thank you for all that you have taught me. It is strange to think we have never met in person, and still online you held a space so powerful that made such an impact in my life. It is strange to think tthat you will not be there in person when I graduate, but I will carry you with me nonetheless.
My thoughts are also with your family, your friends, and all the students and collegues affected by your departure.
Che la terra ti sia lieve.
Rebecca D'Andrea, MRes History of Art, 2020-2022
Jutta was a passionate supporter of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts and a delight to work with on the very many happy collaborations to which she contributed enormous expertise and infectious enthusiasm, not least our student–curated shows, first initiated by Jutta, and now one of the most significant sector training opportunities in existence. Before we met, I was prepared to be alarmed by this distinguished academic, ‘Dr Dr Vinzent’, spoken of in awed tones. Jutta merited her reputation as an acute and always questioning intellect, but what an approachable, funny and warm person she was. My last memory of Jutta is a joyous, wine-fuelled dinner after her presentation an ‘Evening with Gabo’ at the Barber, just before lockdown and not long after she had charmed Naum Gabo’s daughter over a lunch filled with laughter, insights and empathy. Jutta – I’d hoped to share many more such occasions with you, thank you. We will miss Jutta so much at the Barber. Sincere condolences to Jutta’s family.
Director, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
When I arrived at Birmingham in 2015, Jutta was away on her fellowship in Erfurt. I first met her in autumn 2018, so we had known each other in person for less than two years when the pandemic struck. Yet, it is now hard to imagine the department without her; her presence was so strong and her personality so vibrant.
From spring 2019 I was employed elsewhere, although I remained present at UoB as a honorary research fellow. This means that we officially only worked together as colleagues for a few months. Nevertheless, to Jutta I was a junior colleague with related research interests who could benefit from her support, and she offered that support without me ever having to ask. Whenever a question related to my field – east central European art – came up in her work, she counted on me and involved me, making me feel that my expertise matters in Britain. The topic of art and migration was not just a research area for her, but also the basis of a work ethic of openness and inclusion.
Besides research interests, we also shared an experience of migration and living between countries. It was always inspiring to chat about this with Jutta; to hear her talk cheerfully and with absolute devotion about both her family in Germany and her work in Britain. I admired her energy and absolutely loved her very direct, yet warm style. I am grateful to have known her and for the support, encouragement and friendship she offered me. My deepest condolences to her family, friends, colleagues, and students. She will be sorely missed.
University of Birmingham / Masaryk University, Brno
Sending my deepest condolences to Markus, the children and Jutta’s family. I was honoured to have been mentored by Jutta while completing my PhD at Birmingham. If it weren’t for her encouragement in having me teach the seminar portion of her undergraduate Postcolonialism module, I would never have found my passion and calling as a lecturer. I completely owe my professional life to her and will be eternally grateful. She was incredibly instrumental in the lives of so many students, colleagues, friends and family, that her absence will be acutely felt. I sincerely hope that those closest to her will find comfort and peace in the days to come. With love,
Elisa Korb (JD, PhD).
I first met Jutta back in 2008 when she introduced herself, and her groundbreaking studies on the Hitler émigré artists in Britain, to Ben Uri Gallery and Museum. Little did we know at that first meeting, that she would be such a significant influence in helping to shape Ben Uri’s curatorial and collecting trajectory, which now focusses on the Jewish and immigrant contribution to the visual arts in Britain post-1900. Since then our paths often crossed at conferences and lectures, when it was always a pleasure to listen to whatever topic Jutta was presenting. I will always remember Jutta for her keen intellect, energy, enthusiasm, and deep knowledge and love for her subjects (and a generosity of spirit, always keen to share). I send my deepest condolences to all Jutta’s family, friends and colleagues. She will be so missed.
Rachel Dickson, Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, London
It is with huge sadness and regret that myself and colleagues at Ben Uri have heard about Jutta’s passing. We all first got to know Jutta back in 2009 when she came to us with the germ of an idea for an exhibition that turned into ‘Forced Journeys’ – and also with her own passion and extensive knowledge for the subject, she ignited a similar passion in us to explore the expansive territory of the ‘Hitler émigrés’. Jutta contributed so much to this field and her work is really the touchstone for everyone else who has followed. As a scholar and as a person, her great qualities and sparkling personality will be sorely missed by all who knew her. Our heartfelt wishes go out to her husband, Markus, and children, Cyril and Charlotte.
Sarah MacDougall, Director, Ben Uri Gallery and Museum
I am saddened to hear that we have lost Jutta. As others have said, it was impossible not to be infected by her enthusiasm for life and for all aspects of her work. My best conversations with her were over early morning toast in the library café, as we put the world to rights. Jutta was full of ideas about ways of improving … pretty much everything. She will be sorely missed. My heartfelt condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.
Professor Emma Tyler, University of Birmingham
It's hard to put into words how the news of Jutta's sudden departure affected me.When I started my MA, Jutta was the first person who was able to make me feel safe and welcome in a new environment while I was far from home. On my first day at UoB, I remember how she laughed when I asked her what a reading week was and then she replied that when she arrived in the UK she had the same exact question. At that moment I knew I had found a person who I could rely on.Jutta was always available for a chat in and out of her office, talking about academic projects, books and most of all life experiences, often sharing tea and biscuits.Now I want to preserve and cherish all the conversations we had in the past two years, knowing that my experience at the UoB would have been completely different without her. I also want to remember her kindness, wisdom and love for life.She truly was a special person, and I'm sure that her indomitable spirit and love for students, family and friends will not be forgotten by countless people who were lucky enough to meet her, even for a little while.Goodbye Jutta, you'll always be loved.
Francesca Vitale, MA Art History and Curating 2019-2020
Jutta was such a big part of my experience while studying for the MA in Art History and Curating. She was always smiling and encouraging, helping us talk through any matter, academic or personal. As a student rep and her dissertation tutee I was lucky to have built a friendship with her over the course of the year. Her love for teaching and for her students was something unique and this period of my education will always remain very special thanks to her. I was lucky to have spoken with her a couple times after graduation and she was always keen to know about my life and career, supported my job applications and gave valuable advice. She will be dearly missed by all of her students.
Zuzanna Pela, MA Art History and Curating 2019-2020
I am lucky to have known Jutta for many years – when I was an Art History student at the University of Birmingham and, more recently, as a colleague in the same department. Although not my PhD supervisor, she took the time to read part of my thesis draft and offered insights and ideas that I could have never thought of; a reflection of her wide-ranging breadth of knowledge and enthusiasm for our discipline. When I was a Teaching Fellow, Jutta was always a helpful, kind and empathetic colleague. Jutta will be deeply missed.
Hannah Halliwell, University of Edinburgh
I am so sad to hear that Jutta is no longer with us. I had the great pleasure of working with her, and the rest of the departmental team, over the last two years on the Association for Art History’s epic 2021 annual conference. Jutta was on the conference committee and always made time and took the effort to lend her valuable expertise and support, which was so hugely appreciated. On behalf of myself and Cheryl Platt (former conference coordinator) we would like to extend our thoughts and condolences to Jutta’s family, friends, colleagues and students at Birmingham.
Claire Davies, former Head of Comms & Events at Association for Art History
I worked with Jutta for many years, advising on all manner of things as the School AAQM. She would pop into the office – or more recently over zoom – with a huge smile, happy to see you, a question at the ready and always up for a chat (at some point, we’d eventually get around to the question!). I heard the news with such sadness and I’m going to miss her greatly. My deepest condolences and much love go out to her family, friends and colleagues.
Michelle Arnold, School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, UoB
I worked with Jutta in the early days of the department. It was a pleasure to work with her and I remember our meetings with fondness. Jutta was always smiling and full of fun. My deepest condolences to Jutta’s family.
Heather Cullen, College of Arts and Law UoB
Jutta and I worked together at the start of my career, when I was an unnecessarily bossy external examiner for the History of Art department at the University of Birmingham. It was always a pleasure to work with Jutta, who was so full of life, joy, kindness, intelligence, and sincerity. She always made me feel at home, making me feel like a part of her life and family, and the department at Birmingham. The world is less without her, and she's impossible to replace. We shall all miss her terribly and will think of her always with love and respect.
Prof. Jason Edwards History of Art, University of York
I graduated in 2008 and have thought regularly about the modules taught by Jutta. I felt grateful for them at the time, but with hindsight I appreciate even more how forward-thinking her work and tuition was.
Jutta was a fast-thinking, enthusiastic, and generous tutor who was genuinely passionate about supporting students to achieve their best. Such a combination made the challenge of keeping up with her inspiring rather than intimidating, and I'm sorry more students won't have the pleasure of this experience.
Natalie Osborne, UoB History of Art Graduate, 2008
It is so sad to hear of Jutta’s passing. She faced her illness bravely for such a long time, never losing her excitement about her projects and her warmth with others. I feel lucky to have known her and to have been able to learn so much from our conversations. I’ll remember her very, very fondly.
Fred Schwartz, UCL
I only studied under Jutta briefly in my first year, but she left a lasting impression on me. I was struck by how kind, funny and encouraging she was in our lessons, and even though they were online, she was captivating, and I thoroughly enjoyed her teaching. In conversations with other students who she taught online in first year, we didn't have a single bad word to say about Jutta - we were looking forward to having her in our future years. We will thoroughly miss Jutta, and I send my condolences to her colleagues, family, and students.
Rose, UoB UG History of Art
I met Jutta during my MA in 2020/21. While I didn’t have a lot of contact with her (and entirely over video call), her intellect and passion shone through. Early this year, a scheduled 15 minute conversation about my dissertation topic turned into a grandiose and entertaining hour-long discussion about the power of architecture. I left the call more inspired than ever before in education.
I’m deeply sorry to hear about Jutta’s passing. I know that there are many hundreds of others with similar stories of her to mine.
Caleb Webster, MA Art History 2020-2021
It is with great sadness that I write this about my friend and colleague, Jutta. I have had the pleasure of knowing Jutta for more than sixteen years. She had already been a member of staff in our, then tiny, department for four or so years before I joined the university in March 2005. I confess, at first, I was a little in awe of her. Jutta was an academic of very evident intellect, with a single-minded drive always to keep innovating in her, and our department’s, approach to research, to curating, to pedagogy, to curating as research and pedagogy, to technology, to student employability. In these and other things, Jutta always pushed us forward. We will not be the same without her.
I was fortunate also to be able to get to know Jutta personally and I am proud to consider her my friend. She and I would share stories of our children and she always had great advice on how to manage the pleasures and failures of trying to be both an academic and a mother. Those who knew her will know that she liked to chat. Sometimes it was difficult to get out of her office, she liked to chat that much! In fact, on occasion, one would simply have to back slowly out of Jutta’s office — nodding and smiling — with her still talking to you in order not to be late to teach. She also loved to chat over wine, including what we in AHCVS call ‘corridor wine’. Which, as the title so obviously suggests, means sitting on the floor outside our offices in the Barber Institute ruminating on and laughing about anything and everything while, yes, sharing a bottle.
In recent years, upon return from her Research Fellowship at the University of Erfurt, Jutta became even more of a joy to spend time with personally and as a contributor to departmental discussions on pedagogy, research, etc. This despite living with a terrible and terrifying illness. Nonetheless, she took each day as it came, with her typical enthusiasm and determination. Jutta wanted and, indeed, did continue to teach, to research, to be integral to the life of the department, even in what we now recognise to be her final weeks and days, when she was likely suffering much more than she wanted us to know. Her passing is untimely and unjust. I express my deepest condolences to Jutta’s family.
I will remember Jutta’s smile, her laugh, her forthright enthusiasm, her love of chat both personal and intellectual, her dedication to and care for students, particularly international and postgraduate students. I will remember the way she would breeze — always quickly and smiling — into the department, always in a sophisticated and colourful outfit and often pulling a small suitcase on wheels; the latter a reflection on the internationalism of her lifestyle and outlook. Jutta, I will miss you. Thank you for being in my life.
Francesca Berry, Art History, Curating and Visual Studies, University of Birmingham
I wish to pass on my condolences to Jutta’s family. Jutta made an outstanding contribution to Art History in her work on curating, British modernism, contemporary art and postcolonial studies. I shall greatly miss my friend and colleague, whose advice as one of my doctoral supervisors was invaluable to me. With much love always.
Dr Richenda Roberts, The University of Warwick.
I met Jutta during my MA in 2020/21. While I didn’t have a lot of contact with her (and entirely over video call), her intellect and passion shone through. Early this year, a scheduled 15 minute conversation about my dissertation topic turned into a grandiose and entertaining hour-long discussion about the power of architecture. I left the call more inspired than ever before in education.
I’m deeply sorry to hear about Jutta’s passing. I know that there are many hundreds of others with similar stories of her to mine.
Caleb Webster, MA Art History 2020-2021
I have known and worked with Jutta for many years through my role as School Administrator. I will miss her dearly. Sincere condolences to Jutta’s family, friends, and close colleagues.
Sue Smith, University of Birmingham
At the moment I heard the news of Jutta's passing I was watching this video about the voraciousness of death: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeTywNOxBuo It felt like a eulogy in the medium we shared of contemporary art. Closer than any words can describe the shock of a life cut short before all her ideas and manuscripts could be published.
Professor Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll, University of Birmingham
I first met Jutta in November of 2020 as a History of Art PhD applicant. While I was confident that the University of Birmingham would make a great fit for me, it was not until my interview with Jutta that I was absolutely certain.
During this hour-long chat, Jutta’s immeasurable knowledge, profound passion, and refreshing sense of humour shone through. I will never forget my excitement when she expressed an enthusiastic interest in overseeing my research.
Our regular meetings have culminated in hours of lively discussion—both academic and personal—that I cherish. While she may not be the one to see my project through as planned, her input and ideas will undoubtedly continue to shape my research—and I know that would make her proud.
Kelly Richman-Abdou, UoB Doctoral Candidate, History of Art
It is with huge sadness that I have learned of Jutta’s passing. Her research on migration and modernism was insightful and forward thinking and she’ll be much missed as a scholar, colleague and friend. Huge condolences to her family and her departmental colleagues.
Dorothy Price, Courtauld Institute of Art, London
Jutta Vinzent had been an influential figure and role model in my life. I always admired her incredible work ethic and achievements. But most of all, I admired her passion, enthusiasm and energy. I remember taking her module 'Inside the Gallery' which inspired me to become a curator because Jutta taught it in a way that made me imagine all the possibilities of curatorial practice. I also remember her generosity and kindness when she brought chocolate for St. Nicolas day and how that reminded me of home. Lastly, I will always appreciate her directness and the kind of involvement she had with every student because she wanted everyone to achieve their full potential. All these are memories and thoughts that I will treasure despite being saddened by her passing.
Andra Proca, University of Edinburgh
Jutta was a PhD student when I started graduate work in art history in the late 1990s. I was in awe of her and could not believe she had time for me. But she did, and over coffees she shared with me her passion and commitment to the discipline with a generosity I will never forget. My condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues at Birmingham and beyond.
Allison Morehead, Queen's University, Canada
When I applied to work at Birmingham I remember looking on the departmental website to find out more about the people I hoped would be my future colleagues, and thinking how much I would like to work with Jutta; I was curious and somewhat in awe of this incredible woman with two doctorates! When we finally met 3 years later we had the most lively and energetic discussion over a large slice of cake about our shared research interests, pedagogy, family, and our principles as researchers and teachers. Jutta was famous in the department for her dedication to her students, for the kindness and mentorship she extended to junior colleagues; for her style and for her fierce intellect. She always made an effort to cultivate friendships with new staff, and to foster a sense of community, supporting many of us through parental leaves with words of wisdom, joy, and encouragement. She has been a cornerstone of our shared Departmental life. I feel honoured to have got to know Jutta, and devastated that our growing friendship has been cut so short. I would like to pass on my sincerest condolences to Jutta’s family. With love,
Kate Nichols, Art History, Curating and Visual Studies, University of Birmingham
I first met Jutta in a whirlwind a year or so after I joined Birmingham – she burst into my office full of excitement about an event she had been to at the Tate, totally buoyed up by the people she had met and spoken to, showing me and Camilla the photographs on her computer. This was Jutta to a T – driven by an idea, keen to share an experience, and able to talk the hind legs off a donkey. And what she had to say was never dull: over the course a year, I used to pick her up on the way to work and we would immediately dive into some in-depth conversation about art history, her research plans, or the future of our department. I am sure I read books vicariously through Jutta. Or she would listen to me struggling to manage a life split between two countries, between parenthood and academia: the traffic jams ensured we had plenty of time to unpick life. My daughter, then about three and sitting in the back, would complain that our animated conversations hurt her ears, though she was more than keen to eat Jutta’s on-the-go breakfast, and Jutta would happily share. She always had a unique and positive perspective and encouraged to me to see the benefits of pursing my career rather than letting me wallow in the difficulties. A few years earlier, two weeks after I had given birth, she sent me an article to read, just in case I was bored…! I admit I was just exhausted and didn’t reply but her perspective points to the centrality of research in her life, yet she balanced this need for intellectual stimulation with her dedication to and love for her own family. Our commuting conversations around art history were interspersed with other moments, such as when she asked to come into the Elms Nursery with me to drop off my daughter, since her own children had been there some ten years previously, and I heard her talk so proudly about Charlotte and Cyril’s achievements at school and as exceptional pianists.
Jutta had her own way of doing things that some of us referred to as the “Dr Vinzent Method”: often she would spend the morning in the library doing some research and then segue into teaching and student tutorials in the afternoons. Over a couple of years, her near monopoly on our MA students – as their personal tutor, tutor for Research Training and often dissertation supervisor – meant that she would spend many hours in her (tucked away) office offering them her advice. Such dedication once saw her locked inside the Barber after hours and having to call security to be let out.
One could describe Jutta as a force of nature: her energy was coupled with a no-nonsense directness that could be formidable but which was underpinned by a genuine belief in the department and in all of us as people. She was exceptionally warm and generous – always had a smile and a hug to give in moments of crisis, at the end of term, or at the start of a new one. She was always appreciative of the moments we spent together as colleagues – in the corridor supping wine, at the Christmas dinner, at someone’s house with a takeaway curry. She was brimming with ideas and pursued them with conviction: just prior to her passing she was putting plans in place for a new module and a related MA. I am sure that the department will carry Jutta’s energy with it in the coming years and that all those whose lives she touched will be equally motivated by her enduring advice and enthusiasm. My thoughts are with Markus, Cyril and Charlotte, my colleagues and our students for whom she was an inspiration as an art historian and as a lovely, caring person. Sleep well, Jutta, thanks for everything.
Elizabeth L’Estrange, Art History, Curating and Visual Studies, University of Birmingham