Ph.D. Art History, UCLA
M.A. Art History, UCLA
B.A. Art History & English Literature, Stanford


Art History of the US before 1945, with emphasis on art patronage, museums, and markets, and on social class and its intersections with ethnicity and gender

Precolumbian Art, with emphasis on Aztec Mesoamerica


Dr. Ott has taught at Whitman College, and in the University of California system at Irvine and at Riverside. He also worked as a researcher for the exhibition Made in California (2000) at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and curated the show’s ephemera and material culture.


College Art Association
Association of Historians of American Art
American Studies Association
Southeastern College Art Conference


Smithsonian Postdoctoral Fellowship
Patricia and Phillip Frost Essay Award (“for the most distinguished contribution to American Art”)
JMU College of Visual and Performing Arts Madison Scholar
JMU General Education Distinguished Teacher
Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Dissertation Fellowship in American Art
Various research and teaching grants from JMU, the Huntington Library, and UCLA



"Reform in Redface: The Taos Society of Artists Plays Indian," American Art 23:2 (Summer 2009): 80-107.

“How New York Stole the Art Market: Blockbuster Auctions and Bourgeois Identity in Gilded Age America,” Winterthur Portfolio 42:2/3 (Summer/Autumn 2008): 133-158.

“Labored Stereotypes: Palmer Hayden's The Janitor Who Paints,“ American Art 22:1 (Spring 2008): 102-115.        

“Iron Horses: Leland Stanford, Eadweard Muybridge, and the Industrialised Eye,” Oxford Art Journal 28:3 (Fall 2005): 407-28.


The Gilded Rush: Art Patronage, Industrial Capital, and Social Authority in Victorian America [under contract, University of Pennsylvania Press]

"The Manufactured Patron: Staging Bourgeois Identity through Art Consumption in Postbellum America," in Sven Beckert and Julia Rosenbaum, eds., Distinction and Identity: Bourgeois Culture in Nineteenth Century America [under review, Palegrave Press]

“Metropolitan, Inc.: Corporate Governance, Entrepreneurial Elites, and the Origins of American Art Museums”

“Brotherhood on Paper: Giacomo Patri and the Representation of Interracial Solidarity in the American Labor Movement”  

He has also presented scholarly papers at the annual conferences of the College Art Association, the Southeastern College Art Conference, the American Studies Association, the Southwest Art History Conference, and the Popular Culture Association; at numerous universities including Case Western Reserve, Harvard, Maryland, Randolph-Macon, and Yale; and at LACMA, the San Diego Historical Society, and the Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C.


Dr. Ott is the Area Coordinator for Art History and has served on the Curriculum & Instruction, Personnel Advisory, Graduate, Honors & Awards, and Assessment Committees of the School of Art & Art History.  He is also a member of the American Studies Steering and General Education Cluster Two Committees, and is active with the Africana, American Studies, and Latin American Studies Programs.