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Art History Program

School of Art and Design

College of Arts and Sciences

Georgia State University

Art History  



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John R. Decker joined the Art History faculty of the School of Art & Design in 2007. He received his PhD and Masters degrees from the University of California Santa Barbara and a BA in Studio Art from California State University, Stanislaus. Dr. Decker is a specialist in the art of the Netherlands and Belgium and focuses on religious and devotional images. Before coming to GSU, he taught at the University of Georgia and Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. At GSU, Decker offers classes on the art and architecture of Europe in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries.


Decker’s main research interests center on the formation of identity from the late fourteenth through the seventeenth centuries. He favors a social-interactionist approach to identity formation, which considers identity not in terms of a singular self but in terms of multiple selves. These various selves are created by and for a constantly shifting array of social interchanges. Often, these interchanges require or involve material or visual culture. His work strives to understand the part that images and objects (e.g. panel paintings, sculpture, architecture) played in the processes of building personae in these periods. Decker focuses his research on the roles of meditation and devotion in the formation of the soul. He is also interested in all manner of religious behavior from personal piety, to life in the monastery, to public rites such as feast days and pilgrimages.


The Technology of Salvation and the Art of Geertgen tot Sint Jans. Available through Ashgate Press (

"Engendering Contrition, Wounding the Soul: Geertgen tot Sint Jans' Man of Sorrows," Artibus et Historiae, no. 57 (XXIX), 2008:59-74.

"Planting Seeds of Righteousness, Taming the Wilderness of the Soul: Geertgen tot Sint Jans' St. John the Baptist in the Wilderness," in Image and Imagination of the Religious Self in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Series Title Proteus, Brepols, Turnhout. 2007. 289 – 310.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, in The Journal of American History, Vol. 92, No. 3, December 2005: 934-938.


Geertgen tot Sint Jans, Virgin and Child