Carolyn Yerkes is a historian of Early Modern Architecture and Art who thinks about how the built world, both constructed and pictured, emerged through the movement of people, ideas, and materials within Europe and beyond it. Her current research projects focus on prints of siege warfare, squeezes of monumental inscriptions, staircases as monumental sculpture, and trees given as gifts for architectural projects.
Her first book, Drawing after Architecture: Renaissance Architectural Drawings and Their Reception (Marsilio 2017), examines the nature of architectural evidence by asking how Renaissance architects used images to explore structures, to create biographies, and to write history. Countering the enduring tendency to valorize the original, Drawing after Architecture restores the copy to its crucial role in the history of architectural theory and invention. The book was awarded the James Ackerman Prize in the History of Architecture and was a finalist for the 2019 Charles Rufus Morey Book Award from the College Art Association.
Yerkes’s ongoing projects on Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778) take architecture’s relationship to print as their primary subject. Piranesi Unbound (Princeton University Press 2020), a book co-written with Heather Hyde Minor, demonstrates that within Piranesi’s volumes, textual erudition, academic argument, and art were fundamentally intertwined. Yerkes and Minor co-curated an exhibition on this theme, entitled Piranesi on the Page, held in the new galleries of Princeton’s Firestone Library in Fall 2021.
Yerkes joined Princeton’s faculty in 2014, where she is now Associate Professor and the Director of Graduate Study in the Department of Art and Archaeology. Before that she was curator of rare books at Columbia’s Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. She received her B.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia’s Department of Art History and Archaeology, and her M.Arch. from Princeton’s School of Architecture.