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Novak, Barbara J.

    Full Name: Novak, Barbara J.

    Other Names:

    • Barbara Novak Deutsch

    Gender: female

    Date Born: 1928

    Place Born: New York, NY, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): American (North American)

    Career(s): educators


    Americanist and Altschul Professor of Art History at Barnard College and Columbia University, 1958-98. Novak graduated from Barnard College in 1950 and attended Radcliffe for her graduate work. She received a Fulbright fellowship in 1953 to pursue her dissertation, which appeared in 1957 on the Hudson River School artists Thomas Cole and Asher Durand. She joined the faculty of Barnard College the following year. In 1960 she married the art critic Brian O’Doherty (an exhibiting artist under the name Patrick Ireland) in 1960. She began publishing art criticism in various newspapers and art journals, most notably Artforum. Her book on nineteenth century painting was published in 1969. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1974. In 1980 she published her Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting, 1825-1875 and the concomitant show, Next to Nature: Landscape Paintings from the National Academy of Design whose catalog appeared the same year. A novel, Alice’s Neck, was published in 1987. Novak was awarded the distinguished Teaching of Art History Award from the College Art Association and retired emerita as Helen Goodhart Altschul Professor from Barnard in 1998. A chaired professorship at Barnard College was named in her honor. Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting, 1825-1875, was described by John I. H. Baur of the Whitney Museum of American Art, as “the most important contribution to the understanding of nineteenth-century American art that has been written in our generation.”

    Selected Bibliography

    [dissertation:] Cole and Durand: Criticism and Patronage: a Study of American Taste in Landscape, 1825-65. Radcliffe, 1957; Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting 1825-1875. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980; American Painting of the Nineteenth Century: Realism, Idealism, and the American Experience. New York: Praeger, 1969; Alice’s Neck. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1987; Next to Nature: Landscape Paintings from the National Academy of Design. New York: National Academy of Design, 1980.


    Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Research Guide to the History of Western Art. Sources of Information in the Humanities, no. 2. Chicago: American Library Association, 1982, pp. 149-50; “Barbara Novak.” Challenging Art: Artforum 1962-1974. Newman, Amy, ed. New York: Soho Press, 2000, p. 478.


    "Novak, Barbara J.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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