Skip to content

Pollock, Griselda

    Full Name: Pollock, Griselda

    Other Names:

    • Griselda Pollock

    Gender: female

    Date Born: 11 March 1949

    Place Born: Bloemfontein, Free State, South Africa

    Home Country/ies: Canada

    Subject Area(s): feminism


    Early and prominent feminist art historian in the revision of art history of the late 20th century. Pollock’s parents were Alan Winston Seton Pollock and Kathleen Alexandra Sinclair Pollock. She grew up in South Africa until she was seven when her family moved to Canada in 1956. As a teenager her family relocated again Britain in 1962. In 1967, Pollock entered Oxford University, graduating with honors in modern history in 1970. She continued at the Courtauld Institute between 1970 and 1972. Pollock embraced activist feminism, becoming active in the Women’s Art History Collective. Pollock taught as a lecturer at Manchester University, 1974-1977. She moved to Leeds in 1977 with the appointment of “Lecturer in History of Art and Film.” The same year, 1977, Pollock wrote the article, “What’s Wrong with Images of Women?” a piece which definitively established, along with Carol Duncan’s article of the same year, the disparities of meanings between images of male and females (Gouma-Peterson/Mathews). She received her Ph.D., in 1980, writing a dissertation on the approaches to modernism thought the art of Vincent van Gogh. She married Antony Bryant and co-authored Old Mistresses: Women, Art and Ideology the following year. Pollock remained at Leeds, rising to senior lecturer in 1987. The following year she published the second in her triumvirate of feminist theory, Vision and Difference. Pollock was appointed chair in Social and Critical Histories of Art in 1990. Differencing the Canon appeared in 1999. In 2001 she accepted the appointment of Director of Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory and History as Professor of Social and Critical Histories of Art. Pollock formed the strand of feminist art history scholarship employing the Marxist-socialist approach (Broud/Garrard). She adopted an activist-feminist scholar role, referring, for example, to other female artists and art historians as “sisters”. In this she contrasted other feminist scholars, for example, Ann Southerland Harris (most publicly with Lawrence Alloway, also a pro-women’s-issue scholar). Alloway, as did other art historians, took issue with her call for the rejecting of all previously written art history to efface ideology and embrace female standards.

    Selected Bibliography

    • [dissertation:] Vincent van Gogh and Dutch Art: a Study of the Development of Van Gogh’s Notion of Modern Art with Special Reference to the Critical and Artistic Revival of Seventeenth Century Dutch Art in Holland and France in the Nineteenth Century. Courtauld Institute, University of London, 1980;
    • and Parker, Rozsika. Old Mistresses: Women, Art, and Ideology. New York: Pantheon Books, 1981;
    • Vision and Difference: Femininity, Feminism, and Histories of Art. New York: Routledge, 1988;
    • Differencing the Canon: Feminist Desire and the Writing of Art’s Histories. New York: Routledge, 1999; [Alloway debate:] Alloway, Lawrence. “[review of] Old Mistresses: Women, Art and Ideology.” Woman’s Art Journal 3, no. 2 (Autumn 1982/Winter 1983): 60-61;
    • and Harris, Ann Sutherland. “Women, Art and Ideology: Questions for Feminist Art Historians.” Woman’s Art Journal 4, no. 2 (Autumn 1983/Winter 1984): 53-54;
    • “Women, Art, and Ideology: Questions for Feminist Art Historians.” Women’s Studies Quarterly 15, no. 1/2 (Spring/ Summer, 1987): 2-9;


    • Broude, Norma, and Garrard, Mary D. “Feminist Art History and the Academy: Where Are We Now?” Women’s Studies Quarterly 15, no. 1/2 (Spring – Summer, 1987): 10-16;
    • Gouma-Peterson, Thalia, and Mathews, Patricia. “The Feminist Critique of Art History.” Art Bulletin 69, no. 3 (September 1987): 326-357;
    • [interview] Yefimov, Alla. “Feminist Interventions, Shifting Terrains.” Afterimage 17 (March 1990): 8-11; [transcript] Griselda Pollock. Interviews with Art Historians, 1991-2002. Getty Research Institute, Malibu, CA.;
    • Encyclopedia of Feminist Theories. New York: Routledge, 2000;
    • Who’s Who in the World 2009. 26th edition, 2008, p. 2150;
    • personal correspondence, April 2024


    "Pollock, Griselda." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

    More Resources

    Search for materials by & about this art historian: