Barbara Novak '50

Barbara Novak, one of America's premier art historians, broke into the world of American art history in the 1950s, when few professors taught the topic. Novak graduated from Barnard College in 1950 and attended Radcliffe for her graduate work. She joined Barnard's art history department in 1958 and retired in 1998 as the Helen Goodhart Altschul Professor Emerita. During her 40 years at Barnard, her teaching and scholarship inspired generations of students to pursue remarkable careers in academic and museum life and changed the study of American art. Along with numerous essays in scholarly journals and exhibition catalogues, Novak published three major books, American Painting in the Nineteenth Century: Realism, Idealism, and the American Experience (1969), Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting, 1825-1875 (1980), and Voyages of the Self: Pairs, Parallels, and Patterns in American Art and Literature (2007). 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 a chaired professorship at Barnard College was named in her honor.