Griselda Pollock (born 11 March 1949) is a visual theorist, cultural analyst and scholar of international, postcolonial feminist studies in the visual arts. Based in England, she is well known for her theoretical and methodological innovation, combined with readings of historical and contemporary art, film and cultural theory. Since 1977, Pollock has been one of the most influential scholars of modern, avant-garde art, postmodern art, and contemporary art. She is also a major influence in feminist theory, feministart history and gender studies.
Griselda Pollock in 2018.
Life and work
Born in South Africa, Griselda Pollock grew up in both French and English Canada. Moving to Britain during her teens, Pollock studied Modern History at Oxford (1967–1970) and History of European Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art (1970–72). She received her doctorate in 1980 for a study of Vincent van Gogh and Dutch Art: A reading of his notions of the modern. After teaching at Reading and Manchester Universities, Pollock went to the University of Leeds in 1977 as Lecturer in History of Art and Film and was appointed to a Personal Chair in Social and Critical Histories of Art in 1990. In 2001 she became Director of Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory and History at the University of Leeds, where she is Professor of Social and Critical Histories of Art. In 2017 Pollock celebrated 40 years of creating 'a feminist space' at the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds.
Griselda Pollock is regarded as a feminist art historian and cultural theorist of art practices and art history. Her work challenges mainstream models of art and art history that have excluded the role of women in art, and at the same time explores the social structures that result in this exclusion. She examines the interaction of the social categories of gender, class and race, crucially researching the relationship between them and psychoanalysis and art, and drawing on the work of such French cultural theorists as Michel Foucault. Her theorization of subjectivity takes both psychoanalysis and Foucault's ideas about social control into account. She is known for her work on the artists Jean-François Millet, Vincent van Gogh, Mary Cassatt, Bracha L. Ettinger, Eva Hesse and Charlotte Salomon. and Alina Szapocznikow, Lubaina Himid, Sutapa Biswas, Christine Taylor Patten, Louise Bourgeois, Anna Maria Maiolino and Vera Frenkel. She has developed a range of concepts with which to theorise and practice critical feminist interventions in art's histories: old mistresses, vision and difference, avant-garde gambits, generations and geographies, differencing the canon and most recently, the virtual feminist museum.
In 2014 she was suggested by Michael Paraskos to the BBC to act as the presenter for a proposed remake of the 1969 television series Civilization, a series originated by the art historian Kenneth Clark. Paraskos described Professor Pollock as 'one of the few academics around with the full breadth of knowledge of the sweep of art history.'
Cultural Studies and Cultural Analysis
Griselda Pollock is the founding director of the Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory and History at the University of Leeds. Initiated with a grant from the then AHRB in 2001, CentreCATH is a transdisciplinary project connecting fine art, histories of art and cultural studies across the shared engagements with class, gender, sexuality, post colonial critique and queer theory. Its five research themes are: social exclusion and hospitality, musicality/aurality/textuality, architecture and philosophy, virtuality and digitally, memoria/historia/amnesia. After its first five years in which CentreCATH organised seminars and conferences on and around these themes. 17 publications emerged from this project, many of which appear in the New Encounters: Arts, Cultures and Concepts series (I B Tauris). In 2007, with Max Silverman, Griselda Pollock won a second major grant for the project Concentrationary Memories: The Politics of Representation which explores the concept of an anxious and vigilant form of cultural memory analysing the devastating effects of the totalitarian assault on the human condition and alert to the persistent not only of this perpetual threat, but is invasion of popular culture in the form of a concentrationary imaginary. The project explored the forms of aesthetic resistance to totalitarian terror and the concentrationary imaginary. Four edited collections have been produced: Concentrationary Cinema, Concentrationary Memory, Concentrationary Imaginaries and forthcoming Concentrationary Art. The most recent CentreCATH project was a Leverhulme Visiting Professorship for Carilyn Christov Bakargiev which undertook a critical analysis of the Documenta exhibitions with special reference to dDOCUMENTA (13). CentreCATH has collaborated with Opera North on several projects and is currently engaged in a long-term project Performing Violence.
(Edited), Generations and Geographies: Critical Theories and Critical Practices in Feminism and the Visual Arts, Routledge, 1996. ISBN 0-415-14128-1
(with Fred Orton) Avant-Gardes and Partisans Reviewed, Manchester University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-7190-4398-0
The Ambivalence of Pleasure, Getty Art History Oral Documentation Project, interview by Richard Cándida Smith, Getty Research Institute, 1997.
Mary Cassatt Painter of Modern Women, London: Thames & Hudson: World of Art, 1998.
(Edited with Richard Thomson), On not seeing Provence: Van Gogh and the landscape of consolation, 1888–1889, in: Framing France: The representation of landscape in France, 1870–1914, Manchester University Press, 1998, pp. 81–118 ISBN 0-7190-4935-0
Aesthetics. Politics. Ethics Julia Kristeva 1966–96, Special Issue Guest Edited parallax, no. 8, 1998.
Differencing the Canon: Feminism and the Histories of Art, London: Routledge, 1999.
Looking Back to the Future: Essays by Griselda Pollock from the 1990s, New York: G&B New Arts, introduced by Penny Florence, 2000. ISBN 90-5701-132-8.
(Edited with Valerie Mainz), Work and the Image, 2 vols. London: Ashgate Press, 2000.
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