March 6, 2020

Art Historian Griselda Pollock Wins 2020 Holberg Prize

Griselda Pollock. Photo: University of Leeds, England.

BERGEN, NORWAY—Art historian Griselda Pollock has been named this year’s recipient of the $650,000 Holberg Prize. Launched by the Norwegian parliament in 2003, the annual award is one of the largest international prizes bestowed on researchers in the humanities, social sciences, law, or theology. A professor of social and critical histories of art at the University of Leeds in England, Pollock will be presented with the prize at a ceremony at Norway’s University of Bergen on June 4.

“Griselda Pollock has always upheld the highest level of scholarship while challenging received wisdom and institutional hierarchies of thought and value,” said Hazel Genn, the Holberg Prize committee chair. “For this she has been a beacon for generations of art and cultural historians.”

Known for her academic work on feminist, social, queer, and postcolonial interventions in the histories of art and cultural studies, Pollock is credited with helping to establish feminist art history as an academic field in the 1970s. To date, Pollock has published twenty-two monographs, four of which are forthcoming; edited twenty books; and published hundreds of scholarly articles. Among her most notable works are Old Mistresses: Women, Art and Ideology (1981), which critiques the art historical canon and its gendered structures, and Vision and Difference (1988), a feminist analysis of the formation of modern culture.

Pollock is also an influential figure in film and trauma studies—she is currently writing a feminist study of the “agency” and “image” of Marilyn Monroe—and is a longtime educator. The art historian has taught at the Canterbury College of Arts, Manchester University, and Jawaharlal Nehru University, among other universities. In 2001, Pollock founded the Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory and History—a transdisciplinary project which examines art and cultural histories through the lens of class, gender, sexuality, postcolonial critique, and queer theory.

Commenting on her career, Pollock said: “I have spent forty years creating new concepts with which to challenge art history's white patriarchal structure to produce ways of thinking about art, its images, its practices, its effects that are not about admiration of selective greatness. Instead I seek understanding of the work that art does as representation and of how representations shape ideas about the world and who we are in it.”

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