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Kollar American Art Lecture – Michael Lobel

Submitted on March 5, 2018 - 12:32pm
Government Charwoman by Gordon Parks
Gordon Parks, Government Charwoman, Washington, DC, 1942


  • Thursday, April 26, 2018
  • 6pm
  • Henry Art Gallery auditorium

Lecture is free and open to the public, but please RSVP.

This event is made possible by the Allan and Mary Kollar Endowed Chair in American Art History.


Iconic Encounter: Gordon Parks and Ella Watson in 1942


In the summer of 1942, Gordon Parks, then new to the photographic division of the Farm Security Administration, produced a remarkable series of images of federal employee Ella Watson. One of those pictures, widely taken as a riff on Grant Wood’s enduring American Gothic, became an icon itself, later classified by Time magazine as one of the most influential photographs of all time. This lecture will explore the historical context of Parks’ work and offer new, illuminating information about Ella Watson, whose life story has long been overshadowed by her photographic image.


Michael Lobel is Professor of Art History at Hunter College. He holds a BA in Studio Art from Wesleyan University and an MA and PhD in History of Art from Yale University. He is the author of three books, including Image Duplicator: Roy Lichtenstein and the Emergence of Pop Art (Yale University Press, 2002) and James Rosenquist: Pop Art, Politics and History in the 1960s (University of California Press, 2009). His third book, John Sloan: Drawing on Illustration, was awarded the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art. Lobel’s research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Henry Luce Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies, the Dedalus Foundation, the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies, and the Getty Research Institute. In 2012, he was the Terra Foundation Visiting Professor at the Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art in Paris. A regular contributor to exhibition catalogues and to such publications as Artforum, Art in America, and Art Bulletin, he has written on the interaction between painting and photography in the 1950s and 1960s; art criticism and the global turn; realist modes in the 1970s; and a wide range of postwar artists, including Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Sturtevant, Rosalyn Drexler, Robert Colescott, and Laurie Simmons.