Wanda Corn named College Art Association’s 2014 Distinguished Scholar
Given annually since 2001, the award recognizes art historians who are considered to be “illustrious writers, teachers and curators.”
Corn, a renowned museum curator and author, was a professor of American art at Stanford for 28 years, where her scholarship focused on late 19th- and early 20th-century American art and photography.
The author of six books, the most recent being Women Building History: Public Art at the 1893 Columbian Exposition (2011), Corn has produced art exhibitions for museums around the country.
Corn played an instrumental part in making the study of 19th- and early-20th-century American art possible on the West Coast when her curatorial work and advocacy helped bring a collection of American art owned by Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
Founded in 1911, the College Art Association (CAA) is the national professional association for artists and art historians. The CAA honored Corn’s curatorial work and academic scholarship during a special event at its annual conference in Chicago earlier this year.
In the panel discussion of Corn’s peers, including four of her former Stanford students, speakers shared their experiences collaborating with and learning from her.
“It was a great honor to have an entire session dedicated to my scholarship and to hear how younger scholars connected the dots in my life’s work,” said Corn, the Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor in Art History, Emerita.
Among the panelists was TIRZA LATIMER, PhD ’03. Latimer noted how this award “caps a series of professional affirmations” that Corn has previously received, including the CAA Distinguished Teaching Award and the CAA Women’s Caucus Lifetime Achievement Award.
“No historian of American art is more deserving of the triple crown,” said Latimer, who is currently associate professor of visual and critical studies at the California College of the Arts.
Also on the panel was RICHARD MEYER, the Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor in Art History at Stanford. Meyer lauded Corn as a “foundational figure in the development of American art as a field of scholarly study.”
He noted the way in which Corn, whose scholarship centers on trans-Atlantic modernism in the early 20th century and American regionalist painting of the 1930s, “considers a wider range of visual objects and historical conditions than seemed possible prior to her doing so.”
“The field of American art history would not be nearly as expansive, exciting or self-aware as it is without Wanda Corn’s work and inspiring example,” he added.
During her time at Stanford, Corn held the university’s first permanent appointment in the history of American art and served as chair of the Department of Art and Art History from 1989 to 1991 and 1999 to 2000. She was acting director of the Stanford Museum from 1989 to 1991, and from 1992 to 1995 she was the Anthony P. Meier Family Professor and Director of the Stanford Humanities Center.
Corn has held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Smithsonian Regents, the Stanford Humanities Center, the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study and the Clark Institute of Art.
In recognition of her passion for teaching the next generation of art historians, Corn also has received many teaching awards. Among these are the Distinguished Teaching of Art History Award from the College Art Association (2007); the Phi Beta Kappa Undergraduate Teaching Award (2002); and the Lawrence A. Fleischman Award for Scholarly Excellence in the Field of American Art History (2006).
—VERONICA MARIAN, the Humanities at Stanford