The Graduate Center’s Excellence in Art History Recognized with Prestigious $500,000 Award

The Graduate Center was awarded $500,000 by the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation to create a named endowment that will offer one or more annual fellowships for doctoral students in art history. The Graduate Center will award its first Helen Frankenthaler Fellowship to one doctoral student in the Ph.D. Program in Art History this fall.

Art history faculty will select a student whose dissertation focuses on modern art and resonates with the work of Helen Frankenthaler, recognized as among the most important American abstract painters of the 20th century.

Professor Rachel Kousser (GC/Brooklyn; Art History, Classics/Art), executive officer of The Graduate Center’s art history program, called the Frankenthaler Fellowship “a wonderful and very welcome one for our program. It will be a real help to students, providing support at a critical moment — writing the dissertation — when they need it most. We’re tremendously grateful to the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation for its generous support.”

The Graduate Center is one of five institutions, and the only public institution, to receive the prestigious Frankenthaler award, joining Harvard University, New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago. Clifford Ross, chair of the foundation’s Board of Trustees, said Frankenthaler “was passionate about art education. We are very excited to be supporting these five outstanding doctoral programs in art history by endowing Frankenthaler Scholarships, as our gifts reflect Helen’s deep passion for the history of art.”

The Graduate Center’s doctoral program in art history is among the foremost in the country. Recent support includes The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s New Initiatives in Curatorial Training grant. “Students in the art history program have excelled both in winning predoctoral fellowships and in receiving competitive postdocs, curatorial positions, and tenure-track jobs after graduation,” Kousser said.

Prominent alumni of the program include Carrie Rebora Barratt (Ph.D. ’90, Art History), the first woman to direct the New York Botanical Garden; LeRonn P. Brooks (Ph.D. ’09, Art History), associate curator for Modern and Contemporary Collections at the Getty Research Institute, part of the Getty Center in Los Angeles; Saisha Grayson (Ph.D. ’18, Art History) curator of time-based media at the Smithsonian American Art Museum; and Jacquelyn Days Serwer (Ph.D. ’81, Art History), chief curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Submitted on: FEB 6, 2020

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