Oral history interview with Barbara Novak

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.novak13
Creators:
Novak, Barbara
McElhinney, James, 1952-
Dates:
2013 October 8-17
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
4 Items
Sound recording: 4 sound files (4 hr., 26 min.)
digital
89 Pages
Transcript
Repository:

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
An interview with Barbara Novak conducted 2013 October 8-17, by James McElhinney, for the Archvies of American Art, at Novak's home in Manhattan, New York.
Scope and Contents
Novak speaks of her early art training; learning to draw at the age of eight with help from her uncle William Kaufman and later taking art classes with Belle Icahn; Edward Melkoff; Joseph Presser; and classes at the Art Students League; becoming Expressionist in her painting; her year in Europe as a Fulbright student from Harvard University; the powerful lectures of Julius Held at Barnard College that launched her career; feeling that she devised a system by which works of art can be understood through looking closely at their physical properties and how she tries to develop the individual in her students; her time as a docent at the Brooklyn Museum in the American art collection; which led her to becoming an Americanist; her book, "Alice's Neck" and the inspiring Utah landscape; the importance of Fitz Henry Lane's work; the embodiment in American art of Pragmatism and Transcendentalism; and being led to Luminism; her books showing how to understand American culture through art, covering formal, contextual, and spiritual elements; hosting the first television show on art, "Vision of Art"; her husband Brian O'Doherty's background in art; the importance of nature for Cole and Durand; that common sense should be used in describing works of art, rather than assuming current events influenced the artist; her education at Harvard; Margaret Fuller and writing "The Margaret-Ghost"; Marcel Duchamp; Andrew Wyeth; Edward Hopper; Robert Rauschenberg; Mark Rothko; and Lee Krasner; and that the most exhilarating time intellectually for her was the 1960s with a group that included Robert Smithson, Sol LeWitt, Eva Hesse, Peter Hutchinson, Morton Feldman, Mel Bochner, and others. Barbara also recalls Mrs. Nevins, William Scharf, Paul Cormans [ph], Marion Lawrence, Marge Shapiro, Maxim Karolick, William Goetzmann, Ann McCoy, Ben Rowland, Bart Hayes, Ted Reff, Dan Aaron, Louis Bosa, Linda Ferber, Meredith Davis, Marissa Watts, and others.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Barbara Novak (1929- ) is an art historian in New York, New York. James McElhinney (1952- ) is a painter and educator in New York, New York.

Administration
Existence and Location of Copies
Transcript available online.
Author
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.

General
General
Originally recorded as 4 sound files. Duration is 4 hr., 26 min.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Art -- Study and teaching Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, American Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Expressionists (Group of American artists) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Luminism (Art) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pragmatism Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Europe -- description and travel Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Utah -- Description and Travel Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art historians -- New York (State) -- New York Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fulbright scholars Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aaron, Dan Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bochner, Mel, 1940- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bosa, Louis, 1905- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Coremans, Paul B., 1908-1965 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Davis, Meredith (Meredith J) Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Duchamp, Marcel, 1887-1968 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Feldman, Morton, 1926-1987 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ferber, Linda S. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Goetzmann, William Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hayes, Bartlett H., 1904-1988 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Held, Julius Samuel, 1905- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hesse, Eva, 1936-1970 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hopper, Edward, 1882-1967 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hutchinson, Peter A., 1930- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Icahn, Belle Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Karolik, Maxim Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kaufman, William Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Krasner, Lee, 1908-1984 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lane, Fitz Henry, 1804-1865 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lawrence, Marion Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
LeWitt, Sol, 1928-2007 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
McCoy, Ann Wyeth Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Melkoff, Edward Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Nevins, Kate Lockwood Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
O'Doherty, Brian Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Presser, Josef, 1909-1967 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rauschenberg, Robert, 1925-2008 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Reff, Theodore Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rothko, Mark, 1903-1970 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rowland, Ben Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scharf, William, 1927- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Shapiro, Marge Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Smithson, Robert Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Watts, Marissa Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wyeth, Andrew, 1917-2009 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art Students League (New York, N.Y.) -- Students Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Barnard College -- Students Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Brooklyn Museum Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Harvard University -- Students Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/