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S. Hollis Clayson

Professor of Art History and Bergen Evans Professor in the Humanities

Ph.D., UCLA, 1984
Curriculum Vitae


Principal Research Interest(s):  Art History; Modern Europe


S. Hollis Clayson (Ph.D., 1984, UCLA) is a historian of modern art who specializes in 19th-century Europe, especially France, and transatlantic exchanges between France and the U.S. Her first book was Painted Love: Prostitution in French Art of the Impressionist Era (reprinted by the Getty, 2003; Virtual Library, 2014 ). A co-edited thematic study of painting in the Western tradition, Understanding Paintings: Themes in Art Explored and Explained, 2000, has been translated into 6 other languages. Paris in Despair: Art and Everyday Life Under Siege (1870-71) was published in 2002 (paperback 2005).

In 2013, she curated the exhibition ELECTRIC PARIS at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA; it appears again (2016) in expanded form at the Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT. Her related book, Electric Paris: The City of Light in the Era of Thomas Edison, will be published by the University of Chicago Press.

Professor Clayson chaired the Editorial Board of The Art Bulletin (2003-2005), and has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Getty Research Institute, the Clark Art Institute (twice), The Huntington Library, and Columbia University Reid Hall in Paris among others. She won a WCAS Teaching Award (1987), was the first and only recipient of the College Art Association's Distinguished Teaching of Art History Award to a Junior Professor (1990), held a Charles Deering McCormick Professorship of Teaching Excellence (1993-96), and was the Martin J. and Patricia Koldyke Outstanding Teaching Professor (2004-06). In Fall 2005, she was Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professor in the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.

At Northwestern, she served as the (founding) Director of the Kaplan Institute for the Humanities from 2006 to 2013. In 2013-14, she was the Samuel H. Kress Professor in the Center for the Advanced Study of the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery of Art. In early 2014, she was named a Chevalier in the Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French Ministry of Culture. In fall of 2015, she was the Varnedoe Visiting Professor, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.

Visit Northwestern's academia page to read selected publications from Professor Clayson. 

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