Alexander Nemerov

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Alexander Nemerov
Born1963 (age 55–56)
Bennington, Vermont, United States
OccupationArt historian
Parent(s)Howard Nemerov (father)
RelativesDiane Arbus (aunt)
Doon Arbus (cousin)
Amy Arbus (cousin)

Alexander Nemerov (born 1963) is the Carl and Marilyn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities as well as Chair of the Department of Art and Art History at Stanford University.[1][2] He was previously a Professor of Art History and American Studies at Yale University. Over the years he has published many books and articles pertaining to American art from the eighteenth century to the 1970s. His writing often analyzes fiction and poetry alongside works of visual art. His father was the poet Howard Nemerov, his aunt the photographer Diane Arbus.[3]

Early life[edit]

Born in Bennington, Vermont, in 1963, the son of the poet Howard Nemerov, Alexander grew up in the context of the academic and intellectual life, his father having taught at Washington University in St. Louis, and earlier at Bennington College in Vermont. The period before Alexander's birth was chronicled in Howard's Journal of the Fictive Life. Alexander earned a BA in English and Art History from the University of Vermont in 1985, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, Cum Laude. He received his Doctorate and master's degrees in history of art from Yale University.


After completing his doctorate under the supervision of Jules Prown at Yale,[4] Nemerov went on to teach at Stanford University for nine years, eight as Assistant Professor and one as a full Professor. His areas of expertise include American art from the colonial period to the 1970s, American literature, American material culture, and American history, with special interests in "defamiliarizing," "counter-intuitive," "close" readings of works of art and literature, paying particular attention to details of form, and formal analogies between visual and literary source material. Nemerov's approach to his objects of scholarly investigation thus shares certain affinities with methodologies commonly associated with the Yale School of literary criticism. As a teacher, Professor Nemerov is known for the quality of his lectures.

Nemerov was the recipient of the Dean's Award at Stanford in 1998, as well as the Internal Faculty Fellowship, Stanford Humanities Center, that year. Other awards/fellowships include the Material Culture Fellowship Smithsonian Institution/University Consortium for Studies in Material Culture, National Museum of American Art (1989–1991). In 2001 he returned to teach at Yale, where he received tenure. In 2012, he moved back to Stanford's art history department. In January 2014, he was named to the Stanford Daily's top 10 professors list.[5]

Since the 1990s, Nemerov has published several books and numerous articles, many of which appear in the journal American Art. He also has organized, or helped in organizing, a few exhibitions, which tend to coincide thematically with his research interests at the time; these include: Frederic Remington and the American Civil War: A Ghost Story, at the Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 2006; Mammoth Scale: The Anatomical Sculptures of William Rush, 2002–2003, at the Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, PA, 2002–2003; and The West as America: Reinterpreting Images of the Frontier, 1820-1920, at the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C., 1989-1991.

Currently, his research interests focus on two projects: a study of a single night’s performance of Macbeth during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, and a study of the artistic relationship between his father, the poet Howard Nemerov, and his aunt, the photographer Diane Arbus.


  • Icons of Grief: Val Lewton’s Home Front Pictures (University of California Press, 2005).[6]
  • The Body of Raphaelle Peale: Still Life and Selfhood, 1812-1824 (University of California Press, 2001) / Recipient of a Millard Meiss Publication Fund Grant, 1999.[7]
  • Frederic Remington and Turn-of-the-Century America (Yale University Press, 1995) / Winner of a Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award, 1996.[8]
  • Soulmaker: The Times of Lewis Hine (Princeton University Press, 2016)


  1. ^ Zorthian, Julia (2012-02-29). "Nemerov Confirms Move to Stanford". Yale Daily News. Retrieved 2016-05-29.
  2. ^ "New building, new faculty demonstrate ambitious growth plans for Stanford's Department of Art and Art History". Stanford Report.
  3. ^ "Diane Arbus and Howard Nemerov - A Resemblance". Nottingham Contemporary. 2010-07-29. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  4. ^ Fernandez, Chantal (2010-02-11). "Founding director of British Art Center honored". Yale Daily News. Archived from the original on 2013-02-10. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  5. ^ "Top 10: Professors" (2014-01-17). The Stanford Daily. Retrieved 2016-05-29.
  6. ^ Nemerov, Alexander. "Icons of Grief: Val Lewton's Home Front Pictures (9780520241008): Alexander Nemerov: Books". Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  7. ^ Nemerov, Alexander. "The Body of Raphaelle Peale: Still Life and Selfhood, 1812-1824 (Ahmanson Murphy Fine Arts Imprint) (9780520224988): Alexander Nemerov: Books". Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  8. ^ Alexander Nemerov. "Frederic Remington and Turn-of-the-Century America - Nemerov, Alexander - Yale University Press". Retrieved 2012-02-07.

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