Barbara Zabel

Professor Emeritus of Art History

Joined Connecticut College: 1977-2011

B.A., University of Colorado; M.A., University of Texas; Ph.D., University of Virginia


American art

European modernism

Gender issues in the Machine Age

Portraiture in the 20th century

Barbara Zabel’s teaching and research interests focused on American and European modernism. Over the years, she has published scholarly essays in major journals and anthologies, as well as exhibition reviews and essays on contemporary artists. Barbara is the author of two books:

  • "Assembling Art: The Machine and the American Avant-Garde" (The University Press of Mississippi, 2004)
  • "Calder’s Portraits: A New Language" (The Smithsonian Research Press, 2011)

The latter was published in conjunction with the first exhibition to focus on Alexander Calder’s portraits, which she curated for the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution in 2011. For her research projects, Barbara has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, the Smithsonian American of American Art and the National Portrait Gallery.

Barbara currently serves as a curatorial consultant for the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, Conn., where she continues to organize exhibitions, most recently

  • "Inside the Natural World of Jan Beekman" (2014-2015)
  • "Milloff's Melville: an artist renders the whale" (2013-2014)
  • "Pop Goes the Easel: Pop Art and Its Progeny" (2013)
  • "America @ Work: New Deal Murals in New London and Beyond" (2012)
  • "Face-Off: Portraits by Contemporary Artists" (2011)

For these exhibitions Barbara wrote catalogues and involved art history students.

Barbara also continues to lecture, most recently, “Ashcan to Soup Can: the Vernacular in American Art,” a course for the Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, CT (2013). She plans to continue lecturing, participating in conferences, and traveling the world. Current plans include trips to Brazil and Italy.

For more information on Barbara’s exhibition, Calder’s Portraits, see; and on exhibitions at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, see

Contact Barbara Zabel

Mailing Address

Barbara Zabel
Connecticut College
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320