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Department of Art & Art History

Hunter College Department of Art and Art History

The Department of Art and Art History at Hunter College comprises a nationally ranked and internationally recognized Studio Art MFA program; an MA program that boasts the largest Art History faculty in the City University of New York system, offering courses from the ancient world to the contemporary; four galleries mounting student-researched professional caliber exhibitions; and robust and diverse undergraduate programs in both Studio Art and Art History. 

The history of the Department of Art and Art History at Hunter is woven through the story of modern art in New York.  Beginning in 1951 when the painter Robert Motherwell joined the department to teach both painting and “The Artist and Modern Society,” the College made a conscious decision to hire professional artists engaged with contemporary issues.  This commitment to working artists has served the program well, and over the years Hunter’s studio art faculty has included—among many other well-known names—William Baziotes, Roy de Carava, Hollis Frampton, Raymond Parker, and Tony Smith.  Long before Hunter awarded its first MFA degree in studio art in 1981, its list of artist alumni included Robert Morris, who would go on to teach at Hunter for nearly three decades, Alice Aycock, Robert Barry, Judy Rifka, Alan Saret, and Alan Sonfist, among many others.   The current faculty and our recent graduates continue the commitments and ambitions that have guided the department since the 1950s.  Hunter’s MFA is now in its fourth decade, and it has much to be proud of by any measure.   One measure might be the Whitney Museum’s prestigious Bucksbaum award, which is given every two years in recognition of an artist, chosen from those included in the Whitney Biennial, whose work “demonstrates a singular combination of talent and imagination.”  Of the eight artists chosen since the award’s inception in 2000, two are Hunter alumni: Paul Pfeiffer and Omer Fast.   

From 1958 and the hire of curator and historian Eugene Goosen from Bennington College, Hunter’s Art History program has been equally strong, and equally engaged with the cultural life of New York.  Among Goossen’s hires in art history were William Rubin, later Director of the Museum of Modern Art and the eminent renaissance historian and theorist Leo Steinberg.  Art History grew into the comprehensive program it is now in the 1960s, offering courses in Ancient, Medieval, Islam, Renaissance, Baroque, Nineteenth Century, and the Modern Period.   Over the years, Hunter’s Art History faculty has included the groundbreaking modern art historian, theorist and critic Rosalind Krauss, pioneering feminist art historian Linda Nochlin, and the longtime curator and historian of American art William Agee.