Barbara Zabel

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

Zabel’s teaching and research focus on American and European modernism, issues of gender in machine-age culture, and the genre of portraiture. Over the years, she 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. More information on this exhibition.

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. She continues to curate exhibitions for the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, for which she writes catalogues and involves art history students. Most recently, these include:

  • David Smalley Memorial Exhibition (2017)
  • "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 more information on these exhibitions see “Past Exhibitions” on the Museum website: Lyman Allyn Art Museum, see More information and video on Barbara’s exhibition of alumnus Mark Milloff '75.

Zabel also continues to lecture and teach courses mostly at local venues. Recent courses include “Ashcan to Soup Can: the Vernacular in American Art,” at the Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, CT (2013); and “Exploring 20th Century American Art: The Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art” (2014) and “The Advent of Modernism in Connecticut” (2016), both at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London.

She plans to continue organizing exhibitions, lecturing, and traveling the world. Current plans include trips to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and New Zealand.

Contact Barbara Zabel

Mailing Address

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