Frances K. Pohl

Emerita Professor of Art History
With Pomona Since: 1985
Frances Pohl
  • Expertise


    Frances Pohl has written two books and several essays on American artist Ben Shahn. She is also interested in art and politics, particularly in the 20th century United States. Her ongoing interest in feminist art has led to published pieces on the Italian artist Mirella Bentivoglio and the Los Angeles muralist Judith F. Baca.

    Her major textbook, titled Framing America, A Social History of American Art (2002, 2008), integrates her continental approach to the study of art in the United States, including coverage of New France and New Spain as well as New England. She has also examined the work of U.S. artists who have traveled to Mexico and Mexican artists who have worked in the United States.

    Research Interests

    • Ben Shahn
    • Art and Politics
    • Feminist Art
    • American Art

    Areas of Expertise


    • American Art
    • Feminism and Art
    • Art and Politics
  • Work


    Pages: Mirella Bentivoglio, Selected Works 1966-2012, ed. and contributor—“Notes on Pages” (pp. 12 – 40) and “Ariadne’s Imprint: An Interview with John David O’Brien About Mirella Bentivoglio” (pp. 118-28) (Claremont, CA: Pomona College Museum of Art, 2015)

    “Geography Lessons, Canadian Notes on American Art History,” in John Davis, Jennifer A. Greenhill and Jason D. LaFountain, ed.s Blackwell Companion to American Art (Wiley Blackwell Publishers, 2015), pp. 299-316

    Framing America: A Social History of American Art (Thames and Hudson, 2002, 2008, 2012)

    Guest editor, Kunst und Politik, v. 7, 2005, special theme--Art and Labor

    "Art, Education, and Labor: The Metropolitan Museum's Workers' Education Program," in Kunst und Politik, v. 7, 2005, pp. 41-91

    In the Eye of the Storm: An Art of Conscience, 1930-1970 (Pomegranate Artbooks, 1995)

    "Old World, New World: Cultural Encounters on the American Frontier," and "Black and White in America," Nineteenth Century Art, a Critical History (S. Eisenman, ed., Thames and Hudson; 1994)

    Ben Shahn (Pomegranate Artbooks, 1993)

    Ben Shahn: New Deal Artist in a Cold War Climate, 1947-1954 (University of Texas Press, 1989)

    Selected Exhibits

    Pages: Mirella Bentivoglio, Selected Works, 1966-2012, Pomona College Museum of Art, January 20 – May 17, 2015

    Art and Activism in the U.S.: Selections from the Permanent Collection of Pomona College, January 22 – April 14, 2013

    Love and Joy About Letters: The Work of Ben Shahn and Mirella Bentivoglio, Pomona College Museum of Art, August 30-December 22, 2003

    Working in America: Images of Labor, 1930-1950, Pomona College Museum of Art, January 22 – April 7, 2002.

    Imaging Labor: Work and Workers, with members of Art 185P seminar “Images of Work, The Artist as Worker”, Montgomery Gallery, Pomona College, October 29 - December 10, 1995

    Ritual and Sacrifice at Tailhook 91: A Documentary Exhibition, originally organized for a Women's Action Coalition demonstration, San Diego, October 1993; traveled nationally from October 1993 to May 1995.

    Judith F. Baca: Sites and Insights, 1974-1992. University Art Museum, Arizona State University, Tempe, February 2-April 12, 1992; MontgomeryGallery, Pomona College, March 7-April 4, 1993.

    Film Appearances

    “Ben Shahn: Passion for Justice,” directed by Susan Wallner, aired PBS August-October 2002 (50 minutes) (appeared as major interviewee)

    “Ben Shahn,” directed by Susan Wallner, for New Jersey Network series “State of the Arts,” aired February 3, 1999 (10 minutes) (appeared as interviewee).

  • Education


    University of California, Los Angeles

    Master of Arts
    University of British Columbia

    Bachelor of Arts
    University of British Columbia

    Recent Courses Taught

    • Topics: Art and Activism
    • Topics: Art and Nationalism in 19th Century North America
    • Intro Art History: 1200-Present
    • Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism
    • Senior Thesis in Art History
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship, 1980-84

    Smithsonian Institution, Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1988-89

    Smithsonian Institution, Short-term Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1992

    Canadian Studies Faculty Enrichment Grant, 2000

    Mellon Foundation Summer Research Grant, 2004

    NEH Summer Stipend, 2013