Art historian Dr. Robert Hobbs has held the Rhoda Thalhimer Endowed Chair at Virginia Commonwealth University since 1991 and has been a visiting professor at Yale University since 2004. Before coming to VCU, he served as a lecturer at Yale and an associate professor at Cornell University.
Recognized as a scholar, teacher, and curator, Hobbs specializes in both late modern and post-modern art. His work joins social history with literary criticism and aesthetics; it also relies on feminist and postcolonial theory. He has published widely and has curated dozens of exhibitions, many of which have been shown at important institutions in the U.S. and abroad. His specific research areas span the twentieth- and twentieth-first centuries, and his publications include monographs on Milton Avery, Alice Aycock, Edward Hopper, Lee Krasner, Mark Lombardi, Robert Smithson, and Kara Walker. In addition he has written on such mainstream modern and post-modern artists as Hernan Bas, Duane Hanson, Keith Haring, Jonathan Lasker, Mark Lindquist, Malcolm Morley, Robert Motherwell, Beverly Pepper, Richard Pousette-Dart, Neo Rauch, Andres Serrano, Yinka Shonibare, James Siena, Meredyth Sparks, Frank Stella, Frank Thiel, Kelley Walker, John Wesley, and Kehinde Wiley, among others. His published research also includes in-depth studies of regional, self-taught, African-American, and American Indian artists, as well as investigations of contemporary craft media.
For four years Hobbs served on the College Art Association Millard Meiss Committee, which awards money for publications. He is a member of the Editorial Board of the Grove Encyclopedia of American Art (Oxford University Press).
In 1982 he was appointed the U.S. Commissioner for the Venice Biennale for his exhibition “Robert Smithson: Sculpture,” which had previously been shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1996 he curated “Souls Grown Deep: African-American Vernacular Art of the South” and “Thornton Dial: Remembering the Road” for the Cultural Olympiad, an affiliate of the Atlanta Summer Olympics. In 2002 he served as the U.S. Commissioner for the São Paulo Bienal and curated “Kara Walker: Slavery! Slavery!” His exhibitions have been shown at such institutions as the AGO in Toronto, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Drawing Center (New York City), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Whitney Museum of American Art.