[Photo by Frances Rose, a close friend of Pollak's]
Theresa Pollak (1899-2002) was one of Virginia's most well-known artists and art educators. She was instrumental in the founding of VCU's School of the Arts.
A native of Richmond, Virginia, Pollak was a nationally recognized painter whose art works have been exhibited in institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. More importantly, Pollak is credited with the introduction of modern art to Richmond. Upon her return from New York, where she had been studying at the Art Students League, Pollak successfully persuaded a reluctant Richmond to accept more up-to-date artistic trends. In 1928 she established the foundation of what is now VCU's School of the Arts -- where she taught for forty-one years. In addition to her work at Richmond Professional Institute (now VCU), she founded in the 1930s the art program at the University of Richmond, her alma mater (she graduated from Westhampton College, now part of the University of Richmond, in 1921). Her forty-one year teaching career influenced generations of Virginia artists. She died at the age of 103 on September 18, 2002.
Throughout the past thirty years, Miss Pollak had donated much of her personal papers, photographs and correspondence to Special Collections and Archives. The Theresa Pollak Papers consists of documents covering Pollak's academic and artistic career from 1917 to the present (primarily 1940s -1980s). Of specific interest are the materials and correspondence Miss Pollak gathered about Allen Tucker and Hans Hoffmann, the major instructors influencing her artistic work; notes about her trip to Europe; and documents associated with the development of VCU's School of the Arts. Also included in the collection are numerous images of Pollak's paintings and drawings; news clippings and printed materials about Pollak; and a selection of exhibition catalogs.
This online exhibit presents biographical information and highlights from the Theresa Pollak Papers. It includes a guide to the collection, an overview of her artistic career and a description of her role in founding VCU's School of The Arts. If you have any questions or comments about Theresa Pollak, her collection of papers, or this online exhibit, please email Special Collections and Archives.
Chronology and Curriculum Vitae.
Publication by Theresa Pollak entitled An Art School / Some Reminiscences.
Guide to the papers of Theresa Pollak housed in Special Collections and Archives.