Sally Yard

Sally Yard PhD

Sally Yard, PhD is a professor of art history at the University of Sandiego. She joined the faculty in 1989, and served as chair of the department of Art from 1992 through 1997. Yard writes about art since the second world war.  Her research interests stretch from the emergence of abstract expressionism in the United States to the relationship of art and its publics—whether in the contentious terrain of San Diego / Tijuana or the reflective realm of a museum garden.

Scholarly Work

Sally Yard’s work on the relationship of art and its publics includes the book Christo: Oceanfront (Princeton University Press), as well as essays in Robert Irwin (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and Rizzoli, 1993); Museum as Muse(Museum of Modern Art, New York and Abrams, 1999); along with Private Time in Public Space (1998), Fugitive Spaces(2002), and A Dynamic Equilibrium:  In Pursuit of Public Terrain (2007) (Installation Gallery, San Diego and Instituto Nacional de Bellas Arts, Mexico).  She has also written on postwar painting: Francis Bacon: A Retrospective (The Trust for Museum Exhibitions and Abrams, 1999) and Willem de Kooning (Poligrafa, Barcelona, 2007).  She is currently at work on a book with Robert Irwin, the first artist to receive a MacArthur Foundation Award.

Yard is founding director and board president of CoTA:  Collaborations of Teachers and Artists, a program that links artists and elementary school teachers in National School District, Chula Vista Elementary School District, and San Diego Unified School District.  She has curated exhibitions for institutions throughout the United States, and has served as faculty curator for the Hoehn Family Print Study Collection and Galleries at USD. 

Yard’s undergraduate thesis focused on Early Matisse and the “Decorative”; her doctoral dissertation considered Willem de Kooning:  The First Twenty-Six Years in New York—1927-1952.

Areas of Interest

Sally Yard’s courses center on modern and contemporary art in the United States and Europe.  She focuses on the emergence of modernity in such courses as Modern Art in Europe: from the French Revolution to World War I and the seminar Matisse and Picasso.  In the courses Art since 1960, Installation Art, and Art in the Land and in the City—Sited and Public Work, Yard probes the ways that art has eluded the boundaries of the museum and gallery to operate in the unfettered and unruly terrain beyond.   In the seminar Race, Ethnicity, Art and Film, students probe the import of representations and their contexts.  Yard also teaches museum studies and oversees a broad expanse of student internships in museums and galleries

Francis Bacon


With their searing colors and dramatically contorted figures, the paintings of Francis Bacon compel attention. Unlike most painters of his generation, who preferred to investigate the rigors of abstraction, the 75-year-old Bacon has devoted his skills to portraying the human body.

The power and magnitude of his life's work are vividly conveyed by this thorough evaluation written by Hugh Davies, director of the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, and art historian Sally Yard. Born in Dublin, as a teenager Bacon moved to London, where he worked as an interior designer and taught himself to paint. Responding to influences as diverse as Michelangelo and the photographer Muybridge, he has created a motion-filled style uniquely his own. Fascinated by the challenge of capturing what he calls "the mysteries of appearance," Bacon confronts us with emotional images that demand an emotional response.

About the Modern Masters series

With informative, enjoyable texts and over 100 illustrations--approximately 48 in full color--this innovative series offers a fresh look at the most creative and influential artists of the postwar era. The authors are highly respected art historians and critics chosen for their ability to think clearly and write well. Each handsomely designed volume presents a thorough survey of the artist's life and work, as well as statements by the artist, an illustrated chapter on technique, a chronology, lists of exhibitions and public collections, an annotated bibliography, and an index. Every art lover, from the casual museumgoer to the serious student, teacher, critic, or curator, will be eager to collect these Modern Masters. And with such a low price, they can afford to collect them all.

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