A distinguished scholar of American culture, Alexander Nemerov explores our connection to the past and the power of the humanities to shape our lives. Through his empathetic, intuitive research and close readings of history, philosophy, and poetry, Nemerov reveals art as a source of emotional truth and considers its ethical demands upon us in our moment. Revered for his breadth of scholarship and celebrated for his eloquent public speaking, Nemerov inspires audiences with his belief in the affirming and transfiguring force of art.
An instinctive, nuanced author, Nemerov’s most recent book is The Forest: A Fable of America in the 1830s presenting tales of a visionary experience in the last years of America as a heavily forested land. His conjuring of a lost world of shade and sun has been praised by Annie Proulx ("deeply beautiful”, “astonishingly tender”, “one of the richest books ever to come my way") and Edmund de Waal (“moving and shocking and beautiful, an extraordinary achievement”).
Previous titles by Nemerov have gained further recognition: Fierce Poise: Helen Frankenthaler and 1950s New York was short-listed for the 2021 National Book Critics Circle Prize in Biography; Summoning Pearl Harbor, was praised by the novelist Ali Smith as "a unifying and liberating meditation”; Soulmaker: The Times of Lewis Hine, was short-listed for the Marfield Prize, a national award in arts writing; Silent Dialogues: Diane Arbus and Howard Nemerov, a meditation on his father, the poet Howard Nemerov and his aunt, the photographer Diane Arbus, was published in 2015; Wartime Kiss: Visions of the Moment in the 1940s was named one of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles in 2013; Acting in the Night: Macbeth and the Places of the Civil War was a Choice Outstanding Academic Book; Icons of Grief: Val Lewton and 1940s America was praised by The New York Review of Books as "superbly original." Nemerov's first two books are The Body of Raphaelle Peale: Still Life and Selfhood, 1812-1824 and Frederic Remington and Turn-of-the-Century America.
Nemerov, an engaging, eloquent speaker, gave the 2007 Andrew Wyeth Lecture at the National Gallery of Art, and in 2017, he delivered the 66th Andrew W. Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery of Art, becoming the first scholar to deliver them with a focus on American art.
Nemerov has also published two exhibition catalogues: To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America, the companion to a National Museum of American Art exhibition of that name and Ralph Eugene Meatyard: American Mystic.
After receiving his B.A. in Art History and English with Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa honors from the University of Vermont and his Ph.D. in the History of Art from Yale University, Nemerov began his teaching career at Stanford University in 1992. Returning to Yale in 2001, Nemerov chaired the Department of the History of Art from 2009 to 2012 and in 2010 was named to the Vincent Scully Professorship. Nemerov returned to Stanford in 2012 as the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities and served as chair of the Department of Art and Art History from 2015 to 2021. The Stanford Daily has named him one of the university's top ten professors.