James H. Rubin is one of the world's foremost specialists in the history, theory and criticism of nineteenth century avant-garde European Art, especially that of France. He has taught courses at the graduate and undergraduate level. His interests are interdisciplinary, with special attention to cultural history, art and politics, and art and philosophy. He was educated at Phillips Academy Andover, Yale (B.A.), the Institut d’Art et d’Archéologie of the Sorbonne in Paris (license-ès-lettres), and Harvard (PhD). He has taught at Harvard, Boston University, Princeton and the Cooper Union. From 1979 to 2020 he taught at Stony Brook University, State University of New York, where as Graduate Director and then as Chair, he obtained authorization for the Art Department's MA and PhD programs in Art History and Criticism. He retired in June 2020.
James has published over seventy articles and essays on subjects ranging from the eighteenth century to the present. He has given over eighty public lectures in North America, Western and Eastern Europe, and Asia.. He is the author of sixteen books:·Eighteenth Century French Life-Drawing (1977);·Realism and Social Vision in Courbet and Proudhon (1981);·Eugène Delacroix’s ‘Dantebarke’·(1987); Manet’s Silence and the Poetics of Bouquets (1994); Courbet, Art and Ideas, (1997); Impressionism, Art and Ideas (1999); Nadar (2001);·Impressionist Cats and Dogs: Pets in the Painting of Modern Life·(2003);·Impressionism and the Modern Landscape: Productivity, Technology, and Urbanization from Manet to Van Gogh (2008); Manet: Initial M, Hand and Eye·(2010);·Realism and Music: Courbet, Berlioz, Wagner and Relations between the Arts in Nineteenth-Century France·(2012, e-book); How to Read Impressionism: Ways of Looking (2013); and the edited volume, Rival Sisters: Art and Music at the Birth of Modernism, 1815-1915· (2014; Monet, World of Art, (2020); Why Monet Matters: Meanings Among the Lily Pads (2021), and Cezanne A-Z (2021). His books have been translated into several languages including French, German, Greek, Korean, Japanese, and Dutch, forthcoming in Chinese.
James has served on the International Committee of the College Art Association and represented the CAA at the United Nations. He is a member and Vice-President of the Société Paul Cézanne, based in Aix-en-Provence, France. At Stony Brook, he is an affiliate of the Department of European Languages, the Department of Cultural Studies and Critical Analysis, and the Department of Philosophy. When he teaches graduate seminars at Stony Brook's annex campus in Manhattan, they are cross-listed with Philosophy as part of Stony Brook’s Art and Philosophy program. In 2008, he was a Research Visiting Professor at the Université de Paris I, Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art in Paris. He is the winner of an Amercian Council of Learned Societies Travel Grant and is currently on leave as a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar for 2016.
James married Liliane Béatrix Braesch in 1969. He travels frequently, lectures and collaborates internationally, speaks fluent French, and lives in Manhattan, New York and Mittelbergheim, Alsace. Their son is the filmmaker Henry-Alex Rubin. Their daughter is the fashion designer and publicist Delphine McNeill. Their Boston Terrier’s name is Texas Pete.