Frances Jean Colpitt, art history professor emeritus and former Deedie Potter Rose Chair of Art History, has left an indelible mark on the world of art and scholarship. Her legacy now finds a home within the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution, where her invaluable papers have been generously bequeathed.
Colpitt’s papers contain original research on late twentieth century and contemporary art, and records her wide-ranging activity as a scholar, writer and critic.
“When I first read that Fran’s art archive – her files and notes, manuscripts, research, and other materials- were bequeathed to the Archives of American Art, my eyes filled with tears,” said Anne Helmreich, director of the Archives of American Art and former dean of the College of Fine Arts. “I was overwhelmed by a sense of loss. I knew Fran as a faculty member during my time at TCU; she was so dedicated to her students, was highly valued as a member of the arts community in Fort Worth, and truly enjoyed ‘hanging out’ with artists. Then, I began to feel a sense of gratitude. I realized what a tremendous gift she has given to us and to future generations. She was so connected to the artists of her time – writing, teaching, and lecturing about them – that her archive will ensure that her voice and stories, as well as theirs, are preserved for the next generation, enabling the past to inspire future creativity. We are so grateful for Fran’s generosity.”
Colpitt assumed the inaugural Deedie Potter Rose Chair of Art History in 2005, a role she embraced with passion and dedication.
“Dr. Colpitt was a revered colleague in the School of Art,” said Richard Lane, director of the School of Art. “When she arrived here, she had already established herself as one of the preeminent scholars of contemporary art in the United States.”
During her time at TCU, Colpitt instructed both undergraduate and graduate courses in contemporary art. She also taught seminars covering a wide range of topics, from abstraction to minimalism to art in the age of entertainment, in addition to her roles as chair and committee member for numerous art history and studio art thesis committees.
Throughout her impressive 17-year tenure, she played a pivotal role in shaping the next generation of creative leaders and artists.
“The graduate students greatly benefited from her knowledge and held a deep fondness for her,” said Lane. “Several art history students have gone on to become curators in renowned museums, and her legacy endures through her writings and the lasting impact she had on her students’ lives.”