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Visual Arts Research

Chair: Professor Juliet Simpson (Professor of Art History)

Visual Arts Research, led by Professor Juliet Simpson (Professor of Art History), is one of the largest areas of academic research growth in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, with a range of outstanding international strengths and partnerships. It encompasses internationally-recognized historians and theorists of art and design, fine art and visual art practitioners; architectural designers; historians of culture and heritage; curatorial experts and interdisciplinary research in contemporary media, graphic art, fashion, film practices; word-image studies and a vibrant PhD cohort. Particular research strengths include: modern and contemporary visual art practices and theories of design; European histories of art and cultural identity, 1850 to the present; transnationalism in modern and contemporary visual cultures; contemporary fine art education; sculpture and visual cultures of the body; image-text studies; drawing; art and art languages; critical curation, histories and practices; cultural heritage and experimental film and digital cultures. Visual Arts Research is a pivotal area for new interdisciplinary research and research-led teaching in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. It is a major focus of the University’s REF strengths in Art and Design: History, Theory and Practice, organized in three, interlinked fields of specific research growth and international engagement:

  • Art, Transnationalism and Cultural Memory, Professors Juliet Simpson and Neil Forbes (Lead)
  • Image, Text, Media, Dr Simon Bell and Dr Rob Tovey (Lead)
  • Body, Space and Design, Dr Imogen Racz and Ann Muirhead (Lead)

VAR has outstanding international research and exhibitions networks developed with world-leading university, museum and arts-sector partners. We have established and new collaborations, including with: The National Gallery, London; the Royal College of Art; the Universities of York, Warwick, Loughborough and Amsterdam; Compton Verney Museum; The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry; the National Finnish Gallery of Art/Ateneum Art Gallery, Helsinki; Ghent University and the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. Our research attracts international acclaim via funded awards, most recently, from the RCUK, the AHRC and The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. In addition, Visual Arts showcases cutting-edge research through its vibrant progamme of international conferences, symposia, exhibitions (Faculty-based and external) and dedicated research seminar series on ‘Visions of Art’. Featuring visiting academics and Professors, the seminar provides a vehicle for research at the forefront of the three areas of VAR research expertise. It complements our research programme of symposia, exhibitions, curatorial interventions and PhD internships with the internationally-renowned art collections at Compton Verney Museum: VAR’s established museum partner.

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