Gavin Parkinson - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Gavin Parkinson

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Dr Gavin Parkinson

Senior Lecturer in 20th-century European Art

Gavin Parkinson was a BA student in Manchester,  then completed his MA at The Courtauld in 1997,  followed by a PhD in 2000. After lecturing at Birkbeck College and the University of Oxford he joined The Courtauld teaching staff as a Lecturer in 2008 and became a Senior Lecturer in 2014.

Gavin’s teaching and writing are concerned with European art and visual culture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with a special interest in French Surrealism. His books are: Futures of Surrealism: Myth, Science Fiction and Fantastic Art in France 1936-69 (Yale University Press, 2015); Surrealism, Art and Modern Science: Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Epistemology (Yale University Press, 2008); and The Duchamp Book (Tate Publishing, 2008). He  is  just completing a book on the Surrealist reception of late nineteenth century art, entitled Enchanted Ground: Surrealist Appraisals of Fin de Siècle Painting.

PhD Supervision


  • Tim Satterthwaite, ‘The visual language of European photo-illustrated magazines, 1920-1934’ Oct 2011-May 2015
  • Gosia Osinska, ‘Warsaw Group ‘Rytm’ and the New Classicism, 1922-32′ Oct 2011-Oct 2014
  • Kristina Rapacki, ‘Asger Jorn’s Folk: Nationhood, Myth, and the Comparative Method in Postwar Europe’ Oct 2012-Oct 2016 (suspended 1 year)
  • Jeff Hammond, ‘Cubism, Futurism, Expressionism: modern art movements, artists groups and the individual in Japan (1910-1929)’ Oct 2013-Oct 2016 (suspended 1 year)
  • William Atkin, ‘A Total Revolution of the Object: Surrealist Discourse on the Object, 1924-1966’ Oct 2013-Oct 2016
  • Catherine Howe, ‘Francis Bacon’s French Influence(s): From Surrealism to Post-Structuralism’ Oct 2014-Oct 2017
  • Rachel Stratton, ‘”The Artist as a Mirror of his Time”: Art, Popular Culture and the “Dialogic” Relationship between Surrealism in Britain and the Independent Group’ Oct 2014-Oct 2017

Recently completed

  • Vanja Vlahovic, ‘Alexander Calder: Surrealism, Modern Science and the Everyday’ (2013)
  • Sam Ensor Rose, ‘Formalism, Aesthetics, and English Art Writing, 1918-39′ (2013)
  • James Day, ‘Studies in Art History Writing and the Revision of Whistler’s Art History’ (2013)

Research interests

  • European Modernism, 1848-1960
  • Dada and Surrealist Art, Writing and Theory
  • Art and Science
  • Art and the Novel
  • Theory, Methodology, Philosophy and History of Art and Visual Culture
  • Science Fiction and Comics
  • Magic, the Occult and Alchemy

Recent publications


  • Surrealism, Science Fiction and Comics (ed.) , Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015
  • Futures of Surrealism: Myth, Science Fiction and Fantastic Art in France, 1936-69, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2015
  • Surrealism, Art and Modern Science: Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Epistemology, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2008 (shortlisted for the 2009 R. H. Gapper Book Prize awarded by the Society for French Studies).
  • The Duchamp Book, London: Tate Publishing, 2008.


Essays, articles and reviews

  • ‘Surrealism and Fantastic Art: Everyday Magic in the 1950s,’ Papers of Surrealism, forthcoming, June 2015.
  • ‘Surrealism’s Popular Occultism: From H. P. Lovecraft to H. Rider Haggard,’ Black Mirror, no. 0, 30 October 2014.
  • ‘Incipit Picasso: From The Birth of Tragedy to The Burial of Casagemas,’ Barnaby Wright (ed.), Becoming Picasso: Paris 1901, London: The Courtauld Gallery/Paul Hoberton Publishing, 2013, 61-83 (exhibition catalogue).
  • ‘Greengrocer, Bricklayer or Seer? Surrealist Cézanne,’ Satish Padiyar (ed.), Modernist Games: Cézanne and His Card Players, London: The Courtauld Institute of Art, 2013, 69-99.
  • ‘Mattamundi. Sehen und Kartographie in Mattas frühem Werk’/‘Mattamundi: Vision and Cartography in Matta’s Early Work,’ Matta. Fiktionen, Hamburg: Bucerius Kunst Forum, 2012, 42-55 (exhibition catalogue).
  • ‘The Delvaux Mystery: Painting, the Nouveau Roman, and Art History,’ Nottingham French Studies, vol. 51, no. 3, Autumn 2012, 298-313.
  • ‘A Note Concerning Causality: Julio Cortázar and Surrealism,’ Rita Eder, Dawn Ades, Graciela Speranza (eds.), Surrealism in Latin America: Vivísimo Muerto, Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2012, 161-77.
  • ‘M is for Mycelium,’ David Evans (ed.), Critical Dictionary, London: Black Dog, 2011, 78.
  • ‘(Blind Summit) Art Writing, Narrative, Middle Voice,’ Art History, vol. 34, no. 2, April 2011, 268-87 (reprinted in Catherine Grant and Patricia Rubin (eds.), Creative Writing and Art History, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012, 46-65).
  • ‘The Duchamp Code,’ David Getsy (ed.), From Diversion to Subversion: Games, Play, and Twentieth Century Art, University Park, Pennsylvania: Penn State University Press, 2011, 25-45.
  • ‘Emotional Fusion with the Animal Kingdom: Notes Toward a Natural History of Surrealism,’ Barbara Larson and Fae Brauer (eds.), The Art of Evolution: Darwin, Darwinisms, and Visual Culture, Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 2009, 262-87.
  • ‘How Dalí Learned to Stop Worrying about Surrealism and Love the Bomb,’ Michael Taylor (ed.), The Dalí Renaissance: New Perspectives on His Life and Art after 1940, Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2008, 71-89.

Other current/ongoing professional activities

  • Reviews Editor, Art History
  • Series Editor, Ashgate Studies in Surrealism
  • Member of Editorial Board, Black Mirror

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