Professor Gavin Parkinson

Professor in European Modernism

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 then Professor in 2019.

Gavin is a former editor of the Ashgate and Routledge series Studies in Surrealism, current editor of the Bloomsbury series Transnational Surrealism and former Reviews Editor of Art History (2011-16). He lectures and writes on European and US art, culture and criticism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and is particularly interested in art and science, art historiography, outlier art, comics, science fiction and animation, with an emphasis on the long history of Surrealism. His books are Robert Rauschenberg and Surrealism: Art History, ‘Sensibility’ and War (Bloomsbury 2023); Enchanted Ground: André Breton, Modernism and the Surrealist Appraisal of Fin-de-Siècle Painting (Bloomsbury 2018); Futures of Surrealism: Myth, Science Fiction and Fantastic Art in France 1936-1969 (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 also the editor of the collection of essays Surrealism, Science Fiction and Comics (Liverpool University Press 2015). He is currently working on a study of Surrealism and Pop art.

PhD Supervision


  • Elina Gudmundsson, ‘Surrealism and Fairy Tales.’

Recently completed

  • Grazina Subelyte, ‘Kurt Seligmann, Surrealism and Occultism’ (2021).
  • Ambra d’Antoine, ‘Translating Modernity: Surrealism of the Levant’ (CDP with Tate) (2022).
  • Emily Christensen, ‘Orientalism in the Early Abstract Paintings of Wassily Kandinsky’ (2022).
  • Malgorzata Osinka, ‘The Warsaw Group “Rytm” and the New Classicism’ (2017)
  • Kristina Rapacki, ‘Asger Jorn’s Folk: Constructing Peoplehood in Postwar Europe (1941-1965)’ (2017)
  • Catherine Howe ‘Francis Bacon’s French Influence(s): From Surrealism to Post-structuralism’ (2018)
  • Rachel Stratton, ‘Non-Aristotelian Logic in the Independent Group’ (2018)
  • Vanja Malloy, ‘Rethinking Alexander Calder: Astronomy, Relativity, Performance and Play’ (2014)
  • Sam Ensor Rose, ‘Formalism, Aesthetics, and English Art Writing, 1918-39′ (2014).
  • James Day ‘Studies in Art History Writing and the Revision of Whistler’s Art History (2014)
  • Jim Threapleton ‘The Corroded Surface: Portrait of the Sublime’ (2015 (co-supervision, Camberwell))
  • Tim Satterthwaite ‘The Visual Language of European Photo-Illustrated Magazines, 1920-34’ (2016)
  • William Atkin ‘The Surrealist Object as the Vessel of Alchemy, Sorcery, and “Magic”: Occult Practices in French Surrealism, c.1930-1970’ (2017)

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

Authored Books

  • Robert Rauschenberg and Surrealism: Art History, ‘Sensibility’ and War, New York and London: Bloomsbury, 2023
  • Enchanted Ground: André Breton, Modernism and the Surrealist Appraisal of Fin-de-Siècle Painting, New York and London: Bloomsbury, 2018 (shortlisted for the 2018 R. Gapper Book Prize awarded by the Society for French Studies; pub. in paperback 2021)
  • 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 Gapper Book Prize awarded by the Society for French Studies)
  • The Duchamp Book, London: Tate Publishing, 2008


Edited Books

  • Surrealism, Science Fiction and Comics (ed.), Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015


Co-edited Issue of Journal

  • Art History (co-edited with Genevieve Warwick), vol. 40, no. 4 (‘Art History 40: Image and Memory’), September 2017


Articles, Essays and Chapters in Press and Forthcoming

  • ‘‘Woe to the Sperm Whale That Fought Against a Louse!’ On the Surrealist Reception of Tex Avery in the 1950s,’ Abigail Susik (ed.), Beyond Still Life, forthcoming 2024.
  • ‘Recontextualising L’Art magique: Surrealism, Modernism and the History of Art,’ Alessandra Buccheri and Giulia Ingarao (eds.), Surrealist Trajectories in Art, Mimesis International, forthcoming 2023.
  • ‘Twentieth Century Revolutions in Art and Science,’ James Fox and Vid Simoniti (eds.), Art and Knowledge After 1900: Interactions Between Modern Art and Thought, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2023, 46-68.


Recent Articles, Essays and Chapters

  • ‘“The Constantin Guys of the Atomic Era”: On the Poetic Reception of Robert Rauschenberg by Alain Jouffroy and Surrealism,’ Word & Image, vol. 39, no. 2, 2023, 176-91.
  • ‘Surrealism and the Science Fiction Novel,’ Anna Watz (ed.), A History of the Surrealist Novel, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023, 205-25.
  • Monogram in Front unique: Robert Rauschenberg and Jean-Jacques Lebel at the Limits of Surrealism,’ Dada/Surrealism, no. 24, no. 1 (‘Prismatic Fringes: Periodicals and the Borders of Surrealism’), 2023, 1-27.
  • ‘Jasper Johns/Robert Rauschenberg,’ Amitiés: Créativité collective, Marseille: Mucem and Wolfsburg: Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, 2023, 140-47 (exhibition catalogue).
  • ‘Convulsive Beauty and Mad Love,’ Kirsten Strom (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Surrealism, New York and London: Routledge, 2022, 37-45.
  • ‘Towards L’Art magique: Surrealism and Magic in the 1950s,’ Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity, Potsdam: Museum Barberini and Venice: Peggy Guggenheim Collection, 2022, 83-97 (exhibition catalogue).
  • ‘“To Be a Painter Means to Oppose”: Exhibiting and Politicizing Robert Rauschenberg, 1959-65,’ Elliott H. King and Abigail Susik (eds.), Radical Dreams: Surrealism, Counterculture, Resistance, University Park PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2022, 92-113.
  • ‘A Surrealist Manifesto of Symbolism: André Breton, Charles Filiger and Dessins symbolistes,’ The Savage Eye: Symbolism and Surrealism, Oslo: Munchmuseet, 2022, 258-69 (exhibition catalogue).
  • ‘Modern Science,’ Natalya Lusty (ed.), Surrealism: Cambridge Critical Concepts, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022, 78-93.
  • ‘Violence and Revolution,’ Surrealism Beyond Borders, New York and London: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Tate Modern, 2021, 292-5 (exhibition catalogue).
  • ‘From Paris n’existe pas to Berkeley Square: Surrealism, Time Travel and “Second Sight,”’ Kristoffer Noheden and Abigail Susik (eds.), Surrealism and Film After 1945: Absolutely Modern Mysteries, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2021, 128-46.
  • ‘On “Sensibility”: Art, Art Criticism and Surrealism in New York in the 1960s,’ Journal of Art Historiography, no. 23, 1 December 2020, n. p.
  • ‘Blind Summit/Models of Subjectivity: Surrealism, Physics and Psychoanalysis,’ Ed Juler and Alistair Robinson (eds.), Post-Specimen Encounters Between Art, Science and Curating: Rethinking Art Practice and Objecthood Through Scientific Collections, Bristol and Chicago: Intellect, 2020, 119-39.
  • ‘Georges Seurat in the Twentieth Century: From Classicism to Surrealism,’ Grace Brockington and C. F. B. Miller (eds.), Of Modernism: Essays in Honour of Christopher Green, London: Paul Holberton, 2020, 105-27.
  • ‘Between the Viaducts of Your Dream,’ Dominic Shepherd: Downstream, London: Charlie Smith London, 2019, 10-27 (exhibition catalogue).
  • ‘Unraveling Surrealism’s Entanglement with Physics,’ Entangled: Physics and the Artistic Imagination, Umeå: Bildmuseet, 2019, 41-9 (exhibition catalogue).
  • ‘Everyday Magic: Surrealism and Parapsychology,’ Jake Poller (ed.), Altered Consciousness in the Twentieth Century, London: Routledge, 2019, 78-96.
  • ‘Antonin Artaud,’ Michael Richardson (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Surrealism, vol. 2, New York: Bloomsbury, 2019, 29-37.
  • ‘Yves Elléouët,’ Michael Richardson (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Surrealism, vol. 2, New York: Bloomsbury, 2019, 273-5.
  • ‘We Are Property: The “Great Invisibles” Considered Alongside “Weird” and Science Fiction in America, 1919-43,’ The Space Between: Literature and Culture, 1914-1945, vol. 14 (‘Dada and Surrealism: Transatlantic Aliens on American Shores, 1914-1945’), autumn 2018, n. p.
  • ‘Revolutions in Art and Science: Cubism, Quantum Mechanics, and Art History,’ Vanja Malloy (ed.), Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2018, 99-113 (exhibition catalogue).
  • ‘Henry Darger, Comics, and the Graphic Novel: Contexts and Appropriations,’ Jan Baetens, Hugo Frey and Stephen E. Tabachnick (eds.), The Cambridge History of the Graphic Novel, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018, 139-54.
  • ‘Painting as Propaganda and Prophecy: André Breton and René Magritte in the Shadow of Socialist Realism,’ The Oxford Art Journal, vol. 41, no. 2, August 2018, 249-69.
  • ‘Magic, Folklore, and Rural Tales in Le Pouldu: André Breton, Paul Gauguin, and Charles Filiger, Word & Image, vol. 34, no. 2, 2018, 75-87.