Professor Gavin Parkinson

Professor in Modern 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 then Professor in 2019.

Gavin is a former editor of the Ashgate and Routledge series Studies in Surrealism and a former Reviews Editor of Art History (2011-16). He lectures and writes on European and American art, culture and criticism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and is particularly interested in art and science, art historiography, comics and science fiction, with an emphasis on the long history of Surrealism. His books are 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) and he is also the editor of the collection of essays Surrealism, Science Fiction and Comics (Liverpool University Press 2015). His book Robert Rauschenberg and Surrealism: Art History, ‘Sensibility’ and War in the 1960s is forthcoming from Bloomsbury in 2021.

PhD Supervision


  • Grazina Subelyte, ‘Kurt Seligmann, Surrealism and Occultism.’
  • Ambra d’Antoine, ‘Translating Modernity: Surrealism of the Levant’ (CDP with Tate).
  • Emily Christensen, ‘Orientalism in the Early Abstract Paintings of Wassily Kandinsky’

Recently completed

  • 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


  • Robert Rauschenberg and Surrealism: Art History, ‘Sensibility’ and War in the 1960s (forthcoming, Bloomsbury, 2021)
  • Enchanted Ground: André Breton, Modernism and the Surrealist Appraisal of Fin-de-Siècle Painting, New York: Bloomsbury, 2018 (shortlisted for the 2018 R. Gapper Book Prize awarded by the Society for French Studies)
  • 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

Essays, articles and reviews


  • ‘A Surrealist Manifesto for Symbolism: André Breton, Charles Filiger and Dessins symbolistes,’ The Savage Eye: Symbolism and Surrealism, Oslo: Munchmuseet, forthcoming 2022 (exhibition catalogue).
  • ‘Surrealism and the Science Fiction Novel,’ Anna Watz (ed.), A History of the Surrealist Novel, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2021.
  • ‘Twentieth Century Revolutions in Art and Science,’ James Fox and Vid Simoniti (eds.), Art and Knowledge in the Twentieth Century, Hornby Island BC: The Jeffrey Rubinoff Sculpture Park, forthcoming 2021.
  • ‘Violence and Revolution,’ Surrealism Beyond Borders, London and New York: Tate Modern and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, forthcoming 2021 (exhibition catalogue).
  • ‘“To Be a Painter Means to Oppose”: Exhibiting and Politicizing Robert Rauschenberg, 1959-65,’ Elliott King and Abigail Susik (eds.), Radical Dreams: Surrealism and Counterculture, University Park PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, forthcoming 2021.
  • ‘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, Manchester: Manchester University Press, forthcoming 2021.
  • ‘Contextualizing L’Art magique: Surrealism and Magic in the 1950s,’ Surrealism and Magic: From Max Ernst to Leonora Carrington, Potsdam: Museum Barberini and Venice: Peggy Guggenheim Collection, forthcoming 2021 (exhibition catalogue).
  • ‘Surrealism and Science,’ Natalya Lusty (ed.), Cambridge Critical Concepts: Surrealism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2021.

Published Articles, Essays and Chapters

  • ‘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.
  • ‘Positivism, Impressionism and Magic: Modifying the Modern Canon in America and France from the 1940s,’ Journal of Art Historiography, no. 17, 1 December 2017, n. p.
  • ‘Method and Poetry: Georges Seurat’s Surrealist Dialectic,’ The Art Bulletin, vol. 99, no. 3 September 2017, 125-46.
  • ‘Disenchanted Ground, or Antonin Artaud, Vincent Van Gogh and Magic in 1947,’ Tessel Bauduin, Victoria Ferentinou and Daniel Zamani (eds.), Surrealism, Occultism and Politics: In Search of the Marvellous, London: Routledge, 2017, 132-50.
  • ‘Systematising Confusion: Duchamp and Dalí, “Writers,”’ Dawn Ades (ed.), Dalí/Duchamp, London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2017, 34-9, 213 (exhibition catalogue).
  • ‘The Ironic, the Comic and the Absurd,’ Dawn Ades (ed.), Dalí/Duchamp, London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2017, 98-9, 214 (exhibition catalogue).
  • ‘Rewriting Modern Art: Some Consequences of Giorgio de Chirico’s Non-Conformism’ /‘Riscrivere l’arte moderna: conseguenze dell’anticonformismo di Giorgio de Chirico,’ Reading de Chirico, London: Tornabuoni Art, 2017, 45-59 (exhibition catalogue).
  • ‘Introduction, Art History 40: Reading, Writing, Remembering,’ Art History, vol. 40, no. 4 (‘Art History 40: Image and Memory’), September 2017, 697-703 [with Genevieve Warwick].
  • ‘Myths and Memories of Brittany: Reviewing Gauguin’s Stereotypes,’ Art History, vol. 40, no. 4 (‘Art History 40: Image and Memory’), September 2017, 856-83.
  • ‘Foreword,’ Samuel Raybone, Post-Impressionists: Masterworks, Cézanne, Gauguin, Manet, Seurat, Van Gogh & Their Contemporaries, London: Flame Tree, 2017, 6.
  • ‘Surrealism Versus the Academy: Charles Estienne on Paul Gauguin and Vasily Kandinsky,’ The Burlington Magazine, vol. 159, no. 1373, August 2017, 623-9.
  • ‘From Gas to Electric: Georges Seurat, Brassaï and the City of Light,’ Alain Beltran, Léonard Laborie, Pierre Lanthier and Stéphanie Le Gallic (eds.), Electric Worlds/Mondes électriques: Creations, Circulations, Tensions, Transitions (19th-21st C.), London: Peter Lang, 2016, 39-64.
  • Pogo, Pop and Politics: Robert Benayoun on Comics and Roy Lichtenstein,’ European Comic Art, vol. 9, no. 2 (‘Comics and Fine Art’), Autumn 2016, 27-58.
  • ‘Arrows of Surrealist Desire: Re-Reading J. G. Ballard’s Unlimited Dream Company,’ Word & Image, vol. 32, no. 3, 2016, 294-310.
  • ‘Introduction,’ Gavin Parkinson (ed.), Surrealism, Science Fiction and Comics, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015, 1-15.
  • ‘Surrealism, Science Fiction and UFOs in the 1950s: “Myth” in France Before Roland Barthes,’ Gavin Parkinson (ed.), Surrealism, Science Fiction and Comics, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015, 104-28.
  • ‘Surrealist Painting as Science Fiction: Considering J. G. Ballard’s “Innate Releasing Mechanism,”’ Gavin Parkinson (ed.), Surrealism, Science Fiction and Comics, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015, 174-93.
  • ‘Sibylline Strangeness: Surrealism and Modern Physics,’ Science in Surrealism, San Francisco: Gallery Wendi Norris, 2015, 2-11 (exhibition catalogue).
  • ‘Surrealism and Everyday Magic in the 1950s: Between the Paranormal and “Fantastic Realism,”’ Papers of Surrealism, no. 11, spring 2015, n. p.
  • ‘Surrealism’s Popular Occultism: From H. P. Lovecraft to H. Rider Haggard,’ Black Mirror, no. 0, October 2014, 95-109.
  • ‘Editorial,’ Art History, vol. 37, no. 1, February 2014, 9.
  • ‘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.
  • ‘Photoanthropography,’ Ken Heyman, New York: Sundaram Tagore Gallery, 2008, 8-13 (exhibition catalogue).
  • ‘The Laughter and Tears of Eros,’ Marc Décimo (ed.), Marcel Duchamp and Eroticism, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007, 149-59/‘Le rire et les larmes d’Éros,’ Marcel Duchamp et l’érotisme, Dijon: Les presses du réel, 2008, 163-73.
  • ‘“Very Stupid Stuff”: Making Sense of Adolf Wölfli,’ Richard Pine (ed.), Creativity, Madness and Civlisation, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007, 235-63.
  • ‘Passion Flower,’ Agustín Cárdenas, Barcelona: Oriol Galeria d’Art, 2006, 24-33, 101-106.
  • ‘From Max Ernst to Ernst Mach, or Surrealism, Modern Physics and Epistemology’/‘De Max Ernst a Ernst Mach, o surrealisme, física moderna i epistemologia,’ Dalí. Noves fronteres de la ciència, l’art i el pensament, Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya, Departament de Cultura, 2005, 101-119, 149-63.
  • ‘“This Harrowing and Colossal Question of Einsteinian Space-Time,”’ Persistence and Memory: New Critical Perspectives on Dalí at the Centennial, St. Petersburg, Florida: The Salvador Dalí Museum, 2004, 27-31.
  • ‘Surrealism and Quantum Mechanics: Dispersal and Fragmentation in Art, Life, and Physics,’ Science in Context (sp. issue, ‘Modern Art and Science’), vol. 17, no. 4, December 2004, 557-77.
  • ‘La Historia Natural del Surrealismo’/‘The Natural History of Surrealism,’ Surrealismos, Barcelona: Oriol Galeria d’Art and Madrid: Guillermo de Osma, 2003-2004, 3-14, 65-71.


  • Mycelium (with artist Dominic Shepherd) text + work, The Gallery, The Arts University College at Bournemouth, 15 March-21 April 2010.

Review Articles

  • ‘No Fun’ (review of Susan Laxton, Surrealism at Play, Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2019) The Oxford Art Journal, vol. 43, no. 1, March 2020, 137-55.
  • ‘Surrealism and Politics: Interpretation, Determinism and Art History’ (review of Steven Harris, Surrealist Art and Thought in the 1930s: Art, Politics, and the Psyche, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004; Johanna Malt, Obscure Objects of Desire: Surrealism, Fetishism, and Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004; Raymond Spiteri and Donald LaCoss (eds.), Surrealism, Politics and Culture, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003), The Oxford Art Journal, vol. 29, no. 2, June 2006, 306-12.
  • ‘Pioneers and Avant Gardes’ (review of Amy Winter, Wolfgang Paalen: Artist and Theorist of the Avant-Garde, Westport, CT and London: Praeger, 2003), Art History, vol. 27, no. 1, February 2004, 156-63.
  • Review of Alexandra Lembert and Elmar Schenkel (eds.), The Golden Egg: Alchemy in Art and Literature, Berlin: Galda + Wilch Verlag, 2002, HYLE: International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, vol. 9, no. 2 (sp. issue, ‘Aesthetics and Visualization in Chemistry’), 2003, 219-224.