Dr Michael Asbury

Profile image of Reader History and Theory of Art

Reader History and Theory of Art



Dr Michael Asbury is Reader in the History and Theory of Art and Deputy Director of the research centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation (TrAIN). An internationally recognised specialist in modern and contemporary art in Brazil, he has published extensively and has curated numerous exhibitions in the UK, Europe and Latin America.

Research interests

Art history and theory, modernism and contemporary art in Brazil.

Research statement

The inclusion within recent anthologies of 20th century art of practices from geopolitical regions formally considered as ‘peripheral’ to dominant discourses raises fundamental questions.

  • On the one hand, if they arise from a revisionist tendency that reflects the concurrent proliferation of international biennials and art fairs, the acquisition policies of large Museums in Europe and the USA, as well as the revised and enlarged scope of interests expressed by auction houses, how are they to be considered beyond mere appendices to established genealogies?
  • On the other hand, and perhaps more cynically, could it be that such inclusions serve as art historical precedents, imbued by the radicalism and the rhetoric of postcolonial and/or cultural studies, that merely provide a mechanism of legitimation for contemporary practices?

My practice as a writer and curator seeks to critically engage with such questions through the rigor of art historical research and a critical engagement with contemporary art that traverses commercial, academic and museological domains.


Current students and thesis titles

Fernanda Albertoni, Reordering images and constructing memory: three artists-archivists in Brazil.

Gerard Choy
, Sounding Chinese: Tracing the Voice of Early 20th-Century to Present-Day Transnational Chinese.

Vasiliki Christouli, Site-Specific Art as an exploration of Spatial and Temporal Limitations.

Caroline De Menezes, Smoke Sculptures: How to map the "aesthetical experience" of post-Duchampian art?

Lucía Gomez Mejía, The Rhythms of Remembering and Forgetting: A Shifting Relationship within Art Practice.

Sofia Gotti, Popular Politics: Pop Art Practices in Argentina, Brazil and Peru.

Gustavo Grandal Montero, Concrete poetry, conceptual art and the 'turn to language' in the 1960s.

Samson Kambalu, 13th Room: The General Economy in Meschac Gaba's Museum of Contemporary African Art.

Amy McDonnell, Why do we Associate?: Artists' Group Work between Cuba and the UK.

Anna Vickers, Revealing and concealing in post-1970's painting.

Completed students and thesis titles

German Alfonso Nunez Adaid, Between Technophilia, Cold War and Rationality: A Social and Cultural History of Digital Art.

Norma Copa-Schenke, Exposed Visions: Disappearance and re-appearance of the Indigenous in Patagonia.

Ana Beatriz Ferreira de Rocha e Silva, Spectacular architecture, identity crisis, cultural politics and the reinvention of the significance of museums of modern art.

Alexandra Handal, Locating the Self: Palestine, diaspora, geographies and body in contemporary art.

Suzana Vaz, The Archaic makes the Avant-Garde. Experimental Practice and Primordial Image. Reading the Brazilian Post-Neoconcrete and the Japanese Gutai Artists through Mircea Eliade and Carl Gustav Jung.

Selected research outputs