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Deborah Cherry

Professor of Art History & Theory
Central Saint Martins
Researcher Research
Deborah  Cherry


Deborah Cherry is an art historian and curator. Following doctoral research at University College London, she wrote extensively on nineteenth-century art with two pioneering studies of the lives and artistic practice of women artists. Painting Women: Victorian Women Artists (1994) and Beyond the Frame: Feminism and Visual Culture, Britain, 1850-1900 (2000) and she collaborated on studies of women in early twentieth-century Vorticism. She has investigated the genesis and use of the term Pre-Raphaelitism, and the exchanges between women’s activities as artists, as models and fashion trendsetters. She has written extensively on contemporary art, notably by Maud Sulter, Tracey Emin, Felix Gonzales Torres, Zarina Bhimji, Chila Kumari Burman and on the sensory engagements of installation art.

She has written on monuments and their afterlives in central London and in South Asia. Exhibitions curated (and co-curated) include Treatise on the Sublime (1990), The Edwardian Era (1987), and Maud Sulter: Passion (2015-16). She has taught at the universities of Manchester, Sussex, and Amsterdam, at the Sandberg Akademie and on De Appel curatorial programme and is currently Professor Emerita of Modern and Contemporary Art and the University of Amsterdam. She was the editor of Art History, 2003-8. She is currently co-editing a book on Tracey Emin.

At present I am intrigued by the afterlives of things: how works of art and monuments change over time and how these altered states in an artwork’s social life can prompt new ways of understanding and interpretation. Changes may occur for a variety of reasons, from the fragility of materials to major social and political transformations. These concerns coincide with long-standing interests in diaspora and migration in a recent essay, ‘Suitcase Aesthetics: The Making of Memory in Diaspora Art in Britain in the Later 1980s, Art History, 40, September 2017. This essay also investigates mnemonic histories as I return to look again at works of art first seen several decades ago. My interests in afterlives have promoted The Afterlives of Monuments, a collection of essays focused on South Asia, and explorations of haunting in contemporary art and the cityscapes of the present.

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