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Dr Michael Asbury

Chelsea College of Arts
Researcher Research
Michael  Asbury


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.

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.

Grants and awards

(Figures indicate amount awarded to UAL)

  • British Academy, Contemporary Brazilian Art, £9,219.00, (2019-2019)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), The World Goes Pop: Pop Art in Latin America, £60,504.00, (2012-2015)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Meeting Margins, £177,084.00, (2008-2011)

Research Outputs

Book Section

Conference, Symposium or Workshop item


Current research students

  • Fernanda Albertoni, Reordering images and constructing memory: three artists-archivists in Brazil. (Lead supervisor)
  • Gerard Choy, Sounding Chinese: Tracing the Voice of Early 20th-Century to Present-Day Transnational Chinese. (Lead supervisor)
  • Vasiliki Christouli, Site-Specific Art as an exploration of Spatial and Temporal Limitations. (Lead supervisor)
  • Norma Copa-Schenke, Exposed Visions: Disappearance and re-appearance of the Indigenous in Patagonia. (Lead supervisor)
  • Ellen De Medeiros Nunes, Block-experiments in Cosmococa – Program in Progress: renewing the past and tracing the future (Lead supervisor)
  • Ana Beatriz Ferreira de Rocha e Silva, Spectacular architecture, identity crisis, cultural politics and the reinvention of the significance of museums of modern art. (Lead supervisor)
  • Lucia Gomez Mejía, The Rhythms of Remembering and Forgetting: A Shifting Relationship within Art Practice (Lead supervisor)
  • Carolina Gonçalves Cordeiro, Fernanda Gomes, the stories complement each other: the link between the modern project and contempor (Lead supervisor)
  • Sofia Gotti, Popular Politics: Pop Art Practices in Argentina, Brazil and Peru. (Lead supervisor)
  • Gustavo Grandal Montero, Concrete poetry, conceptual art and the 'turn to language' in the 1960s. (Lead supervisor)
  • Gustavo Grandal Montero, The 'Turn to language': Concrete poetry and conceptual art in the 1960s (Joint supervisor)
  • Alexandra Handal, Locating the Self: Palestine, diaspora, geographies and body in contemporary art. (Lead supervisor)
  • Samson Kambalu, 13th Room: The General Economy in Meschac Gaba's Museum of Contemporary African Art. (Lead supervisor)
  • Maria Kheirkhah, 'Scheherazade Emerging (2000-2012); Reconstructing the Oriental Female Other in Contemporary Western Visual Culture' (Lead supervisor)
  • Amy McDonnell, Why do we Associate?: Artists' Group Work between Cuba and the UK. (Lead supervisor)
  • German Alfonso Nunez Adaid, Between Technophilia, Cold War and Rationality: A Social and Cultural History of Digital Art. (Lead supervisor)
  • Srinivas Surti, The poetics of surface relief and the aesthetics of mystery (Joint supervisor)
  • Lynton Talbot, Exploring Constitutive Practice: A New Curatorial Paradigm (Joint supervisor)
  • 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. (Lead supervisor)
  • Anna Vickers, Revealing and concealing in post-1970's painting. (Lead supervisor)

Past research students

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