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Dr Michael Asbury

University of the Arts London
Researcher Research
Michael  Asbury


Dr Michael Asbury is an Anglo-Brazilian art historian, curator and art critic. He is a founding member of the research centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation (TrAIN) at UAL and since 2012 has been its deputy director.

An internationally recognised scholar of modern and contemporary art from Brazil, he has published extensively and curated numerous exhibitions in the UK, Europe and Latin America.

Questioning consensual notions in art history that have withheld the so-called Western canon, his practice draws on post-colonial and decolonial methodologies whether through the critique of strictly aesthetic genealogies or the exploration of individual artistic trajectories. The transnational character of his work is constituted through the articulation of artistic and curatorial agency, institutional critique, and the inevitably porous nature of national cultural boundaries.

As a curator he has worked with institutions such as Tate Modern, Camden Arts Centre, Fundação Iberê Camargo, amongst others. His writing has been published internationally by institutions such as: Maxxi Museum of 21st Century Art, Rome; ICA, Miami; Modern Art Oxford; Whitechapel Gallery; Padiglione d'Arte Contemporea, Milan; Pinacoteca do Estado, São Paulo; Museu Oscar Niemeyer, Curitiba; Ella Fontanals-Cisneiros Collection, Miami; Schim Kunsthalle Frankfurt; Astrup Fearnley Musset, Oslo; Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro; Mead Gallery Warwick Arts Centre; Turner Contemporary, Margate; The Americas Society, New York; Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon; Documenta 12, Kassel; Henry Moore Institute, Leeds; Parasol-Unit, London; and Tate, London and Liverpool.

At UAL, Michael has championed international collaboration and exchange, fostering the establishment of the associate PhD student programme at UAL, while hosting numerous scholars and artists from overseas. He currently represents UAL within the Histories, Cultures and Futures strand of Shared Campus and is a member of the Latin America regional group. He has supervised 22 PhD students to completion at UAL and in partnership with international institutions, has acted as PhD examiner and coordinator of visiting scholars, artists and post-doc placements.

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

  • Gerard Choy, Sounding Chinese: Tracing the Voice of Early 20th-Century to Present-Day Transnational Chinese. (Lead supervisor)
  • Lorenza Demata, The role of photography in the representation and redefinition of transnational identities (LCC) (Lead supervisor)
  • Ellen de Medeiros Nunes, Block-experiments in Cosmococa – Program in Progress: renewing the past and tracing the future (Lead supervisor)
  • Lucia Gomez Mejía, The Rhythms of Remembering and Forgetting: A Shifting Relationship within Art Practice (Lead supervisor)
  • Gustavo Grandal Montero, The 'Turn to language': Concrete poetry and conceptual art in the 1960s (Joint supervisor)
  • Lynton Talbot, Exploring Constitutive Practice: A New Curatorial Paradigm (Joint supervisor)

Past research students

  • Fernanda Albertoni, Reordering images and constructing memory: three artists-archivists in Brazil. (Lead supervisor)
  • Fernanda Albuquerque, Site-Specific Practices in contemporary art and its critical relation to institutional contexts (Joint supervisor)
  • Andrea Bracher, Traditional Techniques applied to contemporary photography (Joint supervisor)
  • Vasiliki Christouli, Site-Specific Art as an exploration of Spatial and Temporal Limitations. (Lead supervisor)
  • Maria Inigo Clavo, Postcolonialism in Brazilian Art during AI-5: 1968-79 (Joint supervisor)
  • Norma Copa-Schenke, Exposed Visions: Disappearance and re-appearance of the Indigenous in Patagonia. (Joint supervisor)
  • Caroline De Menezes, Smoke Sculptures: How to map the "aesthetical experience" of post-Duchampian art? (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)
  • Carolina Gonçalves Cordeiro, Fernanda Gomes, the stories complement each other: the link between the modern project and contempor (Joint supervisor)
  • Sofia Gotti, Popular Politics: Pop Art Practices in Argentina, Brazil and Peru. (Lead 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. (Joint supervisor)
  • Maria Kheirkhah, Another Emerging: Re-constructing the Islamo-Orientalised Female Other in Contemporary Western Visual Culture (TrAIN) (Lead supervisor)
  • Rocha Antonio Carvalho da Luis, The Strong-Form in Sculpture: The Drift and Disaffection as a way of investigating the Limits of Identification (Joint supervisor)
  • Juliana Mafra, Humour in Contemporary Art (Joint 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)
  • Fernanda Pequeno, Adversity and provisional notions in Contemporary Brazilian Art (Joint supervisor)
  • Sheila Pontis, An Approach to the Use of Graphic Resources in the Understanding of the Environment
  • Cristina Salgado, Sculpture as Image (Joint supervisor)
  • Felipe Scovino, The construction of playfulness and the place of the game in Brazilian contemporary art (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)


Curation and culture
Fine art