Research in the Department of Art History

The Department of Art History is a leading research centre for art history and theory in Australia with strengths across a wide range of areas including the global history of art and visual culture from 1500-1900, and colonial encounters and the history of modernism in the arts. Art Theory and Criticism at the University of Sydney was ranked as above world standard in the last three Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) assessments. The department also includes leading historians and theorists of film, as well as an emerging strength in museum and exhibition history and theory.

Areas of research expertise

Early Modern Europe and Asia. Numerous department members research the art of Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia between 1450-1850, with a particular focus on global cosmopolitanism and exchange, as well as new cultural histories examining links between art and medicine, theatre, dress and social life. Mark Ledbury, Louise Marshall, Jennifer Milam, Mark de Vitis, Stephen Whiteman

Visual culture and global modernities. We do ground-breaking work in avant-garde engagements with North Africa, the Ottoman Imperial capital Istanbul in the long nineteenth century, the emerging modernities of Asian Art as well as history and memory in Europe and Australia as examined through photography. Roger Benjamin, Donna West Brett, John Clark, Mary Roberts

Australian art. Our major areas of research in Australian art include contemporary aboriginal artists within the longer traditions of indigenous art, the visual culture of Colonial Australia, Australian modernism in its global theoretical contexts, and the place of creators and curators in contemporary Australian art. Keith Broadfoot, Anita Callaway, Stephen Gilchrist, Catriona Moore

Asian art. Another core area of our research includes field-leading discussions of Asian modernities, and pre-modern Chinese art and culture, with particular emphasis on space, place and empire.
John Clark, Stephen Whiteman

Film history and theory. Our specialities in film are the theory of contemporary cinema, early cinema and documentary, the cultural history of classical Hollywood cinema and the relationships between images and early moving image technologies. Anita Callaway, Bruce Isaacs, Susan Potter, Richard Smith

Museum and exhibition studies. We study the significance and role of museums in the public sphere, artists in the contemporary museum, as well as the history and impact of exhibitions and Biennales. Jennifer Barrett, John Clark, Chiara O’Reilly

More information about our research projects and achievements can be found on our staff research profiles. We welcome enquiries about postgraduate research and visiting research fellowships.