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Dr Kim Charnley

Profile summary

Professional biography

Kim joined the Open University in October 2019 after working for many years in Art and Design education including as Programme Leader of the Postgraduate Centre at Plymouth College of Art. He has taught contextual studies to undergraduate and postgraduate art and design students, as well as undergraduate modules on a variety of subjects in modern and contemporary art history. He has a BA (hons) Fine Art from the University of the West of England (UWE), an MA Culture and Media studies (UWE), and a PhD in Art History and Theory from the University of Essex. 

Research interests

His research specialism is contemporary art, especially ‘post-object’ approaches to socially-engaged art such as ‘social practice’, art activism and institutional critique. He has published in journals including Art and the Public Sphere, Art Journal, Historical Materialism and The Large Glass and contributed an introduction to Delirium and Resistance: Activist Art and the Crisis of Capitalism, a collection of essays by the artist and theorist Gregory Sholette published in 2017.

These publications derive from a wide-ranging interest in the relationship between contemporary art and politics, which includes both art historical and art theoretical research. His research activities include historical work on conceptual art of the 1970s, focused on artists involved in the conceptual art collective Art & Language; historiography of art theory and its relationship to conceptual art; and research into theoretical models used to understand the relationship between art, value and artistic labour.

He has delivered papers at the Association for Art History conference, HEAD (Geneva) and been an invited speaker at the ICA in relation to his research. A monograph exploring the role of the collective in contemporary art’s politics, entitled Sociopolitical Aesthetics: Art, Crisis, Neoliberalism will be published by Bloomsbury in early 2021. 


Authored books

Sociopolitical Aesthetics: Art and the Crisis of Neoliberalism. As part of the ‘Radical Art / Radical Aesthetics series’ for Bloomsbury publishing (publication 2021).


Edited collections

‘Art on the Brink: Bare Art and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy’ in Gregory Sholette, Delirium and Resistance edited by Kim Charnley, foreword by Lucy R.Lippard, Pluto Press, 2017.


Peer Reviewed Journal Articles / Review Essays

▪ ‘Activist Art and Visibility after Brexit’. The Large Glass: Journal of Contemporary Art, Culture Theory 25 / 26, Museum of Contemporary Art, Skopje, Fall, 2018, pp. 6-12.

▪ ‘Brexit, Austerity and Social Practice’ Field: A Journal of Socially-Engaged Art Criticism, 11, Fall 2018. [online]

▪ ‘Failure, Revolution and Institutional Critique’. Art and the Public Sphere, 5:1, July 2016, pp.35-52.

▪ ‘Review of 9.5 Theses on Art and Class by Ben Davis’. Historical Materialism, 23:4, 2015, pp 179-196.

▪ ‘Criticism and Collaboration: Review of Claire Bishop Artificial Hells and Tom Finkelpearl What we Made: Conversations on Art and Social Co-operation.’ Art Journal, 73:2 , Summer 2014, pp. 116-120.

▪ ‘The Art Collective as Impurity’. Art and the Public Sphere, 1:3, December 2011, pp. 243-268.

▪ ‘Dissensus and the Politics of Collaborative Practice’. Art and the Public Sphere, 1:1, March​ 2011 pp. 37-53.