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Mr Allan Norris

Profile summary

Professional biography

MA Art History (Open University)

Having completed my Masters at The Open University with Distinction, I subsequently enrolled on the PhD programme in 2018. My MA dissertation was entitled ‘On the Questions of Craft and Popular Culture in the Work Of Grayson Perry’. I have extensive professional experience in the design and advertising industry and currently work as a freelance graphic designer alongside my role as an Associate Lecturer in Design.

Research interests

It is widely accepted that the most significant development in painting since the 1990s has been the return to figuration. In Britain an entire generation of female figurative painters has emerged and artists such as Jenny Saville, Cecily Brown, Chantal Joffe and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye have all become internationally acclaimed. These artists are important in art historical terms because their emergence and ongoing influence within the institutional structures of the international art market signals a particular transitional shift in contemporary British art. From the relative antipathy to representational painting during the dominance of conceptualism in the 1990s to the growing critical attention afforded it today, we have seen a marked change in attitude which continues to confound notions of the death of painting.

My research sets out to explore the extent to which contemporary figurative painting, engaged in by women, can operate as institutional critique or challenge the objectification of the female body. The study will examine and reassess existing art historical debates and scholarship to create a more cohesive and comprehensive picture of the critical position of contemporary painting by women. It will analyse the extent to which the relationship between painting and representation serves to construct, support or subvert prevailing hegemonic structures such as the institutions of art and the art market. In so doing it will explore issues such as the appropriation of art historical tradition, the commodification of feminist art, and how the feminist critique of modernism has enabled certain interventions to flourish, through their perceived questioning of a hitherto male dominated canon.

The project is funded by CHASE, the Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England.