Robert Slifkin(not teaching Spring 2016)

Associate Professor of Fine Arts

My scholarship addresses various themes related to the history of modern and contemporary art, with a particular focus on the art and culture of the United States, the history of photography, and critical theory. I am particularly interested in the relationship between political and aesthetic traditions of representation, the history and aesthetic implications of technology and media, the academic study of the contemporary art, and the fate avant-garde paradigms of criticality in recent art practice.

My first book, Out of Time: Philip Guston and the Refiguration of Postwar American Art reconsiders the history of postwar American art and the conception of figuration in modern art history more generally. Replacing the conventional opposition of abstraction and figuration with the rhetorical dichotomy of the ‘the literal’ and ‘the figurative,’ Out of Time provides an innovative conceptual paradigm to reconsider Guston’s art and the broader artistic production and the 1960s. My current book project, The New Monuments and the End of Man: American Sculpture and War, 1945-1975, will address the history of postwar sculpture in the United States, and in particular the increasing importance given to its spatial modes of address, in terms of the historical context in which such practices emerged, examining how these artistic practices and their accompanying discourses operated within broader cultural ideals and anxieties, particularly those related to the threat of nuclear war and the annihilation of the human race. A third book project will consider the nexus of Hollywood cinema, street photography, and conceptual art through the prism of American liberalism in the 1970s.

Sample Courses

Photography and Facticity
Land Art and its Antecedents

Contemporary Art and the Plight of Publicness

Representation, Repetition, Appropriation
Is Contemporary Art History?
Abstract Expressionism

Hollywood 1967-1977
The Real and the Fictive in Contemporary Art


Robert Slifkin book cover Out of Time: Philip Guston and the Refiguration of Postwar American Art (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013). [purchase online]

Selected Articles

“Fitz Lane and the Compromised Landscape in Antebellum American Art c. 1850,” American Art 27 (Fall 2013), 64-83. [read online]

“Now Man’s Bound to Fail, More,” October 135 (Winter 2011), 49-69. [read online]

“Philip Guston’s Return to Figuration and the Thirties Renaissance of the 1960s,” Art Bulletin 93 (June 2011), 220-242. [read online]

“Donald Judd’s Credibility Gap,” American Art 25 (Summer 2011), 57-75. [read online]

“The Tragic Image: Action Painting Refigured,” Oxford Art Journal 34 (June 2011), 227-46. [read online]

“James Whistler as the Invisible Man: Anti-Aestheticism and Artistic Vision,” Oxford Art Journal 29 (Spring 2006), 53-75. [read online]

Selected Book and Exhibition Reviews

Review of Jo Applin, Eccentric Objects: Rethinking Sculpture in 1960s America, Modernism/Modernity 21 (September 2014), 855-857. [read online]

“Outside the White Cube (With Occasional Political Overtones),” review of Philip Kaiser and Miwon Kwon, eds. Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974 and Catherine Morris and Vincent Bonin, eds. Materializing Six Years: Lucy R. Lippard and the Emergence of Conceptual Art, Oxford Art Journal 37 (2014), 103-107. [read online]

“Is Contemporary Art History?,” review of Katy Siegel, After 45 and Terry Smith, What is Contemporary Art?, Oxford Art Journal 35 (March 2012), 111-114. [read online]

“Thek’s As If,” review of Elisabeth Sussman and Lynn Zelevansky, eds. Paul Thek: Diver, A Retrospective and Harold Falckenberg and Peter Weibel, eds. Paul Thek: Artist’s Artist, Art Journal 70 (Fall 2011), 103-105. [read online]

“Against Indeterminacy,” review of Joshua Shannon, The Disappearance of Objects: New York Art and the Rise of the Postmodern City and Michael Lobel, James Rosenquist: Pop Art, Politics, and History in the 1960s, Oxford Art Journal 32 (October 2009), 458-464. [read online]

“One More Time with Feeling,” review of Caroline A. Jones, Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses and Jonathan Harris, Writing Back to Modern Art: After Greenberg, Fried, and Clark, Oxford Art Journal 30 (Spring 2007), 341-345. [read online]

“Mirror Man,” review of Jennifer Roberts, Mirror Travels: Robert Smithson and History and Ron Granziani, Robert Smithson and the American Landscape, Art Journal (Spring 2006), 125-29. [read online]

“Fast Times,” review of Pamela Lee, Chronophobia: On Time and the Art of the 1960s, Art Journal  (Spring 2005), 109-111. [read online]

“Dark, Unfathomed Retrospect,” review of Michael Auping et. al., Philip Guston Retrospective, exh. cat. Art Journal (Winter 2004), 105-08. [read online]

Selected Exhibition Catalog Contributions and Chapters in Books

“Reality Testing: Photography and/as Mass Media,” in Photography at MoMA: 1960 until Now, Volume III (New York: The Museum of Modern Art), 2015. [purchase online]

“Philip Guston’s Modernist Follies,” in New Perspectives on Philip Guston (New York: New York Review of Books, 2015). [purchase online]

“Painting/Withdrawing,” in Francis Alys Reel-Unreel (Milan: Mandadori Electra, 2014). [purchase online]

“A Remedial Education,” in Michael Stickrod, Stones Rise, (Skive, Denmark: Krabbesholm, 2013). [purchase online]

“Paul Evans and the Legacy of Modern Welded Sculpture: Between Decoration and Expression,” in Paul Evans: Crossing Boundaries and Crafting Modernism, exh. cat. (Doylestown, PA: James A. Michener Art Museum, 2014), 70-91. [purchase online]

Bruce Nauman Going Solo (Portland, OR: Companion Editions, Distributed by D.A.P., 2012) [purchase online]

Academic Degrees

PhD, History of Art, Yale University, 2007
MA, History of Art, Williams College, 2002
BA, History, minor Folklore, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1995

Selected Honors

Phillips Book Prize, 2012
Henry Moore Foundation, Fellow, 2011-12
Stanford Humanities Center (declined), 2010
Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Dissertation Fellowship, 2006-7
Getty Research Library Travel Grant, Getty Institute, 2006