Professor Christopher Townsend

Personal profile

My research project examines the way in which artists corrode the boundaries between media, particularly within modernism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, or use new technologies to extend the analysis of art’s formal rhetoric and the boundaries of subjective experience, as the modernist avant-garde does with film, photography and performance. Recent publications have concentrated on the activity of the Parisian avant-garde in relation to ideas of intermediality and simultaneity in the 1910s and 1920s, including studies of Francis Picabia, Henri-Martin Barzun and Ricciotto Canudo. I am currently completing a book The Mirror of Contingency: Modernism, Death and the Reclamation of Identity which examines how modernism responds to historically modern death through translation and displacement between media and modes. 

With the support of the British Academy I researched modernism’s imagination of intermediality, and co-chaired a panel at the 2012 AAH conference 'Modernism's Intermedialities: Futurism to Fluxus' with my PhD students Alexandra Trott and Rhys Davies. Collected papers from this panel went into a collection published by Cambridge Scholars in 2014. My own contribution to this will be a study of Duncan Grant's Abstract Kinetic Collage Painting with Sound (1914) In 2012-13 I was Senior Research Fellow at the Henry Moore Institute, working on Grant's "Scroll". The next stage in my work on the "Scroll" will be a reconstruction and analysis of the work for Tate on-line in the summer of 2015.

I write regularly on the intersections between contemporary art and historical tradition for the magazine Art Monthly.


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