Artistic/Architectural Canonicity

Artistic/Architectural Canonicity is concerned with the construction and assessment of artistic and architectural canons and their inherent values, and it examines how canons are formed, challenged or otherwise explained. We therefore question how and why canons have come to exist, and what they include or exclude. 

The stream covers various areas of European art and architecture c.1400-2000, including Early Modern visual culture; 19th-century decorative art and interior design, and 20th-century phenomena such as exile art. It examines these areas in respect to how they are destabilised by feminist or queer perspective, or wider cultural agendas, and how they were, or still are, supported by writing and literature. As well as a regular programme of research events on these themes, the Department hosts the ejournal, Midlands Art Papers, to highlight material in local collections especially of the kind falling outside existing canons, such as decorative art, and work produced, say, by Black British artists. 

Our people

  • Fran Berry: French Modernism and interior design 1860–1920 in respect to questions of domesticity and gender
  • Sophie Hatchwell: art, art writing and collecting in Britain 1870–1930
  • David Hemsoll: Renaissance architecture and its conceptual and philosophical foundations
  • Liz L’Estrange: late medieval and early Modern visual culture in relation to women as patrons and consumers
  • Claire Jones: sculpture and the decorative in 19th-century France and Britain

Our researchers talk about their work:

Renaissance architecture - David Hemsoll



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