Professor Matthew Rampley BA PhD

Photograph of Professor Matthew Rampley

Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Honorary Chair of Art History

Contact details

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My main teaching and research interests are in contemporary art, art criticism and theory, as well as the art and architecture of central Europe of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I am currently working on two particular projects: (1) museums and cultural politics in the later Habsburg Empire; (2) the relation between art theory and the biological sciences.


  • BA (Hons) Classics and Modern Languages 
  • PhD Aesthetics / History of Art


I was awarded my first degree by the University of Oxford where I combined the study of German and Ancient Greek. I later continued on to complete a PhD in German philosophy, specifically, the aesthetic thought of Friedrich Nietzsche, at the University of St. Andrews. 

I have been at Birmingham since April 2010. Before coming here I worked at the University of Teesside, having previously taught at University College of the Creative Arts and Edinburgh College of Art.


My main teaching and research interests are in the art and architecture of central Europe from 1860 to the present as well as in art criticism, theory and the historiography of art.

Recent publications include: The Vienna School of Art History (Penn State University Press, 2013) and my edited volumes Heritage, Ideology and Identity in Central and Eastern Europe (Boydell, 2012) and Art History and Visual Studies in Europe: Transnational Discourses and National Frameworks (Brill, 2012). I have recently completed a critical study of the role of theories of evolution, the biological and neurological sciences in aesthetics and cultural theory, Crossing Boundaries? Art, Evolution and Neuroscience (forthcoming, 2017). I am currently leading a project funded by the Leverhulme Trust on museums of art and design and the cultural politics of Austria-Hungary in the later nineteenth century, a follow-up to my earlier work on Viennese art historical thought.

Other activities


Books since 2000

  • The Seductions of Darwin: Art, Evolution and Neuroscience (University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2017)
  • The Vienna School of Art History. Scholarship and the Politics of Empire, 1847-1918 (University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2013)
  • Ed. (with Charlotte Schoell-Glass, Andrea Pinotti, Kitty Zijlmans, Hubert Locher, Thierry Lenain) Art History and Visual Studies in Europe. A Critical Guide (Leiden: Brill, 2012). Authored chapters include: ‘Introduction,’ ‘Bildwissenschaft,’ ‘Nationalism and Art History in the New Europe,’ and ‘Art History in the Nordic Countries’ (co-authored).
  • Ed. Heritage, Ideology and Identity in Central and Eastern Europe. Contested Pasts, Contested Presents. (London: Boydell & Brewer, 2012). Authored chapter: ‘Contested Histories: Heritage and / as the Construction of the Past.’ 
  • Ed. (with Marta Filipová) Možnosti Vizuálních Studií (“Visual Studies and its Futures”) (Brno: Barrister and Principal, 2007). ISBN 978-80-87029-26-8. 254 pp. 
  • Ed. Exploring Visual Culture (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005). ISBN 0748618457. 245 pp. Authored chapters: ‘What is Culture? What is Visual Culture?’ (pp. 5-17); ‘Visual Rhetoric’ (pp. 133-48); ‘The Rise and Fall and Rise of the Author’ (pp. 149-62); ‘Visual Practices in the Age of Industry’ (pp. 179-98).
  • The Remembrance of Things Past Aby M. Warburg and Walter Benjamin (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2000). ISBN 3447042990. 138 pp.
  • Nietzsche, Aesthetics and Modernity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). ISBN 0521651557. 298 pp. Reprinted 2007.

Edited journals

  • “Art History in Central Europe: the Vienna School and Beyond.” Special issue of The Journal of Art Historiography 8 (June 2013)
  • “Museology in Central Europe.” Special Issue of Centropa. A Journal of Central European Architecture and Related Arts. 12.2 (May 2012)

Articles and chapters in books since 2000

  • ‘Art History and the New Darwinism,’ forthcoming in Georg Vasold, ed., Questioning Narratives, Negotiating Frameworks: Art/Histories in Transcultural Dynamics (Wilhelm Fink, 2016, forthcoming).
  • ‘From Potemkin City to the Estrangement of Vision: Baroque Vision and Modernity in Austria, before and after 1918,’ Austrian History Yearbook 47 (2016) pp. 167-87.
  • ‘The Strzygowski School of Cluj. An Episode in the Interwar Cultural Politics of Romania,’ Journal of Art Historiography, 8 (2013) 1-21.
  • ‘Social Theory and the Autonomy of Art: the Case of Niklas Luhmann,’ in Owen Hulatt, ed., Aesthetic and Artistic Autonomy (New York: Continuum, 2013) pp. 217-40.
  • ‘Art History, Racism and Nationalism. Coriolan Petranu and Art in Transylvania,’ in Jerzy Malinowski, ed., History of Art History in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe (Torun: Tako, 2012) pp. 57-62.
  • ‘L’histoire de l’art et la crise des sciences humaines: Josef Strzygowski et Hans Sedlmayr,’ Austriaca 72 (2011) pp. 189-212
  • 'Peasants in Vienna. Ethnographic Display and the 1873 World’s Fair,’ Austrian History Yearbook 42 (2011) 110-32.
  • ‘The Idea of a Scientific Discipline: Rudolf von Eitelberger and the Emergence of Art History in Vienna, 1847-1885,’ Art History 34.1 (2011) 54-79.
  • ‘Warburg, Judaism and the Politics of Identity,’ Oxford Art Journal 33.3 (2011) 317-35.
  • ‘Zur Vischer-Rezeption bei Warburg,’ in B. Potthast and A. Reck, eds., Friedrich Theodor Vischer. Leben – Werk – Wirkung (Heidelberg, 2011) 299-320.
  • ‘Design Reform in the Habsburg Empire. Technology, Aesthetics, Ideology,’ Journal of Design History 23.3(2010) 247-63.
  • ‘Art History and the Politics of Empire. Rethinking the Vienna School,’ Art Bulletin 91.4 (2009) 447-463.
  • ‘For the Love of the Fatherland. Patriotic Art History and the Kronprinzenwerk in Austria-Hungary,’ Centropa 9.3 (2009) 160-75.
  • ‘Art as a Social System. The Sociological Aesthetics of Niklas Luhmann,’ Telos 148 (2009) 1-30.
  • ‘The Absorption of the Expressive Values of the Past,’ (Translation and Introduction to Aby Warburg, Mnemosyne Bilderatlas), Art in Translation 1.2 (2009) 273-283.
  • ‘The Poetics of the Image: Art History and the Rhetoric of Interpretation,’ Marburger Jahrbuch der Kunstgeschichte 35 (2008) 7-31.
  • ‘Dalmatia is Italian! The Politics of Art History in Austria-Hungary and South-Eastern Europe, 1862-1930,’ Etudes Balkaniques 44.4 (2008) 130-147.
  • ‘Alois Riegl’ and ‘Ananda Coomaraswamy’ in Ulrich Pfisterer, ed., Klassiker der Kunstgeschichte (C. H. Beck, 2007) pp. 151-61 and 226-35.
  • ‘La Caduta e la Rinascita dell’Estetica dagli Anni Ottanta al Presente,’ Nuova Secondaria XXIV/5 (2007) 36-41.
  • ‘From Big Art Challenge to A Spiritual Vision: What “Global Art History” Might Really Mean,’ in James Elkins, ed., Is Art History Global? (Routledge, 2006) 188-202. 
  • ‘ “We Have Suddenly Become Severe.” Ernst Bloch as a Critic of Modern Architecture,’ in José Eduardo Reis and Jorge Bastos da Silva, eds., Nowhere Somewhere: Writing, Space and the Construction of Utopia (University of Porto Press, 2006) 171-80.
  • ‘Visual Culture: A Postcolonial Concept,’ Leitmotiv 5 (2005) 39-50. 
  • ‘La Cultura Visual en la era postcolonial: el desafio de la antropologie,’ Estudios Visuales 3 (2005) 185-212.
  • ‘De l’art considéré comme système social: observations sur la sociologie de l’art de Niklas Luhmann,’ in LITTÉRATURE, ARTS, SCIENCES OPuS 6 (Revue Sociologie de l'Art) (2005) 159-85.
  • ‘Art History without Aesthetics. Overcoming the Legacy of Kant,’ in James Elkins, ed., Art History versus Aesthetics (Routledge, 2005).
  • ‘Art History and Cultural Difference: Alfred Gell’s Anthropology of Art,’ Art History 28.4 (Autumn 2005) 524-51.
  • ‘Visual Studies: the End of Art History?’ in Ars 38.1 (2005) 53-66.
  • ‘The Ethnographic Sublime,’ Res 47 (2005) 251-63.
  • ‘La amenaza fantasma: ¿la Cultura visual como fin de la Historia del arte? in José Luis Brea, ed., Estudios visuales La epistemología de la visualidad en la era de la globalización (AKAL, 2005) pp. 39-58.
  • ‘Zwischen Nomologischer und Hermeneutischer Kunstwissenschaft: Alois Riegl und das Kunstwollen als Problem,’ Kritische Berichte 31.4 (December, 2003) 5-19.‘Max Dvořák: Art History and the Crisis of Modernity,’ in Art History, 26.3 (2003) 220-243.
  • ‘Iconology of the Interval. Aby Warburg’s Legacy,’ in Word and Image, 17. 4 (2001) 303-24.
  • ‘Allegory and Mimesis. On Aby Warburg and Walter Benjamin,’ in Richard Woodfield, ed., Art History as Cultural History. Warburg’s Project (Gordon + Breach, 2000) pp. 121-49.
  • ‘Subjectivity and Modernism. Riegl and the Rediscovery of the Baroque,’ in Richard Woodfield, ed., Framing Formalism. Riegl’s Work (Gordon + Breach, 2000) pp. 265-90.
  • ‘Anthropology and the Origins of Art History,’ de-, dis-, ex-. 4 (Spring, 2000) 138-63.
  • ‘Introduction’ to Edgar Wind, Experiment and Metaphysics, trans. C. Edwards (Oxford, European Centre for Research in the Humanities, 2000).
  • ‘In Search of Cultural History. Anselm Kiefer and the Ambivalence of Modernism,’ in Oxford Art Journal 23.1 (2000) 73-96.