research area

Art produced beyond its historic institutions

Birds eye view of Matt Lodder holding tattoo book

This research area interrogates objects of our shared visual and material culture that do not reside in museums or otherwise conform to our expectations about what constitutes an artwork.

We place strong emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches to studying such objects, which stems from our conviction that interdisciplinary enquiry allows us to better understand complex issues that have transformed the world at different historical moments.

Some recent examples of this strand of our work include Dr. Lodder’s 2017–2021 exhibition British Tattoo Art Revealed; the publications of Dr. Ruíz-Gomez on the intersection of art and medicine in 19th century France, and Dr Grindon’s research on role of art in forms of counter-cultural political activism.

Visit our members staff profiles for more information on their publications and works. You can also contact members of staff for information on research supervision opportunities.

Our members

Senior Lecturer, School of Philosophy and Art History
Research interests: modern and contemporary art history; art and politics; activist-art; institutional critique and its futures; visual and material cultures of social movements and of social control; aesthetics and affect in social movements; curatorial studies; intersections of curating, critique and political organising
Director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Centre - Senior Lecturer (R), School of Philosophy and Art History
Research interests: tattooing and body modification in their historical and theoretical contexts; lowbrow, outsider, countercultural, kitsch and erotic art & visual culture; the visual and cultural contexts of sex and sadomasochism, including pornography; internet and digital art; methodologies of art historical and visual culture study
Senior Lecturer, School of Philosophy and Art History
Research interests: Art and science/medicine; Auguste Rodin's oeuvre; Nineteenth-century French sculpture; Architecture and urban planning in nineteenth-century Paris; Auguste Rodin and science; Jean-Martin Charcot and art; Objectivity and medical imagery; Medical portraiture; Nineteenth-century medical photography; Theories of degeneration and genius
Senior Lecturer, School of Philosophy and Art History
Research interests: Spectatorship; Histories of modernism; Exhibition design and curation; The relationship between art and politics; The use of digital technologies in museums and galleries; Intersections between pre-modern and modern art

Highlights of our research


  •  An article in the Guardian features Matt Lodder’s research about tattooing.


Related courses

Are you looking to study an art history degree at undergraduate, masters or PhD level? Explore some of the exciting courses below, or visit our subject areas to find out more about the degrees and modules that Essex has to offer. If you're not sure which subject is right for you, you can always search for a course. If you're looking for research opportunities, or to find a supervisor, you can use our research finder by searching for your research interests.


Explore our subject area