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Dr Richard Taws
Richard Taws teaches eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European art, with a particular interest in the visual culture of the French Revolution and its aftermath. He taught previously at McGill University, Canada, and has been a Getty Postdoctoral Fellow (2006-7) and a Member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (2010). He is a member of the editorial board of Art History and the current recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Prize (2013-15).
Richard’s recent research focuses on everyday, ephemeral and obsolete forms of visual culture and related issues to do with time, materiality and value in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. His first book, The Politics of the Provisional: Art and Ephemera in Revolutionary France (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2013), examines how provisional images and objects made in 1790s France mediated both the Revolution’s memory and its future, with important implications for how citizens became constructed as political subjects. The book discusses a range of multiple, mobile and often short-lived works, as well as images that referred to conditions of transience, fragility or incompletion. These ranged from revolutionary paper money—the assignat—to trompe-l’oeil representations of the Revolution’s paper debris, from temporary festival installations in plaster and wood to relics of the demolished Bastille, as well as numerous other calendars, almanacs, passports, certificates and vignettes. The book argues that thinking about material durability was one of the key ways in which both revolutionaries and those who opposed the Revolution conceptualized duration, and that it was crucial to how they imagined the Revolution’s transformative role in history. An article derived from this project, on assignats and post-revolutionary memory, published in the Oxford Art Journal, won the 2011 Max Nänny Article Prize, awarded every three years by the International Association of Word and Image Studies. The publication of this book was supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and by a Millard Meiss Publication Grant from the College Art Association.
More broadly, Richard’s work addresses histories and theories of media and technology, the social and political stakes of print culture, the relation between images and concepts of historical time, and the entanglement of artistic and non-art objects in the fifty years either side of 1800. In this vein, he has also written recently on subjects including anachronism and collecting at the Musée des Arts et Métiers, eighteenth-century caricature, and printed and photographic representations of nineteenth-century royal imposters. He is currently working on a new book about the relationship between art and new communication technologies—the Chappe optical telegraph in particular—in France in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Richard would be interested to hear from potential postgraduate students keen to research topics relating to eighteenth and nineteenth-century art and visual culture.
'Cultures visuelles et révolutions: enjeux et nouvelles problématiques', with Guillaume Mazeau, Pascal Dupuy, Charlotte Guichard and Pascal Griener, Annales historiques de la Révolution française, 372 (April-June 2013): 143-160.
The Politics of the Provisional: Art and Ephemera in Revolutionary France (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2013).
‘The Precariousness of Things’ in The Saint-Aubin Livre de caricatures: Drawing Satire in Eighteenth-Century Paris, edited by Colin Jones, Juliet Carey and Emily Richardson (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2012), 327-347.
‘The Currency of Caricature in Revolutionary France’ in The Efflorescence of Caricature, 1715-1838, edited by Todd Porterfield (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011), 95-115.
‘Comment’, Invited response to special issue on ‘Capturing the Moment: Images and Eyewitnessing in History’ edited by Lynn Hunt and Vanessa Schwartz, Journal of Visual Culture, 9:3 (December 2010): 365-369.
‘Material Futures: Reproducing Revolution in P.-L. Debucourt’s Almanach National’, The Art Bulletin, 92:3 (September 2010): 169-187.
‘The Guillotine as Antimonument’, Sculpture Journal, 19:1 (Spring-Summer 2010): 33-48.
‘Nineteenth-Century Revolutions and Strategies of Visual Persuasion’ in A History of Visual Culture: Western Civilization from the Eighteenth to the Twenty-First Century edited by Jane Kromm and Susan Bakewell (Oxford: Berg, 2010), 30-41.
‘Ivory Towers: Obscuring Obsolescence in the Revolutionary Museum’, RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, 55/56 (Spring-Autumn 2009): 252-266.
‘Les études canadiennes sur l’art en l’Europe autour de 1800’, with Peggy Davis, Anne Lafont, Michael Pantazzi and Todd Porterfield, Perspective: La revue de l’INHA, 3-2008 (April 2009): 527-534.
‘Trompe-l’Oeil and Trauma: Money and Memory after the Terror’, Oxford Art Journal, 30:3 (October 2007): 353-376.
'L'Autel de la Patrie', 'The Fall of the Bastille', 'Armand Gaston Camus', 'Fête de l’Être Suprême,' 'Journées' and 'French Revolutionary Symbols' in Encyclopedia of the Age of Political Revolutions and New Ideologies, 1760-1815, edited by Gregory Fremont-Barnes (Westport: Greenwood, 2007), 52-53, 65-67, 108-109, 237-238, 377-378, 706-708.
‘Antonio Canova’ and ‘Le Moniteur’ in Encyclopedia of French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, edited by Gregory Fremont-Barnes (Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio, 2006), 207-208, 649.
‘L’Usage politique du trompe-l’oeil à l’époque révolutionnaire et post-révolutionnaire’ in Miriam Milman, Magali Philippe, Jean Rosen and Richard Taws, Le Trompe-l’oeil: plus vrai que nature? (Versailles: ArtLys, 2005), 32-40.
‘The 1790 Paris Federation and the visual (re)constitution of an idea’, Object, 4 (2002): 73-92.
Reviews of books and exhibitions in: Art History, Oxford Art Journal, Print Quarterly, Burlington Magazine, French History, French Studies, The Art Book, Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies and History Workshop Journal.
A list of publications is available from UCL's Institutional Research Information Service via the Iris link below.
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