History of Art


Dr Rebecca Gordon



Rebecca Gordon

Dr Rebecca A. Gordon is an Associate Lecturer (Teaching) in History of Art. Her teaching and advising address subjects in art history and theory, material (culture) studies, conservation, and museum studies. She is also a member of the Department’s EDI board.

Her current research interests include the notions of care and commoning in contemporary art conservation, social practice art, knowledge capital and embodied knowledge, metaphor and storytelling as a mode of preservation, and positionality and agency in the stewardship of art and cultural heritage. Another significant area of her research is art conservation as a ‘counter-extinction’ practice.

She has published on the subjects of artist’s intent, authenticity in contemporary art, material significance, socially engaged art and authenticity, and is co-editor of the book Authenticity and Replication: the ‘Real Thing’ in Art and Conservation with Erma Hermens and Frances Leonard, published by Archetype in 2014. She is currently working on a Getty Publications collected volume on the conservation of contemporary art with co-editors Glenn Wharton and Brian Castriota.

Contact Details

Email: rebecca.a.gordon@ucl.ac.uk
Office Hours: Thursdays, 4.15 - 5.15pm - book here


Research Summary

Rebecca’s current research focuses on the notions of care and commoning in contemporary art conservation. This has developed from the foundations of her doctorate on Rethinking Material Significance and Authenticity in Contemporary Art (University of Glasgow, 2011). Her research has addressed issues of authenticity, artist’s intent, material significance, documentation, an artwork’s ‘critical mass,’ and the conservation of socially-engaged art. She has used artist interviews as both a methodology and a subject for her work, and continues to explore the reframing of artist interviews, namely the ‘re-interview’ in conservation. 

More recently she has been researching conservation as a ‘counter-extinction’ activity, drawing on frameworks and ethics of species revival and de-extinction practices. Her involvement with the Cultures of Species Revival Research Group (https://www.sarahbezan.com/culturesofspeciesrevival), founded by Dr Sarah Bezan, has encouraged this interdisciplinary exploration of the issue. Rebecca’s interest in interdisciplinary research has also led her to management studies and organisational theory’s ‘spiral of knowledge’ as a method for listening to and learning from the artist’s voice.

Between 2012 and 2014 Rebecca was the Research Assistant for the Research Network for Textile Conservation, Dress and Textile History and Technical Art History, funded by the Getty Foundation, based at the University of Glasgow. She has worked in various private and public galleries as a research assistant and gallery assistant, and has been commissioned to write various exhibition texts. These practical and critical experiences feed into her research. 

Rebecca is based in Glasgow, Scotland.

Research Activities

Rebecca has reviewed articles for several peer-reviewed journals in the fields of visual arts, conservation, museum and heritage studies. She has been an invited reviewer for the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network New Approaches in the Conservation of Contemporary Art (NACCA) in Glasgow and in 2014 was a co-organiser of the ‘Work-in-Progress Meeting for Emerging Researchers in Contemporary Art Conservation’, jointly organised with The Network for PhD Candidates and Postdoctoral Researchers in Conservation of Contemporary Art and the Network for Conservation of Contemporary Art Research (NeCCAR).

She is a member of the Cultures of Species Revival Research Group (https://www.sarahbezan.com/culturesofspeciesrevival), founded by Dr Sarah Bezan, and in this area has presented conference papers on ‘De-extinction and Contemporary Art Conservation’ (IIC) and ‘Cultures of Extinction and Contemporary Art Conservation’ (AIC). She is also a member of ICON and IIC.


Selected Publications 


  • Gordon, Rebecca. (forthcoming). “Knowledge management, figurative language, and the artist’s voice in contemporary art conservation.” Art Matters: International Journal for Technical Art History.
  • Gordon, Rebecca. (2016). “Authenticity and Authorship in Socially Engaged Art.” In Authenticity in Transition: Changing Practices in Contemporary Art Making and Conservation, edited by Erma Hermens and Frances Robertson, 107-116. London: Archetype Publications. ISBN 978-1-909492-36-3 
  • Gordon, Rebecca. (2015). “Documenting Performance and Performing Documentation: On the Interplay of Documentation and Authenticity.” Revista de Historia da Arte, 146-157. https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/bitstream/handle/10871/18428/RHAw4.pdf?sequence=1 
  • Gordon, Rebecca. (2014). “Identifying and Pursuing Authenticity in Contemporary Art.” In Authenticity and Replication: The 'Real Thing' in Art and Conservation, edited by Rebecca Gordon, Erma Hermens and Frances Lennard, 95-107. London: Archetype Publications. 
  • Gordon, Rebecca and Ross Sinclair. (2014). “Real Life questions of authenticity: Ross Sinclair in conversation with Rebecca Gordon.” In Authenticity and Replication: The 'Real Thing' in Art and Conservation, edited by Rebecca Gordon, Erma Hermens and Frances Lennard, 111-116. London: Archetype Publications. 
  • Gordon, Rebecca. (2013). “Material Significance in Contemporary Art.” Art Matters: International Journal for Technical Art History, 5. http://www.artmattersjournal.org/images/past_issues/volume_5/01-AM-Gordon-v4.pdf 
  • Gordon, Rebecca and Erma Hermens. (2013). “The Artist’s Intent in Flux.” CeROArt. http://ceroart.revues.org/3527 
  • Gordon, Rebecca. (2009). “The ‘paradigmatic art experience’: Reproductions and their effect on the experience of the ‘authentic’ artwork.” In Art, Conservation and Authenticities: Material, Context and Concept, edited by Erma Hermens and Tina Fiske, 259-266. London: Archetype Publications. ISBN 9781904982517 
  • Gordon, Rebecca. (2009). “Authenticity and Intent: The REAL LIFE Artist’s Interview.” In Art Today – Cultural Property of Tomorrow: The Conservation and Restoration of Contemporary Artworks, Preprints from SFIIC Conference, 24-26 June 2009, Paris, edited by M. Stefanaggi et al, 43-50. Paris: Section Francaise de l’Institut de Conservation. ISBN 9782905430168 



  • Gordon, Rebecca, Erma Hermens and Frances Lennard, eds. (2014). Authenticity and Replication: The 'Real Thing' in Art and Conservation. London: Archetype Publications. ISBN 978-1-904982-99-9 

Teaching and Supervision

Rebecca has been teaching in the History of Art Department at UCL since 2019 and has also taught at the University of Amsterdam and University of Glasgow. At University of Glasgow she has taught on the Technical Art History MLitt Programme since 2010, convening the ‘Authentic Artwork’ course in 2013. There she was also invited to co-teach two day-long ‘reconstruction’ workshops in modern and contemporary art practice.

During the academic year 2020-2021, Rebecca is teaching the following courses in the BA History of Art:

HART0054 Theory and History of Conservation – 15 credits
HART0007 Technologies of Vision – 15 credits