History of Art


Professor Tamar Garb



Tamar Garb

Tamar Garb is Durning Professor in the History of Art at UCL. She has published widely on questions of gender and sexuality in Modern and Contemporary Art as well as on photography  from Africa, the work of women artists and feminist aesthetics.  Her curatorial practice includes  ‘Gauguin: Maker of Myth’, Tate 2011, ‘Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography’, V&A, 2011, ‘Distance & Desire: Encounters with the African Archive’, Walther Coll. 2014, ‘Conversations in Letters & Lines: William Kentridge and Vivienne Koorland, Fruitmarket,,2016, ‘Made Routes: Berni Searle and Vivienne Koorland’, Richard Saltoun Gallery, 2019 and ‘Beyond the Binary: Santu Mofokeng and David Goldblatt’, Walther Coll. 2023. 

Contact Details

Office: 205, 21 Gordon Square
Office hours: Tuesday 2.00-3.00 pm in person. Friday 11.00am to 12.00 pm on on Teams. Book an appointment with Tamar.
+44 (0)20 3108 4014 (internal 54014)
Email: t.garb@ucl.ac.uk


Durning Lawrence Professor in the History of Art and a Fellow of the British Academy.

Dept of History of Art

Faculty of S&HS

Research Themes

19th and 20th century French art and visual culture; contemporary art; feminism and global politics; art and culture in South Africa; the image of the 'Jew'; race and representation in modern and contemporary art.

Art Design and Architecture


Research Summary

Tamar Garb's  research interests have focused on questions of gender and sexuality, the woman artist and the body in nineteenth and early twentieth century French art and she has published extensively in this field. Key publications include Sisters of the Brush: Women's Artistic Culture in Late Nineteenth Century Paris (Yale University Press, 1994); Bodies of Modernity: Figure and Flesh in Fin de Siecle France, (Thames & Hudson, 1998) and The Painted Face, Portraits of Women in France 1814 -1914 (Yale University Press, 2007). Her latest publication in this area is The Body in Time: Figures of Feminity in Late Nineteenth-Century France (University of Washington Press, 2008). 

She has also published on questions of race and representation and in 1995 she collaborated with Linda Nochlin on a volume of essays entitled The Jew in the Text; Modernity and the Construction of Identity (T&H). In 2010 she acted as External Exhibition consultant on Gauguin: Maker of Myth for the Tate and as Consultant Editor on the accompanying catalogue.

In addition, Tamar has written about contemporary artists including Nancy Spero, Christian Boltanski, Massimo Vitali and Mona Hatoum. In 2007 she curated an exhibition 'Reisemalheurs' situating the paintings of the New York based, South African artist, Vivienne Koorland in the Freud Museum, London.

Her interests have turned recently to post apartheid culture and art as well as the history of photographic practices in South Africa.  In 2008 she curated an exhibition on Landscape and Language in South African Art entitled Land Marks/Home Lands; Contemporary Art from South Africa at Haunch of Venison Gallery in London. In April 2011, her exhibition Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography opened at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. For coverage of the show and films made on location in South Africa, see V & A Vimeo page. The show was nominated for a Lucie award in Curating.

In 2014 Tamar curated Distance and Desire: Encounters with the African Archive for the Walther Collection, Ulm and New York. 

She curated William Kentridge and Vivienne Koorland: Conversations in Letters and Lines at the Fruitmarket Gallery Edinburgh, 2015/16 (video on Vimeo) and Made Routes: Vivienne Koorland and Bernie Searle, Richard Saltoun Gallery, London, 2019.

Feminist politics in the context of global and international developments in theory and practice remain pressing concerns as do questions of gender and sexuality in historic and contemporary areas. 


Teaching and Supervision

Tamar would welcome applications from new research students working on nineteenth century French art and culture,  contemporary art and photography, especially in relation to  questions of race and sexuality and nineteenth and twentieth century art in general, African photography and lens based practices, contemporary/modern art from Africa. Students working in the fields of portraiture, the body, gender and representation are also welcome.

Phd Students


Kalvin Schmidt-Rimpler Dinh, Symbols and Cymbals: Tracing Afro-Surreal Expressionism, c.1940-80

Renée Mussai, The Black Body in the Archive: Victorian Photography, Race and the Poetics of Difference. A Curatorial & Art Historical Enquiry


Martin Myrone, (with David Solkin, Courtauld Institute) Bodybuilding: Reforming Masculinities in British Art, 1750-1810

Francesca Berry 'Un Sanctuaire inviolable? Domesticity and the Interior in Edouard Vuillard's Work of the 1890s',

Mark Godfrey, (with Briony Fer) The Holocaust and Abstraction

Harriet Riches, Francesca Woodman and the Representation of Self

Levi Prombaum, (with Mignon Nixon) James Baldwin's early portraits, 1945-1965: blackness and other queer matters of visibility in light of Beauford Delaney, Carl Van Vechten, and Richard Avedon

Amy Mechowski, Lesbian self representation in early Twentieth Century Paris

Mary Hunter , Collecting Bodies: Art, Medicine and Sexuality in late Nineteenth-Century France

Joanna Walker, Nancy Spero: An Encounter in Three Parts. Performance, Poetry and Dance

Phillipa Kaina, Between History and Modernity: negotiating subjectivity in the early work of Edgar Degas ca. 1854-1870

Gil Pasternak, Intimate Conflicts: Family Photography and State Ideology in Contemporary Israel

Cadence Kinsey (with Maria Loh), Bio Technologies and Feminist Practices

Milena Tomic, (with Briony Fer) Reenactment and Repetition in Contemporary Feminist Practice

Maud Jaquin, Narrative and the Cinematic  in Contemporary Feminist Video

Sandra Rehme, Anais Nin and Interdisciplinarity

Pandora Syparek, (with Petra Lange Berndt) Gender and the Natural History Museum in the 19th C

Yvette Greslé, Memory and History in Contemporary South African video

Irina Chikhaidze, Art and the Animal, Posthumanism in art and theory

Allison Deutsch, Food and Painting in Nineteenth Century France

Afonso Dias Ramos, Photography in Lusophone Africa

Edward McDonald-Toone, Exhibiting the Contemporary "Middle East"

Gabriella Nugent, The Legacy of Belgian Colonialism in Contemporary Lens-Based Practices from Democratic Republic Congo

Julie Bonzon, Identity in protest: The Market Photo Workshop and the new generation of South African photographers

Katarzyna Falecka, Returns to the de/colonial archive: the photographic cultures of the Algerian War of Independence and their afterlives in contemporary art

Chloe Julius, "What do you mean by Jewish Art?": Art and Identity in 1990s America

Bea Gassmann da Souza, Nigerian Modernism, 2022


Tamar Garb is Durning Lawrence Professor in the History of Art. She graduated from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town with a BA (Art) in 1978. In 1980 she was awarded an MA in Art Education from the Institute of Education, University of London and in 1982 she graduated with a MA in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art. While working part time in secondary and further education, she completed her PhD at the Courtauld Institute which was awarded in 1991. She was appointed as Lecturer at the Courtauld in 1988 and at UCL in 1989 and was promoted to reader in 1995 and professor in 2001.