History of Art


Cora Chalaby

PhD supervisor: Dr Cadence Kinsey 
Working title for PhD: 'Indeterminacy and Painting: Helen Frankenthaler, Alma Thomas, Joan Mitchell' 

My PhD explores American abstract painting by women artists from the 1960s and 1970s to now, focussing on the work of Helen Frankenthaler, Alma Thomas and Joan Mitchell.  

Fundamentally, this project addresses indeterminacy within medium-specific painting and studio practices. I argue that there is tension between the indeterminate position of women artists within the 1960s and 1970s, painting as a medium, and a late modernist sensibility.  As such, this project seeks to generate new insight into the relationship of gender, painting, and abstraction. Examining the constraints upon and possibilities for painting in this period, I within Frankenthaler, Thomas and Mitchell’s distinct approaches painting and modes of abstraction. These artists’ practices do not so much advocate for or against painting. Rather, they illuminate three alternate possibilities: moving away from, between, and within painting as structure, site and subject. 

My PhD is fully funded by one of UCL’s Graduate Research Scholarships. 


  • ‘‘Some Place Else’? Helen Frankenthaler’s Printerly Paintings’, Journal of Contemporary Painting, Special Issue: ‘Helen Frankenthaler Special’, 9 no.1, (November 2023): 111-133.
  • ‘Book Review Abstract Expressionists: The Women’, The Burlington Magazine 165, no.1447, (October 2023):1164.  
  • ‘The Immateriality of Materiality: Ruth Asawa’s Looped Wire Sculptures’, Immediations, no. 18, (2021). 

Conference Papers:

  • ‘What if I used Printing Press Like a Paintbrush? Helen Frankenthaler’s Painterly Perseverance’, …And Painting Continues, Nottingham University, 31st May 2024.
  • A Slice of the Stone Itself; Cutting Through Process and Identity in Helen Frankenthaler’s Prints,’ 112th College Art Association Annual Conference, Chicago, 15th February 2024.
  • “I Do Not Want to Be Isolated When I Paint’; Alma Thomas’ Studio as Workshop’, 67th British Association of American Studies Annual Conference, Keele University, 12th April 2023.
  • ‘Artwork - Craftwork: Alma Thomas’ Paintings’, Manufacture Conference, UCL, 10th June 2022.


  • Guest Lecturer, ‘The American Print Renaissance: Helen Frankenthaler’s Prints in the Tate Collection’, Prints and Printmaking, Department of History of Art, UCL, March 2024.
  • Postgraduate Teaching Assistant, Methodologies of Art History, Department of History of Art, UCL, January - March 2024
  • Postgraduate Teaching Assistant, History of Art and Its Objects: BA Core Course, Department of History Art, UCL, September - December 2022.


  • 2024: Getty Library Research Grant.
  • 2024: Association of Print Scholars Travel Grant.
  • 2023: Yale-UCL Collaborative Doctoral Exchange Visiting Researcher Scholarship.
  • 2023: British Association of American Studies Conference Bursary.  
  • 2022: Terra Foundation for American Art Research Travel Grant.
  • 2021-2024: University College London Graduate Research Scholarship.
  • 2018: Lander Prize, for the highest-ranked History of Art student, Pembroke College.
  • 2018: Foundation Scholarship for outstanding examination results, Pembroke College.
  • 2017: Patrick Graham Travel Grant for archival research in the US, Pembroke College. 
  • 2016/7: Book Prize, for First Class examination results, Pembroke College.