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 7, 1-2, Forthcoming: April 2023.  
  • ‘The Immateriality of Materiality: Ruth Asawa’s Looped Wire Sculptures’, Immediations, 18, December 2021.  

Conference Papers:

  • 'Artwork-Craftwork, Alma Thomas’ Painting, 1971-1973’, Manufacture, University College London, June 2022. 


  • 2022: History of Art and Its Objects, University College London  


  • 2022: Terra Foundation for American Art Research Travel Grant.  
  • 2021-2024, Graduate Research Scholarship which fully funds my PhD, UCL. 
  • 2018 - Lander Prize for History of Art, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge.
  • 2018 - Foundation Scholarship for outstanding examination results, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge.
  • 2017 - Patrick Graham Travel Grant for archival research in the US, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge.