History of Art and Architecture

Alex J. Taylor

Associate Professor (On sabbatical Spring 2024)

Area of Specialization

Modern American Art and Visual Culture


Alex J. Taylor is an historian of modern American art and visual culture. His research strives to locate works of American art within the histories of global capitalism and consumption. His interests include transnational modernisms, studio practice, artistic self-fashioning, patrons and patronage, advertising, consumer cultures, and the intersections between artistic, political, and economic life.

Alex’s most recent book is Forms of Persuasion: Art and Corporate Image in the 1960s (University of California Press, 2022), the first dedicated history of corporate patronage in post-war art. Far from rejecting the values of post-war capitalism, as is often claimed of the art of the sixties, Forms of Persuasion considers how a wide range of art and artists were deeply immersed in the marketing strategies of big business. Alex’s first book Perils of the Studio (Australian Scholarly Press, 2007) examined the intersecting histories of bohemian self-fashioning, promotion, and professionalization that defined the visual cultures of the artist’s studio in late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century Australian art.

From 2014–2016, Taylor was the inaugural Terra Foundation Research Fellow in American Art at Tate, where he led the Refiguring American Art initiative, encompassing scholarly publications, academic workshops, and gallery displays. At Tate, he led in-depth research projects on works by Sue Fuller, Louise Nevelson, Kenneth Noland, James Rosenquist, and Theodore Roszak as part of the Modern American Art at Tate 1945-1980 publication.

Before shifting his focus to American art, Taylor spent a decade working in museums and galleries in Australia. He continues to work on exhibition projects, including curatorial seminars with graduate and undergraduate students. As the department’s Academic Curator, Taylor leads collaborations with local museums and cultural institutions through the department’s Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh initiative.

Alex is continuing his research into the social and historical engagements of the work of Alexander Calder. Other new research interests include the extractive economies of sculptural production, and a history of the ‘collectible’ bridging the spheres of art connoisseurship and consumer culture. He welcomes inquiries from potential graduate students interested in studying modern American art, visual, and material culture.

Education Details

D.Phil University of Oxford (2014)

M.St University of Oxford (2010)

B.A. Hons University of Melbourne (2003)

Selected Publications

Books and Edited Collections

Forms of Persuasion: Art and Corporate Image in the 1960s, University of California Press, 2022

Modern American Art at Tate, 194580, Tate Research Publication, 2019

Perils of the Studio, Australian Scholarly Press with the State Library of Victoria, 2007

Selected Articles and Essays

‘No Exit: Allan D'Arcangelo's Human Conditions,’ Allan D'Arcangelo, New York: Rizzoli Electa, 2023 (forthcoming)

‘Sue Fuller’s Know-How,’ Sue Fuller: Into the Composition, Ridinghouse/Luxembourg + Co., London, 2022, 12-23.

‘Haim Steinbach: Something in the Web of It’, Haim Steinbach: 1991–1993 (exhibition catalogue), Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, 2021, 1–8.

‘Diplomatic Devices: Henry Moore and the Transatlantic Politics of the Time-Life Building,' Sculpture Journal, vol. 29, issue 1, 2020, 7–25.

‘Art and Economics Beyond the Market’, American Art 33, no. 3, Fall 2019, 20–26. Co-authored with Sophie Cras and Maggie Cao.

‘Optics: James Rosenquist and the Politics of Vision’, James Rosenquist: Visualising the Sixties (exhibition catalogue), London: Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London, 2019, 12–41.

‘Rusting Giant: U.S. Steel and the promotional material of sculpture’, in Monica Jonanovich-Kelley and Melissa Renn (ed.), Corporate Patronage of Art & Architecture in the United States, Late 19th Century to the Present, Bloomsbury Publishing: New York, 2019, 206–224.

‘Alexander Calder’s Industrial Revolution’, in Anne Grace and Elizabeth Hutton Turner (ed.), Alexander Calder: Radical Inventor (exhibition catalogue), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 2018, 181–185.

‘Transnational Transactions: Trade, Diplomacy and the Circulation of American Art’, American Art, Summer 2017, 89–95.

‘Our Synthetic Environment: The Political Landscapes of Allan D’Arcangelo’, Allan D’Arcangelo: Without Sound, 1974–1982 (exhibition catalogue), Garth Greenan Gallery, New York, 2017, 4–12.

‘Calder’s Carnival’, in Borchardt-Hume (ed.), Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture, Tate Publishing, 2016

‘Impure Modernism’, Art History, v.38, no.1, February 2015, 230–233.

‘Henry Moore and the Values of Business’, in Griffin and Mundy (eds.), Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015

‘The Calder Problem: Mobiles, modern taste and mass culture’, Oxford Art Journal, Vol. 37, No. 1, 2014, 27–45.

‘Unstable Motives: Propaganda, politics and the late work of Alexander Calder’, American Art, Spring, Vol. 26, No. 1, March 2012, 24–47.  

‘Wolseley’s Lines’, in Hoorn (ed.), Reframing Darwin: Evolution and Art in Australia, The Miegunyah Press, Melbourne University Publishing, 2009, 198–209.

A selection of these articles and essays are available at https://pitt.academia.edu/AlexJTaylor

Selected Exhibitions

Alone Together: Encounters in American Realism, Westmoreland Museum of American Art (curator), 2022

Refiguring American Abstraction, Tate Liverpool (curator), 2018–2020

Lie of the Land: New Australian Landscapes, Embassy of Australia, Washington DC (curator), 2012

My Doubtful Mind, Linden Centre for Contemporary Art, St Kilda (co-curator), 2008

Melbourne Bohemia: Artist’s Studios 1900–1940, City Museum, Melbourne (curator), 2007

I have also led a range of collaborative curatorial projects with graduate and undergraduate students including Andrey Avinoff: Fantastic Visions (2022), Pattern Makers (2021), Women of Visions: Celebrating 40 Years (2021-2), The Curious Drawings of Doctor Clapp (2019), Metal from Clay: Pittsburgh’s Aluminum Stories (2019), and This is Not Ideal: Gender Myths and their Transformation (2018).

Selected Awards

Terra Foundation for American Art International Essay Prize, 2011

Terra Foundation for American Art Predoctoral Fellowship, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2011

Clarendon Fund Scholarship, 2009