History of Art and Architecture

Alex J. Taylor

Assistant Professor and Academic Curator

Area of Specialization

Modern Art and Visual Culture


Constellation(s): Identity, Mobility/Exchange

Alex J. Taylor is a 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.

As the department’s Academic Curator, Taylor leads collaborations with the local cultural sector through Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh, a network of local museums and cultural institutions working together to foster collection-based research and learning. 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. Before shifting his focus to American art, Taylor spent a decade working as an arts administrator, critic and curator in Australia.

Alex’s first book Perils of the Studio (2007) examined the 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.

His second book Forms of Persuasion: Art and Corporate Image in the 1960s, is forthcoming with the University of California Press. 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 and public relations strategies of big business.

Alex is continuing his research into the social and historical engagements of the work of sculptor Alexander Calder, and is beginning a new project on the history of the collectible, using the mass-produced ‘limited edition’ to explore the intersecting histories of connoisseurship and consumer culture. He welcomes enquiries from potential graduate students interested in studying American, British and Australian modern art, visual and material culture in their global contexts.

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, forthcoming with the 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

‘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.

‘Refiguring American Art’, Modern American Art at Tate, 1945–80, Tate Research Publication, 2019

‘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.

‘American Art Under John Rothenstein’, Modern American Art at Tate, 1945–80, Tate Research Publication, 2019

‘Theodore Roszak’s The Unknown Political Prisoner (Defiant and Triumphant)’, Tate Research Publication, 2019

‘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.

‘In Focus: Sue Fuller’s String Composition #128, Tate Research Publication, 2018

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

‘In Focus: James Rosenquist’s Silo’, Tate Research Publication, 2017

‘In Focus: Kenneth Noland’s Gift’, Tate Research Publication, 2017

'In Focus: Louise Nevelson’s Black Wall', Tate Research Publication, 2016

‘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.

‘Our Synthetic Environment: The Political Landscapes of Allan D’Arcangelo’, Allan D’Arcangelo: Without Sound, 1974–1982 (exhibition catalogue), Garth Greenan Gallery, New York, 2007, 4–12.

Selected Exhibitions

Pattern Makers, Westmoreland Museum of American Art (faculty coordinator for graduate student curatorial project), 2021

The Curious Drawings of Doctor Clapp, University Art Gallery, University of Pittsburgh (faculty co-coordinator for undergraduate student curatorial project), 2020

Metal from Clay: Pittsburgh’s Aluminum Stories, University Art Gallery, University of Pittsburgh (faculty coordinator of collaborative curatorial project), 2019

This is Not Ideal: Gender Myths and their Transformation (faculty coordinator for undergraduate student curatorial project), University Art Gallery, University of Pittsburgh, 2018

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

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