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Professor Gillian Perry

Gill Perry photo

Profile summary

Professional biography

Gill Perry joined the Open University in 1977, and was Head of Department from 2005-08, and Head of Research from 2005-2009. Currently she is Head of  External Collaborations and chair of the Open Arts Archive, a major website and archive which stores collaborative events and art projects organized by the Open University and fifteen collaborating museums and galleries across the UK.

Research interests

Her recent book, Spectacular Flirtations (shortlisted for the 2007 Theatre Book Prize) explores issues of gender, spectatorship and femininity in eighteenth century theatrical portraits, while her edited collection, Difference and Excess in Contemporary Art looks at the role of gender difference and ideas of ‘feminine excess’ in the work of some contemporary women. In 2011 she curated a show at the Royal Society, Crystal World, which explored the use of crystals in contemporary art. She also curated a major exhibition The First Actresses: Nell Gwyn to Sarah Siddons at the National Portrait Gallery, London in 2011-2012. She edited and co-authored a catalogue The First Actresses which accompanied the show, and which explores the roles of feminine portraiture in the construction of eighteenth century celebrity culture. Download the exhibition flyer to find out more [PDF 177 KB].

She is co-editor of a forthcoming collection, Placing Faces: The Portrait and the Country House in the Long Eighteenth Century (Manchester University Press, 2013). Her forthcoming book Playing at Home: The House in Contemporary Art (Reaktion, 2013) explores the themes of the house and home in recent and contemporary art, focusing on installation art and film.

She is co-chair of the Gender in the Humanities Research Group in the Arts Faculty, and was the Reviews Editor of the journal Art History from 1995 – 2001. She was also a panel member (Panel 2) of the Arts and Humanities Research Council from 2006-2010. She is currently supervising five PhD students who are researching topics in modern and contemporary art.


Selected Research Publications

Single Authored Books:

Playing at Home: The House in Contemporary Art. London: Reaktion books Ltd (forthcoming 2013).
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Spectacular Flirtations: Viewing the Actress in British Art and Theatre 1768-1820, Yale University Press, 2007
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Women Artists and the Parisian Avant-Garde: Modernism and ‘Feminine’ Art 1900-1920s, Manchester University Press, 1995
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Paula Modersohn-Becker: Her Life and Work, The Women’s Press, London, 1979; and Harper and Row, 1980

Books edited and co-authored:

The First Actresses: Nell Gwyn to Sarah Siddons, edited and co-authored, London: National Portrait Gallery and University of Michigan Press, 2011.

Themes in Contemporary Art, co-editor with Paul Wood and author of chapter 6 ‘Dream Houses: Installations and the Home’. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004.

Difference and Excess in Contemporary Art: The Visibility of Women’s Practice, editor, Blackwells, 2004
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Women, Scholarship and Criticism: Gender and Knowledge c.1790-1900, co-editor with Anne Laurence and Joan Bellamy and author of introduction and chapter 1, ‘Musing on the Muses’, Manchester University Press, 2000

Gender and Art, editor and author of introduction ‘Gender and Art History’, section introductions and conclusions and chapters 3, 8 and 11, Yale University Press, 1999

Museums, Academies and Canons of Art, editor and author of preface and chapter 4, ‘Mere Face Painters’, Yale University Press, 1999

Femininity and Masculinity in 18th Century Art and Culture (co-editor with Michael Rossington) and author of introduction ‘Constructing the Feminine: A Delicacy of Taste?’ and chapter 1, ‘Women in Disguise: Likeness the Grand Style and the Conventions of Feminine Portraiture in the Work of Sir Joshua Reynolds’, Manchester University Press, 1994

Primitivism, Cubism and Abstraction, editor and author of part 1, ‘Primitivism and the Modern’, Yale University Press 1993

Selected Articles

‘Watery Weather’: Roni Horn in Iceland’, Art History, 32.1, February, 2009

 ‘Installations and Exploding Homes’, in ed. David Bindman, Chris Stephens, A History of British Art, Tate and Paul Mellon Center, 2008

‘Staging Gender and "Hairy Signs": Representing Dorothy Jordan’s Curls’, Eighteenth Century Studies, vol. 38, no. 1, 2004

‘The Expanding Field: Ana Mendieta’s Silueta Series’, in Frameworks for Modern Art, edited by Gill Perry and Paul Wood, Yale University Press, 2004

‘Ambiguity and Desire: Metaphors of Sexuality in Late Eighteenth Century Representations of the Actress’, in Notorious Muse: The Actress in British Art and Culture, Paul Mellon Centre and Yale University Press, 2002

‘The Spectacle of the Muse: Exhibiting the Actress in the Royal Academy’, in Art on the Line, edited by David Solkin, Paul Mellon Centre and Yale University Press, 2001

‘Women Painting Women: Gender, Modernism and "Feminine" Art c.1910-c.1930’, in Rethinking Art Between the Wars: New Perspectives in Art History, edited by Hand Dam, Oystein Hjort, Niels Marup Jensen, University of Copenhagen, 2000

‘Exhibiting les Indépendants: Gauguin and the Café Volpini Show’, in The Challenge of the Avante Garde, edited by Paul Wood, Yale University Press, 1999

‘The British Sappho: Borrowed Identities and the Representation of Women Artists in the Eighteenth Century’, Oxford Art Journal, vol. 18, no. 2, 1995

‘The Ascent to Nature: Some metaphors of Nature in Early Expressionist Art’, in Expressionism Re-assessed, edited by Shulaminth Behr and David Fanning, Manchester University Press, 1993

Selected Exhibition Catalogues

‘Women of Fashion: Dressing the Actress on and off Stage’, catalogue essay for Behind the Scenes: The Hidden Life of Georgian Theatre 1737-1784, Dr Johnson’s House Trust, London, 2007

‘Tales, Trails and Transformations: The Work of Alice Maher’, catalogue essay for Natural Artifice: Alice Maher, at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery and Nottingham Art Gallery, 2007

‘Anya Shrey: Solo Entertainer’, catalogue introduction for exhibition of Anya Shrey, Milton Keynes Gallery, 2006

‘Venetian Dreams and "Surrounding Stories": Alice Maher’s Orsola, catalogue essay for Maher’s installation at the Oratorio of San Ludovico, (Nuova Icona), Venice 2006

‘She sees like a woman and paints like a man’, catalogue introduction, Emilie Charmy 1878-1974, Kunsthaus Buhler, Stuttgart, 1991

‘Picasso’s Later Graphic Work’, catalogue introduction, Galerie Herbagem Cannes/Waddingtons, London 1982

Essay ‘Germany, Norway and Switzerland’ and catalogue entries for Post-Impressionism: Cross Currents in European Painting 1880-1906, National Gallery of Art Washington, 1980

Catalogue entries for German exhibits in Post-Impressionism: Cross Currents in European Painting 1880-1906, Royal Academy of Art, 1979-80

Teaching interests

She has chaired several Art History courses, including Modern Art: Practices and Debates (code A316) at third level, Art and its Histories (code A216) at second level. She has published books, articles and catalogue introductions on modern and contemporary European art, and eighteenth century British art, and has a particular research interest in issues of gender difference within art history and visual culture.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Gender in the Humanities Research GroupGroupFaculty of Arts