Gavin Butt

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Gavin Butt (born 1967) is a British art historian based at Goldsmiths, University of London.


Gavin Butt works in the intersection between art history, performance theory and queer theory, and has become an important figure in contemporary art history and queer theory. He received his PhD from the University of Leeds in 1998 with the dissertation Men on the Threshold: The Making and Unmaking of the Sexual Subject in American Art 1948-1965, later revised and published in 2005 under the title Between You and Me: Queer Disclosures in the New York Art World 1948-1963 by Duke University Press. In 2004 Butt edited the much praised anthology After Criticism - New Approaches to Art and Performance. Here, as in his more recent work on cultural seriousness, he argues for the importance of the paradoxical: criticism that works against the doxa of received wisdom. Butt has written extensively on artists such as Andy Warhol, Larry Rivers, Joe Brainard, Jasper Johns, as well as performance artists such as Kiki and Herb, Oreet Ashery, and David Hoyle. He is currently working on a project entitled Are You Serious? Flirtatious Acts in Contemporary Art and Performance.[1]

Butt is Professor at the department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London, and has recently co-directed a three year creative research project entitled Performance Matters, funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council.



  • ed. After Criticism: New Approaches to Art and Performance, Blackwell Publishing, 2004.
  • Between You and Me: Queer Disclosures in the New York Art World, Duke University Press, 2005.
  • with Irit Rogoff, Visual Cultures as Seriousness, ed. Jorella Andrews, Sternberg Press, 2013.


  • ‘Hoyle’s Humility’, (interview with David Hoyle), in Dance Theatre Journal, Vol. 23, No. 1, 2008.
  • ‘Should We Take Performance Seriously?’, in Oreet Ashery, Dancing with Men, 2008.
  • ‘How I Died For Kiki and Herb’, in Henry Rogers (ed.), The Art of Queering in Art, Article Press, 2007.
  • ‘Stop that Acting! Performance and Authenticity in Shirley Clarke’s Portrait of Jason’, in Kobena Mercer (ed.), Pop Art and Vernacular Cultures, MIT Press / InIVA, 2007.
  • ‘Joe Brainard’s Queer Seriousness, or, How to Make Fun Out of the Avant-Garde’, in David Hopkins (ed.), Neo-Avant-Garde, Rodopi Press, 2006.
  • ‘Scholarly Flirtations’, in Angelika Nollert, Irit Rogoff, Bart de Baere, Yilmaz Dziewior, Charles Esche, Kerstin Niemann und Dieter Roelstraete (eds.), A.C.A.D.E.M.Y, Revolver 2006.
  • ‘America and its Discontents: Art and Politics 1945-1960’, in Amelia Jones (ed.), Contemporary Art Since 1945, Blackwell, 2006.
  • ‘Happenings in History, or, The Epistemology of the Memoir’, Oxford Art Journal, Vol. 24, No. 2, 2001.


Mathias Danbolt, Dismantling the Serious Machine - An Interview with Gavin Butt in Trikster - Nordic Queer Journal #3, 2009.


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