John R. Blakinger is Departmental Lecturer in the History of Art at the University of Oxford, where he is affiliated with St Peter's College and Worcester College. During the 2018-19 academic year, he was the Terra Foundation Visiting Professor of American Art at Oxford and a Visiting Fellow at Worcester College. Before joining Oxford, he held positions as a postdoctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Southern California (2016-2018) and, before that, as a pre-doctoral fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (2014-2016). John received his PhD and MA in Art History from Stanford University and a BA in Art History from Wesleyan University.
John studies modern and contemporary art, with a focus on aesthetics and politics. His research and teaching examine the history of interdisciplinarity in the visual arts and relationships between art, science, and technology; media, design and visual culture; globalization and networks of exchange; methodology and theory; and issues of race, gender, and sexuality. His book Gyorgy Kepes: Undreaming the Bauhaus - the first English-language monograph on artist, designer, and visual theorist Gyorgy Kepes - was published by The MIT Press in June 2019. It explores the entanglement of art, science, and military power during the Cold War through Kepes's unusual interdisciplinary collaborations. John's other research has explored topics ranging from Andy Warhol's Death in America paintings, to the São Paulo Biennial. His writing has appeared in peer-reviewed journals, included Tate Papers, CAA Reviews, and Design Issues, as well as edited volumes. A book on art and camouflage was published in French translation by Éditions B2 in 2014. Other recent projects include a chapter on the politics of arts education in the mid-twentieth century, forthcoming in Modern in the Making: MoMA and the Modern Experiment 1929-1949 (Bloomsbury, 2019); and a chapter on the environmental designs at MIT's Center for Advanced Visual Studies in the late 1960s and early 1970s, forthcoming in Radical Pedagogies (Sternberg Press, 2020).
As a curator, John has worked on several exhibitions in the US and UK. He organised a 2014 exhibition of Kepes's photography at Sanford's Cantor Arts Center that travelled, in expanded form, to the Exhibition Research Centre at Liverpool John Moore's University in 2015. He curated the show Fauvism to Fascism at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in 2018.
John is working on two new projects. The first, provisionally titled A Contest of Images, is a book-length study exploring the resurgence of the culture wars in contemporary art. The project considers how digital technologies and new media are transforming our relationship to power, politics, and the past by facilitating new forms of aesthetic activism and symbolic struggle. It is inspired by his 2019 Terra Foundation Lectures in American Art, available here.
The second project, provisionally titled The Experimental Image, is a book-length history of interdisciplinarity. It explores the intersection of media culture and the visual arts from the mid-twentieth century to the present through unusual collaborations between artists and scientists. It considers the rise of innovative methods for studying, making, and interpreting images: a radical new laboratory modernism.