John R. Blakinger studies modern and contemporary American art, with a focus on the relationship between aesthetics and politics. He is particularly interested in the intersection of the visual arts with science and technology. He received his PhD in art history from Stanford University and was a pre-doctoral fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. He comes to Oxford from the University of Southern California, where he has been in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities since 2016. He is completing a book, under contract with the MIT Press, on the Hungarian-American artist, designer, and visual theorist Gyorgy Kepes. The project explores the fraught relationship between art, science, and military power during the Cold War through Kepes’s unusual interdisciplinary collaborations. John also curated a 2014 exhibition of Kepes’s photography at Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center; the show traveled to the Exhibition Research Centre at Liverpool John Moores University in 2015. His other research has explored topics ranging from Andy Warhol’s Death in America paintings to the São Paulo Biennial, and his writing has appeared in Tate Papers, CAA Reviews, Design Issues, and edited volumes. A book on art and camouflage was published in a French translation by Éditions B2 in 2014.
John will work on two new projects during his time as the Terra Foundation Visiting Professor in American Art at Oxford University. The first will examine visual representation as an arena for symbolic struggle through contemporary protest imagery. The second will explore the transnational globalization of American art through the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI), a programme conceived by the artist Robert Rauschenberg in the 1980s.