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Student Showcase Archive

JJ Charlesworth

PhD Work

PhD work

Art criticism: the mediation of art in Britain 1968-76

This thesis studies the changes in the nature of critical writing on contemporary art, in the context of the British art world across a period from 1968 to around 1976. It examines the major shifts in the relationship between the artistic production of the period and the forms of writing that addressed it, through those publications that sought to articulate a public discourse on art in a period where divergent accounts regarding the criteria of artistic value, and the terms of critical discourse, came increasingly into conflict.

By tracing the repercussions of the cultural and political revolts of the late 1960s, it examines how the orthodoxies of art criticism came to be challenged, in the first instance, by the growing influence of radical artistic practices which incorporated a discursive function, and by leftist social critiques of art. It explores how, in the first half of the 1970s, radical and political artistic practice was promoted by a number of young critics, and sanctioned by its presentation in public art venues.

Examining the history of magazines such as Studio International and a number of smaller specialist and non-specialist magazines such as the feminist Spare Rib and the left-wing independent press, it attends to how debates over the cultural and social agency of art began to draw on continental theoretical influences that put into greater question the role of subjective experience and the nature of the human subject. It examines how this shift in the relation between practice and discourse manifested itself in the editorial and critical attitudes of publications both from within the field of artistic culture, and from a wider context of publications embedded in the radical political and social currents of the early 1970s. It gives particular attention to the careers of a number of prominent critics, while situating the later reaction against alternative artistic practices in the context of the politically conservative turn of the end of the decade.



  • PhD


    School of Humanities


    Critical & Historical Studies, 2009–2016

  • JJ Charlesworth is a freelance art critic and since 2006 has worked on the editorial staff of the London-based international art magazine ArtReview, where he is currently the magazine’s publisher. JJ studied fine art at Goldsmiths College, London, in the mid-1990s, before turning his hand to criticism.

    Since 1999, he has published reviews, articles and commentaries in publications such as Art MonthlyFlash ArtModern PaintersContemporaryTime Out London, Third Text and the Daily Telegraph newspaper. He has also published numerous features and catalogue essays on artists such as Roger Hiorns, David Claerbout, Sarah Lucas and Liam Gillick. As well as writing, he has lectured and taught extensively, tutoring at London’s Royal College of Art, the Royal Academy Schools and Central St Martins College. He is a member of the executive committee of AICA UK, the UK section of the International Association of Art Critics.

  • Degrees

  • BA Fine Art and Contemporary Critical Theory, Goldsmiths College, University of London, 1996
  • Experience

  • Publisher, ArtReview magazine, London, current; Associate Editor, ArtReview magazine, London, 2010-2015; Reviews Editor, ArtReview Magazine, London, 2006-2010; Visiting lecturer, MA Contemporary Art, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London, 2013-15; Tutor, painting department, Royal College of Art, London, 2006 – 09; Curator, Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury, 2005-6; Critical Framework course tutor, MA Fine art, Central St Martins School of Art & Design, London, 2004-05; Acting course leader, Critical Framework course, MA Fine art, Central St Martins School of Art & Design, London, 2003; Visiting lecturer in contextual and historical studies, BA Mixed Media Arts, University of Westminster