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BA (London), MA, PhD (Essex)
Michael White is a Professor in History of Art working chiefly on the interwar avant-gardes. He wrote his doctoral thesis on Theo van Doesburg and has a special interest in De Stijl and modernism in the Netherlands. He was consultant curator of the 2010 Tate Modern exhibition ‘Van Doesburg and the International Avant-Garde: Constructing a New World’, advised the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag on the display of its permanent Mondrian and De Stijl collections, and was the external curator of the exhibition ‘Mondrian and his Studios’ at Tate Liverpool in 2014 as featured on the BBC.
Michael is also the author of ‘Generation Dada: The Berlin Avant-Garde and the First World War’ (Yale University Press, 2013) and the co-editor of ‘Virgin Microbe: Essays on Dada’ (Northwestern University Press, 2013). The dual interests he has in abstraction and Dada are informing his latest research projects.
Michael’s research on De Stijl tested predominant theoretical paradigms for describing the avant-garde by exploring the meanings attached to abstract art and their relationship to parallel modernising projects such as urban planning, interior design reform and the development of consumer culture. The Tate Modern exhibition on which he worked, Van Doesburg and the International Avant-Garde: Constructing a New World, considered the career of Theo van Doesburg not merely as an artist but a propagandist for cultural renewal in fields as diverse as architecture, graphic design, publishing, film and music. Van Doesburg's role in proselytising the new and coordinating a large network of fellow artists are important themes explored in the exhibition and its accompanying catalogue.
The theme of artistic networks has played a major role in his study of the Berlin Dada group and his book on the subject is one of the first to consider its group dynamics, using a large amount of unpublished, archival material to cast new light on the careers of figures such as George Grosz, Raoul Hausmann and Hannah Hoech. The book elaborates in detail how the group came together during the First World War and the peculiar relationship its members had to the times they experienced. One of the central problems the book tackles is the role that the Dadaists themselves played in constructing the history of Dada, through a wide variety of autobiographical writings and that aspect of Dada historiography is something he taking forward in his next research projects.
Michael continues to have an active interest in the history of abstract art, developed through many years of research into the careers of the likes of Van Doesburg, Mondrian and Schwitters. He is currently taking this further, looking in particular at the connections between the practice of such artists and the roles they took on as producers of art theory.
Michael would welcome proposals for doctoral research on abstract art, theory of the avant-garde, modernist design, Dada, Constructivism and related groups.
Simon Marginson, ‘Francis Picabia’s Espagnoles’
Jessica Schouela, 'Documenting modernist form, architecture, and environment 1910-1940'.
Rachel Smith, 'The International Context of the Art of St Ives' (CDA with Tate Britain)
Melissa Stanley, ‘A Thematic Study of Three English New Towns: Letchworth, Harlow and Milton Keynes’
Sa Xiao, 'Exploring the links between I.M. Pei and internationalism in architectural design'
Kirstin Donaldson, ''Experiment': A Reassessment of Surrealism in England 1928-1931'
Chae Jung-Gyun, 'The Influence of Korean Art, Ideas and Aesthetics on Abstract Expressionism' (Co-supervised with Sarah Turner)
Robert Sutton, 'The Educational Roots of Henry Moore's Public Works, 1939-1951' (CDA with Tate Britain)
E. McCormick, 'Casts, Catalogues, and Curators: Acquisition and Display of Early Medieval Sculpture in National Museums, c. 1850 to 1950' (Co-supervised with Jane Hawkes).
Francesco Manacorda and Michael White (eds.), Mondrian and his Studios: Colour in Space (Tate Publishing, London, 2014)
Michael has presented papers and lectured at a large number of institutions, nationally and internationally. In 2014 he was made an Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Henan, China.
Selected Conference Papers and Talks
Please email Michael to make an appointment.