Staff profile

Dr Robert Burstow

Associate Professor of History and Theory of Art

Robert Burstow


Art and Design


College of Arts, Humanities and Education


School of Arts

Research centre

Digital and Material Artistic Research Centre




Britannia Mill, Derby Campus, Markeaton Street, Derby Campus



I am an academic researcher and author, a lecturer and an independent exhibition curator. I supervise PhD research in the history and theory of art and in contemporary fine art practice. I have several senior leadership roles in the College of Arts, Humanities and Education, including:

Teaching responsibilities

I supervise PhD History of Art and practice-based Fine Art students in the School of Arts.

PhD supervision



Self-funded PhD research project currently available under my direction:

Professional interests

Alongside my work as a researcher and author, I am engaged in several kinds of professional activity.

I work as an independent exhibition curator and have curated exhibitions for the Royal Festival Hall on London's South Bank, the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, and the University of Derby.

I am the regional organiser for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire in the Public Statues and Sculpture Association's Public Sculpture of Britain research project, documenting the public sculpture of those two counties for future publication. I have recently been invited to join the PSSA's Public Sculpture of Britain Board.

I have served as a peer reviewer and pre-publication adviser to publishers and authors.

I have been engaged as a consultant by galleries and museums, commercial art dealers, public art commissioners, and documentary filmmakers.

Research interests

My research interests are interdisciplinary and centre on the relationship between art and politics in post-war Britain, with a particular focus on the forms, display and patronage of modern sculpture. This approach to research has led me into diverse territories, including modern architecture and urban planning, the cult of health and the open air, the reform of the home and domesticity, and the ideological uses of culture in the Cold War.

My doctoral dissertation (University of Leeds, 2001) connected modern public sculpture exhibitions in post-war Britain to the political contexts of national reconstruction and the international Cold War, paying particular attention to modern sculpture's display in innovative urban and parkland settings and its adaptation to political commemoration. My post-doctoral research has examined the display of modern sculpture in domestic contexts and explored the response of institutional patrons to the work of emigre sculptors from central and eastern Europe.

I have contributed chapters to several books, including Herbert Read: A British Vision of World Art (Lund Humphries, 1993), Henry Moore: Critical Essays (Ashgate, 2003), Sculpture in 20th-Century Britain (Henry Moore Institute, 2003), Sculpture and the Garden (Ashgate, 2006), The History of British Art, 1870—Now (Tate and Yale Center for British Art, 2008) and British Art in the Nuclear Age (Ashgate, 2014). I have published essays, book reviews and exhibition reviews in ApolloArt HistoryArtscribe, The British Art JournalFriezeThe Oxford Art JournalThe Sculpture Journal, and The Journal of the Twentieth Century Society.

At the University of Derby, I am a member of the Digital and Material Artistic Research Centre and two research groups, Civic Lab and Spaces and Places.

Membership of professional bodies


Undergraduate qualifications

Postgraduate qualifications

Recent conferences

I have delivered academic papers to national and international conferences and symposia, given public lectures and participated in public discussion panels. Among the most recent are:

Experience in industry

I have acted as a consultant to two television documentaries on the use of modern art as a propaganda weapon in the Cold War:

The Irony Curtain, directed by distinguished filmmaker Murray Grigor of Viz Productions and broadcast on Channel 4.

The Unknown Monument, directed by David Blackmore for Waterside Productions, Birmingham. 

International experience

I have attended and delivered papers at international academic conferences in Berlin and Zagreb. My writings have been published in Croatia and translated into Polish. My publications have been cited by writers and journals based in 26 countries, including Britain, Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Poland, Switzerland and the United States.

Recent publications

I have published extensively on post-war British sculpture, including essays, exhibition reviews and book reviews in academic journals and books. Among my recent publications are:

Many of my published essays, reviews and interviews are available at: