Staff profile

Dr Robert Burstow

Associate Professor in 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 a lecturer, researcher, author and freelance exhibition curator. I teach on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, and supervise PhD research in the history and theory of art and in contemporary fine art practice. The projects of my current PhD students include the sculpture of London's post-war New Towns, contemporary Albanian art, contemporary art in digital culture, and the documentation of ephemeral, transient and transformational art practices. 

Teaching responsibilities

I currently lecture in the history and theory of art to students on BA (Hons) Fine Art, MA Fine Art and MA Film and Photography.

Professional interests

In my role at the University of Derby, I oversee postgraduate Arts research in the College of Arts, Humanties and Education, and am a member of the College Research Committee and College Research Ethics Committee.

Alongside my work as a lecturer and writer, I am engaged in other kinds of professional activity. I work as an independent curator, and in the past have curated exhibitions for the Royal Festival Hall on London's South Bank, the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds and the University of Derby. Since 2006, I have been the regional organiser of the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association's National Recording Project in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, documenting the public sculpture of those counties for future publication. I have also served as a peer-reviewer and pre-publication adviser to publishers and authors.

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. My 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 international Cold War, paying particular attention to modern sculpture's display in innovative urban and parkland settings and its appropriation for 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.

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.

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 has been cited by writers based in 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:

A selection of my published articles, interviews and essays is available on