Blake Stimson


Ph.D. 1998, Art History, Cornell University
M.F.A., 1992, Sculpture, Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Fellow, 1990-91, Studio Art, Whitney Independent Study Program, New York
B.A., 1982, Religious Studies, Middlebury College


Blake Stimson joined the Department of Art History in 2012. He is an internationally recognized specialist in contemporary art, critical theory, and the history of photography and his work has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Chinese, Korean, Polish, and Serbian. Before coming to UIC he was Professor of Cinema and Technocultural Studies at University of California, Davis, where he also served as an active member of the graduate programs in Art History, Critical Theory, Performance Studies, and Religious Studies and worked as a dissertation adviser for students from a number of additional programs. Professor Stimson has written for Art Journal,Art Bulletin, Artforum, October, Texte zur Kunst, Oxford Art Journal, Third Text,New Left Review, Tate Papers, Etudes photographiques, Philosophy and Photography, and Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, among many other publications. He is the author The Pivot of the World: Photography and Its Nation (MIT, 2006) and Citizen Warhol (Reaktion, 2013) and co-editor of five volumes: Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology (with Alexander Alberro, MIT, 1999), Visual Worlds (with John R. Hall and Lisa Tamaris Becker, Routledge, 2006), Collectivism after Modernism: The Art of Social Imagination after 1945(with Gregory Sholette, Minnesota, 2007), The Meaning of Photography (with Robin Kelsey, Clark Art Institute and Yale, 2008), and Institutional Critique: An Anthology of Artists’ Writings (with Alexander Alberro, MIT, 2009). He is currently working on two books: one, provisionally titled Guilt as Form, that traces a counter-genealogy of contemporary art arising from the turmoil of 1968 and another that focuses on the political aesthetics of photographer Paul Strand.


An excerpt from Citizen Warhol:


Lamenting who we have become in the context of the social, political and economic changes broadly associated with neoliberalism, the thoughtful critic and proponent of public higher education Christopher Newfield offered a diagnosis of what has been lost in that becoming: ‘I think what is missing’, he said, ‘is the realization of specific, situated experience, the making of interiority as rediscovered in the novel and then publicly forgotten by modernity, which rendered it as real as social facts, or as real as money’. The once vaunted interiority of the novel, or of modern art, or of Protestant religiosity, or of enlightened subjectivity, or of liberal arts education, Newfield suggests, has collapsed into the exteriority 'as real as social facts, as real as money' in modernity’s endgame. The rich interior specificity of self given form by the intertwined activity of sustained reflection and exchange with others about that reflection that was the core dream of enlightenment has been reduced to a mechanical mirror image or ‘subject position’, to the lesser and delimited reality of a plotted coordinate in a discursively constructed world. This atrophy or entropy of interiority is our postmodernism but it is not particularly new: as art historian T.J. Clark put it about Picasso's work, what has long been at stake is 'a finite, enclosed space of possessions, property, enclosure, intimacy, availability', that is, 'an eminently bourgeois space' that is 'completely under threat from the outside, from a kind of space which does not belong to us’.

‘Good riddance’, we have thought about that inner life, that eminently bourgeois space, for the half-century since Andy Warhol became a household name. This book is about that riddance and the role Warhol played in helping us realize it. …

Further information and links to publications are available here.

Courses Taught

AH 561: Seminar in Contemporary Architecture and Art: Adorno (Fall 2015)
AH 561: Seminar in Contemporary Architecture and Art: Homo Faber (Spring 2014)
HON 124: What is Beauty? (Spring 2014)
FMS 127 (UCDavis): Film Theory (Summer 2013)
AH 460: Seminar in Contemporary Architecture and Art: Aesthetic Theory (Fall 2013)
AH 510: Historiography of the Visual Arts, 1750 to 1960 (Fall 2013)
AH 511: Toward New Histories of the Visual Arts, 1960 to the Present (Spring 2013)