Personal profile

Research interests

Butt is interested in the social worlds of experimental art and their relationship to the people and practices of DIY, queer, popular and/or punk arts.

From a book on the art of queer gossip in New York and a curatorial project on the trash aesthetics of performance, to a monograph on art school pop music and a feature film exploring artists' DIY use of moving-image technology, Butt has variously explored the political and cultural promise of working at the margins of institutional recognition and critical seriousness.    

He is currently developing a new exhibition project with Prof. Heike Roms (Exeter) 'Live Class: Performance and the British Art School'. In 2019-2020 Butt was a research curator on the international bauhaus imaginista and Still Undead: Popular Culture in Britain beyond the Bauhaus exhibition projects.

His book No Machos or Pop Stars: When the Leeds Art Experiment Went Punk is forthcoming from Duke University Press in 2022. He is co-editor (with Mark Fisher and Kodwo Eshun) of Post-Punk Then and Now, Repeater, 2016.

He has variously published on "seriousness" in queer art and performance including essays on the work of David Hoyle, Oreet Ashery, Kiki and Herb, Bird La Bird, Charles Ludlam, Joe Brainard, Jason Holiday and others. He is co-author (with Irit Rogoff) of Visual Cultures as Seriousness, Sternberg, 2013.

In 2013 he made his first feature length documentary film, co-directed with journalist Ben Walters, This is Not a Dream. Butt was also co-director of Performance Matters (2009-2013), a creative research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, a collaboration between Goldsmiths, Roehampton University and the Live Art Development Agency.

He is author of Between You and Me: Queer Disclosures in the New York Art World 1948-1963 (Duke 2005) and editor of After Criticism: New Responses to Art and Performance (Blackwell 2004).




Trained as a fine artist and art historian, Gavin Butt is a writer, curator and a filmmaker. He is a cultural historian who explores the connectedness of visual art with popular music, queer culture and performance.

Butt was formerly Professor of Visual Cultures and Performance at Goldsmiths, University of London, Attenborough Chair in Drama, Theatre and Performance at the University of Sussex, and Senior Lecturer in Fine Art Cultural Studies at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.

Currently I am co-chair of Northumbria's Contemporary Arts Research Forum.

Education/Academic qualification

History of Art, PhD, Men on the Threshold: The Making and Unmaking of the Sexual Subject 1948-1963, University of Leeds

1 Sept 19921 Dec 1997

Award Date: 1 Jun 1998

History of Art, MA, Social History of Art, University of Leeds

30 Sept 19891 Sept 1990

Award Date: 1 Oct 1990

Fine Art, BA (Hons), Art (Studio Practice) & History of Art, Goldsmiths, University of London

30 Sept 198614 Jun 1989

Award Date: 1 Jul 1989


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