Charles Miller

Charles Miller


Personal profile

Research interests

I work on the history and theory of modern and contemporary art. Recent publications include an article in the journal October, 'Surrealism's Homophobia', which critiques surrealism's position in the historical discourse of sexuality. The latter text pertains to a book project called Surrealism and its Dissidents: Sex, Magic, Theory, which rethinks the role of the historical avant-garde in the history of theory. Other current research addresses the function of magic in modern and contemporary art.

My book Radical Picasso: The Use Value of Genius, which won the Phillips Book Prize, is out with University of California Press. I quote the blurb: 

'More than any other modern artist, Pablo Picasso came to represent the idea of genius. Yet the aesthetic of genius, which governed Western thinking about art between the mid-eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, has also limited how we interpret Picasso’s work. In Radical Picasso, C.F.B. Miller dispenses with the privatized clichés that have dominated the reception of modernism’s most celebrated oeuvre. Instead, Picasso’s practice emerges as an assemblage whose density and agitation, negativity and excess, cannot be contained by hero-worship (or its inverse). The artworks in question are radical not least because they strike at the visual root of theory, the perceptual root of the aesthetic. Ranging across histories of art, literature, philosophy, and science, Miller critiques the Picasso myth, rethinks cubism and surrealism, and in the process transforms our understanding of European modernism.'

As a scholar and teacher my aim is to think critically and historically with images. I welcome PhD proposals about the historical avant-garde, and modern and contemporary art more generally. Potential students with ideas about the interrelation between art, magic, and theory are especially encouraged to get in touch.


I read English Language and Literature at Magdalen College, Oxford, prior to an MA and PhD in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. Before being appointed Lecturer, I was Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Manchester, having previously taught at the University of Essex and the Courtauld Institute of Art. I have received a number of awards, including the Phillips Prize, a Leverhulme Fellowship, and the Andrew W. Mellon/Courtauld Institute of Art Research Forum Postdoctoral Fellowship. 


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