I am a historian of modern art and visual culture, with a particular focus on painting and sculpture in France.

I am currently the Graham Robertson Research Fellow at Downing College, University of Cambridge. Previously, I held a postdoctoral scholarship from the Alfred Toepfer Foundation, at the Humboldt University in Berlin. I completed my doctorate (DPhil) and MSt in Oxford University's History of Art Department. My undergraduate degree was in Philosophy, which I studied at Cambridge.

My research, broadly speaking, focuses on modern artworks and artists that lie in a transverse relationship to the canonical avant-garde, and so offer new perspectives on modernism. I am interested in how individual artists responded to intellectual, cultural and social contexts, producing new ideas and forms of enquiry through their artistic practice. Other interests include processes of making, artistic self-fashioning, and gender, as well as visual theory and approaches to art history. I also try to contribute to the ongoing shaping of Art History in ways that recognise past and present ecological breakdown and environmental injustice.

My doctoral project focused on the painter Pierre Bonnard, and has since been revised into the book Pierre Bonnard Beyond Vision, published by Yale University Press in 2022. This book offers a new interpretation of Bonnard, drawing on an in-depth study of the artist's diaries, and other written sources. It focuses in particular on how Bonnard’s domestic scenes and landscapes reimagine perception, embodiment, and the passage of time, to show how he complicated the relationship between vision and painting in innovative ways. Drawing attention to indeterminacy, process, and the idea of escaping the self, it aims to offer a new perspective on modernism.

I am currently working on two new projects that take ecological and feminist approaches to French art from the late nineteenth century to the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. Beginning with a study of the sculptor Germaine Richier, the first of these projects aims to critically examine the dominant aesthetic of the postwar period that was broadly concerned with the brutal nature and renewal of "man" (a male subject treated as universal). The second project considers the method of 'slow looking' in relation to concerns in late nineteenth and early twentieth century painting. Both projects reflect my wider interest in approaches to the History of Art that focus on questions of gender and the environment.

To get in touch via email: lww23 [the usual sign] cam.ac.uk

Twitter: @LucyWhelan

Other pages and profiles: Google scholar, Downing College, History of Art Department