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. Focused in particular on how Bonnard’s domestic scenes and landscapes reimagine perception, embodiment, and the passage of time, it shows 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 beginning a new project that rethinks French art in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. The dominant aesthetic in this period was broadly concerned with the brutal nature and renewal of "man" (a male subject treated as universal). My study seeks to critically interrogate this aesthetic, and also to looking at art in this period afresh, primarily through a number of women artists. I am also working on smaller projects relating to the practice of 'slow looking', and on artists' writings. The first of these fits with my wider interest in ecological approaches to Art History, which has also shaped my teaching.

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