Dr Joanne Crawford

Dr Joanne Crawford


French and American abstract art of the 1950s (specifically Rothko, Michaux and Wols), exploring how notions of death, as philosophical concept embedded within structures of aesthetics, informed production and subsequent 'readings' of abstract art. My research primarily centres on mid 20th century French and American abstract painting, drawing and sculpture (including art by Rothko, Michaux and Wols).

My work examines how notions of death, as philosophical concept embedded within the complex structures of the aesthetic, informed the production and 'readings' of such art by art historians and philosophers alike. Thus by engaging with philosophical writers such as Sartre, Hegel, Bataille, Kierkergaard, Nietzsche and Blanchot I explore the relationship between philosophical thinking on death, notions of subjectivity and duration and the production and (social) interpretations of the artist and his work.

I am a module leader for 2 of the level 1 main modules for History of Art and Fine Art students; which trains students how to read a whole range of visual images, from painting through to photography and film and for level 2 for History of Art and Cultural Studies students; subjects range from Aristotle through to Hegel, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and their theories on truth, censorship, artistic education, beauty etc.

My optional modules teach The Avant Gardes (subjects range from Futurism, Cubist collage, Russian Constructivism, Dada through to Surrealism as an alternative to the Modernist notion of the avant-garde); The New York School (which looks at the relationship between Cold War rhetoric and the rise of Abstract Expressionism and the neo avant-garde in the USA in the 1940s and 50s). At level 3 I offer a module which engages with the huge social, cultural and philosophical shifts of the 1940s and 50s in Europe by investigating the art of artists such as Wols, Dubuffet, Michaux, Wols, CoBrA and the Situationist International.

For taught postgraduate courses, I lead a module covering aesthetics and politics which engages with relationship between the philosophy on/of art and the social/political and give seminars on the MA History of Art core module (on Hegels philosophy of history).


  • Head of School
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BA (Hons) Philosophy and History of Art
  • MA Social History of Art
  • PhD History of Art

Student education


Head of School

Module leader for several undergraduate modules and postgraduate modules in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies.

Research groups and institutes

  • PRIA

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>