Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

School of Fine Art on Facebook @FAHACS on twitterSchool of Fine Art on Instagram

Gail Day

Director of Research | Senior Lecturer

0113 34 35263

Office hours: By appointment

BA (Hons); MA (Distinction); PhD

Theories, methodologies and historiographies of modern and contemporary art, photography and architecture. Marxism, Critical Theory and emancipatory thought.


Gail Day’s Dialectical Passions: Negation in Postwar Art Theory (Columbia University Press) was shortlisted for the Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize. She is Senior Lecturer and Director of Research in History of Art in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds, where she is co-founder of the centre for Critical Materialist Studies. Gail is part of the research collective Marxism in Culture (at the Institute of Historical Research, London) and initiated the project ‘Aesthetic Form & Uneven Modernities’ with colleagues from Universidade de São Paulo and Birkbeck.

Research Interests

Aesthetics and politics: capitalism and form; intersection of value theory, commodity, reification, social process and abstraction with cultural and aesthetic theory analysis; critique of postwar commodity cultures.

Traditions of emancipatory and dissident thought and their role in visual and material culture; Marxism and issues arising from Western Marxism, the New Left and the new social movements; legacies of dialectical thought.

History of theorisations of the avant-garde and neo-avant-garde, ‘practices of negation’, critical practice.

Theories, geographies and economies of social transformation and global restructuring; the role of non-identity in subject (trans)formation; the interface of radical philosophical aesthetics and historical paradigms.

Co-organiser of the research seminar Marxism in Culture (www.marxisminculture.org) at Institute of Historical Research, London


Current teaching focuses on critical and theoretical debates in modern and recent art; the contemporary critique of capitalism in art, photography and video; the transformations from high modernist to post-conceptual problematics; the social methodologies of art historiography and philosophical aesthetics; and the intersections of Marxism and Critical Theory with aesthetic questions.


Director of Research (from August 2017)



  • Day G, Dialectical Passions: Negation and Postwar Art Theory, Columbia Themes in philosophy, social criticism, and the arts (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010), i-308

Journal articles

  • Day GA, ‘Allan Sekula 1951-2013’, Journal of Visual Culture, 12.December 1913 (2013), 515-515

  • Day GA, ‘Manfredo Tafuri, Fredric Jameson and the Contestations of Political Memory’, Historical Materialism, 20.1 (2012), 31-77
    DOI: 10.1163/156920612X631099

  • Day GA, ‘The Project of Autonomy: Politics and Architecture Within and Against Caplitalism by Pier Vittorio Aureli’, Historical Materialism, 18 (2010), 219-236
    DOI: 10.1163/156920610550677

  • Day GA, Edwards S, Mabb D, ‘What Keeps Mankind Alive? the Eleventh International Istanbul Biennial. Once more on Aesthetics and Politics’, Historical Materialism, 18 (2010), 135-171
    DOI: 10.1163/156920610550631

  • Day GA, ‘The Fear of Heteronomy’, Third Text, 23.4 (2009), 393-406

  • Day GA, ‘Oxford Art Journal(Editorship)’, Oxford Art Journal, various.various (2008)

  • Day G, ‘A Real Surprise - Essay Review of Beaumont et al., eds, As Radical and Reality Itself and Hemingway, ed., Marxism and the History of Art’, Radical Philosophy, 149 (2008), 59-62

  • Day G, ‘Chris Marker/Zoe Leonard Review of Chris Marker, Staring Back and Zoe Leonard, Analogues’, Art Monthly, 315 (2008), 35-35

  • Day GA, ‘Strategies in the Metropolitan Merz: Manfredo Tafuri and Italian Workerism’, Radical Philosophy, 133 (2005), 26-38

  • Day GA, ‘Mies van der Rohe: Just Add Style’, Nu: Nordic Art Review, 4.1-2 (2002), 98-103

  • Day G, ‘Persisting and Mediating: Clark and "the Pain of the Unattainable Beyond’, Art History, 23.1 (2000), 1-18

  • Day G, ‘Unchanging Obstinacy, review article of Massimo Cacciari, Posthumous People: Vienna at the Turning Point’, Art History, 22.2 (1999), 316-320

  • Day G, ‘Allegory: Between Deconstruction and Dialectics’, Oxford Art Journal, 22.1 (1999), 103-118

  • Day GA, ‘Review of Gunter Berghaus "Futurism and politics: between anarchist rebellion and fascist reaction, 1909-1944" (Berghahn Books, 1996)’, Art History, 20.2 (1997), 340-342

  • Day GA, ‘Essay review of Andrew Benjamin: "Object. Painting’, Parallax: a journal of metadiscursive theory and cultural practices, 2 (1996), 200-202


  • Day GA, ‘Every day, something happens to us”: Realism at the crossroads’, in Art as Worldmaking: Critical Essays on Realism and Naturalism, ed. by Hemingway A and Baker M (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018) (Accepted)

  • Day GA, ‘Transitive Poetics: The later works of Allan Sekula’, in Allan Sekula. Ship of Fools/Dockers’ Museum (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2015), 57-57

  • Day GA, ‘Allan Sekula: Industries of Architecture/Architectures of Industry’, in Industries of Architecture, ed. by Amhoff T, Beech N and Lloyd Thomas K (London: Routledge, 2015)

  • Day GA, ‘Realism, Totality, and the Militant Citoyen: Or, What Does Lukács Have to do with Contemporary Art?’, in ReNew Marxist Art History: Essays for Andrew Hemingway, ed. by Schwartz FJ, Haran B and Carter W (London: Art/Books, 2013), 478-478

  • Day GA, Edwards SJ, ‘Global dissensus: art and capitalism since 1989’, in Exploring Art: from Modernity to Globalisation 1850-2010, ed. by Wood P and Edwards SJ (London: Tate Publishing, 2012), 284-315

  • Day GA, ‘Realism, Totality and the Militant citoyen: or, what does Lukacs have to do with Contemporary Art?’, in Georg Lukács: The Fundamental Dissonance of Existence: Aesthetics, Politics, Literature, ed. by Bewes T and Hall T (New York and London: Continuum, 2011), 203-219

  • Day GA, ‘Transdisciplinarity/Totality/Critique’, in Inter/Multi/Cross/Trans: El territoirio incierto de la theora de arte en la epoca del capitalism academico (The uncertain territory of art theory in the age of academic capitalism (tri-lingual publica, ed. by Hernandez Velazquez Y (Vitoria-Gasteiz: Ayuntamiento de Vitoria-Gasteiz Udalak, 2011), 238-251

  • Day GA, ‘Art, love and social emancipation: the concept 'avant-garde' and the interwar avant-gardes’, in Art of the Avant-gardes, ed. by Edwards S and Wood P (Yale University Press, 2004), 307-337

  • Day GA, Riding C, ‘The critical terrain of 'high modernism’, in Varieties of modernism, ed. by Wood P (Yale University Press, 2004), 189-213

  • Day GA, ‘When art works crack(le)’, in The Philistine controversy, ed. by Beech D and Roberts J (Verso, 2002), 228-254

  • Day G, ‘The Futurists: transcontinental avant-gardism’, in The Challenge of the Avant-Garde, ed. by Wood P (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), 204-225

Conference papers

  • Day GA, ‘Interpretative hypostasis and the neo-avant-garde’, in 'Concepts of the Avant-Garde' Tate Modern ('Concepts of the Avant-Garde' Tate Modern, 2004)

  • Day GA, ‘On the Uses and Abuses of Uses’, in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture at Institute of Historical Research (Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture at Institute of Historical Research, 2001), 01/06/2001

  • Day G, ‘Anxious Becomings’ College Arts Association, New York, 01/02/1994 - 01/02/1994

Internet publications

  • Day GA, La poétique transitive d’Allan Sekula: métonymie et métaphore dans Lottery of the Sea, Ship of Fools et The Dockers’ Museum, (Revue Période, 2015)

  • Day GA, Style Without Subversion, (Mute, 2011)

  • Day GA, Social Geographies of Contemporary Art, (None, 2007) (Accepted)

Research Centres & Groups

Centre for Critical Materialist Studies: critical researches into capitalism, its cultures, histories…. (with Prof John Mowitt, Dr Richrad Checkouts & Dr Daniel Hartley)

Initiated in 2015-16 as the group ‘Critical researches into capitalism, its cultures, histories…’, CCMS focuses on exploring the cultures of capitalism. We aim to bring together historical, historiographical and theoretical perspectives, with an eye not only to the social formation classically known as ‘capitalism’, but also to its prehistories and its possible ‘post-histories’; to questions of value, capital, processes of capital subsumption; the interdependencies of capital and colonialism; the reshaping of spatial and temporal experience; and the revival of marxist-feminism.

External Appointments

External Examiner: University of Edinburgh, University of Brighton, Kingston University, Central St Martins, University of Westminster

Advisory Editor Oxford Art Journal (and formerly a member of the Editorial Group)

Advisory Board Art & the Public Sphere

Corresponding Editor Historical Materialism

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

I am willing to supervise PhDs on the following topics:

Topics under the remit of aesthetics and politics: the relation between political-social theory and aesthetic form (in art, photography, video or architecture); Marxist aesthetics; art theory since the New Left; dialectics and historiography.

Current PGRs

Eva Frapiccini: ‘The Art of Memory: Archives and Systems of Remembering’

Asa Roast: ‘Invisible City: Modernity and Space in the City after Socialism’ (School of Geography)

Gill Park: ‘The Pavilion Women’s Photography Centre 1983-1993: Deciphering an incomplete feminist project’

Tom Hastings

Rose-Anne Gush: ‘Artistic Labour of the Body: Austrian Postwar Feminist Art, Aesthetic Theory and Psychoanalysis’

Tom Beesley: ‘Art, the Architectonic and Functionality’

Kate Baddeley: ‘Harold Rosenberg and Existential Thought’

Rebecca Starr: ‘Where’s the Sense in Art? Sensuous Praxis, Commodity Aesthetics and French Art (1990-2010)’

Bethan Hughes: ‘Surface and Depth: The Material, Social and Cultural Implications of Ornament in the Digital Age’

Completed PGRs

Chrysi Papaioannou: ‘Ahead of its Time: The Concept of the Avant-Garde after Modernism’

Paula dos Santos Kropf (Visiting Doctoral Researcher, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro)

Luisa Lorenza Corna: ‘Plan and Counterplan in Italian Marxist Theory of Art’

Fiona Allen: ‘Angela Ferreira’s project on Jean Prouve’s Maison Tropicale’

Vicky Habermehl (School of Geography)

Simon Constantine: ‘Social and Aesthetic Totality within Contemporary Photography’

Claire Hope: ‘Politicising Agency through Affect’

Daniel Mourenza: ‘Walter Benjamin and Film’

Amy Charlesworth: ‘The “Video Essay” in Contemporary Art: Documenting Capital and Gender for the 21st Century

Andy Abbott: ‘Radical resonances: Art, Self-organised Cultural Activity and the Production of Postcapitalist Subjectivity; or, Deferred Self-Inquiry of a Precarious Artworker, 2008-2011’

Danielle Child: ‘Socialised Labour under Change: Collaboration, Contracted Labour and Collective Production in art since the 1960s’

Eve Kalyva: ‘Looking (at)/reading (about) objects: image/text juxtaposition in conceptual art’

Ian Balch: ‘The Edge of Balance’

Andrew Warstat: ‘Negation and the Image: John Stezaker, Mediation and the Afterlife of the Work of Art’

Ignaz Cassar: ‘Declining Images: Photographic Visibility, Spectatorship and the Apparatus’

Dominic Rahtz: ‘The Rhetoric of Literalism: Readings in American Minimal Art 1959-1966’

Andy Jones: ‘August Sander: Portraiture, Modernism & Modernity’ (MPhil)


Dr Richard Checkouts: 2-year fellowship, Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship. 2007-2009

Dr Marin Sullivan: 2-year fellowship, Henry Moore Foundation Research Fellowship. 2012-2014


Marxism in Culture www.marxisminculture.org

© Copyright Leeds 2018