Will Atkin - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Will Atkin

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Dr Will Atkin

Associate Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art https://courtauld.academia.edu/WilliamAtkin

Will completed his BA (2012), MA (2013), and PhD (2017) at The Courtauld, and his since joined the faculty as an Associate Lecturer. 

PhD Thesis:

Theories and Practices of Magic in Surrealist Discourse on the Object, 1929-1976

Supervised by Gavin Parkinson. Funded by Arts & Humanities Research Council.

Thesis Chapters:

I: Alchemy and the Object, 1929-1937

II: Black Magic in the Objects of Gherasim Luca, 1939-1945

III: Bewitchment, Talismanic Magic and Hermeticism in the Objects of Victor Brauner, 1940-1946

IV: André Breton and the Esoteric Magic of the ‘Objet Sauvage’, 1943-57

V: Ritual Magic in the Masks and Fetishes of Mimi Parent and Jean Benoît, 1959-1976

Teaching 2017-18

  • ‘Surrealism: History, Themes, and Concepts’ (BA3)
  • ‘Lessons in Critical Interpretation’ (BA3)

Recent publications

  • ‘Review of Man Ray: Writings on Art, edited by Jennifer Mundy’, The Burlington Magazine, July 2017.
  • ‘Anthony Emery, Inspired by the Nonnational Boundaries of Surrealism’, Meaningful Vision: Special Edition 70th Anniversary Catalogue of the Pembroke College JCR Art Fund Collection, 1947-2017 (Seacourt, 2017).
  • ‘In the Aura of the Object, Modernity’s Re-enchantment’ (a review of Other Things by Bill Brown), Art History 40 Issue 1, February 2017.
  • ‘Crystalline Thought: Alchemy and ‘Visionary Mineralogy’ in the Writings of André Breton’, immediations: The Courtauld Institute of Art Journal of Postgraduate Research 4 No.1, December 2016.
  • ‘Review of Surrealism and the Occult: Occultism and Western Esotericism in the Work and Movement of André Breton by Tessel M. Bauduin’, immediations: The Courtauld Institute of Art Journal of Postgraduate Research 3 No.4, December 2015.
  • ‘Beware the Erotic Doll!’ (a review of The Erotic Doll: A Modern Fetish by Marquard Smith), Art History 38 Issue 1, February 2015.

Research interests

  • Nineteenth- and twentieth-century Art History
  • European Modernism
  • International Surrealism

Conference papers and lectures

  • ‘Anthony Emery, Inspired by the Nonnational Boundaries of Surrealism’, Speech at the Opening of the Exhibition ‘Meaningful Vision’ at the Pembroke College JCR Art Fund Collection, (Pembroke College, Oxford, April 2017).
  • ‘Surrealism, Cystals and Alchemy’, immediations Journal, New Issue Launch, (Courtauld Institute, December 2016).
  • ‘The Alchemical Legend of the Surrealist Object, 1929-34’, Conference Paper at ‘Courtauld Institute of Art Postgraduate Symposium: Showcasing New Research’ (Courtauld Institute, March 2016).
  • Chair for ‘Nocturnes in Modern Visual Culture: Depicting Night in the Age of Gas and Electric Light’ (Courtauld Institute, December 2015).
  • ‘Océanie, Key to the Surrealist Philosophy of Magic: André Breton, The Easter Island Paradigm, and Paul Gauguin’s Tahiti – Revisited’, Conference Paper at ‘Pacific Waves: Reverberations from Oceania’ (Sussex University, November 2015).


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