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Prof Gavin Butt


Department: Arts

Trained as a fine artist and art historian, Gavin Butt is a writer and creative researcher who explores the connectedness of visual art, popular music, queer culture and performance.

Butt was formerly Professor of Visual Cultures and Performance at Goldsmiths, University of London, Attenborough Chair in Drama, Theatre and Performance at the University of Sussex, and Senior Lecturer in Fine Art Cultural Studies at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.

Currently I am co-chair of Northumbria's Contemporary Arts Research Forum.

Gavin Butt

Across his diverse output, he is interested in how the social worlds and aesthetic preoccupations of visual artists can be connected, sometimes in surprising ways, to those within popular music, queer culture and performance.

His latest book No Machos or Pop Stars is a detailed cultural history of the subversive influence of UK art school on popular music culture, telling the story of how fine art painters and performers became post-punk and pop music pioneers. Alongside this he has compiled an LP of unheard and rare art school music The Art School Dance Goes On: Leeds Post-Punk 1977-84. He is currently researching a related volume which will tell the hitherto untold story of the roots of US pop, rock and disco performers in the art and theatre milieu of the 1970s queer underground.

Gavin has written widely on queer art and culture, showing how LGBTQ+ artists have challenged us to think again about how aesthetic judgements are routinely linked to social ones. He has published essays on artists and performers Oreet Ashery, Joe Brainard, Mel Brimfield, Shirley Clarke, Samuel R. Delany, David Hoyle, Kiki and Herb, Larry Rivers, Andy Warhol and others.

He often works collaboratively with other authors and artists on creative projects too, including as co-director of feature film This Is Not a Dream. With writer and curator Heike Roms, he is currently developing a collaborative research project exploring what can be learned from late-twentieth century art schools in the UK and how their histories can inform the crisis in contemporary art education.

Details of all the above can be found on


  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • The Art School Dance Goes On: Leeds Post-Punk 1977-84, Butt, G. Jun 2023
  • Live Class: Art School and Militant Learning in Bradford, Butt, G., Roms, H. 7 Jul 2022, Live Art
  • No Machos or Pop Stars: When the Leeds Art Experiment Went Punk, Butt, G. 18 Oct 2022
  • Wrecking New York: How Jayne County Made a Scene in the 1970s, Butt, G. 12 Jul 2022, Approaching Downtown
  • Without Walls: Performance Art and Pedagogy at the ‘Bauhaus of the North’, Butt, G. 2020, In: Theatre, Dance and Performance Training
  • Bauhaus Imaginista, Butt, G. 15 Mar 2019
  • Bedsit Art in the Leeds Experiment, Butt, G. 15 Mar 2019, bauhaus imaginista, Berlin
  • Polytechnics and Punks: The 1970s After-Life of the Bauhaus, Butt, G. 21 Mar 2019, Bauhaus Imaginista, London & New York, Thames and Hudson
  • Still Undead: Popular Culture in Britain Beyond the Bauhaus, Butt, G. 2019
  • Introduction: The Queer Commons, Millner-Larsen, N., Butt, G. 1 Oct 2018, In: GLQ

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Invited talk: WFMU interview about No Machos or Pop Stars 2023
  • Participating in a conference, workshop, ...: Punk Scholars Network Conference 2022
  • Invited talk: Bleak, My Favourite Cliche? A Conversation on British Post-Punk 2022
  • Oral presentation: In conversation with Victoria Horne about No Machos or Pop Stars 2022
  • Oral presentation: In conversation with Jon King about No Machos or Pop Stars 2022
  • Other: Becoming The Ouroboros 2022
  • Invited talk: In-conversation with Prof. Siona Wilson about No Machos or Pop Stars 2022

  • Craig Johnson Self organisation, economies and ecologies in the No Audience Underground Start Date: 01/10/2022
  • Conal McStravick ‘Learning in a fantastically public medium…’: Stuart Marshall and Sound, Video and Television as Art and Activist Media, 1968-1993. Start Date: 01/10/2022
  • Jasper Llewellyn …wind-plucking-creaks-brick-bright-ebb-rusty-beach-topples… : Attuning to the More-Than-Human in Improvisatory Action-Oriented Performance Art Start Date: 01/09/2021

  • History of Art PhD June 01 1998
  • History of Art MA October 01 1990
  • Fine Art BA (Hons) July 01 1989

Curating, filmmaking and project organising

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