The Carl Darling Buck Professor
Department of Art History and the College
Darby English specializes in modern and contemporary art and cultural studies. His recent research has focused on the historical and cultural impacts of interpretation. Writing as an advocate for both art and creative freedom, he uses an object-based approach to explore—and try to restore—what can get lost when interpretation starts from generalizations about authorship and identity, rather than from the specifics of the art immediately at hand.
He is the author of How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness (MIT Press, 2007) and co-editor of Kara Walker: Narratives of a Negress (MIT Press, 2003; Rizzoli, 2007). A forthcoming book, 1971: A Year in the Life of Color, studies cultural experiments with modernist art undertaken during the closing years of the Civil Rights movement.
English holds a PhD in visual and cultural studies from the University of Rochester. He is returning to the University following a stint as Starr Director of the Research and Academic Program at the Clark Art Institute. He is also consulting curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art. While a faculty member at the University of Chicago, English received the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.