Robin Marriner


Personal Statement

My central interest is in how visual objects mean and what is sayable (verbalisable) about that. My research and teaching has explored, philosophically and theoretically at a general level and in relation to specific examples the conditions of meaning of art objects, (and on occasion, the implications of that for enabling an understanding of that meaning). The terrain over which these concerns are addressed (and to which contributions are sometimes made) is contemporary art culture,: the relationships between theory and criticism and contemporary art practice, particularly that of painting, photography, and sculpture.

All published material with varying degrees of emphasis engages with both philosophical/theoretical issues and the reading of visual work (offering new readings that contest the ‘received ones’); for example in those listed below the LA Law piece is weighted towards a discussion of the works, the Derrida weighted towards theory, and the Paying One’s Dues piece fairly equally balanced, involving a critique of Barthes and a discussion of the paintings of Ofili and Ortez-Torres. Of concern in all of them, (and in earlier and more recent publications) are epistemological issues concerning the grounding of meaning and the ontology of art works and in particular a consideration of the ways in which these are differently perceived within Modernism and Postmodernism. In respect of both readings of art works and consideration of philosophical ideas, for example recently in relation to Derrida and Barthes, the essays go beyond the literature current (at the time of their writing) within the field.

Recent material can be found at:

Professional qualification and experience

BA (Hons), Philosophy – University College London. 1968

1968-71 Dept Philosophy King’s College London

1971-73. Lecturer School of Art Education, City of Birmingham Polytechnic.

1974- Head of History of Art and Design, Bath Academy of Art, (now Bath Spa University).

1991- 2005 (Its life span) Course Director MA Visual Culture.

1993 – till their dissolution member of CNAA panels for History of Art and Design, and for Photography and Film.

2015- Resignation, School of Art  and Design Representative on University Higher Degrees Research Committee.

Teaching specialisms

Art History and Art Criticism of the latter half of 20C and Contemporary Critical Theory, particularly in relation to epistemology and aesthetics

External examining

From 1993 onwards Ex Examiner for History and Theory of Art and Design, in undergraduate courses at Ravensbourne, Maidstone, St Martin’s Schools of Art and Design,Polytechnic of Central London Photography and Film (twice, f/t,  later p/t degree), University of Gloucester, University of Plymouth, University of Central England, and external examiner of theory and history for Master’s degrees  in  Contemporary Art, and in Material Culture at Winchester School of Art, and at the Royal College.

Other external roles

Intro lectures for ‘Commotion: Artists Film and Video’; Picture This and Arnolfini, Bristol. Feb Mar April Oct Nov, 2002

‘Postmodernism and Art Practice! Day Symposium. University of Bristol, Oct 2002.

Exhibition Talks in relation to ‘Albert Oehlen’ Nov 2006, ‘Pale Carnage’ March 2007) Lucy McKenzie’ Oct 2007, ‘Bill Owens Suburbia Revisited’ March 2008, all Arnolfini Gallery Bristol.

Talk on Catherine Opie’s work at time of her exhibition at Photographer’s Gallery London.(2000).

Teaching specialisms

Art History and Art Criticism of the latter half of 20C and Contemporary Critical Theory, particularly in relation to epistemology and aesthetics

Research supervision:

Supervised  over 30 Masters Dissertations to successful  completion.

PhDs supervised to completion:

Mark Making and Melancholia in Painting: A language for visual representation of the Melancholic (2014)*

Demanding Time: Artists’ Still Motion Films exploring locations. and environments. (2018)

The Vital Space of Painting: Changing perceptual and material conditions of space and place and viewer in contemporary European abstract painting (2009)

Visual Art, Art Criticism, and Sexual Identity: An analysis of Selected Criticism and Artworks of the 1980s and 1990s examining the roles notions of Sexual Identity played in their Reception and Production (2006)

Director of Studies and supervisor for three PhD projects at time of resigning:

Real Unreality: the photograph in and as a source of contemporary art.

Chance as an Operating Strategy in Contemporary Abstract Painting: Purpose, Process, Meaning.

Mark Making, layers and erasure: an investigation into abandoned places through contemporary painting.

And was second supervisor for the following:

Engaging Curators: navigating the gaps between curatorship and audience engagement in the small, regional museums in a neoliberal climate.

Research and academic outputs

Book chapters or sections

Marriner, R (2015) ‘At the boundary of image and paint: Zhang Enli’s ‘Four seasons!’ In: Zhang Enli: four seasons. Distanz Publishing, pp. 17-23. ISBN 9783954761159

 Marriner, R (2012) ‘Visual Culture and Contemporary Art: Reframing the Picture, Recasting the Object?’’ (Book chapter)  In: Heywood, I and Sandywell, B, eds. The Handbook of Visual Culture. Berg, Oxford, pp. 164-183. ISBN 9781847885739

Marriner, R (2006) ‘On Sampling the pleasures of Visual Culture: Postmodernism and Art Education.(Book Chapter)’ In: Hardy, Tom, ed. Readings in Art and Design Education Series: Art Education in a Postmodern World. Bristol & Portland USA. Intellect Books & NSEA., pp. 125-136. ISBN 1841501468

Marriner, R (2002) ‘Derrida and the Parergon.’ (Book chapter) In: Smith, Paul and Wilde, Carolyn, eds. A Companion to Art Theory. Blackwell Publishing, pp. 349-359. ISBN 631207627


In the late  Eighties and early  Nineties published (mostly in  Art Monthly) articles on Warhol,  Johns, Judd, Steinbach and Koons, and “American Art of the Eighties”, etc.

Marriner, R (2001) ‘LA Law: Ingrid Calame, Laura Owens, Monique Prieto.’ Contemporary Visual Arts, 32. pp. 36-41. ISSN 1028-5040

Marriner R (1999) ‘LA revisited’ Contemporary Visual Arts, 25 pp 22-28. ISSN 1028-5040

Marriner, R (2012) Photography and the Aesthetics of Abstract Painting. Helsinki Photomedia Conference 2012, 28 – 30 March 20 2012 (Published under same title with addition of Lee Friedlander’s name at America SuburbX 2013.

Conference items .

Marriner, R. (2014) Against “autonomy”, acknowledging the “conventional”.   Annual Conference SEAD. School of Art and Design, Dublin. Ireland.                                                                       Marriner, R. (2012) Photography and the Aesthetics of Abstract Painting. In: Helsinki Photomedia Conference 2012, 28 – 30 March 20 2012, Helsinki, Finland.

Marriner, R (2005) Paying One’s Dues: refiguring agency, authenticity and originality. In: Predicaments in Visual Culture: Theorising Creativity, Watershed, Bristol.