Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
We're launching a new website soon and would love your feedback. See the new design
Winchester School of Art

Professor James Hall BA (Cambridge), MA, (Courtauld) PhD (Cambridge)

Research Professor

Professor James Hall's photo
Related links
Personal homepage

James Hall is Research Professor at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton.

James is an art historian and critic. He has worked as chief art critic for The Guardian, and as London reviewer for Artforum. An experienced public lecturer and radio broadcaster, he contributes to many journals and publications, including Times Literary Supplement, Guardian Review, Art Newspaper, Burlington Magazine and Oxford Art Journal. He has taught courses on self-portraiture, and Michelangelo at the Courtauld Institute of Art summerschool. 

James is author of four major books and numerous catalogue essays, journal articles and reviews. His most recent book, The Self-Portrait: a Cultural History (Thames and Hudson, 2014), immediately established itself as the standard work on its subject, and has been translated into five languages. James is now frequently called upon to comment on selfie culture, and to write lead catalogue essays on artist-centred art (Antony Gormley at Alan Cristea, Raqib Shaw at White Cube, Adrian Ghenie at Thaddaeus Ropac; Ich bin hier - museums in Karlsruhe, Lyon and Edinburgh, NGS).  He has recently published landmark essays on Michelangelo in the Burlington Magazine and Simiolus.

James’ approach is interdiciplinary and historicist but with an acute awareness of contemporary resonance. He is especially interested in the way that current assumptions and ideologies distort our view of past and present. He frequently traces the history of ideas, symbols, media and image types. Examples include the myth of Narcissus and the vogue for ‘full-frontal’ portraits (The Self-Portrait); the ‘rise’ of sculpture in the round, and theories of touch (The World as Sculpture, Chatto, 1999); the changing symbolism of left and right (The Sinister Side, OUP, 2008); creative destruction and body language (Michelangelo, Chatto, 2005); the history of museums, galleries and display.  Samples of my writing can be found here.

Two future book projects spanning past and present have emerged from his work on artists: the relationship between sex, chastity and ideas of genius; and the history of ‘acting out’ / ‘method acting’ by artists. He is currently writing a history of the artist's studio for Thames and Hudson.

Research group

Critical Practices

Sort via:TypeorYear



The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History (London: Thames and Hudson 2014 / Turin: Einaudi / Holland: Librero / S Korea: Sigongsa /China: Shanghai People’s Fine Art Publishing House / Germany: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellshaft) Winner Travelling Scholarship Prize; shortlisted Apollo Book of the Year; longlisted Art Book Prize. ‘Art Book of the Year’ chosen by critics for Times, Sunday Times and Observer/Guardian

The Sinister Side: How Left-Right Symbolism Shaped Western Art (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press 2008 / Korean translation: Seoul: Puriwa Ipari Publishing 2011)

Coffee with Michelangelo (London and New York: Duncan Baird 2007 / German, Spanish and Turkish translations 2007)

Michelangelo and the Reinvention of the Human Body (London: Chatto and Windus 2005 / New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2006 / paperback London: Pimlico 2006)

The World as Sculpture: the changing status of sculpture from the Renaissance to the present day (London: Chatto and Windus 1999 / paperback London: Pimlico 2000). Shortlisted for the Sergio Polillo International Art Book Prize (Italy, 2000)


2016 ‘Raqib Shaw: Temptation and Infestation’, Raqib Shaw Self-Portraits London, White Cube

2016 ‘Antony Gormley: Prints as Passion’, Antony Gormley: Prints, Alan Cristea, London

2015 ‘The Mask Keeps on Growing’, lead catalogue essay for Christie’s Mayfair loan exhibition The Art of the Self-Portrait

2015 ‘Why Self-Portraits?’, lead catalogue essay, Self-Portraits, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon; Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh

2015 ‘Adrian Ghenie’, Adrian Ghenie, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris

2014 ‘Lorenzo Ghiberti and Michelangelo in Search of the Feeling Hand’, in Sculpture and Touch, ed Peter Dent, Aldershot: Ashgate


2013 ‘Roy Lichtenstein’, Times Literary Supplement, 15 March

2013 ‘Fade to Grey [wall decoration]’, Times Literary Supplement, 5 July

2013 ‘Patrick Caulfield’, Times Literary Supplement, 1 Aug

2013 ‘Jacqueline Lichtenstein: the Blind Spot’, British Journal of Aesthetics, Oct

2014 ‘Ruin Lust’, Times Literary Supplement, 4 April

2014 ‘Kenneth Clark’, Guardian Saturday Review, 16 May

2014 ‘Late Rembrandt’, Times Literary Supplement, 5 Dec



Book Chapters


Professor James Hall
Professor James Hall's personal home page
Share this profile Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings