Skip navigation

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. 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 exploring the civic importance of experimental art and education through a new exhibition project Live Class: Performance and the Art School.

Details of all the above can be found on


  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • No Machos or Pop Stars: When the Leeds Art Experiment Went Punk, Butt, G. 18 Oct 2022
  • 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
  • Post-Punk Then and Now, Butt, G., Eshun, K., Fisher, M. 15 Sep 2016
  • Performance Matters: Gavin Butt, Lois Keidan and Adrian Heathfield in Conversation, Butt, G., Heathfield, A., Keidan, L. 2014, In: Contemporary Theatre Review
  • Welcome to the TV Party, Butt, G. 17 Feb 2014, Take It or Leave It, Hammer Museum

  • 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

Back to top