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Brian Leahy

Brian T. Leahy is a PhD candidate specializing in global modern and contemporary art. In the broadest terms, his research traces interactions between physical artworks and discursive systems, with particular interests in histories of criticism, the role of artists in constructing their own historiographic reception, and the relationships between artists and their publics. His dissertation, “For Immediate Release: Contemporary Art and Exhibition Media in the United States, 1968–1984” argues that para-artistic supplements—including the press release, the exhibition announcement, and the installation image—shaped the form and content of contemporary art in the U.S. in decisive ways. The project traces the proliferation of these media in the U.S. commercial gallery system before, alongside, and after conceptualism, showing how artists working in a wide range of media manipulated exhibition ephemera to alter the construction and dissemination of narratives about their work.
Leahy’s research has been supported by the Morgan-Menil Pre-Doctoral Fellowship (2022–23), a Dedalus Foundation Dissertation Fellowship (2021–22), a Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowship in American Art (2019-20), and the Mellon Foundation. He received an MA in modern and contemporary art history, theory, and criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015 and a BA from Davidson College in 2011, where he double majored in studio art and religious studies.