SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Dr Richard Hylton

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Publications


Richard Hylton
Department of History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Lecturer in Contemporary Art

Dr Richard Hylton
Email address:
+44 (0)20 7898 4637
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Academic Support Hours:
Wednesdays, 11am-1pm


Richard Hylton was born in London, England. He joined SOAS in 2021, following two years as Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Pittsburgh. Hylton studied BA (Hons) Fine Art at Exeter College of Art and Design between 1987-1990 and MA History of Art at Goldsmiths 1998–2000.

Since the early 1990s, he has been actively involved in the visual arts sector, primarily in the UK, as an exhibition organizer, curator and editor, working for a number of public and independent galleries and educational organisations including Oldham Art Gallery Autograph and LSE. During this time, he has curated, organised and facilitated the production of numerous exhibitions involving a wide range of artists. Recent exhibitions include those by UK-based artists Barbara Walker, Ruth Maclennan, Anthony Key and Eugene Palmer. He has edited a number of important publications including The Best Janette Parris and Doublethink: The Art of Donald Rodney. In 2002 he co-produced with Virginia Nimarkoh, The Holy Bible: Old Testament an artist book by David Hammons.

Between 1996-1999, as Fellow in Visual Arts, Hylton ran Gallery II, University of Bradford where he was responsible for staging numerous exhibitions and projects including: A Bradford Atlas: Lost Empires/Salt Air, Salt March/Industrial Steps, Tim Brennan, 1997, Heads of State, Faisal Abdu'allah, curated by Bisi Silva, 1997, Night Vision, Adam Chodzko 1998, In a City, Julia Spicer, Concealed Vision, Veiled Sisters, Sabera Bham, This is History, Tam Joseph curated by Eddie Chambers, 1998, Mutant curated by Kate Smith. His other curated group exhibitions include Landscape Trauma in the Age of Scopophilia 2001, Discreet Charm 1996, Imagined Communities, 1996, Tampered Surface: Six Artists from Pakistan (with Alnoor Mitha) 1995, and Shifting Borders: What Does Europe Mean to You? 1992.

In 2018, he was awarded a PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London, for the thesis ‘A Labour of Love: The Politics of Presenting Contemporary Art as Part of Commemorations to Mark the United Kingdom’s Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act 1807-2007’.

Hylton has contributed art criticism to British and US-based journals and books including in the Routledge Companion to African American Art History, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, the International Review of African American Art, Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art and Visual Culture, Art Monthly, Art Review, Burlington Magazine and Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art. His book-length study, The Nature of the Beast: Cultural Diversity and the Visual Arts Sector, A Study of Policies, Initiatives and Attitudes 1976-2006, was published by University of Bath, England in 2007. This critical analysis, one of the first of its kind, is an invaluable read for those interested in cultural policy, arts administration, curatorial practice and contemporary visual arts. It offers hitherto unseen insight into the mechanisms and machinations which produced ‘ethnic arts’ in the late 1970s, ‘black arts’ in the 1980s, ‘new internationalism’ in the 1990s and ‘culturally diverse arts’ in the 21st century.

Hylton’s research on Diasporic art and art history includes a monographic study on British art history, race and the body politic, African American art in the international arena, and an exploration of the relationship between contemporary art, ethnography and the western museum.



My research interests centre on modern and contemporary art, including chronicles of Black Diasporic art history, African American art in the international arena, Black British artists, curating, institutional critique, politics of cultural diversity, nationality and race, intersection between contemporary art, ethnography and the western museum and, relationships between Atlantic slavery, commemoration, and contemporary art.

Current member School of Arts Research Committee (2021–)


Authored Books

Hylton, Richard (2007) The Nature of the Beast: Cultural Diversity and the Visual Arts Sector: A study of policies, initiatives and attitudes 1976-2006. Bath: ICIA, Institute of Contemporary Interdisciplinary Arts.


Hylton, Richard (2020) 'The Art of Social Distance in the Era of #Black Lives Matter'. ArtReview.

Hylton, Richard (2020) 'In Retrospect: The Significance of Faith Ringgold at the Serpentine Gallery, London'. International Review of African American Art, (29) 4.

Price, Dorothy and Grant, Catherine and Hylton, Richard and and, others (2020) 'Decolonising Art History'. Art History, (43) 1, pp 4-230.

Hylton, Richard (2019) 'Eugene Palmer and Barbara Walker: Photography and the Black Subject'. Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, (45), pp 100-113.

Hylton, Richard (2019) 'Decolonising the Curriculum'. Art Monthly, (426), pp 11-15.

Hylton, Richard (2017) 'Black Art UK/US: Richard Hylton discusses the rise in thematic shows of black artists'. Art Monthly, (410).

Hylton, Richard (2013) 'Keeping up Appearances: Black artists, state patronage and the politics of visibility'. Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art and Visual Culture, (7) 2, pp 37-57.

Book Chapters

Hylton, Richard (2019) 'Status and Presence: African American Art in the International Arena'. In: Chambers, Eddie, (ed.), The Routledge Companion to African American Art History. London: Routledge.

Hylton, Richard (2010) 'The Moving World of Janette Parris'. In: Le Feuvre, Lisa, (ed.), Failure. London: Whitechapel Art Gallery & MIT Press.

Hylton, Richard (2007) 'Thoughts on Curating'. In: Rugg, Judith and Sedgwick, Michèle, (eds.), Issues in Curating Contemporary Art and Performance. Bristol: Intellect Books Ltd, pp 113-185.

Book Reviews

Hylton, Richard (2022) 'Review of: Soul of a Nation Reader: Writings by and about Black American Artists 1960–1980'. Art Monthly, (455), pp 36-37.

Hylton, Richard (2021) 'Stateside Perspectives on Black British Artists'. Art History, (44) 2, pp 435-441.

Hylton, Richard (2021) 'Review of: To Describe A Life: Notes from the Intersection of Art and Race Terror by Darby English'. Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art, (7) 1.

Hylton, Richard (2020) 'Review of: Stick to the Skin: African American and Black British Art 1965- 2015'. The Burlington Magazine, (162) 1405.

Hylton, Richard (2015) 'Review of: The Image of the Black in Western Art Volume V, Part I The Impact of Africa, Part 2 The Rise of Black Artists'.

Hylton, Richard (2012) 'Review of: Things Done Change: The Cultural Politics of Recent Black Artists in Britain'. Art Monthly, (360).


Hylton, Richard (2018) 'Exhibition and Brochure Text: Anthony Key - Trespassing: New & Recent Works'.

Hylton, Richard (2018) 'Eugene Palmer: Didn't it Rain - New Paintings'.

Opinion Pieces / Media / Blogs

Hylton, Richard (2021) Eugene Palmer: a Black British artist you need to know about.


This list was last generated on Saturday, 2nd July 2022, 22:00 Europe/London.