Matthew Hunter

Professeur, McGill Department of Art History & Communication Studies

Matthew C. Hunter’s research explores interfaces between physical materials and cognitive processes—between making and knowing. In 2016-17, Hunter was a National Endowment for the Humanities Long-Term Fellow at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. There, he completed a book manuscript entitled “Painting with Fire: The Temporally Evolving Chemical Objects in the British Enlightenment.” He has also recently edited and contributed to a special issue of Grey Room entitled “Liquid Intelligence and the Aesthetics of Fluidity.” Author of Wicked Intelligence: Visual Art and the Science of Experiment in Restoration London (University of Chicago Press, 2013) and The Clever Object (Wiley, 2013; co-edited with Francesco Lucchini), Hunter is an editor of Grey Room.

Hunter has recently begun a new research project examining the longer history of art insurance from post-Fire London to the United States’ Civil War-era. Collaborating with several international researchers, the project looks ahead to a conference entitled “Art and the Actuarial Imagination” to be held at the Huntington Library in 2020. Hunter’s broader interests range between the early modern period and the contemporary moment to include the meanings of art-historical method and the intertwined histories of art and combustion. His work has been supported by Fonds de recherche du Québec–Société et Culture, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Kress Foundation, Social Science Research Council, and The Courtauld Institute of Art’s Research Forum, among others. His article “Joshua Reynolds’s ‘Nice Chymistry’: Action and Accident in the 1770s” (The Art Bulletin, March 2015) won the College Art Association’s Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize in 2016.

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