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Rachel Wells

Dr Rachel Wells is a Senior Ruskin Tutor in the History and Theory of Fine Art

Rachel’s research focuses on modern and contemporary art, with particular interest in issues of scale and distance and their relation to conflict and memorialisation. Recent publications have focused on the use of scale and distance in art and questions of interpretation, loss and the construction of histories. Rachel’s writing has been published by Tate, Art History and the Oxford Art Journal, among others, and her book Scale in Contemporary Sculpture (Ashgate, 2013) was released in paperback by Routledge in 2016. The book offers a theorised account of scale in contemporary sculpture and its photographic documentation within the interlinked contexts of accelerated global capitalism and the legacies of postmodern theory. Most recently, she has contributed to the book Escala: Escultura 1945-2000 (Fundación Juan March, 2023).

Rachel has been an invited speaker at the Universities of Durham, Edinburgh, Milan, Newcastle, Oxford, Sunderland, the Courtauld Institute of Art, London and the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich. She has given invited talks and tours at galleries and museums including the Ashmolean, Baltic, the Hayward Gallery, the Laing Art Gallery, Modern Art Oxford, the Photographers’ Gallery and Tate Britain. 

Rachel was Lecturer in the History and Theory of Art at Newcastle University (2011-2018), Tutor in Fine Art (History and Theory) at the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford (2009-2011), and Henry Moore Foundation Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art (2008-9). She received her PhD (2008) and MA (2004) from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London University. Prior to her study in the History of Art, Rachel read English at Cambridge University (BA 2003). She is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and has acted as an External Examiner at the Universities of Oxford and Manchester.

In 2023-24 Rachel is teaching the BFA1 course ‘Contemporary Art History and Theory: An Introduction’ with Professor Jason Gaiger, the BFA2 course ‘Distance and Distraction’ with Professor Anthony Gardner, the BFA1 course ‘Contemporary Art and the Monument: (Re)Constructing History’, and she is a tutor for the BFA3 Extended Essay. Rachel is a Retained Lecturer at Worcester College. 

Email rachel.wells@rsa.ox.ac.uk