Matthew C. Hunter

Associate Professor

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. For more information, please see:

Course Offerings and Supervision

Closely interwoven with his research, Hunter’s teaching aims to integrate analysis of visual artifacts with broader historical, theoretical and interpretive problems. Hunter welcomes students at the M.A. and Ph.D. level who are interested in pursuing projects on relations between art and science, the early modern period/“long” eighteenth century or in other areas of his research interests. Some recent courses offered include "Time out of Mind: Material Duration in the Long Eighteenth Century" (Winter 2015), "Michael Fried and his Interlocutors" (Fall 2014), “Liquid Intelligence: Thinking the Fluid Image in the Long Eighteenth Century” (Fall 2013), and “Making and Knowing: Art and Science in Early Modern Europe” (Fall 2012).