David J. Getsy

Eleanor Shea Professor of Art History

Personal Website


Working at the intersection of art history, queer studies, and transgender studies, David J. Getsy’s writings have addressed the ways in which non-normative genders and sexualities have been fundamental to the shape of art history’s narratives. His current research focuses on histories of queer and transgender performance art in 1970s New York City. This is the terrain of his newest book, Queer Behavior: Scott Burton and Performance Art, forthcoming from University of Chicago Press in May 2022, as well as two related research projects: first, a monograph on Stephen Varble based on the retrospective exhibition Rubbish and Dreams: The Genderqueer Performance Art of Stephen Varble that Getsy curated for the Leslie-Lohman Museum, New York, in 2018–19 and, second, a book on performance art’s geographic and social proximities to the Stonewall uprising and the modern LGBT rights movement in the United States.

His earlier books include Abstract Bodies: Sixties Sculpture in the Expanded Field of Gender (Yale University Press, 2015), which was the first study to bridge art history and transgender studies. He is also editor of the widely-read anthology of contemporary artists’ writings, Queer (MIT Press, 2016). A specialist in the history of modern sculpture, Getsy is the author of Rodin: Sex and the Making of Modern Sculpture (Yale University Press, 2010) and Body Doubles: Sculpture in Britain, 1877–1905 (Yale University Press, 2004). As editor, his other books include From Diversion to Subversion: Games, Play, and Twentieth-Century Art (Penn State University Press, 2011); Scott Burton: Collected Writings on Art and Performance, 1965–1975 (Soberscove, 2012); Sculpture and the Pursuit of a Modern Ideal in Britain, c.1880–1930 (Ashgate, 2004); and a co-edited special issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly on “Trans Cultural Production” (2014). His writings have been published in GLQ, TSQ, Art History, Art Journal, Artforum, Criticism, PAJ, ASAP/Journal, and numerous exhibition catalogues. 

Getsy received his B.A. with highest honors from Oberlin College and M.A. and Ph.D. from Northwestern University. His fellowships and awards include the 2019 Senior Fellowship from the Dedalus Foundation, an Ailsa Mellon Bruce Senior Fellowship from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, a Clark Fellowship from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship from Dartmouth College, a Kress Foundation Fellowship at the Courtauld Institute of Art, and two research fellowships from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. 

Getsy came to the University of Virginia in 2021 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he taught from 2005 to 2021 and was the Goldabelle McComb Finn Distinguished Professor of Art History since 2011. At SAIC, he also served as Interim Dean of Graduate Studies, Interim Director of the Low-Residency M.F.A. in Studio program, and Chair of the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism. Internationally, he has been the 2020–2021 Terra Foundation Professor of American Art at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin, a Distinguished Visiting Fellow in the School of English and Drama at Queen Mary University of London, and an Honorary Visiting Professor in the Department of History of Art at the University of York, United Kingdom. He has served as Chair of the Editorial Board of The Art Bulletin (2013–2015) and is currently on the boards of directors for the Historians of British Art, OTV: Open Television, and the Fire Island Artist Residency for emerging LGBTIQ artists and writers.

Professor Getsy welcomes inquiries from prospective PhD students working in one or more of the areas in which he teaches and researches: modern and contemporary art, queer studies, transgender studies, sculpture studies, and performance studies.