School of Arts

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Professor Martin Hammer


History of Art

Martin Hammer is a specialist in modern art, with a particular interest in British Modernism and the art of Francis Bacon.

The art of Francis Bacon has been a major research focus in recent years. My book Francis Bacon and Nazi Propaganda presents the artist as more engaged with the wider world than is usually acknowledged, seeking in his work to articulate what it felt like to witness the rise of Fascism in the 1930s, and then then the horrifying violence and the self-destruction that ensued when the Nazi craving for power turned into the pursuit of military conquest and the Final Solution.
I am fascinated by the very distinctive way in which Bacon assimilated and transformed to his own pictorial and expressive ends ideas derived from many kinds of photographs, as well as the work of other artists. Generally, I think art historians pay insufficient attention to the stimulation artists constantly derive from past and present practitioners, as a form of creative research comparable to the way writers bounce off their reading, or composers off listening to music. The crude and seemingly pejorative notion of ‘influence’ gets in the way of attending to the operations of this kind of visual intelligence within creativity.
Given this commitment to looking, in art history as well as art practice, I greatly value my association with the Tate. I have served as a member of the Tate Britain Council, gave the Rothenstein lecture last year on Bacon and Degas, work closely with Tate Research and Archive, and published my Bacon book with the museum.
An emerging research interest is Transatlantic cultural exchange, in particular the complex interchange between the UK and the USA during the 1960s. I arrived in Canterbury in September 2012, having been based for some years at the University of Edinburgh, and since then have been working with colleagues in film, literature and architecture to develop a major interdisciplinary project in this field. The art of David Hockney in the Sixties is one focus of forthcoming publications and lectures.   
I would welcome approaches from potential PhD students about working on Bacon, and on British Modernism generally, with special reference to the transatlantic dimension.

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  • Francis Bacon, Phaidon Focus series, forthcoming spring 2013.
  • Francis Bacon and Nazi Propaganda, Tate Publishing, 2012
  • The Naked Portrait, National Galleries of Scotland, 2007.
  • Bacon and Sutherland, Yale University Press, 2005.
  • Graham Sutherland: Landscapes, War Scenes, Portraits 1924-1950, Scala, 2005.
  • Gabo on Gabo: Texts and Interviews, Artists Bookworks, Forest Row, 2000.  Co-editor Prof. C. Lodder.  
  • Constructing Modernity: the Art and Career of Naum Gabo, Yale University Press, 2000.  Co-author Prof. C. Lodder.

Selected articles:

  • 'The Growth and Form of Artistic Responses to D'Arcy Thompson', catalogue of exhibition D'Arcy Thompson's On Growth and Form, Leeds: Henry Moore Institute, May 2014
  • 'Ambivalence and Ambiguity: David Sylvester on Henry Moore', forthcoming Henry Moore website (Tate Research Project), Tate website, 2014
  • 'The Independent Group take on Francis Bacon', Visual Culture in Britain, April 2014, pp. 69-89.
  • 'Kenneth Clark and the Death of Painting', Tate Papers, Issue 20 (Autumn 2013).
  • ‘Continuity and Contradiction in the Art of Francis Bacon’, Francis Bacon: Critical and Theoretical Perspectives, Rina Arya ed., Peter Lang (forthcoming 2012-13)
  • ‘Graham Sutherland: “Forms which take on an almost human aspect”’, introductory essay to catalogue for exhibition of work by Sutherland in Italian collections, Fondazione Magnani Rocca, Parma, September 2012.
  • ‘Echoes of Sickert in the Work of Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud’, Visual Culture in Britain, forthcoming 2013
  • ‘After Camden Town: Sickert’s Legacy since 1930’, The Camden Town Group in Context Online Research Project, Tate website, Spring 2012 (
  • ‘Francis Bacon: Looking Back to Degas’, Tate Papers, Spring 2012.  
  • ‘Francis Bacon: Painting after Photography’, Art History, April 2012, pp. 354-71 (also appearing as book in September).  
  • ‘Francis Bacon and British Soutine-Mania’, Soutine/Bacon, Helly Nahmad Gallery, New York,May 2011, pp. 153-7.
  • ‘Found in Translation: Chaim Soutine and English Art’, Modernist Cultures, November 2010, pp. 218-242.
  • ‘Francis Bacon and the Lefevre Gallery’, Burlington Magazine, May 2010, pp. 307-12.
  • ‘Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (1944), Chris Stephens (ed), Yale History of British Art: Volume III, Yale University Press/Tate, 2009, pp. 152-3.
  • ‘”Seeing the story of one’s time”: appropriations from Nazi photography in the work of Francis Bacon’, Visual Culture in Britain, November 2009, pp. 317-353 (co-author Chris Stephens, Head of Displays, Tate Britain).
  • ‘Clearing away the Screens’, Francis Bacon: Heads and Portraits, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, 2005, pp. 14-27.
  •  ‘Dematerialising Sculpture: Methods and Motives’, Immaterial, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, 2004, pp. 47-68.  Co-author Prof. C Lodder.
  • ‘Naum Gabo: For and Against Tatlin’, Lutz Becker (ed), Construction: Tatlin and After, State Museum of Contemporary Art, Costakis Collection, Thessaloniki, 2001, pp. 29-41. Co-author Prof. C. Lodder.
  • ‘The Irony of Egotism’, John Coplans: A Self-Portrait 1984-99, The Dean Gallery, Edinburgh, 1999, pp. 5-14.  Swedish version, slightly amended, in catalogue for subsequent showing at Malmo Kunsthall (1999).
  • ‘Et in Arcadia Glasgow’, Stanley Spencer: Men of the Clyde, National Portrait Gallery, 2000, Edinburgh, pp. 67-76.
  •  ‘A Constructivist pas de deux: Naum Gabo and Sergei Diaghilev’, Experiment, Los Angeles, Number 2, November 1996, pp. 80-99. Co-author Prof C. Lodder.
  • ‘Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo: A Creative Dialogue’, Barbara Hepworth Conference Reconsidered, Liverpool University Press, 1996, pp. 109-134.  Co-author Prof. C. Lodder. 
  •  ‘Radical Constructivism in the late 1920s: Karel Teige, Naum Gabo and their Milieu’, Umeni (Prague), no. 1-2, 1995, pp. 85-88.  Co-author Prof. C. Lodder.
  • ‘Kállai en “Der Plastiker Gabo”’, in Toke van Helmond (ed), i 10 sporen van de avant-garde, Heerlen, 1994, pp. 89-100. Co-author Prof. C. Lodder.
  •  ‘The Abstract Utopia:  The Invention of Abstract Art’, The Non-Objective World, (touring exhibition), South Bank Board, London, 1992, pp. 9-32.  Co-author Prof. C. Lodder.
  •  ‘Naum Gabo's Design for the Palace of Soviets’, Naum Gabo and the Competition for the Palace of Soviets, Moscow 1931-1933, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, 1992-3, pp. 16-33.   Co-author Prof. C. Lodder. German, Spanish and Russian language editions.
  • ‘Ein kreativer Dialog: Gustav Klucis, Antoine Pevzner und Naum Gabo’, eds., Hubertus Gassner and Roland Nachtigaller, Gustav Klucis: Retrospektive, Museum Fredericanum, Kassel, 1991, pp. 57-73.  Co-author Prof. C. Lodder.
  • ‘Naum Gabo and the Constructive Idea of Sculpture’, in Naum Gabo:  The Constructive Idea:  Sculpture, Drawings, Paintings, Monoprints, (touring exhibition), South Bank Board, 1987, pp. 41-51
  •  ‘The Wood Engravings in the Life and Work of Naum Gabo’, The Prints of Naum Gabo, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, and Talbot Rice Arts Centre, Edinburgh, 1987, pp. 6-15.  Co-author Prof. C. Lodder.

Recent invited lectures and conference papers:

  • 'Twelve art historians, one proposition: There's no such thing as British Art', University of York, 22 May 2013.
  • 'Stepping Westward: David Hockney in Colorado in 1965', Inaugural Lecture, University of Kent, 28 March 2014.
  • 'A Darker Splash', English Literature Research Seminar, University of Kent, November 2013
  • 'David Hockney's Rocky Mountains and Tired Indians', '1965' project symposium, ICA, 2 November 2013.
  • 'Sylvester on Henry Moore', David Sylvester Study Day at Tate Britain (Tate Research British Art Writers project), October 2013
  • 'Ken Currie and Contemporary Portraiture', National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, 31 July 2013
  • 'Kenneth Clark as Apocalyptic Modernist', Kenneth Clark Study Day at Tate Britain (Tate Research British Art Writers project), May 2013
  • 'Respect: The Independent Group take on Francis Bacon', Parallel of Life & Art: Exhibitions and the Independent Group conference, Institute of Contemporary Art, London, 25-26 April 2013
  • 'Influence/Appropriation: a Perspective from Art History', "Efface the Traces!": Modernism and Influence conference, University of Durham, 9-11 April 2013
  • 'Looking at the art of Derek Roberts', public lecture in conjunction with Derek Roberts: Northern Paintings exhibition, Inverleith House, Edinburgh, 23 March 2013
  • 'Eavesdropping on Artists: Quentin Tarantino meets Quentin de la Tour', Aesthetics Research Centre research seminar, University of Kent, 20 March 2013
  • 'Looking as Research', PG visiting experts lecture series, Courtauld Institute of Art, 5 November 2012
  • 'Residues and Fragments: the Dublin Archive as a Research Resource', Keynote lecture, Bacon's Books symposium, University College, Dublin, 19-20 October 2012
  • 'Picasso and Bacon as War Artists', lecture in conjunction with Picasso and Modern British Art exhibition, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, 13 October 2012
  • 'Graham Sutherland', public lecture, in conjunction with Graham Sutherland in Italian Collections exhibition, Fondazione Magnani Rocca, Parma, 4 October 2012
  • 'Doggy lives: photographic sources, poetic inspiration and the materiality of paint in Francis Bacon's dog paintings from 1952/3', Material Meanings, Third Conference of the European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies, University of Kent, 7-9 September 2012
  • 'Edwardian Echoes in the Work of Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud', Edwardian Art and its Legacies symposium, Tate Britain, 29-30 May 2012.
  • 'Francis Bacon's Self-Portrait (1963): The artist's dialogue with Degas', National Museum and Galleries, Cardiff, 30 November 2011.
  • 'Francis Bacon: Looking Back to Degas', Rothenstein Lecture, Tate Britain, 24 November 2011.
  • 'After Eichmann: Francis Bacon's Crucifixion Triptychs of 1962 and 1965', University of Northumbria research seminar, October 2011.
  • 'Francis Bacon and Nazi Propaganda: A Visual Essay', Performing Research: Art History Not For Publication (organised by the Performing Art History Special Interest Group), Courtauld Institute of Art, 6 May 2011.
  • 'Francis Bacon's Painting (1946): The Making of a Masterpiece', Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Memorial Lecture, National Galleries of Scotland, December 2010.
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I have taught many areas of British and International modernism, and feel that both I and my students benefit when course work is closely aligned to current research projects.  Recent and current modules have focussed on the art of Francis Bacon and on artistic exchange between the UK and the USA.  I also convene the Introduction to Art History module and the course on images of the body taught in our Kent in Paris MA programme.


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Having recently completed a series of publications centred on the art of Francis Bacon, I am now moving on to new projects.  My main focus is a collaboration with colleagues at Kent and elsewhere, working in film, literature, music, architecture and popular culture as well as on artistic developments, which addresses the theme of Transatlantic artistic relations since the Second World War, a period when Britain and the USA had a multitude of cultural, economic and political ties, and travel across the Atlantic became quick and cheap. There is great scope for considering in detail and depth how artists, critics, galleries and collectors responded to the other culture, with varying degrees of enthusiasm and antipathy, and conditioned by the mental and visual baggage they took with them.  The art of David Hockney in the 1960s is proving a wonderful case study for exploring such issues.

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Having supervised several PhDs to completion, I would welcome approaches and applications in the areas of British and International art in the mid-20th century.

Since September 2012 I have been supervising James Finch's PhD on the art writing of the British art critic David Sylvester, under the terms of an AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (co-supervisor: Dr Jennifer Mundy of Tate Research)

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Last Updated: 25/06/2015