Patricia Allmer profile picture

Job title:

Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History


Room 0.47, Higgitt Gallery, Hunter Building

Office hours:

Thursday, 11am - 12pm (appointment must be made in advance by email)


Professor Patricia Allmer is a leading scholar and curator of Surrealism, its modern traditions, and its contemporary legacies, with particular focus on women surrealists and on the work of René Magritte. She has been honoured as a 2023 Fellow of the Association for Art History, in recognition of her contribution to these areas. 

Her current research focusses on Germanophone women artists and writers and their intersections with Surrealism. Her most recent book  The Traumatic Surreal: Germanophone Women Artists and Surrealism after the Second World War  was published by Manchester University Press (2022). The Woman's Art Journal review of the book noted that it is "groundbreaking" offering "new perspectives on female positions and lineages in the history of surrealism" (Andrea Gremels, Spring/Summer 2023) and The Burlington Magazine's review observed that it details "both formal qualities and wider significance with a deep richness." (Karla Huebner, May 2023) Professor Allmer was awarded a 2021/22 Leverhulme Research Fellowship.

Professor Allmer curated, and edited the catalogue for, the award-winning Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism (Manchester/Prestel, 2009), the first major international exhibition of women artists and Surrealism. The Guardian called Angels of Anarchy a “milestone in rediscovering the secret history of the 20th century” ( The exhibition's significant and continuing impact on public, curatorial, and academic and critical recognition of women artists as key figures in Surrealism has most recently been noted in The Art Newspaper (2019) ( She was awarded the 2010 Philip Leverhulme Prize in acknowledgment of her major contribution to public and academic understanding of women artists and Surrealism.

She co-curated, and co-edited the catalogues for, Taking Shots: The Photography of William S. Burroughs (Prestel: 2014) and 4 Saints in 3 Acts: A Snapshot of the American Avant-garde in the 1930s (Manchester University Press, 2017), both held at The Photographers' Gallery in London. She has directed and co-directed a range of public programmes accompanying these exhibitions and which now constitute open-access online resources (see, initiated and convened the 2009 Association of Art Historians’ Conference in Manchester, and organized and chaired Judy Chicago’s Manchester lecture and masterclass in 2011.

Professor Allmer has published three books on René Magritte, with her latest, René Magritte (Reaktion Press, 2019) revealing, for the first time, the significance of fairground attractions in Magritte’s art – from carousels and circuses to panoramas and stage magic. In recognition of her expertise on Magritte, she was the 2017/18 guest speaker for the prestigious Chaire Internationale Emile Bernheim programme in Brussels ( Her monograph Lee Miller: Photography, Surrealism, and Beyond is published by Manchester University Press (2016) and has been described as “groundbreaking” (Caitlin Davis, Woman’s Art Journal, Fall/Winter 2017). The Swedish national broadsheet Svenska Dagbladet’s double-spread review noted the book as “the most extensive and in-depth analysis of Miller’s visual work to date” (Jonas Ellerström, 9 September 2017). Her edited collection Intersections: Women Artists/Surrealism/Modernism (Manchester University Press) came out in October 2016. 

She has given numerous invited talks and keynotes at venues including University of Florida (2024), Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome (2023), the Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2023), the Sigmund Freud Museum, Vienna (2023), Stockholm University (2022), the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles (2021), the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, Madrid (2021), the Henry Moore Institute (2020), Princeton University (2018 and 2019), University of Amsterdam (2019), the Hepworth Gallery (2018), and the Freud Museum, London (2015). 

Professor Allmer has written invited contributions for major exhibitions including Surrealism in Belgium, (Bozar, Brussels, 2024), Renate Bertlmann: Fragile Obsessions, (Belvedere Museum, Vienna, 2023), Ursula - Das bin ich. Na und? (Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 2023), The Feminist Avant-garde of the 1970s (Sammlung Verbund, Vienna, 2022 and 2015), Surrealism Beyond Borders (The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Tate Modern, 2021), Fantastic Women (Schirn Kunsthalle/Loui­siana Museum of Modern Art, 2020), The Last Dogaressa (Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, 2019), Lee Miller and Surrealism in Britain (The Hepworth, 2018), and Birgit Jürgenssen (Kunsthalle Tübingen/GAMeC Museum, Bergamo/Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, 2018).

Professor Allmer's other major publications include the co-edited collections 'Wonderful Things' – Surrealism and Egypt (Dada/Surrealism, 20.1: 2013), European Nightmares: European Horror Cinema Since 1945 (Wallflower/Columbia University Press: 2012), Re/reading RE/Search (European Journal of American Culture, 30.2: 2011), Collective Inventions: Surrealism in Belgium (Leuven University Press, 2007), and The Forgotten Surrealists: Belgian Surrealism Since 1924 (Image [&] Narrative 13: 2005). 

As ECA's first female Research Director (2018-21), she oversaw the School to its successful 2022 REF outcome.



Patricia’s current specialist courses are:

Women Artists and Surrealism (MSc)

Art in Theory (MSc)

Breaking Frames: Women in Dada and Surrealism (Year 4, BA)

Feminist Avant-gardes of the 1970s (Year 3, BA)

Photography in Modernism and Postmodernism (Year 3, BA)





Patricia’s research and curatorial work focuses on Surrealism and its legacies. 


2022: The Traumatic Surreal: Germanophone Women Artists and Surrealism after the Second World War, Manchester University Press.

2019: René Magritte, (Critical Lives Series) Reaktion Press.

2016: Lee Miller – Photography, Surrealism and Beyond, Manchester University Press. Reviewed in: Woman’s Art Journal (Fall/Winter 2017), Svenska Dagbladet (9.9.2017), Studies in Photography (Fall/Winter 2017); Art in America (April 2016).

2016: This Is Magritte, Laurence King Publishing. Translated into: German, Dutch, Latvian.

2009: René Magritte – Beyond Painting, Manchester University Press. Reviewed in: El Informador (Mexico, 27.08. 2017), The Art Book, (August 2010); Journal of Surrealism and the Americas (January 2010); Spanish publications ABCPublicoTele 5 Online, and Latin American publications La TerceraTelesur TV online, El Universal Mexico (November 2009).


2017: 4 Saints in 3 Acts: A Snapshot of the American Avant-garde in the 1930s, co-curated with John Sears. The Photographers’ Gallery, London.

2014: Taking Shots: The Photography of William S. Burroughs, co-curated with John Sears. The Photographers’ Gallery, London, January-April 2014.  

2009: Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism, Manchester Art Gallery.

Exhibition Catalogues

2017: Four Saints in Three Acts: A Snapshot of the American Avant-Garde in the 1930s, co-edited with John Sears, Manchester University Press/The Photographers’ Gallery.

2014: Taking Shots: The Photography of William S. Burroughs, co-edited with John Sears, Prestel. Reviewed in: Huffington Post, (22 July 2014), Literary Review (February 2014), (18 July 2014).

2009: Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and SurrealismPrestel. Reviewed in (separately from exhibition reviews): Woman’s Art Journal (Spring/Summer 2011), The Burlington Review (December 2009).

Edited and Co-edited Books and Special Journal Issues 

2018 (Summer): ‘Photography and Performance’, edited special issue of Studies in Photography.

2016: Intersections – Women Artists/Surrealism/Modernism, Rethinking Art’s Histories series, Manchester University Press. Reviewed in: RACAR: Revue d’art canadienne (Summer 2017).

2013: ‘“Wonderful Things” – Surrealism and Egypt’, co-edited with Donna Roberts, Dada/Surrealism, University of Iowa, 20:1.

2012: European Nightmares: European Horror Cinema Since 1945, co-edited with Emily Brick and David Huxley, Wallflower Press/Columbia University Press. Reviewed in: Necsus – European Journal of Media Studies (Autumn 2012).

2011: ‘Re/reading RE/Search’, co-edited with John Sears, European Journal of American Culture, Intellect, 30:2. 

2007: Collective Inventions: Surrealism in Belgium, co-edited with Hilde van Gelder, Leuven University Press. Reviewed in: The Burlington Magazine (May 2008), The Art Book (September 2008).

2005: ‘The Forgotten Surrealists: Belgian Surrealism Since 1924’, co-edited with Hilde van Gelder, Image [&] Narrative, no. 13.

Selected Invited Book Chapters and Exhibition Catalogue Contributions 

2023: 'Renate Bertlmann and International Feminism', Stella Rollig and Luisa Ziaja (eds), Renate Bertlmann: Fragile Obsessions, Belvedere Museum: Vienna and Verlag Buchhandlung Walther & Franz König: Cologne.

2023: 'Ursulas moderne "Betrachtungsweise"', Ursula-Das bin ich. Na und?, ed. Stephan Diederich, Museum Ludwig: Köln.

2023: 'ORLAN und Feminismus', ORLAN.Six Decades, ed. Gabriele Schor and Catherine Morris, Sammlung Verbund: Wien.

2022: 'In René Magritte's Night, the Sky Floats Over Us All', Sotheby's, (expert appreciation for catalogue and website).

2021: 'Magischer Realismus, Neue Sachlichkeit, and Surrealism in Germany', in Surrealism Beyond Borders, ed. Stephanie D'Alessandro and Matthew Gale, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and TATE Gallery.

2021: 'Outside-in: Translating Unica Zürn', in Surrealist Women's Writing: A Critical Exploration, ed. Anna Watz, Manchester University Press.

2021: 'Into the Light: Penny Slinger and Collage', in Penny Slinger: Out of the Shadows, dir. Richard Kovitch, limited edition, AntiWorlds.

2021: 'Brigitte Aloïse Roth - Unstable Instabilities', in The Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970, ed. Gabriele Schor, SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Vienna (collection catalogue). (German/English)

2021: 'Lotte Profohs - Tracing Legislated Bodies', in The Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970, ed. Gabriele Schor, SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Vienna (collection catalogue). (German/English)

2020: 'Fantastic Visions – Women Photographers and Surrealism', in Fantastic Women: Surreal Worlds from Meret Oppenheim to Frida Kahlo, ed. Ingrid Pfeiffer, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt/Loui­siana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk. (German/English)

2019: 'Transitions: Surrealism, Exile, and Art of This Century', in Peggy Guggenheim: The Last Dogaressa, Peggy Guggenheim Collection book, eds. Karole P.B. Vail and Vivien Greene, Marsilio. (Italian/English)

2019: 'Temporalities: Stettheimer's Baroque Modernism', in Florine Stettheimer: New Directions in Multimodal Modernism, eds. Irene Gammel and Suzanne Zelazo, Book*hug.

2018: ‘Birgit Jürgenssen – Untitled’, Birgit Jürgenssen (exh. cat.), Kunsthalle Tübingen/GAMeC Museum, Bergamo/Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek. (German/English)

2018: ‘Lee Miller’s Wonder & Horror of the Human Head’, in Lee Miller and Surrealism in Britain, ed. Eleanor Clayton, Lund Humphries/The Hepworth/Fundació Joan Miró. 

2017: ‘A Wreath for Lee Miller’, Introductory essay for Jacqueline Saphra’s A Bargain with the Light, Hercules Editions. 

2017: ‘Moving Pictures – Photography and Time in Four Saints in Three Acts, in 4 Saints in 3 Acts: A Snapshot of the American Avant-garde in the 1930s, eds. Patricia Allmer and John Sears, Manchester University Press.

2016: ‘Revising the Canon: Feminist Interventions’, in Blackwell Companion to Dada and Surrealism, ed. David Hopkins, Blackwell.

2016: ‘The Game, The Book, and the Object – Carson & Miller’s Archive Games’, with John Sears, in System, Chance, ed. Jonathan Carson and Rosie Miller, National Galleries of Scotland.

2016: ‘Pin-Up/Cut-Up: Woman in Gee Vaucher’s Assemblages’, with John Sears, Gee Vaucher: Introspections, ed. Stevphen Shukaitis, Firstsite Gallery.

2015: ‘Alexis Hunter - Berührungspunkte’, in The Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970, ed. Gabriele Schor, SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Vienna/Hamburger Kunsthalle (exhibition catalogue). (German/English)

2015: ‘Lee Miller’s Inter-artistic Dialogues with the Avant-Garde’, in Avant-Gardes in Performance, eds Rebecca Ferreboeuf, Fiona Noble and Tara Plunkett, Palgrave MacMillan.

2014: ‘Unfolding Burroughs’, in Taking Shots: The Photography of William S. Burroughs, eds. Patricia Allmer and John Sears, Prestel (exhibition catalogue). 

2014: 'Eileen Agar: Coral, Seahorse', in Coral: Something Rich and Strange, ed. Marion Endt-Jones, Manchester Museum.

2013: ‘René Magritte – La Memoire’, in Critique and Crisis: Art in Europe Since 1945, Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin.

2012: ‘Taxidermia – A Hungarian Taste for Horror’, in European Nightmares: European Horror Cinema Since 1945,eds. Patricia Allmer, Emily Brick and David Huxley, Wallflower Press.

2011: Entries in René Magritte: A-Z, ed. Christoph Grunenberg, Tate Liverpool, and Albertina, Vienna, (exhibition catalogue).

2010: ‘Pinching a Shadow’, exhibition essay accompanying Brass Art’s exhibition The Non-existence of the Unnamed, International 3.

2009: ‘Of Fallen Angels and Angels of Anarchy’, in Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism,ed. Patricia Allmer, Prestel. 

2009: ‘On being touched’, in The Story of Things (exhibition catalogue/artistbook), eds. Rosie Miller and Jonathan Carson, Righton Press/MMU Special Collections.

2007: ‘Dial M for Magritte’ in Johan Grimonprez - Looking for Alfred, eds. Steven Bode and Thomas Elsaesser, Film and Video Umbrella. 

2007: ‘René Magritte and the Postcard’ in Collective Inventions: Surrealism in Belgium Reconsidered, eds. Patricia Allmer and Hilde van Gelder, Leuven University Press. 

2007: ‘Dare You Play On’ in The Exquisite Fold, Jonathan Carson and Rosie Miller, Manchester: Righton Press, 2007.

2006: ‘Framing the Real: Frames and the Process of Framing in René Magritte’s Œuvre’, in Framing Borders in Literature and Other Media, eds. Walter Bernhart and Werner Wolf Rodopi. 

Selected Journal Articles

2020: 'Cracking the Real', SCHIRN MAG, 22 June 2020.

2020: 'Katy Hundertmark: Spielraum of Imagination', NOTES Photography Journal, Issue 7, March 2020.

2018: Interview with ORLAN: ‘Photography & Performance’, Studies in Photography, special journal issue.

2017: Curatorial interview with Anna Dannemann and Gabriele Schor, Studies in Photography.

2013: ‘Apertures onto Egypt – Lee Miller’s Nomadic Surrealism’, in ‘”Wonderful Things” Surrealism and Egypt’, special issue, Patricia Allmer and Donna Roberts (eds.), Dada/Surrealism, University of Iowa, Vol. 20, Issue 1.

2013: ‘Lee Miller – Ombres d’elle-même’, Mélusine: cahiers du Centre de recherches sur le surréalisme (Paris III), Spring (special journal issue on women surrealists).

2012: ‘Lee Miller’s Revenge on Fascist Culture’, History of Photography, 4.

2011: ‘RE/Searching Angry Women’, European Journal of American Culture, vol. 30, issue 2, 26-38.

2011: ‘Relating the Story of Things’, Image [&] Narrative, 12:3.

2011: 'Interview with Judy Chicago, part 1', Cassone: The International Online Magazine of Art and Art Books, May. Reprinted in Forum, Polish magazine.

2011: 'Interview with Judy Chicago, part 2', Cassone: The International Online Magazine of Art and Art Books, June. Reprinted in Forum, Polish magazine.

2007: ‘“La Reproduction Interdite” – René Magritte and Forgery’ in Papers of Surrealism, Issue 5. Excerpt reprinted in: Sexymachinery Issue A: Super Replica, (reprint), Issue 1, 2008, 3-19.

2004: ‘“Window Shopping?” – Aesthetics of the Spectacular and Cinéma du Look’ in Scope: An Online Journal of Film Studies, University of Nottingham, February.

2001: ‘“Theorising the Aura”: Benjamin, Photography and Art’ in Postscript: A Journal of Graduate Criticism and Theory, University of Newfoundland, Number 1, Fall, 33-49.

Selected Invited Talks & Keynotes

2024: Keynote, 'Traumatic Temporalities: Postwar Women Artists and Surrealism', Surrealism, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, HESCAH Symposium, University of Florida/Harn Museum of Art.

2023: Lecture: Ursula's Tourist Imaginary, Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome.

2023: Lecture, 'Das touristisch Imaginäre in Ursulas Werken', Museum Ludwig, Cologne.

2023: Inaugural Lecture, 'Anatomising Surrealism: Birgit Jürgenssen's Dissections', University of Edinburgh.

2023: Talk, 'Ruth Beckermann's Mutzenbacher, or the Act of Reading on a Couch, Sigmund Freud Museum, Vienna.

2022: Talk, 'Space/Inter/Play: Leonora Carrington, Olga Neuwirth, Elfriede Jelinek, and Das Fest des Lamms', Expert symposium: Leonora Carrington, Stockholm University.

2021: Lecture, 'Magritte and the Art of Magic', Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.

2020: Lecture, 'Sculpture, History, Curve: Paloma Varga Weisz', Henry Moore Institute, Leeds. Online at: 

2020: Conference keynote, 'The Traumatic Surreal: Women Artists and Postwar Culture', SCHIRN Kunsthalle Fantastic Women conference. (postponed due to Covid-19)

2020: Lecture, 'Magritte and Magic', Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

2019: Lecture, 'Under the Surface: William Seabrook, Marjorie Worthington, and (Sub)cultural Bonds in 1930s Paris', Paris Modern - A Workshop Series, Princeton University.

2019: 'Penny Slinger and Patricia Allmer - In Conversation', Scottish National Galleries, Edinburgh.

2019: 'René Magritte's Fairground Attractions', Expert symposium: Surrealism as Art History, University of Amsterdam.

2019: 'Katy Hundertmark - Spielraum of Imagination', The Photograph - A Stage, TalkSee Photography Incubator, CCA Glasgow.

2019: 'Wonder and Horror of the Crystal Skull', "Do Your Looks Betray You?" - Anatomical Museum Edinburgh Talks, University of Edinburgh.

2018: Conference keynote, ‘Temple of Sight: British Surrealism and the Crystal Skull’, Surrealism in Britain, 1925-55, The Hepworth, Wakefield.

2018: ‘Staging René Magritte’, Honorary Bernheim 2018 lectures at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Belgium. 

2018: Talk, ‘Translating Unica Zürn’, Surrealism: From France to the World, Princeton University. 

2018: Talk, ‘The Gaze in 4 Saints in 3 Acts’, Keyspeakers Series, The Photographers’ Gallery, London.

2017: Lecture, ‘Bird-Gothic – Toyen’s Message of the Forest’, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.

2016: ‘Curating 4 Saints in 3 Acts’, Creative Industries Conference, University of Edinburgh Business School. 

2015: Opening conference keynote, ‘Shadow Dance – The Mobile Uncanny’, Folds in Time, Freud Museum, London.

2015: Lecture, ‘Cutting Up Picasso: Lee Miller’s Collage, invited lecture, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.

2015: Lecture, ‘The Sadean Lee Miller’, University of Essex.

2014: Lecture, ‘The Photography of William S. Burroughs’ (with John Sears), Burgess Centre/University of Manchester.

2014: Lecture, ‘Lee Miller’s Transgressive Eroticism’, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.

2014: Talk, ‘Refiguring Claude Cahun’, Parallel Lives: Marlow Moss & Claude Cahun, Leeds Art Gallery.

2014: Talk, ‘Taking Shots and the Archive’, Photography and the Archive workshop, European Languages and Cultures, University of Edinburgh.

2013: ‘Lee Miller’s Signscapes’, Alternative Modernisms: An International, Interdisciplinary Conference, Cardiff University.

2012: 'Remapping Surrealism - Lee Miller's Cartographies', MLA Annual Convention, Seattle, USA.

2011: ‘René Magritte/Georges Bataille', Scholar's Morning, Tate Liverpool.

2011: Lecture, ‘Lee Miller’s Revenge on (Fascist) Culture’, University of Sussex.

2010: Lecture ‘Lee Miller – The Art of Fixing a Shadow’, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh.

2010: Roundtable contribution to the seminar Don’t Ask for the Mona Lisa: Exhibition Collaborations between Academics and Art Galleries, Organised by the Museums and Exhibitions Group of the Association of Art Historians, University of Leeds. 

2010: Lecture, ‘Women Artists and Surrealism’, Oxford Women in Politics Seminar, University of Oxford.

2010: Conference keynote, ‘Relating the Story of Things’, The Story of Things, REACT, University of Salford and MMU Special Collections, Manchester.

2009: ‘In Conversation with Carson & Miller’, The Story of Things, MMU Special Collections, Manchester.

2009: Conference talk: ‘Beyond Frontiers: Lee Miller’s Nomadic Surrealism’, Across the Frontiers: International Surrealism, CRASSH, University of Cambridge.

2009: Lecture, ‘“The problem of woman” – Women Artists and Surrealism’ Friends of National Museum of Women in the Arts, London.

2009: Lecture, ‘Im Anfang war der Blick: Horror and History in Bady Minck’s Films’, Women Surrealist Filmmakers film showing series, Cornerhouse, Manchester. 

2009: Lecture, ‘Curator's Talk - Women Artists, Surrealism and Tradition’, Women Artists and Surrealism lecture series, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester.

2009: Lecture, ‘Curating Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism’, Friends of Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester.

2006: Lecture: ‘The Force of Habit – René Magritte and Forgery’, Research Seminar, Centre for Surrealism and Its Legacies, University of Manchester.




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