Leah Pires is an art historian whose research and teaching focus on the politics of representation in modern and contemporary art. Her current book project, Finessing the Frame, looks at the intersection of art and politics in New York circa 1980. It shows how the conceptual photographer Louise Lawler and her contemporaries reimagined critique as finesse—a tactic of resistance that comes from within power structures themselves. She is also the editor of an anthology of the feminist art magazine Eau de Cologne forthcoming from MIT Press. These projects reflect her broader investment in analyzing issues of gender, race, and subjectivity in art since 1960.
Alongside her scholarly research, she has curated several exhibitions of contemporary art, including Interior Garden (Museum Reinickendorf, Berlin) and Finesse (Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York). She has authored catalogue essays on the work of B. Ingrid Olson (forthcoming), Lucy McKenzie, and Carissa Rodriguez, among others, and her criticism has been published in Triple Canopy, 4 Columns, and Art in America.
Her work has been supported by fellowships from the Pembroke Center for Research and Teaching on Women at Brown University, the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University, Humanities New York, and the Canada Council for the Arts. She holds a PhD in Art History from Columbia University and is a graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program. Before coming to the University of Chicago, she taught art history and theory at Brown University, Columbia University, Bennington College, and Providence College.