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Claudia Di Tosto

Thesis: From Empire to Commonwealth: Britain at the Venice Biennale, 1948 – present

Supervisors: Dr Rosie Dias and Prof Michael Hatt (Warwick); Dr Sarah Victoria Turner (Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art)


My research project explores the recent history of the British Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale through the lenses of global and national art histories, exhibition history and postcolonial theory. Uniquely amongst global mega-exhibitions, the Venice Biennale, with its national pavilions, offers an insight not only into how nations represent themselves through art at specific historical moments, but also into how cultural productions respond to shifting global relationships and configurations. Following a hiatus during the second world war, the Biennale resumed in 1948 against the political backdrop of a drastically transformed Europe, and of rapid, ongoing decolonisation. Drawing out the complexities of Britain’s imperial legacies and their cultural manifestations, the project will explore the Pavilion as a site of national self-definition (and redefinition), and also as a space which, within Venice’s exhibition ecosystem, operates in dialogue with new artistic voices from Commonwealth nations. As Britain, post-Brexit, once again reconfigures its global position (and its relationship with the Commonwealth), the project will offer a timely reconsideration of the Pavilion’s articulations of Britishness in both its inward and outward-looking forms.

AHRC-funded Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership (M4C)


  • ‘Postcolonial Theory and Exhibition Histories: the Example of the British Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale’ - Department of Anthropology PhD-led Seminar, University ‘La Sapienza’, Rome, April 2022
  • ‘Austerity and Muddled Optimism’: the Impact of Decolonisation on Britain’s Participation at the 1948 Venice Biennale’ - ‘Culture, Things, and Empire’ Virtual Seminar Series, online, May 2022
  • ‘The British Pavilion at the 1948 Venice Biennale: National Self-Definition and the International Image of Britain’ - Visual Intersections Summer School VI, Centre for Visual Arts and Culture, Durham University, Durham, June 2022
  • ‘Britain at the 1948 Venice Biennale‘ - ‘Re-Considering British Art History: The ECRN and DRN Summer Symposium’, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, June 2022
  • ‘Austerity and Muddled Optimism’: the Impact of Decolonisation on Britain’s Participation at the 1948 Venice Biennale’ - Global Dis:connect Summer School, Käte Hamburger Research Centre, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Munich, August 2022

Public Engagement:

  • Co-organiser of National Identity and Exhibition Histories: from fin-de-siècle world’s fairs to contemporary art biennials, M4C-funded Online Symposium, forthcoming (January 2023)



  • Second-level Master in Standards for Museum Education, University of Rome 'Roma Tre', Italy (2019)
  • MA in Museum Studies, University of Leicester (2017)
  • MA in History of Art, University of Rome 'La Sapienza', Italy (2015)
  • BA in Cultural Heritage Studies, University of Rome 'Tor Vergata', Italy (2012)


  • Assistant Curator: Collections, IMMA - Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (February - September 2021)
  • Exhibitions Assistant, Victoria and Albert Museum, London (August 2019 - December 2020)
  • Collaborator, Vatican Museums - Modern and Contemporary Art Department (July 2018 - July 2019)
  • Assistant Registrar (paid internship), MAXXI - National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome (November 2017 - April 2018)
  • Curatorial Assistant (student placement), Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (July 2017 - September 2017)