Lily Woodruff
(517) 432-3109

322 Kresge Art Center
600 Auditorium Rd
East Lansing, MI 48824

FacultyArt, Art History, and DesignFilm StudiesGlobal Studies in Arts and Humanities

Associate Professor
Art History & Visual Culture


Lily Woodruff received a dual Ph.D. in Art History from Northwestern University and in Histoire et Civilisation from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), both in 2012. Her research examines contemporary art with specific focuses on art and ecology, social and institutional critique, technology, participation.

Her first book, Disordering the Establishment: Participatory Art and Institutional Critique in France, 1958-1981 looks at the ways that artists developed democratizing strategies such as audience participation and institutional critique during the rise of technocracy under the Fifth Republic. It investigates the social and political artworld discourses that prefigure the mass protest movements of 1968, and demonstrates how the ideals of self-management and social integration impacted artists in the years following. Specifically, it examines the kinetic and op art of the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (Horacio Garcia Rossi, Julio Le Parc, François Morellet, Francisco Sobrino, Joël Stein, and Yvaral), the early guerrilla posters of Daniel Buren, André Cadere’s exhibitions at other artists’ gallery openings, and the social practice of the Collectif d’Art Sociologique (Hervé Fischer, Fred Forest, and Jean-Paul Thénot). Research for this book was supported by grants and fellowships from the Camargo Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, the Chateaubriand, and the Jeanne Marandon, and MSU’s Humanities and Arts Research and Production program.

Woodruff’s current work examines new ecological models of history and aesthetics that have appeared in recent artworks that take up methodologies of institutional critique and archival research on the subject of the Anthropocene.

Woodruff serves as President of the European Postwar and Contemporary Art Forum (EPCAF), and as editor for exhibitions in the Midwest. At MSU, she is a regular contributor to the Film Collective and the Broad Underground Film Series. 

Teaching interests include modern and contemporary global art history and visual culture, Marxist aesthetic theory, political theory, trans-Atlantic artistic exchange, gender and sexuality, social practice, art and sociology, and photography.


HA 240 “Introduction to Modern Art”

HA 291 “Art and the Environment: from Romanticism to Eco Art”

HA 252 “Introduction to Contemporary Art”

IAH 241C “The Everyday: Art, Literature, and Popular Culture from Surrealism to Today”

HA 491 “Social Practice: Theory and Praxis”

HA 491 “Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Art”

HA 491 “Art and Performance”

HA 491 “New Media: Intersections of Art and Technology since the 1960s”



Disordering the Establishment: Participatory Art and Institutional Critique in France, 1958–1981 (Duke University Press, 2020)

Peer-reviewed articles, criticism, and reviews

“André Cadere’s Disorderly Conduct,” in Catherine Dossin ed., France and the Visual Arts since 1945: Remapping European Postwar and Contemporary Art(New York, London: Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2018)

“ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow” (Guggenheim, New York Oct. 10 2014 –Jan. 7 2015), April, 2016

“Isa Genzken: Retrospective” (MoMA Nov. 23 2-13 – March 10 2014), January, 2015

“The Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel Against the Technocrats,” Art Journal 73 (Fall 2014): 18-37

“Didier Bay’s Photographic Sociology of Post-1968 Paris,”, issue 12 (Summer 2014)

“Greater New York 2005” (P.S.1. March 13-Sept. 26, 2005),, March, 2006


“The Fetish Character in Experimental Music” by Mathieu Saladin, Tacet Experimental Music Review n. 1 December 2011 (9000 words)

“Oh! Space… space…” by Beatriz Ferreyra, Asymmetry Music Magazine Feb. 10, 2010 (4300 words)

University News

Several College of Arts & Letters Projects Supported by HARP Grants
Published December 13, 2023 in College of Arts & Letters
A collage of photos of various different people in front of a collection of backgrounds.
Twelve College of Arts & Letters faculty members currently are working on projects supported by 2023 Humanities and Arts Research Program (HARP) Grants. The projects range from mixed media…Read now »
100-Year Anniversary of Bauhaus Celebrated at MSU
Published October 22, 2019 in College of Arts & Letters
two men sitting on the ground who are holding giant white plastic wrap and strings
The College of Arts & Letters and Residential College in the Arts and Humanities came together last week to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the founding of Bauhaus, a famous art school…Read now »