Dropped out of university to attend art college. Made sculpture in the 1960/70s (exhibitions at Museum of Modern Art, Oxford and Serpentine Gallery, London) then, under the influence of Conceptual Art and the politics of the period, work took an academic turn - critical/cultural theory: Marxism, Structuralism, Semiotics and the 'new' art history. Co-founded the journal BLOCK (1979-89) and the Block/Tate conferences and publications on visual culture. Teaching, writing and curating for the next two decades: a dozen or so books authored, edited or contributed to; exhibitons include Nancy Spero, Institute of Contemporary Arts (1987); the Leon Golub retrospective, Dublin, London, Buffalo and New York (2000-01); Nancy Spero and Kiki Smith at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (2003-04); 'Gradiva: Willaim Cobbing' at the Freud Museum, London (2007-08); Leon Golub retrospective, Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid (2011) Returned to studio practice (painting) after completing a postgraduate drawing year at the Princes Drawing School (2006-7). Group Exhibitions in London (Tea Building,2007), New York (Sideshow Gallery Brooklyn, 2009), C2 Gallery (Milton Keynes, 2012), 2-person exhibition, Sideshow Gallery (2012).
Most recently, Prof Bird has continued to extend his research on American artist Leon Golub with a range of outputs in preparation for 2015-2016. He contributed to the exhibition The Nakeds at The Drawing Room in London and was speaker at the symposium organized to accompany the exhibition. He is collaborating with the Serpentine Galleries on their forthcoming exhibition on Leon Golub and he is co-organizing and he is the keynote speaker for a conference on the work of the artist. The exhibition opens early March and the conference is late April 2015. Simultaneously he is co-organizer (Prof Mignon Nixon) and contributor to a symposium on Golub to be held March 2015 at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. Prof Bird is curator of an exhibition of Golub's political portraits (Portraits of Power) for the National Portrait Gallery which will open in February 2016. He is also editor and co-author to a book accompanying the exhibition to be published by Reaktion Books in 2016. He is currently writing an essay on the early paintings of Golub (1950s-60s) for an exhibition of the Chicago Monster Roster Group to be held at the Smart Museum, University of Chicago, early 2016.
Prof Bird is contributing to an exhibition of the work of the American artist Nancy Spero located at the Punta della Dogana in Venice opening in April 2015. He is also writing a chapter on Nancy Spero's War Paintings for Joanna Bourke (ed.) A Global History of Art in Modern Warfare to be published by Reaktion late 2016.
He is co-organizer (with Dr Luke Skrebowski) of a conference on the American artist Hans Haacke on the occasion of the unveiling of his sculpture for the 4th Plinth in Trafalgar Square, to be held at London Institute of Contemporary Art, March 2015.
Jon Bird is a member of the Visual Culture and Curating Research Cluster.
Robin Bale: The art object/performer and the audience as Polity.
Andrew Graves: Very abstract and not so abstract painting: New and Contemporary British Abstraction.
Kevina Labonne: The Model of Artifice.
Gudrun Filipska: Fin de siècle trajectories and industrial heritage trails.1850-2000 Representation of the mine from Poland to England, An aesthetic and inter discursive history.
Oliver Rees: Drawing as Tragedy: The comparative architecture of Joseph Gandy, 1771-1843.
Nikos Tsiaparas: Picturing the Child.
Bird, Jon (2019) If you go down to the woods today...Alfredo Jaar's sites of resistance. In: Alfredo Jaar: The Garden of Good and Evil [Exhibition Catalogue]. Yorkshire Sculpture Park, United Kingdom, pp. 107-123. ISBN 9781908432421
Bird, Jon (2019) Alfredo Jaar: Towards a culture of resistance [Curator]. [Show/Exhibition]
Bird, Jon (2018) Leon Golub: Raw nerve [Consultant / Curator]. [Show/Exhibition]
Bird, Jon (2017) Inside out, outside in [Review article]. Le Monde diplomatique . ISSN 0026-9395
Bird, Jon (2017) I do (not) challenge: Nancy Spero's war series. In: War and art - a visual history of modern conflict. Bourke, Joanna , ed. Reaktion Books, London, UK. ISBN 9781780238463