Education: BA, magna cum laude, 2001, Harvard University; MA, 2006, PhD, 2011, Princeton University. Awards: 2020 Dedalus Foundation Senior Fellowship; 2019 David Baumgardt Memorial Fellowship, Leo Baeck Institute; 2016 Robert Motherwell Book Award; 2016 Jean Goldman Book Prize; Felix Gilbert Residential Fellowship, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, Research Fellowship for postdoctoral researchers; Jane Faggen Dissertation Prize, Princeton; Dedalus Foundation Dissertation Fellowship.
- Paul Klee: The Visible and the Legible (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015)
- The Angelus Novus and Its Interleaf (under contract with University of Chicago Press)
Selected Recent Articles and Book Chapters
- "Type/Face: Wassily Kandinsky and Walter Benjamin on Language and Perception." In German Expressionism: Der Blaue Reiter and Its Legacies, ed. Dorothy Price, Manchester University Press, 2020
- "Otti Berger's bauhaus picture book." In The Bauhaus and Harvard, ed. Laura Muir, Harvard Art Museums, 2020
- “Interfaces and Proxies: Placing Moholy-Nagy’s Prints,” Leonardo 50, no. 3 (2017), special section “In Focus: László Moholy-Nagy,” ed. Maria Kokkori, Joyce Tsai, and Francesca Casadio
My research investigates relationships among the visual arts, print culture, and writing about art in modernity. I focus on these exchanges mostly, but not exclusively, in Central Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; my research engages with literary studies, media history, and, more recently, religious studies, including work on visual and material cultures of religion, which holds particular promise for examining a constitutive blind spot in the field of modern art.
My second book, The Angelus Novus and Its Interleaf, exemplifies my art-historical scholarship, estranging the seemingly well-known by combining object-driven research, microhistorical approaches, apprenticeships in the disciplines and bodies of knowledge towards which my objects direct me, and an attention to artists' art histories.
Its starting point is the artist R. H. Quaytman's startling recent discovery that the artist Paul Klee visibly and intentionally interleaved an engraving of Martin Luther in his famous Angelus Novus (1920). Closely examining this modernist icon, and pictures and texts circulating around it, I argue that Klee in his picture superimposed images in artistic and religious conflict. I argue further that its first owner, the critic Walter Benjamin, borrowed this strategy to figure the kind of exchange among religions he wanted to see, even planning in 1921-22 to launch a journal, titled Angelus Novus after the picture, to host it. The new discovery, combined with assiduous archival research and reexamination of objects and sources, including the network of little magazines around the failed journal project, allows the tracing of a dense tangle of contentious conversations among works of art and writings about them through which, in the aftermath of the First World War, romantic anticapitalist circles imagined possible relations in modernity among art, politics, religion, and religions (primarily, but not exclusively, Judaism, Protestantism, and Catholicism).
A lesson I have learned from the objects I study is that of the importance of estrangement or defamiliarization—a modernist artistic technique I use as an art historian. Much of my work seeks to defamiliarize "old" media such as painting or printmaking, often by examining imagined behaviors around them, such as kissing, hiding, defacing, visualizing, and meditating.
Recent Thesis Advisees
- Samantha Adams (2021), “Ambivalent Images, or Tracing Repetition Compulsion in the Visual Vocabulary of Georges Bataille’s Editing of Documents Magazine, 1929-1930”
- Gunnar Olseth (2021), “Touch and Vision in Claude Cahun's Irrational Objects”
Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.