Mendelson Michaelis

Exhibiting the 1930s: Photography, Modernism, and Print Culture

Thursday 5 November at 18:30 in EV-1.615
Concordia University

Jordana Mendelson
New York University


This talk responds to a commission to curate an exhibition on the 1930s that will be multi-media and international in scope. A central consideration in formulating the organization and contents of the exhibition is the place of photography within a larger narrative about modernism in the 1930s. How does photography, and especially photographs in print, trouble and complicate the interpretations that historians have put forward about the political dimension of artists' output at that time? What role do anonymous, amateur, and industrial photographs play in redefining the idea of modernist photography between the wars? Exhibiting the 1930s will address the institutional uses of photography by examining how photography was incorporated massively into the illustrated press and other print media, including posters, magazines, and large-scale exhibitions. Particular emphasis will be given to the different facets of photography that were employed by artists working on government-sponsored projects in Europe between the wars.

Jordana Mendelson is an associate professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, New York University. Her research focuses on early twentieth-century visual culture in Spain. Her articles have appeared in The Art Journal, Boletín de la Institución Libre de Enseñanza, Catalan Review, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, and Modernism/Modernity. She is the author of Documenting Spain: Artists, Exhibition Culture, and the Modern Nation 1929-1939 (Penn State University Press, 2005) and Revistas y Guerra 1936-1939/Magazines and War 1936-1939 (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, 2007), and the co-author of Margaret Michaelis: Fotografía, Vanguardia y Política en la Barcelona de la República (Institut Valencià d'Art Moderno, 1999). She has curated numerous exhibitions, including Other Weapons: Photography and Print Culture during the Spanish Civil War (International Center of Photography, 2007).

Image: Margaret Michaelis, Kiosk in Barcelona, circa 1936.