Prof. Dr. Isabel Wünsche

Professor of Art and Art History
School of Business, Social & Decision Sciences
Constructor University Bremen gGmbH
Res. IV | Campus Ring 1 | 28759 Bremen
Phone number
+49 421 200-3311
Fax number
+49 421 200-49-3311
Email Address
Research IV, Room 107
Research Interests
  • 19th and 20th-century art and art theory
  • artist networks
  • abstraction
  • modernism
  • and the avant-garde movements
University Education

Ruprecht Karls University, Heidelberg, Germany, 1993-1997
Ph.D. in Art History, Classical and Christian Archaeology, May 1997
Dissertation: "Das Kunstkonzept der Organischen Kultur in der Kunst der russischen Avantgarde" (The Concept of Organic Culture in the Art of the Russian Avant-garde)

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, 1993-1996
Visiting Scholar at the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and the Institute of Modern Russian Culture

Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, 1990-1991
MA Exchange Student at the Department of History of Russian and Soviet Art

Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany, 1986-1992
MA in Art History, August 1992
Thesis: "Erweitertes Sehen und Organische Kultur: M. V. Matiusins Handbuch der Farbe" (Extended Viewing and Organic Culture: M. V. Matiushin's Guide to Color)

Fellowships and Awards
  • Discovery Grant of the Australian Research Council (ARC), 2016-2018
  • Research Grants, German Academic Exchange Board (DAAD), 2014-2015
  • Research Grant, German Academic Exchange Board (DAAD), 2012-2013
  • Research Fellowship, German Science Foundation (DFG), 2011-2012
  • Achievement Certificate for 10-Year Service to Jacobs University, December 2011
  • Research Fellowship, Institute for Advanced Study, Collegium Budapest, 2008-2009
  • Research Fellowship, National Humanities Center, North Carolina, USA, 2007-2008
  • Research Fellowship, Nancy and Norton Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 2003-2004 and 2007
  • Mayers Fellowship, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California, 2003-2004, 2007
  • Travel Grant, German Science Foundation, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
  • Travel Grant, Society of Literature and Science, 2000 IREX Short-Term Travel Grant, 1999-2000
  • Three-Year Research Grant from the Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz Foundation, 1993-1996
  • Grant from the Walter Kaminsky Foundation, 1990-1991
  • State Grant for Exchange Students at Moscow State University, 1990-1991
Research and Teaching Positions

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino: Research Associate for American Art, August 2000 - August 2001

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Division of Humanities and Social Sciences: Lecturer in Art History, 1998-2001

UCLA Extension, Online Teaching: Lecturer in Art History, Winter 2001

Scripps College, Claremont, Department of Art and Art History: Lecturer in Art History, Spring 2000

Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena: Curatorial Associate for the Blue Four Cataloguing Project, February 1997 - December 1999

Los Angeles County Museum of Art: Fellow at the Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies, September 1995 - September 1996

Funded Projects

Research Project “Bauhaus Australia: Émigrés, Refugees and the Modernist Transformation of Education in Art, Architecture, and Design, 1930 to 1970,” together with Philip Goad (University of Melbourne), Harriet Enquist (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology), Andrew McNamara (QUT), and Ann Stephen (University of Sydney) Discovery Grant of the Australian Research Council, 2016-2018

Research Project “German-Portuguese Artist Relations in the 20th Century,” together with Lucia Matos, University of Porto, projektbezogener Personenaustausch mit Portugal, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), 2014-2015

Research Project “German-Croatian Artist Networks in the 20th Century,” together with Ljiljana Kolesnik, Institute of Art History, Zagreb, projektbezogener Personenaustausch mit Kroatien, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), 2014-2015

Research Project “The Reception of German Modernism and the Bauhaus in Australian Art, Architecture, and Art Education between 1920 and 1960,” together with Andrew McNamara, Queensland University of Technology, projektbezogener Personenaustausch zwischen dem Deutschen Akademischen Austauschdienst (DAAD) und dem Australian Technology Network (ATN), 2012-2013

Research Project “The Politics of Abstraction: Modernist Art and Visual Culture in the Globalized World,” Humanities Research Center, Jacobs University Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), 2011-2012

Selected Publications


Tanja Malycheva and Isabel Wünsche (eds.), Marianne Werefkin and the Women Artists in Her Circle, Amsterdam: Brill/Rodopi, 2016.

Isabel Wünsche and Wiebke Gronemeyer (eds.), Practices of Abstract Art: Between Anarchism and Appropriation, Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016.

Isabel Wünsche, The Organic School of the Russian Avant-Garde: Nature’s Creative Principles, Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2015.

Paul Crowther and Isabel Wünsche (eds.), Meanings of Abstract Art: Between Nature and Theory, London: Routledge, 2012. (

Isabel Wünsche, Kunst & Leben. Michail Matjuschin und die russische Avantgarde in St. Petersburg, Köln: Böhlau, 2012.

Oliver A. I. Botar and Isabel Wünsche (eds.), Biocentrism and Modernism, Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2011 (

Harmonie und Synthese. Die russische Moderne zwischen universellem Anspruch und nationaler kultureller Identität, München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2008.

Ada Raev, Isabel Wünsche (eds.), Kursschwankungen: Russische Kunst im Wertesystem der europäischen Moderne, Berlin: Lukas Verlag, 2007.

Galka E. Scheyer & The Blue Four: Correspondence 1924-1945. (German and English editions), Bern: Benteli, Spring 2006.

Books and Editions in Preparation:

Isabel Wünsche (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Expressionism in a Transnational Context, New York: Routledge, 2018 (under contract).

Isabel Wünsche, Sebastian Borkhardt, and Tanja Malycheva (eds.), IN MEMORIAM: DMITRY VLADIMIROVICH SARABYANOV, special issue of Eksperiment/Experiment, Los Angeles: IMRC, 2017 (forthcoming).

Articles and Book Chapters (last five years):

Andrew McNamara, Ann Stephen, and Isabel Wünsche, “Refugees and émigrés to Australia, 1930-1950: Three cases of light, colour and material studies in the Antipodes under the shadow of fascism and war,” in Migration Processes and Artistic Practices in Wartime, Lisbon: Artistic Studies Research Centre (CIEBA), Faculdade de Belas-Artes da Universidade de Lisboa (in preparation).

“Natural Phenomena and Universal Laws: The Organic School of the Russian Avant-garde,” in Natural-Unnatural: Organicity and the Avant-garde, ed. Paulina Kurc-Maj and Aleksandra Jach (Lodz: Museum Sztuki, 2017) (forthcoming).

Faktura versus Style: The Russianness of Avant-Garde Art,” in: Art Histories Supplement 2.0, special issue “Stories of East European and Russian Art: Alternative Art Histories,” ed. Clemena Antonov, January 2017 (forthcoming).

“Von der Metaphysik zur Psychophysik: Reflexionen zum Wesen des künstlerischen Schaffensprozesses in den kunsttheoretischen Schriften von Nikolaj Kulbin und Wassily Kandinsky” (From Metaphysics to Psychophysics: Reflexions on the Nature of Artistic Creativity in the Writings of Nikolai Kulbin and Wassily Kandinsky), in: Frank Thomas Grub, Edgar Platen, Siegfried Ulbrecht, Helena Ulbrechtova (eds.), Literatur und Wissen, Prague: Academy of Sciences, Dresden: Neisse Verlag (forthcoming).

 “Transgressing National Borders and Artistic Styles: The November Group and the International Avant-Garde in Berlin during the Interwar Period,” in Art/Histories in Transcultural Dynamics, Late 19th to Early 21st Centuries, Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2017, pp. 291-307.

“California Modernism, European Émigré Artists, and the Summer Sessions at Mills College in Oakland, California,” in Global Mobilities: Refugees, Exiles and Immigrants in Museums and Archives, ed. Amy Levin, London, New York: Routledge, 2017, pp. 423-438.

“Exile, the Avant-garde, and Dada: Women Artists Active in Switzerland during the First World War,” in Marianne Werefkin and the Women Artists in her Circle, ed. Tanja Malycheva and Isabel Wünsche, Amsterdam: Brill/Rodopi, 2016, pp. 48-67.

“Wassily Kandinsky and František Kupka: Between Metaphysics and Psychophysics,” in Practices of Abstract Art: Between Anarchism and Appropriation, ed. Isabel Wünsche and Wiebke Gronemeyer, Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016, pp. 11-29.

“Western Modernism at and beyond the Margins: František Kupka and Margaret Preston,” in The Humanities between Global Integration and Cultural Diversity, ed. Hans Kippenberg and Birgit Mersmann, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015, pp. 141-153.

“From Vorkurs to vertikale Brigaden: Visual Arts Education at the Bauhaus,” in Bauhaus – Networking Ideas and Practice (BAUNET), exh. cat., Zagreb: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2015, pp. 60-79.

“Der Sturm und Die Abstrakten – Internationale Vereinigung der Expressionisten, Futuristen, Kubisten und Konstruktivisten e.V.” (Der Sturm and Die Abstrakten – International Association of the Expressionists, Futurists, Cubists, and Constructivists), in Der Sturm – Literatur, Musik, Graphik und die Vernetzung in der Zeit des Expressionismus (Der Sturm – Literature, Musik, Graphic Works and Networking in the Period of Expressionism), ed. Henriette Herwig and Andrea von Hülsen-Esch, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015, pp. 356-375.

“Elena Guro: On the Crossroads between Symbolism, Organicism and Cubo-Futurism,” in International Yearbook of Futurism Studies, special issue Women Artists and Futurism, ed. Günter Berghaus, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015, pp. 266-291.

“Kunst und Revolution. Der Konstruktivismus und die Politik” (Art and Revolution: Constructivism and Politics”, in Rodtschenko. Eine neue Zeit (Alexander Rodchenko: A New Time), ed. Alla Chilova and Ortrud Westheider, exh. cat., Hamburg: Bucerius Kunst Forum; Munich: Hirmer, 2013, pp. 22-33.

“The Evolution of Human Eyesight: Mikhail Matiushin’s Organic Culture in the Art of the Russian Avant-Garde,” Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art (2012): 25-41.

“Life into Art: Nature Philosophy, the Life Sciences, and Abstract Art,” in Meanings of Abstract Art: Between Nature and Theory, ed. Paul Crowther and Isabel Wünsche, London: Routledge, 2012, pp. 9-29.

“Mills College, Oakland, California: Ein Liberal Arts College als Anlaufpunkt, Arbeitgeber und Vernetzungsort für Künstler und Kunsthistoriker an der Westküste (Mills College, Oakland, California: A Liberal Arts College as Arrival Place, Employer, and Networking Structure for Artists and Art Historians at the West Coast), in Netzwerke des Exils. Künstlerische Verflechtungen, Austausch und Patronage nach 1933 (Exile Networks: Artistic Relations, Exchange, and Patronage after 1933), ed. Burcu Dogramaci and Karin Wimmer, Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 2011, pp. 333-354.

“Sammlerinnen im Dienste der Kunstvermittlung – Katherine S. Dreier, Galka E. Scheyer und Hilla von Rebay (Female Collectors Promoting Art Education: Katherine S. Dreier, Galka E. Scheyer und Hilla von Rebay),” in Geschmacksgeschichte(n). Öffentliches und privates Kunstsammeln in Deutschland 1871-1933 (Histories of Taste: Public and Private Art Collecting in Germany 1871-1933), ed. Ulrike Wolff-Thomsen and Sven Kuhrau, Kiel: Ludwig, 2011, pp. 194-215.

“Kasimir Malewitsch. Das Schwarze Quadrat” (Kazimir Malevich: The Black Square), in Atlas der Weltbilder (Atlas of Worldviews), ed. Jochen Brüning, Peter Deuflhard, and Christoph Markschies, Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 2011, pp. 354-365.

“Seeing Sound—Hearing Colour: The Synaesthetic Experience in Russian Avant-Garde Art,” in Music and Modernism, ed. Charlotte de Mille, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011, pp. 95-120.

“Organic Visions and Biological Models in Russian Avant-Garde Art,” in Biocentrism and Modernism, ed. Oliver A. I. Botar and Isabel Wünsche, Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2011, pp. 127-152.

“From Cultural Provincialism to Art Establishment: The Silesia Artists’ Union in Breslau,” Centropa, Vol. 11, No. 1 (January 2011): 48-65.


Publications on Scopus
Wünsche, I.
Material Modernity: Innovations in Art, Design, and Architecture in the Weimar Republic 2022 pp. 39-60
Piters-Hofmann, L. Wünsche, I.
Russian History 2020 46 (4) pp. 239-240
Piters-Hofmann, L. Wünsche, I.
Russian History 2019 46 (4) pp. 239-240
Wünsche, I.
Groups, Coteries, Circles and Guilds: Modernist Aesthetics and the Utopian Lure of Community 2019 pp. 225-247
Wünsche, I.
The Routledge Companion to Expressionism in a Transnational Context 2018 pp. 1-582
Wünsche, I.
The Routledge Companion to Expressionism in a Transnational Context 2018 pp. 1-30
Wünsche, I.
The Routledge Companion to Expressionism in a Transnational Context 2018 pp. 113-133
Wünsche, I.
The Humanities between Global Integration and Cultural Diversity 2016 pp. 141-153
Wünsche, I.
Global Mobilities: Refugees, Exiles, and Immigrants in Museums and Archives 2016 pp. 423-438
Wünsche, I.
Meanings of Abstract Art: Between Nature and Theory 2012 pp. 1-29
Wünsche, I.
Meanings of Abstract Art: Between Nature and Theory 2012 pp. 9-29
Crowther, P. Wünsche, I.
Meanings of Abstract Art: Between Nature and Theory 2012 pp. 1-300
Wünsche, I.
Gender, Sexuality and Museums: A Routledge Reader 2010 pp. 213-228
Other Professional Activities

Advisory Boards:

International Editorial Advisory Board of the Academic Review “Menotyra”, Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, Vilnius, Lithuania

International Board of the Institute of Art History, Academy of Sciences, Zagreb, Croatia

International Editorial Advisory Board of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism

International Board of the journal Germanoslavia, Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic

Organization of Conferences and Workshops (last five years):

“Intersections of Art, Science, and Technology in Soviet Film and Culture,” 4th Workshop of the Russian Art & Culture Group, Jacobs University, Bremen, September 2016 (together with Hanin Hannouch)

International Workshop “Peripheral Expressionisms: Artistic Networks and Cultural Exchange between Germany and its Eastern Neighbors in the Context of the European Avant-garde,” Jacobs University, Bremen, December 2015

“Russian Art: Building Bridges between East and West. In Memoriam Dmitry Sarabyanov,” 3rd Workshop of the Russian Art & Culture Group, Jacobs University, Bremen, November 2015 (together with Sebastian Borkhardt and Tanja Malycheva)

International Symposium “Collaborative Artist Networks in the Twentieth Century and Beyond,” Jacobs University, Bremen, July 2015

“Russian Art: Changing Perceptions,” 2nd Workshop of the Russian Art & Culture Group, Jacobs University, Bremen, June 2015 (together with Tanja Malycheva und Rebecca Wichmann)

International Workshop Digital Abstraction at the Interface between Electronic Media Arts and Data Visualization, Jacobs University, Bremen, May 2015 (together with Birgit Mersmann)

Grenzüberschreitungen: Marianne Werefkin und die kosmopolitischen Künstlerinnen in ihrem Umfeld / Crossing Borders: Marianne Werefkin and the Cosmopolitan Women Artists in her Circle, International Conference, Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum, Bremen, September 11-12, 2014 (together with Tanja Malycheva)

European Network for Avant-garde and Modernism Studies: Session “Utopias of Abstract Art,” Fourth Bi-Annual Conference, University of Helsinki, Finland, August 2014

"Avant-Garde Networks and Cultural Exchange between Germany and its Eastern Neighbors, " 1910-1930, International Workshop, Jacobs University, Bremen, October 2013

International Conference, 100 Years of Abstract Art: Theory and Practice, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jacobs University, Bremen, May 2013

Supervision of PhD Dissertations:

Ela Krieger: Repetition and Mediality in the Work of Jasper Johns, chair, begun in 2016

Hanin Hannouch: Sergei Eisenstein as Art Historian, IMT Lucca, Institute For Advanced Studies, external supervisor, begun in 2016

Miriam Häßler: Zwischen künstlerischer Forderung und politischer Inanspruchnahme. Die “Erste Russische Kunstausstellung” 1922 in Berlin, University of Hamburg, external supervisor, begun in 2015

Nina Blum de Almeida: Hein Semke (1899-1995) – A German Artist in Portugal, chair, begun in 2014

Veronica Bremer: The Second Wave of Bauhaus Artists: The Collings Duo and the Two Richards in Australia, chair, begun in 2014

Rebecca Lilianne Wichmann: The Transition of Space: Quiet Lights to a New Utopia. A History of the Impact of Space Exploration on the Visual Arts in the 20th and 21st Centuries, chair, begun in 2014

Stefanie Bräuer: Oszillografie in der Medienkunst, University of Basle, external supervisor, begun in 2014

Florian Wiencek: Digital Mediation of Art. A Database Approach, second reviewer, to be completed in 2017

Kirill Chunikhin: The Representation of American Visual Art in the USSR during the Cold War (1950s to the late 1960s), chair, completed in June 2016

Judith Rozner, Alberto Burri: The Art of the Matter, University of Melbourne, external reviewer, completed in May 2015

Sophie Gerlach: Neo Rauch – A German Painter within German Traditions?, second reviewer, completed in September 2009

Laura Petican: The Persistence of a Baroque Mentality in Arte Povera, chair, completed in August 2009

Isabelle Schwarz: The Artistic Concept of the European Archives for Artists’ Publications, chair, completed in May 2006