History and Theory of Art

Group leader
History and Theory of Art
Specific themes and goals
  • Bauhaus Australia: The goal of the project was to provide the first systematic examination of cross-disciplinary approaches to art, architecture, and design education brought to Australia by modernist émigrés from Germany, Austria, and Central Europe. The project, titled “Bauhaus Australia: Émigrés, Refugees and the Modernist Transformation of Education in Art, Architecture, and Design, 1930 to 1970” and funded by the ARC, 2016-2019, resulted in two exhibitions and a book publication. 
  • German-Finnish Artistic Relations: This research project focused on German-Finnish artists’ relations during the period 1890s to 1980s, which — although an important aspect of the artistic exchange between artists in the various European art centers — have, so far, found only little scholarly recognition. Particular emphasis was on the collaboration and cooperation of artists in the expressionist movement, the networks of Dada, Fluxus, and the neo avantgarde, and their significance for modern and contemporary art practices. 
  • The Russian Art and Culture Group: This is a platform for discussing various aspects of Russian and Soviet visual arts, music, and literature; it brings together young researchers with established international scholars from East and West. Since 2014, graduate students affiliated with the group have organized eight workshops in Bremen, Berlin, and Vienna. Themes under consideration were East-West cultural relations; intersections of art, science, and technology in Soviet film; Russian art theory and criticism; and the problem of religion in art. From 2017 to 2021, the group’s activities were generously supported by the Kroll Family Trust, Switzerland.
Highlights and impact

Prof. Wünsche was invited to give several talks during the period, including one at the online symposium: “What can can the Black Square do? On curiosities and utilities of avant-garde collections” and a keynote address at the Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium in 2022. The group held a number of events, including:

  • “What is to be Done? — Discussions in Russian Art Theory and Criticism II”, 7th Workshop of the Russian Art & Culture Group, Jacobs University Bremen in cooperation with and Forschungsstelle Osteuropa, Bremen, September 2019.
  • “The Problem of Religious Art in Modernity: Uses and Abuses of the Icon in Russia”, 8th Workshop of the Russian Art & Culture Group in cooperation with the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna, October 2020.
  • International Conference, “100 Years of German-Russian Cultural Exchange: The First Russian Art Exhibition”, Staatsbibliothek Berlin, October 2021 

In 2021, Prof. Wünsche was appointed a scout for the Henriette Herz Scouting Program of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. In 2022, she was awarded a research fellowship at the Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the United States.

Group composition & projects/funding

Prof. Wünsche’s research group consists of six PhD students and two postdoc research associates. Its various projects have been funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC), the German Academic Exchange Board (DAAD), the German Science Foundation (DFG), the Kroll Family Trust, Switzerland, and Kuhn & Bühlow, Insurance Broker Group, Berlin.

Selected publications
  • Isabel Wünsche, “The Evolution of Abstract Painting: Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack’s Coloured Light Plays,” The Structurist, 51/52 (2018-2019): 87-98. 
  • Philip Goad, Ann Stephen, Andrew McNamara, Harriet Equist, Isabel Wünsche (eds.), Bauhaus Dispora and Beyond: Transforming Education through Art, Design and Architecture, Melbourne: Melbourne University Publishing; Sydney: Power Publications, 2019. 
  • Isabel Wünsche, “Liquid Crystals, Theories of Life, and Visual Perception in the Russian Avant-garde,” Leonardo, 54 (Dezember 2021) 6: 680-684. Abstract: DOI: 10.1162/ leon_a_02013. 
  • Isabel Wünsche, “Experimentation and Invention in Weaving at the Bauhaus,” in New Challenges to Artistic Conventions in the Weimar Republic, eds. Deborah Ascher Barnstone and Maria Makela, London: Bloomsbury, 2022, pp. 37-58. 
  • Isabel Wünsche, Miriam Leimer (eds), 100 Years On: Revisiting the First Russian Art Exhibition of 1922, Cologne, Vienna: Böhlau, 2022.