Professor of Architectural and Art History
In addition to her edited volume The Built Surface: Architecture and the Pictorial Arts, she has published widely on dialogues between architecture and pictures, including an essay on Louise Bourgeois, architecture and autobiography for a special edition of Art in Translation, which she also co-edited with Jeffrey Saletnik, on "Translation and Architecture" (March 2018). In 2008, Koehler served as guest curator and sole author of "Bauhaus Modern", an exhibition and catalogue at the Smith College Museum of Art. Other recent publications on the Bauhaus include catalogue essays for the Prada Foundation in Milan and the Gallery of New South Wales, as well as an essay on the Bauhaus and Gestalt in Joseph Albers: Intersecting Colors at the Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, and a forthcoming essay on "Bauhaus Doubles" for Bauhaus Bodies, forthcoming from Bloomsbury Press. Recipient of recent grants from the NEH, Mellon, and Kress and Graham Foundations, Koehler is currently completing an intellectual history of the architect Walter Gropius for Reaktion Books (distributed in the U.S. by the University of Chicago Press), a project for which she received a Senior Fellowship from the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery in Washington.
In this art history course, we will explore Dada as a twentieth-century international movement in the visual arts, performance, and film. We will place the emergence of Dada in its modernist European contexts and discuss major artists of the 1910s-1930s, including Hans Arp, Marcel Duchamp, Hannah Hoch, George Grosz, and others. From Dada's anarchic politics and word/image games to Surrealism's use of Freudian psychoanalysis and experiments with automatism, chance, performance art, and dream language, we will study the key political and cultural contexts of selected images and texts. The course concludes with the influence of Dada aesthetics and politics on postwar visual culture, evaluating their potential as powerful modes of critique and response to a world gone awry.
This course will explore the history, art, architecture, design, theater, and crafts of the German school, the Bauhaus--including relationships to the cultural philosophy of the Frankfurt School. We begin with WWI, the German Revolution, and the controversies surrounding the Bauhaus during the Weimar Republic; study the closure and exile of the Bauhaus by the Nazis; and consider Bauhaus legacies--including WWII, the Cold War, and 21st century perspectives emerging from the Bauhaus centennial in 2019. We will look at the work of architects, artists and writers (e.g., Walter Gropius, Hannes Meyer, Mies van der Rohe, Lilli Reich, Paul Klee, Marianne Brandt, Oskar Schlemmer, Wassily Kandinsky, Gunta Stozl, Moholy-Nagy, Anni Albers, Rainer Maria Remarque, Walter Benjamin, Bertolt Brecht, Theodor Adorno, and Siegfried Kracauer). All students will be responsible for advanced, research, reading, speaking and writing; in-depth final research projects can be scholarly papers, curatorial experiments, art projects, or architectural designs.
This course is an examination of the emergence, development, and dissolution of European modernist art, architecture and design. The course begins with the innovations and collisions of early twentieth century art, created in consort with the growth of modern urbanism, industrial production, colonialist politics, and psychological experimentation. We end with the cooptation of modernist radicalism in the wake of World War II. Distinctions between the terms modernist, modernity, modernism and the avant-garde will be explored as we unpack the complex equations between art, politics, and social change in the first half of the twentieth century. Covering selected movements and groups (such as Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, l'Esprit Nouveau, Bauhaus, De Stijl, Constructivism and New Objectivity) this course will consider themes such as mechanical reproduction, nihilism, nationalism, consumerism, utopianism, and questions of primitivism and difference as they are disclosed in the making and reception of modern art and architecture.
This course is an examination of utopian plans in architecture and art, including the works of C-N Ledoux, William Morris, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Kandinsky, Buckminster Fuller, and others. We will consider the philosophical constructs of utopia in architectural drawings, buildings, and plans in relationship to film, painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. We will consider how different projections about life in the future are also harsh criticisms of the present, which often rely upon imagined views of social organizations in times past. We will examine the relationship of the individual to the community, and consider how spatial constructions - real and imagined - can affect this relationship. The course begins with an examination of significant literary utopias, including the books by Sir Thomas More, Bellamy, and Morris. We examine the tensions between theory and practice, by studying the successes and failures of actual attempts at utopian communities. Screenings of films that challenge the difference between utopia and dystopia will set up our discussions of displacement and chaos, as we consider whether utopian design is applicable to the 21st century.
This seminar is based on a close, comparative reading of the critical theorist Walter Benjamin, the artist Paul Klee and the filmmaker Wim Wenders. Linking history, tragedy, desire and hope to the figures of the angel, the ghost, the puppet, the trapeze artist, and the automaton, these three authors open up an examination of materiality, abstraction, representation, the seen and the unseen, the purposeful, the ephemeral, the accidental, the heartbreaking and the playful. Their comparative treatments of cities, arcades, towers and streets will also be used to explore both the sensations of place and the operations of memory in images, texts, artifacts, and in architecture. Students will create a series of artworks, creative texts, critical reviews and analytical essays.