Assistant Professor of Modern/Contemporary Art Joyce Tsai and her research on László Moholy-Nagy is featured in the anthology Nothing but the Clouds Unchanged: Artists in World War I. The scholarly volume currently accompanies an exhibition at The Getty Research Institute Gallery entitled World War I: War of Images, Images of War.
Tsai’s essay, “Reconfiguring the Eye: László Moholy-Nagy” focuses on the Hungarian-born artist and the influence of his experience as an artillery reconnaissance officer in the Austrian-Hungary military on his art and theory.
“The article that I wrote had to do with rethinking what the impact of war was on this generation of artists working at the beginning of the 20th century,” said Tsai. “I started thinking about what Moholy-Nagy might have gained from being trained as a solider.”
Gordon Hughes, assistant professor at Rice University and editor of the volume, reached out to Tsai to participate in a volume that examined how different avant-garde artists were impacted by the First World War. “This essay for the Getty was part of my research, but it also allowed me to explore other questions,” Tsai said.
Research for the essay began in Washington D.C. after Tsai was awarded the 2013-2014 George Washington University/The Phillips Collection Postdoctoral Fellowship.
“I was able to do this kind of research in part because the University of Florida was willing to give me time to pursue these avenues of thought in Washington D.C.,” said Tsai, noting that she looked through military documents, maps and military theory and researched Austro-Hungarian artillery at the Library of Congress.
“Most people when they go into art history don’t think they’re going to be doing research in military history,” said Tsai. “It was a neat process.”
The New York Times featured the volume in a review in November 2014 and mentioned Tsai’s contribution.
In addition to her work on the Getty contribution, Tsai spent her time on leave curating an exhibition at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art opening in July 2015 entitled The Paintings of László Moholy-Nagy: The Shape of Things to Come. The catalog for the show is distributed by Yale University Press. For more information on the upcoming show and publication, click here.