Meet our Keynotes: Dr Adrian Sudhalter

We have chosen to have two wonderful keynote speakers and would like to take an opportunity to introduce them to you.

Our second keynote speaker is Dr Adrian Sudhalter.

Adrian is a New York-based art historian and curator, who specializes in twentieth century art between the two World Wars.  She received her Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, where she has also taught.  She has held curatorial positions at the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard Art Museums, where she organized the exhibition Before Expressionism: Art in Germany circa 1903 (2003) and at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, where she co-organized the exhibitions Dada (2005-2006) and Bauhaus (2009-2010).  In 2016, she presented Dadaglobe Reconstructed at the Kunsthaus Zürich and at MoMA; the accompanying catalogue was a finalist for the College Art Association’s Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Award for Museum Scholarship.  Sudhalter has received awards from the Centre Allemand d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris (2010), the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown (2011), the Getty Foundation, Los Angeles (2008 and 2012), and the Dedalus Foundation, New York (2012).  She currently works as a Research Curator for the Merrill C. Berman Collection, where she is preparing a scholarly overview of the holdings.


Sudhalter, Adrian, ed. Johannes Baader: The Extant Collages [manuscript in progress].

Sudhalter, Adrian, ed. Dadaglobe Reconstructed. Zurich: Kunsthaus Zurich, 2016.

Umland, Anne and Adrian Sudhalter, eds. Dada in the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2008.

Selected essays:

“Max Ernst, Graceful Photographer,” in Photography and Doubt, Sabine Kriebel and Andres Zervigon, eds. Hoboken, N.J.: Routledge, 2016: 161-179.

“Friedrichstrasse: The Contexts of an Image, 1922-1924,” in Mies van der Rohe: The MoMA Collages. Aachen: Ludwig Forum, 2017: 68-85.

“War, Exile, and the Machine,” in Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round So That Our Thoughts Can Change Direction, Anne Umland and Cathérine Hug, eds. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2016: 66-75.

“Merz, Kommerz, and the Merzwerbezentrale,” in Kurt Schwitters: Avant-Garde and Advertising. Madrid: Fundación Juan March, July 2014: 21-33.

“The Self-Reflectivity of Photomontage: Writing on and Exhibiting the Medium, 1920-1931,” in Photomontage Between the Wars, 1918-1939: Selections from the Merrill C. Berman Collection. Madrid and Ottawa: Fundación Juan March and Carlton University Art Gallery, 2012: 8-22

Adrian’s keynote is titled, ‘The Museum of Modern Art’s 1948 Collage Exhibition‘. Here’s an overview of her paper:

The organization of The Museum of Modern Art’s Collage exhibition of 1948 was a Herculean task due to the “dislocations” of the Second World War.  The exhibition’s curator, Margaret Miller (1912-1994; not to be confused with the better-known Dorothy Miller), corresponded with artists dispersed across Europe and beyond.  For many recipients, Miller’s letters from New York came as a beacon of hope in desperate times.  When the Collage exhibition finally opened after two year’s delay, it made an impact on the New York art world: Clement Greenberg’s review would form the basis for his influential essay “The Pasted-Paper Revolution” published a decade later.  The exhibition, however, did not travel and the catalogue never appeared, rendering the project insufficiently studied to this day.

The 1948 Collage exhibition was not the first synthetic account of the medium, but it was the first to be organized by a museum with the aim of historicizing and theorizing its place in twentieth century art.  This talk focuses on Miller’s selection of artworks for inclusion: 102 artworks created between 1912 and 1948.  No historical precedents were included.  This selection played a formative role in codifying an approach to collage that circumscribed its chronological, material, and disciplinary scope.

In a conference that aims to upend this model, I propose to focus on this exhibition as a means to enrich the discussion by dialectical means.  To ask: what motivated the discussion of collage as an exclusively twentieth century artistic phenomenon? and what made this model so powerful?

Miller was no stranger to the longer history of the medium of collage or to the inherent interdisciplinarity of the technique.  As an undergraduate at Vassar College (B.A. 1934), she was close to the poet Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), with whom she shared a profound interest in the nuances of layering and the effects of joining disassociated references across literary and artistic usage.  Informed, however, by her graduate studies with German émigré art historians Walter Friedlaender and Erwin Panofsky at New York University (M.A. 1940), Miller was compelled to ask what it might mean to consider collage a “symbolic form” particular to the twentieth century.  At the close of the century’s second cataclysmic war, this was a question that drew its urgency precisely from its historical, medium, and disciplinary specificity.

Adrian’s keynote will be responded to by Dr Patrick Elliott.

Patrick is Senior Curator at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh. His doctorate (1992) is on French figurative sculpture in the 1920s and 1930s. At the National Galleries of Scotland, he has organised numerous major exhibitions, including Alberto Giacometti, René Magritte, Picasso on Paper, Tracey Emin, Rachel Whiteread, Richard Long, Tony Cragg, M.C. Escher, and True to Life: British Realist Painting Between the Wars in summer 2017.