2020 Annie Bourneuf + Harper Montgomery

Annie Bourneuf & Harper Montgomery

The winners of the 2020 Dedalus Foundation’s prestigious Senior Fellowship are Annie Bourneuf, for her book project The Angelus Novus and Its Interleaf, and Harper Montgomery for From Craft to Concept in Latin America, 1977-1989.

           

Annie Bourneuf’s project takes its starting point in the American artist R. H. Quaytman’s surprising discovery in 2015 that Paul Klee's Angelus Novus (1920) —best known for its role in the writings of Walter Benjamin, its first owner—conceals an engraved portrait of Martin Luther, mostly, but not entirely, hidden behind Klee's oil-transfer drawing of a huge-headed, bird-footed, snaggle-toothed angel.

In her close examination of Klee’s small icon of European modernism, and of pictures and texts circulating around it, Bourneuf shows how Klee's picture can be understood as a superimposition of images in artistic and religious conflict, which inspired Benjamin to figure the kind of exchange among religions that planned for his abortive journal project of 1921-22, titled Angelus Novus after the picture. Bourneuf’s combination of assiduous archival research and reexamination of objects and sources, including the network of little magazines around the failed Angelus Novus journal project, allows her to trace a dense tangle of contentious conversations among works of art, and writings about them, that took place in the aftermath of the First World War. In doing so, she sheds new light on the ways that romantic anticapitalist circles imagined possible new relations between art, politics, and religions (primarily, but not exclusively, Judaism, Protestantism, and Catholicism).

 

Harper Montgomery’s From Craft to Concept in Latin America, 1977-1989 will chronicle the presence of craft objects and construction techniques in a number of exhibitions that took place in São Paulo, Lima, Havana, Mexico City, Medellín, and Asunción between 1977 and 1989. Montgomery’s narrative will be focused on regional institutions, including the São Paulo Biennial, the early Havana Biennials, and El Museo del Barro (The Museum of Mud) in Paraguay, laying out a history of entangled events and recording the activities of a mobile cast of artists and critics during a period when the status of craft and conceptualism were of great concern to many in the region. In charting this new history, Mongomery’s book will show how questions around conceptualism and craft coalesced in exhibitions, critical debates, and how works by artists using clay, fabric, and other low-tech materials raised vital questions about collective representation and the parameters of art itself.

 

Annie Bourneuf is an associate professor in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her book Paul Klee: The Visible and the Legible (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015) was awarded the 2016 Robert Motherwell Book Award.

 

Harper Montgomery is an Assistant Professor of Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art at Hunter College. She has written for The Art Bulletin, Art Journal, and the Brooklyn Rail; and has organized exhibitions on art of the nineteenth-century, the twentieth-century, and the present for the galleries of Hunter College. She is the author of The Mobility of Modernism: Art and Criticism in 1920s Latin America (University of Texas Press, 2017), which won the Arvey Foundation Book Award for distinguished scholarship on Latin American Art, and co-editor of Beyond the Aesthetic and the Anti-Aesthetic (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2013). Her current research concerns the ascent of artesanía within contemporary art spaces in Latin America from the 1970s to the late 1980s.