2018-2019 Terra Foundation Visiting Professor of American Art,
Visiting Fellow of Worcester College
University of Oxford
Gyorgy Kepes: Undreaming the Bauhaus
Date: June 21 (Friday), 2019, 2 p.m.
Venue: Institute of Art History,
Research Centre for the Humanities,
Hungarian Academy of Sciences
(Magyar Tudományos Akadémia
Tóth Kálmán utca 4.
Lecture Room K 011-12 (Ground floor)
Hungarian-born artist, designer, and visual theorist Gyorgy Kepes (1906–2001) was the last disciple of Bauhaus modernism, an acolyte of László Moholy-Nagy and a self-styled revolutionary. But by midcentury, transplanted to America, Kepes found he was trapped in the military-industrial-aesthetic complex. This lecture presents John Blakinger's new monograph on Kepes, forthcoming from The MIT Press in June 2019, and explores the fraught politics of interdisciplinarity in the arts in the United States during the Cold War. He argues that Kepes established a new paradigm for creative practice: the artist as technocrat. First at Chicago's New Bauhaus and then for many years at MIT, Kepes pioneered interdisciplinary collaborations between the arts and sciences—what he termed “interthinking” and “interseeing.” Kepes and his colleagues—ranging from metallurgists to mathematicians—became part of an important but little-explored constellation: the Cold War avant-garde.