Jenny Anger


On her book Four Metaphors of Modernism: From Der Sturm to the Société Anonyme

Cover Interview of May 20, 2018

A close-up

I hope that a potential reader would flip through the book and find unexpected images or startling juxtapositions thereof. He might ask why a more familiar modernist painting by Kandinsky is in a book together with one by a virtual unknown, the Dutch Jacoba van Heemskerck, who exhibited actively with both Der Sturm and the Société Anonyme. (Both organizations promoted more women than is commonly known.) She might wonder, for example, why an interior of Bruno Taut’s Glass House is paired with a watercolor by Paul Klee; if she pursues the heading “Glass,” she would discover that these works in different media were similarly inspired by the utopian possibilities of translucent glass. Some unexpected views of potentially already familiar works might also pique the interest of the casual reader: why, for example, is Duchamp’s Small Glass shown not against an opaque background for optimal viewing but instead in a home on top of a piano—and positioned just so that it welcomes a viewing relationship with a hypothetical pianist? (It turns out that Duchamp, for all his Dadaist antics, was deeply attuned to the metaphorical and relational aesthetics of glass, home, and piano.) I value close viewing of art objects, so I would hope that the browser might skim the text adjacent to any particular image in the book and discover more than an initial glance at the image could provide.