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 the United States, Kepes found he was trapped in the military-industrial-aesthetic complex. In this lecture, John R. Blakinger (Terra Foundation Visiting Professor of American Art, University of Oxford) presents his 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.
This event will be held in Lecture Room K 011-12 (ground floor).