The Stuff of Modern Life: Materiality and Thingness at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1932-1935


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Art History

Named Award

Terra Fellow named award


My project examines three exhibits of "non-art" objects staged at the Museum of Modern Art: "Art of the Common Man" (1932) curated by Holger Cahill, "Machine Art" (1934) curated by Philip Johnson, and "African Negro Art" (1935) curated by James Johnson Sweeney. I approach these shows with the intention of demonstrating clear links between MoMA's non-art exhibition program, the museum's modernist formalism, and interwar debates surrounding twentieth-century American production and exchange. I ground my analysis in the three-dimensional materiality that characterized the objects displayed, which linked the items to the tradition of sculptural aesthetics and the sphere of commodity exchange--outward connections that provide the underlying framework of my interpretation.