Chelsea Pierce - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Chelsea Pierce

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Chelsea Pierce

PhD student

Thesis: “We Are Not Gorgona”: Defining the Praxis of the Gorgona Group, 1959-1966

Supervisor: Dr. Klara Kemp-Welch

My thesis proposes a monographic study of the proto-conceptual, Zagreb-based art collective called the Gorgona group (active 1959-1966) to develop a framework for the group’s structure as a collective and their context within the artistic networks of post-war Europe. Gorgona was comprised of artists Miljenko Horvat, Marijan Jevšovar, Julije Knifer, Ivan Kožarić, Đuro Seder, Josip Vaništa, and art critics Dimitrije Bašičević (known as Mangelos), Matko Meštrović, and Radoslav Putar. Crossing a wide range of activities including conceptual documents, art criticism, organising exhibitions, performative acts, painting, sculpture, photography, installation, and artist books, the thesis chapters are centred on specific activities that question how the group chose to define itself, how ideas were circulated among members as well as its wider artistic network, what the role of the individual was within the collective, and what impact the members’ time in Gorgona had on their artistic lives after.

Chapter one defines Gorgona’s ‘praxis’ as a united mindset through an engagement with existentialism and the absurd, examining conceptual documents, ephemera, and performative acts to argue how Gorgona subverted the Yugoslav system of self-management through a mocking imitation of procedures and communiques. Chapter two is framed through the writings of the Gorgona art critics beginning in the 1950s and argues how these perspectives manifested throughout the time of Gorgona’s collectivity and shaped their exhibition programme at Studio G. Chapter three is concerned with Gorgona’s painting and sculptural practice through an exploration of nihilism and Zen. In its broader aesthetic concerns, the chapter ties Gorgona to a much wider network of artists that embody the dematerialised turn. Chapter four examines the Gorgona anti-review through the eleven finished editions and unrealised drafts. The sharing of the anti-reviews with correspondents and collaborators worldwide echoes a larger exploration of circulation. Significantly, the chapter develops the term ‘Gorgonic gaze’ as a crucial aspect of Gorgona’s praxis, derived from a filmic eye as a shared mode of looking with the capability to transform the everyday into aesthetic possibilities. Chapter five looks at Gorgona after their formal dates of membership through a selection of works to argue for the endurance of a persistent Gorgonic praxis instilled within the individual members of Gorgona.


2018 – present: PhD Candidate in Art History, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

2012 – 2014: MA in Museum Studies, New York University

2008 – 2011: BA in Anthropology, Magna Cum Laude, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, minor in Art History, Member of Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society

Research Interests

  • Post-war international art
  • Conceptual practices
  • Artists’ journals and texts
  • Performance studies
  • Cold War politics
  • Existentialism and humanist Marxism


‘Theory and Methods of Exploring Alternative Cultures. New Approaches’ co-authored with Katalin Cseh-Varga, Ondrej Daniel, Kristóf Nagy, Terje Tomistu, Marko Zubak and Rolf Werenskjold in Creative Dissent: Alternative Cultures during Socialism and Beyond, 1945-1991, edited volume (forthcoming).

Günther Förg: A Fragile Beauty, editorial assistance by Chelsea Pierce and Michael Neff. Dallas Museum of Art / Yale University Press, 2018.

‘Linnea Glatt’ in Linnea Glatt: Plot Line, Barry Whistler Gallery, Dallas, 2018.

‘Exhibition and Publication History of the Large Rod Series’ in Counterpoint: Sculpture, Music and Walter De Maria’s Large Rod Series, Dallas Museum of Art / Yale University Press, 2017.

‘Exhibition Chronology’ in Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots, London: Tate Publishing, 2015.



Curatorial Experience

Soft Focus, Curator, Dallas Museum of Art, June 2018 – September 2018

Notes from the center, Curator, Vignette Women’s Art Fair, The Women’s Museum, Fair Park, Dallas, TX, April 5-9, 2017

Primary Research: Sean Cairns, Linnea Glatt & James Sullivan, Curator, St. Paul Place, Dallas, TX, November 5, 2017 – January 14, 2018

Curatorial Assistant for Contemporary Art, Dallas Museum of Art, 2014-2018


“Our Most Learned Society”: Gorgona’s performance of anti self-management, Creative Dissent: Alternative Cultures during Socialism and Beyond, 1945-1991 conference, Riga, Latvia, October 2020 (forthcoming).

The Gorgonic gaze: Visualising Gorgona’s praxis through a filmic eye, 2nd year PhD colloquium, Courtauld Institute of Art, May 2020.

Other Activities

Teaching Assistant, MA Core Methodologies, autumn term 2019.

Associate Editor, immediations, post-graduate research journal, 2020.

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