Klara Kemp-Welch - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Klara Kemp-Welch

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Dr Klara Kemp-Welch

Reader in 20th Century Modernism; Head of MA History of Art

Klara Kemp-Welch specialises in modern and contemporary art from former-Eastern Europe and in intersections between art and politics more broadly. She was educated at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies and University College London, where her doctorate was supervised by Professor Briony Fer. Before joining The Courtauld in 2009, she lectured at University College London, the University of the Arts London (Camberwell), and the University of York. Her publications include Antipolitics in Central European Art. Reticence as Dissidence under Post-Totalitarian Rule 1956-1989 (London: IB Tauris, 2014) and Networking the Bloc. Experimental Art in Eastern Europe 1965-1989 (Cambridge Massachusetts and London, England: MIT Press, 2019). She has recently co-edited A Reader in East-Central European Modernism 1918-1956 with Beata Hock and Jonathan Owen (London: Courtauld Books Online, 2019) and is currently writing a monograph on Art, Labour and Migration in a ‘Two Speed’ Europe.

Current PhD Supervision

  • Wiktor Komorowski, The Reversed Power of the Image: Graphic Art Biennials in Eastern Europe during the Cold War.
  • Chelsea Pierce, “We are not Gorgona”: Defining the Spirit of the Gorgona Group 1959-1966
  • Ana-Gabriela Rodriguez, Beyond the Caribbean: Tracing Puerto Rican Graphic Arts 1950s-1970s
  • Alice David, Print Tactics and Countercultural Art in Latin America: Performing Resistance through the Print Medium in the 1970s to 1980s
  • Katia Denysova, The ‘Special Fund’ of the Ukrainian Avant-Garde and the Construction of National Identity

Past PhD Supervision

  • Sofia Gurevich, The Form and Content of the early Soviet Book: A study through the country’s publishing industry institutions of the 1920s and 1930s (2020)
  • Svitlana Biedarieva, Challenging the Urban Legacies of the Olympics: Mexico City 1968-1994 and Moscow 1980-1991 (2019)
  • Claudia Zini, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Contemporary Art from a Post-Conflict Society (2019)
  • Malgorzata Misniakiewicz, (Art) Solidarity – An International Project: Polish Mail Art Exchanges with Eastern Europe (2018)
  • Julia Maria Secklehner, “Czechs” vs. “Austrians” National Identity in Caricature 1918-193 (2018)
  • Marko Ilic, For a ‘Self-Managing’ Art: The ‘New Art’ Seen through Yugoslavia’s Student Cultural Centres (2016)
  • Sylwia Serafinowicz, More than Documentation: Photography in the Polish People’s Republic Between 1965 and 1981 (with Sarah Wilson, 2014)

Research interests

  • EU labour and migration
  • International relations
  • Central and Eastern European art and politics
  • Latin American art and politics





Recent Publications


Networking the Bloc. Experimental Art in Eastern Europe 1968-1981 (Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England: MIT Press, 2019)

Antipolitics in Central European Art 1956-1989. Reticence as Dissidence under Post-Totalitarian Rule (London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2014; 2016)

Edited Books and Special Issues

Beata Hock, Klara Kemp-Welch, Jonathan Owen (eds), A Reader in East-Central European Modernism (London: Courtauld Books Online, 2019)

Klara Kemp-Welch and Cristina Freire (eds), ‘Artists’ Networks in Eastern Europe and Latin America’, ARTMargins ♯2 (June-October 2012)

Essays and Articles

‘Not Quite at Home: Eastern European Artists at Documentas 1-10’ in Alexia Pooth (ed.), Documenta: Politics and Art, exh. cat. (Berlin: DHM, forthcoming June 2021).

‘Painting Blindly: Gili Mocanu and the Circus of Appearance’ in Dan Popescu (ed.), Gili Mocanu. Yellow (Bucharest: H’art, forthcoming 2020)

‘The Art of Heading East on a “Continent Moving West”’ in Jakub Gawkowski (ed.) Die Sonne nie świeci tak jak słońce, exh. cat. (Szczecin: Trafostacja Sztuki, forthcoming 2020).

‘Communication at a Distance: Eastern European Art and the ‘Section des envois’ at the 1971 Paris Biennial’ in Elitza Dulguerova (ed.), Le Biennale de Paris (Paris: INHA, forthcoming 2020).

‘Night Cleaning at the Bank: Sanja Iveković’s Screen Tests for Invisible Women’ in Peter Osborne (ed.), Thinking Art. Materialisms, Labors, Forms, no. 2 (London: CRMEP, 2020).

‘The Romanians are Coming’. Labour Migration and the Politics of the Observational Documentary’, Third Text vol. 34 (July 2020).

‘Esprit de Corps: Dora Maurer’s Collaborative Activities 1971-1978’ in Juliet Bingham (ed.) Dora Maurer, exh. cat., (London: Tate, 2019).

‘Net: An Open Proposition’, e-flux journal #98 March 2019.

‘Reckoning with History’ in Roxana Marcoci (ed.), Writings on Art and Theory of Post-1989 Central and Eastern Europe: A Critical Anthology, New York: MoMA, 2018.

‘Soft-Spoken Encounters: International Exchanges and the Hungarian “Underground’’’ in Edit Sasvari (ed.) Art in Hungary 1956-1980. Doublespeak and Beyond (London: Thames and Hudson; Vince Books, 2018), 273-291.

‘Artist Networker / Artist Clerk: Endre Tot’s Zeros and Gladnesses’, Arta. Revista. Arte Visuale. Anul VI, 20-21, 2016, pp. 119-120.

‘International Relations at the Foksal Gallery’ in Justyna Wesolowska (ed.), Galeria Foksal 1966-2016, Warsaw: Galeria Foksal, 2016.

‘Species of Spaces in Eastern European and Latin American Experimental Art’, MoMA online, December 2015.

‘Jordan McKenzie and the Rhetoric of Power’ in Jordan McKenzie, exh. cat., London: Arts Council of England; York: Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 2014.

‘Impossible Interviews with Ceausescu: Ion Grigorescu and the Dialogic Imagination’, in Alina Serban (ed.), Ion Grigorescu. The Man with a Single Camera, Berlin and New York: Sternberg Press, 2013, pp. 158-184. (republished in shortened form in Revista Arta 14-15, 2016, pp. 52-58).

‘Autonomy, Solidarity and the Antipolitics of NET’, in Bozena Czubak (ed.), NET. The Art of Dialogue / NET. Sztuka Dialogu, Warsaw: Fundacja Profil, 2013, pp. 34-56.

‘Art Documentation and Bureaucratic Life: The ‘Case’ of the Studio of Documentation, Activities and Propagation’ in Lukasz Ronduda and Georg Schollhammer (eds), KwieKulik, Vienna: JPR Ringier, 2013, pp. 515-517.

‘KwieKulik’s Monument without a Passport (1978)’ in Critique and Crisis. European Cultural Discourses since 1945. XXX Council of Europe Exhibition, electronic catalogue, Berlin: Deutsches Historisches Museum, 2012.

‘Who’s Afraid of Neo-Socialist-Realism?’, in Stefan Constantinescu. An Infinite Blue, exh. cat., London: GALERIE8, 2011, pp. 43-56.

‘Articulating the Between: Henryk Stażewski’s Critical Spaces’, in Gabriela Switek (ed.), Avant-garde in the Bloc, Warsaw: Fundacja Galerii Foksal; Vienna, JPR Ringier, 2010, pp. 294-317.

‘Jiří Kovanda’s Collisions’, in Margaret Iversen, (ed.), Chance. Documents of Contemporary Art Series, London: Whitechapel Gallery; Cambridge Mass. and London: MIT Press, 2010, 147-149.

‘Attacking Objectification: Jerzy Bereś in Dialogue with Marcel Duchamp’ in Mel Jordon and Malcolm Miles (eds), Art Theory and Post-Socialism, Bristol UK and Portland USA: Intellect Books, 2008, pp. 21-31.

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