Art and Art History
Kaia L. Magnusen
Title: Assistant Professor of Art History
Department: Art and Art History
Building: ARC 117
B.A., art history and foreign languages, Wheaton College
M.A., art history, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Ph.D., art history, Rutgers University
Kaia L. Magnusen received her bachelor’s degree in art history and foreign languages from Wheaton College. She earned her master’s degree in art history at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University where her advisors were Robert Rosenblum and Linda Nochlin. She completed her doctorate in art history from Rutgers University where her advisors were Susan Sidlauskas and Andrés Mario Zervigón. After teaching at several institutions of higher learning, including Florida Southern College and Polk State College, she became a Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History at Sam Houston State University. As an Assistant Professor of Art History at The University of Texas at Tyler, she continues to publish and present on her research and to curate a variety of art exhibitions.
Summary of Current Research
Magnusen’s current research is twofold. She has focused on the art of the Neue Sachlichkeit, especially the work of Otto Dix, but also that of Christian Schad, Gert Wollheim, and Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler. Her research addresses the manner in which the art of this period engaged highly contentious social debates pertaining to the changing role of women, interwar conceptions of ideal masculinity and femininity, and the linkage of “deviant” women with degeneration, disease and death. Her work engages various medical and sociological discourses pertaining to the body in order to investigate depictions of physical and mental manifestations of illness and visualizations of death. She also examines the cross-fertilization that existed between fine art and Weimar popular culture, including film, dance, and music. Attendant with this, she explores notions of performativity and the fashioning of identity including the construction of public artistic personas.
Magnusen has also directed her research toward the recent artistic output of contemporary artists, such as Michael Sailstorfer and Xavier Cha, who engage new media, performance and installation. Her investigations engage the manner in which these artists use modern technology to participate in the legacy of canonical artists of the past. Her research examines how the work of these artists simultaneously builds upon and reinvents the traditional thematic and formalist concerns but does so from a contemporary, technologically-oriented perspective. She also investigates the ways in which these artists utilize technology to engage the various discourses on the body and its role in performativity and the fractured, alienating experience of contemporary life.