• Objects in Exile: Modern Art and Design across Borders, 1930–1960
    Robin Schuldenfrei
    Princeton University Press, 2024
    Robin Schuldenfrei

Camouflage Course, Student Work, School of Design, Chicago, 1942–43. Film stills, Design Workshops, 1944, 16mm, color, silent. Courtesy the Moholy-Nagy Foundation

This book examines various modalities by which the twentieth-century phenomenon of exile impacted the design world, a condition this book identifies as “exilic modernism.” The study argues that modernism could only coalesce when national borders were abandoned in a process of emigration and resettlement from continental Europe to Great Britain and America, prior to World War II, during wartime, and in its aftermath. During the war, modern ideas took on urgency through strikingly communicative exhibitions and war-related materials research. In the vibrant postwar period, avant-garde ideas would come together and emerge as mainstream modernism, thereby securing a future for modern architecture and its originators alike. Examining architecture, exhibition design, painting, photography, and graphic design, Objects in Exile contends that the course of modernism was irrevocably changed due to the pressures and the exigencies of the exilic condition, and that its cohesive set of ideas only fomented in exile.

Robin Schuldenfrei is the Tangen Reader in 20th Century Modernism at The Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. She specializes in modern architectural history, especially Germany, with a focus on the object, the domestic landscape, and materiality. Her publications include Luxury and Modernism: Architecture and the Object in Germany 1900–1933 (Princeton University Press, 2018) as well as numerous articles, essays and edited volumes, including: Iteration: Episodes in the Mediation of Art and Architecture (Routledge, 2020) and Atomic Dwelling: Anxiety, Domesticity, and Postwar Architecture (Routledge, 2012). Schuldenfrei received her doctorate from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and previously held tenure-track positions at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her work has been supported by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Society of Architectural Historians, and the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD), among others.