Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Marxism in Culture: Forms of Living, Forms of Leaving: Lu Märten and Carla Lonzi in Dialogue

27 October 2023, 5:30 pm–7:30 pm

Detail, Detroit Industry Murals by Diego Rivera, at the DIA

This paper will stage an encounter between the work of feminist art historian Lu Märten and Carla Lonzi who had an antagonistic relationship to academic art history and to its taxonomies of division between genres, genders, and classes.

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Institute of Advanced Studies


IAS Common Ground
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Although producing within radically different contexts – Märten in Germany of the 1910s and 1920s, Lonzi in post-war Italy – their respective bodies of work present us with unexpected alliances across periods and geographies. How to account for them? Märten published on the working conditions of female artists and attempted to rewrite the history of art as a more capacious materialist history of form, defined by the sociality of making. Lonzi’s criticism wilfully destabilised art history’s architecture of systematic knowledge by infusing it with the seemingly regressive vocabulary of creativity and intuition. Not convinced by art’s capacity for change, she eventually left the art world entirely for feminism. Broadly speaking, Märten and Lonzi both strove to expand definitions of what or who is worthy of art historical attention, and for re-grounding art history in aesthetic rather than in epistemological frameworks. None of their concerns were particularly popular at the time, being discredited as naïve, non-systematic, or simply as false instead. In thinking about Märten and Lonzi together and apart, we will argue that today, at a moment when received models of art historical meaning-making and historiography are in crisis, these women’s concerns assume a new legibility and topicality. In our paper we aim to both narrate these concerns and probe the form of our narration. 

Luisa Lorenza Corna is a research fellow in the department of History of Art at Birkbeck University and teaches in the visual art department at Middlesex University. She translated and edited (with Jamila Mascat) the first English anthology of Carla Lonzi's writings (Feminism in Revolt, forthcoming, Seagull Books).  
Jenny Nachtigall is a lecturer in the History of Art Department of University College London. She published on Lu Märten for October magazine (2021) and for Illiberal Arts (eds. Franke, Stakemeier, 2021). Her book Form as Contradiction is forthcoming with Brill. 

This event is free, but registration is required.