Conference: Cultural Mobility and Transcultural Confrontations: Winold Reiss as a Paradigm of Transnational Studies
December 1-3, 2011
John F. Kennedy-Institute for North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin
(Lansstr. 7-9, 10625 Berlin)
Organized with funding from the Terra Foundation for American Art
The extremely versatile German-American painter, designer, and teacher Winold Reiss had once been celebrated as a "modern Cellini" in the United States. In the 1920s and 1930s, Reiss emerged as an influential figure in transatlantic encounters and modernist aesthetics. He collaborated with leading artists and intellectuals including Alain Locke, Katherine Anne Porter, Paul Kellogg, Miguel Covarrubias, and Langston Hughes. Among his students was Aaron Douglas, a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Despite Reiss' impressive range of creativity, his rich work of ethnic portrait paintings, distinctive interior modernist design, and cutting edge graphic designs, he has been relegated to the footnotes of American art history. In Germany, Winold Reiss is hardly known at all. The conference will reassess Reiss' contributions, allowing him to emerge as a cultural "mobilizer" who can be understood as an agent, translator, and intermediator.
The John F. Kennedy Institute is renowned for its innovative interdisciplinary research as well as its rigorous study programs. Founded in 1963 by the political scientist Ernst Fraenkel, the institute is dedicated to the study of the United States and Canada in all its facets. The seven disciplines brought together at the institute, the numerous scholarships and exchange programs which it sponsors in addition to its world class research library create a unique academic environment. Disciplinary diversity and in-depth intellectual inquiry lay the foundation for excellence in research and teaching.
Over 700 students are currently enrolled at the institute and participating in the programs offered by the seven different disciplines which the John F. Kennedy Institute brings together: Culture, Literature, Linguistics, History, Political Science, Sociology and Economics. Courses are held in both English and German. In addition to providing students with rigorous training in individual disciplines, interdisciplinary courses pursue questions which transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries.