Karen Kurczynski

Theme: Travel and Migration

Cobra Itineraries: Comparative Perspectives on Ferlov, Mancoba, and Tajiri.

This paper investigates the legacy of artists marginalized in the Cobra movement’s history but newly central to our understanding of it: Sonja Ferlov, Ernest Mancoba, and Shinkichi Tajiri. It develops a comparative perspective on the three artists’ work in order to reevaluate the movement’s claims to populism, radical experimentation, and spontaneous expression as a form of counter-culture. While Ferlov and Mancoba, Cobra’s sole black artist, promoted a postcolonial humanist view in direct tension with the antihumanist perspective of key Cobra theorists like Asger Jorn, Tajiri created complex sculptures that revise our understanding of Cobra’s political potential.

Karen Kurczynski is Assistant Professor of modern and contemporary art history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the author of The Art and Politics of Asger Jorn: The Avant-Garde Won’t Give Up (Routledge, 2014) and curator of Human Animals: The Art of Cobra at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. She also co-curated Expo Jorn: Art is a Festival with Karen Friis Herbsleb at the Museum Jorn in 2014. She is now working on a scholarly reevaluation of the Cobra movement.

From the conference Multiple Modernisms. A Symposium on Globalism in Postwar Art.

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art 2017