BA (University College London), MA (School of Slavonic and East European Studies), PhD (University College London)

Contact details

The Courtauld Institute of Art

Somerset House


London WC2R 0RN

Professor David SolkinKlara Kemp-Welch was appointed Lecturer in 20th Century Modernism in 2014. She was educated at University College London (BA French and Art History), the School of Slavonic Studies, London (MA Russian and East European Literature and Culture) and completed her doctorate on East-Central European Conceptualism at University College London in 2008, supervised by Professor Briony Fer. 


She lectured at University College London, the University of the Arts London (Camberwell), and the University of York, before joining the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2009 as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. While working on her current research project, Networking the Bloc. International Relations and Experimental Art in Eastern Europe, she has benefited from an AHRC Early Career Fellowship and an Igor Zabel Working Grant.

Research interests

Klara's current book project is entitled Networking the Bloc: East European Experimental Art and International Relations, and explores exchanges among East European experimental artists and their global counterparts in the late socialist period. Please see the project webpage.

Klara Kemp-Welch's research interests include:


  • Experimental art and archives
  • International relations and the Cold War
  • East European art and politics
  • Latin American art and politics
  • Post-socialism and globalization


Courses taught in 2014-15

MA Option

This MA Option explores the experimental art scenes that developed, in parallel, in Communist Eastern Europe and under Latin American military dictatorships from the time of the Cuban Revolution of 1959 to the dismantling of the Soviet ‘bloc’ in 1989-91. The course begins with a series of introductory seminars on Latin American and East European modernism, Mexican Muralism, and Soviet Socialist Realism. We will then explore countercultural activities designed to subvert censorship, challenge political orthodoxy, and to produce alternative models of solidarity, analysing moral encounters between alternative art and mechanisms of military and state repression in 1960s, 1970s and 1980s Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Czechoslovakia, the DDR, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Uruguay, and the USSR. Artists and collectives discussed will include: CADA, Collective Actions, Lygia Clark, Guillermo Deisler, Ion Grigorescu, Roberto Jacoby, Ilya Kabakov, Július Koller, KwieKulik, Dora Maurer, Cildo Meireles, Ana Mendieta, Helio Oiticica, Clemente Padín, Robert Rehfeldt, Tamás Szentjóby, and Horacio Zabala. We seek to draw parallels between formally similar practices without losing a sense of their ideological specificity, and consider the challenges of developing a new ‘global’ art history, beyond national and regional frameworks. Our aim will be to work outwards from artistic propositions and actions to social and political theory, exploring how artists’ projects were embedded in global power structures. This entails close engagement with the writings of historic revolutionaries such as Brazilian Carlos Marighella and dissident theorists such as Czech Václav Havel, in conjunction with reading theorists such as Suely Rolnik, Boris Groys, Ernesto Laclau, and Slavoj Žižek. Fostering fresh approaches to modern and contemporary art history, the course explores the imperatives of art developed outside a market context in relation to recent moves to recuperate this formerly invisible past by a delayed international audience. The task is especially urgent given the rapid museumification of East European and Latin American art and archives, globally, since the 1990s. The course equips students with the necessary practical and methodological tools to develop exciting virtual exhibitions and to pursue innovative research projects. 

Titles of PhD theses currently supervised

For a 'Self-Managing' Art: The 'New Art' through Yugoslavia's Student Cultural Centres

More than Documentation: Photography in the Polish People’s Republic between 1965 and 1981

(Art) Solidarity - An International Project. Polish Mail Art Exchanges




In Progress

Networking the Bloc: International Relations in Late Socialist Art (monograph scheduled for completion in 2014)


'Jordon McKenzie and the Rhetoric of Power', in Jordan McKenzie, exh. cat, London: Arts Council of England; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 2014.


Antipoltiics in Central European Art 1956-1989. Reticence as Dissidence under Post-Totalitarian Rule
(London: IB Tauris, 2013).

'Autonomy, Solidarity, and the Antipolitics of NET' in Bozena Czubak ed., SIEC - Sztuka dialogu / NET - Art of Dialogue, Warsaw: Fundacja Profil, 2013.

10 x 10: See You There, Wrocław (exhibition review), Enclave Review, Issue 6, Cork, 2012. 

Cristina Freire and Klara Kemp-Welch (eds), ARTMargins #2, Special Section on Artists' Networks in Eastern Europe and Latin America, June - October 2012.

'KwieKulik's Monument Without a Passport', in Kritik und Krise. Kunst in Europa seit 1945 / Critique and Crisis. Art in Europe Since 1945, exh. cat., Berlin: Stiftung Deutsches Historisches Museum, 2012.

'Art Documentation and Bureaucratic Life: The 'Case' of the Studio of Documentation, Activities and Propagation' in Lukasz Ronduda and Georg Schollhammer (eds), Kwiekulik, Vienna: JPR Ringier, 2012.

'Impossible Interviews with Ceausescu: Ion Grigorescu and the Dialogic Imagination', in Alina Serban (ed.), Ion Grigorescu. The Man with a Single Camera, Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2013.

'Resurrections (Kabakov's Slippers): Moscow Conceptualism for Delayed Audiences', Oxford Art Journal, Volume 35 Issue 2, June 2012.

11th Havana Biennial: "Artistic Practices and Social Imaginaries" (PDF), various venues, 11 May - 11 June’, Art Monthly #357, June 2012.

Who’s Afraid of Neo-Socialist Realism?’, in Audrey Yeo (ed.), Stefan Constantinescu. An Infinite Blue, exh. cat., London: Galerie8, 2011, pp. 45-54.

54th Venice Biennale, various venues, Venice’, Art Monthly #348, July-August 2011.

Transitland. Video Art from Central and Eastern Europe. Book Review’, Artmargins, May 2011. Available online.

S.O.S. Socialist Occupation of the Subject. A Visual Essay’, in Lukasz Ronduda, Alex Farquharson, and Barbara Piwowarska (eds), Star City. The Future under Communism, Warsaw: MAMMAL Foundation; Nottingham Contemporary;, 2011, pp. 70-80.

Olga Chernysheva. Calvert 22, London’, Enclave, no, 2, Nov. 2010 (University College Cork). Available online.

Emancipation and Daydreams: Kantor’s Happenings’ in Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius (ed.) An Impossible Journey: The Art and Theatre of Tadeusz Kantor, London: Black Dog Publishers, 2010.

Hito Steyerl. In Free Fall. Chisenhale Gallery, London’, Art Monthly #342, Dec. 2010- Jan. 2011.

Touched. Liverpool Biennial. International Festival of Contemporary Art, Liverpool’, Art Monthly #341, Nov. 2010.

Jiří Kovanda’s Collisions’, in Margaret Iversen, ed., Chance. Documents of Contemporary Art Series, London: Whitechapel Gallery; Cambridge Mass. and London: MIT Press, 2010, 147-149 .

Articulating the Between: Henryk Stażewski’s Critical Spaces’, in Gabriela Switek (ed.), Avant-garde in the Bloc, Warsaw: Fundacja Galerii Foksal; Vienna, JPR Ringier, 2010, pp. 294-317.

‘Performance and Sculpture’ Conference Report, Henry Moore Institute Newsletter, June/July 2010, Issue no. 90.

History of Art, The’. Curators’ Series #3. Mihnea Mircan, David Roberts Art Foundation Fitzrovia, Art Monthly #337, June 2010.

Angela de la Cruz: After / Anna Maria Maiolino: Continuous’, Camden Arts Centre, London, Art Monthly #336, May 2010. 

Journeys with No Return’. A Foundation, London, Art Monthly #335, April 2010.

KwieKulik. Form is a Fact of Society. Galeria Awangarda, BWA Wroclaw’, Art Monthly #334, March 2010.

Polish Conceptualism: Expanded, Politicised, Contested’, Artmargins, February 2010 (peer-reviewed book review)

Taking Women’s Rights Seriously? Sanja Ivekovic. Urgent Matters’, Basis voor Aktuele Kunst (BAK), Utrecht, and the VanAbbe Museum, Eindhoven, Third Text, Vol. 23, Issue 6,  November 2009 (peer-reviewed).

Paradoxical Dissidence’ in Ludlow 38 broadsheet, New York: Goethe Institute, Nov. 2009.

Attacking Objectification: Jerzy Bereś in Dialogue with Marcel Duchamp’ in Mel Jordon and Malcolm Miles (eds), Art Theory and Post-Socialism, Bristol UK and Portland USA: Intellect Books, 2008, pp. 21-31 (chapter in book).

Aernout Mik. Shifting, Shifting’, Camden Arts Centre, Object: Graduate Research and Reviews in the History of Art and Visual Culture, no. 10, London: University College London, 2008 (peer-reviewed).

Affirmation and Irony in Endre Tót’s Actions of the 1970s’, in Liniara Dovydaityte (ed.), Art History & Criticism 3, Art and Politics: Case-Studies from Eastern Europe, Kaunas, Lithuania: Vytautas Magnus University, 2007 (peer-review journal), 136-144.

Understanding Jerzy Bereś’s Manifestations’, in Jerzy Bereś: Sztuka zgina życie / Art Bends Life, exh. cat., Kraków: Bunkier Sztuki, 2007, pp. 23-31.

Jerzy Bereś’s Radical Expansion of the Readymade Event’, in Jerzy Bereś: Sztuka zgina życie / Art Bends Life, exh. cat., Kraków: Bunkier Sztuki, 2007, 35-53.

Excursions in Communist Reality: Tadeusz Kantor’s Impossible Happenings’, Object: Graduate Research and Reviews in the History of Art and Visual Culture, no. 8, London: University College London, 2005/2006, pp. 45-65 (peer-review journal).


east-european art; contemporary art; globalisation; civil resistance; communism; post-socialism; conceptualism; performance art; art and politics; political theory