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Elisa Schaar

Elisa Schaar (AB Harvard, DPhil Oxford) is a Visiting Tutor in History and Theory at the Ruskin.

She specializes in art since the 1960s, with a focus on the relation between art and its broader social and political contexts, and particular research interests in: the American and German contexts; intersections between art, media, and technology; themes of time, history, and memory; and issues of gender.


Her book project, entitled Sturtevant: Unruly Repetition, is the first book-length study of American artist Elaine Sturtevant’s work that takes into account her recent videos alongside the unsettling one-to-one repetitions of iconic works by artist peers that she started making in New York in the 1960s. By theorizing works from across her career, the manuscript shows that her conceptualist practice was a coherent one concerned with more far-reaching themes than originality and the art system, as is commonly assumed. Elisa has presented excerpts from this research in public lectures in conjunction with Sturtevant’s exhibitions at the Serpentine Gallery, Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt, and Julia Stoschek Collection. 

Elisa has also published articles and exhibition catalogue essays on Robert Rauschenberg, Fred Sandback, and Ragnar Kjartansson, and edited a book of conversations with Dia Art Foundation co-founder Heiner Friedrich. Her articles have appeared in journals including Art History and American Art and in exhibition catalogues for galleries and institutions including the Pinakothek der Moderne, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Tel Aviv Art Museum, Castelli Gallery, and Thaddaeus Ropac. She also contributes exhibition reviews to Artforum.

As independent curator, she recently organized a solo exhibition of Günther Förg that was an official collateral event of the 2019 Venice Biennale promoted by the Dallas Art Museum; a solo exhibition of Tristano di Robilant at the Musinf, Senigallia (co-curated with Nicola Brandt); and a group exhibition of recent and contemporary art from the US and the UK at the Heong Gallery, titled ‘Do I Have to Draw You a Picture?’, and including works by Louise Bourgeois, Jasper Johns, John Baldessari, Kay Rosen, Glenn Ligon, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Holzer, Bruce Nauman, Ida Applebroog, Ed Ruscha, Bob and Roberta Smith, Amalia Pica, and Wolfgang Tillmans, among others.  

Her research has been supported by a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the Ruskin and a Terra Foundation for American Art Postdoctoral Fellowship at The Courtauld.