Jenny Anger joined the Department of Art and Art History at Grinnell College in 1997. She has been an associate professor since 2004. She has served as department chair (2004-06, 2014-16) and chair of the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies Concentration (2002-03), and she was a founding member of the Humanities Center Advisory Board in 2000.
Anger’s specialty is twentieth-century European art history and theory. Her first book, Paul Klee and the Decorative in Modern Art (Cambridge University Press, 2004) situates Klee’s art within the problematic of the decorative as it was articulated and contested especially in the early years of the twentieth century. Anger is currently at work on a book titled, Metaphors of Modernism: Der Sturm and the Société Anonyme. That project examines the lively atmosphere of Herwarth Walden’s Sturm enterprise in Berlin (1910-1932) as a Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) and as an early instance of collaborative performance art, thereby upsetting conventional boundaries between “modernist” vs. “postmodernist” art and “modern” vs. “avant-garde” art. The latter part of the study traces the legacy of Der Sturm in prominent American institutions, in particular, the Société Anonyme (1920-50).
Anger’s teaching at Grinnell reflects her research commitments. “Modern Art in Europe, 1900-1940,” “Art Since 1945,” and “Berlin: Borders and Transgressions” (co-taught with German professor Daniel Reynolds) are her regular courses. Along with colleagues Marika Knowles and Vanessa Lyon, Anger teaches sections of the “Introduction to Art and Art History” course. Anger has also utilized the Grinnell College Art Collection to teach the department’s triennial Exhibition Seminar three times: on photogravures of American Indians by Edward S. Curtis, on German Expressionist prints, and, most recently, on the theme of repetition in art more broadly. The resultant student-curated exhibition, Repeat, Reveal, React: Identities in Flux, ran at the Faulconer Gallery from 29 January to 21 March 2010. Finally, Anger has been pleased to offer a Senior Seminar on several topics to date: “Modernism and the Market,” “Modernism and Postmodernism,” and “Twentieth-Century Art and Philosophy in Dialogue” (co-taught with philosophy professor Alan Schrift).
Student research under Anger represents a broad range of student interests and has resulted in many outstanding senior theses (Mentored Advanced Projects, or MAPs). In 2013-14, Anger’s students’ MAPs were: “Art in American Diplomacy: Fallacies, Phalluses, and Freedom” (by Remy Ferber); “Wes Peters’s Pearl Palace: Expressing Nationalism in Modernist Persia” (by Emily Sortor); and “Zaha Hadid: Building the Unbuildable (by Kathlyn Cabrera)