Graham Bader's research and teaching focuses on postwar European and American art and the avant-gardes of early twentieth-century Europe, particularly Germany. His book Poisoned Abstraction: Kurt Schwitters between Revolution and Exile, published by Yale University Press in fall 2021, rethinks the work of one of Dada’s most idiosyncratic figures. Combining close study of specific works by Schwitters with detailed examination of the historical field in which they were made, Bader’s study attempts to reframe our understanding of both Schwitters’s individual practice and the complex entwinement of art, politics, and history in the modern period.
In addition to his Schwitters volume, Bader is the author of Hall of Mirrors: Roy Lichtenstein and the Face of Painting in the 1960s (October Books, 2010) and the editor of October Files: Roy Lichtenstein. He has also published essays on artists and topics across twentieth-century art; these include pieces on Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Gerhard Richter, Jeff Koons, Thomas Struth, and Kazimir Malevich, and on such topics as Neue Sachlichkeit painting in 1920s Germany, the legacy of iconoclasm in twentieth-century art, and rhetorics of absence in contemporary memorialization.
Uniting Professor Bader's work on these topics is a desire to better understand the complex interrelations between works of art and the social and political fields in which they take shape: to ask why aesthetic objects come to look how they do when they do, and what this process can tell us about art and history alike. Seeing works of art as a kind of "materialized theory" rooted in specific historical conditions, Professor Bader seeks to ground his work equally in formal analysis, historical research and theoretical inquiry, understanding these three to be inseparable from one another.
Poisoned Abstraction: Kurt Schwitters between Revolution and Exile, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2021.
Hall of Mirrors: Roy Lichtenstein and the Face of Painting in the 1960s, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (October Books), 2010.
Roy Lichtenstein, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (October Books), 2009.
Select Articles and Essays
“Saving Face: Portraiture in the Age of Artificial Intelligence,” Artforum 61, 1 (September 2022): 283-289, 334-335.
“Platform Economies: on Katharina Grosse in the Digital Age,” in Katharina Grosse Studio Paintings, Three Decades: Returns, Revisions, Inventions (St. Louis: Kemper Museum, 2022), pp. 153-171.
“Gerhard Richter: Abstraction after Titian, Circa 1973,” in David Homewood and Paris Lettau (eds.), The Ends of Painting: Art in the 1960s and 1970s (Sydney: Power Publications, 2022), pp. 149-168.
“Disney, Abstraction, and the Path to Pop: Roy Lichtenstein, 1958-60,” in Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948-1960 (New York: Rizzoli, 2020), 181-188.
“Kurt Schwitters’ resonant objects: matter and politics in early Merz,” in Journal of Art Historiography 21, GB1 (December 2019): 1-16.
“Forces of Nature: Graham Bader on the Art of Thomas Struth.” Artforum 57, 6 (February 2019): 142-149, 200.
“Reinventing Vision, Page by Page.” Art History, vol. 41, no. 2 (April 2018): 382-385.
“Trains of Thought: Graham Bader on the Art of Reinhard Mucha.” Artforum 56, 5 (January 2018): 188-197, 238.
“View Master: Graham Bader on Formalism and Historicity.” Artforum 54, 7 (March 2016): 85-86.
“Vie et mort sur Silver Screen (vers 1963-1964),” in Warhol Unlimited Exh. Cat. (Paris: Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2015), pp. 90-94.
“Life in the Democracy and the Aftermath of War,” in New Realities and Neue Sachlichkeit Exh. Cat. (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2015), pp. 123-132.
“Sigmar Polke” (featured exhibition review). Artforum 53, 1 (September 2014): 367-368.
“Face aux Mirrors de Lichtenstein,” in Roy Lichtenstein (Paris: Centre Pompidou, 2013), pp. 110-117.
“Gary Hume Paints a Picture,” in Gary Hume: The Wonky Wheel (New York: Matthew Marks Gallery, 2013), pp. 6-23.
"Honored in the Breach: Graham Bader on Absence as Memorial." Artforum 50 (April 2012): 81-82.
"Images Between Dream and Disaster: Passages in Twentieth-Century Photomontage," in Utopia/Dystopia: Construction and Destruction in Photography and Collage. Exh. Cat. (Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2012), pp. 70-82.
"Lichtenstein's Narcissus," in Isabelle Loring Wallace and Jennie Hirsh (eds.), Contemporary Art/Classical Myth (London: Ashgate, 2011), pp. 159-173.
"Emptied Gesture: Graham Bader on Roy Lichtenstein's 'Brushstrokes.'" Artforum 49 (Summer 2011): 346-351, 430.
"Rate of Exchange: Graham Bader on Kurt Schwitters." Artforum 49 (January 2011): 198-203, 243.
“Images in Distress” in John Sparagana: Between the Eyes (Chicago: Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery, 2011), pp. 2-6.
"Painting Reflection," in Roy Lichtenstein: Reflections. Exh. Cat. (New York: Mitchell-Innes and Nash Gallery, 2010), pp. 44-58.
“Tabula Rasa: Graham Bader on Gerhard Richter." Artforum 49, 1 (September 2010): 97-98.
"Drawing Sense," in Roy Lichtenstein: The Black and White Drawings, 1961-68. Exh. Cat. (New York: Morgan Library and Museum, 2010), pp. 43-51.
"Modern Painting, Modern Iconoclasm," in Target Practice: Critiques of Painting, 1949-1978. Exh. Cat. (Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2009), pp. 126-143.
"Political Warhol," in Andy Warhol by Andy Warhol. Exh. Cat. (Oslo: Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, 2008), pp. 21-27.
"Between Forest and Wall," in Arturo Herrera: Boy and Dwarf (New York: Distributed Art Publishers, 2007), pp. 81-86.
"Die absolute Besonderheit von Kasimir Malewitschs Schwarzem Quadrat" ["The Absolute Particularity of Kazimir Malevich's Black Square"] in Das Schwarze Quadrat: Hommage an Malewitsch. Exh. Cat. (Hamburg: Hamburger Kunsthalle, 2007), pp. 201-206.
"Rauschenberg's Skin." Grey Room 27 (Spring 2007): 104-118.
"The Body Politic: Glitter and Doom at the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Artforum 45 (January 2007): 226-231.
"German Paint, American Eyes, A Global Present," in Christoph Tannert (ed.), New German Painting (Munich: Prestel, 2006), pp. 50-65.
"Donald's Numbness." Oxford Art Journal 29 (March 2006): 95-113. Revised version published in October Files: Roy Lichtenstein (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2009).
"High and Low: Graham Bader on Soft-Core." Artforum 43 (October 2004): 109-110, 283.
"Roy Lichtenstein's Absorbing Landscapes." Art on Paper 5 (November/December 2000): 44-49.