In his extraordinary treatise, Contemporary Art Applied to the Store and Its Display (1930), the visionary architect, designer and artist, Frederick Kiesler advocated a deep and lasting collaboration between the formal experimentation of avant-garde art and the commercial concerns of the department store, or what he described as “a sound cooperation between public, artist and industry.” This talk revisits Kiesler’s ground-breaking treatise in the context of Surrealism’s broader commercial application in this period, through the collaboration between Salvador Dali and Elsa Schiaparelli in the late 1930s and early 1940s and through Max Dupain’s photographic work for the Sydney department store, David Jones in the same period. Through these two examples, Natalya Lusty will suggest that Surrealism’s global and commercial success fundamentally altered the relationship between the aesthetic and the commodity, and between modernism and the market.
Natalya Lusty, Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne, is the Eberhard L. Faber Short-Term Visiting Fellow in the Humanities Council and the Department of French and Italian. She is a scholar of cultural studies and gender and sexuality studies, whose research reaches broadly across surrealism, the avant-garde, visual culture, and psychoanalysis. Her current work on modernism and the department store touches on questions of urban iconography, photography, and architecture.