Meet Kaia Magnusen
Assistant Professor, Art and Design
Address: 401 W. Kennedy Blvd. Tampa, FL 33606
2005 Wheaton College, B.A.
2008 Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, M.A.
2014 Rutgers University, Ph.D.
Form and Idea
Kaia Magnusen specializes in modern art, specifically the work of interwar and Neue Sachlichkeit artists, and contemporary art. Her research interests also include depictions of physical and mental illness in art and visual culture, visualizations of death, interwar conceptions of ideal and “deviant” masculinity and femininity, the interactions between art and technology, bioart and semiotic theory.
Magnusen’s current research focuses on the art of the Neue Sachlichkeit, especially the work of Otto Dix and other interwar artists including Max Beckmann. Her scholarship addresses the manner in which the art of this period engaged highly contentious social debates pertaining to the changing role of women, interwar conceptions of ideal masculinity and femininity, and the linkage of “deviant” women, specifically New Women, with degeneration, disease and death. Her work engages various medical and sociological discourses pertaining to the body in order to investigate depictions of physical and mental manifestations of illness and visualizations of death.
She also examines the cross-fertilization that existed between fine art and Weimar popular culture, including film, dance and music. In addition, Magnusen has expanded her investigation of World War I-era art to include American soldier artist, Harvey Dunn.
Magnusen's interest in contemporary art addresses the use of new technology, such as the recent augmented reality sculptures by Jeff Koons, and engages the semiotic theory of Ferdinand de Saussure. Her research on contemporary art continues her interest in investigating images of women, constructions of the female ideal, representations of physical harm and mental distress, and artistic engagement with the body. These interests are evidenced by her publication and presentations on Aida Silvestri, an Eritrean-born artist whose mixed media photographic images address FGM and the issue of women’s rights in Africa.
Magnusen has presented at numerous national and international art history and interdisciplinary conferences. She has also curated multiple regional and national art exhibitions.
Her recent publications include: “The Great Men of the Great War: Heroic Martial Masculinity in the Works of Harvey Dunn,” Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies 28, no. 1 (June 2022): 45-75; “Visualizing Disease and ‘Depravity’ in the Weimar Republic: The Film Roles and Dance Performances of Anita Berber and Otto Dix’s Bildnis der Tänzerin Anita Berber,” Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies 57, no. 4. (Nov. 2021): 335-359; “Photography and Human Rights: Confronting and Deterring Female Genital Mutilation in Aida Silvestri’s Unsterile
Clinic,” in The Art of Human Rights: Commingling Art, Human Rights and the Law in Africa, edited by Romola Adeola, Michael Gyan Nyarko, Adebayo Okeowo, and Frans Viljoen, 23-44 (New York: Springer Publishing, April 2020); “Augmented Art, Virtual Vandalism: Geotagging Jeff Koons’s Balloon Dog.” The International Journal of New Media, Technology and the Arts 13, no. 4 (2018): 1-11; “‘The Great Imitator:’ Syphilis and Clandestine Prostitution in One of Otto Dix’s Die Witwe Watercolors.” New German Critique (August 2018):33-65.
While in Texas, Magnusen annually served as a certified juror for the Texas Art Association -- Visual Art Scholastic Event state-wide competition for high art school students. In Florida, she has volunteered with various national and local organizations, including the Salvation Army and Parker Street Ministries.
2017 Faculty Research Scholarship, The University of Texas at Tyler
2016 Best Paper Award, Social Sciences/Education Panel, International Organization of Social Sciences and Behavioral Research Conference
2012 Graduate Conference Travel Award, Rutgers University
2012 Baden-Württemberg Stipendium, Universität Konstanz, Germany
2011 Cowdrey Fellowship, Rutgers University
2007 Shelby White & Leon Levy Travel Grant, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University