From a Nation Torn Decolonizing Art and Representation in France, 1945-1962

Hannah Feldman

From a Nation Torn provides a powerful critique of art history's understanding of French modernism and the historical circumstances that shaped its production and reception. Within art history, the aesthetic practices and theories that emerged in France from the late 1940s into the 1960s are demarcated as "postwar." Yet it was during these very decades that France fought a protracted series of wars to maintain its far-flung colonial empire. Given that French modernism was created during, rather than after, war, Hannah Feldman argues that its interpretation must incorporate the tumultuous "decades of decolonization," and their profound influence on visual and public culture. Focusing on the Algerian War of Independence (1954–1962) and the historical continuities it presented with the experience of the Second World War, Feldman highlights decolonization's formative effects on art and related theories of representation, both political and aesthetic. Ultimately, From a Nation Torn constitutes a profound exploration of how certain populations and events are rendered invisible and their omission naturalized within histories of modernity.



  • $26.95 paper, 978-0-8223-5371-3 paper
  • $99.95 cloth, 978-0-8223-5356-0 cloth
  • $26.95 ebook, 978-0-8223-9595-9
  • 328 pages
  • 84 illus., 21 in color, 6 x 9 in.

Table of Contents

about the author

Hannah Feldman, an associate professor of art history at Northwestern University, researches and teaches late modern and contemporary art and visual culture. Her essays and articles on the intersections between violence and aesthetic practices have appeared in Art Journal, Artforum, Frieze, nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, October, and Third Text, as well as an in international exhibition catalogues including New Realisms 1957-1962, Strategies of the Object Between Readymade and Spectacle at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid), Allora and Calzadilla at the Kunsthalle Zürich, and Akram Zaatari: Earth of Endless Secrets at Portikus (Frankfurt).

An alumna of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, Professor Feldman approaches the study of modern and contemporary art from an emphatically interdisciplinary point of view. She is a member of the Core Faculty of Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern, and is affiliated with the Graduate Program in Screen Cultures, the Middle East and North Africa Working Group, and the French Interdisciplinary Group. Her courses reflect this interdisciplinary focus and range from introductory surveys of art since the 1960s to advanced undergraduate lectures and graduate seminars that consider the intersection of art and urban space in sites of postcolonial and neocolonial conflict; art and protest; participatory aesthetic practices; theories of representation; theories and models of photographic practice; and art in and about the Middle East and North Africa.

From 2008-2010, Feldman was Chair of the Art Journal editorial board. In 2011, she was elected to the Faculty Honor Roll and named Director of Undergraduate Studies.