Karen Koehler is Visiting Professor of Art History and Chair of the Department of Art and the History of Art at Amherst College, 2022-2025, taking a leave from her post as Professor of Architectural and Art History at Hampshire College.
She received a Ph.D. in Art and Archaeology from Princeton University, an MA in Art History from the University of Massachusetts, a B.A. in English Literature and an M.L.S. from the University of Illinois.
Professor Koehler teaches courses in modern art, architecture, photography, and design, with an emphasis on connections between visual culture, the built environment, and critical theory. Interdisciplinary courses such as “Utopias,” “Angels and Ghosts,” “Dada and Surrealism” and “Museums and Archives” are a particular interest. In all her teaching, she puts an emphasis on close looking and reading, on collaborative work, and on empowering students to work on projects of their own choosing. Koehler was the recipient of the Gruber Award for Excellence in Teaching and Advising in 2016; voted by the Hampshire students, this is the award of which she is most proud.
Research, Grants, and Fellowships
Recipient of institutional and individual grants from the NEH, Mellon, Teagle, Kress and Graham Foundations, Professor Koehler is currently completing an intellectual history of the architect Walter Gropius for Reaktion Books (distributed in the U.S. by the University of Chicago Press), a project for which she was awarded a Mellon Senior Fellowship from the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery in Washington and from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts.
Koehler has published widely on dialogues between architecture and pictures, including an essay on architecture and autobiography in the work of Louise Bourgeois in a special issue of the journal Art in Translation (March 2018, co-edited, with Jeffrey Saletnik), and the edited volume The Built Surface: Architecture and the Pictorial Arts (2002). Selected recent writings include chapters in Sites of Interchange: Modernism, Politics and Culture in Britain and Germany, ed. Lucy Wasensteiner, (Oxford: Peter Lang Publishers, 2021); Bauhaus Bodies, ed. by Elizabeth Otto and Patrick Rössler (London: Bloomsbury Press, 2019) and Bauhaus Clouds, CCSA Book Series, #2, The Center for Critical Studies in Architecture, Deutsches Architekturmuseum, Frankfurt, MBOOKS (forthcoming).
Koehler is guest curator for the upcoming exhibition at the Mead Art Museum on "Architectural Ghosts" (2023), and was the faculty curator and sole author the catalogue for Bauhaus Modern, at the Smith College Museum of Art (2008). She was director of the Institute for Curatorial Practice (2013-2018) a collaboration between Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Museums10, including serving as producer for a number of student curated digital and experimental exhibitions centered on Adrian Piper, Edward Burtynsky, Paul Scott and Binh Danh.