Karen Fiss’s current research examines the history of nation branding in the production of visual culture, from the rise of the nation-state to its contemporary role in shaping the social, artistic, and built environments. Her current book project, From Nation Building to Nation Branding, relates global branding practices to the mechanisms of globalization in the contemporary art world and its accompanying exhibition economies, with a focus on how citizenship and historical memory are visually produced.
She is author of Grand Illusion: The Third Reich, the Paris Exposition, and the Cultural Seduction of France (University of Chicago Press, 2010), and co-author of World's Fairs on the Eve of War: Science, Technology and Modernity 1937-1942 (University of Pittsburg Press, 2015; with Robert Kargon, et al). Her curatorial projects include the exhibition Necessary Force: Art in a Police State (Art Museum of the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, 2015, with Kym Pinder) and El cine de 1930. Flores azules en un paisaje catastrófico (Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid 2012).
Fiss received her PhD from Yale University and her BA from Brown University. Her writing and research has been supported by grants from the Graham Foundation, Getty Grant Program, National Endowment for the Humanities, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. She is professor of Visual Studies and Graduate Fine Arts at the California College of the Arts, San Francisco.