Photo: Moritz Wehrmann
Art History and Archaeology
Associate Professor
Modern and Contemporary Art and Media

Noam M. Elcott writes, teaches, and advises students in the history of modern art and media in Europe and North America, with an emphasis on interwar art, photography, and film. His research and teaching combine close visual analysis with media archaeology and critical theory. He also writes and teaches on contemporary art. Recent classes include graduate seminars on the Bauhaus, Dada, Surrealism, Futurism, media architecture, and the avant-garde cinematic imaginary as well as the undergraduate lectures: "Art, Media, and the Avant-Garde," "Histories of Photography," and "Art Humanities."

Elcott is the author of Artificial Darkness: An Obscure History of Modern Art and Media (University of Chicago Press), winner of the 2017 Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) Anne Friedberg Innovative Scholarship Award. Encompassing diverse figures such as Étienne-Jules Marey and Richard Wagner, Georges Méliès and Oskar Schlemmer, Elcott's book is the first to conceive, historicize, and theorize artificial darkness and the art and media that gave it form. Elcott is currently at work on Art in the First Screen Age: László Moholy-Nagy and the Cinefication of the Arts (University of Chicago Press), which traverses interwar painting, architecture, photography, film, theater, and exhibition design in the age of cinema.

Elcott is an editor of the journal Grey Room which brings together scholarly and theoretical articles from the fields of architecture, art, media, and politics. He is the director (with Sarah H. Meister) of The August Sander Project (MoMA/Columbia), a five-year initiative exploring Sander's epic photo-portrait of German society People of the Twentieth Century. His articles have appeared in leading journals like Grey RoomOctober, and Aperture, as well as in many museum catalogues and scholarly volumes, including monographic essays on Anthony McCall, Stan Douglas, James Welling, the London Film-Makers' Co-op, and other contemporary artists. He has lectured widely in North America, Europe, and also in South America. 

Elcott was educated at Columbia University (B.A. summa cum laude 2000) and Princeton University (Ph.D. 2009) and is the recipient of Fulbright, Mellon, DAAD, and other fellowships. He was recently a fellow at the Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie (IKKM) at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and will soon be a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies BildEvidenz, History and Aesthetics at the Freie Universität in Berlin.

Artificial Darkness: An Obscure History of Modern Art and Media. University of Chicago Press, 2016.
   • Winner of the 2017 Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) Anne Friedberg Innovative Scholarship Award.
   • Finalist for the 2017 First Book Prize from the Modernist Studies Association.
   • Reviewed in caa.reviewsCritical InquiryThe Times Literary SupplementThe Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory (Oxford)Les Cahiers du Musée National d'Art ModerneMillennium Film JournalChoicePro Photo DailyThe Art NewspaperFilm CommentHyperallergicPrefix PhotoDigicult. Also featured in AnOther Magazine and BBC's The Forum.

Artforum reviews on László Moholy-Nagy Retrospective (2016), Peter Gidal and the London Film-Makers' Co-operative (2017), and "Picture Industry" (2017).

"The Phantasmagoric Dispositif: An Assembly of Bodies and Images in Real Time and Space." Grey Room 62 (Winter 2016): 42-71.

"Experimentation, from Darkroom to Laptop." In Photography at Moma: 1960 until Now, edited by Quentin Bajac, Lucy Gallun, Roxana Marcoci and Sarah Hermanson Meister, 316-19. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2015.

"'Kaleidoscope-Architecture': Scheerbart, Taut, and the Glass House." In Glass! Love!! Perpetual Motion!!! A Paul Scheerbart Reader, edited by Josia McElheny and Christine Burgin, 110-17. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014.

"In Search of Lost Space: Stan Douglas's Archaeology of Mediated Darkness." October 139 (2012): 151-182.

"Anthony McCall and the Mediation of Immediacy." In Anthony McCall: Five Minutes of Pure Sculpture, 20-53. Berlin: Walther König, 2012.

"Rooms of Our Time: László Moholy-Nagy and the Stillbirth of Multi-Media Museums." In Screen/Space, edited by Tamara Trodd, 25-52. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011.

"Untimely Detritus: Christian Marclay's Cyanotypes." In Christian Marclay: Cyanotypes. Zurich: JRP Ringier, 2011.
Anthologized in On & By Christian Marclay. London: Whitechapel Gallery; MIT, 2014.

"Reflections on Glass Houses." In James Welling: Glass House, 63-92. Bologna: Damiani, 2011.

"Darkened Rooms: A Genealogy of Avant-Garde Filmstrips from Man Ray to the London Film Makers' Co-op and Back Again," Grey Room 30, Winter 2008.