top of page

Art + City

Julia Folkes

All great art is born of the metropolis. - Ezra Pound


Cities are hubs of artistic activity. People are drawn to cities because of their artistic offerings and they are the place where the majority of artists live and work. But how and why did this intertwining of art and cities come about? And what effects has it had on cities and on the arts? This interest includes the development of bohemia; genres of art that arose in and of the city (photography, the Broadway musical, hip hop); spaces of the city that become identified as an arts enclave (SoHo, “museum mile”); the impact of institutions on urban change; and the municipal policy and politics that both support and confound the arts in cities (public art).

Activities, publications, and other results

Modern Bodies: Dance and American Modernism from Martha Graham to Alvin Ailey (2002)

Editor, “The Arts in Place,” special issue, Journal of Social History (2010)

To the City: Urban Photographs of the New Deal (2011)

“Creating City People: On New York City’s Cultural Plan,” Public Seminar (2017)

Inaugural lecture, “Citizenship, Arts, and Politics,” The Juilliard School (2018)

“Schooled in the New: The Arts as Social Research,” Stand in My Place with My Own Day Here: Site-Specific Art at The New School (2019)

“Albert Mayer’s Urban Village: Between The New School and India,” Public Seminar (2020)

Realizing The New School: Lessons from the Past with Mark Larrimore (2020)

Co-Editor with Aaron Shkuda, “Dancing in the Streets: The Arts in Postwar U.S. Cities,” special section Journal of Urban History (2015)

“Seeing the City: The Filming of West Side Story,” Journal of Urban History (2015)

A Place for Us: West Side Story and New York (2016)

West Side Story—Bernstein’s Broadway Hit, Documentary for European television/ARTE (2018)

New York Icons: West Side Story, Podcast for Studio 360 with Kurt Anderson (2019)

Curator, Voice of My City: Jerome Robbins and New York, Exhibition at New York Public Library for the Performing Arts/Lincoln Center (2018-19)

“Paris as Location: Funny Face, Les Girls, Silk Stockings, and Gigi,” in Paris and the Musical: The City of Light on Stage and Screen, ed. Olaf Jubin (2021)

Research for Etienne Charles’ commission for New York Philharmonic, San Juan Hill: A New York Story (2022)

Culture City: The Rise of the Arts in New York (manuscript in progress)

Podcast Co-Host, Exiles on 12th Street: A Place for Us (season 2) based on West Side Story and its insights about New York City past and present (in production 2022-23)

Courses: Art+City; Culture City: The Arts and Everyday Life in New York; West Side Story and New York; Curating Public Memory; The Arts at The New School

bottom of page