THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 11 artist Josef Albers


Bauhaus: Art as Life – Talk: An Insider’s Glimpse of Bauhaus Lfe

Published on May 16, 2012

Nicolas Fox Weber, Director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, explores day-to-day life at the Bauhaus: the personal relationships, the struggles and even the scandals. Showing little-known images of Bauhauslers frolicking on the beach, sitting around a samovar, parading at costume parties, and even feigning lovers’ duels, Weber sets the enjoyment and challenges of Bauhaus life in context.

Part of Bauhaus: Art as Life (3 May – 12 Aug) at Barbican Art Gallery. Find out more –



At Black Mountain College

Lecture: Christopher Benfey, “Starting from Zero at Black Mountain and Harvard

Teaching at Brauhaus

Color in Context: Revisiting Albers, with Anoka Faruqee

Josef and Anni Albers at Black Mountain College, 1938 photograph by Theodore Dreier

An iconic book reimagined: Josef Albers’ “Interaction of Color”

Published on Jul 29, 2013

“Interaction of Color” — Josef Albers’ iconic book that taught legions of students and professionals alike how to think creatively about color — has been given a modern makeover as an iPad app, just in time for the 50th anniversary of its publication by Yale University Press.


Later in life:

Drawing class of Josef Albers at Black Mountain College: Left to right: Harriett Engelhardt, Bela Martin, Lisa Jalowetz Aronson (stooping), Josef Albers, Robert de Niro, Martha McMillan, Eunice Schifris, Claude Stoller. Photo courtesy North Carolina State

Josef Albers drawing class:

Hazel Larsen Archer, "Josef Albers Teaching at BMC, with Ray Johnson in the Foreground," ca.  late 1940s Courtesy of the Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer and the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center

Black Mountain College

Uploaded on Apr 18, 2011

Class Project on Black Mountain College for American Literature

Again today we take a look at the movie “The Longest Ride” which visits the Black Mountain College in North Carolina which existed from 1933 to 1957 and it birthed many of the top artists of the 20th Century. In this series we will be looking at the history of the College and the artists, poets and professors that taught there. This includes a distinguished list of  individuals who visited the college and at times gave public lectures.

My first post in this series was on the composer John Cage and my second post was on Susan Weil and Robert Rauschenberg who were good friend of CageThe third post in this series was on Jorge Fick. Earlier we noted that  Fick was a student at Black Mountain College and an artist that lived in New York and he lent a suit to the famous poet Dylan Thomas and Thomas died in that suit.

The fourth post in this series is on the artist  Xanti Schawinsky and he had a great influence on John Cage who  later taught at Black Mountain College. Schawinsky taught at Black Mountain College from 1936-1938 and Cage right after World War II. In the fifth post I discuss David Weinrib and his wife Karen Karnes who were good friends with John Cage and they all lived in the same community. In the 6th post I focus on Vera B. William and she attended Black Mountain College where she met her first husband Paul and they later  co-founded the Gate Hill Cooperative Community and Vera served as a teacher for the community from 1953-70. John Cage and several others from Black Mountain College also lived in the Community with them during the 1950’s. In the 7th post I look at the life and work of M.C.Richards who also was part of the Gate Hill Cooperative Community and Black Mountain College.

In the 8th post I look at book the life of   Anni Albers who is  perhaps the best known textile artist of the 20th century and at Paul Klee who was one  of her teachers at Bauhaus. In the 9th post the experience of Bill Treichler in the years of 1947-1949  is examined at Black Mountain College. In 1988, Martha and Bill started The Crooked Lake Review, a local history journal and Bill passed away in 2008 at age 84.

In the 10th post I look at the art of Irwin Kremen who studied at Black Mountain College in 1946-47 and there Kremen spent his time focused on writing and the literature classes given by the poet M. C. Richards. In the 11th post I discuss the fact that Josef Albers led the procession of dozens of Bauhaus faculty and students to Black Mountain,



Postcards from Black Mountain



From a his­tor­i­cal point of view the twen­ties were quite tumul­tuous, the polit­i­cal con­di­tions that would bring to the out­break of World War II just a decade later were start­ing to build up. The world was destroyed by the war, a period of re-construction and renewal started and Amer­ica was seen as an exam­ple of growth that then col­lapsed after the cri­sis of 1929. On the artis­tic front the new con­ti­nent was gear­ing towards a return to real­ist ten­den­cies, many artists had been let down by the new avant-garde move­ments. In Europe abstrac­tion­ism took hold, the idea was to declare a new method of aes­thetic con­cep­tion that wasn’t based on a loyal rep­e­ti­tion of objects to por­tray. This con­cept would be car­ried on espe­cially by Bauhaus dur­ing these years for what con­cerns fig­u­ra­tive art, and applied arts and archi­tec­ture as well. The Twen­ties are also the years of Sur­re­al­ism, a direct con­se­quence of Dadaism, born thanks to the impor­tance that Bre­ton gave to dreams and the sub­con­scious in mod­ern cul­ture. Let’s go through these steps that are full of events and charged with artis­tic pro­duc­tions through the 5 best artists from the ‘20s.

I 5 migliori artisti anni 20 - Piet Mondrian Piet Mon­drian ( 1872–1944 )
In 1917 he founded the group “De Stijl” along with Theo van Does­burg and Bart van der Leck. Even if his style was fairly tra­di­tional, fig­u­ra­tive and nat­u­ral­is­tic at first, at a cer­tain point of his career the artist turned his style towards a sort of geo­met­ric min­i­mal­ism fol­low­ing sev­eral inspir­ing exter­nal influ­ences. His per­sonal philo­soph­i­cal and spir­i­tual stud­ies were impor­tant for his work, observ­ing Picasso and Braque he reached a per­sonal geo­met­ric style enriched by a more and more impor­tant min­i­mal­ist vein. His paint­ings, often imi­tated and triv­i­al­ized, are com­posed of areas that are almost always painted with homoge­nous blues, reds, yel­lows and framed with a black line that became thicker as the artist took aware­ness of his style. It’s a mis­take to call Mondrian’s works “non –rep­re­sen­ta­tive”, instead they are the result of a care­ful study and per­sonal research.
I 5 migliori artisti anni 20 - Josef Albers Josef Albers ( 1888–1976 )
He was a Ger­man painter and the­o­reti­cian of abstract art.
The art­works that set him apart from oth­ers are char­ac­ter­ized by geo­met­ric forms that are evenly filled with pri­mary col­ors and that aren’t nec­es­sar­ily cre­ated on tra­di­tional sup­ports, in fact the artist often uses glass sup­ports through which he can con­tin­u­ously change the artwork’s visual per­cep­tion. He was also a pas­sion­ate and cre­ative paint­ing teacher, for Bauhaus, which he joined in 1920. A care­ful the­o­reti­cian of abstract art, he was engaged in stud­ies on per­cep­tion through the cre­ation and obser­va­tion of ambigu­ous geome­tries and on their poten­tial evoca­tive qualities.
I 5 migliori artisti anni 20 - Paul Klee Paul Klee ( 1879–1940 )
An all-around artist, Klee loves music and poetry but espe­cially paint­ing, which he con­sid­ers the high­est form of art. A son of two musi­cians, for him music rep­re­sents an impor­tant and fun­da­men­tal means of artis­tic inspi­ra­tion. As much as he is con­sid­ered an abstract artist, abstrac­tion­ism is not his only approach to art, he thought that art shouldn’t rep­re­sent real­ity, but that it should be a con­ver­sa­tion around and on real­ity. In fact his vision of the real world pro­duced art­works in which real­ity is altered, evanes­cent, dis­solved, a per­sonal rep­re­sen­ta­tion that cre­ates a wide range of sup­ports. His paint­ings are free, care­free, play­ful, almost as if they were the result of a child’s inno­cent hand. He was an enthu­si­as­tic paint­ing teacher, a pas­sion­ate the­o­reti­cian of abstrac­tion­ism and in 1911 he founded «Der Blaue Reiter» along with Alfred Kubin, August Macke, Wass­ily Kandin­skij and Franz Marc.
I 5 migliori artisti anni 20 - Salvador Dalì Sal­vador Dalì ( 1904–1989 )
Dalì is one of the main rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the sur­re­al­ist move­ment, a per­sona with a ver­sa­tile and eccen­tric char­ac­ter, with a lack of a sense of mea­sure, besides paint­ing, dur­ing his artis­tic career, he worked in sev­eral fields such as cin­ema, sculp­ture and writ­ing, the­atre and design. He was a skill­ful drawer, an extrav­a­gant man with a lively imag­i­na­tion. He declared that his art­works were inspired by Renais­sance tech­niques and they are full of sym­bol­ism, for him paint­ing is a way of show­ing his most sub­con­scious impulses and desires. His is a hal­lu­ci­na­tory art rich with evoca­tive images and arti­fi­cial scenes in which he often faces the theme of para­noia. Very often his behav­iors at the lim­its of decency had peo­ple pay­ing atten­tion to him rather than his art.
I 5 migliori artisti anni 20 - Man Ray Man Ray ( 1890–1976 )
Emmanuel Rad­nit­sky is Man Ray’s real name. Since he was a child he loved paint­ing and graphic rep­re­sen­ta­tion, but he’s known espe­cially for his great abil­ity in pho­tograph­ing, in fact he became the offi­cial pho­tog­ra­pher of the sur­re­al­ist move­ment. An artist with a multi-faceted per­son­al­ity, he was a pas­sion­ate inven­tor of the most var­ied objects, so strange and absurd that they could be defined as sculp­tures. Thanks to his friend­ship with Duchamp he came into con­tact with the Amer­i­can Dadaist move­ment, he rev­o­lu­tion­ized the art of pho­tograph­ing invent­ing a new tech­nique called “Rayo­g­ra­phy”, which con­sists in putting objects between the light source and th

An Experiment in American Education

By Carol Cruickshanks

At a pastoral campus in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Bauhaus emigres and American educators co-created a progressive experiment in arts and learning. The faculty and students who homed in on Black Mountain during its 23-year-existence were innovators in all fields of artistic endeavor, comprising a noteworthy Who’s Who of modernists.

From its tentative beginnings in 1933 until its doors closed in 1956, Black Mountain’s reputation grew. By the early 1940s, it was a destination of choice for the American avant-garde. The attraction was linked from the start with the presence of the egalitarian, communal Bauhaus spirit. Founded in 1919 and shut down in 1933, the revolutionary German art school integrated art with technology for the enhancement of both, elevating design and craft to the status of art, and applying a new aesthetic to industry.

Josef Albers led the procession of dozens of Bauhaus faculty and students to Black Mountain, eventually even including Walter Gropius, the German school’s founding director. Other American institutions were recipients of Bauhaus influence, notably Harvard, where Gropius headed the School of Architecture, and Chicago’s Institute of Design where Laszlo Moholy-Nagy created a ‘New Bauhaus.’ But Black Mountain was unique–a Southern institution with rural roots, where farming was part of the educational concept, and students wore jeans and sandals decades before they became collegiate fashion.

The unique confluence of European Modernism with American progressive education happened both by intention and by chance. Black Mountain College opened in September 1933 with eleven faculty members and about twice as many students, on a site used by the Blue Ridge Assembly, a Christian conference, during the summer months. In the midst of the Depression, its founder, John Andrew Rice, a Classics professor, embarked on the risky endeavor of attracting students to a college with no scholastic reputation. His goal: to provide an alternative to traditional higher education, with ideals of democracy and the opportunity for students to realize their fullest potential.

Instead of the medieval hierarchy, rigid requirements, codes and rights of passage that delineated practices at other American colleges the structure of Black Mountain evolved from consensus. There were no remote trustees to satisfy, since the faculty owned the college. Students were represented in administrative meetings, and students and faculty shared the daily work and function of the college community. All students were essentially working students, avoiding class distinctions based on family wealth. Eventually, the college farm raised food, and workshops produced articles made in Black Mountain studios.

At Black Mountain, students created their own courses of study with the help of an advisor. There were no required classes and no grades, and the role of the arts in the curriculum evolved to a position of equality with traditional subjects.

Albers Arrives

Rice assembled his faculty, many from the ranks of disaffected professors at Rollins College in Florida, where he had taught before his dismissal earlier that year. He envisioned a resident artist who would be a key figure in the interdisciplinary curriculum, but the available candidates seemed to hold conventional attitudes about teaching art–not what Rice had in mind. Philip Johnson, then Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, proposed Josef Albers, whom he had met during a visit to Dessau, Germany, site of the Bauhaus. Johnson had sat in on Albers’s classes and was impressed by his experiential approach to teaching.

Events in Germany during the summer of 1933 cemented Albers’s decision to come to America. In June, the National Socialist Party required that the Bauhaus install party members on the faculty. In resistance to this edict, Gropius decided to “temporarily” close. Ultimately, the school never reopened, but in this uncertain period, the telegram came from Rice offering Albers a teaching position in America.

Albers and his wife Anni arrived in Asheville, North Carolina, in early December 1933, following a reception in New York organized by the Museum of Modern Art. Albers became the first Bauhaus instructor hired to teach in America, heading up a wave of emigration of talented artists and scientists fleeing Nazi oppression. Though Albers did not speak English, Rice considered a German-speaking faculty member a learning opportunity for the college community.

Anni Albers was to develop her own important contribution to Black Mountain, with the establishment of the weaving workshop. She became a faculty member of tremendous influence, as she matured in stature as an artist.

As his English improved, Albers’s influence on the educational track of the college grew. Albers shaped his art classes in the model of the vorkurs, or preliminary study, as he had taught it at the Bauhaus. Emphasis was on experiencing the properties of materials firsthand. An example of this investigative process might include an exercise involving the tensile and structural properties of paper. Beginning with a flat sheet of the material, the student would create a form by folding, cutting or manipulating. Given a problem to solve, students would develop a solution on their own, and bring the completed effort to the next meeting of the class. All projects were then displayed and critiqued. A student without a project was not admitted to the class. While the discussion was part of the educational process, doing was the essential element of understanding.

Albers’s goal, he wrote, was the “…disciplined education of eye and hand.” Through the direct experience of material, without preconceived or imitative notions, students had the opportunity for inventiveness and discovery. Copying solutions from art history or making a “work of art” was not the point. This innovative approach to learning basic similarity, gaining what Albers called “a finger tip feeling” for material, was revolutionary in American art education.

In the 1930s, American art favored figurative work, even though Modernist elements had been gradually embraced by native artists who studied in Europe or were influenced by it. Pure abstraction was rooted in European Modernism as early as 1912, when Wassily Kandinsky created non-objective abstract art–art without reference the pictorial tradition. Albers’s dedication to geometric abstraction was an aesthetic then shared only by the most sophisticated American audience. He saw abstract art as pure art, a step away from imitation, and the most viable expression of pure form. “Abstract Art is Art in its beginning and is the Art of the Future,” he wrote.

Albers understood both the virtues and the limitations of his curriculum. He invited artists of other disciplines to expand the offerings at Black Mountain, including such other former Bauhaus participants as Kandinsky and sculptor Jean Arp, who were still in Europe, and graphic artist Herbert Bayer, who had already arrived in America.

In 1936, Albers was instrumental in arranging passage from Europe for Alexander Schawinsky, a former Bauhaus student. Schawinsky, hired to teach painting and drawing, began staging performances aimed at modernizing theatrical methods and concepts, as he had done at the Bauhaus under his mentor, Oskar Schlemmer. Within a year of his arrival, Schawinsky staged Spectodrama: Life Play Illusion, with actors clothed in abstract costumes of paper art fabric strips, on a dramatically lighted stage against a black backdrop. Schawinsky’s productions at Black Mountain were among the first American presentations of what was later to become known as performance theater.

The Designer-Craftsperson

Anni Albers’s role at Black Mountain exemplified the Bauhaus model of the designer-craftsperson. In Germany, she had worked as a textile designer and part-time instructor in the Bauhaus weaving workshop. After her first year at Black Mountain, she was appointed to the faculty, soon establishing a similar weaving workshop for practical application of the skills learned in the classroom. In this studio, students produced mats and cloths to be sold to the public, contributing to the economy of the college.

The aesthetics of weaving, as she taught it, reiterated the Bauhaus ideal of sensitive design in the service of industry. Kore Kadden Lindenfeld, a textile designer who was enrolled at Black Mountain from 1945-48, recalled the two-fold emphasis of her studies with Anni Albers. One aspect was technical achievement, a facility with the hand loom in preparation for machine production. The other was inventive, playful exploration of materials.

The model of designer-craftsperson was established in other workshops at Black Mountain during the late 1930s. Bookbinding, printing, and woodworking provided applied experience and skill development for the student as well as service to the college community. Furniture for dormitory rooms was made on site. A modular concept for a desk, bookcase and chest that could be moved and rearranged as necessary was designed for production in the workshop. The college press printed programs for concerts and dramas, featuring original art and imaginative graphic design.

After 1940, when the college purchased property at Lake Eden, students participated in architectural projects. The most significant project, which still exists–the Studies Building–was a two-level cantilevered structure rising out of the hillside on stilts. The original design was a collaboration between Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. Financial concerns and the need to move to the new campus within a year required a less elaborate plan that could be constructed by students under the supervision of architecture professor A. Lawrence Kosher. The result was fashioned from native stone, concrete and steel columns, sheathed in corrugated fireproof material.


The interdisciplinary nature of Black Mountain provided the perfect stage for collaborative effort in the arts. Participation in events at the college drew on the painting, theatrical, music and writing talents of students, faculty, and the frequent distinguished visitors. The isolated campus, far from any major city or cultural center, required entertainment to be produced on site.

At the new Lake Eden campus, special projects were developed each summer, beginning in 1941 with a work camp to help complete the buildings. The Summer Institutes were unique events that evolved from the particular roster of participants. Black Mountain’s summer programs became legend in 1944 with the Music Institute, organized to celebrate composer Arnold Schoenberg’s seventieth birthday. That same summer, the Art Institute included four guest artists in addition to Albers, a lecture series by Walter Gropius, and a “clothing course” taught by Bernard Rudofsky, the Austrian designer who was then organizing his seminal exhibition “Are Clothes Modern?” for the Museum of Modern Art.

In 1946, Jean Varda, artist in residence, and students constructed a Trojan horse for the summer party with a Greek theme. Classes were suspended for the preparation of costumes. In 1948, Buckminster Fuller constructed the first large-scale model of his Geodesic Dome with Venetian blind strips and the labors of students and other participants, including painter Elaine de Kooning. The same summer, Fuller appeared in a production of The Ruse of Medusa, by Erik Satie along with dancer Merce Cunningham, on a set designed by abstract painter Willem de Kooning.

Another extraordinary year, 1952, included the meeting of studio ceramic artists Bernard Leach, who brought the aesthetic of handmade pottery to the West; Shoji Hamada, the “national treasure” of Japan; and Marguerite Wildenhain from the Bauhaus. They converged with celebrated postwar studio potters Peter Voulkous, Karnes Karnes, David Weintraub and Robert Turner, inspiring writer Mary Caroline Richards to write Centering, her prose poem on the metaphor of pottery and life.

The same summer saw composer John Cage, musician David Tudor, and dancer Merce Cunningham arrange a performance work based on Cage’s theories of chance, the I Ching. Improvisation and electronic music, viewed today as the first ever “happening.”

The avant-garde of the New York art world was at home at Black Mountain in the 1950s. First Generation Abstract Expressionists Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning and Robert Motherwell all appeared there, as did art critic Clement Greenberg who first brought attention to the Abstract Expressionist movement. The next generation of artists--Robert Rauschenberg, Kenneth Nolan and Kenneth Snelson--was there as students.

In the literary realm, Robert Creeley and Charles Olson developed and published the Black Mountain Review. Poetry, prose, photographs and drawings by artists residing on campus, and emerging artists residing elsewhere, contributed to the literary journal. In 1954, a two-page article titled Essentials of Spontaneous Prose by Jack Kerouac appeared along with a review of Allen Ginsberg’s recently published Howl.

Josef and Anni Albers, who had lived and worked at the rural campus for sixteen years, left in 1949 when Josef became the founding director of Yale’s Institute of Design. The Bauhaus spirit, which had been so important in the formative years of the college, had evolved into a home-grown American avant-garde spirit.

Despite heroic efforts to remain financially solvent, Black Mountain College ceased to function in 1956. The faculty and students disseminated–some gravitating to San Francisco, others to New York–carrying with them the influence and ideas of a true learning community.

Carol Cruickshanks teaches History of Modern Art at the College of New Jersey


Clemens Kalischer, Cast portrait of The Ruse of Medusa, including John Cage

BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE was founded in 1933 on the grounds of a YMCA summer camp on the outskirts of the small Western North Carolinian mountain town of the same name, about twenty miles from Asheville. With minimal structure born of both ideological inclination and economic necessity, Black Mountain’s experiment in education was ground-breaking and brief. In 1957, when the College closed its doors, it had dwindled to less than a half-a-dozen paying students, with a little over a thousand having attended since its inception. Notwithstanding its short life and modest size, Black Mountain has assumed a prominent place in widely disparate fields of thought. It has been heralded as one of the influential points of contact for European exiles emigrating from Nazi Germany; as a standard-bearer of the legacy of intentional, planned, or alternative communities such as Brook Farm in Massachusetts; as the bellwether campus of Southern racial integration; as an important testing ground for proponents of progressive education; and as a seminal site of American postwar art practices. Adding to the College’s legend, the number of famous participants—faculty included Josef and Anni Albers, John Cage, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, R. Buckminster Fuller, Clement Greenberg, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Charles Olson, and Ben Shahn; among the students were Johnson, Kenneth Noland, Robert Rauschenberg, Dorothea Rockburne, Kenneth Snelson, and Cy Twombly—and the breadth of their artistic diversity, have garnered the College an impressive reputation.

If the College was a “galaxy of talent,” to use a semi-ironic phrase by former student Ray Johnson, as an institution it was also characterized both by periods of bitter dispute and evanescent harmony. Experimentation, and its close relative interdisciplinarity, were key themes of this conversation. Seemingly everyone who attended Black Mountain College shared a desire to experiment, but they did not necessarily agree on what this meant. In particular, competing approaches to experimentation were advanced by the College’s most notable faculty members during its heyday in the mid 1940s to early 1950s: the visual artists Josef and Anni Albers, composer Cage, and architect-designer Buckminster Fuller. Simultaneously, visual artists such as de Kooning, Kline, and Motherwell, and poets such as Olson and Creeley, were developing visual and literary rhetorics of expressionism that subsequently came to dominate the post-WWII cultural landscape. In contrast, the vocabulary of the test developed at Black Mountain experienced a somewhat deferred reception, coming to prominence only later in the 1960s in part through responses to the work and pedagogy of figures like the Alberses, Cage and Fuller.

In spite of its precarious existence, the legacy of Black Mountain College is enormous: the rigorous artistic practices and influential teaching methods that emerged in its brief twenty-three year existence made it the site of a crucial trans-Atlantic dialogue between European modernist aesthetics and pedagogy and its post-war American counterparts. The fact that Black Mountain College is frequently cited as a source in contemporary music, visual arts, and architecture practices that explore what experimentation can mean today, suggests that working “experimentally” in a cultural practice can foster a shadow venture: using the academic microcosm to pose models of testing and organizing new forms of political agency and social life.

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Great article 

Bauhaus Movement and Chronology

“If today’s arts love the machine, technology and organization, if they aspire to precision and reject anything vague and dreamy, this implies an instinctive repudiation of chaos and a longing to find the form appropriate to our times.”

Oskar Schlemmer


The Bauhaus was the most influential modernist art school of the 20th century, one whose approach to teaching, and understanding art’s relationship to society and technology, had a major impact both in Europe and the United States long after it closed. It was shaped by the 19th and early 20th centuries trends such as Arts and Crafts movement, which had sought to level the distinction between fine and applied arts, and to reunite creativity and manufacturing. This is reflected in the romantic medievalism of the school’s early years, in which it pictured itself as a kind of medieval crafts guild. But in the mid 1920s the medievalism gave way to a stress on uniting art and industrial design, and it was this which ultimately proved to be its most original and important achievement. The school is also renowned for its faculty, which included artists Wassily Kandinsky, Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy, Paul Klee andJohannes Itten, architects Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and designerMarcel Breuer.


The motivations behind the creation of the Bauhaus lay in the 19th century, in anxieties about the soullessness of manufacturing and its products, and in fears about art’s loss of purpose in society. Creativity and manufacturing were drifting apart, and the Bauhaus aimed to unite them once again, rejuvenating design for everyday life.
Although the Bauhaus abandoned much of the ethos of the old academic tradition of fine art education, it maintained a stress on intellectual and theoretical pursuits, and linked these to an emphasis on practical skills, crafts and techniques that was more reminiscent of the medieval guild system. Fine art and craft were brought together with the goal of problem solving for a modern industrial society. In so doing, the Bauhaus effectively leveled the old hierarchy of the arts, placing crafts on par with fine arts such as sculpture and painting, and paving the way for many of the ideas that have inspired artists in the late 20th century.
The stress on experiment and problem solving at the Bauhaus has proved enormously influential for the approaches to education in the arts. It has led to the ‘fine arts’ being rethought as the ‘visual arts’, and art considered less as an adjunct of the humanities, like literature or history, and more as a kind of research science.

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Bauhaus building in Dessau, Germany (1919-1925)
Artist: Walter Gropius
Gropius’s complex for the Bauhaus at Dessau has come to be seen as a landmark in modern, functionalist design. Although the design seems strongly unified from above, each element is clearly divided from the next, and on the ground it unfolds a wonderful succession of changing perspectives. The building consists of an asphalt tiled roof, steel framework, and reinforced concrete bricks to reduce noise and protect against the weather. In addition, a glass curtain wall – a feature that would come to be typical of modernist architecture – allows in ample quantities of light. Gropius created three wings that were arranged asymmetrically to connect different workshops and dormitories within the school. The asymmetry expressed the school’s functionalist approach and yet retained an elegance that showed how beauty and practicality could be combined.

Bauhaus Beginnings

The Bauhaus, a German word meaning “house of building”, was a school founded in 1919 in Weimar, Germany by architect Walter Gropius. The school emerged out of late-19th-century desires to reunite the applied arts and manufacturing, and to reform education. These had given birth to several new schools of art and applied art throughout Germany, and it was out of two such schools that the new Bauhaus was born.

Gropius called for the school to show a new respect for craft and technique in all artistic media, and suggested a return to attitudes to art and craft once characteristic of the medieval age, before art and manufacturing had drifted far apart. Gropius envisioned the Bauhaus encompassing the totality of all artistic media, including fine art, industrial design, graphic design, typography, interior design, and architecture.

Concepts and Styles

Central to the school’s operation was its original and influential curriculum. It was described by Gropius in the manner of a wheel diagram, with the outer ring representing the vorkurs, a six-month preliminary course, initiated by Johannes Itten, which concentrated on practical formal analysis, in particular on the contrasting properties of forms, colors and materials. The two middle rings represented two three-year courses, the formlehre, focused on problems related to form, and werklehre, a practical workshop instruction that emphasized technical craft skills. These classes emphasized functionalism through simplified, geometric forms that allowed new designs to be reproduced with ease. At the center of the curriculum were courses specialized in building construction that led students to seek practicality and necessity through technological reproduction, with an emphasis on craft and workmanship that was lost in technological manufacturing. And the basic pedagogical approach was to eliminate competitive tendencies and to foster individual creative potential and a sense of community and shared purpose.

The creators of this program were a fabulously talented faculty that Gropius attracted. Avant-garde painters Johannes Itten and Lyonel Feininger, and sculptor Gerhard Marcks were among his first appointments. Itten would be particularly important: he was central to the creation of the Vorkurs, and his background in Expressionism lent much of the tone to the early years of the school, including its emphasis on craft and its medievalism. Indeed, Itten’s avant-gardism and Gropius’s social concerns soon put them at odds. By the early 1920s, however, Gropius had won out; Itten left and was replaced by Lázlsó Moholy-Nagy, who reformed vorkurs into a program that embraced technology and stressed its use for society. Other important appointments included Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Georg Muche, and Oskar Schlemmer.

In 1925, the Bauhaus moved to the German industrial town of Dessau, initiating its most fruitful period. Gropius designed a new building for the school, which has since come to be seen as a landmark of modern, functionalist architecture. It was also here that the school finally created a department of architecture, something that had been conspicuously lacking in an institution that had been premised on the union of the arts. But by 1928 Gropius was worn down by his work, and by the increasing battles with the school’s critics, and he stood down, turning over the helm to Swiss architectHannes Meyer. Meyer headed the architecture department, and, as an active communist, he incorporated his Marxist ideals through student organizations and classroom programs. The school continued to build in strength but criticism of Meyer’sMarxism grew, and he was dismissed as director in 1930, and after local elections brought the Nazis to power in 1932, the school in Dessau was closed.

In the same year, 1932, it moved to Berlin, under the new direction of architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, an advocate of functionalism. He struggled with far poorer resources, and a faculty that had lost some of its brightest stars; he also tried to remove politics from the school’s ethos, but when the Nazis came to power in 1933, the school was closed indefinitely.


The Bauhaus influence travelled along with its faculty. Gropius went on to teach at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, Mies van der Rohe became Director of the College of Architecture, Planning and Design, at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Josef Albers began to teach at Black Mountain College in North Carolina,Laszlo Moholy-Nagy formed what became the Institute of Design in Chicago, and Max Bill, a former Bauhaus student, opened the Institute of Design in Ulm, Germany. The latter three were all important in spreading the Bauhaus philosophy: Moholy-Nagy and Albers were particularly important in refashioning that philosophy into one suited to the climate of a modern research university in a market-oriented culture; Bill, meanwhile, played a significant role in spreading geometric abstraction throughout the world.

Original content written by Larissa Borteh
Bauhaus. [Internet]. 2015. website. Available from: [Accesed 04 May 2015]


“The ultimate aim of all artistic activity is building! … Architects, sculptors, painters, we must all get back to craft! … The artist is a heightened manifestation of the craftsman. … Let us form … a new guild of craftsmen without the class divisions that set out to raise an arrogant barrier between craftsmen and artists! … Let us together create the new building of the future which will be all in one: architecture and sculpture and painting.”
Walter Gropius

“Designing is not a profession but an attitude. Design has many connotations. It is the organization of materials and processes in the most productive way, in a harmonious balance of all elements necessary for a certain function. It is the integration of technological, social, and economical requirements, biological necessities, and the psychological effects of materials, shape, color, volume and space. Thinking in relationships.”
Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

“I consider morals and aesthetics one and the same, for they cover only one impulse, one drive inherent in our consciousness – to bring our life and all our actions into a satisfactory relationship with the events of the world as our consciousness wants it to be, in harmony with our life and according to the laws of consciousness itself.”
Naum Gabo

“Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space.”
Mies van der Rohe

Nicholas Sparks Talks Adapting ‘The Longest Ride’ to the Screen

The Longest Ride Official Trailer #1 (2015) – Britt Robertson Movie HD


Bull Riding Meets Modern Art
Sparks did more research for The Longest Ride than he had for any of his other novels. ” My explorations covered many areas I didn’t know anything about,” he explains. ” I needed to find out what the art world was like in the ‘ 30s and ‘ 40s; what life was like for Jewish people in North Carolina in the 1930s; and the many facets of the Professional Bull Rider’ s tour and its riders.”

A key source for this research was Professional Bull Riders (PBR), the world’ s premiere bull- riding organization, which the filmmakers brought on board as technical advisors. PBR produced the movie’ s bull riding events. The PBR segments were filmed in Jacksonville, North Carolina and Winston Salem, North Carolina.

Current and active PBR Built Ford Tough Series riders served as stunt doubles for Scott Eastwood, with a few of them, such as 2009 PBR World Champion Kody Lostroh, and Billy Robinson appearing as themselves.

” Nicholas Sparks captured the essence of a PBR bull rider with his character Luke Collins,” says PBR chief operating officer Sean Gleason. ” We enjoyed working with Scott Eastwood to bring the character of Luke to life on the big screen as a PBR cowboy in and amongst the real- world stars of the sport.”

Bowen actually had some experience with bull riding. He was born in a small Central Texas town called Wortham (population: 1000), which, he says, didn’t even have a stoplight. ” But once a week, for six weeks every summer, there was a rodeo with bull riders. I learned then that there’ s a section of the United States that thinks of bull riding like others think of basketball. It’ s part of our cultural institution.

” There is something primal about watching a man on the back of a two thousand pound beast,” Bowen continues. ” I think conquering that fear must be an incredibly liberating thing to do. With the character of Luke, bull riding is about conquering that fear. But it’ s hard to confront it when you know that it could kill you.

” You know,” Bowen adds, ” bull riding is like running into the fire, instead of away from it, and it takes a special breed of person to think in those terms. It’ s mesmerizing to watch, and it’ s an incredible culture.”

Director George Tillman, Jr. says his first encounter with PBR was an eye- opening one. ” During pre- production we traveled to Las Vegas, where we saw the PBR finals,” he recounts. ” Being in a real bull riding environment, seeing the power of the bull, how much life and death this can really be – and at the same time, seeing the energy, the love of bull riding.”

Going into production, Tillman discovered he had a few misconceptions about bull riding. ” The riders have to hang on for eight seconds to win,” he explains. ” On television, that seems very slow and normal, but when you are actually at the ring, those eight seconds go by very quickly.

” It’ s the toughest sport on dirt.”

While the actors and stunt crew/bull riders were always professional, Tillman found his four- legged performer to be a handful. ” We had a top bull named Rango,” says Tillman. ” The first day of shooting, we had five cameras set up. Rango goes into the chute and is very quiet. He was renowned for his toughness.”

Rango was more than ready for his close- up. That first ride was unbelievable: Rango came out of that gate, jumped about five feet in the air, and our rider held on for the eight seconds,” Tillman continues. ” In fact, he may have gone on nine or ten seconds and then he flipped up in the air. It was all that we needed and on top of that, the rider landed on his feet.”

Sadly, on September 15, 2014 Rango died of heart complications while receiving treatment for an intestinal ailment.

Rango’ s rider was Brant Atwood, a PBR cowboy who doubled for Eastwood. ” Brant really has the swagger we needed for Luke,” explains Tillman, ” and he’ s one of the top bull riders in the country. When you work with the real bulls and the bull riding PBR, you’ re working with some of the best riders around.”

” The great thing about the PBR,” says Bob Teitel, ” is that its members are probably the last American cowboys. We captured PBR like no other film has. They get bucked off a bull and they’ re lying there. The doctor comes out to check them out and they refuse help. It’ s just wild!

” I don’ t think people realize how dangerous the sport is,” adds Eastwood. ” Bull riders are probably the toughest guys in the world. Even our stunt guys were in awe of them. I’ m fascinated by the sport and have tremendous respect for the riders.”

Eastwood traveled to a ranch to train. The facility’ s owner, Troy Brown, raises bucking bulls and is a stunt coordinator. ” Scott was a joy to work with,” says Brown. ” He put in the time and effort and he really cared that his bull riding looked right. He was always asking the bull riders for advice. We had the best bull riders in the world – the who’ s who of the PBR – in this movie and Scott worked with them to make it look as real as possible.

” Scott had no bull riding experience coming into this,” Brown continues. ” He rides horses but that’ s a whole different ball game than bulls. But he’ s a great athlete – he surfs – so he picked it up quickly. And Scott looks like a bull rider. He’ s muscular but not too big. He’ s very fit.”

From the art of bull riding to the art of…art, Nicholas Sparks’ research took him to unexpected places. ” One of the story’ s principal locales ended up being one of the greatest moments of kismet in my entire career,” he continues. ” I remember sitting at the desk thinking, how on earth is this couple [young Ira and Ruth] from North Carolina going to become big art collectors?

” My research led me to Black Mountain College, which was the center of the modern art movement in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.”

Black Mountain College was founded in the 1930s as an experimental college. It came to define the modern art movement. ” Everyone from de Kooning to Rauschenberg was there,” says Sparks. ” Robert De Niro’ s father, another noted artist, attended Black Mountain College. There were very famous artists there and if you look at the American modern art movement in the 1940s and 1950s, there were important intersections there with the great works of this century.”

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March 24, 2015 – 12:57 am


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