Francis Schaeffer died 35 years ago today (May 15, 1984) Here is on of my favorite posts inspired by him!! FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 197 “Film series HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? PART 8 ” THE AGE OF FRAGMENTATION ” Featured artist is Josef Albers









HowShouldWeThenLive Episode 4







This outline below is one that I have found very helpful. It is by Tony Bartolucci


How Shall We Then Live?
Francis Schaeffer
Began: June, 2006 | Finished November: 2006

IX. Chapter Nine: Modern Philosophy and Modern Theology
A. Secular Existential Philosophers and The Move “Upstairs”
Moderns have put various things upstairs in a vain attempt to find meaning in life. Reason, the
existentialists believed, leads only to pessimism and despair.
1. Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980)
Believed that in the area of reason all is absurd, but people could nonetheless authenticate themselves
by an act of the will. (“On the basis of histeaching, you could authenticate yourself either by helping
a poor old lady along the road at night or by speeding up your auto and running her down. Reason
is not involved, and nothing can show you the direction which your will should take.” page 183).
Sartre did not live consistently with his worldview, however. This showed when he signed the
Algerian Manifesto in 1960 which declared the Algerian War evil. His later leftist political views also
demonstrated that he deep down believed man could use reason to determine right and wrong, this
in contradiction to his own philosophy.
2. Albert Camus (1913-1960)
Camus is often connected with Sartre as the twin pillars of French Existentialism.
3. Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) – German
Also believed that answers are separated fromreason. He coined the German term”angst” – a general
feeling of anxiety with no object.
In his later years he modified his views to that which is (being) is true and meaningful.
4. Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) – German
Believed we could have a life-transforming (rationally indescribable) experience that would give us
meaning and direction. He had such an experience while watching a play”Green Pastures.” Divorced
from reason, it was emotionally charged. But asthe months passed by, Jaspersfelt the power of this
experience wane and slip through his fingers resulting in his contemplating suicide.
5. Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) (Brother of Julian Huxley)
Proposed drugs as a solution. Wrote “Brave New World” in 1932. Made his wife promise to give
him LSD when he was ready to die so that he could die while on a trip.
The result of existentialism is that truth is only in your head. Objective truth does not exist.
B. Religions
1. Hinduism and Buddhism
Both are non-rational and try to find meaning in life apart from rationality.
2. The Occult
3. Surrealism
Surrealism is the combining of Freud’s concept of the existence of the unconscious with Dada, an art
and life form in which all was seen as absurd (Dada was a random term chosen out of a French
dictionary – means “rocking horse.”) Promoted bythe artist/philosopher Salvidor Dali(b. 1904) who
later abandoned it.
C. Summary
The dichotomy between reason and nonreason is impregnable from Kierkegaard onward.
“Downstairs in the area of reason, man is a machine, man is meaningless. And upstairs optimism
about meaning and values is totally separated from reason. . . . Once people adopt this
dichotomy–where reason is totally separated fromnonreason–theythen must face the fact that many
types of things can be put in the area of nonreason. And it really does not matter what one chooses
to put there, because reason give no basis for a choice between one thing or another.” [page 189]
D. Theological Existentialism
1. Karl Barth (1886-1968)
German who stood fast against Nazism. He was in contrast to the older, liberal theologians of
Germany who denied the miraculous, yet tried to hold onto a historical Christianity. They were
caught in a rational dilemma because they didn’t believe something could be true and false at the same
time. Either Jesus was resurrected or he wasn’t.
Barth brought a change to this believing that the contradiction was acceptable. He upheld German
higher criticism and denied inerrancy. But he also held that a word from God breaks through the
Bible to man when he encounters it. Reason was of no importance to this. This was “NeoOrthodoxy”
(better, “Neo-Liberalism”). The Bible is not about absolute propositions of right and
wrong (cf. to today’s emerging church movt.).
From this point onward, theology was added to allthe other thingsthat were pushed into the category
of nonreason.
a. What about the Problem of Evil?
These neo-liberals could not answer the question of why evil exists and are left with the same answer
as the Hindu – everything that is, is equally in God. This is demonstrated in the Hindu Kali – a
feminine image of God with fangs and skulls around her neck. This pictures “god” as encompassing
all that is, good and evil. There is no right or wrong grounded in absolute truth, only bad karma.
2. Paul Tillich (1886-1965) – Harvard Divinity School
Religious words and concepts without real substance.
a. The God is Dead Theology of the 1960s
b. The next Logical Step is that Theological Words Have no Absolute
Meaning but Change with Times and Culture (as we see today)
c. Nietzche (1844-1900) – Perhaps the First to Say “God is Dead”
If God is dead, then everything for which God gives an answer died with him. Schaeffer believes that
when Nietzche came to Switzerland and went insane it was more than his venereal disease that cause
it. It was because “he understood that insanity was the only philosophic answer if the infinitepersonal
God does not exist.” [page 193]

This outline below is one that I have found very helpful. It is by Tony Bartolucci


How Shall We Then Live?
Francis Schaeffer
Began: June, 2006 | Finished November: 2006

X. Chapter Ten: Modern Art, Music, Literature, and Films
A. Modern Pessimism and Fragmentation Have Spread Three Different Ways
1. Geographically from European Mainland to England to the USA
2. Culturally from Philosophy to Art to Music to General Culture (novels, poetry,
drama, cinema)
a. Philosophy
The flow historically was from the philosophers Rousseau, Kant, Hegeland Kierkegaard onward who
lost hope of a unity in knowledge and hope and passed that worldview on to the artists.
b. Art
(1) The Impressionists
Art reflectsthe philosophy of the artist. The Impressionists(Monet – 1840-1926 and others) painted
only what their eyes saw, but they doubted the reality behind the rays of light that their eyes saw.
After 1855 Monet brought his philosophy to its logical conclusion and reality became a dream. “As
reality became a dream, Impressionism as a movement fell apart.” [page 196]
(2) The Post-Impressionists (Van Gogh – 1853-1890)
The P.I. tried to find the way back to reality (they sensed the need for universals) but failed.
“After philosophy had moved from unity to fragmentation, thisfragmentation was also carried into
the field of painting. The fragmentation shown in post-Impressionist paintings was parallel to the
loss of a hope for a unity of knowledge in philosophy. It was not just a new technique in painting.
It expressed a worldview.” [page 197]
(3) Resulting belief in the absurdity of all things
According to Schaeffer, the man who most exemplified an understanding of absurdity was Marcel
Duchamp (1887-1969).
(4) Jackson Pollock (1912-56)
American artist who tried to make the statement that all is chance. He placed a canvas on the floor
and suspected buckets of paint from the ceiling from which dripped paint onto the canvas in random
fashion. However, it was not really random asthe buckets and dripsfollowed set patterns of gravity
and motion!
c. Music
Fragmentation in music – example of John Cage who believed the universe to be random chance and
composed music that way (Eg. flipping coins, using a randomly programmed machine to conduct
music; making music that was a confusion of sounds).
d. General culture (poetry, novels the cinema)
3. Socially from the intellectuals to the educated and then through the mass media to all
a. Science and positivism
Modern science jettisoned the epistemological base of earlier science (that the universe was created
by a reasonable God and therefore was rational and intelligible). The result was that modern
scientists made the philosophy of positivism their base for knowing. Positivism is a philosophy that
contends that when you observe an object you have seen all there is. Your observation tells you all
you need to know.
But some realized that the observer was not totally objective. The observer has biases and
preconceived notions that affect his observation and interpretation of the data. Also, how can one
be sure that the data is real and not an illusion? This was not a problem in a Christian worldview.
There is a parallel to positivism in science to impressionism in art. The Impressionist simply painted
what he saw but questioned the reality behind the light-waves that reached his eyes.
Without a Christian worldview there is not a sufficient base to conduct philosophy, art, or science.
Science today has no sufficient epistemological base, know positive way of knowing that reality exists
and can be known. Science today tends to go in one or two directions as a result: 1) High
technology, often with the goal of increasing wealth; 2) Sociological science (people who use science
as a means to an end). With the latter evolutionism stands out as a means to deny that God exists,
promote humanism, Communism, Marxism, etc. This is why science is a “sacred cow” today.
Note how that same bias and objective has led to “sociological news and media.”
B. The Generation Gap
The older middle-class (i.e. those who were parents in the 1940s – 60s) still clung to the old ways.
However, they didn’t have a sufficient base for doing so. When their children were educated they
noticed that their parents had no basis for the old ways (Eg. religion) and, believing their parents
were governed by no more than dead tradition, they jettisoned their parents “habits.”
C. Existentialism and Linguistic analysis
Both are considered philosophies, but probably are “anti-philosophies.” Existentialismdeals with the
big questions of life, but separates the answers from reason, placing them in the category of nonreason.
Linguistic analysis leads to neither values or facts, only the analysis of language.
D. Music and Film demonstrate the despair of man (cf. last quote on page 209)

This outline below is one that I have found very helpful. It is by Tony Bartolucci



Featured artist is 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

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




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



– See more at:

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





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