Tag Archives: John Cage

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 28  artist Donald Alter

I fell in love with the story of Black Mountain College and I have done posts on many of the people associated with the college such as  Anni Albers, Josef Albers, Donald AlterSylvia Ashby, James BishopJohn Cage,   Willem de Kooning (featured  in 3 posts)Ted Dreier, Ted Dreier Jr. Robert DuncanJorge Fick, Walter Gropius, Heinrich Jalowetz, Pete Jennerjahn, Wassily Kandinsky,   Karen Karnes,  Martha KingIrwin Kremen, Charles OlsonCharles Perrow, Robert Rauschenber,  M.C.Richards, Dorothea Rockburne,  Xanti Schawinsky, Claude Stoller Bill TreichlerSusan Weil,  David Weinrib,  and Vera B. Williams

Airplane Landscape, Don Alter

DON ALTER: VISUAL THINKER OF THE 21STCENTURY

by Abby Luby

Don Alter was very much at home in the well lit Hudson Beach gallery in Beacon. The 81 year old artist was surrounded by his latest body of work — a stopping point of sorts to mark more than six decades of painting. Alter is one of the sole remaining students of the famed Black Mountain College of the 1940’s, an experience that shaped him as a maturing, young artist. Today, Alter is more like a philosopher who articulates his theories through painting, and who is informed by a diverse set of life experiences .

Don Alter

Alter was a first generation American who was raised in the Bronx by his Polish immigrant father Sol Alter, a bread baker. As an artist, the young Alter attended the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan, after which he was accepted at the Black Mountain College in North Carolina. The small college was an artists’ mecca and Alter met and worked with such artists and thinkers as Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, John Cage, Alfred Kazin, Merce Cunningham, and famed authors Arthur Penn and Paul Goodman, among others. On the board of directors was Albert Einstein and William Carlos Williams.

Alter was just under 18 and the youngest one at the Black Mountain campus, a small, open community of artists who embraced a liberal life style in and out of the classroom. For the young artist it was like being a kid in a toy store. “It was innovative and exciting,” says Alter. “It was like Shangri-​​La and everyone was very close.”

Alter studied drawing, painting and color under the rigorous tutelage of Josef Albers and textile design with Anni Albers, both who had just fled Nazi Germany after closing that country’s famous Bauhaus school.

The Albers taught us about the Bauhaus philosophy,” recalls Alter. “They taught us that there is a social responsibility between artists and the world. It got me thinking about my economic identity and how one makes their way in the world.”

The training paved the way for Alter’s successful career in textile design, but before he could test the commercial waters of the design world, he was drafted to serve in the Korean War. In the military he completed the vigorous combat training for overseas, but ended up state side creating military training aids and signs because of his artistic talent.

After his stint in the military, he set his goals towards the textile world and eventually became a well known and respected designer and founded Design Logic Inc. in New York City. His ideas grew from his art background — a rich mix of abstract and real imagery.

The work I did was very innovative in a competitive world.  It was a time when a lot of visually exciting things were happening in the world. People were working and there was a sense of optimism and an energetic retail market.”

As a successful textile designer, Alter always had his finger on the pulse of the visual world — both commercial and artistic. He created and produced textile designs for home furnishings, fabrics, wall paper and other products. He had commissioned and noncommissioned designs that were sold nationally and internationally. By the time he retired in 1990, he was ready to return to painting full time. Today, he lives with his wife Alice Himmel in Newburgh and his studio is a small space overcrowded with stacks of canvases.

Over the years, Alter has seen the growing number of surfaces with images that fill our everyday lives are a “bombardment of visual media where it has become so super saturated without intellectual comparison and too disparate.”  To that end, Alter says he wants to simplify the artist-​​viewer relationship. Today, his has deftly expressed his ideas combining abstract and realism. His colors are extraordinary and the subject matter is compelling. In “Airplane Landscape” rainbow colored flora and fauna grow off the canvas, a subtle, tiny airplane hints at a sense of perspective.

Donald Alter_APPLE ORCHARD

Apple Orchard” shows a young man integrated with nature, a mysterious ladder reaches up to a sky of ethereal plumes. Other work includes fantasy landscapes, beguiling faces and abstract explosions that reverberate off the canvas. Alter says as he gets older, experimenting and stepping outside the box becomes easier, as does showing his work.

Don Alter_Heads #11 of 12

I’m opening up more, maybe because it’s easier to get rejected at my age. You wait to be a unique voice. I want to take the time and develop skills to make something exciting. I am, after all, a provocateur.”

Two very dedicated friends and artists have helped Alter regularly show his work here in the Hudson Valley. Tony Moore, a sculptor, and Harald Plochberger, a painter, have curated the current two-​​part show of Alter’s work at the Hudson Beach gallery in Beacon, a community based gallery. Both men have produced the DVD film, “Donald Alter: A Dialogue on Painting,”  Both shows  (the second one started June 9) are calledChromatic Tales, Part 1 and Part 2.  

DONALD ALTER: Chromatic Tales – Part 1 and 2
Paintings, Drawings, Prints
May 12 — July 5, 2012

HUDSON BEACH GALLERY at HUDSON BEACH GLASS
162 MAIN STREET, BEACON, NY 12508 T 845 440‑0068
www​.hudsonbeachglass​.com

Abby Luby, author of the recently published e-​​​​book Nuclear Romance, has been in the field of communications for over 20 years and a journalist just over 10. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications/​​Music from Indiana University and attended the High School of Music and Art in New York City.

She is a freelance journalist for The New York Daily News, a regularly featured art critic for the Stamford Advocate/​​Greenwich Time and for the past five years has written for The Hudson Valley Table, a quarterly food magazine. Ms. Luby has contributed several articles on art events, gallery openings and artists in the Hudson Valley region to Roll Magazine. www​.abbylu​.com

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.

In the 12th post I feature Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) who was featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE and the film showed Kandinsky teaching at BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE which was not true according to my research. Evidently he was invited but he had to decline because of his busy schedule but many of his associates at BRAUHAUS did teach there. In the 13th post I look at the writings of the communist Charles Perrow. 

Willem de Kooning was such a major figure in the art world and because of that I have dedicated the 14th15th and 16th posts in this series on him. Paul McCartney got interested in art through his friendship with Willem because Linda’s father had him as a client. Willem was a  part of New York School of Abstract expressionism or Action painting, others included Jackson Pollock, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Hans Hofmann, Adolph Gottlieb, Anne Ryan, Robert Motherwell, Philip Guston, Clyfford Still, and Richard Pousette-Dart.

In the 17th post I look at the founder Ted Dreier and his strength as a fundraiser that make the dream of Black Mountain College possible. In the 18th post I look at the life of the famous San Francisco poet Robert Duncan who was both a student at Black Mountain College in 1933 and a professor in 1956. In the 19th post I look at the composer Heinrich Jalowetz who starting teaching at Black Mountain College in 1938 and he was one of  Arnold Schoenberg‘s seven ‘Dead Friends’ (the others being Berg, Webern, Alexander Zemlinsky, Franz Schreker, Karl Kraus and Adolf Loos). In the 20th post I look at the amazing life of Walter Gropius, educator, architect and founder of the Bauhaus.

In the 21st post I look at the life of the playwright Sylvia Ashby, and in the 22nd post I look at the work of the poet Charles Olson who in 1951, Olson became a visiting professor at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, working and studying here beside artists such as John Cage and Robert Creeley.[2] 

In the 23rd post is about the popular artist James Bishop who attended Black Mountain College towards the end of its existence. In the 24th post I look at the Poet-Writer Martha King. In the 25th post I talk about the life of the architect Claude Stoller and his time at Black Mountain College. In the 26th post I look at Ted Drieir. Jr., who was a student at Black Mountain College and the son of the founder. In the 27th post I look at the work of the artist Dorothea Rockburne and in the 28th post the artist Donald Alter.

Sparks Adaptation The Longest Ride Works for Both ‘Rom’ and ‘Com’

  • Susan EllingburgCrosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 201510 Apr
  • COMMENTS0

Sparks Adaptation <i>The Longest Ride</i> Works for Both 'Rom' and 'Com'

Release Date: April 10, 2015
Rating: PG-13 for some sexuality, partial nudity, and some war and sports action
Genre: Drama, Romance
Run Time: 139 minutes
Director: George Tillman Jr.
Cast: Scott Eastwood, Britt Robertson, Alan Alda, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin

It’s Spring, and when a young movie-goer’s fancy turns to love, best-selling author Nicholas Sparks is ready to take her there. Based on the Sparks novel of the same name, The Longest Ride is a sweetheart of a movie that may not break new ground but is almost certain to please.

Sophia (Britt Robertson, Dan in Real Life and the upcoming Tomorrowland) is an art lover on the cusp of a brilliant career at a Manhattan gallery, just as soon as she finishes her last semester of college. Luke (Scott Eastwood, son of Clint) is a professional bull rider, a cowboy who has already had a spectacular rise and fall and is desperately trying to make a comeback. The two have little in common and almost no time to be together. Clearly, they’re meant for each other.

They do make an adorable couple. Sophia is cute and intense with a sweet, lively face that crinkles into any number of interested expressions. Luke is charming and a little old-fashioned with plenty of the smoldering appeal that made Eastwood’s movie star dad a favorite for an earlier generation of female fans. Their budding romance is delightfully awkward, but it’s all for naught as these two are clearly going their separate ways (or are they?). As if the glorious North Carolina scenery, romantic candlelight, etc. were not enough, their first date takes an intense turn when they happen upon a car accident and rescue the elderly driver and his box of mementos. Ira (Alan Alda, Tower Heist) is banged up but not so much that he loses his gift of good-natured, crotchety banter. When Sophia befriends Ira and gradually comes to know his story—mostly through the letters in his box—one tale becomes two as the relationship between young Ira and his beloved Ruth (Oona Chaplin) is woven into that of the modern couple.

While Sophia and Luke’s romance is sweet and all, when they were onscreen I found myself waiting for the next chapters of Ira and Ruth’s far more interesting love story. Set against the backdrop of WWII, and covering a span of many years, there’s a depth to the older couple’s love that is (naturally) missing in the newly-connected modern-day couple. The two couples have so many parallels it strains belief a bit, but this is a starry-eyed fantasy, after all. Sometimes reality is overrated.

In addition to all the sweetness, there are enough funny moments to justify both the ‘rom’ and ‘com’ labels. Both male and female viewers in my audience burst into laughter on several occasions, several confessed to a tear or two, and a good time was had by all… except maybe Rango, the bull who is Luke’s nemesis. All that bull riding—and there is a fair amount—is shown from a variety of interesting angles, including the rider’s. The film features a number of real-life cowboys from the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) circuit, adding a nice touch of gritty reality.

The soundtrack is more than just background music; it provides commentary on the action. Like the dulcet tones of the Pistol Annies singing “I feel a sin comin’ on; please Jesus don’t hold me back” or Ryan Adams crooning about “Desire.” As those titles suggest, Sophia and Luke’s is a modern relationship, which means they don’t bother with anything so quaint as waiting for marriage; they consummate their love in several scenes that are steamy in more ways than one. To director George Tillman Jr.’s credit, those scenes are, at least, artfully filmed and have a dreamy romantic feel. This is a true love story, not just a relationship movie.

The Longest Ride is the is the tenth Sparks book to be made into a movie, and at almost 2 hours, 20 minutes is the longest of them, but the time passes quickly. While the big “surprise” ending may not be much of a surprise to those familiar with the inspirational stories that populate Facebook (it’s a variation on a tale that made the rounds a year or so ago), it’s satisfying nonetheless. All ends as it should, making this an enjoyable girls’-night-out movie that, thanks to all the bull riding action, guys may actually enjoy, too.

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Drinking at bars, wine with dinner, occasional drunkenness.
  • Language/Profanity: A couple of muttered “Shhhhhht” one d-word and one exclamation of “Jesus.”
  • Sex/Nudity: Sophia’s friend pulls down Sophia’s t-shirt to expose more cleavage for her date with Luke and tells her “You’re the only girl I know who wouldn’t have a fling with a cowboy.” Teasing comment about not wearing underwear (more funny than sultry). Several kisses, some artistically-filmed sex scenes that show relatively discreet side and back nudity. We see a good amount of Luke’s muscular backside and hands caressing. Some slow stripping scenes and semi-skinny dipping (swimming in underwear).
  • Violent/Frightening/Intense: Bull riding is an intense, competitive, dangerous sport and we see it from a variety of angles. Some war scenes show troops under fire. Men are injured in a variety of ways. A victim is pulled from a wrecked car.

Publication date: April 10, 2015

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

It has been my practice on this blog to cover some of the top artists of the past and today and that is why I am doing  this current series on Black Mountain College (1933-1955). Here are some links to some to some of the past posts I have done on other artists: Marina AbramovicIda Applebroog,  Matthew Barney, Aubrey Beardsley, Larry BellWallace BermanPeter BlakeDerek BoshierPauline BotyBrenda Bury,  Allora & Calzadilla,   Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Heinz Edelmann Olafur EliassonTracey EminJan Fabre, Makoto Fujimura, Hamish Fulton, Ellen GallaugherRyan Gander, John Giorno, Rodney Graham,  Cai Guo-QiangBrion GysinJann HaworthArturo HerreraOliver HerringDavid Hockney, David Hooker,  Nancy HoltRoni HornPeter HowsonRobert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Martin KarplusMargaret KeaneMike Kelley, Peter KienJeff Koons Annie Leibovitz, John LennonRichard LinderSally MannKerry James MarshallTrey McCarley, Linda McCartney, Paul McCartneyPaul McCarthyJosiah McElhenyBarry McGee, Richard MerkinNicholas MonroYoko OnoTony Oursler, John OutterbridgeNam June PaikEduardo PaolozziGeorge PettyWilliam Pope L.Gerhard Richter, Anna Margaret Rose,  James RosenquistSusan RothenbergGeorges Rouault, Richard SerraShahzia Sikander, Raqub ShawThomas ShutteSaul SteinbergHiroshi SugimotoStuart SutcliffeMika Tajima,Richard TuttleLuc Tuymans, Alberto Vargas,  Banks Violett, H.C. Westermann,  Fred WilsonKrzysztof Wodiczko, Andrew WyethJamie WyethDavid WynneAndrea Zittel,

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2010

Donald Alter and W.P. “Pete” Jennerjahn

As a supplement to the Mountain Xpress article, A Tale of Two Painters about Black Mountain College alumni, Donald Alter and W.P. “Pete” Jennerjahn, I am posting these excerpts from my conversations with each, respectively. The opportunity to speak at length with these two artists was tremendous. Both were incredibly accommodating and very pleasant to chat with.

Donald Alter


Donald Alter lives and works in Newburgh, NY. He was born in 1930 and attended Black Mountain College in 1948-1950. These are some comments Alter made during our telephone conversation November 19, 2010. See more of his work at
donaldalterpaintings.com

On Black Mountain College:

“Sometimes I smile at the realities of Black Mountain College, but I think that it is probably one of the main experiences of my life. That was a very very unique experience for me. Specifically there was contact with very exciting people. These were many artists in many areas and they were all accessible. It was very removed from the real world.

“We had a geographical location (Black Mountain) where all these artists could converge. That became a community where any talent could shine and emerge. Nobody would every think that Rauschenburg would be one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. We didn’t realize how unique it was.


“At Black Mountain it was all primarily painting, but I did everything that I could touch. I did sculpture, weaving, all kinds of crazy stuff. Albers encouraged that kind of thing. We did a lot of artwork that required no paint and brush at all.

“In 1948-50 this was a very exciting time for art. Art started to really gel and young people had opportunity. Those are days that I think are gone now. I don’t see that happening today.
This is a lesson I try to impart to young people: they stand in awe of this great place where all of these great artists live but I keep telling these people that there’s great talents all over and you cant recognize it until they develop it and let it emerge.
I’m not particularly excited in the world of academia or how art is taught and what happens to youngsters who get into it.

“[After I left Black Mountain College] I never went back to school. It’s an individual pursuit. Once you learn yellow and red make orange you’re off and running.

On painting and career:

“I went into the textile design field in NY, but I always had a paintbrush in my hand. I was always involved in the arts. At a later age I went back to painting. In my mind I differentiated between the commercial world of art and the fine art world. I opted to go back into the world of painting at the age of 65.

“Back then people needed textiles. There were retails markets that were selling textiles, now that’s all being done in China. The markets have shifted. But that’s a whole other conversation.

“I tried to live my life with integrity as an artist. Being an artist is a very risky endeavor. Really at this stage in the game I feel humble and modest. There’s a lot of nonsense in the world.

“It is a very difficult area to engage in. When I finish a painting I call it a day and that’s all I do. The more arduous the effort the more depressed I can get. So maybe I go back to it later and it becomes alive again.

“There’s a lot of self-doubt and you have to get rid of that — the self-doubt.
 
Hudson Valley Weave 2008

On personal creative evolution:

“The subject matter started to change (over the years.) I was no longer painting decorative flowers. If you look at those two paintings, in the gallery next to each other [Transformation 1949 and Hudson Valley Weave 2008]– I picked up right where I was when I was a student at Black Mountain The biological forms, the colors — it was uncanny.

“I went back and used the vocabulary I learned at Black Mountain
.
On Making a Living:

“Making a living is very difficult. That’s the real test that describes who you are. My neighbors don’t even know what I’m doing but I don’t disrespect them for it. The world is too complicated. You can ask a lot more of it than it’s bound to give you.

“There are people making large sums of money promoting painting. It’s a hard game to play and I don’t play it. I’m an old timer and the world I play in is a lot different.

“When I look at these younger upstarts I get excited, but a lot of it is hype. The art world is a very troublesome place. There are some crazy things going on.

“I figured out a way to make prints and sell them for 4 cents, I call them 4-penny prints. In the market place where art is being sold at Sotheby’s for millions of dollars I’ve been making prints for 4 cents, which I think, is pretty funny.

On criticism:

“It’s very difficult. Sometimes you feel a little bit upset –there’s no question about it. It’s like going to the office and the boss is not respecting your work. Its risky, it takes a lot of self-discipline. You really have to love it to keep up with it.

“Money pressure can get intense. I think that’s part of the real world that no one ever discusses in art school.

—————————————————————-

W.P “Pete” Jennerjahn and recent paintings

W.P “Pete” Jennerjahn lives near Sedona Arizona. Below are excerpts from our telephone conversation November 19, 2010.


On Black Mountain College and Josef Albers:

“I started life in 1922. I showed up at Black Mountain in 1948.

“I had already been through undergrad and grad programs at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The other schools were traditional as far as the art departments – with regulation of tests and credits. But Black Mountain didn’t deal in credits. You were examined by your faculty involved, I wasn’t there long enough to actually get a degree, but what Black Mountain did was they would solicit from the nation someone who had a reputation in that field and that person would come and examine you and evaluate you if you could graduate or not.

“I was focused on whatever Josef Albers was teaching at the time — primarily color, painting and design.

“I had it up to here as far as responding to teachers in the grad schools I was at. My wife [Elizabeth Jennerjahn] who had been to BMC, recognized that Albers was someone special beyond any kind of other teacher.

“In previous teachers there were the kind of rote lessons on hue, value and intensity –and you did everything based on that kind of thing.

“I passed thru that period of my education during the Depression days when people we looked up to were doing murals in post offices and we were urged to do work murals. Of course that was a phase I passed on thru as I was encountering my teachers in college.

“At Black Mountain they didn’t deal in that at all. It was not the artistic theme we were working on. We were working in basic themes. Colors. In some of the painting classes we would do still life studies and work from the wonderful scenery on campus. There was actually a lake there and we were very influenced by it.

Contrary Shadows, 1952
 

On Color:


“What was in effect in the US at the time was that you were realistic about color. And the color did not have an independence or a value other than their literalness so if you wanted a whole other feeling to arise from what you were working on you could feel free to abandon the old rules.

“After my working with Albers I taught a color course. I would have the students answer a questionnaire with questions like, “What are your favorite colors? What colors would you not put together? The idea was to have them declare their attitudes towards color at the time. After some time I would have them take the colors they hate and make them shake off those old rules and work freshly with color to have something happen. I told them, ‘I want you to use the colors you hate and put them together so that they support each other.’

“Even in my painting now I’m continually challenging myself. The idea of the subject matter now is not important. I’ll put a color down and think which color I don’t want to see next to that color. So I work with those colors to figure out how to make the colors work together. I might give it some ludicrous type of title. More or less I am still struggling to keep from falling into the same combinations of things.

On the art world now:

“From what I gather from the young people I see submitting to the exhibits – they are much freer than when I was going through art studies back in the 40’s. There are still a number of them caught up in the old attitudes in relation to color so they’re not making full use to what the medium has to offer them.

“I remember in Milwaukee there was a contemporary art exhibit that came through [in the 1940’s] and there were things that came through in collage, that we were just scratching our heads over, and now nobody thinks twice about that kind of thing.

“I don’t subscribe to art magazines so I don’t have a good handle on the current art trends but I would say there is more flowing into the matter of not having things flat on the wall. There’s a lot more collage and layers of things, which was unheard of when I went through as a college level student.

“Many people are doing bulky 3D works that are much more tolerated than my time. It was rare to have things made out of metal and pipes and bent mechanical parts. Artists today are infinitely more adventurous in materials than they were back in those days.

On his own paintings:

“Lately I’ve been working with thin washes of acrylic. I started to give up on oils out of a frustration because I had a studio in the Adirondacks of NY and I would be getting all worked up making paintings and then when it was time to pack up the painting was too wet to ship.

“I began to like the flow of working with acrylics and I didn’t have to worry about drying time.
I enjoy working with acrylics because I can work with them in a way I had been doing with watercolors. I could do more things with liquid acrylics. It felt more on the same territory of expression as watercolor.

On mixing colors:

“It depends on what my need is. If I want a certain color that is opaque and it lies between cadmium orange and an earth color I will mix if I have to. I try to be economical about it — not to indulge so that it takes me 4 tubes to get around to a color. I feel that I should be able to arrive at a color that I had in mind with no more than two tubes.

“Albers would buy tube color but would only add white. He would only add white. The only indulgence he gave himself was to lighten colors with white. To a certain extent I try to keep that same kind of economy. And at time I try to get a variation.

“I have paintings 4 feet high with slight color variations produced as color stripes. I did 10 years in that phase of horizontal stripes. The shift changes very little from stripe to stripe –like in the sky. On most of those paintings there are no two similar stripes of color.

https://creativitytheories.wikispaces.com/file/view/HarpersMagazine-1936-04-0019125.pdf

Black Mountain College was founded in the aftermath of a faculty governance dispute at Rollins College, a small Florida college.  The ejected parties, which included the College’s first rector, John Andrew Rice, went before an AAUP mediation panel that vindicated their actions but ultimately could not reinstate them as faculty.  They decided to found an educational institution that would avoid the pitfalls of an autocratic chancellor.  Black Mountain College was established with the aim of providing an education in life and pedagogy, loosening or altogether abolishing the types of distinctions between student and faculty, and faculty and administration, that usually served to specialize roles and bolster hierarchical distinctions.  With minimal structure, borne of both ideological inclination and economic necessity, Black Mountain’s experiment in education would prove innovative, yet provisional and ultimately untenable.

Black Mountain College’s institutional organization was peculiar and problematic.  It was wholly owned by the faculty and students, with a governing Board of Fellows (headed by an elected rector) composed of eight faculty members and one student member culled from their respective constituencies.  Non-binding recommendations were made by an external Advisory Board that met infrequently.  A work program was required of all college members, although in practice students executed many of the duties..

_______________

DONALD ALTER: BEYOND BLACK MOUNTAIN

By Tony Moore

​
Donald Alter is a long term resident of the Hudson Valley who will celebrate his eighty-second year in 2012. Although in faltering health, he vigorously paints, draws, collages and creates in a profoundly experimental way, indicative of his scholarship during formative years at Black Mountain College, Asheville, NC. 

Donald Alter attended Black Mountain as a student from 1948 to 1950 and again during the summer sessions of 1950 and 51. Historically, Black Mountain is long renowned as a foremost experimental, liberal arts, and almost utopian college community, ​dating back to its origins in1933. 
​Over a twenty-three year period, only some 1,200 students were enrolled, including the celebrated artist Robert Rauschenberg, among others. The profoundly influential faculty that established Black Mountain as an experimental center for the development of the American contemporary movement included Joseph and Anni Albers who brought with them from Germany the avant-garde provocations of the Bauhaus philosophies of rigorous investigation, experimentation and foundations in many varied visual and material disciplines. These were always coupled with the student’s orientation and personal development.

 While teachers and students were in flux, some coming for a semester, summer school or for the duration of several years (such as Alter), teaching approaches, administration and philosophically creative approaches also changed. While immersed in the buoyantly creative and social life of the “community”, Don met, knew or interacted with fellow students and teachers such as Rauschenberg, Joseph and Anni Albers (studying painting, color theory and textile design), Joseph Fiore (studying painting and drawing), the painter Kenneth Noland, art critic Clement Greenberg, musician/composer John Cage, dancer/choreographer Merce Cunningham and many others.

An example of Alter’s youthful vibrancy at this time might be epitomized by an affectionate memoir by fellow student Martha Rittenhouse: “Bob (Robert Rauschenberg) was one of the students at Black Mountain who had rhythm in their souls --. The other ones were Delores Fullman, Donald Alter, Ulrich Heinnemann-Rufer, and Errissinola Genesi, called Mitzi. I envied them with all my heart.”
​
In retrospect, Black Mountain College, its community and faculty was to have a life-long influence for the foundation and methodology for Don Alter’s work to come, both as an internationally successful textile designer, artist and member of whatever creative community he is associated with. His knowledge and digestion of 20th Century Modernism, the principles of design, color, line, plane, form, opacity, transparency i.e. the visual language of art and artmaking, are so internalized that he has tremendous facility to almost render anything that should come to mind. 

​While fluent in both figuration and abstraction, and moving fluidly between them without prejudice, Alter, at almost 82 years, in a jammed-packed small single car garage in Newburgh, NY, brings vitality and new thresholds of discovery, daily to his creative practice.

In particular, the exhibition’s curators (Tony Moore and Harald Plochberger) find Alter’s recent Hudson Valley landscapes to reflect and in some ways epitomize his oeuvre. Inventive, abstract, figurative, luscious, naive, sophisticated, mysterious and at times evoking an edgy anxiety, these paintings and drawings are a summation of a life-time of quiet achievement (after Black Mountain being drafted in to the army, a full career as a NYC based textile designer with his own company, husband bereaved and re-married, and father to three children.) 

The works contain something of a utopian vision or apparent innocence, coupled with an anxious foreboding of the “thicket” of both human and natural worlds. Always inventive and “perfectly” orchestrated, these landscapes are peopled with literal and metaphorical references
to space and time, recent and current events, psychological realities and, above all, to a certain delight in the craft and sincere belief in picture making.

Curators Moore and Plochberger propose that Donald Alter’s example of lifelong commitment to creativity and the investigative spirit is an example to behold/uphold.

​“May recognition within his lifetime, carry in spirit, both the artist and new generations ‘Beyond Black Mountain’.” 

SUMMER BREEZE          30″ H x 36″ W          Acrylic on Panel  2007

THROUGH THE BUSH           20.5″ H x 20″ W          Acrylic on Panel  2004

BACKYARD          12″ H x 10″ W          Acrylic on Panel  2006

Curators Biography:

Tony Moore is a sculptor and painter with works represented in several international museum collections including the Guggenheim Museum and Brooklyn Museum. He has taught, organized, curated and installed numerous exhibitions at museums and colleges within the US. and internationally. Locally organized exhibitions include two “Passionate Fire” exhibitions of international and regional ceramic artists, at Germain Keller Gallery, Garrison, Bronx artists at Bau Gallery, Beacon and most recently “Passionate Fire: Wood-fired Ceramics from the Tony Moore Kiln” at Hudson Beach Glass Gallery, Beacon. After 25 years in NYC, he now resides in Cold Spring, NY.
Harald Plochberger is a painter, multi-media artist and videographer. His work is exhibited internationally and represented in many European collections. He has taught, organized, curated and installed exhibitions and was a principal founding member of Bau Gallery, Beacon, where he was instrumental in organizing and promoting many successful exhibitions, jazz concerts and multi-media events. He has also designed and maintained websites for artists and galleries. He resides in Ellenville, NY.

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

Related posts:

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 22 Poet Charles Olson, friend of Ezra Pound

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 21 Sylvia Ashby playwright

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 20 Walter Gropius, Bauhaus,

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 19 composer Heinrich Jalowetz, student of Arnold Schoenberg

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THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 27 Dorothea Rockburne (artist)

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Dorothea Rockburne
1950
(With Joel Oppenheimer, poet)

Dorothea Rockburne interview

Published on Aug 22, 2012

More interviews and artists at: http://www.artsconversations.org/
Please, also visit our main website: http://www.netropolitan.org/

An interview with abstract painter Dorothea Rockburne by Lyn Kienholz and Rohini Talalla for Netropolitan: Museum without walls.

http://www.netropolitan.org ©2003

Canadian artist Dorothea Rockburne grounds her practice in mathematical theories that she first encountered while studying with Max Dehn at the legendary Black Mountain College. This exhibition includes a selection of key works since the 1970s, featuring one of Rockburne’s most recent drawings, The Mathematical Edges of Maine, a response to her travel to the state in the summer of 2014.

Programming

April 21, 2015 | 4:30 p.m. | BCMA

Gallery Conversation: “Art, Mathematics, and the Legacy of Black Mountain College”

Dorothea Rockburne, Ph.D, artist, and Dave Peifer, chair and professor of Mathematics, University of North Carolina-Asheville, discuss the mathematical theories behind Rockburne’s artistic work. They further explain how her art reflects the interdisciplinary education provided by the legendary Black Mountain College. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition A Gift of Knowing: The Art of Dorothea Rockburne.

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.

In the 12th post I feature Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) who was featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE and the film showed Kandinsky teaching at BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE which was not true according to my research. Evidently he was invited but he had to decline because of his busy schedule but many of his associates at BRAUHAUS did teach there. In the 13th post I look at the writings of the communist Charles Perrow. 

Willem de Kooning was such a major figure in the art world and because of that I have dedicated the 14th15th and 16th posts in this series on him. Paul McCartney got interested in art through his friendship with Willem because Linda’s father had him as a client. Willem was a  part of New York School of Abstract expressionism or Action painting, others included Jackson Pollock, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Hans Hofmann, Adolph Gottlieb, Anne Ryan, Robert Motherwell, Philip Guston, Clyfford Still, and Richard Pousette-Dart.

In the 17th post I look at the founder Ted Dreier and his strength as a fundraiser that make the dream of Black Mountain College possible. In the 18th post I look at the life of the famous San Francisco poet Robert Duncan who was both a student at Black Mountain College in 1933 and a professor in 1956. In the 19th post I look at the composer Heinrich Jalowetz who starting teaching at Black Mountain College in 1938 and he was one of  Arnold Schoenberg‘s seven ‘Dead Friends’ (the others being Berg, Webern, Alexander Zemlinsky, Franz Schreker, Karl Kraus and Adolf Loos). In the 20th post I look at the amazing life of Walter Gropius, educator, architect and founder of the Bauhaus.

In the 21st post I look at the life of the playwright Sylvia Ashby, and in the 22nd post I look at the work of the poet Charles Olson who in 1951, Olson became a visiting professor at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, working and studying here beside artists such as John Cage and Robert Creeley.[2] 

In the 23rd post is about the popular artist James Bishop who attended Black Mountain College towards the end of its existence. In the 24th post I look at the Poet-Writer Martha King. In the 25th post I talk about the life of the architect Claude Stoller and his time at Black Mountain College. In the 26th post I look at Ted Drieir. Jr., who was a student at Black Mountain College and the son of the founder. In the 27th post I look at the work of the artist Dorothea Rockburne.

Dorothea Rockburne

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dorothea Rockburne
Born October 18, 1932
Montreal, Canada
Education Black Mountain College
Known for Mathematics, Astronomy, Abstract Art, Mannerism
Website dorothearockburne.com

Dorothea Rockburne (born c.1932 in Montreal, Canada) is an abstract painter drawing inspiration primarily from her deep interest in mathematics and astronomy. Rockburne’s attraction to Mannerism has also influenced her work.[1] In 1950 she moved to the United States to attend Black Mountain College,[2] where she studied with mathematician Max Dehn, a lifelong influence on her work. In addition to Dehn, she studied with Franz Kline, Philip Guston, John Cage, and Merce Cunningham. She also met fellow student Robert Rauschenberg.

In 1955, Rockburne moved to New York City where she met many of the leading artists and poets of the time. Rockburne is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, National Academy of Design, and The Century Association.

Awards and Honors[edit]

Exhibitions[edit]

Select Solo Exhibitions[edit]

  • 2014 Van Doren Waxter, New York, NY
  • 2013 Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY[3]
  • 2013 Jill Newhouse Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2013 Icehouse Studio, Queens, New York, NY
  • 2012 Craig F. Star Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2012 Art Dealer’s Association of America, The Park Avenue Armory, New York, NY
  • 2011 Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY
  • 2011 The Drawing Room, East Hampton, NY
  • 2010 New York Studio School,[4] New York, NY
  • 2003 Dieu Donné Papermill, New York, NY
  • 2003 Jan Abrams Fine Art, New York, NY
  • 2000 Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York City, NY
  • 1999 Art in General, New York City, NY
  • 1997 Ingrid Raab Gallery, Berlin, Germany
  • 1996 Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME
  • 1995 Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, NY
  • 1994 Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York, NY
  • 1992 Galleria Schema, Florence, Italy
  • 1991 Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York, NY
  • 1989 The Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA
  • 1988 Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York, NY
  • 1987 Recent Paintings and Drawings – Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • 1985 Xavier Fourcade, New York, NY
  • 1983 Galleriet Lund, Lund, Sweden
  • 1982 Recent Watercolors and Drawings – Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1981 Locus – MoMA – Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY [5]
  • 1981 David Bellman Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • 1979 Texas Gallery, Houston, TX
  • 1977 Galleria La Polena, Genova, Italy
  • 1976 John Weber Gallery, New York, NY
  • 1975 Galleria Schema, Florence, Italy
  • 1975 Galerie Charles Kriwin, Brussels, Belgium
  • 1974 Galleria Toselli, Milan, Italy
  • 1973 Lisson Gallery, London, England
  • 1972 Galleria Bonomo Bari, Bari, Italy
  • 1972 Galleria Toselli, Milan, Italy
  • 1971 Sonnabend Gallery, Paris, France
  • 1970 Bykert Gallery, New York, NY

Select Group Exhibitions[edit]

  • 2014 Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2014 Gagosian Gallery, Paris, France
  • 2014 The Drawing Room, London, England
  • 2013 Parrish Art Museum, Southhampton, NY
  • 2013 Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME
  • 2013 Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
  • 2012 The Century Association, New York, NY
  • 2012 Christie’s 20th Floor Private Sale Galleries, New York, NY
  • 2012 Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
  • 2011 The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • 2011 Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2010 Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
  • 2009 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
  • 2009 National Academy Museum, New York, NY
  • 2008 Austin Museum of Art (AMOA), Austin, TX
  • 2008 Museo de Arte Contemporanea de Serralves, Porto, Portugal
  • 2007 Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2007 ARCO (Arte Contemporaneo), Madrid, Spain
  • 2006 National Academy of Design, New York, NY
  • 2004 Greenberg Van Doren Gallery
  • 2003 Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • 2002 Reina Sophia Museum, Madrid, Spain
  • 2001 Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA
  • 2000 Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY
  • 1999 Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX
  • 1995 The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT
  • 1994 National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
  • 1993 Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
  • 1992 American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York, NY
  • 1991 Centro Cultural/Arte Contemporanea, Mexico D.F., Mexico
  • 1989 Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
  • 1988 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
  • 1988 The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
  • 1987 Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
  • 1987 National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC
  • 1986 Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
  • 1983 Galleriet, Lund, Sweden
  • 1983 New Museum, New York, NY
  • 1982 British Museum, London, England
  • 1982 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
  • 1981 Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
  • 1980 Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy
  • 1979 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
  • 1979 Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ
  • 1977 Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
  • 1977 Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
  • 1977 National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
  • 1976 Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
  • 1975 Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • 1974 Institute of Contemporary Art, London, England
  • 1973 Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
  • 1973 San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA
  • 1973 Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA
  • 1972 Documenta 5, Kassel, Germany
  • 1971 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
  • 1970 Museum of Modern Art New York, NY
  • 1952 Black Mountain College Gallery, Black Mountain, NC

References[edit]

External links[edit]

the women of black mountain college

Francine Du Plessix
Writer
(With Joel Oppenheimer, poet)
Anne Albers card weaving.
1930s
Anne Albers
“Monte Alban”
1936
Frances Kuntz in drawing class.
(That’s Joe behind her.)
1939
“Dody Harrison looking out of her study window, Lake Eden,
probably 1942.”
(Photo and caption by William Hamlin.)
She is in the Studies Building I profiled here.
Fannie Hillsmith
Painter
(with Charles Egan, Gallerist)
Photo by Aaron Siskin
1940
Fannie Hillsmith
“Honfleur Remembered”
1961
Elaine De Kooning
“Untitled”
1947

Elaine De Kooning
“Black Mountain #6”
1948
Helen Frankenthaler
(with Clement Greenberg)
1950
Helen Frankenthaler
“At Black Mountain”
1950
Viola Farber
Dancer in “Summerspace”
1958
(Choreography Merce Cunningham, music Morton Feldman, design Robert Rauschenberg)
Susan Weil
(with Bob Rauschenberg)
1948

Susan Weil
“Secrets”
1949
Mary Gregory
“Table Stool”
1941
Mary Gregory
“Plates”
1941
Hazel Larsen Archer
“Quiet House Doors”
1948
Elizabeth Jennerjahn
“Cross”
1949
Dorothea Rockburne
1950
Dorothea Rockburne
“Origin”
1972
Ruth Asawa
“Untitled”
1954

Dorothea Rockburne Interview by Connie Bostic

Transcribed by Jolene Mechanic

This is Connie Bostic.  It’s April 19th, 2002.  We’re in the studios of Bonesteel Films on Carolina Lane in Asheville, North Carolina and we’re with Dorothea Rockburne. Dorothea could you tell us when you attended Black Mountain College?

I came in the fall of 1950 and I left the following June, and then I returned in the beginning of January of 1951. I was there for a long time, I think until 1955.

That was quite a long time.

Yes. You know, I was married and my daughter was born there. So, I took some time out for that.

Can you tell us a little bit about your early life and how you came to go to Black Mountain?

Yes. I was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and pretty early on a teacher from the public school that I went to took me to Ecole de Beaux-Arts on Saturdays to study drawing and painting. And while I was there, I worked with some pretty wonderful teachers who taught me  Renaissance techniques, and one in particular became quite a well known Canadian artist and showed in New York and later went to Paris. His name was Paul Borduas, and his parting words to me as he left for America were, “as soon as you can you have to leave Montreal.” In those days I spoke French and he didn’t speak much English. By that time I was around 14. I’d fooled around and skied in the winters, and I wasn’t determined about exactly what I was going to do with my life. But by the time I was 13 I had stopped skiing so that I could paint on the weekends. I went to the Montreal Museum School and actually that’s where, a little bit later, I met Marie Tavroges. Her last name is now Stilkind. I studied there with some very good teachers. I took a drawing class with a man named Moe Rhineglat and he kept saying to me, “leave.”  And my parents meanwhile had me tracked to go in a completely different direction and I have an older sister who went in that direction and I thought, “if I do that, I’ll die.” There was another teacher whose last name was Weber, but not only did he say ‘leave” but he said “you should either go to the Slade School in England,” because I had this academic training, “or you should go to the Institute of Design at Black Mountain College.” And I was sort of precocious and rebellious and I had a boyfriend who was older than I, and he had been to Black Mountain. His name was Jeffrey Lindsay. And he said I should go to Black Mountain College. He had a little dinner for me, and at that dinner were some Indian dancers who were just coming through Montreal, because Montreal was a big place to come to and leave from in those days, and their names were Veena and Vashi. I questioned them very closely about Black Mountain because I was very young, and I was going to leave my family against their desires, so this was a big, rebellious step. Fortunately I had an older sister who completely agreed with what these teachers were saying and she helped me. I didn’t have a passport, so I used her passport. We did lots of plotting and planning and all kinds of things because I had to have a police clearance before leaving the country. My sister was very good at imitating my mother’s handwriting. So, I wrote to Black Mountain, and sent them my work, and was admitted on complete scholarship. Because of the scholarship, I was able to work and save money. I’d started saving for my escape very early and a couple friends helped me. So that’s how I got here.

That was a pretty amazing journey.

It was! Because there were no planes, it was a train journey. I changed trains in Washington because that’s where the color line began. I didn’t know about prejudice. So all of that was a big adventure. And I stayed overnight in New York— it was a huge journey for me.

How old were you when you arrived at Black Mountain?

I’m very unsure about that but I think I was 18, I could have been 17—no, I had just turned 18.   I was confused because of my sister’s identity. (Laughing)

Crime doesn’t pay (both laughing)

She could have changed the name on the passport but she couldn’t change the date, because the date was stamped on her birth certificate. So it’s all mucky, but I think I was 18.

What teachers influenced you most at Black Mountain?

Well, there were many, many influential teachers. Certainly John Cage. I had always studied dance in Montreal. In my family you came out of the womb enrolled in dance classes, so I had taken ballet, which was then called toe-dancing (laughing). So it was just automatic to check into a Cunningham dance class at Black Mountain. I also took classes with Max Dehn, the mathematics teacher, which revolutionized my life. I was already bent in that direction because by the age of 13 I had a subscription to Scientific American, which was a very radical thing for a 13 year old to be doing.

Particularly a girl

Yes, particularly a girl. You know, my family could never understand what I was up to. And I was to a degree, for my age, musically sophisticated. Also Pete Jennerjahn was big. His light/sound/movement workshop was of great interest to me. And I took Flola Shepard’s linguistic course, and semiotics and I just flourished. I was like a dry sponge. I couldn’t believe it. And then I took Bill Levi’s Introduction to Philosophy and while I’d done some sporadic reading on my own, I certainly read Sartre and things like that, his course was beautiful and basic, and it just gave me a foundation to read anything. And right now in my life I’m reviewing the early Greek philosophers and trying to relate their concept of atomic physics to particle physics and quantum mechanics, I mean I’m trying to put all of that together. And you know because I was young when I did all this the first time I didn’t understand that Aristotle was not a scientist he was a poet, which is why his concept of astronomy was poetic. I’m just beginning to put that together but it was my education at Black Mountain that gave me the tools to do all this.

And I believe you studied. . .

And I was never just a painter. I always did and still do fish around. I study. I want to know everything at once. I want to be an interdisciplinary person.

You studied photography at Black Mountain.

I studied with Hazel Larsen and my fellow students were Cy Twombly and Bob Rauschenberg,   and of course, Aaron Siskind and Harry Callahan were here for visits. I studied with them and also Steichen. And Steichen asked me to bring my work to the Museum of Modern Art when I came to New York, and he tried to help me with a photography gallery. And I’ve looked to see if my work is in the Modern collection and it’s never listed but he bought work for the Modern, so who knows what happened to it. I’ve always used photography as a way to draw. Because I had this academic drawing background, I never wanted to draw realistically. And I still use my camera to draw.

Of the teachers you had at Black Mountain, which ones do you think were most influential?

It was probably Max Dehn. But it’s hard to say because for me my entire experience there was just spectacular.

Can you tell us a little bit about Max Dehn’s classes and what they were like and what his theories were?

Yes. Mathematics was a peculiar experience for me. I went to a very dumb girl’s school where you were trained to be a good housewife, basically, and science was home economics. I know it sounds like the year ‘one’ but that’s what it was. I was very shy in those days, and he sat at lunch with me for several days and I must have spoken up about something, after which he said, “I would like you to take my mathematics class.” And I was appalled, because there were people there from Harvard and Yale who were there just to work with him. And I said “I have no background to take your class,” whereupon he said, in his heavy German accent, “Well good, you haven’t been poisoned. I will teach you.” And every morning for 4 years, we took a walk and he talked to me about mathematics in nature. And I’m sure he talked to me about the skies, about astronomy. I’m sure it played in the background as I said to you at Black Mountain yesterday. You know we would look at a tree and he would say, “you have to imagine the roots underneath the ground are the same as what you’re seeing above ground in equal proportion.  And you can track the way it’s going to grow according to probability theory.” Then in class he would take me aside and teach me the equations for probability theory, which led me later to be able to do chaos theory. He was so precious with me. All my teachers were.

It’s interesting you’ve mentioned people who teach a lot of different subjects but being a painter you haven’t talked much about the painting teachers.

Well, Esteban Vicente was tremendously influential to me because again, we shared a European background and he knew what I knew. So, he understood where I was coming from and took me under his wing. He had a studio that was separate from where he lived. He invited me to come to New York on a spring break and stay in his studio. Jack Tworkov had more of an academic background and understood that I could draw and he was totally wonderful to me. I started out studying with Joe Fiore and we just locked horns and I did not continue studying with him, which is why you’re not hearing me talk about him. But I painted all the time at Black Mountain.  I painted and I did not know what I was doing nor did I want to know what I was doing.  Because many of the art students were doing ‘New York’ art, magazine art, which is fine. I mean it’s not a criticism. They were copying it and taking their place to later become their own person. But I did not like the Albers classes, I did not like the concept of giving color a job. It was like color was on the unemployment line and you have to make dark colors come forward and light colors go backward, and after having an academic training where you learn that in many of the Renaissance paintings for example, the dark blue of Mary’s robe will come forward. You know what I mean? It’s an old problem, and I just thought it was a big yawn and didn’t want to do those things. I wanted to make every mistake possible and I did. And I did have an exhibition here, at the end.

Did you!  Tell us about that.

I don’t remember too much about it. Mostly as things would happen, they would just get thrown in boxes. So I have a young art historian working on putting these things together. I remember that outside the studies building there was a small exhibition hall.  I don’t know if it is still there, it was a wooden building. I did have an exhibition so I must’ve not been too bad, but I don’t remember any of it. I remember when I came to New York I carried on working. I mean everybody around me was making successful work and it was abstract expressionism and they were having shows and reputations based on it and I determined that before I could do what was going to be my work, I had to establish what was my vocabulary. And I wanted to work in a scientific method from the general to the specific. I didn’t want to start out with art. I was young, you know. I figured I had my whole life to figure this out. So I didn’t really come to any mature work until about 1967.

Could you talk a little bit about the other students who were there when you were at Black Mountain?

Well, for a while Viola Farber was my roommate in that stone house. She was living with somebody else actually, so she wasn’t there very much but she was wonderful. She was a very all-around person.  She didn’t start out as a dancer. We both went into Merce’s classes together, and she was an accomplished pianist and her family was used to performing as a quartet. So she was a very well-rounded musician. We didn’t start out studying with Merce. We started out studying with Katherine Litz, and she had a very unique way of moving which was sort of like a broken butterfly. She had this shimmering quality to the way she moved which was riveting.  And then my next roommate was Mary Fiore who also wasn’t living there and who was a very good poet. Unfortunately she didn’t, as far as I know, continue at Black Mountain. She was a lovely, lovely woman and yet we were not close. When I lived in Montreal I had two friends.  One was Marie Tavroges and the other was Inga Peterson and Ingie, as we called her, and Marie both followed me to Black Mountain. Ingie didn’t stay, but Marie stayed for a while. I didn’t have any real students that I was close to, because we seemed to not be on the same page ever.  For one thing, I’ve always been an early morning person. I wake up at six o’clock and I have never needed a lot of sleep but I’d never stayed up til two or three in the morning. And mostly the students really had a night life. I did not. And I was never born to run with the pack anyway, I’m still not. So they were up and drinking. I mean I remember someone name Bert Morgan that I was close to, and Basil King to a degree. They had a still in the quiet house.

They had a still in the quiet house?

Mm-hmm

This sounds like an interesting story. (both laughing)

I don’t know too much more about it except that they were brewing stuff and selling it.

Well now Basil King never told me about that!

Well you must ask him about it sometime!

I certainly shall, I certainly shall. . . a still in the quiet house.

But again, we weren’t really close. I remember Bert Morgan was a lovely man and I remember that he could see the inequalities going on in my marriage, and I remember he was very kind to me. And I don’t know what ever happened to him. The last I heard, he was living outside of Baltimore somewhere. And Andy Oates was a friend of mine, but again I was never close to any of the other students. I felt close to Hazel, I felt close to my teachers, very close to Max, very close to Vicente and Tworkov, and I remember working with Guston. When I asked Guston’s family they said he never came to Black Mountain, but he was here. He may have only been here for a long weekend or a week or something but I remember a drawing class that Guston was in.

Hmm.  Well that’s something else that would be interesting to pursue.

Yes.

You were here when Cage did Theatre Piece Number One, is that right?

Yes, and I was in it.

And what was your participation in that piece?

You know, probably extremely minor. I don’t remember. The one thing I do remember is that Rauschenberg and Twombly rewrote Hamlet, and I was Ophelia, and they made this raft for Lake Eden and I was sort of laying strewn over the raft. I had long hair dragging into the dirty water (laughing). I also remember Wes Huss doing Brecht, and I was Mother Courage. I think I was like 20 at the time. The theatre here was sparkling.

The Night of Theatre Piece Number One has been described by a number of different people and every description has been very different.  Could you tell us specifically what you remember about that particular evening?

Well I remember there was a very high ladder, and M.C. Richards was sitting on the top of it reading. And since I have a mathematical interest, my memory of it is probably the way in which the time space took place. There was a lot of disjunction. You know, something would happen and it would be purposely interrupted, and something else would happen, and there would be a cacophony of sound which you couldn’t distinguish. Purposeful chaos. And  something would arrive out of that, like somebody’s voice singing perhaps. It wasn’t a collage because nothing really overlapped. There is a mathematical thing called disjunction and it was much more like that.

Could you talk about who was doing what?  Do you remember any specifics about what was happening and who was involved?

It was so long ago.

Besides M.C. on the ladder.

You know, I remember other kinds of performance things, but I can only relate it to Ciclo de Pronto, which I had seen in Montreal in about 1948, which was early to see that. It was right after the Second World War, when many immigrants came into Canada on a displaced person program, from camps and so on. Suddenly Montreal was alive with culture. And Ciclo de Pronto had a lot going on in it, a lot more than the refined versions that you see of it now. It was very radical, and it fit right into this French thing that I had seen, which was to overthrow the establishment. Of course it was theatre in the round, and so the point was to overthrow the proscenium stage and to have people who appeared to be the audience actually be actors and so on. I think that’s why it’s called the first happening–because it started a lot of other sorts of events. Of course, there was such a dialogue between New York and Black Mountain and there were a lot of things going on about the disjunction of time. Years later in New York, I don’t know if you know who Jack Smith was but on a very hot July evening I climbed up about 6 stories to view something of his called Clytemnestra’s Brassiere. And we were all to be there at eight o’clock and it was New York and it was a hundred and whatever degrees outside and the windows were open. We were all sitting there hot and sweating and nothing happened for hours, and eventually somebody said, “you know, if this doesn’t begin soon I’m going to leave,” and there were dead Christmas trees everywhere. Then somebody else said, “well, if you leave I’m going to punch you out,” and of course this was the performance, but you didn’t understand that it was performance. But I think that the first event at Black Mountain had a lot of impact on these further events and things that Andy Warhol did with movies like Empire State and Kiss, using this method of elongation and compacting of time. I remember what it was about more than specific things. And I think I did something about moving. But I can’t remember, to tell you the truth.

And you were also friends with some of the male students, is that right?

Yes I was friends with Cy Twombly and Bob Rauschenberg and we saw a lot of each other, particularly Bob and I. I was always a more quiet person, but we did a certain amount of hanging out together without question.

And who were they studying with at the time.

They weren’t studying with anybody.  They were there on the GI Bill under the guise of being students because they got free room and board and a stipend. The day Steichen appeared we called him Commodore Steichen. When Steichen appeared Bob was definitely present.

The school never had any money.  And having been there as someone who was teaching there can you talk a little bit about the fact that there was never any money at Black Mountain, teachers were very poorly paid and. . .

Well one of the things that I did at Black Mountain was the bookkeeping. I had this strange ability to look at a column of figures and know the sum of them after barely viewing it, which is some freaky talent. Black Mountain wasn’t that poor, but it all had to be watched very carefully.  I don’t remember the books not balancing when I did the bookkeeping. Things were ok, but  nobody had any money, so it wasn’t unusual in the society at that time.  And when Jack Tworkov was invited, I don’t even think he got paid. He came with his wife and daughters and they had a summer in the country in a very stimulating atmosphere. I also studied with Franz Kline, and if he got paid anything I’d be very surprised.  Because there wasn’t anything that was generating money. It was more like a farm economy. The farm, in great part, fed the community.

So you did participate in the work program in other ways than just doing the bookkeeping.

Yes, I worked on the farm. Susan and I went through the kitchen yesterday. I liked the cooks very much, Malrey and Cornelia were very overworked. Since I get up at the crack of dawn to this day, I would come early in the morning and help them with lunch, just to put out the canned peaches and things that we did in the morning. I helped them with setup and breakfast and so on.  And we became friends.

Do you think the physical beauty of that campus had a lot to do with what happened there?

I’ve never thought about this before. But you know, there are certain sites in the world that have previously been populated by Indians.  And I don’t know if there was Indian activity here a long time ago, but the Black Mountain site had that quality of a sacred site. And I didn’t know as much about sacred sites as I do now. Certain sites have special energy and it still has that energy as though it was once a sacred Indian site. Do you know if ever it was?

I don’t know if it was. I know there were Cherokee living in this area, but I don’t know specifically.

Oh yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised.

The political climate of the country was strange during that time, was there talk about that on the campus, was there political activity?

Well remember, I grew up in the Parliamentary system and also in a Class system, and there were no black people to speak of, so no color prejudice. And here I am, dumped into America, where Kefauver was running for president. And if I think he may have come to Asheville or even come to the campus. I had absolutely no idea who these people were. However, what did happen was FBI people showed up all the time and they looked like something out of a grade B movie.  They always had trench coats on and you could spot them a mile away. And of course the students at Black Mountain put on an act for them. Like one of the favorite student tricks was to not have shoes on in the middle of the winter, and to crunch out a cigarette butt with their bare feet. So everybody did their best to please them, you know. (laughing)  It confirmed their worst opinions and we did not answer any of their questions. I do remember that very much. But remember there was no television, and certainly I don’t remember even a radio. Everybody had their own phonograph and things like that, but communications were very different and the surrounding community was very redneck.

What about the relationship with the college to the local community?

They hated us.

In a word. . (laughing).

And it was very much the Bible belt, you know, and we were considered sinners.  When we went into the little town of Black Mountain we were looked on as potential shoplifters. I remember for instance once going into a butcher shop and asking to buy brains, because I grew up French.  And they said, “lady you don’t want that, that’s nigger food.”

That must’ve come as quite a shock.

I’ll have a pork chop please?

It’s not just that it was a prejudicial shock, which of course it was, but I’d never heard anybody say anything like that in my whole life. You know?

Definitely a different perspective.

Yeah.

Definitely a different perspective.

And at that time there was this thing they did in Black Mountain.  There was something called poling niggers, did you ever hear about that?

No

On Saturday nights cars would drive by and they would have a pole, and they would knock anybody off the sidewalk who was black.

Good heavens!

That was an entertainment. Yeah, and I mean, when I hear myself say that now, I recognize it as prejudice. But then, it seemed barbaric!

Well it still seems pretty barbaric!

You know, like the Spanish and the Indians kind of stuff.

That’s appalling.

Yes. That’s appalling.

Is there anything that you look back on now and think. . . might have been a missed opportunity at Black Mountain, something you didn’t do that you think now you might have done?  Or someone you didn’t get to know better that you think about now?

You know, I’m sure I would come up with something if I was to sleep on that question, but the way I’ve always felt was that Black Mountain saved my life. It was a monumental event, even though I crossed people because I wasn’t going to obey stupid rules. But having said that,  somebody that I haven’t mentioned was Hilda Morley. I studied poetry with Creeley, which was a wonderful experience. I began to take Olsen’s course but I didn’t like it so I dropped it, but studying literature with Hilda Morley was a beautiful experience. And these things laid a foundation for the rest of my life. It was as though I could read but didn’t know the books before, and once I was opened to how to go about it, I never stopped.

So your Black Mountain Experience had a huge effect on the rest of your life.

Spectacular.

Thank you very much!

Footnotes:

Mary Emma Harris generously offered the following information in regards to this interview: “According to my notes Dorothea was there 1950-51, away for the summer of 1951,1951-1952 and 1953 SS. The dates are not that clear because at some point she was faculty wife. Also staff. I think that it was after the summer of 1953 that she moved into the village before moving to New York. She says that she studied with Dehn 4 years but he died in June 52 so it would have been 2 years maximum. Steichen was there only for an afternoon to examine Andy Oates. He did not teach. Hazel later took some photos to show him and I think he bought some. I think they may have gone into the study collection. She says she did not take the Albers classes. But she is referring to Jennerjahn’s classes. He was teaching the Albers curriculum. Says she worked with Guston. Guston was there briefly one afternoon long after she left. If he was there before, I am not aware of it.

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The Longest Ride, poster

THIS ARTICLE IS RELATED TO:The Longest Ride, Film Trailers, Britt Robertson,Scott Eastwood, Film Trailers

Oona Chaplin Interview – The Longest Ride

Published on Mar 14, 2015

Oona Chaplin interview for The Longest Ride. Watch more The Longest Ride interviews, trailers, movie clips & behind-the-scenes videos ► http://bit.ly/TheLongestRideVideos Subscribe for the hottest movie & TV clips, trailers & promos! ► http://bit.ly/FlicksExtrasSubscribe

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THE LONGEST RIDE centres on the star-crossed love affair between Luke, a former champion bull rider looking to make a comeback, and Sophia, a college student who is about to embark upon her dream job in New York City’s art world. As conflicting paths and ideals test their relationship, Sophia and Luke make an unexpected and life altering connection with Ira, whose memories of his own decades-long romance with his beloved wife deeply inspire the young couple. Spanning generations and two intertwining love stories, THE LONGEST RIDE explores the challenges and infinite rewards of enduring love.
The film stars Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland) and Scott Eastwood (Fury) in the lead roles as Luke and Sophia. Robertson and Eastwood are joined by Jack Huston (American Hustle), Oona Chaplin (Game of Thrones) and Alan Alda (The Aviator). Directed by George Tillman Jr. (Men of Honour), produced by Marty Bowen (Fault in Our Stars), Wyck Godfrey (Twilight series), Theresa Park (Best of Me), Nicholas Sparks (Safe Haven). The screenplay is written by Craig Bolotin (Light It Up).

LONDON, UK – Twentieth Century Fox will release the film adaptation of the bestselling novel, THE LONGEST RIDE written by master storyteller Nicholas Sparks (Dear John, The Notebook) on Monday 25th May

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

Related posts:

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 22 Poet Charles Olson, friend of Ezra Pound

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 21 Sylvia Ashby playwright

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 20 Walter Gropius, Bauhaus,

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 19 composer Heinrich Jalowetz, student of Arnold Schoenberg

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THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 26 Theodore Dreier Jr. (student at Black Mountain College and son of founder)

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GROUP PHOTO TAKEN AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE STUDIES BUILDING (?), LAKE EDEN CAMPUS, BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE, SUMMER 1946.

Group photo taken at the entrance to the Studies Building (?), Lake Eden Campus, Black Mountain College, Summer 1946. From left to right: Kendall Cox, Theodore

Interview with Theodore Dreier / © Sigrid Pawelke 2010

Theodore Dreier Jr. (born June 21, 1929) was the son of Black Mountain College founder Theodore Dreier and Barbara Loines Dreier. When he was 2,5 years old, in 1933, Theodore moved with his parents and his younger brother Mark to Black Mountain College. He spent there most of his childhood, living in a little cottage called Overlook behind the college’s Dining Hall until 1941. He attended the first grade at Black Mountain College together with two other faculty children, being taught by a BMC student, who left after one year. In the years that followed, Theodore was visiting several schools, amongst them the Black Mountain public school, which he left after one year due to its aggressive hierarchy, the Asheville Country Dayschool, the Warren Wilson Junior College, and finally the Putney School, which he considered “a little bit parallel to Black Mountain College” because of its arts and music lessons and its work programm. After graduating successfully, he studied two years at Black Mountain College, Harvard and one year at the Nordwestdeutsche Musikakademie in Detmold, focussing on cello studies. Considering himself “technically not so good”, he decided to remain an amateur musician rather than a professional and started to work with the psychiatrist John Nathaniel Rosen, recommended by his parents, who was creating a treatment in a home setting for individual patients. Being fascinated by his work, he decided to become a psychiatrist, studying and graduating at the Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia. He settled in Boston, where he worked as a psychiatrist until his retirement. In the interview Theodore Dreier recalls a performance of the “Dance of Death” by Xanti Schawinsky, his classes with Merce Cunningham, John Cage and the prepared piano and other influencing faculty at Black Mountain College.

Source: Interview with Ted Dreier Jr. by Erin Dickey and Alice Sebrell, 9 September 2014

Original Black Mountain College faculty, September 1933

Front row: Joseph Martin, (See comment below for this lady’s name), Lamb Lamont, Margaret Loram Bailey, Elizabeth Vogler, and John Andrew Rice.

Back row: John Evarts, Ted Dreier, Frederick Georgia, Ralph Lounsbury, and William Hinckley.

Black Mountain College Collection, Western Regional Archives, Asheville, North Carolina

I fell in love with the story of Black Mountain College and I have done posts on many of the people associated with the college such as  Anni Albers, Josef Albers, Donald Alter, Sylvia Ashby, James BishopJohn Cage,   Willem de Kooning (featured  in 3 posts)Ted Dreier, Ted Dreier Jr. Robert DuncanJorge Fick, Walter Gropius, Heinrich Jalowetz, Pete Jennerjahn, Wassily Kandinsky,   Karen Karnes,  Martha King, Irwin Kremen, Charles OlsonCharles Perrow, Robert Rauschenber,  M.C.Richards, Dorothea Rockburne,  Xanti Schawinsky, Claude Stoller,  Bill TreichlerSusan Weil,  David Weinrib,  and Vera B. Williams

Ted Dreier, Jr., Interview with Erin Dickey + Alice Sebrell

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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.

In the 12th post I feature Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) who was featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE and the film showed Kandinsky teaching at BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE which was not true according to my research. Evidently he was invited but he had to decline because of his busy schedule but many of his associates at BRAUHAUS did teach there. In the 13th post I look at the writings of the communist Charles Perrow. 

Willem de Kooning was such a major figure in the art world and because of that I have dedicated the 14th15th and 16th posts in this series on him. Paul McCartney got interested in art through his friendship with Willem because Linda’s father had him as a client. Willem was a  part of New York School of Abstract expressionism or Action painting, others included Jackson Pollock, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Hans Hofmann, Adolph Gottlieb, Anne Ryan, Robert Motherwell, Philip Guston, Clyfford Still, and Richard Pousette-Dart.

In the 17th post I look at the founder Ted Dreier and his strength as a fundraiser that make the dream of Black Mountain College possible. In the 18th post I look at the life of the famous San Francisco poet Robert Duncan who was both a student at Black Mountain College in 1933 and a professor in 1956. In the 19th post I look at the composer Heinrich Jalowetz who starting teaching at Black Mountain College in 1938 and he was one of  Arnold Schoenberg‘s seven ‘Dead Friends’ (the others being Berg, Webern, Alexander Zemlinsky, Franz Schreker, Karl Kraus and Adolf Loos). In the 20th post I look at the amazing life of Walter Gropius, educator, architect and founder of the Bauhaus.

In the 21st post I look at the life of the playwright Sylvia Ashby, and in the 22nd post I look at the work of the poet Charles Olson who in 1951, Olson became a visiting professor at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, working and studying here beside artists such as John Cage and Robert Creeley.[2] 

In the 23rd post is about the popular artist James Bishop who attended Black Mountain College towards the end of its existence. In the 24th post I look at the Poet-Writer Martha King. In the 25th post I talk about the life of the architect Claude Stoller and his time at Black Mountain College. In the 26th post I look at Ted Drieir. Jr., who was a student at Black Mountain College and the son of the founder.

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Black Mountain College

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Black Mountain College
Black Mountain College seal.jpg
Active 1933–1957
Type Liberal arts college
Director John Andrew Rice (until 1940)
Administrative staff
about 30
Students about 1,200 total
Location Asheville and Black Mountain, North Carolina,United States
Website blackmountaincollege.org
Black Mountain College Historic District
Nearest city Black Mountain, North Carolina
Area 586.9 acres (237.5 ha)
Built 1923
Architectural style Bungalow/craftsman, International Style
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 82001281[1]
Added to NRHP October 5, 1982

Black Mountain College, a school founded in 1933 in Black Mountain, North Carolina (near Asheville, North Carolina), was a new kind of college in the United States in which the study of art was seen to be central to aliberal arts education, and in which John Dewey‘s principles of education played a major role. Many of the school’s students and faculty were influential in the arts or other fields, or went on to become influential. Although notable even during its short life, the school closed in 1957 after only 24 years.[2]

The school’s Lake Eden campus, used from 1941 to 1957, is now part of Camp Rockmont, a summer camp for boys.

History[edit]

From 1933 to 1941, Black Mountain College was located at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly.

Its Lake Eden campus, used from 1941 to 1957, is now part of Camp Rockmont, a summer camp for boys.

Founded in 1933 by John Andrew Rice, Theodore Dreier, Frederick Georgia, and Ralph Lounsbury, all dismissed faculty members of Rollins College,[3] Black Mountain was experimental by nature and committed to aninterdisciplinary approach, attracting a faculty that included many of America’s leading visual artists, composers, poets, and designers, like Buckminster Fuller, who developed the geodesic dome.

Operating in a relatively isolated rural location with little budget, Black Mountain College inculcated an informal and collaborative spirit and over its lifetime attracted a venerable roster of instructors. Some of the innovations, relationships, and unexpected connections formed at Black Mountain would prove to have a lasting influence on the postwar American art scene, high culture, and eventually pop culture.[citation needed]Buckminster Fuller met student Kenneth Snelson at Black Mountain, and the result was their first geodesic dome (improvised out of Venetian blind slats in the school’s back yard); Merce Cunningham formed his dance company; and John Cage staged his first happening[4] (the term itself is traceable to Cage’s student Allan Kaprow, who applied it later to such events).

Not a haphazardly conceived venture, Black Mountain College was a consciously directed liberal arts school that grew out of the progressive education movement. In its day it was a unique educational experiment for the artists and writers who conducted it, and as such an important incubator for the American avant garde. Black Mountain proved to be an important precursor to and prototype for many of the alternative colleges of today ranging from College of the Atlantic, Naropa University, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Marlboro College to Evergreen State College, Hampshire College, Shimer College, Prescott College, Goddard College, World College West (1973-1992), and New College of Florida, among others, including Warren Wilson College located just minutes down the road from where Black Mountain College was located. Bennington College was founded the year before Black Mountain College based on the same philosophy.

For the first eight years, the college rented the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly buildings south of Black Mountain, North Carolina. In 1941, it moved across the valley to its own campus at Lake Eden where it remained until its closing in 1956. The property was later purchased and converted to an ecumenical Christian boys’ residential summer camp (Camp Rockmont), which later became a long-time location of the Black Mountain Festivaland the Lake Eden Arts Festival. A number of the original structures are still in use as lodgings or administrative facilities.

The college suspended classes by court order in 1957. This was due to debts not sustained by the decreased number of students. In 1962, the school’s books were finally closed, with all debts covered.[5]

Faculty and alumni[edit]

Among those who taught there in the 1940s and 1950s were:

Josef and Anni Albers, Eric Bentley, Ilya Bolotowsky, Josef Breitenbach, John Cage, Harry Callahan, Mary Callery, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Edward Dahlberg, Max Dehn, Willem de Kooning, Robert Duncan, Buckminster Fuller, Walter Gropius, Trude Guermonprez[6] Lou Harrison, Alfred Kazin, Franz Kline, Jacob Lawrence, Richard Lippold, Alvin Lustig,[7] Charles Olson, M. C. Richards, Albert William Levi,Alexander Schawinsky, Ben Shahn, Arthur Siegel, Aaron Siskind, Theodoros Stamos, Jack Tworkov, Robert Motherwell, Emerson Woelffer, and William R. Wunsch.

Guest lecturers included Albert Einstein, Clement Greenberg, Bernard Rudofsky, Richard Lippold and William Carlos Williams.

Ceramic artists Peter Voulkos and Robert C. Turner taught there as well.

Notable alumni[edit]

The college ran summer institutes from 1944 until its closing in 1956. It was however influential to the founding of the Free University of New York.[9]

Black Mountain poets[edit]

Various avant-garde poets (subsequently known as the Black Mountain poets) were drawn to the school through the years, most notably Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, Jonathan Williams, Ed Dorn, and Robert Creeley.[10] Creeley was hired to teach and to edit the Black Mountain Review in 1955, and when he left two years later for San Francisco, he became the link between the Black Mountain poets and the poets of the San Francisco Renaissance. Through Allen Ginsberg, a link with the Beat generationwriters of Greenwich Village was initiated.

References[edit]

  1. Jump up^ “National Register Information System”. National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
  2. Jump up^ http://blackmountaincollege.org/content/view/12/52/
  3. Jump up^ Mary Seymour, “The Ghosts of Rollins (and Other Skeletons in the Closet)”, Rollins Magazine, fall 2011, http://www.rollins.edu/magazine/fall-2011/ghosts-of-rollins-2.html; John Andrew Rice, I Came Out of the Eighteenth Century (1942), reissued, with new introduction by Rice’s grandson, William Craig Rice, University of South Carolina Press, 2014, ISBN 1611174368
  4. Jump up^ Harris, Mary Emma (2002). The Arts at Black Mountain College, p. 226. MIT Press.
  5. Jump up^ http://www.artesmagazine.com/2010/09/north-carolina%E2%80%99s-black-mountain-college-a-new-deal-in-american-art-education/
  6. Jump up^ “Trude Guermonprez”. Collection. Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  7. Jump up^ Heller, Steven; Lustig Cohen, Elaine (2010). Born Modern: The Life and Design of Alvin Lustig. pp. 178–180. ISBN 978-0-8118-6127-4.
  8. Jump up^ Fox, Margalit. “Jane Mayhall, Poet Who Gained Prominence Late in Life, Is Dead at 90”, The New York Times, March 19, 2009. Accessed March 19, 2009.
  9. Jump up^ Berke, Joseph (29 October 1965), “The Free University of New York”, Peace News: 6–7 as reproduced in Jakobsen, Jakob (2012), Anti-University of Londin–Antihistory Tabloid, London: MayDay Rooms, pp. 6–7
  10. Jump up^ Harris (2002), p. 245.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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How Nicholas Sparks Came To Write His First Jewish Characters

‘I sometimes think to myself that I’m the last of my kind.”

And thus begins “The Longest Ride,” Nicholas Sparks’s latest novel. Sparks has written seventeen novels, eight of which have already made it to the silver screen.

What makes this Nicholas Sparks novel different from all other Nicholas Sparks novels? Well, the speaker continues:

“My name is Ira Levinson. I’m a southerner and a Jew, and equally proud to have been called both at one time or another.”

Levinson, 91, is trapped in his car, which has skidded down an embankment. He has no idea when or even if he will be rescued. In his delirium, he keeps up a conversation with Ruth, his wife of 55 years, who died nine years ago.

The Levinsons are Sparks’s first Jewish characters. “I wanted to do something to keep my stories fresh and original for the reader,” Sparks explained in a telephone interview from his home in New Bern, N.C. “I think they’re going to love these characters. They’re just great, great characters.

“It was something I hadn’t done before and I thought people would like it. Also, not a lot of people know there are Jewish people in the South. We all know there are a lot of Jewish people in New York and other big cities. Not a lot of people realize how prominent they are in the history of the South. New Bern is the home of the first synagogue in North Carolina.”

Though he has never written Jewish characters before, the Levinsons are typical Sparks creations in at least one important way. The protagonists in all his books — from “The Notebook” in 1996 to later titles such as “Message in a Bottle,” “A Walk to Remember” and “Nights in Rodanthe” — find a fairy tale love and happiness.

And so it was with the Levinsons, whose marriage was seemingly bashert. He was the son of a Greensboro, N.C. haberdasher. She was the descendant of refugees from post-Anschluss Vienna by way of Switzerland.

They met when she was 16, shortly after she arrived in the States. Ruth and her mom walked into the Levinsons’ store, and it was kismet. They went to the same synagogue and walked home together on the Sabbath. There was never any doubt that they’d be married and live happily ever after. Their love would ultimately impact the relationship of the novel’s two other principal characters, Sophia, a senior art major at Wake Forest University, and Luke, a rancher and professional bull rider.

Though romance is a constant in his work, Sparks, 47, does not consider himself a romance writer. “It’s an inaccurate term to describe my work,” he said. “Romance novelists have a specific structure and very strict rules they follow.

“My books don’t fall into what romance novels are. Family dramas, Southern literature, love stories, are a lot of terms that are more accurate.”

I told him that the term “romance” was not meant in a pejorative way. Certainly his books are full of romance. He agreed, sort of.

“Romantic elements are part of my books,” he said. “But I write novels that cover a lot of different emotions and my goal really as a writer is to accurately reflect all of those emotions — happiness, fear, loss and betrayal. I want to make all of these emotions come to life so that the reader feels he knows all of these characters.”

I asked if he was familiar with the word bashert, and explained that it’s often used to refer to one’s predestined soul mate. I wondered if he believed in that kind of love outside of novels.

“I think romance is alive and well,” Sparks responded. “I think that feeling is a universal human experience. When you meet the person you are meant to be with, there’s this overwhelming feeling that this was preordained.”

“I can tell you that from my own experience. I met my wife on spring break in Florida. I was down with my friends, and I saw her walking through a parking lot. If we had stopped for one more red light, we never would have met. Was that preordained?”

Sparks’s father was a college professor who taught business and public administration. Sparks was raised Catholic and attended the University of Notre Dame on a full track and field scholarship.

Yes, he had Jewish friends growing up. And yes, he attended several bar mitzvahs — “though strangely I’ve never been to a Jewish wedding,” he remarked.

Sparks said that Ira Levinson was based on someone extremely close to him, a Jewish man who became almost a surrogate grandfather. After Sparks’s grandparents divorced, his grandmother moved to San Diego, where she kept company with a Jewish gentleman.

“They went to Israel together, they had lunch together. We didn’t have a lot of money, so we’d vacation in San Diego and stay at Grandma’s house. I became very close to him. He was almost like a grandfather to me. He taught me how to snorkel. He taught me how to body surf, and was very much part and parcel of my life.”

“Ira was modeled on him, probably less in the religious aspect than the generational aspect. He was born in 1920, as was Ira.”

Sparks was already familiar with the Shoah. “I’ve always read a lot of history and World War II is one of my favorite periods of study. I certainly consider myself fairly well-read on the Holocaust.

“We started [the Epiphany] school here in my home town. The basis of it is love in the Christian tradition, and what we mean by that is you shall love God and your neighbor as yourself, which comes from Leviticus and the Gospel.

“Our sophomores read the ‘Diary of Anne Frank’ and ‘Night’ by Elie Wiesel. We fly them to Poland and they visit the Krakow Jewish quarter and Schindler’s factory and Auschwitz. It’s an independent school in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

Interestingly, the school’s headmaster is Saul Benjamin, who is Jewish. In fact, Sparks works with numerous Jews, including his attorney and several of his agents. He used them to vet the authenticity of the Levinsons.

“My attorney told me, ‘My gosh, you wrote my parents.’ That was a wonderful feeling that I really got this right.”

Curt Schleier, a regular contributor to the Forward, teaches business writing to corporate executives.

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

Related posts:

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 22 Poet Charles Olson, friend of Ezra Pound

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 21 Sylvia Ashby playwright

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 20 Walter Gropius, Bauhaus,

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 19 composer Heinrich Jalowetz, student of Arnold Schoenberg

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THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 25 Claude Stoller ( architect)

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Interview with Claude Stoller / © Sigrid Pawelke 2010

Claude Stoller studied at Black Mountain College from 1939 to 1943. He attended Josef Albers basic courses in design, drawing and color, as well as architectural courses with Lawrence Kocher, Howard Dearstyne, and Lou Bernard Voight. Together with Charles Forberg, he constructed a small house designed by Lawrence Kocher for Heinrich, Johanna and Lisa Jalowetz. Drafted to the United States Army, he left Black Mountain College in 1942. In February 1946 he enrolled at Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he compensated his deficit of technical skills with his knowledge in physics and his practical construction experiences gained at Black Mountain College. After graduating in 1949 he worked as an architect, forming Marquis & Stoller Architects in 1956 in San Francisco and Stoller/Partners (later Stoller Knoerr Architects) in 1978 in Berkeley. From 1957 until 1991 he was teaching at the Department of Architecture at the University of California. Stoller is now living with his second wife and BMC alumni Rosemary Raymond Stoller in Berkeley and Maine. In the interview he talks about the work camp at Black Mountain College and recalls how Josef Albers altered his way of seeing.

Source: http://www.blackmountaincollegeproject.org/Biographies/STOLLERclaude/STOLLERclaudeBIO.htm

I fell in love with the story of Black Mountain College and I have done posts on many of the people associated with the college such as  Anni Albers, Josef Albers, Donald Alter, Sylvia Ashby, James BishopJohn Cage,   Willem de Kooning (featured  in 3 posts)Ted Dreier, Ted Dreier Jr. Robert DuncanJorge Fick, Walter Gropius, Heinrich Jalowetz, Pete Jennerjahn, Wassily Kandinsky,   Karen Karnes,  Martha King, Irwin Kremen, Charles OlsonCharles Perrow, Robert Rauschenber,  M.C.Richards, Dorothea Rockburne,  Xanti Schawinsky, Claude Stoller Bill TreichlerSusan Weil,  David Weinrib,  and Vera B. Williams

CLAUDE STOLLER

PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF ARCHITECTURE

BIOGRAPHY
Claude Stoller received his M.Arch degree from Harvard Graduate School of Design. Stoller continued his studies for a year at the University of Florence in Italy. In 1956, he formed a partnership, Marquis & Stoller Architects. In 1978 Stoller formed Stoller/Partners (later Stoller Knoerr Architects) in Berkeley. Projects included single homes, multiple dwellings, religious buildings, and institutional and commercial structures. Social issues such as housing and energy-efficient designs were a primary concern for Stoller as was historic preservation.

In 1968 he was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects, and in 1991 he was awarded the Berkeley Citation by the University of California. Stoller served on city and county planning commissions, on an advisory panel for the federal General Services Administration and on several other public and professional committees. He was licensed to practice in several states and certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.

In 1957 William Wurster invited Stoller to join the faculty in the Department of Architecture at the University of California. He was acting Chair in 1965-66 and Chair of Graduate Studies from the early 1980s until he retired Professor Emeritus in 1991.

To the extent possible within a conventional architectural curriculum, Stoller used real sites and exposed his students to the manufacturing process of materials through visits to factories. For one design class at Berkeley Stoller started the Wurster West Workshop, a studio in San Francisco where students could gain practical experience in planning, construction, and client relationships by working in poor neighborhoods. The major project for the workshop was the design in a redevelopment area of a square with both commercial space and housing.

In 1965 Stoller started a program in Continuing Education in Environmental Design in collaboration with the University of California Extension. Several courses were instituted for architecture, planning, landscape architecture and design professionals. In 1966-67, as the internship component of the program, Stoller founded the pioneering San Francisco Community Design Center, a response both to student concerns about inequities in housing and community concerns about redevelopment plans. The Center, located on Haight Street in San Francisco, was started with a Research and Development grant from the University. The Center became a prototype for other Community Design Centers which brought the skills of architectural interns to poor neighborhoods where buildings needed remodeling or new construction was possible and where interns worked with “real” clients. In addition to architects, the program drew on the expertise of other disciplines including psychology, economics, law, and engineering.

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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.

In the 12th post I feature Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) who was featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE and the film showed Kandinsky teaching at BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE which was not true according to my research. Evidently he was invited but he had to decline because of his busy schedule but many of his associates at BRAUHAUS did teach there. In the 13th post I look at the writings of the communist Charles Perrow. 

Willem de Kooning was such a major figure in the art world and because of that I have dedicated the 14th15th and 16th posts in this series on him. Paul McCartney got interested in art through his friendship with Willem because Linda’s father had him as a client. Willem was a  part of New York School of Abstract expressionism or Action painting, others included Jackson Pollock, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Hans Hofmann, Adolph Gottlieb, Anne Ryan, Robert Motherwell, Philip Guston, Clyfford Still, and Richard Pousette-Dart.

In the 17th post I look at the founder Ted Dreier and his strength as a fundraiser that make the dream of Black Mountain College possible. In the 18th post I look at the life of the famous San Francisco poet Robert Duncan who was both a student at Black Mountain College in 1933 and a professor in 1956. In the 19th post I look at the composer Heinrich Jalowetz who starting teaching at Black Mountain College in 1938 and he was one of  Arnold Schoenberg‘s seven ‘Dead Friends’ (the others being Berg, Webern, Alexander Zemlinsky, Franz Schreker, Karl Kraus and Adolf Loos). In the 20th post I look at the amazing life of Walter Gropius, educator, architect and founder of the Bauhaus.

In the 21st post I look at the life of the playwright Sylvia Ashby, and in the 22nd post I look at the work of the poet Charles Olson who in 1951, Olson became a visiting professor at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, working and studying here beside artists such as John Cage and Robert Creeley.[2] 

In the 23rd post is about the popular artist James Bishop who attended Black Mountain College towards the end of its existence. In the 24th post I look at the Poet-Writer Martha King. In the 25th post I talk about the life of the architect Claude Stoller and his time at Black Mountain College.

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Claude Stoller   
Date of birth:
December 2, 1921Profession:
Architect
EducatorStudent

1939-40
1940-41
1941 Summer Work Camp
1941-42
1942 Summer Work Camp  (paid worker)
1942-43 fall quarter
Selected Architectural Projects
by
Claude Stoller

This biography was funded by a grant from the Graham Foundation for a study of architecture at Black Mountain College.

Claude Stoller was born and reared in the Bronx, New York where he attended public schools. He enrolled at City College of New York for a semester while searching for a school with a strong visual arts curriculum. Although he had heard of Black Mountain College from his brother Ezra Stoller, an architectural photographer, it was at the 1938 Bauhaus exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York that Black Mountain caught his attention. Although both Moholy-Nagy’s New Bauhaus and Black Mountain College were represented, of the two, Black Mountain appealed because of its sliding tuition scale. He applied to Black Mountain and Cooper Union in New York and was accepted at both. A dinner interview by the ever-charming Xanti Schawinsky, a former Bauhaus student who had taught at Black Mountain, at a restaurant overlooking the Hudson River was the deciding factor.

At Black Mountain Stoller took a general curriculum with a focus on art and architecture. He took Josef Albers’s basic courses in design, color and drawing. He also took architectural courses with Lawrence Kocher, Howard Dearstyne, and Lou Bernard Voight. The architectural program at the time included architectural drafting and courses in Introductory Architecture, Contemporary Architecture, Introductory Design and Structural Design. For the class in Small House Design, the students designed small low-cost houses based on a four foot module.

Stoller and another student, Charles Forberg, were put in charge of the construction of the Jalowetz House, a small house designed by Lawrence Kocher for the Jalowetz family: Heinrich Jalowetz, who taught music, his wife Johanna, and their daughter Lisa. This involved meetings with Charles Godfrey, a local contractor who was directing the construction of several buildings, to plan each day’s work and the responsibility of directing other students assigned to the project.

At Black Mountain Stoller also explored his interest in photography. Students had set up a darkroom in the basement of Lee Hall, and although there was no photography teacher, Albers critiqued the work of the student photographers.

Stoller left Black Mountain after the 1942 fall quarter when he was drafted into the United States Army. He had applied for the Enlisted Reserve in hopes of finishing college but was rejected because he was deaf in one ear. During World War II he first was in the 14th Coast Artillery on Puget Sound. He then attended army engineering school after which he was sent overseas with the 13th Armored Division in France and Germany.

In February 1946, Stoller entered Harvard Graduate School of Design where he was accepted with advanced standing despite the fact he had not graduated from Black Mountain. He recalled that at first he was envious of the more advanced drafting skills of those who had come through professional undergraduate programs. He soon realized, however, that his courses with Josef Albers, an excellent physics course with Peter Bergmann, and his practical construction experience at Black Mountain compensated by far for any deficiency in technical skills which he soon mastered.

After graduation in 1949 (M. Arch.), Stoller studied for a year at the University of Florence in Italy. He and his wife Nan Oldenburg Stoller (now Nan Black), a Black Mountain student and a graduate of Radcliffe, were joined by Lucian and Jane Slater Marquis, both Black Mountain students. On his return Stoller worked for architectural firms in the Boston area. In 1955 he moved his family to St. Louis, Missouri, where he taught at Washington University. While there, he was registered as an architect in both Missouri and Iowa.

After two years the Stollers moved to the San Francisco area. In 1956, he formed a partnership, Marquis & Stoller Architects, with another young architect, Robert B. Marquis, the brother of Lucian Marquis. The firm, with its office on Beach Street, focused on the general practice of architecture and planning including residential, housing, institutional, and governmental projects. Stoller’s use of natural materials in combination reflects both his studies with Albers and his admiration for the architect Marcel Breuer.

In 1978 Stoller formed Stoller/Partners (later Stoller Knoerr Architects) in Berkeley. Projects included single homes, multiple dwellings, religious buildings, and institutional and commercial structures. Social issues such as housing and energy-efficient designs were a primary concern for Stoller as was historic preservation.

Marquis & Stoller, Stoller/Partners and Stoller Knoerr have received many awards. In 1963-64 Stoller was visiting architect at the National Design Institute in Ahmedabad, India. In 1968 he was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects, and in 1991 he was awarded the Berkeley Citation by the University of California. Stoller served on city and county planning commissions, on an advisory panel for the federal General Services Administration and on several other public and professional committees. He was licensed to practice in several states and certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.

In 1957 William Wurster invited Stoller to join the faculty in the Department of Architecture at the University of California. He was acting chairman in 1965-66 and Chair of Graduate Studies from the early 1980s until he retired Professor Emeritus in 1991.

As a teacher Stoller always bore in mind Josef Albers’s emphasis on “seeing.” He considered the development of a sensitive visual perception to be essential to the education of the architect. A second influence of Stoller’s Black Mountain experience was the value of direct “hands on” experience. To the extent possible within a conventional architectural curriculum, Stoller used real sites and exposed his students to the manufacturing process of materials through visits to factories. In both St. Louis and Berkeley, Buckminster Fuller was invited to speak to Stoller’s students who built experimental structures.

For one design class at Berkeley Stoller started the Wurster West Workshop, a studio in San Francisco where students could gain practical experience in planning, construction, and client relationships by working in poor neighborhoods. The major project for the workshop was the design in a redevelopment area of a square with both commercial space and housing. The square was designed in cooperation with the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency. The plan used both old buildings to be moved from other locations along with new buildings designed by the students. Although the square was never constructed, the project generated an ongoing discussion of urban design and redevelopment issues. Wurster West Workshop was continued by graduate students who renamed it ARKIS.

In 1965 Stoller started a program called Continuing Education in Environmental Design in collaboration with the University of California Extension. Several courses were instituted for architecture, planning, landscape architecture and design professionals. In 1966-67, as the internship component of the program, Stoller founded the pioneering San Francisco Community Design Center, a response both to student concerns about inequities in housing and community concerns about redevelopment plans. The Center, located on Haight Street in San Francisco, was started with a Research and Development grant from the University. The Center became a prototype for other Community Design Centers which brought the skills of architectural interns to poor neighborhoods where buildings needed remodeling or new construction was possible and where interns worked with “real” clients. In addition to architects, the program drew on the expertise of other disciplines including psychology, economics, law, and engineering. The program provided the type of practical experience Stoller had valued at Black Mountain. This was an extension of his teaching in which he selected specific sites which students visited.

Stoller has retired from active practice except for consulting. His last partner, his son-in-law Mark Knoerr, continues practice in San Francisco.

Stoller lives with his second wife Rosemary Raymond Stoller, also a Black Mountain student, in Berkeley and Maine where he continues his lifelong interest in photography. They inhabit a Julia Morgan House which they restored as well as an old house and barn on the Maine seacoast which they have been remodeling for many years.

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

Plugged in MOVIE REVIEW

Bulls do not make good dates.

I’m not trying to be insulting. It’s a simple fact. They snort. They ooze gunk from their noses. They have very little to offer in the way of conversation. Spend quality time with an angry bull and you’ll likely consider steak to be not just a tasty dinner, but a proper punishment.

Bulls are one-ton slabs of untamed nasty—as unlikeable as domesticated critters come. But Luke Collins loves ’em anyway.

No, check that: He loves riding ’em. He doesn’t just hang with these hideous hocks of hide; he climbs on their backs and holds on like grim death for eight-second stretches, hoping like crazy he doesn’t get hurled into the next state. No matter that one such bull—a spinning leviathan named Rango—knocked him clean into a coma. No matter that another such encounter could kill him. Luke just can’t stay away. He’s a through-and-through cowboy who takes life in eight-second spurts, even if each of those seconds carries with it the ultimate risk. Bull riding, it seems, is the only thing the guy loves.

Well, at least until Luke meets Sophia, a pretty and smart art major going to Wake Forest University. The two run into each other at a bull riding event, of course. She picks up his hat. He says keep it. And suddenly it looks like the handsome dude in the jeans and boots found someone besides Rango who can throw him for a loop.

But sometimes love is more like Luke’s favorite sport than we’d all like it to be—full of ups and downs and unexpected twists and jarring thumps. So when Sophia tells Luke she’s moving to New York City in a couple of months, it seems their ride together might be over before it begins.

As he drives her home from a romantic date, Luke spies something along the side of the road. An elderly man crashed his car through a guardrail, and it looks like the whole works is fixing to explode.

Luke hastily pulls the guy from the car, but the injured oldster seems more anxious about a box on the passenger seat than he is about his own condition. Sophia retrieves it—and finds that it’s stuffed with pictures of and letters to a woman named Ruth. As Sophia sits in the hospital, waiting to see if the old man will be OK, she sneaks a peak. And then, as the days pass and the man slowly recovers, she reads them to him—each word and phrase giving shape to a romance undiminished even after 70 years.

There’s pain in those letters, too. Lots and lots of pain. Seems you don’t need to get launched by a bull to get hurt.

POSITIVE ELEMENTS

The old man is Ira Levinson, a widower who still pines for the wife of his youth. In The Longest Ride’s flashback parallel narrative, we see the two of them when they first fell in love. Their relationship wasn’t always easy. Ruth, for instance, desperately wants a (large) family, so when an infection robs Ira’s ability to give her children, she tries hard to sacrifice that dream for a life with him. And when it seems their two-person family is no longer enough for Ruth, Ira sadly opens the door—showing a willingness to sacrifice his own happiness for hers.

“I love you so much I just want you to be happy,” he tells her, “even if that happiness no longer includes me.” Happily, after a short time apart, Ruth returns, and the two build a wonderful life together, even in the midst of disappointment.

“Love requires sacrifice,” Ira tells Sophia. “Always.”

It’s a lesson Sophia and Luke both, eventually, take to heart. Sophia sacrifices many of her own ambitions for her beau, and Luke, stubborn as he is, comes to realize that as thrilling as bull riding can be, it can’t hold a candle to having Sophia around.

Ruth tutors a young, neglected boy, and she and Ira would have adopted the kid if his current guardians would’ve let them. When the Levinsons say goodbye to the boy for the last time, Ruth tells him he can be anything he wants to be—to never sell himself short. (Decades later, Ira learns that the boy grew up to be a college professor, and that he believed he owed everything he became to Ruth.)

SPIRITUAL CONTENT

Ira and Ruth are Jewish, and we see them in the local synagogue. We hear a professor encourage his art students to incorporate their mistakes purposefully, and to not leave things “to fate or the Lord or chance, whatever you want to call it.”

SEXUAL CONTENT

Luke is an old-fashioned kind of guy, prone to proffering flowers and favoring actual dates over “hanging” and “hooking up” (even insisting on paying). But when Sophia takes a shower at his pad, that kind of upright sensitivity doesn’t stop him from joining her in the water. We see her tempt him, stripping while only halfway behind a door. Then the two spend a minute or two of screen time kissing and caressing and (it’s implied by way of expressions and positions) having sex. As they clutch and grope and entwine, the camera zooms in from different angles, showing lots of skin and focusing on all but the critical bits of their anatomies.) Two or three other steamy sex scenes are shown in rapid-fire order as they spend every second of their free time in bed, lounging around either naked or partly naked (always covered just enough for the film’s PG-13 rating to remain intact). We see part of Luke’s backside before he pulls his pants back on. We see them both undress and jump in a lake in their underwear.

Ira and Ruth take things slower back in the 1940s, but they, too, end up kissing passionately and then having sex in Ira’s father’s tailor shop, pushing aside fabric and thread to make room on the table. (We see Ruth wrap her legs around Ira.) They frolic in the ocean, with her top revealing cleavage and midriff.

Sophia’s sorority sisters wear revealing getups to the rodeo and in their house. One of them yanks down Sophia’s neckline in front of Luke to reveal more of her cleavage. Luke jokes with Sophia that her life in a sorority house must be all pillow fights in underwear. “We don’t wear underwear,” Sophia jokes back. The Wake Forest women ogle the cowboy as he walks by. One or two modern paintings contain suggestions of artistic nudity.

VIOLENT CONTENT

Bull riding is, indeed, a very dangerous sport. The tumbles can be spectacular, and riders can get seriously hurt or even die—elements the movie shows and stresses. Luke’s run-in with Rango is a violent affair, with the man getting spun into the air and then harried by the beast. When it’s over, Luke lies on the arena dirt, unconscious, blood streaming from his forehead. Another time, Luke’s thrown hard against an arena gate.

Without giving too much away, I’ll say that the threat and presence of death is very real to Ruth and Ira as well. A lingering, mournful scene shows that someone has died while sleeping. And among other tragedies, Ira is injured by a bullet while rescuing someone on a battlefield. (Blood stains their clothes.)

CRUDE OR PROFANE LANGUAGE

Four or five s-words. Also, one or two each of “b–ch,” “d–n” and “h—.” Jesus’ name is abused once; God’s is misused a half-dozen times (once with the aforementioned “d–n”).

DRUG AND ALCOHOL CONTENT

One of Sophia’s sorority sisters gets plastered at a bar, saying that the odds of her throwing up are somewhere around 90%. Sophia, Luke and others drink wine and beer at parties and in bars. Luke pops pills for the pain. We see a Jack Daniel’s advertisement on a chute gate.

OTHER NEGATIVE ELEMENTS

Bull riders gamble. Ira talks about how hospital food tastes like “warm spittle.”

CONCLUSION

Movies based on Nicholas Sparks books are like Thomas Kinkade paintings—pretty, sentimental and all so very similar. Just as Kinkade’s work always seems to be filled with flowering trees and thatch-covered roofs in sunset-dappled landscapes, so Sparks’ stories are filled with beautiful people perilously in love with someone in threat of imminent death. “Nicholas Sparks?” someone quipped when I told them what movie I was reviewing. “Well, you know someone’s gonna die.”

Amid that, The Longest Ride still serves as a love letter to love itself. And it’s not just infatuation or youthful passion that’s paramount here (although we get an eyeful of that). Ira, Ruth, Luke and Sophia show us the way to enduring, sacrificial love as well. Sparks’ movies speak to those who believe that love can and should last a lifetime, even if it’s not always easy. His vision for that, interestingly, isn’t so far removed from the Apostle Paul’s immortal musings on love—eternally trusting, hopeful, persevering.

It’s just that the way such flowering love is shown onscreen often runs counter to what the Bible teaches. While Luke bills himself as an old-fashioned cowboy, he still takes roll after roll in the hay with his pretty pardner. Even Ira and Ruth share intimate moments before marriage—in an age when such behavior was still scandalous.

In the 21st century, it’d be far more shocking—at least as far as Hollywood’s concerned—for two loopy lovebirds to not sleep together. Now, that’d be quite the twist for a secular romance in the 2010s, wouldn’t it? It’d be the Jackson Pollock of love affairs—a daring departure that might change the way we look at art and our world.

But Nicolas Sparks is not Jackson Pollock.

Related posts:

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 22 Poet Charles Olson, friend of Ezra Pound

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 21 Sylvia Ashby playwright

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 20 Walter Gropius, Bauhaus,

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 19 composer Heinrich Jalowetz, student of Arnold Schoenberg

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THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 24 Martha King writer and poet

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Martha King, 1961

Martha King, 1961

I fell in love with the story of Black Mountain College and I have done posts on many of the people associated with the college such as  Anni Albers, Josef Albers, Donald Alter, Sylvia Ashby, James BishopJohn Cage,   Willem de Kooning (featured  in 3 posts)Ted Dreier, Ted Dreier Jr. Robert DuncanJorge Fick, Walter Gropius, Heinrich Jalowetz, Pete Jennerjahn, Wassily Kandinsky,   Karen Karnes,  Martha KingIrwin Kremen, Charles OlsonCharles Perrow, Robert Rauschenber,  M.C.Richards, Dorothea Rockburne,  Xanti Schawinsky, Claude Stoller Bill TreichlerSusan Weil,  David Weinrib,  and Vera B. Williams

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Fully Awake – PREVIEW

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

MARTHA KING

 

WHAT IS YOUR ADOPTION EXPERIENCE?

My younger daughter adopted two children, each arranged before birth, each put into her arms within a few days of birth—the first, 4 years ago in Massachusetts, and the second, 2 years ago in Louisiana. Both adoptions are ‘semi open’—the new style. My daughter & her husband submitted the whole thing each time: a dear birth mother letter, the album picture story of their life, all to induce a pregnant woman intent on surrendering her child to choose them. They met the mothers and some family members and keep in touch through an agency in one case and a lawyer in the other—sending a letter or two with photographs a year. (The birthparents are told there’s a letter and can pick it up or not.) Both daughters keep as a middle name the name given to them by their birthmother. A token they will be told about… Thus Evelyn Monique and Agnes Grace. Their first names are family too: Evelyn is a favorite great aunt of my son-in-law; Agnes is my grandmother, who meant a great deal to me in childhood.

In truth this separation is another fiction. The families could find my daughter and her husband in a flash…via address, last name, employer, etc. At least for now. But they don’t. Everyone obeys the rules.

*

The cost of modern American semi-open domestic adoption is not all that high in money terms. There’s lots of false information circulating on this. Also stories, totally outdated most of them, about the insecurity of domestic adoptions. That a court may demand return of a child to the biological family, for example. As a life-long conspiracy theorist, unconscious conspiracy, that foulest of all, being paramount, I speculate reasons may have to do with deep distrust of many white Americans for people with African heritage—plus class issues, of course, plus fear of exposure, all of which are ameliorated when a baby comes from a culture far away. Not even the prospect of being present at the baby’s birth, of bringing that baby home within a very few days, is enough to overcome a widespread preference for adoptions from Asia or the Caucuses by those with the resources to effect them.

The actual cost of the “domestic semi-open” is invasion—and the presence of a birthparent in the adoptive family’s collective imagination. Like all adoptions, this parenthood doesn’t start under the covers, in the back of a dark van, in a hot private midnight no one else knows. Grief enough. As in foreign adoptions, institutional grey-blue florescent light bathes every move. Domestic adoptions go still deeper. Not only the “Dear birthmother” letter and the photo album depicting the ideal childhood promised to the baby, but also social worker home studies, employment and medical histories, financial reviews, Homeland Security clearance, pre-adoption counseling, and enough certified paperwork for a Fortune 500 merger, all provided for uncounted strangers to review, copy, file and, oh yes, lose and then demand replacement of. Topped off by a required live performance before the birth: the face to face meeting of prospective parents with pregnant birthmother along with agency rep and whomever else birthmother has requested to be present.

Remember, parents, this is not an interview. We social workers have done all that. This is a meeting, a chance for you all to know each other a little more. (Why?) This is not the time to press for facts. (Why not?) The sibling question for example, is not to be touched. (Why?) In part, I think, this performance is structured to protect birthmother’s self esteem. She is not to feel incompetent, stupid, crazy or sick—though she may be some, all, or none. But she is also not acknowledged to be desperate or even in trouble. This decision is to be seen by all involved as an act of altruism. For the visit, birthmother is pulling on a face of respectability so the adopters will think well of her. To protect herself from any hint of scorn she’ll make coffee and serve something sweet, tell lies about herself and her circumstances, tell her visitors she is sure she has made a wonderful choice. This is the first step in a process that will continue during her free counseling sessions in the weeks following the surrender. Her story will be processed, justified, dewormed and buried in clean wrappings. In my family there are now two such women. I think about them. So does my daughter. My son-in-law operates on a stricter sense of denial, so if he does too, the fact isn’t shared with me. But we all agree that someday there may be contact with one of these women and their birth child, if their daughter, my granddaughter wants it.

The aim of all this is to make a good story about of two bad ones…and surely this is more humane than any adoption process used in the past. I now have four grandchildren, and I could not imagine my life or my family without any one of them.


(Martha’s daughters Hetty and Mallory, and granddaughters Satrianna, Aggie and Evie)


(Martha and her husband artist-poet Basil King)

***

HOW HAS THE ADOPTION EXPERIENCE AFFECTED YOUR POETRY?
I haven’t written about this explicitly…but the adoption has certainly had an impact on my world view, on my emotions, on my “family” feelings, on what I’ve observed of the dance of nature and nurture (which sounds so academic, but believe me it’s not!). Essay to come perhaps? Impact is here and working. I never suspected the impact would be this profound, that’s for sure. Initially, adoption only seemed to offer relief of the pain of childlessness…after too many miscarriages.

I have wrestled all my writing life with the shifts between memory and inventions, family (and social) lies and conspiracies, ethical demands of loyalty and ethical demands of art, the impossibility of telling a “whole” story, of writing itself as a need to be seen and yet to hide. My family circumstances and the choices my daughter made have confirmed my instinct that these are worthy issues to contend with…and, perversely, conversely, delightfully, they have helped me decide to leave off memoir and consider poetry again. With a willful dissolution of boundaries at my disposal. With an eye to humor always lurking in the quagmire underneath the logical bridge. With a huge hello to Satrianna, Kirin, Evelyn, and Aggie!

***

PLEASE SHARE A SAMPLE POEM(S) ADDRESSING (IN PART) ADOPTION:

“Impact is here and (still) working.”

***

ABOUT THE POET:

Martha King was born in Virginia in 1937. She attended Black Mountain College in the summer of 1955 and married Basil King in 1958. She began writing in the late 1960s, after the birth of their two daughters, Mallory and Hetty.

Living in Brooklyn since 1968, King produced 31 issues of Giants Play Well in the Drizzlein the late 1980s (sent free to interested readers). She has worked as an editor in mainstream book publishing, for Poets & Writers, at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and currently for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Her collections of short stories include North & South (2007), Separate Parts (2002), andLittle Tales of Family and War (1999). Other stories have been anthologized in Fiction from the Rail and The Wreckage of Reason. A collection of her poetry, Imperfect Fit, was published in 2004. Currently, King is at work on a memoir, Outside Inside, chapters of which have appeared in Jacket #40, Bombay Gin, Blaze Vox and New York Stories.

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

___

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.

In the 12th post I feature Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) who was featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE and the film showed Kandinsky teaching at BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE which was not true according to my research. Evidently he was invited but he had to decline because of his busy schedule but many of his associates at BRAUHAUS did teach there. In the 13th post I look at the writings of the communist Charles Perrow. 

Willem de Kooning was such a major figure in the art world and because of that I have dedicated the 14th15th and 16th posts in this series on him. Paul McCartney got interested in art through his friendship with Willem because Linda’s father had him as a client. Willem was a  part of New York School of Abstract expressionism or Action painting, others included Jackson Pollock, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Hans Hofmann, Adolph Gottlieb, Anne Ryan, Robert Motherwell, Philip Guston, Clyfford Still, and Richard Pousette-Dart.

In the 17th post I look at the founder Ted Dreier and his strength as a fundraiser that make the dream of Black Mountain College possible. In the 18th post I look at the life of the famous San Francisco poet Robert Duncan who was both a student at Black Mountain College in 1933 and a professor in 1956. In the 19th post I look at the composer Heinrich Jalowetz who starting teaching at Black Mountain College in 1938 and he was one of  Arnold Schoenberg‘s seven ‘Dead Friends’ (the others being Berg, Webern, Alexander Zemlinsky, Franz Schreker, Karl Kraus and Adolf Loos). In the 20th post I look at the amazing life of Walter Gropius, educator, architect and founder of the Bauhaus.

In the 21st post I look at the life of the playwright Sylvia Ashby, and in the 22nd post I look at the work of the poet Charles Olson who in 1951, Olson became a visiting professor at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, working and studying here beside artists such as John Cage and Robert Creeley.[2] 

In the 23rd post is about the popular artist James Bishop who attended Black Mountain College towards the end of its existence. In the 24th post I look at the Poet-Writer Martha King.

Martha King

Three Months in 1955:

A Memoir of Black Mountain College

1

If I had not been. If I had not been always in transition, moving from New York City winters to Virginia summers, always the new girl, the one no one knows, the one with the Southern accent, the one with the Yankee accent, the rich or the not-rich one, the one from the house with all those books, from East 86th Street on the Upper East Side, or the commuter suburbs of Chappaqua, Pleasantville, and Mt. Kisco, or the Hudson River town of Ossining where the men, mostly Italians or fled-from-the-farms old Anglos, didn’t take the train but worked at the penitentiary or in factories that lined the riverfront… .

Martha King, 1961

Martha King, 1961

2

If I had not been the faculty brat, in and out of university classes and campus buildings all over Chapel Hill from the time I was fourteen. If I had not had such comfort with poverty, which gave me a feeling of calm and normalcy. All country farmhouses had splintery floors, smelled of kerosene heaters, needed paint and roof repairs. Some had outhouses, with unpainted silver-smooth glory holes. Some had tin lined kitchen sinks with a pump at the side.

3

If I had not been any of those things I would still have been just as desperate to leave home the summer I was eighteen. And I would have found a bohemia somewhere, a gang of people at odds, not like me but against other things, anywhere, anyone. All us runaway kids know this. I would have met other people somewhere else, but would they have been as permanent in my life as the Black Mountain people I was to meet? I was passing through my days, without deep attachment. I felt everything could be exchanged. Everything almost was.

4

I almost didn’t spend the three summer months when I was eighteen at Black Mountain College. My time there was bracketed by a legal rule called in loco parentis. It accidentally steered me there, and just as powerfully, but with deliberate intention on my father’s part, was invoked to keep me from returning after that summer.

5

I meant to spend the summer of 1955 in Cherokee, in the Maggie Valley of North Carolina, in the mountains way west from Black Mountain. I had been hired as a dancer for “Unto These Hills” — a drama about the Cherokee expulsion and the survival of a remnant band. This shameful story of U.S. colonialism had been tarted up as a public entertainment by a socialist playwright from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; it was presented over the summer months in an outdoor theater near the reservation, to the great improvement of the local economy. Still is, it seems.

6

I don’t know about today, but in 1955 no Cherokees performed in it. The cast was made up of white drama students from Chapel Hill — by Playmakers, and I was one — and by New York actors who competed for a summer of full employment, with communal benefits. The company became “Indians” with the use of full body makeup for the first act, transformed themselves into white settlers for a middle act, and daubed the body paint on again for the tearful finale. My sister Charlotte had preceded me in this job two years earlier, and my parents, brother, and I had visited her there, so I knew just what to expect, down to the detergent wash-down twice a night to accomplish the racial change-overs. The Hills compound, on the grounds of a Cherokee boarding school, was provided with dining hall, dormitories, classrooms, and off-time theater work, squeezed out of the six-shows-a-week, dark on Sunday drill.

7

I had been hired. I had the job. I was in the drama department office to sign my contract when someone noticed my birth date. I’d been around the Playmakers for years, and people had forgotten I wasn’t a college student. Or so they said.

8

Sudden awkward silence.

9

There had been a recent “problem.” A father was suing the department for failing to protect his twenty-year-old daughter from a romance with an older actor. In loco parentis universities were to be, for white girls under the age of twenty-one in the 1950s South. The assistant director lied nervously. “Gee, Martha, we thought you were a lot older. We’re really sorry.” Which might have been true. Not his difficulty. Mine. It was March. My summer escape route was obliterated.

Black Mountain College dining hall with Lake Eden and Basil King, 1961

Black Mountain College dining hall with Lake Eden and Basil King, 1961

10

Was this before or after I bought a copy of the Black Mountain Review at the Bullshead Bookshop in the basement of the university library? It was the issue with a portfolio of Franz Kline’s black and white paintings, and a two-page essay by Robert Creeley in a language and tone I had never encountered in my life. What was this art? This pared down but intensely exploding abstraction? I knew abstract art as controlled and cerebral, hard edged and clean. And what was this crazily direct/indirect way to write about it? This terse pared down hip-talk? What was this magazine typeset and published in Palma de Mallorca? I looked it up to find out where it was. Balearic Islands. Spain. I still didn’t know where it was. Spain meant Franco to me. A curtain had closed over the whole country after the loss of the Spanish Civil War.

11

But Black Mountain College was not in Spain. It was right here: Black Mountain, North Carolina. I looked that up too and I knew it well, but not as a place where a Robert Creeley wrote or a Franz Kline did paintings like these.

12

The summer Charlotte was dancing at Cherokee, my parents had taken me and my brother for vacation in the western part of the state. We were to stop and see her (inspection?) but first we drove all the way to Fontana Dam, at the Tennessee border. It was the largest dam and lake in the TVA system, which was then an icon of New Deal progress. My father was excited about this visit, where multidisciplinary regional planning had created flood control, hydroelectric power, and a place of affordable public recreation. That was the description.

13

The reality was hideous. The lake water levels had to be manipulated to serve the needs of a giant electric plant — resulting in a wide scar of rank red mud ringing the steep sides of Fontana Lake. There were plank walkways and floating docks to accommodate swimming and fishing, but swimming was spooky to say the least: once in the water, the bottom was hundreds of feet below. We stayed in the prefab village that had been erected for project workers and then revamped, minimally, as vacation cottages. We had planned to stay a week but left after one day. We roamed after that, stopping in creepy “tourist homes,” and mildewed motels. There were no predictably clean motel chains in those days. The one in the town of Cherokee had a huge fake Plains Indian-style teepee out in front, and the road through the reservation was chockablock with stands selling Indian souvenirs made in Japan and Taiwan. All styles and habits remote from the real Cherokee, who were agriculturists, weavers, and readers.

14

After our visit with Charlotte we had headed east, by-passing Asheville, and gone up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, down at Spruce Pine, and over to a state campground called Carolina Hemlocks — all of us agog at the scary mountains, the mild mountains, the cool, crazy changes.

15

From the campground we drove through the Toe River valley on Route 80 right past Rhonda Westall’s farm at Celo, where later my parents would spend every summer, and our daughters in the 1970s had idyllic vacations. From Celo it’s less than fifteen miles right over the Blacks to Lake Eden and the Black Mountain campus on the eastern side.

16

Everything in that Appalachian hemlock forest territory was the familiar sad beautiful bad roads and rickety bridges over rivers full of water-rounded boulders, was smoky blue mountains, was over-farmed flatlands, dotted with small churches and cabins with porches and many kids, kids with sores on their heads and calloused feet. Nothing therein had ever suggested the world I was discovering in books and films: Soutine, Morandi, Georgia O’Keefe — Anais Nin, Bertolt Brecht, Raymond Radiguet. Nothing in theBlack Mountain Review recalled them either, except that it did, and it danced on my senses, and drove me batty to get at it, to figure it out.

17

So after the collapse of my Playmakers job I wrote to the school for a catalog. I asked about summer school, scholarships, and work/study programs.

18

Arrived: no real catalog. A mimeographed description of a summer program. Two brochures for summer institutes from several years earlier. A printed application form. I filled it out. A formal typed letter arrived for me from Constance Wilcock, Registrar. Much later, I found out this was Connie Olson, using her maiden name. (“When the fort is under attack, and there are only three people left, they run around a lot,” said Ralph Maud of the Charles Olson Society.)

19

The UNC library yielded a little more: Several catalogs from the 1940s. Socialist kids building the campus. It radiated a kind of Putney School, Quaker wholesomeness. It was all about weaving, pottery, theater. It was only 300 miles to the west. I could get there on a bus!

20

I was supposed to work in the summer, not ask my parents for money for a school. I had worked since age twelve, first at babysitting, then clerking or typing things, saving up the money I wanted for books, records, art supplies. That summer I had about $70 banked. The roundtrip bus ticket would eat $20 of it.

21

I asked my parents if they’d ever heard of Black Mountain College.“Ar-rumph,” Lambert said. “Eric Bentley went there.” Radical theater was his image.

22

“Black Mountain girls do post-graduate work at the abortionist,” said Isabella. Sexual liberties was her image. Her prissy house-mother air was another of her change-ups, for she was the one who had taken thirteen-year-old me to foreign movies, to la Ronde, Devil in the Flesh, Les Enfants du Paradise.

23

More correspondence with Black Mountain followed. Was there a work/study program or could I get a part-time job in the town? More no’s; too far, not feasible. Finally I got a postcard, a BMC letterhead postcard, with the by-now familiar black circle logo, on which was typed: “Come with what money you have in hand and what you are used to for cooking. — Charles Olson, Rector.”

24

Too bad I kept none of those papers. The postcard was the best. I folded it up in tight little squares and tossed it. What I was used to for cooking was my mother. I wrapped up an old hotplate, two saucepans, some picnic cutlery, some clothes and stuffed my duffle bag.

25

That exact summer:
Students
George Fick
Tom Field
Gerry van der Weile
Richard Bogart
Grey Stone (really his name)
Terry Burns
Mona (X) later Burns
Lorraine Feuer
Harvey Harmon
Bill (X) — he came from an arts school in California
Michael Rumaker
Herb (X) — a theater student from Pennsylvania
Joe Dunn — with wife Caroline
John Chamberlain — with wife Elaine

26

Resident but of uncertain status
Dan Rice
Ed Dorn — with wife Helene
Robert Hellman

27

Faculty
Wess Huss — with wife Beatrice: theatre
Stefan Wolpe: music, composition
Hilda Morley Wolpe: French, classics
Tony Landreau — with wife Anita: weaving, Albers color
theory, dyeing
Joe Fiore — with wife Mary: painting, life drawing
Charles Olson — with wife Connie: history, mythology, culture studies, reading
Robert Creeley: writing — but I recall that he came late that summer and didn’t hold classes until the fall, by which time I was back in Chapel Hill.

28

Which totals 31 souls, without counting a small tribe of children: The Huss daughter was pale, red-haired, freckled, and whiney. Katie Olson at three had a fatally predictive cry as her ultimatum: “My big papa says!” “My big papa will get you!” The older Dorn children, Fred and Shawnee, were Helene’s children, I believe; and Ed and Helene’s child together was baby Paul — but I may have this wrong. All of the Dorn kids were blue-eyed and tow-headed. And except for cherub Paul, who was eighteen months old, all the kids were wily, independent, and in command of an impressive vocabulary of swear words. Especially Fred, age six. I had read the word “fuck” in books but had never heard it said. The children playing outside my window could string together rhythmic sentences, employing “fuck” in all kinds of combinations.

29

Made sporadic appearances that summer
Jonathan Williams
Fielding Dawson (just released from the Army)
Paul and Nancy Metcalf

30

Were talked about to the point of seeming present
John Wieners
Robert Duncan (He did come that fall)
Victor Kalos
Basil King.

31

Two infants were born that summer. John Landreau to Tony and Anita, Tom Fiore to Joe and Mary. Anita cracked up that summer postpartum, her schizophrenia finally too rampant to be explained away by Reichian theories or cooled out by sitting in her Orgone Box. John Chamberlain’s son Angus arrived somewhat later that year, perhaps early the next winter? I’m pretty sure that Elaine was pregnant by the end of August.

32

There were plenty of reasons for the anger in the sign posted above the school’s only and terminally busted washing machine: FUCKT. I washed my sheets and clothing by soaking them in a bathtub overnight and then stamping on them barefoot for twenty minutes or so. The rinsing and wringing took a bit of time and often the water was cold. All I had was me — no five-year-old, no infant, no household, and I was content to be a bit grubby. I thought of that the other day, watching Baghdad on TV. Only men and boys out on the street. No women. All of them wearing such clean clothes. Their white shirts were white; some lacked socks but no one was raggedy. Women at home carry Baghdad, with its fitful electricity, with the dust of destruction. They do it with washboards, kettles, and sad irons. They boil starch and tote jerry cans of kerosene.

33

Thirty-one souls present that summer. What an odd list I’ve set out for you to read, since the names might mean nothing to you. Except for the three, or the five, or the twelve that do — to some of you. Depends on why you’re reading this, doesn’t it?

34

I could tell you some thing, or many things, about every single name, including the people whose surnames won’t surface for me, and how or when or if they have come in and out of my life since that time.

Three Months, Part Two

35

Black Mountain College, 1955: a gut-busted ruin. About to recover? About to disperse? About to transform? The squalor didn’t shock me. I was used to southern intellectuals hunkered down in bottomed out chairs, living the country life with walls of dusty books and a pump in the kitchen. I liked the sweet quietude of a well-regulated outhouse where you tossed a small scoop of white lime and grey wood ash into the hole after use. Black Mountain College had flush toilets. But almost everything was battered.

36

“They’ve left,” said the buildings and grounds. And yet not.

37

“What do you mean?” “Do you mean it?” These two demands circled like twin lenses. Everyone was free to hold up everything said or done to them. Anything and anyone could be — was — fiercely scolded if the focus were sloppy or careless.

38

They hadn’t gone. They were here, talking fiercely. There was no shared unspoken agreement to spare the feelings of the less competent. They meant you to prepare yourself to mean something and then to challenge or defend it. They meant you to think of art or poetry or even politics as more important than the indexes of your personal importance. They believed the outside world was real and could be affected by things you did, things you thought. As for the obvious poverty, it didn’t automatically mean powerlessness. We were in a modern world where a moneyed class no longer had sole purchase on intellectual life. Independence could often mean poverty, especially for those who broke with the cannons of received opinion. Examples were everywhere: the hand-to-mouth struggles of Merce Cunningham and his troupe of dancers, the poverty of Willem deKooning, Philip Guston, and earlier still, of James Joyce or D.H. Lawrence. But poverty did not mean meaninglessness. It did not give a person a pass from obligations.

39

I walked through neck-high weeds to the library. Dissent. Origin. Black Sun. Carl Jung. Jane Harrison. Books from Black Mountain’s own print shop: The Double-Backed Beast, The Dutiful Son. Pages in beautifully made books, shining in the sunlight.

40

“They’ve left.”

41

True enough, the pot shop and the print shop were closed and padlocked, and the librarian was gone too, for at least a year. As booklovers everywhere believe books belong to the person who loves them, so books had clung to their dearly beloveds, and the shelves, in their solitude, developed large and still larger gaps. Greedy pickers. I knew who some of them were.

42

The library door was warped and leaking, but it was not padlocked. Except for Rockwell Kent, I had never seen or read these books or magazines. Child of a bookman, from a household of thousands of volumes. I had roamed the stacks of Chapel Hill’s university library, and discovered only far away radicals, French anarchists, Italian surrealists, Russian nihilists. What was this dissident American world that shadowed — that might be able to overwhelm — the liberal world my father Lambert claimed?

43

The library building was a one-story white clapboard structure. I’m not sure if it was one of the military surplus prefabs, which were also low, one-story, utilitarian clapboard. Black Mountain had four or five of them as classrooms, housing, or art studios. The campus in Chapel Hill had scores, along with corrugated tin Quonset huts and amazingly elegant buildings put up in wartime for the Navy’s officer candidate school. We were just ten years from World War II. In Chapel Hill, Victory Village was a warren of prefab shacks for the families of married students on the G.I. Bill. Black Mountain had eight young men, for whom the G.I. Bill paid the tuition.

44

The summer I was there, Dan Rice and George Fick lived and painted in one of the prefabs down on the lower campus but the rest of the lower campus was closed, to save funds, I was told. The lower campus had those ample buildings that figure in so many of the photographs, the Adirondack-style lodges with porches, beamed ceilings, fieldstone fireplaces. I peered through the glass doors. We were asked to please stay out.

45

My Black Mountain started further up the hill, just past the swampy upper edge of Lake Eden. There was a turnaround by the Studies Building, and a concrete pit, empty, for storing coal. There were large common rooms on the ground floor of Studies, three or four classrooms, and a few faculty apartments at the back end. The balance of the building was taken up by individual student studies, two floors-full of minimal cells, each with a door, a window, and a plank desk.

46

“People have fucked in every one of them,” Gerry van der Weill said admiringly.

47

I picked out one that had been completely upholstered in wholesale egg crate dividers. The bumpy grey grids had been painted rose red on one wall and left as is elsewhere. It was otherwise clean and I liked the look. Some studies were filled with left-behind possessions, rotting mattresses, worn out boots. Those in use were piled with books, reams of typing paper, overflowing ashtrays. There was nothing in mine to supplement the overhead light bulb, so I took a gooseneck lamp from the empty room next door.

48

On the hill above the Studies Building were the scattered cottages where we all lived. They were winterized summer vacation houses of the same vintage as the big buildings on the lower campus, punctuated, here and there with modern constructions. Student-built experiments in simplicity. Plywood, cinderblock, corrugated metal, transparent plastic, unfinished plasterboard. The builders were gone and the materials they used were not new anymore. The buildings were damp and musty. Minimalism doesn’t do dirty very well. A dirty John Sloan isn’t the same order of offense as a Mondrian that needs a good cleaning.

Basil King, 1961

Basil King, 1961

49

Just before classes were to begin there was a community party in a faculty apartment in the Studies Building. The room crackled, packed with people. There was homebrew in a vat. It was Tony Landreau’s place, someone told me, and that was Tony doing the dirty shag. A skinny man with half-closed eyes and loose blond hair swaying in the middle of the room. His dance was a half squat, butt wiggle and grind, punctuated by wild kicking, and it took a lot of space. He had a collection of thirties and forties jazz on hard twelve-inch records, 78’s. As soon as one spun to the end, Tony spun it off the player and across the room like a Frisbee, where most of them crashed and splintered. The whites of his eyes were pink with liquor and exercise.

50

“You gotta hear this one,” he kept yelling, and couples danced. Charles Olson danced with Connie. He bent over from the waist and she tiptoed so their heads connected, cheek to cheek, while his back extended like a tabletop. I figured his legs were three feet from hers. There was surely nineteen or twenty inches difference in their height, and 120 pounds in weight. Enough for a third person. Did the three of them go to bed?

51

Joe Dunn, who had been sent to pick me up at the Black Mountain Trailways stop, told me I’d be awestruck at his size, but I’d had an interview with him the day I arrived in which he remained seated, way way down in a sprung easy chair. He apologized for not getting up, because of bursitis, he’d said. So he has a big head, he’s a tall man, I thought. But at that party I got it. The dance was truly impressive.

52

Tony was stopped by two or three people from toppling an empty baby bassinette, the old wooden kind, a literal basket on tall legs. Then I realized the dark-haired silent woman sitting by a wall was very pregnant and that Tony was to be a father soon.

53

Tom Field was sick, he said. He hadn’t felt well in a week. He looked shamed. He was shamed. He was having bad dreams. When he was dying of cancer, in East/West House in San Francisco, just a few years ago, he made us promise that we wouldn’t worry. “I’ll be fine,” he said to me and Baz, with that same shamed grin.

54

Tom showed Tony two blackened puncture holes on the top of his foot, surrounded by an ugly red swelling, and mumbled, “I have these weird marks.”

55

“Man! You’re snake bit,” Tony hollered. He’d grown up in affluent Washington, D.C. suburbs and knew his snakes. He figured the rattler must have struck something else just shortly before the bite or Tom would have been a great deal sicker.

56

“But didn’t you notice getting hit?”

57

We all wanted to know.

58

Tom half whiney, half winsome wasn’t sure. Maybe at night? said Tom, the village idiot, grinning. His teeth were tiny and ever so slightly pointed. His eyes bashful in a broad, bland white-bread Midwestern face. Ralph Thomas Field. He was of uncertain sex (was he deucey? was he acey?) and he was ungainly, unfocused. A big unattractive body, but with large reserves of unapparent stamina. He was a painter. Ah, but he painted with the violence of an angel and the shrewdness of a politician. There was nothing idiotic, unfocused, or embarrassed about his work. See Vincent Katz’s Black Mountain Arts catalog, where two beautiful Field abstractions are reproduced. He could have received a rattler’s full force and overridden it, ashamed of being in pain. In fact, maybe he did. Ralph Thomas Field, artist.

59

There were no black people at Black Mountain College that summer, but Miles Davis haunted everyone. I heard him for the first time my first week. Someone had set a record player in a window up the hill — and at night, when the road was so dark you’d blink your eyes to make sure they were still open that spare, long, achingly sad horn split the air. Sections followed one after another, continued and continued. Movement in the face of troubles I couldn’t have described; movement, from moment to moment. Miles was everywhere. I wonder now if that record player was Stefan Wolpe’s?

60

These notes feel like postcards. Like sentiment in the mail. Greetings from the Pits. See the Jackalope! Worse than my personal sentiment, I know these little pictures startle and sadden Black Mountainites from earlier times. They remember a campus that worked, new buildings being built, fields that were mowed, the pot shop humming all night, musicians rehearsing in upstairs rooms.

61

In 1984, when George Butterick was still assuming he had 12,000 poems to write, he was advising Carrol Terrell on the Charles Olson volume for the University of Maine’s “Person and Poet” series. George wanted a Black Mountain reminiscence of Olson from me, or from me and Baz for the volume. I couldn’t do it. I begged off that we had been teenagers, Baz and I. I told George I’d attended BMC just three months, three months in a bad summer when Charles was away much of time. This was true. He was off begging for money to keep the school alive, and failing to get it, and trying too to sort out his domestic crisis with Betty Kaiser, who was pregnant with his son, Charles Peter, and with Connie, who was the mother of his daughter Kate. Connie was losing; Charles was losing what had been; the school was losing under Charles’ watch; Kate was to lose her big poppa; and the seersucker suit Charles wore to his meetings with foundation executives and education patrons in New York or Washington had already lost most of its shape. The closest I ever came to a class with him were some long evenings when he held forth in a booth at Ma Peek’s, over pitchers of beer, and my head for beer was weak, so I heard only some of it.

62

Besides, I was the wrong sex.

63

Besides, my relation to Charles would have been deeply qualified even if he had been less gender haunted. For different reasons, so were Basil’s. So what would I possibly write about him? I complained to George without really explaining.

64

“Just allow yourself whatever narrative play necessary,” George wrote me.

65

And next, “Maybe you and Baz could do Olson in dialogue. Mike Rumaker sent three pages on how he called Olson a whale. It’s your narrative-you I want. Don’t be burdened by the portentousness of it all. You, the great editor of The Drizz.”

66

(He meant Giants Play Well in the Drizzle — a newsletter poetry zine I was publishing at that time.)

67

Then it was January 1985, and the book was to go to press in six weeks: “End on your own narrative,” George demanded in an ultimatum letter. “End on Olson and Black Mountain, physically described. Six sentences. Fade Out. There has to be one overwhelming capture of Olson. I am intent on having this… ”

68

How could George know how complex this was? Baz and I had known George only a year, for me two meetings, for Baz four. Yes, many letters. But from the beginning of our friendship to its wretched end at George’s early death didn’t span two years. How could we tell or he know?

69

We did try the double interview approach. What I produced was not at all what George had in mind, not at all what Terrell would dream of accepting. George sent it back to me, and crossed out my words at the end where I wrote, “bad medicine.”

70

“You can’t end like that!” he scribbled.

71

Slightly shortened, here it is, as written in 1985:

72

Black Mountain Teens

Basil had arrived at Black Mountain when he was sixteen. He was there off and on again and again until he was twenty-one. That was a whole year after my summer. He was there the fall when the school closed and someone took that terrible photograph of the last class.

73

Baz and I never met there but when I came up from Chapel Hill in October to visit the guy I’d gone around with that summer, the two of us passed Baz in the hallway of the Studies Building. Leather jacket, sexy scowl, cocky walk, one shoulder up.

74

“Who’s that!” I asked.

75

“Just another painter from Detroit. You don’t want to know him.”

76

All these things frame me, or what I would talk about if I were talking about me. To talk about Charles, we decided to interview each other:

77

M: Charles is my father’s age. I always connected them. My father loves Eliot and fears Pound, and Olson the opposite, but politically, I call them both jingoists. “For us — and through us -America is coming of age.” Hear that Virgil Thompson music? Olson running toWashington to work for F.D.R.? Sure, I’d never met anyone like him, but he was recognizable to me from the beginning. The continuum stretches from John Jacob Niles to Buckminster Fuller, from the folklore movement to the millenialists. Lambert Davis (my dad) and Charles Olson were peers. No wonder Charles was so itchy-scratchy when they met.

78

B: He was itchy-scratchy about every dad. He was about mine. He went to work to charm my father the minute he saw that my dad had some understanding of politics and literature.

79

M: Put you in a funny position, didn’t it. It did me, when my parents arrived at Black Mountain. They were driving cross-country for a university press convention in Seattle. Lambert was president of the association that year. So they stopped by to check up on me. Lambert was the world of academic publishing — and he was looking with real horror at how rundown the school was.

80

But I believed Charles’ vision of the world. There was a war going on, not just between the generations, which there was, but essentially between the intellectuals willing to be radical — “to the root,” as Charles would stress — and everyone else who it seemed to me more or less did what they were told. It still seems so to me. And at the time, it matched emotionally how I viewed the war I was in for my own existence.

81

I thought Charles was on my side. Then all of a sudden, there he was, standing on the road, trying to impress my father.

82

I didn’t get it. I thought Charles would ignore my parents, that he’d take one look and know that my dad didn’t count for what he thought he counted for. Instead, there was Charles, standing in the driveway in front of the Studies Building, talking a mile a minute, and making a fool of himself. He was trying to overpower my parents. Wrong move! Even though Lambert’s neck was getting redder by the minute, he could calmly stand on his mainstream authority. He was the editor from Harcourt Brace, with a dozen years of New York publishing behind him. And Olson cared about that. I felt betrayed.

83

B: Well, the bottom came right out for me. I was mad at my dad, for his Zionism and his sentimentalism, and at Charles, for giving my father such a welcome. Charles invited him to become the school’s fund-raiser. He asked him to leave Michigan and join the Black Mountain community. I could see the next move already — kicking the Fiore’s out of Minimum House and moving my father and mother in. Now, where the hell would I have to go? To top it off, everyone was so impressed. I was getting patted on the back enviously. Oh, you’ve got such a great dad.

84

My mother loved Charles. She whispered to me: “The man’s brilliant!”

85

M: But what did we learn, now that we’ve got that off our chests?

86

B: (still angry) Not to drive a car the way he did!

87

M: I thought it was funny. When he got in that little car, the springs were on the ground and you’d see this great pumpkin head through the window and you couldn’t help wondering how the hell was all the rest of him in there. How could he shift? His knees had to be up against his chest.

88

B: It wasn’t the shifting, it was the talking. God knows why he didn’t get killed.

89

But I can tell you about what I learned. I don’t know if it was in class or at his house, but Charles asked how does one go about putting something together? How do you look at the materials? How do you get to the thing? I said, subtraction. He said, “No, no, no: division!” This is one of the most important things he ever gave me. It hit me between the eyes.

90

M: You mean the whole is always there?

91

B: You can keep dividing and dividing. You can keep going. Yes, the whole is still there. Maybe I would have gotten to that myself eventually, but he put the boot in my head.

92

One of the worst things I ever did to Charles was in a class on Rimbaud. He had talked his heart out about Rimbaud for three hours. Then he asked, “Is there anything anybody here doesn’t understand?” We didn’t say anything. “Any questions?” And I — and everybody else — shook our heads, no. He looked crushed. I can still see his face.

93

M: You guys were tired.

94

B: No. He talked so much you felt you understood everything. But I — we all — knew we really didn’t. Sometime after that, I had a terrible argument with him. It went on for months. I said that when Rimbaud said, “Women nurse men home from hot countries” he was talking about his father. That nearly everything he talked about was about his father and not about himself. I said I’m seventeen too, and I know what he was doing. Olson said no.

95

M: I think you were right.

96

B: But I didn’t understand everything. It’s a funny connection because Charles himself continues to be an enigma. He started out with a memory, which I have never quite understood — he had a memory instead of himself. He had Melville’s memory. His father’s memory. Pound’s memory. Even civilization’s memory. I’m not speaking about knowledge. He internalized other people’s memories in such a way that when he spoke in poems, from “Kingfishers” on, or when he spoke in class, you got a sensation of a man going through the thing himself, in person. It was terribly exciting.

97

M: So why the puzzle?

98

B: [pause]

99

M: [continuing] Olson was writing the second part of the Maximus poems the summer I knew him. If he wasn’t writing much, that’s what he was intent on doing. I don’t think he ever questioned if there really is a New World. He was trying to see if the New World could be created. He wasn’t interested in going over European assumptions.

100

B: I’m not so sure. I suspect Charles was more involved than we like to think in going over all those old European spoons and bones.

101

M: That’s not what he said in the poems. But I guess Europe was closer to him than we think. I mean he was the child of immigrants. He grew up in a household that must have had a European feel — a foreign ambiance among the regular Yankees.

102

B: He denied it.

103

M: Did they speak English at home?

104

B: I don’t know.

105

M: Were both his parents Swedish?

106

B: I don’t know. I suppose it’s documented.

107

M: I take your word that it’s documented but it’s interesting that we don’t know. I mean he was a great storyteller, he talked all the time.

108

B: He did tell a lot of stories, and you don’t necessarily know if they’re true or not. Charles didn’t actually tell you much. He told me one story nobody else heard. I’ve told it to Dan (Rice) and (Robert) Duncan and Fielding (Dawson) and none of them had ever heard it from him.

109

Charles said he was living in New York in the same building where I later had my first room — that rooming house on Second Avenue at 6th Street. He was lying on the bed. He said he had been married while he was an actor, and the marriage didn’t last very long.* He told me he had been having an absolutely miserable time.

* George Butterick was adamant that there is no record Charles was ever married when he was an actor. I’m sure George (careful scholar that he was) is correct. Baz is sure Charles referred to a marriage. My thought is that Charles had an intense affair and described it as marriage in the interest of economical storytelling. As Baz said in that interview, it was rare for Charles to tell any story that showed him making a mess of things.

110

The day before, he had been in Union Square and he was the tallest person there. He had shouted out against the speaker and everyone listening had turned on him. “Why don’t you fuck off, you big bully!” He was just humiliated. Within the same period of time, maybe thirty-six hours or so, he’d also gone to a party and had a terrible fight with Hart Crane. He was lying on his bed, and going through it all in his head, when somebody knocked on the door. He said the door’s open and Marsden Hartley walked in and stood over him. Hartley had a stammer, you know. Hartley took off his hat, very formally, and looked down at Charles — he was another very large man –and he said, “You — you — you don’t know anything!” And then he left. Walked out the door. Charles said, “That’s why I hate New York.”

111

It was rare for Charles to tell a story that shows him so vulnerable. He liked to project himself as the boy scout, the general…

112

M: (sourly) He was a leader who didn’t always inform his troops about the true goals of the battle.

113

B: Yeah, was he trying to outdo F.D.R.? Who was he trying to influence?

114

M: Well.

115

B: Well. (Pause.) You get to know some people so well there’s no doubt about what they want. I don’t know what Charles Olson wanted. I hope I’m not being pedantic, but I think that’s one reason why his influence hasn’t been as strong as we all thought it would be.

116

M: I don’t agree. Charles had oceanic ambitions — to be an influence on the culture. I’d go further. He’d put it that that ambition was the only one worthy of a great poet.

117

But I think we’re talking about something else. We’re talking about how he took advantage of the students at Black Mountain. We were all cannon fodder. I think of his relationship to me, for example, just in terms of the way he exerted pressure on me to view society a certain way and, as I saw when my father visited, he presented an unfair picture of his own relationship to it.

118

B: Sometimes what you need is cannon fodder.

119

M: I don’t think he told the troops what they were really fighting for.

120

B: I think that’s unfair. We didn’t understand it.

121

M: Okay. We were kids.

122

B: One thing Charles did in the classroom that was truly remarkable: he didn’t stop things. Even when he disapproved of the tack someone was taking, he’d let things go, let them run through whatever kind of confusion, sometimes even mayhem that could ensue. Sometimes he wouldn’t answer a question until two classes later. He was never tyrannical in class.

123

M: There, in the most tyrannical of situations?

124

B: Basically, Charles was dealing with history, just as he said — more than with poetry, which he didn’t say.

125

M: I think that may be fair. He wanted to be a singer, but he wasn’t… umm… wasn’t…

126

B: It didn’t come easily for him, like part of his nature, the way it did for Wieners. He adored John Wieners. To tell you the truth, I envied it and I looked at it with joy, the way the two of them talked to each other. There was a love between them. For whatever reason, Charles didn’t compete with John. Not there, at school. I saw him encourage John. And John wasn’t competitive with Charles, even though he valued his independence and could be a very difficult man. They had a seriously enviable position with each other at that time.

127

But Charles was always mad at me. He became mad at me early and he stayed mad. I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to do. And that was real. I wasn’t. Unfortunately. But between John and Charles there was a quietness. When they talked together in class, I’d feel everything is possible. They spoke in a tone that had absolute well-being in it.

128

In the end, Charles gave me a nightmare definition: he gave me a place without giving me a name. To this day, people who went to Black Mountain don’t know what to think of me because of it.

129

M: (Pause.) Perhaps I was lucky after all, being the wrong gender.

130

B: But you didn’t really need him for anything. You weren’t at Black Mountain for ambition…

131

M: I was there to get away from my dad. And I was met by teasing. Such a terrible weapon. You’re diminished before you open your mouth! This is my abiding image of him: I was in my room one night, on the second story of one of the cottages. The hill behind was steep, and all of a sudden his head appeared right in the second-story window and he was going “Ho, Ho, Ho!”

132

I was sitting under a lamp, reading Maximus, the blue covered book that Jonathan published.

133

“Trying to figure it out? Ho, Ho, Ho!” he went.

134

What could I say? I was trying to figure it out. Wasn’t I supposed to? And then I thought maybe Iwasn’t supposed to. Maybe it was supposed to come all at once if you were a truly able person. I was absolutely flattened. I could hear him still laughing as he walked away.

135

So I’m suspicious. I think he made your life difficult because he resented your intuition.

136

B: Not wholly. He admired it and was interested in it, along with being jealous. He wanted intuition badly and he had to fight for it. I remember a huge class uproar about the meaning of wildness and I piped up with “Domesticity is the wildest thing.” He pounded on the table and just roared, “Where do you get these things, boy?”

137

M: You know what Charles did for me? He gave me a reading list, on a piece of paper. A terrific list. I started off with Moby Dick. That was a good thing. And he laughed at me. That was bad medicine, seriously bad medicine.

138

Ah, but I was bitter then. It reeks off the page. By contrast, Baz was so much clearer, and far more generous. Basil has dozens of Charles stories. I have only the ones I told in 1985.

139

Baz remembers Charles lifting the chair Baz was sitting on in the dining hall, and holding him up in the air, a terrifying act of strength. There was also a day when no one showed up for Saturday work detail and Charles stormed into Basil’s room bellowing at him for influencing everyone to shirk. But when he saw Basil’s swollen ankle, Charles picked him up, tenderly this time, called him Robin, put him in his car and drove him to a doctor in Asheville. Afterwards they went to a bar. Baz says it was the Grove Park Inn, the fanciest place in Asheville at that time, and they sat there drinking for the rest of the afternoon.

140

Most seriously, Charles saved Baz’s life. Baz had wrecked a farmer’s car and destroyed U.S. Government property, a fence I think, in a drunken drive back to the school from a drive-in movie theater somewhere past Oteen. The school had just received the news of Jackson Pollock’s death. The movie, Baz remembers, was Trapeze. The car was packed with students, all of them drunk. But the crash was the end. There was a poor man standing by the road with his busted car, and who would pay him to fix it, and state troopers swarming. Basil’s plan was to let himself go to jail. To plead no contest. He felt terrible about what he’d done.

141

Charles knew jail could quite literally ruin Basil’s life. He had to argue Baz out of it. It took all night. Then he took school money to hire a lawyer, and arranged for half the student body to be in the Asheville courtroom, in clean shirts. “Your honor, we have college student here, got in a little trouble last Saturday night,” the lawyer said. The fix was in. Charles had transformed a serious adolescent suicide attempt into a funny story.

142

With all of that, Baz is still aware of what he said in 1985, which Butterick didn’t cross out on my manuscript: Charles gave him a place, without giving him a name — and Charles’ influence in that subtle regard followed Baz for fifty years.

Three Months, Part 3

143

That happened some time before the three months when I was eighteen, but there was another automobile accident the summer I was there, not a funny story. And I’m stopped again.

144

This is not the Black Mountain of legend, when everyone present was a famous person, glamorous as the fake spread in Vogue magazine that superimposed Jasper Johns’ face over a photo of Lake Eden. (Johns never attended Black Mountain, and to my knowledge never set foot on the property.) I was there the summer before the very last summer. All golden ages have a lot of dross in them.

145

I studied theater with Wess Huss; we produced a bare-bones version of Lorca’s Blood Wedding and worked on scenes from Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. (This was 1955. I’m not sure where he got the script.) Wess’s idea of theater was a world away from the performance-appearance emphasis of the Carolina Playmakers. And different too from Actor’s Studio psychobabble, which I encountered later in New York, when I studied acting with Lee Strassberg disciples. Wess said theater was artifice, that the audience was an active co-operator, that performance began in the imagination and entered a dancing give and take with the situation at hand at that moment.

146

Wess would knot himself up watching rehearsals, his ankles crossed, his long Swiss legs crossed, his long arms so folded up that his body formed a five-pointed star; head, two knees, two elbows. And somehow he smoked, hunching over to get at the burning cigarette in his hand.

147

I studied weaving with Tony Landreau, who gave a solid introduction to Albers’ color theory. We also fooled around trying to dye wool with local plant materials and came up with some squalid grays and lavenders. Like Native Americans before me, I much preferred the bright chemical dyes from Germany; the Weaving Lab still had a large stock of supplies and some extremely fine looms as well.

148

I was supposed to have a weekly painting critique with Joe Fiore but I was too terrified to meet him one-on-one. When it was time for our session, I went on long walks, and hid in the bushes. It wasn’t him, personally. I was afraid my ideas were childish, or worse, that they were on a forbidden list which I recognized but didn’t understand. Oh, there was a forbidden list. Had I been more equipped, I might have explored and defended myself per the demands of the Black Mountain ethic. Instead, I was simply frightened. I knew I didn’t understand abstraction, although I responded viscerally to paintings by Kline, Rothko, Guston. The source, the thing in itself, eluded me. The things Joe said to students in the life-drawing class where I was the model, confused me even more. But there were many other ideas, new ideas that did not.

149

By that time in its history Black Mountain was only about ideas. Almost everything else had been abandoned, lost, broken, fallen in. Ideas crackled across the gaps. I had lived most of my life in an academic society but I’d never encountered people who were as passionate about the play of ideas. Not this way.

150

Here was a place calling itself a school that seemed always to have lived the primacy of ideas. Throughout all the various Black Mountains, and there were five or six or more of them, most students didn’t graduate and didn’t work for graduation credits. During their stay they were involved in their own development, not in someone else’s conception. School was not a supermarket. Education was your trip.

151

While there were certainly teachers who had definite ideas about what to present to their students, and in what order, and others who delighted in responding to the flow a class generated, there were never any set achievement requirements. Working for graduation was a personal choice, and the requirements were negotiated, case-by-case, by the student, the student’s advisors, and the head of the school. But people who didn’t really work at anything were asked to leave, in fact, they were almost literally driven out, by communal disgust.

152

I was at odds with the school’s ethic by skipping out of painting critique. Indeed, quite soon there was no new art to present. I wasn’t doing any. But I was working daily — in the weaving lab, in Wess’s theater class, and I was reading and writing look-back essays everyday, but only for myself. Black Mountain left me alone which I seemed to ask for, and so I was without any feedback exchange of teacher /student or lone student/ larger class. I have missed out on that my whole life — both deliberate choice and unhappy accident. At Black Mountain I was private, writing for myself; I was passive, soaking up as much as I could of what passed around me, and it was a rich stream.

153

For Olson, radicalism was not socialism, but rather a willingness to see history as contending forces of wholes — ideas that could be impacted by someone’s indigestion in the night, by what the price of turnips did to farmland values, by a person’s desire to claim a personal change from the implacable weight of what had come before. History had no beginning. Something had always come before — and clarity was not the goal in the study of it.

154

Surrealism was distained. Abstraction was king. I admired Djuna Barnes, Georgia O’Keefe; my inclination was always to the narrative, and I was overcome that I couldn’t support my weak convictions. It seemed once again proof that girls were not capable. We were to cook and clean up. We were to produce babies. Olson valued women’s otherness and boasted about it. As if Martha Davis of Chapel Hill was in touch with the Goddess! Olson laughed at me for trying to understand. Did he mean that understanding was men’s work? It was easy for me to take it that way.

155

And yet, Black Mountain style was also a gust of profound expressively female freedom for me. Babies didn’t mean exile in a suburban kitchen surrounded by proper equipment. Black Mountain women improvised their clothing, cooked exotic peasant food, tied nursing babies to their waists with Mexican scarves. We’ve had the hippie era since that time. We’ve had a relationship revolution. Nursing is no longer scandalously unsanitary. In fact it’s the mothers with bottles who have to apologize for themselves. Paying attention to one’s children is no longer proof that intellectual, aesthetic, or business-world pursuits have been abandoned. Daddies today, from truck driver to corporate chief, routinely tote their kids, wipe noses, change diapers in the men’s room. Not then. Not 1955! Not only did women do these things exclusively, but beyond Black Mountain College, middleclass women did them out of sight.

156

Surrealism was distained for its adherence to system. For its European-ness. At Black Mountain, system was suspect wherever it could be discerned, as a possible trap, a cut-off, a bulwark against the awesome realm of the imagination. Novels that proceeded on a logical trajectory to resolution or (worse) epiphany were more than boring, they were propagandist and wrong. Back in Chapel Hill, mid-century modernism was Cubism and Le Corbusier; it was the paintings of Matisse and Picasso; it was confessional poetry that minded norms of rhythm and line breaks and Euro song-sing. It was Randall Jarrell, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell. And the Great American Novel was still the holy grail. Had Dos Passos done it? Would Steinbeck?

157

Charles said it was over, done by Melville, and worth a re-read yearly. Creeley said this was a different time, not a novel time at all. “A quick graph” describes his language. Stripped of sentiment and beguilements of romance. Process was the issue, not achieving conclusions. While abstraction eluded me, this idea spoke then and speaks now; in writing this I try again to practice it.

158

At Black Mountain people acknowledged there was something new in history. The whole globe could now be made uninhabitable with atomic warfare. We students could all remember when we learned this. (August 1945; I was eight.) What was different from similar acknowledgements in Chapel Hill was Black Mountain’s collective understanding that human apocalyptic capability altered a great deal more than political concerns. It was now a visceral part of how any of us did anything.

159

It doesn’t matter whether Charles Olson was a good teacher to me or not; or that my Black Mountain experience confirmed personal me in a pattern of withdrawal. It doesn’t matter who drank too much or who screwed whom or how. Black Mountain is important because it grew a language — in collision — that is still available for use. A language that works at getting at things, making connections that might be generative, a risky language not focused on defending itself, ranking itself, not devoted excessively to maintaining prestige and position. Black Mountain grew a capacity for essential bravery in some of its members, perhaps in many of them. Bravery is in this language. There’s a common willingness to go where the conversation will go, to allow a suspension of control. There’s a trace of this bravery in so many old Black Mountain students, even today.

160

Black Mountain, three months of it, brought me into this, and laid a way of speaking and thinking before me. It said connection matters, it said ethos matters. It, they, them, the spirit of the place. Said. Said to ask this:

161

“What do you mean?”

162

“Do you mean it?”

Martha King

Martha King

Martha King was born in Virginia in 1937. She attended Black Mountain College in the summer of 1955 and married Basil King in 1958. She began writing in the late 1960s, after the birth of their two daughters, Mallory and Hetty.

Living in Brooklyn since 1968, King produced 31 issues of Giants Play Well in the Drizzle (sent free to interested readers), worked as an editor in mainstream book publishing, then for Poets & Writers, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Her books include North & South (2007), a collection of short stories, Separate Parts (2002), and Little Tales of Family and War (1999). Other stories have been anthologized in Fiction from the Rail and The Wreckage of Reason. Currently, King edits a prize-winning magazine for the National MS Society and is at work on a memoir, Outside Inside, chapters of which have appeared in Bombay Gin and New York Stories.

Related posts:

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 22 Poet Charles Olson, friend of Ezra Pound

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 21 Sylvia Ashby playwright

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 20 Walter Gropius, Bauhaus,

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 19 composer Heinrich Jalowetz, student of Arnold Schoenberg

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THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 23 James Bishop (artist)

I fell in love with the story of Black Mountain College and I have done posts on many of the people associated with the college such as  Anni Albers, Josef Albers, Donald Alter, Sylvia Ashby, James BishopJohn Cage,   Willem de Kooning (featured  in 3 posts)Ted Dreier, Ted Dreier Jr. Robert DuncanJorge Fick, Walter Gropius, Heinrich Jalowetz, Pete Jennerjahn, Wassily Kandinsky,   Karen Karnes,  Martha KingIrwin Kremen, Charles OlsonCharles Perrow, Robert Rauschenber,  M.C.Richards, Dorothea Rockburne,  Xanti Schawinsky, Claude Stoller Bill TreichlerSusan Weil,  David Weinrib,  and Vera B. Williams

Guided Tour of James Bishop with the artist, September 5, 2014

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

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

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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.

In the 12th post I feature Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) who was featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE and the film showed Kandinsky teaching at BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE which was not true according to my research. Evidently he was invited but he had to decline because of his busy schedule but many of his associates at BRAUHAUS did teach there. In the 13th post I look at the writings of the communist Charles Perrow. 

Willem de Kooning was such a major figure in the art world and because of that I have dedicated the 14th15th and 16th posts in this series on him. Paul McCartney got interested in art through his friendship with Willem because Linda’s father had him as a client. Willem was a  part of New York School of Abstract expressionism or Action painting, others included Jackson Pollock, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Hans Hofmann, Adolph Gottlieb, Anne Ryan, Robert Motherwell, Philip Guston, Clyfford Still, and Richard Pousette-Dart.

In the 17th post I look at the founder Ted Dreier and his strength as a fundraiser that make the dream of Black Mountain College possible. In the 18th post I look at the life of the famous San Francisco poet Robert Duncan who was both a student at Black Mountain College in 1933 and a professor in 1956. In the 19th post I look at the composer Heinrich Jalowetz who starting teaching at Black Mountain College in 1938 and he was one of  Arnold Schoenberg‘s seven ‘Dead Friends’ (the others being Berg, Webern, Alexander Zemlinsky, Franz Schreker, Karl Kraus and Adolf Loos). In the 20th post I look at the amazing life of Walter Gropius, educator, architect and founder of the Bauhaus.

In the 21st post I look at the life of the playwright Sylvia Ashby, and in the 22nd post I look at the work of the poet Charles Olson who in 1951, Olson became a visiting professor at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, working and studying here beside artists such as John Cage and Robert Creeley.[2] 

In the 23rd post is about the popular artist James Bishop who attended Black Mountain College towards the end of its existence.

James Bishop – Walkthrough led by Carter Ratcliff – September 27, 2014

David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of paintings by American artist James Bishop, on view at the gallery’s 537 West 20th Street location. The exhibition will include works spanning the artist’s prolific career and will present several large paintings on canvas from the 1960s to the early 1980s, as well as small-scale paintings on paper, to which Bishop turned exclusively in 1986 and continues to produce today. Providing a rare opportunity to view the artist’s work, the show will be his first solo presentation in New York since 1987.

Throughout his career, Bishop has engaged European and American traditions of post-War abstraction while developing a subtle, poetic, and highly unique visual language of his own. Alternating between—and at times interweaving—painting and drawing, Bishop’s works explore the ambiguities and paradoxes of material opacity and transparency, flatness and spatiality, as well as linear tectonics and loosely composed forms. Privileging the nuanced and expressive qualities of color and scale, Bishop’s luminous works have been described by American poet and art critic John Ashbery as “half architecture, half air.”1

In the early 1960s, Bishop developed the vocabulary of color and form that would characterize his paintings on canvas for over twenty years: a reduced but rich palette, the employment of subtle architectonic abstractions, and a consistently large, square format that reinforces the viewer’s sense of scale and space. Included in the exhibition are Having, 1970; State, 1972; and Maintenant, 1981, which demonstrate Bishop’s ability to render form, dimensionality, and light through the sensitive and seemingly effortless layering of paint. By overlapping thin but radiant veils of monochrome color, Bishop creates discrete geometric frameworks that suggest doors, windows, cubes, or, as the artist describes, an uncertain scaffolding. In works such as Early, 1967, and Untitled (Bank), 1974, Bishop juxtaposes contrasting fields of white and color to produce simple but evocative abstract compositions.

Related to but distinct from his works on canvas, Bishop’s paintings on paper retain similarly monochrome palettes, while differing in their intimate scale and at times irregularly-shaped support. Devoting himself exclusively to this medium in 1986, Bishop was motivated by the idea that “writing with the hand rather than with the arm” might allow him “to make something… more personal, subjective, and possibly original.”2 In these delicately-rendered works, the traces of Bishop’s hand preserve their charge of personal and emotional resonance, achieving a grand inner scale and restrained monumentality.

Born in 1927 in Neosho, Missouri, Bishop studied painting at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, and Black Mountain College, North Carolina, and art history at Columbia University, New York, before traveling to Europe in 1957 and settling in Blévy, France. His work has been the subject of major museum exhibitions: in 1993-94, James Bishop, Paintings and Works on Paper traveled from the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland, to the Galerie national de Jeu de Paume, Paris, and the Westfälisches Landesmuseum, Münster; and in 2007-08, James Bishop. Malerie auf Papier/Paintings on Paper traveled from the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München, Munich, to the Josef Albers Museum Quadrat Bottrop, Germany, and The Art Institute of Chicago.

Bishop’s work can be found in important public and private collections throughout the United States and Europe, including The Art Institute of Chicago; Australian National Gallery, Canberra; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; Grey Art Gallery & Study Center, New York University Art Collection, New York; Musée de Grenoble; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark; ARCO Foundation, Madrid; Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München, Munich; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Tel Aviv Museum; Kunstmuseum Winterthur; and Kunsthaus Zürich, among others. This is his first exhibition at David Zwirner.

1John Ashbery, “The American Painter James Bishop,” in Dieter Schwarz and Alfred Pacquement, eds., James Bishop: Paintings and Works on Paper (Düsseldorf: Richter Verlag, 1993), p. 109.
2“Artists should never be seen nor heard,” James Bishop in conversation with Dieter Schwarz, in ibid., p. 36
For all press inquiries and to RSVP to the September 6 guided tour and press preview, contact
Kim Donica +1 212 727 2070 kim@davidzwirner.com

Above: Having, 1970. Oil on canvas. 77 x 77 inches (195.6 x 195.6 cm). © 2014 James Bishop

JAMES BISHOP's photo.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
James Bishop
Born October 7, 1927 (age 87)[1]
Neosho, Missouri, United States[1]
Nationality United States
Education Syracuse University (1950)
Washington University in St. Louis (1954)
Black Mountain College (1953)[1]
Alma mater Columbia University (1956)[1]
Style Painting
Movement Abstract expressionism

James Bishop (born 1927) was an Americanpainter.

Life[edit]

Bishop was born in Neosho, Missouri.[2] He attended college and worked in New York, New York before moving to Paris, France in 1958. Currently, he works in Blevy, France.[1]

Notable exhibitions[edit]

Notable collections[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h “James Bishop”. Annemarie Verna Gallery. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  2. Jump up^ “Bishop, James”. Union List of Artist Names Online. Getty. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  3. Jump up^ “James Bishop”. Explore Modern Art. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  4. Jump up^ “Untitled, 1980”. Collections. Art Institute Chicago. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  5. Jump up^ “Untitled”. The Collection. Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 26 July 2015.

BISJA0024 Other Colors 1965

I have been waiting to see a large selection of James Bishop’s paintings since the mid-1970s, ever since reading John Ashbery’s appraisal in a secondhand copy of Art News Annual 1966: “It is a shame that Bishop’s paintings, partly owing to his personal aloofness, seem destined for neglect in both New York and Paris, for he is one of the great original American painters of his generation.”

Who was this artist that Ashbery thought so highly of? My curiosity was further piqued when the only other substantial mention of him that I could find was by another poet and art critic, Carter Ratcliff. From various pieces Ashbery wrote, I learned that Bishop had gone to Black Mountain College in 1953, where he studied with Esteban Vicente, and that he liked the work of Robert Motherwell. In 1957 he went to Paris and didn’t return to New York until 1966, ostensibly missing a close-up view of the rise of Pop Art, Color Field painting and Minimalism, the whole caboodle of postwar American painting. Which is not to say that he didn’t know, care about or see American art, particularly by the Abstract Expressionists. Nor did his self-imposed exile in Paris prevent him from traveling to Italy and closely studying the work of artists as diverse as Cosimo Tura and Lorenzo Lotto. He also saw work by artists such as Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly in Paris.

At the same time, Ashbery, who lived in Paris during these years, seems to have been the only American critic of the period to champion Bishop. Was he right? Or was this one of those enthusiasms that poets are known to have that is better left forgotten? The fact that Ashbery wrote about Bishop again in 1979, when he was a critic for New York, suggests he didn’t harbor any reservations about his original assessment.

BISJA0026 Untitled 1962 1963

After seeing James Bishop, which is currently on view at David Zwirner (September 6–October 25, 2014), I would urge anyone who cares about what an artist can do with paint to go and immerse themselves in this beautiful, sensitive, astringent exhibition of eleven mostly square, human-scaled paintings in oil and four small works (all are less than six inches in height and width), done in oil and crayon on paper. The paintings were completed between 1962-63 and 1986, while the four works on paper are from 2012. Whether large or small, the works invite the viewer to look closely and to linger over them, to be absorbed by the full range of their subtle synthesis of structure, light and disintegration.

Born in Neosho, Missouri, in 1927, Bishop belongs to the generation that includes Joan Mitchell (1925–1992) and Helen Frankenthaler (1928–2011). While he has expressed his admiration for their work, and, like them, was influenced by Abstract Expressionism, he clearly went his own way. Even though I hadn’t seen any of Bishop’s work, Ashbery’s recounting of his refusal to align himself with any of the styles of the times, from Minimalism and Color Field painting to Pop Art and Painterly Realism, got my attention. If anything, he seems to have learned from the various strains of postwar abstract art without being caught up in their ideologies.

BISJA0006 Closed 1974

As Ashbery observed, “Bishop has always been a Minimalist, but a sensitive one: the stripping down is obviously a decision of the heart, not the head.” (New York, May 21, 1979.) A deeply responsive contrarian who never aligned himself with any established aesthetic agenda or critical doctrine, Bishop rejected the certainty of Frank Stella’s dictum, “What you see is what you see,” and its denial of contradiction and doubt, in favor of ambiguity, particularly regarding the relationship between surface and space, and between form and dispersion. Furthermore, in “Artists should never be seen nor heard,” a 1993 conversation with Dieter Schwartz, Bishop states: “I never could do a kind of sixties painting in the Greenbergian sense, and I was a failure at it…” How wonderful! Bishop seems never to have fretted over the fact he could not and did not fit in. For many obvious reasons, I find this immensely heartening.

A number of paintings in the Zwirner exhibition suggests that Bishop disagreed fundamentally with Clement Greenberg, who believed that painting resists three-dimensionality and illusionism. While Bishop has said that he learned from Frankenthaler, he has never been a purist who either privileged one technique over another or strived for pure opticality. In addition, he liked ochers and browns, which he characterized as “inexpensive earth colors,” because they were “impure,” and had “associations to earth, blood, wine, shit etc.”

BISJA0003-State-1972

While Bishop’s list of associations suggests that he is a symbolist and, in that regard, allied with Motherwell, I think this would constitute a misunderstanding. What Bishop’s work does so powerfully and originally is hold a wide gamut of visual contradictions and ambiguities in tight proximity: the paintings blossom out of the various irresolvable conflicts that he sets in motion. Moreover, unlike many of the artists working in the wake of Abstract Expressionism, he didn’t believe that feelings, however inchoate, are superfluous to painting. Rather, he believed painting was a language that the viewer had to learn how to read; he wasn’t interested in delivering something the viewers already knew.

In “State” (1972), a glowing monochromatic square with tonalities falling somewhere among earth red, rust and dried blood, Bishop divides the top half of the painting into vertical and horizontal bands, which frame eight squares. Placed in the upper half, and held in place by the physical edges of the painting’s top and flanking sides, the ghostly bands float above a subtly inflected surface that we look at, as well as into, unable to settle comfortably in either domain. Moving between illusionism and surface, the space seems to expand and contract. Both the bands and the surface keep changing. Moreover, in certain areas, the washes of paint become a field in which a few pulverized particles are visible. Paint becomes becomes both a dried puddle and a disembodied light. “State” embodies a world where defining terms such as surface and illusionism, form and formlessness become hazy. Everything, the painting quietly underscores, is fleeting, a mirage. It seems to me that Bishop connects this visual experience to his philosophical understanding of reality and change.

BISJA0004 Maintenant 1981

Within the square format of “Maintenant” (1981), which is French for “now,” or the eternal and changing present, a steeple-like structure rises up from the painting’s bottom edge, slowly distinguishing itself from the gray wall of paint. Is the structure solid, made of light, or both? What about the paint surrounding the structure? Is it solid, made of air, or both? It seems to be both a solid object and a mirage, an architectural detail and a ghost. It is this duality that I find compelling and challenging. Is reality both a fleeting mirage and something graspable? What about the body, with its blood and shit? Is this too a mirage? A briefly inhabited form that time will soon scatter?

James Bishop continues at David Zwirner (537 West 20th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan) through October 25.

JAMES BISHOP with Alex Bacon & Barbara Rose

James Bishop met with Alex Bacon and longtime friend Barbara Rose in New York for only the third interview he has given in his over 60-year career. An exhibition of work from the early 1960s through the present is on view at David Zwirner through October 25.

Photo by Thomas Cugini. Courtesy of Annemarie Verna Galerie.

Barbara Rose: The 1960s and ’70s was a moment when there was very serious, analytic painting in which people were doing very subtle work—often in close-valued colors, and acknowledging the material quality of the canvas, but in a different way than the people favored by Clement Greenberg. The sensibility in Paris was different. There were brilliant critics there like your friend Marcelin Pleynet and Hubert Damisch.

I lived through that period in Paris when James was involved with what was going on—with other people, artists, critics, galleries. At the time, there were new legitimate things happening in Paris—something I can’t say today—for example, Supports/Surfaces and the magazine Tel Quel, and Larry Rubin’s Galerie Lawrence that then became Galerie Ileana Sonnabend. I think there is a connection between your work and Supports/Surfaces, which is having a renaissance now. Is that true, James?

Alex Bacon: They certainly liked your work. For example, Louis Cane wrote several essays on it for Peinture cahiers théoriques.

James Bishop: I didn’t actually have anything to do with those Supports/Surfaces people. I think about three of them are interesting artists: Daniel Dezeuze, Claude Viallat, and certainly Pierre Buraglio, who has a wonderful color sense and makes strange little things. Claude has a big show in Montpellier now, and he’s still going on repeating this endless form.

My first show was at Lucien Durand which was kind of spaced like a railroad car. The paintings couldn’t be very big and they weren’t anyway. My second show was at the famed Galerie Lawrence. Very much against his brother, William Rubin, and Greenberg’s everything, Larry showed both Joan Mitchell and me.

Rose: It was courageous of Larry to show your work, since his brother Bill was a card-carrying Greenbergian at the time. And Greenberg, maybe he didn’t know you? Because he didn’t say anything bad, but I don’t think he said anything at all about your work.

Bishop: There was a Spanish collector who had a number of my paintings, and who also had paintings by Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and others. So he had some say. Greenberg was happy to have lunch with him, of course. And he tried to get Greenberg interested in my work. Greenberg said something so off that I’ve never forgotten it: “He’s much too influenced by Agnes Martin.” [Laughter.] It was just a way of putting it down, getting rid of it.

There was one dealer I worked with quite closely who, like Greenberg, was not very interested in sculpture. He was passionate about painting and color, and he thought the way into the future was Matisse’s cutouts.

Bacon: It seems that you also had a strong response to Matisse’s cutouts.

Bishop: I never got over the show of the blue nudes that I saw in Paris in the 1960s. It’s very clear to me that Matisse dominates his century.

Rose: I see a dialogue with Matisse, but then it pushes in another direction with these earth tones, which, of course, Matisse would never have used. And I think that’s your real dialogue: you’re talking to Matisse. Or are you talking to anybody else?

Bishop: I would never dare interrupt Matisse, but I was telling Alex earlier about the people that I knew like Ad Reinhardt and Robert Motherwell, and how they loved to talk. Pontificating is more like it. [Laughter.]

Rose: Oh, God. Especially Motherwell. I think the central aspect of your work, outside of the drawing, is the luminosity.

Bishop: Which is very possible with oil painting.

Bacon: We were talking before about your process, which seems to be more akin to something like glazing, perhaps, than to pouring.

Bishop: They have to be stretched, and they have to be flat on the floor, or I can’t work with my very liquid paint. It’s never poured, I prep a tin in which I mix up a couple of tubes of oil paint with a lot of turpentine, a lot or a little less depending on what I want to do. If I want it to look a little thicker or if I want it to look a little… There’s one painting here that’s quite hysterical, the brown one with the bars and squares, “State” (1972). I made about 18 paintings like that because there are a lot of different things you can do within those parameters.

Bacon: It seems clear now, having learned a bit more about how you make them, that you must be able to allow for more gradation as you move the paint around, after you apply it?

Bishop: Yes, “State” has the most movement.

Bacon: Is it the movement that creates the different values in those passages in “State”?

Bishop: It’s picking up a stretched canvas that has, say, a square or a bar of very wet paint, very liquid paint. But, the important thing is what they look like, it’s not the technique. That’s just a way of getting to something that I found interesting.

Rose: Did you find anything in New York before you left for Paris?

Bishop: Well, I had seen three or four things that I found very interesting just before I left New York in the late 1950s. And one was Joan Mitchell, one was Helen Frankenthaler, and the other was Cy Twombly. And Twombly was a real shock for me, and Kimber Smith. But I could never just throw things around like that.

Bacon: Can you tell us something about your student years?

Bishop: You know, as a student, we would wait every month for ARTnews to arrive. There was nothing else except the Magazine of Art with Robert Goldwater. I was a student from ’51 through ’54 at Washington University in St. Louis and we would also see things at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Then I met somebody at Black Mountain who said, “Why don’t you come?” That college was falling apart so rapidly you could just go.

Rose: Who were the other people at Black Mountain while you were there?

Bishop: Well, let’s see. The only one I still see is Dorothea Rockburne. There were about six or seven painting students. I don’t know what happened to all the others. The one thing that was so good about this last year was that Stefan Wolpe was there, the composer. John Cage was there. David Tudor would play a concert on Saturday night. Pierre Boulez had sent John his piano sonata, which was only about a month old. I had no idea at the time what I had gotten into.

Rose: Did you ever have a figurative phase?

Bishop: I don’t know. I think so much is figurative. It’s hard to divide a line—except that little painting in there, “Untitled” (1962-3) who owns it also asked me, “Did you ever make figurative paintings?” And I said, “Well, I think there’s a table and chair in your painting.” [Laughter.]

Rose: Did you draw from the figure?

Bishop: Oh, that was the best thing about Washington University. We drew and drew and drew.

Rose: I think if you see it, you feel it, and that’s what’s lacking today.

Bishop: It’s essential.

Rose: Did you feel the situation in Paris, while you were there, was different from New York?

Bishop: There were a number of great intellectual figures still alive in those days in Paris. Georges Bataille and Samuel Beckett and Michel Foucault. But they weren’t interested in painting.

James Bishop. “State,” 1972. Oil on canvas, 72 × 72 1/8″. Copyright 2014 James Bishop. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London.

Rose: They were interested in ideas.

Bishop: And the other thing that was probably important was that a number of travelling shows arrived two or three years after there had been a great resistance in Paris to American art. The first one was the show that everyone assumed was theC.I.A., about the superiority of American Abstract Expressionism. It was the first chance for people to see this work that they’d all been hearing about, or that they’d seen reproductions of, or occasionally one work would turn up in a group show somewhere. Then after that there was a Newman show, and there was a Reinhardt show, and there was a Rothko show, a Franz Kline show. I always had a postcard of Motherwell’s “Voyage” up on my wall, wherever I was. Because you know you could look at Motherwell, and you could look at Bradley Walker Tomlin, and go out and try to do something. But what could you do with Reinhardt, Newman, Rothko? Nothing. You could admire it but students couldn’t try to find something to do with it.

Rose: Bradley Walker Tomlin is someone who really needs to be brought into focus because he’s a great, great painter. But he died so young! He made a very bad career decision, he died [laughs]. Do you paint every day?

Bishop: No. But I do something. Mostly there are the paintings on paper. The works on paper have more “action” than the bigger paintings, ironically. But I’ve been making more little collages lately. There was a whole group in Chicago, but otherwise, they only get reproduced a little bit here and there. I had four in Basel this year. When I was living on Lispenard Street there was a print shop downstairs a couple of doors along, and they would throw out the most wonderful things in their dumpster. I found this whole stack of cards. At times I got to something interesting, where I tried out a color, or something like that, or made a scribble of some kind, and I’d paste it on here and it got to the point where there were about 20-some works. Over the years I probably took out about four that didn’t seem to be right. But the others are all still together.

Bacon: It seems that even though you experimented in a wide range of ways of working, both early on and maybe even now within the constraints of the medium of drawing, there was nonetheless this tightening of formal parameters, beginning in the mid-’60s when you were able to buy 194 centimeter-wide lengths of canvas. For a time, that enabled a certain kind of focus. When you decided to make works on 194-centimeter square canvases, you started producing paintings that mostly have window or ladder-like forms. So, whereas you had been experimenting a lot before, what exactly excited you about narrowing and focusing things in that time?

Bishop: Well, sometimes when someone says it looks like a house, or a window, I say, “It’s a horizontal, a vertical, and a diagonal.” And then if they say, “Oh, there’s a vertical crossing a horizontal,” then I say, “well, maybe it’s a little house!” [Laughs.] Everything comes from somewhere, but people don’t always realize it. You look at a painting years later and think, “that must have been… I must have seen…” Usually in my case, it’s having seen something. I can make a list of about a hundred influences.

Bacon: How do you see your paintings functioning? What is the role of having these structural armatures, like the horizontal and vertical bars?

Bishop: I say I either want them or need them. I can’t get by without them in a way. I think you ask yourself, “What can I do on a large square canvas, or on a small piece of paper that might be interesting?”—first of all for yourself, and in the end hopefully for somebody else, too.

Bacon: In the mid-to-late-’60s, when these large square paintings with pseudo-architectural forms were well underway, you were in New York a lot more, and you showed most often with Fischbach. In a way, this groups you with the other people who showed there, many of whom, like Robert Mangold and Jo Baer, were of a minimal or conceptualist bent. This placed you as part of a broader conversation about painting and reduced form. Did you feel that when you were in New York you were in an active conversation with those people and those ideas?

Bishop: The first show in New York was 1966 at Fischbach because John Ashbery, who I knew in Paris, had written about my work, and he had told Donald Droll, who then saw them. He came around and said, “In September, I’m going to be working at this gallery on 57th Street with a woman named Marilyn Fischbach. Would you like to be shown in the gallery?” That was the first show, which was in December ’66, so that’s how I got to New York. I don’t think I ever would have otherwise. I came out for that show and I found New York very interesting. Sylvia and Bob Mangold are still good friends. But mostly, there was a lot of music and Susi Bloch, an art historian friend who died young, and I went to performances maybe two or three times a week. A lot of small groups were playing new music by new people. New York was very interesting in the ’60s and the ’70s, but then it began to slow down.

Rose: Getting back to the part of Alex’s question about your relationship to Minimal and Conceptual art, I may be wrong, but I don’t think you start with a concept?

Bishop: With the large paintings I have an idea that I want to try to do this and that.

Rose: What was this “this and that” that you wanted to do?

Bishop: Well, it would be a certain color, or colors next to one another.

Bacon: It seems like essentially you’re experimenting with different ways of playing out a vocabulary? Like in “Untitled (Bank)” (1974) you play with the primed white as an active color.

Bishop: The reason that part of the painting only comes up that high, is because it’s not a bank like Credit Suisse, it’s bank like dirt, like a riverbank. There’s some red sort of leaking out of that part of the painting.

Bacon: We were talking earlier today about how, since the whites in your work are not painted, by you at least, since the canvas comes to you from the manufacturer already primed with that white ground, and then you didn’t paint the top, but you painted the bottom half, it functions almost literally like a bank, right? Because, even though you’re using very thin paint, it’s more built-up than the white ground. In the same way that you create those crossbeam forms in a painting like “Early” (1967) by making ridges as you push and move the paint around, it creates this kind of very subtle, but nonetheless material, difference. And it creates a spatial effect where the white, even though it’s not receding endlessly into space, it’s nonetheless quite literally just behind the painted passages.

Bishop: It’s awfully hard to get it to go behind, it’s so strong optically, but you know sometimes I want it to be fairly nicely done, so I would draw my very wet brush along this way but if you push it the other way, it will look torn, and I think that goes back to Esteban Vicente’s collages, and Motherwell’s, too. And I always liked that look. There’s also something about the kind of flatness, and shiny look of that canvas with only one coat of primer, that you can make things look a little bit like paper.

Bacon: I thought it was stunning the way you allow that primer to have that luminosity, but it’s kind of contained. You talk a lot about wanting the viewer to get up close to the work, and there’s obviously so much detail, and so much happening in that kind of intimate engagement.

Rose: Intimacy is a very good word. Barnett Newman for example talked about wanting the viewer to have an intimate experience with the work.

Bacon: Is that why you chose the human scale of the 194-centimeter square?

Bishop: Yes, and I really do think that they should be looked at up close.

Bacon: Looking at the work up close I felt like it was similar to how with certain people—they’re great on first encounter, but when you learn their quirks  things go to a whole new level. Your paintings really open up in this kind of way when you spend time with them.

Bishop: [Laughs.] These rooms at David Zwirner, in addition to being really nice shapes and sizes, also change during the day. We were putting the paintings up in the morning, and when we came back in the afternoon I saw some things that I hadn’t seen before. I like that very much.

Bacon: When I saw the show, I couldn’t leave. Because somehow every time I thought I’d seen it all, gotten all the paintings had to offer—even in the best way—at just that instant they would slyly let slip something new. They have a very interesting personality. They’re very much reserved, and they’re certainly not shouting at you but, nonetheless, they like to keep on talking if you’re willing to listen carefully.

Rose: There you go, and there he is! I’ve always said, “If it’s authentic art, the artist and the work are the same.” The problem arises when an artist wills something because they want it to be liked or whatever, it doesn’t work. In the end you can only paint yourself. Did you have any kind of relationship with Reinhardt?

Bishop: Well I met him and he asked me to come and see him and I did. We sat and talked at that huge window in his studio that looks out toward Washington Square.

Installation view, James Bishop, David Zwirner, New York, 2014. © 2014 James Bishop; courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London.

Rose: I used to visit Ad a lot myself. In his work, there is a sense of the emerging form, which is not in a field. His work doesn’t create foreground/background disjunctions either. I feel there’s some kind of a relationship with your work.

Bacon: What’s interesting is that we’re talking about looking from up close and I think Reinhardt is actually the only one of those artists whose work is not meant to be looked at from up close. Even though there’s a certain pleasure to investigating their velvety surfaces.

Rose: Right! You have to sit back and wait for the form to emerge.

Bacon: Exactly, that’s why he would install barriers and things like that, in part to protect them but also in part because to see them unfold, you had to be at a distance, they didn’t work if you had your nose in them. He created a certain intimacy in distance and I think the intimacy of your paintings, James, is of a very similar nature. I think the David Zwirner galleries work really well at fostering that sense of intimate contact with your paintings.

Bishop: They’re wonderful spaces!

Rose: I think there’s one other point, and it’s really important and that is about intimacy, and impact, and time. The thing Greenberg wanted was the “one shot painting” you got right away. Great, you get it right away and then what? Meditative paintings take time to experience. I see you as a meditative painter, Ad was a meditative painter for example. Now, however, people don’t want to spend the time it takes to experience the work. I think perhaps now European time is very different from American time.

Bishop: Yes.

Bacon: Do you feel the act of making is meditative? Would you agree with Barbara’s statement? That the act of making, the time, the working out of the work is meditative for you?

Bishop: Perhaps not meditation in the strict sense of the word, but something very close. But I don’t know if I would call it “meditative.”

Rose: They certainly don’t look labored. They don’t look too worked over.

Bishop: No, because you wouldn’t do that with most of the paintings. With the large ones, I knew pretty much what I wanted to do and then it either turned out or it didn’t, and some of it was more interesting. At any rate it might take about a day or two but with the works on paper, sometimes I come back months later, and put on a little something more, and that’s what I like about them.

Bacon: But on that general note, it seems interesting to me to read your recollection of this conversation with Annette Michelson, about your first show, where she said that you were not interested in materials. You answered, “I’m interested in them insofar as I try to eliminate them.” But then, seeing the paintings, I think Molly Warnock is the only one who has noticed that you often leave in things like the paintbrush’s bristles, if they fall off, even the marks made when the paint splashes are left as is. It’s like, even if you’re trying to kind of get rid of the materiality of certain things, you leave in the materiality of any “accidents.”

Bishop: Well that’s basically what life is. My life is just a series. Everyday you can fall down stairs, or whatever.

Rose: Don’t do that! [Laughs.]

Bacon: Barbara, maybe you see what I mean here in “Closed” (1974)? This painting works kind of like a Reinhardt, with close-valued tones that cause the forms to emerge slowly over time. And then this one, “Untitled (Bank)” you can look at in an instant, but it has this undercoat of paint that comes through with close looking. So they both have this temporal unfolding for me, in time and through color, but they’re very differently achieved.

Rose: “Closed” reminds me of things that Marc Devade was doing around the same time. It’s really very beautiful. It’s almost as if the white comes forward, which is really strange.

Bishop: People have said that about Marc and me, but I don’t see it. In terms of the white in the paintings, I purposefully chose the off-white wall color for this show because I’m quite hysterical about white walls. I don’t think you can see anything on a white wall. And so I told them to take a big tin of off-white and put in some raw umber. I think it stays behind the paintings very nicely, especially when they’ve got the white in them. It just stays there, and you don’t have to fight it. You wouldn’t look at paintings in a snowstorm! We’re here at noon, and I think I see more in this today. It seems to be a very good time. The forms in this painting, “State” are still closed, but it’s more open than it was. It lets me see the divisions.

Bacon: Do you prefer that the divisions be more visible?

Bishop: Well I don’t want to make a monochrome! I don’t want to make a square that’s all one thing. The most important thing is finding some way to divide up the surface that is interesting, and you’d be surprised how much you can get out of this kind of thing, putting it this way and that way. That’s why there are so many that are made like that, 18 altogether.

Bacon: What I was trying to get at is that it seems like when you got to the 194-centimeter square canvas, then you had this idea that you could explore very similar imagery in multiple works.

Bishop: The roll, you know, is 194 centimeters wide. And then I made the square. Even then, the early paintings are sometimes rectangles, either vertical, but more often horizontal. But I didn’t realize that the square was a good idea until I stretched it, and then I realized what it was.

Bacon: Because this is also how you were making them, with this proximity, this arm-length distance, right? This kind of interaction with the canvas as you’re laying down the paint, and then moving it to see what painterly effects you can achieve. So that must have been exciting, after having done such a variety of work, isolating certain things that could be worked through in these more subtle variations, right?

Bishop: The exciting part was when you were trying to do the parts in the middle of the canvas and not fall in. That was exciting! It’s usually two squares that come together, like in “State.” But “Closed” is different in that way, they overlap in the middle. I think it’s the only one that was that way.

Bacon: You only would paint two coats of paint, right? There’s only two coats of paint on the paintings. They’re not highly worked or anything.

Bishop: That’s enough. You just need the undercoat and the overcoat.

Rose: This was painted on the floor? That was the way Helen Frankenthaler and many of the color field painters—and, of course, Pollock—worked.

Bishop: Yes, I couldn’t do it otherwise.

Bacon: How do you feel about people saying that these square forms reference something like the structure behind them? Like the stretcher?

Bishop: The reading of them as referential to the paintings’ material structure is really off, and if they think it looks like a door or something, what does it matter?

Bacon: You prefer that to the structural reading?

Bishop: Well, the stretcher bars are only about that wide [gestures], if people look at the back, they would find that the band I painted is not as wide as the stretcher bar. The best thing that people could say is: “What does it look like? It looks like a painting.” Art is art is art.

Rose: So why did you stop making large paintings?

Bishop: Because I found it more interesting to work smaller on paper. I just lost interest in doing the sort of things that I did before. I can go on working at my speed on paper for as long as possible. Someone asked if I was working, and I said not very much, but I don’t worry about it, I just do what I feel like doing.

Bacon: So the works on paper haven’t ever inspired you to work something out in a painting? You never thought, “Oh, this is an idea that I could work out on canvas?” It’s enough to just work it out on paper?

Bishop: Yes, I do sometimes think that this work on paper might make a good painting. But the more I thought about it, the less I was convinced that it was necessary. That it should just be what it was—a work on paper.

Bacon: Here you leave in the fallen bristles from your brush. These little accidents give the painting a particular life and personality.

Bishop: I like the mistakes. There are a lot of mistakes in that very disheveled one, “Other Colors” (1965). It looks like something awful has happened and it’s coming up out of the sewer.

Bacon: It’s easy to walk quickly by these paintings and not get anything, they aren’t going to reach out and shout at you. You have to come to them, but if you do, there’s a lot to get out of them.

Rose: I agree, there’s a lot to see if you take the time to look. What happens now is that American culture has become so technological and if you don’t get it in 30 seconds, it’s over. And that’s a real problem.

Bishop: I hope it’s not very antisocial, but I don’t really feel that I should be trying to make things as easy as possible. I like to make it a little difficult.

CONTRIBUTORS

Alex BaconALEX BACON is a critic, curator, scholar based in New York. Most recently, with Harrison Tenzer, he curatedCorrespondences: Ad Reinhardt at 100.

Barbara RoseBARBARA ROSE is an art historian and curator who lives in New York and Madrid, Spain.

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THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 22 Poet Charles Olson, friend of Ezra Pound

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 21 Sylvia Ashby playwright

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 20 Walter Gropius, Bauhaus,

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 19 composer Heinrich Jalowetz, student of Arnold Schoenberg

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 18 Robert Duncan

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 17 Ted Dreier, Black Mountain College Co-founder

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 16 Willem de Kooning (Part C)

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 15 Willem de Kooning (Part B)

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 14 Willem de Kooning (Part A)

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 13 Charles Perrow (MARXIST)

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 2 SUSAN WEIL and ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 1 John Cage

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THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 1 John Cage

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

John Cage on Silence

Nicholas Sparks wrote concerning his film THE LONGEST RIDE:

The story for The Longest Ride really began when I learned about Black Mountain College. I had been struggling to find something that excited me for my next novel when I came across a reference to the college online. I was, to understate it, greatly captivated: that an isolated college in my home state of North Carolina was so influential to the American art scene seemed so unlikely that I began researching the school immediately.  Thinking about all that happened during the school’s 25-odd years in operation—World War II included—seemed so ripe with possibility. Soon enough, Ira’s character came into my mind and The Longest Ride began coming together.

Then, because Ira and his wife, Ruth, were such a wonderful example of enduring love, I wanted to find a perfect counterpoint as an example of new love.  And that’s how I came up with Luke and Sophia.  Sophia was created to resonate with my college-aged fans, and Luke is really the quintessential All-American guy.  I had never been to a Professional Bull Riding event, but there are so many ranches throughout North Carolina, it just seemed to make sense that he would be a bullrider.

Fully Awake: Black Mountain College-John Cage Excerpt

Black Mountain College

Uploaded on Apr 18, 2011

Class Project on Black Mountain College for American Literature

Movie Review: “The Longest Ride” turns corn into corn syrup

rideThe pretty coed doesn’t want to go, doesn’t see herself “as a rodeo gal.” But her sorority sisters insist she ogle the “easy on the eyes” cowboys with them.
He rides a bull, falls off and loses his hat. She picks it up as he dusts himself off. Her blue eyes lock with his blue eyes.
“Keep it,” he grins, and she pokes the dirt and sawdust with the toe of her cowgirl boot to show she’s interested.
Welcome to Nicholas Sparks world. Welcome to “The Longest Ride.”
Clint Eastwood’s son Scott stars as laconic Luke, an archetypal Sparks hero — quiet, brave, courtly. Britt Robertson, earning “next big thing” buzz thanks to her role in the upcoming “Tomorrowland,” is Sophia Danko, the Wake Forest University art history major about to graduate, but about to find herself distracted by the handsome, fatalistic rodeo cowboy.
It’s not a question of if he’ll get hurt, he drawls, “it’s when, and how hard.”
Their old-fashioned first date ends with him rescuing an old man (Alan Alda) from a car wreck. She recovers the men’s precious box of mementos — a Purple Heart, old love letters. And in reading those to the old man in the hospital, she and Luke learn of a great love of the past and what it takes to achieve such a love — in Nicholas Sparks world.
It does no good to over-think the corn served up in this fantasy land, but when you flash back to 1940, you’re telling us the man in the hospital is 93-95 years old. And driving. And he’s not living in Florida. Alan Alda, who as aged-Ira twinkles and pretty much steals the picture, doesn’t suggest that. Luke is bull-riding to save the family ranch in “Walkerton, N.C.” Walkertown, N.C., between Winston-Salem, where Wake Forest is located, and Greensboro, where the World War II love story of Ruth (Oona Chaplin) and Ira (Jack Huston) is set, is not exactly known as cattle country, ranch country or a bull-riding training ground.
But if it’s not set in N.C., how is Sparks going to get his young lovers to the beaches of Carolina? Without the beach, there is no “beach novel.”
Director George Tillman Jr., who did the very fine “Notorious” Biggy Smalls bio-pic, manages stunningly real bull riding scenes, and gives his winsome young stars plenty of room to shine, though neither rises above dull. Chaplin and Huston set off a few sparks in the flashbacks, which touch on North Carolina’s exalted place in the world of contemporary art, thanks to famed Black Mountain College.
But the moment that first letter is opened and its trite, moony expressions of love and pointless (in a love letter) pages of exposition are narrated, the movie turns Sparks insipid.
Consistent? The man’s a broken record, an LP on a crackly old record player in the high fructose corn syrup corner of Carolina. Near the beach. Bulls are optional.

In this video below at 13:00 Anderson talks about John Cage:

[ARTS 315] Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns – Jon Anderson

Published on Apr 5, 2012

Contemporary Art Trends [ARTS 315], Jon Anderson

Working in the Gap Between Art and Life: Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper John

September 23, 2011

In The Ocean – A Film About The Classical Avant Garde

Published on Feb 2, 2013

Philip Glass, Frank Zappa, John Cage, Steve Reich and others

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It has been my practice on this blog to cover some of the top artists of the past and today and that is why I am doing  this current series on Black Mountain College (1933-1955). Here are some links to some to some of the past posts I have done on other artists: Marina AbramovicIda Applebroog,  Matthew Barney,  Allora & Calzadilla,   Christo and Jeanne-Claude Olafur EliassonTracey EminJan Fabre, Makoto Fujimura, Hamish Fulton, Ellen GallaugherRyan Gander, John Giorno,  Cai Guo-QiangArturo HerreraOliver HerringDavid Hockney, David HookerRoni HornPeter HowsonRobert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Martin KarplusMargaret KeaneMike KelleyJeff KoonsSally MannKerry James MarshallTrey McCarley,   Paul McCarthyJosiah McElhenyBarry McGeeTony OurslerWilliam Pope L.Gerhard RichterJames RosenquistSusan RothenbergGeorges Rouault, Richard SerraShahzia SikanderHiroshi SugimotoRichard TuttleLuc TuymansBanks ViolettFred WilsonKrzysztof WodiczkoAndrea Zittel,

Friday, January 31, 2014

Art and Literature Go Mystic

By 

Pastor Stephen Feinstein

In today’s post, I will be summarizing Francis Schaeffer’s discussion on mysticism as it affected music and art. Recall that mysticism is the third level below the line of despair. The line of despair refers to the rejection of the existence of absolutes, such as truth. This way of thinking is the natural byproduct of atheism. If the universe is not God’s universe, but instead it is random material happenings, then there can be no absolutes. Truth would be relative, right and wrong would be concepts of nonsense, and all existence would be without meaning and purpose. Many people bought into this, but it proved impossible to live out. As humans made in the image of God, we live according to absolutes, we cannot separate ourselves from them, and we intrinsically know that everything has meaning and purpose. We know things are not random. Our very lives depend on the universe being stable and predictable rather than random and chaotic. So those who still chose to embrace the irrationality of their atheism had to find a way to live with absolutes even though they believed such absolutes were not real.

Nihilism gave way to dichotomy, which allowed people to pick whatever truth they wanted to believe in, while at the same time understanding that it is nothing more than a preference based on one’s leap of faith. Well, this dichotomy was not good enough for some, and so mysticism was the next result. Mysticism was this idea that there is some sort of absolute, but it is unknowable. All attempts to define and explain it are inadequate and therefore are equally valid expressions of the truth. Mysticism became necessary because most people could not deal with the idea of reality being meaningless.

By this point of reading my posts, I hope you can see that each major thinker that has been introduced has a different explanation of what this mystical absolute is. It is no different with music. Schaeffer focuses in on John Cage (1912-1992). He was so committed to the idea that the universe is random, that he saw that randomness as the mystical absolute. He did whatever he could to make his music random too. He would compose his music after flipping coins thousands of times. Eventually the methods became more sophisticated than this, but the result was the same – music that made little sense to the ears. Cage believed that the “truth” of chance can best be communicated through chance methods coming forth in his music. Well, sometimes when his music was played, rather than offering applause, the audience hissed and booed. Why? It is rather simple. In our heart of hearts, we know that the universe is not meaningless and it is not random. It is designed with intelligent purpose. We were designed with intelligent purpose, and given that we ourselves are designed along with everything else in nature, anything we create must be intelligently designed too. Cage’s randomly designed music was not pleasing to our ears. If chance is the true mystical reality, then chance should be able to communicate to us, but it cannot. Why? Because the ultimate reality is not chance! The fact that his music was aesthetically worthless should have caused him to reject his own presuppositions of randomness, but instead he pressed on and continued to produce utter nonsense. Consider this one more example of an atheist claiming to believe the evidence, but then ignores the largest pieces of evidence that stare him right in the face.

An interesting point to note about Cage is that like all other atheists that claimed there are no absolutes, he could not apply this belief consistently. To his credit, he did apply his philosophy to his craft of music. In that sense, he was consistent. However, he eventually became a mushroom enthusiast. He would wander the forest and study mushrooms diligently to where he became a very well informed amateur mycologist. He had a large library just on mushrooms, and knew that many were deadly and poisonous. He is quoted as saying, “I became aware that if I approached mushrooms in the spirit of my chance operations, I would die shortly. So I decided that I would not approach them in this way.” In other words, he could not apply what he believed to be the truth of the universe to the simple hobby of picking mushrooms. If he picked mushrooms randomly, he would be dead in a few days. With his life on the line, he practiced mycology as though there were absolutes, meaning is real, and intelligent care must be taken with each mushroom. This is just one more proof that that Cage’s atheistic assumptions were wrong. The fact that people booed his music because it was random, and the fact that he would not randomly pick mushrooms because his life was at stake both demonstrate the impossibility of living according to his assumptions. These were two screaming realities that should have caused him to reject his folly, and seek the real truth.

The painter Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) also decided to use the “mystical absolute” of chance to direct his painting. He is famous for laying canvases on the floor, and allowing paint to randomly drip on them. Because of the atheistic philosophical message that lied behind the ugly drip paintings, many saw this as brilliant. But at the end of the day, very few people’s eyes actually crave to stare at random drops of paint on a canvas. When artists buy into thought below the line of despair, this is the type of thing that happens. The artists of the Renaissance painted their worldview, which was fairly biblical. Painting, sculpture, and architecture were ways to communicate the biblical stories and truth to the masses. Well, these atheist artists that live below the line of despair choose to communicate their belief and story with these bizarre paintings that are sore on the eyes.

Perhaps it is noteworthy that we can stare for hours at paintings that reflect the biblical worldview. We can appreciate their beauty and we intrinsically appreciate the order and design behind them. Yet, when it comes to the “religious/philosophical” message of the atheist artists, we can only bare to look for a short time. We cannot appreciate disjointed chaotic expressions. Maybe this is simply one more reality screaming in the face of such artists, and yet it is a reality they choose to suppress. We are what the Bible says we are, and this is why we appreciate art and music consistent with the biblical worldview of order and design. If we were really products of chance, then we should be able to enjoy these “chance-based” artistic productions. Since we are made in the image of God, we cannot enjoy these things. Instead, we can only mourn for the tortured souls that put such chaos on canvas. Sadly, Jackson Pollock became entirely hopeless after he exhausted what could be done in art with his “chance” method. In 1956, he committed suicide. This is the frustration that comes from trying to consistently live as though the Bible is not true. Most forms of mysticism falsely help people avoid the despair, but Pollock was able to find no such relief.

In terms of literature, we can return to Henry Miller (1891-1980) of whom I wrote of before. He originally intended to use his gift of writing to destroying meaning in general, especially with regard to sex. So he wrote extremely dirty things meant to defile the mind and trivialize meaning where it mattered greatly. Yet, later in life, he changed his position. In fact, if one were not a careful reader, they might assume he became a Christian. He started using Christian words, biblical imagery, and he certainly became focused on spiritual matters. He even quoted Scripture. Like Salvador Dali, he saw spiritual significance in the dematerialization of matter into energy. He began to believe the ultimate reality was certainly spiritual, and that meaning does in fact exist. However, his faith was in pantheism. He believed the universe itself is the divine reality, and we are just part of it. Individual man does not matter, but we are just one small part of the whole. As I said in previous posts, this is not too far off from Eastern Hinduism. Francsis Schaeffer sums up Miller by writing, “He is doing the same as Salvador Dali and the new theologians—namely, using Christians symbols to give an illusion of meaning to an impersonal world which has no real place for man.”

Sadly, this mysticism did not spare theology. Just like dichotomy infiltrated theology after it captured the other disciplines, so too did mysticism. Next time I will focus on what Schaeffer calls the new theology.

Posted by Stephen Feinstein at 12:46 PM

Labels: Apologetics, Arminianism, Atheism, Bible, Calvinism, Christianity, Debate,Epistemology, Grace, Presuppositionalism, Salvation, Scripture, Theology

Francis Schaeffer pictured below:

 John Cage at Black Mountain College

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John Cage and Merce Cunningham pictured below:

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When John Cage met Robert Rauschenberg

How the artist’s seemingly simple paintings inspired one of the most challenging compositions of the 20th century

White Painting (seven panel) (1951) by Robert Rauschenberg
White Painting (seven panel) (1951) by Robert Rauschenberg

Artistic influence tends to travel down the generations, from senior practitioner to novice. Yet, on occasions, it can run the other way, such as when the American painter and sculptor Robert Rauschenberg met the avant-garde composer John Cage.

As author Catherine Craft explains in our Phaidon Focus title dedicated to Rauschenberg, Cage first met the painter and sculptor in May 1951, during the artist’s debut solo exhibition, at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York. Cage was in his late thirties, and well established within the field of avant-garde music; Rauschenberg, thirteen years his junior, was just starting out.

Nevertheless, it was the spirited innovation of the painter that most closely influenced the composer. In particular, Cage was taken with Rauschenberg’s White Paintings. In our survey of post-war art, Painting Beyond Pollock, author Morgan Falconer describes this seminal series of five, paneled works, which date from 1951, as being “painted on canvas in a smooth, unmodulated white, and structured in a sequence that includes one, two, three, four and seven panels.”

 

John Cage in his Model A car at Black Mountain College. Photo by Robert Rauschenberg

 

John Cage in his Model A car at Black Mountain College. Photo by Robert Rauschenberg

In Falconer’s mind, the abstract works should be seen less as works in the high, spiritrual register of Abstract Expressionism, and more as simple communication tools – an idea developed by Josef Albers, Rauschenberg’s tutor at the innovative, interdisciplinary arts institution, the Black Mountain College, where Rauschenberg studied 1948 – 49.

Whatever the influence, it was on returning to Black Mountain College in the spring and summer of 1952, that Cage and Rauschenberg’s creative relationship, which developed around these White Paintings, truly flourished. The remote college already had a reputation for artistic freedom and the breaking down of boundaries, having had Albert Einstein serve on its board of directors, and Buckminster Fuller teach classes.

 

Robert Rauscenberg, self portrait of the artist with his work

 

Robert Rauscenberg, self portrait of the artist with his work

In Black Mountain’s liberal campus during the balmier months of 1952, Cage looked to Rauschenberg’s canvases to inform his ideas about how art should engage with the intrusions of the natural world. As Craft explains, “Cage was astonished by the White Paintings, which showed him how artists could work with, rather than against, the ever-changing nature of their surroundings.”

 

The score for John Cage's 4'33

 

The score for John Cage’s 4’33

Falconer picks up the point in his book, where he writes: “Cage used the White Paintings as a backdrop for one of his concerts Theater Piece #1 (1952), and he later said that they were an important inspiration for his most famous composition, 4’33” (1952), an entirely silent piece in which the sound comes not from the pianist, but principally from the ambient noise of the concert auditorium.”

This idea of an artwork as a kind of backdrop for the world, was something Cage first recognized in Rauschenberg’s paintings.

“Cage viewed the White Paintings less as images that projected the artist’s expression, than backdrops against which the flux of the world might stand out, an understanding that he arrived at through his appreciation of Henri Bergson and Zen Buddhism. ‘The White Paintings were airports for the lights, shadows, and [dust] particles,’ Cage said. Rauschenberg would never immerse himself in these ideas with the same enthusiasm as his mentor, but Cage was important in shaping his outlook in these early years.”

Indeed, Falconer suggests that one of Rauschenberg’s best-known forms, his ‘combines’ – or hybrids of painting, sculpture and college, were first developed for Cage, in response to a prop request to accompanying the performance of the composer’s 1954 work, Minutiae.

 

Canyon (1959) by Robert Rauschenberg, one of the artist's famous combines

 

Canyon (1959) by Robert Rauschenberg, one of the artist’s famous combines

Even if this debt can’t be firmly established, the pair certainly collaborated on another notable, fine art work. In Automobile Tire Print (1953), Rauschenberg got Cage to drive a car, its tyre covered in black house paint, over sheets of paper Rauschenberg had glued together.

Rauschenberg said that Cage was the only driver in Manhattan willing to collaborate on such an unusual scheme. Perhaps this is a suitably flip comment to accompany so brisk a work. When asked if the work is a little like a musical stave, the artist demurred, preferring to compare it to a Tibetan prayer scroll. Yet, Cage drove over Rauschenberg’s scroll in the very same Model A Ford that he had carried him to Black Mountain College in a few years earlier; and doesn’t this single track bring to mind a little something of Cage’s featureless score for 4’33” – the silent work that’s never quite rid of the world’s noise?

 

Automobile Tire Print (1953) by Robert Rauschenberg

 

Automobile Tire Print (1953) by Robert Rauschenberg

For more on Rauschenberg’s work, consider our Phaidon Focus monograph; meanwhile for more on how his and Cage’s relationship helped influence the development of painting in the 20th Century, buy a copy of our overview, Painting Beyond Pollock.

POETRY NEWS

Cabinet Posts Audio From Launch of Eva Díaz’sThe Experimenters: Chance and Design at Black Mountain College

BY HARRIET STAFFFuller_dome_web

Lucky us: Thanks to Cabinet Magazine, if you missed the launch for The Experimenters: Chance and Design at Black Mountain College(University of Chicago Press 2015), art historian Eva Díaz’s new book onBlack Mountain College, a terrific audio recording of the event is now up on their site. The recording includes a performance by musician Nick Hallett, a reading by poet Jeremy Sigler, and a conversation between Díaz and art historian Judith Rodenbeck about the book.

Listen up here.

More on the book from the press:

Díaz’s focus is on experimentation. [Josef] Albers, [John] Cage, and [Buckminster] Fuller, she shows, taught new models of art making that favored testing procedures rather than personal expression. These methodologies represented incipient directions for postwar art practice, elements of which would be sampled, and often wholly adopted, by Black Mountain students and subsequent practitioners. The resulting works, which interrelate art and life in a way that imbues these projects with crucial relevance, not only reconfigured the relationships among chance, order, and design—they helped redefine what artistic practice was, and could be, for future generations.

At top: Kenneth Snelson, R. Buckminster Fuller’s Dome, Demonstration of Strength, Black Mountain College, 1949. More on the event, which took place on February 12, at Cabinet.

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Posted in Poetry News on Friday, February 20th, 2015 by Harriet Staff.

Chance Conversations: An Interview with Merce Cunningham and John Cage

Uploaded on Jul 27, 2009

In the spring of 1981, during a residency at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, choreographer Merce Cunningham and composer John Cage sat down to discuss their work and artistic process. As frequent collaborators, Cage and Cunningham pioneered a new framework of performance. Their novel approach allowed for mediums to exist independently, or rather cohabitate, within a performance, thus abandoning the co-dependent model of dance and music. Cage and Cunningham go on to discuss the methodology and motivations behind chance operations, a term used to describe artistic decisions based on unpredictability. Wanting to free himself of his likes and dislikes, Cage describes how Zen Buddhism influenced his work, leading him to use tools of chance. These new methods, adopted by both Cunningham and Cage, overturned a whole foundation of thought around music, movement, and the process of creating art.

What is John Cage trying to demonstrate with his music? Here are comments from two bloggers that take a look at what Cage is trying to put forth.

____________________________

DESCRIBING THE STORM
CHAPTER FOUR
If there is no God, there can be no meaning for man except that which he creates for himself. Modern music
has expressed this concept in a most powerful way. One might well say that the history of modern music is the
story of man’s failure to attain to anything solid or permanent as he has sought to create his own meaning. We
look, then, at Modern Music…At this point we will quote from a European writer. He
is discussing the work of a well-known symphonic composer, Mr. John Cage. Here it will become clear that the
new framework of thinking does indeed explain some of the strange “happenings” in great concert halls of the
world.
The power of art to communicate ideas and emotions to organize life into meaningful patterns, and to
realize universal truths through the self-expressed individuality of the artist are only three of the
assumptions that Cage challenges. In place of a self-expressive art created by the imagination, tastes,
and desires of the artist, Cage proposes an art, born of chance and indeterminacy.
Back in the Chinese culture long ago the Chinese had worked out a system of tossing coins or yarrow
sticks by means of which the spirits would speak. The complicated method which they developed made
sure that the person doing the tossing would not allow his own personality to intervene. Self expression
was eliminated so that the spirits could speak.
Cage picks up this same system and uses it. He too seeks to get rid of any individual expression in his
music. But there is a very great difference. As far as Cage is concerned there is nobody there to speak.
There is only an impersonal universe speaking through blind chance.
Cage began to compose his music through the tossing of coins. It is said that for some of his pieces lasting
only twenty minutes he has tossed the coin thousands of times. This is pure chance, but apparently not pure enough, he wanted still more chance. So he devised a mechanical conductor. It was a machine working on cams, the motion of which cannot be determined ahead of time, and the musicians just followed this. Or, as an alternative to this, sometimes he employed two conductors who could not see each

other, both conducting simultaneously; anything, in fact, to produce pure chance. But in Cage’s universe
nothing comes through in the music except noise and confusion or total silence.
There is a story that once, after the musicians had played Cage’s total chance music, as he was bowing
to acknowledge the applause, there was a noise behind him. He thought it sounded like steam escaping
from somewhere, but then to his dismay realized it was the musicians behind him who were hissing.
Often his works have been booed. However, when the audience members boo at him they are, if they are
modern men, in reality booing the logical conclusion of their own position as it strikes their ears in music.
We might add that one of the “compositions” of John Cage is called “Silence.” It consists of precisely that: four
and a half minutes of total silence! One could almost laugh, if it were not so sad—and serious. But it is. When
man rejects God, and God’s word revelation to man, he ends up here—doomed to silence. For what can man say
(musically, or in any other way) in a universe that has no meaning? When man refuses to think—and speak —
God’s thoughts after Him, he is consigned to this predicament.

_____________

John Cage at Black Mountain College pictured on right.

______________________

NOWHERE ELSE TO TURN

CHANCE VERSUS DESIGN

In The God Who Is There, Francis Schaeffer refers to the American composer John Cage who believes that the universe is impersonal by nature and that it originated only through pure chance.  In an attempt to live consistently with this personal philosophy, Cage composes all of his music by various chance agencies.  He uses, among other things, the tossing of coins and the rolling of dice to make sure that no personal element enters into the final product.  The result is music that has no form, no structure and, for the most part, no appeal.  Though Cage’s professional life accurately reflects his belief in a universe that has no order, his personal life does not, for his favorite pastime is mycology, the collecting of mushrooms, and because of the potentially lethal results of picking a wrong mushroom, he cannot approach it on a purely by-chance basis.  Concerning that, he states: “I became aware that if I approached mushrooms in the spirit of my chance operations, I would die shortly.”  John Cage “believes” one thing, but practices another.  In doing so, he is an example of the person described in Romans 1:18 who “suppresses the truth of God,” for when faced with the certainty of order in the universe, he still clings to his theory of randomness.

______________

How Should We then Live Episode 7 small (Age of Nonreason)

#02 How Should We Then Live? (Promo Clip) Dr. Francis Schaeffer

10 Worldview and Truth

Two Minute Warning: How Then Should We Live?: Francis Schaeffer at 100

Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR

JOHN CAGE AT BLACK MOUNTAIN BY MARY EMMA HARRIS

A Preliminary Thinking
Mary Emma Harris

The occasion of the 2011 ReVIEWING BMC 3 conference sponsored by the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center and the University of North Carolina at Asheville was an opportunity for a first-thinking specifically about John Cage and Black Mountain College. This initial effort is to bring together basic information: when was he there, what did he accomplish while there, and the nature of his influence on the college and vice versa.

The extensive Black Mountain collections of  the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, North Carolina State Archives, Western Regional Branch at Oteen, North Carolina are referenced as NCSA and the title of the individual collection. 


At Black Mountain College in the summer of 1948, there was a rare coming together of kindred spirits in an environment receptive to interaction, experimentation, and a lively, imaginative exchange of ideas. The associations formed that summer were to be the catalyst for an expanding community of artists whose lives were inextricably interwoven through personal relationships, shared ideals and interests, and collaborations. The summer was to alter not only the artists’ lives but also the course of the arts in the United States in the Twentieth Century and beyond. This community of artists was not so much a circle as it was a magnetic field of forces within which there were many interlocking centers of energy. There were interactions, conflicts, connections, disconnections, attractions and repulsions.

Albers1

Josef Albers critiquing student work. Left to right: Frances Kuntz,
Hope Stephens (Foote), Lisa Jalowetz (Aronson), Bela Martin, Elizabeth Brett (Hamlin).
Courtesy NCSA, Black Mountain College Papers.

To understand the dynamics of the Black Mountain community in the summer of 1948, one must look back to the college’s founding ideals and the evolution of the community over time. The college founders knew from the beginning that the arts would be at the center of college life and the curriculum. They could not, however, have imagined when they brought Josef and Anni Albers from Germany in November 1933 that this single action would alter the history and influence of the college. A dynamic fusion of American Progressivism, as represented by the founders, and European Modernism, as represented by the refugee artists, was to be the catalyst for the evolution of a unique community. From American Progressivism, there was a sense of pioneering and naiveté, respect for manual work, and the integration of living and learning through community; from European Modernism, experimentation in the arts and a dynamic relationship to the past as it informs the present. In addition, the Alberses, along with the other refugee teachers, reinforced the founders’ idea that the practice of the arts should be central to the learning process. They brought an acceptance of the arts as an integral and necessary part of a culture, a respect for disciplined study, and a high professional standard. Their presence was a corrective to the emphasis on self-expression as an end in itself which so often characterized the Progressive Education movement.

The Black Mountain community as it evolved integrated studies with work on the farm and grounds maintenance, concerts and drama performances, parties, hikes in the mountains and other activities. The college was owned and administered by the faculty, and students and faculty served on the many committees that ran the college. Energies that might otherwise have been dispersed had the college been close to a major cultural center were concentrated and focused inward. Through the special summer sessions in the arts, the first of which was held in 1944, the college became known as a community-based learning environment receptive to exploration of new ideas and art forms.

John Cage and Merce Cunningham first visited Black Mountain in the spring of 1948. At the time there were eighty-six students. The G.I.s, who were older and more mature, were less willing to submit to authority than the younger students and eager to get on with their education. Their presence had re-energized the college. Josef Albers had returned reluctantly to teach and organize the summer session after a year-and- a-half’s sabbatical during which he had been able to concentrate on his painting. Ilya Bolotowsky, who had taught when Albers was away, remained for the 1948 spring term. Music was taught by two European refugees, Charlotte Schlesinger, composer and pianist, and Erwin Bodky, harpsichordist and clavichordist. Arthur Penn was student-teacher in drama. M.C. Richards taught reading and writing. There were workshops in printing, woodworking, weaving and bookbinding as well as classes in history, Latin, German, French, Russian, economics, business, social sciences, mathematics, chemistry, physics and farming.

In 1948, John Cage was experiencing a period of critical acceptance, if not one of financial success. On the West Coast he had been able to make a living composing music for dance using both conventional instruments and ones of his own devising. In the spring of 1942, he moved to New York. There his immersion into Eastern music and philosophies had led him to texts such as those of Ananda K. Coomaraswamy and the lectures of Dr. D.T. Suzuki at Columbia University. In Virgil Thomson he had found a sympathetic critic for performances of his music. His composition The Seasons, commissioned by Lincoln Kirstein and performed at the Ziegfield Theatre in New York on May 23, 1947, had been well-received as had a 1946 performance by Maro Ajemian of sections of his incomplete Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano. Cage’s marriage had ended, and he and Merce Cunningham had formed their life-long partnership. In 1946 he had moved into an apartment at 326 Monroe Street which was to house other colleagues including members of the expanding Black Mountain community.

In the spring of 1948, Cunningham’s situation was more tenuous than that of Cage. After six years as a soloist with the Martha Graham Dance Company, he had left to focus on his own choreography and independent dance. He had worked with different dancers including Katherine Litz and Jean Erdman and had begun to explore unconventional concepts. A review of the April 1948 visit noted that Cunningham and Cage worked together yet separately, having determined that dance and the rhythm of accompanying music are not interdependent.[i] 

 Albers2

Josef Albers, Merce Cunningham and John Cage at a community reception, April 1948. Felix Krowinski, photographer. © Black Mountain College Project.

In April 1948, Black Mountain College was the first stop on a two-person tour. Cunningham danced and gave classes; Cage gave the first complete performance of his Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano. As he prepared the piano in the dining hall, students and faculty stopped to watch the process and discuss what he was doing.  After the performance, everyone gathered in the community house for coffee and questions with the artists.  The review concluded: “The current of creative energy since their visit has illuminated the college both in creation and response.”[ii]

Att 1 BMC Bulletin, May 1948

In lieu of an honorarium which the college could not afford, faculty and students, enchanted by their performances and by their persona, filled their car with gifts of food and art work. From Chicago Cage wrote to Josef and Anni Albers:

“You were so friendly and Black Mountain was so good to be at, and the last minute gestures and gifts brought us a kind of ecstasy (the heads among the eggs were discovered near the summit of the Smokies where the mists made everything gently awe-inspiring. – you were as generous as they)….

“[F]or the most part this trip seems tending always toward what is beautiful and meaningful, and I can only say that we feel we were profoundly lucky to spend some days with you…. Being in New York without leaving it for so long had made me believe that only within each one of us singly can what we require come about, but now at Black Mountain and again with the Trappists I see that people can work still together. We have only ‘to imitate nature in her manner of operation’….

“We love the gifts you gave us, but especially loved being with you….’”[iii]

Cage and Cunningham were invited back for the summer session.

The now-legendary 1948 summer session organized by Josef Albers was the result of both careful planning and fortuitous circumstance. Cage and Cunningham arrived as planned. Their friend Richard Lippold, not wanting to be left out, volunteered to live with his family in their hearse, if only he could be there. The college found housing and offered an appointment as sculptor-in-residence. Peter Grippe was the official sculpture teacher. Mark Tobey, possibly recommended to Albers by Cage, cancelled at the last minute as did architect Bertrand Goldberg. Willem de Kooning, discouraged by his first one-person show at Egan Gallery at which nothing sold, agreed to replace Tobey. Goldberg recommended Buckminster Fuller. Other summer faculty and lecturers included Beatrice Pitney Lamb, Isaac Rosenfeld, Beaumont Newhall, Winslow Ames, and Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. Students included Hazel Larsen Archer, Ruth Asawa, Lili Blumenau, Etta Mandelbaum (Deikman), Gustave Falk, James Leo Herlihy, Warren Jennerjahn, Elizabeth Schmitt Jennerjahn, Ray Johnson, Albert Lanier, Lore Kadden (Lindenfeld), Harry Noland, Kenneth Noland, Mary Phelan Outten, Warren Outten, Pat Passlof, Arthur Penn, Oli Sihvonen, Sewell Sillman, Kenneth Snelson, Paul Williams, and Vera Baker Williams.

Elaine de Kooning recalled Willem de Kooning’s first reaction on entering the rustic unkempt grounds: “‘I feel like turning around and going home’.” Reassured by Albers’ warm welcome: “Ach so, the de Koonings,” they remained. “The school activities engulfed us like a warm breeze.” [iv] Guest faculty were not told what or how to teach. For some the freedom was disconcerting; others saw it as an opportunity to undertake projects which in a different setting would have required scrutiny by sponsors, advance publicity and extensive funding. They taught their current passion, projects on which they were working at that time. Thus, the students had the benefit of the excitement and uncertainty that comes with new learning.

Fuller

Buckminster Fuller and students.
Supine Dome with model in foreground. Summer 1948.
Beaumont Newhall, photographer. Courtesy Scheinbaum & Russek Ltd.

Buckminster Fuller, described by Kenneth Snelson as “a summer substitute for a legitimate architect,”[v] arrived a couple of weeks after the session started with his trailer of intriguing models. He captivated and confounded the audience with his first very long lecture. Snelson recalled that he was “absolutely hypnotized and electrified”,[vi] and Lippold that it was “like meeting Zoroaster speaking Islamic.”[vii] Fuller’s project for the summer was to construct his first geodesic dome of Venetian blind strips, christened in good humor the “Supine Dome” when it failed to rise.

CageJohn Cage playing for the Satie Festival. Clemens Kalischer, photographer. Courtesy Kalischer.

RuseofMedusaErik Satie’s Ruse of Medusa (Le piège de Mĕduse) with Buckminster Fuller as the Baron Meduse, William Shrauger as Astolfo, Elaine de Kooning as Frisette and Merce Cunningham as Jonas, a costly Mechanical Monkey. Clemens Kalischer, photographer. Courtesy Kalischer.

Cage conducted an Amateur Festival of the Music of Erik Satie. He gave twenty-five half-hour after-dinner concerts performed at times on the grand piano in the dining hall and at times on the upright in his house while the audience sat outside in the grass. The culmination was a performance of Satie’s Ruse of Medusa (Le piège de Mĕduse).

Att 2 RUSE OF MEDUSA  PROGRAM

The Satie concerts might have been experienced simply as a delightful after-dinner entertainment had Cage not stated in his lecture “Defense of Satie” “immediately and unequivocally [that] Beethoven was in error [in his definition of harmony as the basic structural element of music composition], and his influence, which has been as extensive as it is lamentable, has been deadening to the art of music.”[viii] He offered as remedy Webern and Satie’s perception of time lengths as the basic structural component. Erwin Bodky, who was concurrent with the Satie Festival sponsoring a series of concerts of the music of Beethoven, took exception, and soon the entire community was lined up on one side or the other. The crisis was finally resolved by a duel with one side armed with Wiener schnitzel and the other with crêpe suzette (certainly only semblances thereof).

Cage played the piano for a dance concert by Merce Cunningham, Louise Lippold and Sara Hamill on August 20. Three of the pieces by Cage were composed that summer: In a Landscape, choreographed and danced by Louise Lippold; Suite for Toy Piano with a dance A Diversion choreographed and danced by Cunningham, Sara Hamill and Louise Lippold; and Orestes with choreography by Merce Cunningham. Dream, composed in New York, was choreographed and performed by Cunningham. Also included in the concert wereTotem Ancestor (1942) and Root of an Unfocus (1944).[ix]

Att 3 CUNNINGHAM DANCE PROGRAM (371)

For Cage the friendships forged in the summer of 1948 were to be the fulcrum of a community of artists who were to be critical to his career. Between Fuller and Cage, both “inventors of genius,”[x] an immediate bond was forged, one that was not dependent on physical presence or collaboration. It was enough for each to know that the other was out there somewhere. Ray Johnson and Richard Lippold fell in love, and both moved into the Monroe Street building.

TudorRichards

David Tudor and M.C. Richards at Black Mountain College.
Mary Ann Fretz Giusti, photographer.

Although it has been suggested that the three-year interval between 1948 and Cage’s return to the college in the summer of 1952 was a consequence of lingering hostility over the Beethoven-Satie controversy, there was, in fact, a close relationship between Cage and Black Mountain during this period. At the end of the summer, Albers wrote to Cage, “How can we thank you appropriately for all you did for us this summer? Therefore I say only, God Bless you.”[xi] Bodky resigned at the end of the 1949 summer session. In 1950 Cage dedicated his Six Melodies for Violin and Keyboard to Josef and Anni Albers. On August 12, 1950 Cage’sString Quartet in Four Parts received its first performance by the Summer Session String Quartet led by Vollmer Hetherington, who replaced Bodky on the faculty. On August 18, 1951, David Tudor performed Cage’s Music of Changes, Part 1.

Att 4 TUDOR PROGAM 18 AUGUST (905)

On the recommendation of Cunningham, Katherine Litz taught dance, and Cage recommended the composer Lou Harrison. After M.C. Richards left in 1951 to live with David Tudor in New York, she returned for summer sessions and retained close contact with both the college and Charles Olson, the commanding personality there after his return in the summer of 1951.

Cage’s three-year absence from Black Mountain was undoubtedly a consequence of other obligations and activities. His Sonatas and Interludes had its New York premiere in 1949. It resulted in a Guggenheim Fellowship for Cage and a trip to Europe where he completed his collection of Satie scores. In New York he had formed a friendship with Morton Feldman and had discovered the I Chingwhich led to his use of chance operations as a method of composition. Whereas in 1948 Cage was enjoying a period of critical acceptance, by 1952 when he returned to Black Mountain for a second summer, he was receiving scathing reviews and had been abandoned by many of his peers.

After the 1948 summer there were essentially two parallel Black Mountains, the North Carolina community whose members often spent their long winter break in New York and those who lived in New York and who were at the college for shorter teaching assignments or as visitors. Many had never been at Black Mountain at the same time. They met at parties, events such as concerts and exhibition openings, at The Club, and in passing on the street. Between 1948 and Cage’s return in 1952, his Black Mountain community had expanded to include other Black Mountain students: lighting director Nick Cernovich, psychologist and artist Irwin Kremin, and artists Robert Rauschenberg and Susan Weil, who had enrolled at Black Mountain in the fall of 1948. Although it often is assumed that Rauschenberg and Cage met at Black Mountain, it was probably on the 1948-49 winter break in New York that they first met.

Cage returned to Black Mountain for the 1952 summer session. Guest faculty included Franz Kline and Jack Tworkov in art, Cunningham in dance, and, of course, Cage in music. Sewell ‘Si’ Sillman, a former Albers student, returned to teach color. Drawing was taught by Charles Oscar, Katherine Litz’s husband. Karen Karnes and David Weinrib taught ceramics.  Lou Harrison, who had received a Guggenheim fellowship to work on his opera Rapunzel,was resident composer, and Stefan Wolpe, who was to replace Harrison in the fall, taught music. David Tudor gave concerts.

Cage’s proposed curriculum was to have students work on hisWilliams Mix, a composition of electronic music for which former Black Mountain student Paul Williams had provided funding. The composition required the tedious cutting and splicing of tape according to a score created by Cage from chance operations. The students were not interested, and Cage subsequently recalled that the most significant teaching at Black Mountain took place in the animated and extended conversations in the dining hall.

diningandauditorium

College dining hall and auditorium.
NCSA, Black Mountain College Papers.

Despite his lack of students, for Cage the summer was significant. Robert Rauschenberg had returned in the summer of 1951 with Cy Twombly and remained through the 1952 summer.  His all-white paintings which Cage first viewed that summer were inspiration for his reputation-breaking silent piece 4’33” which is dedicated to Black Mountain student Irwin Kremin and which was first performed by David Tudor on August 29, 1952 at the Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock. New York. In addition, one of Cage’sHaiku was published by Lou Harrison’s Black Mountain College Music Press on September 1, 1952.[xii]

Att 5 JOHN CAGE HAIKU

On August 9, David Tudor performed Cage’s Music of Changes, and on August 12, his Two Pastorales and Water Music (August 12, 1952). A small program printed on tissue paper and glued to a program for the August 9 performance announces a second Black Mountain performance of the Sonatas and Interludes.

Att 6 1952 AUGUST 9 11 TUDORAtt 7 TUDOR PROGRAM 12 AUG 1952) (908)
Att 8 1952 AUGUST 16 SONATAS AND INTERLUDES

In August Cage staged Theater Piece #1 (Black Mountain Piece), which subsequently came to be known as the first “happening.” Undoubtedly the Light Sound Movement Workshop taught by Warren ‘Pete’ Jennerjahn from 1949-51, theater performances directed by Wesley Huss, and Charles Olson’s interest in ritual as an alternative to conventional theater had created an environment receptive to Cage’s ideas. Another influence was Antonin Artaud’sThe Theatre and Its Double (Grove Press, 1958) which M.C. Richards was translating in New York and reading to the community as she worked. Cage recalled that it was from Artaud that he determined that action and text need not be interdependent. The seats were placed in four triangles with wide aisles between. Cage noted that, unlike the theater-in-the-round where action takes place only in the center, in the “happening” action occurred in the center, the aisles and around the audience.[xiii] The “script” for the performance assigned time slots determined by chance operations to different participants including Cage, Cunningham, M.C. Richards, Charles Olson, Robert Rauschenberg, and David Tudor. As has been noted in numerous sources, memories vary according to just who did what and where it occurred. This disparity in accounts is a reflection both of the fact that each person had a different view of the event and of an assumed-insignificance of the performance at that time.

Cunningham taught both at Black Mountain and at the Burnsville School of Fine Arts, a project of The Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (University of North Carolina at Greensboro) in nearby Burnsville, North Carolina. Among his Black Mountain students that summer were Viola Farber, who was to become a principal dancer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company; Timothy LaFarge, who danced briefly with the company; and Harvey Lichtenstein. As executive director of the Brooklyn Academy of Music from 1967-99, Lichtenstein invited emerging and experimental artists including Cage and Cunningham for performances. At Burnsville, Cunningham choreographed a performance of Brigadoon and performed the role of Harry Beaton. The musical was performed at The Parkway Playhouse on August 15-16,18-19. Cage was listed as faculty in publications, but it is not clear whether or what he taught. On July 28 he performed hisSonatas and Interludes there.

The 1953 summer was the last big summer program at Black Mountain.  Cage visited although he did not teach. The focus for the summer was on ceramics with Peter Voulkos, Warren Mackenzie and Daniel Rhodes as teachers. Painting was taught by Esteban Vicente. Stefan Wolpe organized a series of concerts with Irma Wolpe, Josef Marx, Seymour Barab, Rudolph Benetsky, and Abraham Miskind. Merce Cunningham returned for a third summer with a group of dancers with whom he had been working in New York. He designates that summer of intense choreography, rehearsal and performance as the founding of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Tudor performed Cages’s Music for Piano 4-19 (May 1953) in July at the “Waterfront Auditorium.”

In the fall, faced with a diminishing faculty, student body and income, the college abandoned the lower campus including the Studies Building, the dining hall, and the dormitories and moved into faculty cottages. In New York the Monroe Street “Bozza Mansion” which had provided Cage and friends and collaborators with cheap rent in the company of friends and peers was being demolished.  He along with other Black Mountain students and faculty needed inexpensive housing and craved the sense of community they had experienced both at Black Mountain and in the Monroe Street building.  Paul Williams, who had received an inheritance from his father, and his wife Vera Baker Williams suggested they form a Black-Mountain-like community within commuting distance of New York City in a natural environment similar to that of the college. The Gatehill Cooperative Community — “The Land” — was formed in 1954 with John Cage, David Tudor, M.C. Richards, David Weinrib, Karen Karnes, Vera Baker Wiliams and Paul Williams as founding members. Musician Patsy Lynch Wood, who was married to LaNoue Davenport, and Betsy Weinrib Williams, Paul Williams second wife and David Weinrib’s sister, were part of the community. Stanley VanDerBeek had a dome studio there.

Vanderbeek

Stan Vanderbeek studio at The Land.
Mary Emma Harris, photographer.

Cage’s influence on Black Mountain was significant. It was his recommendation of Lou Harrison in 1952 that assured a role for the most vanguard music at the college. On his visits David Tudor performed music by Arnold Schoenberg, Morton Feldman, Stefan Wolpe, Anton Webern, Henry Cowell, Pierre Boulez, Christian Wolff, Lou Harrison, and, of course, John Cage. Although Cage had few students, his comment that the most important teaching took place in the dining hall captures the essential Black Mountain. One can only imagine the lively and challenging exchange of ideas and the undocumented impact of these conversations on the work of the participants.

The influence of Black Mountain College on John Cage was profound. At the college he came into contact with individuals who were to be his physical, intellectual and spiritual community for the remainder of his life.  Some were to be close friends and collaborators; with others he was to have more peripheral associations. The Land, where he lived from 1954 until he moved back into New York City, provided him with an extended family celebrating holidays, birthdays and other occasions. At a point in his career when he became increasing alienated from his peers, this community of kindred spirits was a critical support. Black Mountain College was for Cage and others a touchstone, a shared bond, and an instant act of recognition and inclusion.

 


[i] Black Mountain College Bulletin, Vol. 6, No. 4 (May 1948).

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] John Cage to Josef and Anni Albers, Spring 1948. Courtesy of the Josef & Anni Albers Foundation, Bethany, Connecticut and the John Cage Trust. Cage and Cunningham visited a Trappist monastery, probably The Abbey of Gethsemani near Bardston, Kentucky, after leaving Black Mountain.

[iv] Elaine de Kooning, “De Kooning Memories: Starting Out in the 1940s, a Personal Account,” Vogue, No. 3921 (December 1983):352,394.

[v] Snelson interview by Mary Emma Harris, 25 May 1972, NCSA, Black Mountain College Research Project Papers.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Richard Lippold interview by Mary Emma Harris, NCSA, Black Mountain College Research Project Papers.

[viii] John Cage, “Defense of Satie,” in John Cage, ed. Richard Kostelanetz (New York: Praeger, 1970):81.

[ix] The website www.johncageinfo.com (which no longer is online (2013)) noted that the score for Experiences II has a mention of Black Mountain. There is no known record of its having been performed there.

[x] “Inventor of genius” was the phrase used by Arnold Schoenberg to describe Cage’s musical gifts.

[xi] Josef Albers to John Cage, 7 September 1948, NCSA, Black Mountain College Papers.

[xii] The text for the Haiku reads “Autography by the composer. Editor, Lou Harrison. Designer and / printer, Carroll Williams. Printed with Bauer Futura types / and a zink [sic] line cut on Omi-V for the envelopes and Kochi / for the mnsic [sic] at the Black Mountain College Music Press,  Black / Mountain College, Black Mountain, North Carolina, in the / first edition of three-hundred on the first of September, 1952.”

____________

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FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 54 THE BEATLES (Part F, Sgt Pepper’s & Eastern Religion) (Feature on artist Richard Lindner )

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 53 THE BEATLES (Part E, Stg. Pepper’s and John Lennon’s search in 1967 for truth was through drugs, money, laughter, etc & similar to King Solomon’s, LOTS OF PICTURES OF JOHN AND CYNTHIA) (Feature on artist Yoko Ono)

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 52 THE BEATLES (Part D, There is evidence that the Beatles may have been exposed to Francis Schaeffer!!!) (Feature on artist Anna Margaret Rose Freeman )

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 51 THE BEATLES (Part C, List of those on cover of Stg.Pepper’s ) (Feature on artist Raqib Shaw )

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 50 THE BEATLES (Part B, The Psychedelic Music of the Beatles) (Feature on artist Peter Blake )

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 49 THE BEATLES (Part A, The Meaning of Stg. Pepper’s Cover) (Feature on artist Mika Tajima)

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 48 “BLOW UP” by Michelangelo Antonioni makes Philosophic Statement (Feature on artist Nancy Holt)

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 47 Woody Allen and Professor Levy and the death of “Optimistic Humanism” from the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS Plus Charles Darwin’s comments too!!! (Feature on artist Rodney Graham)

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 46 Friedrich Nietzsche (Featured artist is Thomas Schütte)

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 21 (Dr. Lawrence Krauss, theoretical physicist and cosmologist at Arizona State, “…most scientists don’t think enough about God…There’s no evidence that we need any supernatural hand of God”)

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! PART 20 (Carolyn Porco, director of CICLOPS, Like Darwin she gave up her Christianity because of Evolution & is obsessed both with the Beatles & the thought that the human race may end!!)

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! PART 19 ( Sir John Walker, Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry, Like Darwin he gave up his Christianity with great difficulty )

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! PART 18 (Brian Harrison, Historian, Oxford University, Charles Darwin also wrestled with the issue of Biblical Archaeology and the accuracy of the Bible)

March 24, 2015 – 12:57 am

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FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 9 Jasper Johns (Feature on artist Cai Guo-Qiang )

Why am I doing this series FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE? John Fischer probably expressed it best when he noted:

Schaeffer was the closest thing to a “man of sorrows” I have seen. He could not allow himself to be happy when most of the world was desperately lost and he knew why. He was the first Christian I found who could embrace faith and the despair of a lost humanity all at the same time. Though he had been found, he still knew what it was to be lost.

Schaeffer was the first Christian leader who taught me to weep over the world instead of judging it. Schaeffer modeled a caring and thoughtful engagement in the history of philosophy and its influence through movies, novels, plays, music, and art. Here was Schaeffer, teaching at Wheaton College about the existential dilemma expressed in Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 film, Blowup, when movies were still forbidden to students. He didn’t bat an eye. He ignored our legalism and went on teaching because he had been personally gripped by the desperation of such cultural statements.

Schaeffer taught his followers not to sneer at or dismiss the dissonance in modern art. He showed how these artists were merely expressing the outcome of the presuppositions of the modern era that did away with God and put all conclusions on a strictly human, rational level. Instead of shaking our heads at a depressing, dark, abstract work of art, the true Christian reaction should be to weep for the lost person who created it. Schaeffer was a rare Christian leader who advocated understanding and empathizing with non-Christians instead of taking issue with them.

In ART AND THE BIBLE  Francis Schaeffer observed, “Modern art often flattens man out and speaks in great abstractions; But as Christians, we see things otherwise. Because God has created individual man in His own image and because God knows and is interested in the individual, individual man is worthy of our painting and of our writing!!”

(Francis Schaeffer pictured below)

Recently I visited a museum and saw this piece of work by Jasper Johns:

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Here is an explanation of the work by the staff of CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM:

“I DON’T GET IT” : GETTING COMFORTABLE WITH SOME OF CRYSTAL BRIDGES’ MOST CHALLENGING WORKS: JASPER JOHNS

January 8, 2014 by 
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Categories: ArtistsArtworks.

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in galleryMuseum guests are sometimes surprised when they draw close to Jasper Johns’s monochromatic painting Alphabets. From a distance it looks like a grid of rectangles painted in shades of gray.  It’s not until the viewer draws close that the letter forms become visible in each block.

They might just as well all be question marks for some visitors.

What on earth was Johns trying to say with this work? 

Jasper Johns “Alphabets” (detail) 1960/1962 Oil on paper mounted on canvas

A close look reveals that the alphabet is repeated, over and over in sequence, from left to right, top to bottom, one letter per square. The letters are styled after those in common stencil patterns, but it’s clear they are painted by hand: some sharp, some almost dissolving into the background, but each letter lined up in regimented rows. In many boxes the paint is thick, the letters seeming almost pressed into the soft surface of the ground. In others the edges of the box are smeared, imprecise.  And yet the overall effect is of a carefully drawn grid of meaningless type. Like old-fashioned rows of dull lead typesetters type: The painting seems full of the potential for meaning, but….what does it mean?

In the middle of the twentieth century, and led by the American Abstract Expressionists, art became increasingly removed from the practice of representation. While the Ab Ex painters eschewed making paintings that looked like something else in favor of large gestures, drips, and splatters intended be spontaneous: to represent the interior emotional life of the artist; other painters sought to strip away all illusion in their work, insisting that a painting be a painting—color, shape, and line in paint on a flat canvas, independent of meaning. The critic Clement Greenberg wrote that “Content is to be dissolved so completely into form that the work of art…cannot be reduced in whole or in part to anything not itself.”

Artists like Johns began to question this approach, and to experiment with ways to create or imply meaning in their work. Johns is best known for his early FLAG PAINTINGS, which also provide a basis for understanding some of the ideas he was working with in Alphabets.  Johns’ representations of the American flag were, indeed, flat paintings; yet they were also fraught with all the many levels and nuances of meaning that a symbol as powerful as a national flag can carry. The paintings were representations of a flag, yes, but also, like actual flags, the works were simply color on cloth: not just the symbol of the thing, but perhaps in a way the thing itself.

Alphabet detail very close

Jasper Johns
“Alphabets” (detail), 1960 / 1962
Oil on paper mounted on canvas

The alphabet painting works in a similar fashion. It is, without a doubt, a painting. The letters and the boxes that contain them are rendered in a highly “painterly” way, emphasizing the fact of the painting as a work of art—hand-crafted using daubs of thick paint on a flat surface. Yet the artist’s exclusive use of gray in the painting is a nod to the black-and-white of print—an oblique reference to the letters as type, not paint, as is the placement of each letter in a box like the lead type once used in printing.

Alphabet detail medium

Jasper Johns “Alphabets” (detail) 1960/1962 Oil on paper mounted on canvas

Johns deliberately selected the alphabet as his subject because it is the basis for all our written language, the building blocks of print (there are those boxes again). And yet the shapes of the letters bear no meaning on their own. Without an understanding of the written code, the letters are just shapes (consider how lost English-language readers feel when faced with a line of Chinese characters, for example). The lines of letters make no words, and yet they are aligned in the familiar order we are taught as children, from a to z, left to right, top to bottom.  It is possible to “read” the painting this way and make sense of it:  Aha! It’s the alphabet!  (Meaning!) This particular sequence of letters, like the stars and stripes of our flag, is heavily loaded with all the potential meanings the alphabet represents, from the simple phrases of Dick and Jane to Man’s Search for Meaning.  And yet, each of the letters is just a letter, devoid of literal meaning.

So:   Is Alphabets just a painting? A representation of a thing?  Or a thing itself?  In a way the painting really IS a big question mark:  How do we glean meaning from a work of art?

Listen in on a conversation between Crystal Bridges President Don Bacigalupi and Creative Director Anna Vernon as they discuss the puzzle of Jasper John’sAlphabets.

Jasper Johns painting below:

Jasper Johns pictured below:

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Francis Schaeffer in his book ART AND THE BIBLE noted:

I am convinced that one of the reasons men spend millions making art museums is not just so that there will be something “aesthetic,” but because the art works in them are an expression of the mannishness of man himself. When I look at the pre-Colombian silver of African masks or ancient Chinese bronzes, not only do I see them as works of art, but I see them as expressions of the nature and character of humanity. As a man, in a certain way they are myself, and I see there the outworking of the creativity that is inherent in the nature of man.

Many modern artists, it seems to me, have forgotten the value that art has in itself. Much modern art is far too intellectual to be great art. I am thinking, for example, of such an artist as Jasper Johns. Many modern artists do not see the distinction between man and non-man, and it is a part of the lostness of modern man that they no longer see value in the work of art. 

Charles Darwin’s view that man is no more than a product of chance of time is the major reason many people have come to believe that there is no real “distinction between man and non-man.” Darwin himself felt this tension. Recently I read the  book Charles Darwin: his life told in an autobiographical chapter, and in a selected series of his published letters  and I noticed that Darwin himself blamed his views of science for making him lose his aesthetic tastes and his enjoyment of the beauty of nature. Below are some quotes from Darwin and some comments on them from the Christian Philosopher Francis Schaeffer.

I have said that in one respect my mind has changed during the last twenty or thirty years. Up to the age of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds, such as the works of Milton, Gray, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Shelley, gave me great pleasure, and even as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare, especially in the historical plays. I have also said that formerly pictures gave me considerable, and music very great delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost my taste for pictures or music. Music generally sets me thinking too energetically on what I have been at work on, instead of giving me pleasure. I retain some taste for fine scenery, but it does not cause me the exquisite delight which it formerly did….

This curious and lamentable loss of the higher aesthetic tastes is all the odder, as books on history, biographies, and travels (independently of any scientific facts which they may contain), and essays on all sorts of subjects interest me as much as ever they did. My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive. A man with a mind more highly organised or better constituted than mine, would not, I suppose, have thus suffered; and if I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.

Francis Schaeffer commented:

This is the old man Darwin writing at the end of his life. What he is saying here is the further he has gone on with his studies the more he has seen himself reduced to a machine as far as aesthetic things are concerned. I think this is crucial because as we go through this we find that his struggles and my sincere conviction is that he never came to the logical conclusion of his own position, but he nevertheless in the death of the higher qualities as he calls them, art, music, poetry, and so on, what he had happen to him was his own theory was producing this in his own self just as his theories a hundred years later have produced this in our culture. I don’t think you can hold the evolutionary position as he held it without becoming a machine. What has happened to Darwin personally is merely a forerunner to what occurred to the whole culture as it has fallen in this world of pure material, pure chance and later determinism. Here he is in a situation where his mannishness has suffered in the midst of his own position.

Darwin, C. R. to Doedes, N. D.2 Apr 1873

“It is impossible to answer your question briefly; and I am not sure that I could do so, even if I wrote at some length. But I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide.”

Francis Schaeffer observed:

So he sees here exactly the same that I would labor and what Paul gives in Romans chapter one, and that is first this tremendous universe [and it’s form] and the second thing, the mannishness of man and the concept of this arising from chance is very difficult for him to come to accept and he is forced to leap into this, his own kind of Kierkegaardian leap, but he is forced to leap into this because of his presuppositions but when in reality the real world troubles him. He sees there is no third alternative. If you do not have the existence of God then you only have chance. In my own lectures I am constantly pointing out there are only two possibilities, either a personal God or this concept of the impersonal plus time plus chance and Darwin understood this . You will notice that he divides it into the same exact two points that Paul does in Romans chapter one into…

Here below is the Romans passage that Schaeffer is referring to and verse 19 refers to what Schaeffer calls “the mannishness of man” and verse 20 refers to Schaeffer’s other point which is  “the universe and it’s form.”Romans 1:18-22Amplified Bible (AMP) 18 For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative. 19 For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them. 20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification], 21 Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor andglorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves].

Francis Schaeffer noted that in Darwin’s 1876 Autobiography that Darwin  is going to set forth two arguments for God in this and again you will find when he comes to the end of this that he is in tremendous tension. Darwin wrote, 

At the present day the most usual argument for the existence of an intelligent God is drawn from the deep inward conviction and feelings which are experienced by most persons. Formerly I was led by feelings such as those just referred to (although I do not think that the religious sentiment was ever strongly developed in me), to the firm conviction of the existence of God and of the immortality of the soul. In my Journal I wrote that whilst standing in the midst of the grandeur of a Brazilian forest, ‘it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and devotion which fill and elevate the mind.’ I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body; but now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become colour-blind.

Francis Schaeffer remarked:

Now Darwin says when I look back and when I look at nature I came to the conclusion that man can not be just a fly! But now Darwin has moved from being a younger man to an older man and he has allowed his presuppositions to enter in to block his logic. These things at the end of his life he had no intellectual answer for. To block them out in favor of his theory. Remember the letter of his that said he had lost all aesthetic senses when he had got older and he had become a clod himself. Now interesting he says just the same thing, but not in relation to the arts, namely music, pictures, etc, but to nature itself. Darwin said, “But now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions  and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become colour-blind…” So now you see that Darwin’s presuppositions have not only robbed him of the beauty of man’s creation in art, but now the universe. He can’t look at it now and see the beauty. The reason he can’t see the beauty is for a very, very , very simple reason: THE BEAUTY DRIVES HIM TO DISTRACTION. THIS IS WHERE MODERN MAN IS AND IT IS HELL. The art is hell because it reminds him of man and how great man is, and where does it fit in his system? It doesn’t. When he looks at nature and it’s beauty he is driven to the same distraction and so consequently you find what has built up inside him is a real death, not  only the beauty of the artistic but the beauty of nature. He has no answer in his logic and he is left in tension.  He dies and has become less than human because these two great things (such as any kind of art and the beauty of  nature) that would make him human  stand against his theory.

Adrian Rogers on Darwinism and Time and Chance:

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A Christian Manifesto Francis Schaeffer

Published on Dec 18, 2012

A video important to today. The man was very wise in the ways of God. And of government. Hope you enjoy a good solis teaching from the past. The truth never gets old.

The Roots of the Emergent Church by Francis Schaeffer

Francis Shaeffer – The early church (part1)

Francis Shaeffer – The early church (part 2)

Francis Shaeffer – The early church (part 3)

Francis Shaeffer – The early church (part 4)

Francis Shaeffer – The early church (part 5)

How Should We then Live Episode 7 small (Age of Nonreason)

#02 How Should We Then Live? (Promo Clip) Dr. Francis Schaeffer

10 Worldview and Truth

Two Minute Warning: How Then Should We Live?: Francis Schaeffer at 100

Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR

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Art and the Bible by Francis A. Schaeffer

By  on January 18, 2014

art-and-the-bible1

An interesting book, recommended to me by my tutor Sharon, this book looks at art and Christianity, I was interested to see that many of the people talking about this book feel a great sense of relief at his words, as he talks about how the bible views art and how God commends Christians to decorate the temple with art. there are two views on art covered here those related to religious works of art and those relating to how Christians should react to non religious  works of art.

As a Christian I have to confess I have not had any personal problem with art be it religious or otherwise, I can’t say I have spent any time looking at satanic art nore do I really have any wish to.

Schaeffer says that all art should be take first at face value and technical excellence should always be acknowledged, he claims that many artists have be pushed aside becaue of a dislike of their subject rather than their skill. His central point is that God is Lord of all of creation, therefore art is not excluded from His domain, and Christians may therefore both create and view art with good conscience.

Further he gives us guidance on how to proceed with art:

1) The art work as an art work

Firstly “A work of art has a value in itself” so how should an artist begin a work of art, he says “I would insist that he begin his work as an artist by setting out to make a work of art” (Sound familiar)

Secondly he argues that man is created in the image of God and therefore has the capacity to create, and this ability is what differentiates us from “non man” he also argues that we must take care because not every creation is great art

Thirdly he argues that the artist makes a body of work that shows his wold views, he sights Leonardo and Michelangelo and suggests that no one looking at their work can do so without understanding their world view.

2) Art forms add strength to the world view

He argues that a work of art adds something to the world view that the item itself cannot, he sights that when you look at a side of beef hanging in a butchers shop it has much less impact than the painting in the Louvre by Rembrandt of the same name. I have to say I see what he means by this by the same token there are places I have been to that have a more deep meaning than others simply because I too a favored photograph there  I think particularly of\ the screaming bridge in Cincinnati where I took my life into my own hands standing under it in the dark to get that shot or the King and Queen buildings in Atlanta where my friend who lives there spent an evening with me breaking into corporate parking garages to get the perfect shot from the top, these may be significant because of the work to get them bu how about the plain old water tower in Chicago that has ended up in my portfolio I remember that because of the photo not because of the shoot so I resonate with this point.

3) Normal Definition normal Syntax

He argues that we can use rich language and disassociate our work from the normal use and syntax but people will not understand what we are saying as there is no point of reference, he quotes Shakespeare as a master of this by keeping enough normal syntax and definitions that he holds the audience through his far flung metaphors and beautiful verbal twists and because there is a firm core of continuity and straight forward propositions we understand what Shakespeare is saying.

4) Art and the sacred

He starts by quoting that “The fact that something is a work of art does not make it sacred” he says that as Christians we must see that just because an artist portrays a world view it does not mean that we should automatically accept that world view, “Art heightens a world view it does not make it true. The truth of a world view presented by an artist must be judged on separate grounds than artistic greatness”

5) Four standards of Judgement

Schaeffer claims that there are four basic standards of judgement that should be applied to a work of art

  1. Technical excellence
  2. Validity
  3. Intellectual content
  4. The integration of content and vehicle

6) Art can be used for any type of message

Here he proposes that art can be factual or fantasy, and just because a thing takes the for of a work of art does not mean it cannot be factual

7) Changing Styles

Here Schaeffer proposes that many people will reject art just because the style is new or controversial he says its OK for Christians to reject art based on intellect i.e. an understanding of the world view it proposes but it is not OK to reject it simply because the style is different. He says “Styles of art form change and there is nothing wrong with this”

He points out that he writes in English and so does Chaucer but there is quite a difference between the two, there is an essential essence to change that is not wrong.

8) Modern Art forms and the Christian message

Schaeffer points out that styles are independent of the Christian message however it is possible to distort a message by the misuse of a style, he claims that scholars say this it is almost impossible to use Sanskrit to preach a Christian message I have no idea if that is true but his meaning is clear its a bit like using the wrong tool for the job whilest you may be able to drive a nail into a wall with the handle of a screw driver you will probably get much better results with a hammer. I think this is the point he is trying to make.

9) The Christan world view

Schaeffer divides the Christian World view into major and minor themes, the minor theme relates to the abnormality of the revolting world i.e men who have turned from God and the defeated and sinful side of the Christian life. the major theme is the opposite and is about meaningfulness and purposefulness of life.

I have to admit this section made my head spin a little and I think I will have to re read it but the conclusion was that an Artist needs to ensure they focus sufficient time on the major theme.

10) The subject matter of Christian art

In this section Schaeffer reminds us that not all Christian art has to be religious, he points out that God created  everything and so if he created cherry blossom why should an artist not create art based on that cherry blossom. It suggests that almost anything is fair game because God created everything. He quotes that Christianity is not just involved with Salvation  but with the total man in the total world. The Christian message begins with the existence of God forever then with creation. It does not begin with salvation. We should be thankful for salvation but remember that the Christian message is so much more than that. He also points out that religious subjects are not necessarily Christian.

11) An individual art work and the body of an artists work

“Every artist has the problem of making an individual work of art and, as well building up a total body of work” No artist can build everything he wants to say into one piece of work therefore we should not judge an artist on one piece of his work but rather on the whole body of his work.

Conclusion

This book works on the notion that there are many Christians out there who are afraid of creating graven images and so steer clear of of artistic creativity Schaeffer argues skillfully that the act of creating art is in itself a Christian thing that should be celebrated. I enjoyed reading this book it solved for me a problem I don’t think I ever had, probably through ignorance however I can now argue through knowledge that I don’t have a problem now I have read this book.

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Francis Schaeffer has written extensively on art and culture spanning the last 2000years and here are some posts I have done on this subject before : Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 10 “Final Choices” episode 9 “The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence”episode 8 “The Age of Fragmentation”episode 7 “The Age of Non-Reason” episode 6 “The Scientific Age” episode 5 “The Revolutionary Age” ,  episode 4 “The Reformation” episode 3 “The Renaissance”episode 2 “The Middle Ages,”, and  episode 1 “The Roman Age,” . My favorite episodes are number 7 and 8 since they deal with modern art and culture primarily.(Joe Carter rightly noted, “Schaefferwho always claimed to be an evangelist and not aphilosopher—was often criticized for the way his work oversimplifiedintellectual history and philosophy.” To those critics I say take a chill pillbecause Schaeffer was introducing millions into the fields of art andculture!!!! !!! More people need to read his works and blog about thembecause they show how people’s worldviews affect their lives!

J.I.PACKER WROTE OF SCHAEFFER, “His communicative style was not thaof acautious academiwho labors foexhaustive coverage and dispassionate objectivity. It was rather that of an impassioned thinker who paints his vision of eternal truth in bold strokes and stark contrasts.Yet it is a fact that MANY YOUNG THINKERS AND ARTISTS…HAVE FOUND SCHAEFFER’S ANALYSES A LIFELINE TO SANITY WITHOUT WHICH THEY COULD NOT HAVE GONE ON LIVING.”

Francis Schaeffer’s works  are the basis for a large portion of my blog posts andthey have stood the test of time. In fact, many people would say that many of thethings he wrote in the 1960′s  were right on  in the sense he saw where our westernsociety was heading and he knew that abortion, infanticide and youth enthansiawere  moral boundaries we would be crossing  in the coming decades because ofhumanism and these are the discussions we are having now!)

There is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true asSchaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACEThere is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This linkshows how to do that.

Francis Schaeffer in Art and the Bible noted, “Many modern artists, it seems to me, have forgotten the value that art has in itself. Much modern art is far too intellectual to be great art. Many modern artists seem not to see the distinction between man and non-man, and it is a part of the lostness of modern man that they no longer see value in the work of art as a work of art.

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Francis Schaeffer pictured below:

Jasper Johns pictured below:

Jasper Johns painting below:

Book Review: “The Shock Of The New” By Robert Hughes (1938-2012) – 
Modern Art, War & Society

By Dr Gideon Polya

24 September, 2012
Countercurrents.org

Chapter 7, “Culture as nature”, involves Hughes addressing the impact of mass media on art: “The sense of natural order, always in some ways correcting the pretensions of Self , gave mode and measure to pre-modern art. If this sense has now become dimmed, it is partly because for most people Nature has been replaced by the culture of congestion… Overload has changed our art. Especially in the last thirty years, capitalism plus electronics have given us a new habitat, our forest of media. The problem for art, then, was how to survive here, how to adapt to this habitat – for otherwise, it was feared, art would go under” (p324). Pre-war American artists coming to grips with American urban reality included Joseph Stella, Charles Demuth  and Stuart Davis. Hughes describes how  radical post-war American artists addressed the capitalist consumer and media saturation culture, his examples including Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Richard Hamilton,  Andy Warhol (of Campbell’s Soup and Marilyn Monroe Pop image repetition notoriety), Roy Lichtenstein (of Pop art comic books transmogrified notoriety), James Rosenquist  (“The F-111”),  Claes Oldenburg (“Two Cheeseburgers with Everything”) and culminating with photo-realism as with Robert Cottingham (“Roxy”, 1972) . Hughes concludes testily: “Art is a small thing, though an expensive one, compared to the media. It is a vibration in a museum; it deals with nuances that have no “objective” importance. It is not even a very good religion… But once it gives up its claims to seriousness, it is shot, and its essential role as an arena for free thought and unregimented feeling is lost. The pop sensibility did much to take those claims away, dissolving them in the doctrine that the medium was the message” (p364).
Jasper Johns painting below:

Jasper Johns painting below:

Culture as Nature

Episode 7 of 8

Duration: 1 hour

Robert Hughes goes Pop when he examines the art that referred to the man-made world that fed off culture itself via works by Rauchenberg, Warhol and Lichtenstein and Jasper Johns.

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Jasper Johns painting below and it is called ‘Painting With Two Balls’, 1960.

‘Watchman’, 1964 is below:

What do you think of Jasper Johns?

In the late 1950’s, Jasper Johns emerged as force in the American art scene. His richly worked paintings of maps, flags, and targets led the artistic community away from Abstract Expressionism toward a new emphasis on the concrete. Johns laid the groundwork for both Pop Art and Minimalism. Today, as his prints and paintings set record prices at auction, the meanings of his paintings, his imagery, and his changing style continue to be subjects of controversy.

Born in Augusta, Georgia, and raised in Allendale, South Carolina, Jasper Johns grew up wanting to be an artist. “In the place where I was a child, there were no artists and there was no art, so I really didn’t know what that meant,” recounts Johns. “I think I thought it meant that I would be in a situation different from the one that I was in.” He studied briefly at the University of South Carolina before moving to New York in the early fifties.

In New York, Johns met a number of other artists including the composer John Cage, the choreographer Merce Cunningham, and the painter Robert Rauschenberg. While working together creating window displays for Tiffany’s, Johns and Raushenberg explored the New York art scene. After a visit to Philadelphia to see Marcel Duchamp’s painting, The Large Glass (1915-23), Johns became very interested in his work. Duchamp had revolutionized the art world with his “readymades” — a series of found objects presented as finished works of art. This irreverence for the fixed attitudes toward what could be considered art was a substantial influence on Johns. Some time later, with Merce Cunningham, he created a performance based on the piece, entitled “Walkaround Time.”

The modern art community was searching for new ideas to succeed the pure emotionality of the Abstract Expressionists. Johns’ paintings of targets, maps, invited both the wrath and praise of critics. Johns’ early work combined a serious concern for the craft of painting with an everyday, almost absurd, subject matter. The meaning of the painting could be found in the painting process itself. It was a new experience for gallery goers to find paintings solely of such things as flags and numbers. The simplicity and familiarity of the subject matter piqued viewer interest in both Johns’ motivation and his process. Johns explains, “There may or may not be an idea, and the meaning may just be that the painting exists.” One of the great influences on Johns was the writings of Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. In Wittgenstein’s work Johns recognized both a concern for logic, and a desire to investigate the times when logic breaks down. It was through painting that Johns found his own process for trying to understand logic.

In 1958, gallery owner Leo Castelli visited Rauschenberg’s studio and saw Johns’ work for the first time. Castelli was so impressed with the 28-year-old painter’s ability and inventiveness that he offered him a show on the spot. At that first exhibition, the Museum of Modern Art purchased three pieces, making it clear that at Johns was to become a major force in the art world. Thirty years later, his paintings sold for more than any living artist in history.

Johns’ concern for process led him to printmaking. Often he would make counterpart prints to his paintings. He explains, “My experience of life is that it’s very fragmented; certain kinds of things happen, and in another place, a different kind of thing occurs. I would like my work to have some vivid indication of those differences.” For Johns, printmaking was a medium that encouraged experimentation through the ease with which it allowed for repeat endeavors. His innovations in screen printing, lithography, and etching have revolutionized the field.

In the 60s, while continuing his work with flags, numbers, targets, and maps, Johns began to introduce some of his early sculptural ideas into painting. While some of his early sculpture had used everyday objects such as paint brushes, beer cans, and light bulbs, these later works would incorporate them in collage. Collaboration was an important part in advancing Johns’ own art, and he worked regularly with a number of artists including Robert Morris, Andy Warhol, and Bruce Naumann. In 1967, he met the poet Frank O’Hara and illustrated his book, In Memory of My Feelings.

In the seventies Johns met the writer Samuel Beckett and created a set of prints to accompany his text, Fizzles. These prints responded to the overwhelming and dense language of Beckett with a series of obscured and overlapping words. This work represented the beginnings of the more monotone work that Johns would do through out the seventies. By the 80s, Johns’ work had changed again. Having once claimed to be unconcerned with emotions, Johns’ later work shows a strong interest in painting autobiographically. For many, this more sentimental work seemed a betrayal of his earlier direction.

Over the past fifty years Johns has created a body of rich and complex work. His rigorous attention to the themes of popular imagery and abstraction has set the standards for American art. Constantly challenging the technical possibilities of printmaking, painting and sculpture, Johns laid the groundwork for a wide range of experimental artists. Today, he remains at the forefront of American art, with work represented in nearly every major museum collection.

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Master of few words

His reworking of the US flag has become one of the most iconic artworks of the last century and his pieces sell for up to $12m. Just don’t ask Jasper Johns what any of it means

Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns: ‘I am concerned with a thing’s not being what it was, with it becoming something other than what it is’
Photo: Eamonn McCabe

In the grounds of his house, Jasper Johns has a studio, a huge converted barn in which the 74 year old does most of his work. From the east, it looks out over the hills of Connecticut; from the west, across a lawn towards the house. The estate is in Sharon, a small town two hours from New York, where the size of the properties makes running into the neighbours mercifully improbable. When we arrive, Johns is in the studio, hunched over an etching. “Just a minute,” he says. He moves with a slowness suggestive of irony and has that Jimmy Stewart knack of looking doleful and amused at the same time. On the wall he has pinned a handwritten reminder: “Don’t forget the string.”

Johns does not particularly like talking about his art. He’s aware that by explaining what he means, he risks limiting the meanings that can be derived from it by others. His claim to the title of World’s Greatest Living Artist is buttressed by his amazing wealth – one piece alone went for £12m – and the iconic status of Flag, one of his earliest works, an equivalent in American college bedrooms to the place occupied in British ones by Matisse’s Blue Nude. When he emerged on the art scene in the late 1950s, Johns’ tightly controlled studies of everyday objects, his sculptures of coffee tins and ale cans, were read as a rebuke to Jackson Pollock and the abstract impressionists and he has since been called the father of pop art. He haughtily rejects both notions.

“I don’t think it matters what it evokes as long as it keeps your eyes and mind busy,” says Johns of art in general. “You’ll come up with your own use for it. And at different times you’ll come up with different uses.” We have settled on the first floor of the barn, in a big airy room which I observe would be great for parties. “I haven’t had any parties here,” he says drily.

Johns is not reclusive, but neither is he forthcoming. He asks me not to use a tape recorder because it makes him tongue-tied. He talks in short, enigmatic sentences, which teasingly deflate all the wind-baggery that has been written about him. Lots of deep things have been said about Johns’ use of irony and ambiguity, his talent for suggesting multiple meanings that was evident from the time of his first exhibition in 1958, in Leo Castelli’s gallery in New York. But he has also inspired a lot of nonsense. Not untypically, an American critic writes: “By connecting looking to eating and the cycle of consumption and waste, Johns not only further de-aestheticised looking and art-making but also underscored art’s connection to the body’s passage of dissolution.”

An exhibition of Johns’ recently opened at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and I ask whether he has much time for modern British artists. “I’m aware of them,” he says. “Of course.” I’m thinking in particular of Tracey Emin; you can’t get much further from Johns’ position on autobiography (horror) than Emin’s work, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With. Johns lived for seven years with the artist Robert Rauschenberg but is loathe to talk about it publicly. I tell him I can’t imagine him ever using a title like Emin’s. He smiles. “I’ll consider it,” he says.

His circumspection might derive in part from his background; like Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly, two artists with whom Johns has much in common, he grew up in the south at a time when those with artistic aspirations were advised to suppress them. His father was a farmer and divorced from his mother, and Johns grew up being passed between various relatives. It was not a happy time and he says he was always “dying” to get away from it. “There was very little art in my childhood. I was raised in South Carolina; I wasn’t aware of any art in South Carolina. There was a minor museum in Charleston, which had nothing of interest in it. It showed local artists, paintings of birds.”

After studying art at the University of South Carolina, he did a compulsory stint in the army and decamped to New York, where he fell in with Rauschenberg and two other big influences, the choreographer Merce Cunningham and composer John Cage. “In a sense,” he says, “you don’t ‘start out’. There are points when you alter your course, but most of what one learns, if that’s the word, occurs gradually. Sometime during the mid-50s I said, ‘I am an artist.’ Before that, for many years, I had said, ‘I’m going to be an artist.’ Then I went through a change of mind and a change of heart. What made ‘going to be an artist’ into ‘being an artist’, was, in part, a spiritual change.”

The hot movement at the time was abstract expressionism, spearheaded by Pollock and Willem de Kooning. But instead of joining it, Johns and Rauschenberg set up in friendly opposition. This was not, says Johns, a cynical decision; it just so happened that his interests lay elsewhere. He thought of talent in terms of “what was helpless in my behaviour – how I could behave out of necessity.” At one point, to illustrate their differences, Rauschenberg took a drawing of Willem de Kooning’s and ostentatiously erased it, a statement made less aggressive by the fact that de Kooning had submitted the drawing for precisely that purpose. Then, in 1960, news reached Johns that de Kooning had criticised Leo Castelli, his art dealer, by saying, “That son-of-a-bitch, you could give him two beer cans and he could sell them.” Johns promptly did a sculpture of two beer cans, and Castelli sold them.

Painted Bronze, two cans of Ballantine Ale cast in bronze, was one in a series of sculptures that came to define Johns’ theories of reality; like the pop art that followed it, his experiments with context sought to reconstitute “ordinary” objects in such a way as to highlight the power of the perceptual over the physical world. In 1964 he explained, as fulsomely as he ever would, what it was he was trying to do: “I am concerned with a thing’s not being what it was, with its becoming something other than what it is, with any moment in which one identifies a thing precisely and with the slipping away of that moment.”

“De Kooning,” he says to me now, “used to say: ‘I’m a house painter and you’re a sign painter.'”

Johns’ most important work with signs is Flag, one of his earliest exhibits, which he did in 1955. It is a collage of the Stars and Stripes made out of encaustic, a wax-type substance which Johns dropped scraps of newspaper into and allowed to set. Flag’s challenge to the notion that symbols of state are fixed and inviolable – that they are not, under any circumstance, open to interpretation – was received at the time as blasphemous. The bits of newspaper symbolised the conflicting fictions upon which nations are built and the encaustic, an unstable material, was perceived by critics to be a metaphor for the unstable nature of identity. These subtleties have largely been lost through the work’s mass reproduction and Flag is now displayed, more often than not, as a straightforward expression of patriotism. “But I wasn’t trying to make a patriotic statement,” says Johns. “Many people thought it was subversive and nasty. It’s funny how feeling has flipped.”

Johns has been reluctant to discuss how much of the work’s theoretical content was intentional. After a long exchange which yielded no insights, a journalist once asked him, in exasperation, whether he chose his materials because he liked them or because they came that way. Johns thought for a moment and said, “I liked them because they came that way.” Today he says, “encaustic was a solution to a problem. I was painting with oil paint and it didn’t dry rapidly enough for me, and I wanted to put another brush stroke on it and I’d read about encaustic so that’s what I used.”

Was he also aware of its potential use as a metaphor?

“The thing is, if you believe in the unconscious – and I do – there’s room for all kinds of possibilities that I don’t know how you prove one way or another.”

How does he know when a piece of art has come out right? Does he think it has a moral force to it?

“I think it does. In that [long pause] if in work you’re able to be in touch with the forces that make you and direct you, then that’s a perfectly reasonable conception of what happens. I’m not sure what ‘coming out right’ means. It often means that what you do holds a kind of energy that you wouldn’t just put there, that comes about through grace of some sort.”

I wonder to what extent Johns and Rauschenberg achieved this state of grace through the exchange of ideas?

“We talked a lot. Each was the audience for the other. He had gone into a period where his gallery closed and we lived in relative isolation in the financial district [of New York]. We discussed ideas for works and occasionally we suggested ideas to one another. You have to be close to someone to do that and understand what they are doing.”

Johns never thought he would be famous. In a way, he says, he was more gobsmacked when he sold his first painting, than when False Start was bought by the publisher Si Newhouse for £12m in 1988. “I didn’t have that kind of imagination. Bob did. I read him a passage from The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas [Gertrude Stein’s novel, which plays with reality in similar ways to Johns’ work, and which he admits to being influenced by] and Bob said, ‘One day they will be writing like that about us.'”

He doesn’t believe he has become better as an artist; just different. Some people think he has become worse. For example Montez Singing, painted in 1989, features two eyes, a nose, a mouth and, inexplicably, a dishcloth all jumbled up on the canvas; the mouth is shut, so would seem to be humming rather than singing and who Montez is, is anybody’s guess. In such cases, John’s belief that “there is no wrong” in art appreciation founders on the assumption that there is any appreciation at all without some kind of helpful explanation.

“Ideas either come or they don’t come,” he says. “One likes to think that one anticipates changes in the spaces we inhabit, and our ideas about space. In terms of painting, I think ideas come in a way – I don’t know how to describe it – they come differently than they did when I was young. When you are young the sense of life you feel is inexhaustible and at various times in your life you see the speed of things alter. Your attitude changes towards thought and what it means.”

Johns once did a sculpture called The Critic Sees, in which he fashioned a pair of glasses with two mouths in the spaces where the eyes should’ve been. He said it was a response to a critic who’d jabbered at him incessantly; it was interpreted as a critique of the impossibility of thought without language. I ask if he ever wishes the critics would lighten up around him.

He says, “I never wish for critics.”

We go out into the garden. Johns loves ferns, and has devoted a whole patch to them. He shows me around it. “The maidenhair fern,” he says. “And the ostrich fern. You can eat the ostrich. But you have to cook it.”

On the way back he looks out over the fields and says with sudden vehemence: “Deer: I hate them. They destroy everything.”

We walk past a pond, at the centre of which stands a sculpture made up of bronze cutlery: a knife, a fork, a spoon. I have read somewhere that it symbolises sex and death. “Oh yes?” says Johns, wryly. “I shall have to look into that.”

I ask if he’s ever thought of writing his memoirs. He says, “I don’t know how to organise thoughts. I don’t know how to have thoughts.” He has no plans to reconstitute Flag to confront post-9/11 patriotism. And although he recently auctioned a painting to raise money for the Democrats, he says his interest in politics is only limited to the election; attempts to have a more general discussion about American government are rebuffed, although he will concede “I went to see that Roger Moore film [sic], Fahrenheit 9/11. I enjoyed it very much.”

We re-enter his studio, where the etching awaits completion. I wonder if it is for anything in particular.

“No,” says Johns. “It is for itself.”

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In this video below at 13:00 Anderson talks about John Cage:

[ARTS 315] Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns – Jon Anderson

Published on Apr 5, 2012

Contemporary Art Trends [ARTS 315], Jon Anderson

Working in the Gap Between Art and Life: Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper John

September 23, 2011

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Great picture:

Cage Cunningham Johns1998, John Cage, Jasper Johns, Merce Cunningham

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Cunningham and Johns: Rare Glimpses Into a Collaboration

Jasper Johns Speaks of Merce Cunningham

By 
Published: January 7, 2013
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PHILADELPHIA — The current exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, “Dancing Around the Bride,” on view through Jan. 21, honors five artists: Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. These artists led a movement away from expressionism in art and often away from art as an artist’s expression of personal feelings. The exhibition shows innumerable links among them.

Rob Strong

Brandon Collwes and Jennifer Goggans in 2011 in Merce Cunningham’s “RainForest”; Jasper Johns designed the costumes and Andy Warhol the décor.

Arts & Entertainment Guide

A sortable calendar of noteworthy cultural events in the New York region, selected by Times critics.

Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Jasper Johns in 2011.

James Klosty

Carolyn Brown in Merce Cunningham’s “Walkaround Time,” for which Jasper Johns designed the set and costumes.

The senior figure of the five was Duchamp. Cage and Cunningham began working together in 1942; Rauschenberg and Mr. Johns became, with them, an artistic quartet of close friends in the 1950s. All four had been long fascinated with Duchamp before his death; his interests in chance, in chess, in presenting found objects as art served as models to them all. In 1968 Mr. Johns and Cunningham made a Duchamp-inspired theater piece, “Walkaround Time,” in which Cunningham took multiple ideas from Duchamp’s art and Mr. Johns’s décor reproduced Duchamp’s radical work “The Large Glass” (which is in the Philadelphia Museum’s permanent collection).

I recently had the rare opportunity to interview Mr. Johns, who is 82, and asked him questions about his work with Cunningham, who died in 2009. Mr. Johns privately assisted Rauschenberg in some of his 1950s designs for Cunningham; he was the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s artistic adviser from 1967 to ’80; and for decades he worked with others to raise both funds and attention for Cunningham’s choreography.

“Merce is my favorite artist in any field,” Mr. Johns said in Newsweek in 1968. “Sometimes I’m pleased by the complexity of a work that I paint. By the fourth day I realize it’s simple. Nothing Merce does is simple. Everything has a fascinating richness and multiplicity of direction.”

Mr. Johns’s interest in Cunningham’s work did not waver; he attended performances by the Cunningham company even after Cunningham’s death. What emerges amid the variety of this Philadelphia exhibition is a shared sensibility: an objective interestedness in the blunt facts of everyday life, an avoidance of self-revelation and an intense absorption with the raw materials with which art, dance and music are made. Though Mr. Johns is famously taciturn about his work and ideas, information in both the Philadelphia show and the recent “Merce 65” iPad application prompted questions about the works on which he and Cunningham collaborated; Mr. Johns proposed that the interview take place over e-mail.

“One doesn’t usually know where ideas come from,” he wrote to me of “Walkaround Time.” But he said: “I think the trigger for the Duchamp set was seeing a small booklet showing each of the elements of ‘The Large Glass’ in very clear line drawings. It occurred to me that these could be enlarged and incorporated into some sort of décor. Merce was agreeable, if I would be the one to ask Marcel for permission. Duchamp was agreeable if I executed the work.”

I asked if he used “Walkaround Time” as a way to absorb himself more deeply in Duchamp’s work. He replied, “I think that I was fully occupied in trying to get the set completed in time.”

That set took apart different elements of “The Large Glass” and broke them up into translucent boxes like scientific specimens and, in performance, held them up to the light in new ways, turning them into stage décor through which lighting passed. Duchamp’s only specification was that at one point they should all be placed together. In one solo Cunningham danced a “striptease” on one spot while changing tights, a tribute to Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase.” There was a nonintermission: While the curtain remained up, dancers stopped dancing. A solo for Carolyn Brown made an astonishing use of sustained stillness.

It’s both remarkable and characteristic that the two men did not share any ideas in preparing the work. “I don’t remember that I watched ‘Walkaround Time’ rehearsals,” Mr. Johns said. “I believe that I may have given Merce dimensions of the various ‘boxes’ to help him allow for their presence on the stage.”

In spring 1963 Mr. Johns helped start the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, intended to sponsor and raise funds in the performance field; the other founders were Cage, Elaine de Kooning, the art collector David Hayes, and the theater producer Lewis L. Lloyd. Its opening project was an exhibition and sale of works donated by artists to help finance a short Broadway season by the Cunningham company.

Rauschenberg stopped work as the Cunningham company’s regular designer in 1964. When Mr. Johns became its artistic adviser in 1967, a remarkable period ensued in which several other artists made stage designs for Cunningham. The most celebrated of these was Andy Warhol. Cunningham had seen Warhol’s installation “Silver Clouds” at the Leo Castelli Gallery and recognized the theatrical potential of Warhol’s helium-filled silver pillows, which became the décor for Cunningham’s “RainForest.” The costumes, however, were by Mr. Johns: flesh-colored woolen tights with slashes revealing bits of the dancers’ bodies.

“I had asked Andy to design costumes to go with the pillows, but his only suggestion was for the dancers to be nude, an idea that had no appeal for Merce,” Mr. Johns said. “Merce showed me an old pair of his tights that were ripped and torn. I imitated these.”

The recent “Merce 65” iPad application contains photographs of Mr. Johns working on these costumes. Since Mr. Johns’s paintings show the delight he took in the tactile work of brush strokes, I asked if he felt a related pleasure in working on the practical side of stage design, or if he found it frustrating.

“Both, at different times,” he said. His costumes for Cunningham’s “Second Hand” spanned a rainbow spectrum of color when seen all together, but, he added, “I only remember that Viola Farber told me that they looked ‘like a bunch of Easter eggs.’ “

The Cunningham-Johns collaboration included a magnum opus: “Un Jour ou Deux,” choreographed in 1973 for the Paris Opera Ballet, and just revived there this fall. For this work Mr. Johns was assisted by the artist Mark Lancaster. Mr. Johns designed two scrims and put the dancers into costumes that shaded vertically upward from dark to light gray. “Actually the realization was carried out in some backstage room where Mark and I worked directly on dyeing the costumes,” he said, “having been refused the possibility of taking them to a more convenient workplace. Opera officials explained that if we removed their property from the premises, it might be lost.”

Mr. Lancaster soon became a fixture as a Cunningham designer into the mid-1980s. But in 1978 Mr. Johns returned to the company, designing both scenery and costumes for “Exchange,” a great work that felt like watching the passing of history. Mr. Johns’s costumes had a range of color, but all with a strong admixture of gray, a color on which, as this exhibition reminds us, he has focused on intensely. He remarks now that he doubts his work conveyed the image he had in mind: “smoldering coals, covered by ash.”

I told Mr. Johns that Cunningham himself ranged as a dancer from the animal to the urbane. While there are connections between his different works, each premiere often marked a big departure from his last work. How did Mr. Johns respond to Cunningham’s changefulness, to his need to reinvent himself? Mr. Johns’s one-sentence reply might well apply not only to Cunningham’s work but also to his own:

“I did not think of reinvention but of the unfolding and exercise of an inner language.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 11, 2013

An article on Tuesday about the artist Jasper Johns and his work with Merce Cunningham misidentified a co-founder of the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, which Mr. Johns helped start, and misstated the middle initial of another. (The foundation’s opening project was an exhibition and sale of works donated by artists to help finance a short Broadway season by the Cunningham dance company.) The art collector David Hayes, not the designer David Hayes, was a co-founder, as was the theater producer Lewis L. Lloyd — not Lewis B.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 17, 2013

An article on Jan. 8 about the artist Jasper Johns and his work with Merce Cunningham misstated part of the name of a foundation that Mr. Johns helped start. And a correction on Friday about a co-founder of the organization repeated the error. It was called the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, not the Foundation of Contemporary Performance Arts. (It is now known as the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.)

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After looking at Jasper Johns and his good friend John Cage who believe that we are the result of impersonal matter, time and chance I thought it was time to consider the artist Cai Guo-Qiang. Cai Guo-Qiang wants to make several points. The people seeking immortality discovered gun powder and all this destruction and wars came out of it and he is reproducing that in his art. He said the result of his art is beautiful but when asked what it feels like when his art starts to explode and he says he feels emptiness. Francis Schaeffer rightly noted, “Without the existence of the infinite personal God of the Bible  one is just left with emptiness and no lasting purpose for one’s life. If we do not begin with a personal Creator, eventually we are left (no matter how we string it out semantically) with the impersonal plus time plus chance. We must explain everything in the uniqueness of man, and we must understand all of the complexity of the universe on the basis of time plus chance” (Francis A. Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century, Ch. 1)
Take a look at this video below:

Cai Guo-Qiang Explosion Work

Uploaded on Dec 11, 2008

Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang, who works primarily in gunpowder, works on an “Explosion Work” on Long Island, New York, in 2006. Video produced by McConnell/Hauser Inc. http://www.mcconnellhauser.com

An extended version of this video with the final artwork shown is at this YouTube link:
http://youtu.be/U9MTTf0EsT8

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Cai Guo-Qiang

June 18th, 2009

Cai Guo-Qiang is a very well known Chinese artist, I guess you know his installation Head On. Beside huge installations, he also makes these works with gunpowder. He has a certain amout of control about the outcome of the explosions, but a large part is uncertain. I think this is quite exiting.
These pieces remind me of Rosemarie Fiore, her work is just a little more colorful.

“Drawing for Transient Rainbow,” 2003
Gunpowder on paper, 198 x 157 inches
Collection Museum of Modern Art, New York
Photo by Hiro Ihara
Courtesy Cai Guo-Qiang

“In the traditional Chinese home, what you will have is your table, your chairs, and it could actually be very empty. Nothing adorns the walls. But next to your host’s chair, there may be a very large ceramic jar that holds many things sticking out of it, and they’re actually scrolls rolled up…If he feels like you are worthy of a certain work, he might unroll it in front of you, and then you have a whole world all of a sudden opened up to you…”

– Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang

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Cai Guo-Qiang

Posted by at 02:57

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Cai Guo-Qiang | Art21 | Preview from Season 3 of “Art in the Twenty-First Century” (2005)

Uploaded on Dec 7, 2007

Cai Guo-Qiang’s fireworks explosions—poetic and ambitious at their core—aim to establish an exchange between viewers and the larger universe. For his work, Cai draws on a wide variety of materials, symbols and traditions including elements of feng shui, Chinese medicine, gunpowder, as well as images of dragons and tigers, cars and boats, mushroom clouds and I Ching.

Cai Guo-Qiang is featured in the Season 3 episode “Power” of the Art21 series “Art in the Twenty-First Century”.

Learn more about Cai Guo-Qiang: http://www.art21.org/artists/cai-guo-…

© 2005, 2007 Art21, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Cai Gou-Qiang pictured below:
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Cai Guo-Qiang

Home » Artists » Cai Guo-Qiang

About Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957 in Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, China, and lives and works in New York. He studied stage design at the Shanghai Drama Institute from 1981 to 1985 and attended the Institute for Contemporary Art: The National and International Studio Program at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City. His work is both scholarly and politically charged. Accomplished in a variety of media, Cai began using gunpowder in his work to foster spontaneity and confront the controlled artistic tradition and social climate in China. While living in Japan from 1986 to 1995, he explored the properties of gunpowder in his drawings, leading to the development of his signature explosion events. These projects, while poetic and ambitious at their core, aim to establish an exchange between viewers and the larger universe. For his work, Cai draws on a wide variety of materials, symbols, narratives, and traditions: elements of feng shui, Chinese medicine and philosophy, images of dragons and tigers, roller coasters, computers, vending machines, and gunpowder. Since the September 11 tragedy, he has reflected upon his use of explosives both as metaphor and material. “Why is it important,” he asks, “to make these violent explosions beautiful? Because the artist, like an alchemist, has the ability to transform certain energies, using poison against poison, using dirt and getting gold.” Cai Guo-Qiang has received a number of awards, including the forty-eighth Venice Biennale International Golden Lion Prize and the CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts. Among his many solo exhibitions and projects are “Light Cycle: Explosion Project for Central Park,” New York; “Ye Gong Hao Long: Explosion Project for Tate Modern,” London; “Transient Rainbow,” the Museum of Modern Art, New York; “Cai Guo-Qiang,” Shanghai Art Museum; and “APEC Cityscape Fireworks Show,” Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, Shanghai. His work has appeared in group exhibitions including, among others, Bienal de São Paulo (2004); Whitney Biennial (2000); and three Venice Biennale exhibitions.

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E P I S O D E 9 Dr. Francis Schaeffer – Episode IX – The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence 27 min T h e Age of Personal Peace and Afflunce I. By the Early 1960s People Were Bombarded From Every Side by Modern Man’s Humanistic Thought II. Modern Form of Humanistic Thought Leads […]

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 8 “The Age of Fragmentation” (Schaeffer Sundays)

E P I S O D E 8 Dr. Francis Schaeffer – Episode VIII – The Age of Fragmentation 27 min I saw this film series in 1979 and it had a major impact on me. T h e Age of FRAGMENTATION I. Art As a Vehicle Of Modern Thought A. Impressionism (Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, […]

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 7 “The Age of Non-Reason” (Schaeffer Sundays)

E P I S O D E 7 Dr. Francis Schaeffer – Episode VII – The Age of Non Reason I am thrilled to get this film series with you. I saw it first in 1979 and it had such a big impact on me. Today’s episode is where we see modern humanist man act […]

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 6 “The Scientific Age” (Schaeffer Sundays)

E P I S O D E 6 How Should We Then Live 6#1 Uploaded by NoMirrorHDDHrorriMoN on Oct 3, 2011 How Should We Then Live? Episode 6 of 12 ________ I am sharing with you a film series that I saw in 1979. In this film Francis Schaeffer asserted that was a shift in […]

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 5 “The Revolutionary Age” (Schaeffer Sundays)

E P I S O D E 5 How Should We Then Live? Episode 5: The Revolutionary Age I was impacted by this film series by Francis Schaeffer back in the 1970′s and I wanted to share it with you. Francis Schaeffer noted, “Reformation Did Not Bring Perfection. But gradually on basis of biblical teaching there […]

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 4 “The Reformation” (Schaeffer Sundays)

Dr. Francis Schaeffer – Episode IV – The Reformation 27 min I was impacted by this film series by Francis Schaeffer back in the 1970′s and I wanted to share it with you. Schaeffer makes three key points concerning the Reformation: “1. Erasmian Christian humanism rejected by Farel. 2. Bible gives needed answers not only as to […]

“Schaeffer Sundays” Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 3 “The Renaissance”

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 3 “The Renaissance” Francis Schaeffer: “How Should We Then Live?” (Episode 3) THE RENAISSANCE I was impacted by this film series by Francis Schaeffer back in the 1970′s and I wanted to share it with you. Schaeffer really shows why we have so […]

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 2 “The Middle Ages” (Schaeffer Sundays)

  Francis Schaeffer: “How Should We Then Live?” (Episode 2) THE MIDDLE AGES I was impacted by this film series by Francis Schaeffer back in the 1970′s and I wanted to share it with you. Schaeffer points out that during this time period unfortunately we have the “Church’s deviation from early church’s teaching in regard […]

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 1 “The Roman Age” (Schaeffer Sundays)

Francis Schaeffer: “How Should We Then Live?” (Episode 1) THE ROMAN AGE   Today I am starting a series that really had a big impact on my life back in the 1970′s when I first saw it. There are ten parts and today is the first. Francis Schaeffer takes a look at Rome and why […]

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FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 5 John Cage (Feature on artist Gerhard Richter)

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John Cage on Silence

Francis Schaeffer has written extensively on art and culture spanning the last 2000 years and here are some posts I have done on this subject before : Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 10 “Final Choices” episode 9 “The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence”episode 8 “The Age of Fragmentation”episode 7 “The Age of Non-Reason” episode 6 “The Scientific Age” episode 5 “The Revolutionary Age” ,  episode 4 “The Reformation” episode 3 “The Renaissance”episode 2 “The Middle Ages,”, and  episode 1 “The Roman Age,” . 

My favorite episodes are number 7 and 8 since they deal with modern art and culture primarily.(Joe Carter rightly noted, “Schaefferwho always claimed to be an evangelist and not a philosopher—was often criticized for the way his work oversimplified intellectual history and philosophy.” To those critics I say take a chill pill because Schaeffer was introducing millions into the fields of art and culture!!!! !!! More people need to read his works and blog about them because they show how people’s worldviews affect their lives!

J.I.PACKER WROTE OF SCHAEFFER, “His communicative style was not thaof a cautious academic who labors for exhaustive coverage and dispassionate objectivity. It was rather that of an impassioned thinker who paints his vision of eternal truth in bold strokes and stark contrasts.Yet it is a fact that MANY YOUNG THINKERS AND ARTISTS…HAVE FOUND SCHAEFFER’S ANALYSES A LIFELINE TO SANITY WITHOUT WHICH THEY COULD NOT HAVE GONE ON LIVING.”

Francis Schaeffer’s works  are the basis for a large portion of my blog posts and they have stood the test of time. In fact, many people would say that many of the things he wrote in the 1960’s  were right on  in the sense he saw where our western society  was heading and he knew that abortion, infanticide and youth enthansia were  moral boundaries we would be crossing  in the coming decades because of humanism and these are the discussions we are having now!)

Francis Schaeffer pictured below:

 John Cage at Black Mountain College

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In this video below at 13:00 Anderson talks about John Cage:

[ARTS 315] Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns – Jon Anderson

Published on Apr 5, 2012

Contemporary Art Trends [ARTS 315], Jon Anderson

Working in the Gap Between Art and Life: Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper John

September 23, 2011

John Cage and Merce Cunningham pictured below:

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What is John Cage trying to demonstrate with his music? Here are comments from two bloggers that take a look at what Cage is trying to put forth.

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DESCRIBING THE STORM
CHAPTER FOUR
If there is no God, there can be no meaning for man except that which he creates for himself. Modern music
has expressed this concept in a most powerful way. One might well say that the history of modern music is the
story of man’s failure to attain to anything solid or permanent as he has sought to create his own meaning. We
look, then, at Modern Music…At this point we will quote from a European writer. He
is discussing the work of a well-known symphonic composer, Mr. John Cage. Here it will become clear that the
new framework of thinking does indeed explain some of the strange “happenings” in great concert halls of the
world.
The power of art to communicate ideas and emotions to organize life into meaningful patterns, and to
realize universal truths through the self-expressed individuality of the artist are only three of the
assumptions that Cage challenges. In place of a self-expressive art created by the imagination, tastes,
and desires of the artist, Cage proposes an art, born of chance and indeterminacy.
Back in the Chinese culture long ago the Chinese had worked out a system of tossing coins or yarrow
sticks by means of which the spirits would speak. The complicated method which they developed made
sure that the person doing the tossing would not allow his own personality to intervene. Self expression
was eliminated so that the spirits could speak.
Cage picks up this same system and uses it. He too seeks to get rid of any individual expression in his
music. But there is a very great difference. As far as Cage is concerned there is nobody there to speak.
There is only an impersonal universe speaking through blind chance.
Cage began to compose his music through the tossing of coins. It is said that for some of his pieces lasting
only twenty minutes he has tossed the coin thousands of times. This is pure chance, but apparently not pure enough, he wanted still more chance. So he devised a mechanical conductor. It was a machine working on cams, the motion of which cannot be determined ahead of time, and the musicians just followed this. Or, as an alternative to this, sometimes he employed two conductors who could not see each

other, both conducting simultaneously; anything, in fact, to produce pure chance. But in Cage’s universe
nothing comes through in the music except noise and confusion or total silence.
There is a story that once, after the musicians had played Cage’s total chance music, as he was bowing
to acknowledge the applause, there was a noise behind him. He thought it sounded like steam escaping
from somewhere, but then to his dismay realized it was the musicians behind him who were hissing.
Often his works have been booed. However, when the audience members boo at him they are, if they are
modern men, in reality booing the logical conclusion of their own position as it strikes their ears in music.
We might add that one of the “compositions” of John Cage is called “Silence.” It consists of precisely that: four
and a half minutes of total silence! One could almost laugh, if it were not so sad—and serious. But it is. When
man rejects God, and God’s word revelation to man, he ends up here—doomed to silence. For what can man say
(musically, or in any other way) in a universe that has no meaning? When man refuses to think—and speak —
God’s thoughts after Him, he is consigned to this predicament.

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John Cage at Black Mountain College pictured on right.

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NOWHERE ELSE TO TURN

CHANCE VERSUS DESIGN

In The God Who Is There, Francis Schaeffer refers to the American composer John Cage who believes that the universe is impersonal by nature and that it originated only through pure chance.  In an attempt to live consistently with this personal philosophy, Cage composes all of his music by various chance agencies.  He uses, among other things, the tossing of coins and the rolling of dice to make sure that no personal element enters into the final product.  The result is music that has no form, no structure and, for the most part, no appeal.  Though Cage’s professional life accurately reflects his belief in a universe that has no order, his personal life does not, for his favorite pastime is mycology, the collecting of mushrooms, and because of the potentially lethal results of picking a wrong mushroom, he cannot approach it on a purely by-chance basis.  Concerning that, he states: “I became aware that if I approached mushrooms in the spirit of my chance operations, I would die shortly.”  John Cage “believes” one thing, but practices another.  In doing so, he is an example of the person described in Romans 1:18 who “suppresses the truth of God,” for when faced with the certainty of order in the universe, he still clings to his theory of randomness.

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02 How Should We Then Live? (Promo Clip) Dr. Francis Schaeffer

10 Worldview and Truth

Two Minute Warning: How Then Should We Live?: Francis Schaeffer at 100

Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR

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JANUARY 3, 2014  |  COLLECTION & EXHIBITIONS
Composing Silence: John Cage and Black Mountain College

"InstallationThere Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33″, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 12, 2013–June 22, 2014″ width=”643″ height=”429″ />

John Cage first visited Black Mountain College, in Asheville, North Carolina, in April 1948, while on his way to the West Coast with choreographer Merce Cunningham. Though he only stayed in Asheville for a few days—premiering his composition Sonatas and Interludes—the visit proved formative. Cage periodically returned to the college between 1948 and 1953, a time of enormous artistic growth that, with little coincidence, aligned with the conceptual development of his 4′33″ and the hand-drawn score currently on view in There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4′33″.

Founded in 1933, Black Mountain College was one of the leading experimental art schools in America until its closure in 1957. When Philip Johnson, MoMA’s first curator of architecture, learned that Black Mountain College was searching for a professor of art, he suggested Josef Albers, an artist whom he had recently met at the Bauhaus in Germany. Only a few months prior, the Bauhaus had closed its doors due to mounting antagonism from the Nazi Party, and Josef and his wife, the preeminent textile artist Anni Albers, readily accepted the offer to join the Black Mountain College faculty. During their 16-year tenure in North Carolina, the Alberses helped model the college’s interdisciplinary curriculum on that of the Bauhaus, attracting such notable students and teachers as R. Buckminster Fuller, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, John Cage, and Robert Rauschenberg.

Josef Albers. Tlaloc. 1944. Anni Albers. Tapestry. 1948

There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4′33″ features a number of seminal works made by artists Cage came to know and admire during his visits to Black Mountain College. The woodcut print Tlaloc (1944) and the linen-and-cotton weaving Tapestry (1948) were created by Josef and Anni Albers, respectively, who became close friends with and proponents of Cage throughout his career. The third work in the exhibition that was created at Black Mountain College, This Is the First Half of a Print Designed to Exist in Passing Time (c. 1948–49), was made by a then little-known artist, Robert Rauschenberg, whose influence on Cage in the early 1950s proved immeasurable. Though Cage and Rauschenberg both attended Black Mountain College in 1948, their visits did not coincide and they weren’t formally introduced until three years later.

In the fall of 1948, Rauschenberg, drawn to Josef Albers’s rigorous curriculum—Rauschenberg regarded Albers as “the greatest disciplinarian in the United States”—enrolled in Black Mountain College with his future wife Susan Weil. In Asheville, Rauschenberg experienced a surge of artistic growth. Considered his earliest mature work, This Is the First Half of a Print Designed to Exist in Passing Time represents Rauschenberg’s first foray into printmaking. Rauschenberg studied closely with Albers and would have been aware of his instructor’s return to woodcut printing during the 1940s. To create the 14-page album, Rauschenberg used a single wood block. For the first page, he inked the unadorned block and printed a solid black square. For each subsequent page, Rauschenberg incised a new line into the block’s surface. As observed by Walter Hopps in the exhibition catalogue Robert Rauschenberg: The Early 1950s, should the sequence of images have continued beyond 14—which the title encourages us to imagine—eventually only a white field would have remained.

As in the 1953 score for 4′33″, which Cage created approximately four years later, Rauschenberg used a single line to represent the passage of time. (The original score for 4′33″, now lost, used conventional musical notation; the following year Cage created the hand-drawn score for Irwin Kremen—which is currently on view—composed of a series of vertical lines.) The 14 prints are stapled together along the top and bound with twine to form a book, thereby encouraging viewers to experience the work by flipping through each page in sequence. Where Josef Albers drew inspiration from art of the ancient Americas in Tlaloc, whose title is a reference to the Aztec rain god, Rauschenberg’s album looked toward the future, presaging the evolution of his own work. Following the creation of This Is the First Half of a Print Designed to Exist in Passing Time, Rauschenberg began to translate the reductive language of printmaking into other mediums. His continued progression toward minimalist form—later epitomized by his 1953 work Erased de Kooning—soon brought the album to its logical conclusion: a monochromatic field.

In the summer of 1951 at Black Mountain College, Rauschenberg began a series of entirely white paintings. (His 1965 instructions for the White Paintings are on view adjacent to the album in the exhibition.) Only a few months prior, Cage was introduced to Rauschenberg at Betty Parsons Gallery in New York, initiating a period of close exchange that lasted throughout both artists’ lives. Upon witnessing the development of the White Paintings, Cage was taken aback by the younger artist’s bold abandonment of figuration. He recognized that the White Paintings were not, in fact, devoid of form, but rather served, in his words, as “mirrors of the air” and “airports for the lights, shadows, and particles.” As early as February 1948, Cage introduced the theoretical foundations for 4′33″—to “compose a piece of uninterrupted silence”—during a lecture at Vassar College. However, he claimed that it was not until seeing Rauschenberg’s White Paintings that he had the courage to explore silence within his own work.

In August 1952, Cage returned to Black Mountain College and organized Theater Piece No. 1, an unscripted performance considered by many to be the first Happening. The event took place in the college dining hall and included Rauschenberg, Cunningham, and Cage’s frequent collaborator, the young pianist David Tudor, among others. As Kyle Gann described in his book No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage’s 4′33″, the audience was seated in four triangular sections, while Cage stood on a ladder at the center. From his elevated position, Cage delivered a lecture as artists, musicians, and dancers moved freely through the space—which featured at least one of Rauschenberg’s White Paintings—deflecting attention from any single narrative and complicating the distinction between art and life. Just weeks after the production of Theater Piece No. 1, David Tudor encouraged Cage that the timing was right for Tudor to publicly perform Cage’s “silent” piece during his upcoming program at the Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock, New York.

There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4′33″ reunites many of the figures and works that influenced Cage between 1948—the year in which he first discussed his idea for 4′33″—and its premiere on August 29, 1952. It is no coincidence that the work’s four-year incubation period coincided with Cage’s visits to Black Mountain College, a place where nascent ideas and emerging artists seemed to effortlessly cross-pollinate, inspiring Cage to finally introduce 4′33″ to the world.

Today I am looking at the artist Gerhard Richter because his views are very much like those of John Cage. In fact, he has painted many paintings in Cage’s honor and after he painted them he used a squeegee and went over the paintings. 

Gerhard Richter

Artist

Gerhard Richter (born 9 February 1932) is a German visual artist. Richter has simultaneously produced abstract and photorealistic painted works, as well as photographs and glass pieces. His art follows the examples…wikipedia.org

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image not avaialable

Cage 1

2006 290 cm x 290 cm Catalogue Raisonné: 897-1

Oil on canvas

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Gerhard Richter

For the German Major in the Luftwaffe, see Gerhard Richter (pilot).
Gerhard Richter
Gerhard richter 02 2005 düsseldorf.jpg

Gerhard Richter, 2005
Born February 9, 1932 (age 81)
DresdenWeimar Republic
Nationality German
Field Painting
Training Dresden Art Academy,Kunstakademie Düsseldorf
Works
  • Atlas (1964)[1]
  • Baader-Meinhof (October 18, 1977) (1988)[2]
  • Acht Grau (Eight Grey, 2002)[3]

Gerhard Richter (born 9 February 1932) is a German visual artist and one of the pioneers of the New European Painting that has emerged in the second half of the twentieth century. Richter has produced abstract as well as photorealistic paintings, and also photographs and glass pieces. His art follows the examples of Picasso and Jean Arp in undermining the concept of the artist’s obligation to maintain a single cohesive style.

In October 2012, Richter’s Abstraktes Bild set an auction record price for a painting by a living artist at £21m ($34m).[4] This was exceeded in May 2013 when his 1968 piece Domplatz, Mailand (Cathedral square, Milan) was sold for $37.1 million (£24.4 million) in New York.[5]

Early life[edit]

Richter was born in DresdenSaxony, and grew up in ReichenauLower Silesia, and in Waltersdorf (Zittauer Gebirge), in the Upper Lusatian countryside. He left school after 10th grade and apprenticed as an advertising and stage-set painter, before studying at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. In 1948, he finished higher professional school in Zittau, and, between 1949 and 1951, successively worked as an apprentice with a sign painter, a photographer and as a painter.[6] In 1950 his application for tuition in the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts was rejected as “too bourgeois”.[6] He finally began his studies at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts in 1951. His teachers were Karl von AppenHeinz Lohmar (de) and Will Grohmann.

Early career[edit]

In the early days of his career, he prepared a wall painting (Communion with Picasso, 1955) for the refectory of his Academy of Arts as part of his B.A. Another mural followed at the German Hygiene Museum entitled Lebensfreude (Joy of life), for his diploma and intended to produce an effect “similar to that of wallpaper or tapestry”.[7]

Gerhard Richter c. 1970, photograph byLothar Wolleh

Both paintings were painted over for ideological reasons after Richter escaped from East to West Germany two months before the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961; after German reunification two “windows” of the wall painting Joy of life (1956) were uncovered in the stairway of the German Hygiene Museum, but these were later covered over when it was decided to restore the Museum to its original 1930 state. From 1957 to 1961 Richter worked as a master trainee in the academy and took commissions for the then state of East Germany. During this time, he worked intensively on murals likeArbeiterkampf (Workers’ struggle), on oil paintings (e.g. portraits of the East German actress Angelica Domröse and of Richter’s first wife Ema), on various self-portraits and furthermore, on a panorama of Dresden with the neutral name Stadtbild (Townscape, 1956).

When he escaped to West Germany, Richter began to study at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Karl Otto Götz. With Sigmar Polke and Konrad Fischer (de) (pseudonym Lueg) he introduced the term Kapitalistischer Realismus (Capitalistic Realism)[8] as an anti-style of art, appropriating the pictorial shorthand of advertising. This title also referred to the realist style of art known as Socialist Realism, then the official art doctrine of the Soviet Union, but it also commented upon the consumer-driven art doctrine of western capitalism.

Richter taught at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design as a visiting professor; he returned to the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1971, where he was a professor for over 15 years.

Personal life[edit]

In 1983, Richter resettled from Düsseldorf to Cologne, where he still lives and works today.[9] In 1996, he moved into a studio designed by architect Thiess Marwede.[10]

Richter married Marianne Eufinger in 1957; she gave birth to his first daughter. He married his second wife, the sculptor Isa Genzken, in 1982. Richter had a son and daughter with his third wife,Sabine Moritz after they were married in 1995.

Page: Abstract Picture

Artist: Gerhard Richter

Completion Date: 1994

Style: Abstract Expressionism

Genre: abstract painting

Technique: oil

Material: canvas

Dimensions: 225 x 220 cm

Gallery: Tate Gallery, London, UK

In a series of completely abstract works of the early 1990s, Richter challenges the eye of the viewer to detect anything in the field of vision other than the pure elements of his art: color, gesture, the layering of pasty materials, and the artist’s impersonal raking of these concoctions in various ways that allow chance combinations to emerge from the surface. Richter suggests only a shallow space akin to that of a mirror. The viewer is finally coaxed to set aside all searches for “content” that might originate from outside these narrow parameters and find satisfaction in the object’s beauty in and of itself, as though one were relishing a fine textile. One thus appreciates the numerous colors and transitions that occur in this painting, many having been created outside the complete control of the artist much as nature often creates wondrous optical pleasures partly by design, and partly by accident.

Gerhard Richter at Tate Modern

Published on Oct 17, 2011

Art critic Adrian Searle considers the mysterious paintings of German artist Gerhard Richter at London’s Tate Modern, whose work deals with subjects as diverse as photorealistic family portraits to a blurred vision of September 11

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Gerhard Richter and Sir Nicholas Serota, 2011Gerhard Richter and Sir Nicholas Serota, 2011 – © Photo Rob Greig

By Time Out editors Posted: Mon Oct 10 2011

NS: What was the motivation when you made the ‘4 Panes of Glass’ (1967)?

GR: I wanted to show the glass itself. It was a fairly naive attempt to show that you can also touch these panes. That’s why they were revolvable … but at the same time you then also see that being able to touch them isn’t actually any help, you still can’t understand them. And, yes, it does also faintly have something to do with Duchamp. It was a polemic against Duchamp. He scratched such mysterious little ägures into the dust …

NS: So you wanted to tackle Duchamp?

GR: Yes, a bit, similar to ‘Ema’ [an image of Richter’s naked wife painted in 1966]. I remember his ‘Nude Descending a Staircase’ was thought of as the end of painting.

NS: So you wanted to show that painting was still possible in spite of Duchamp?

GR: Yes, and without abandoning representational painting. I wanted what you might call ‘retina art’ – painterly, beautiful, and if needs be, even sentimental. That wasn’t ‘in’ back then – it was kitsch.

NS: So you were interested in emotion even in the mid-1960s?

GR: Yes, without really being aware of what I was doing. In those days people didn’t see it like that, paintings after photographs of tragic events were a source of amusement, were seen as insolent and provocative, stunts. Which wasn’t that far off the mark.

NS: So you wanted painting to be capable of dealing with human emotion, and therefore in a way not the language of international abstraction.

GR: Yes.

NS: So you are sceptical about ideologies, but does painting still have a moral purpose? Let’s deal with ideologies ärst.

GR: That’s easy – if you grow up ärst in a Nazi system and then under a Communist system. And then there were other reasons too. It was a generation without fathers, and that went for me too. That’s enough to make anyone sceptical.

NS: Yes, you were without a father metaphorically, but almost without a father literally.

GR: 
Yes, I had neither: neither a role-model father nor the resistance of a father. A father draws boundaries and calls a halt, whenever necessary. As I didn’t have that, I was able to stay childishly naÔve that much longer – so I did what I liked, because there was nobody stopping me, even when I got it wrong. That somewhat undisciplined behaviour was not unlike what [Sigmar] Polke was doing, too.

NS: So, if you are sceptical about ideology, where do you änd your faith? Not in the Church.

GR: Not in the Church, not literally, but in other ways, yes, also in Church. It’s an old tradition and we can’t exist without some form of belief in things. We need it.

NS: Has your belief developed as you have grown older?

GR: No, I’ve always believed.

NS: It’s how you construct your world?

GR: It’s our culture, Christian history, that’s what formed me. Even as an atheist, I believe. We’re just built that way.

NS: Yes, everyone has to develop their own value system, but for a painter, sometimes, this value system is also expressed in work, so for Rothko there might be an expression in the paintings of a belief in a transcendent world.

GR: I can relate to that. And art is the ideal medium for making contact with the transcendental, or at least for getting close to it

NS: So how would you describe yourself? I don’t mean in political terms, I mean … I think you said that you don’t believe in religion.

GR: I don’t believe in God.

NS: If you don’t believe in God, what do you believe in?

GR: Well, in the ärst place, I believe that you always have to believe. It’s the only way; after all we both believe that we will do this exhibition. But I can’t believe in God, as such, he’s either too big or too small for me, and always incomprehensible, unbelievable.

NS: So what is the purpose of art?

GR: For surviving this world. One of many, many … like bread, like love.

NS: And what does it give you?

GR: [laughs] Well, certainly something you can hold on to … it has the measure of all the infathomable, senseless things, the incessant ruthlessness of our world. And art shows us how to see things that are constructive and good, and to be an active part of that.

NS: So it gives a structure to the world?

GR: Yes, comfort, hope, so it makes sense to be part of that.

NS: But that participation is not through religion?

GR: Not for me, nevertheless I am thankful that the church exists, thankful that it has done such great things, giving us laws, for instance – ‘thou shalt’ and ‘thou shalt not’, and established Goodness and Evil. That’s what all religions do, and as soon as we try to replace them, worldly religions like fascism and communism take over.

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Gerhard Richter: The Cage Paintings (2008)

Published on Jun 29, 2012

Gerhard Richter’s Cage Paintings at Tate Modern, London, UK
2008.

Das Video zeigt Gerhard Richters Cage-Bilder in der Tate Modern, London, Großbritannien.

View all Cage paintings here: http://www.gerhard-richter.com/art/se…

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In this interview below he responds to his own quote:”Picturing things, taking a view, is what makes us human; art is making sense and giving shape to that sense. It is like the religious search for God.”

TIME 10 Questions, Sea… : 10 Questions for Gerhard Richter

Published on Sep 28, 2012

Artist Gerhard Richter talks about his latest works, his training behind the Iron Curtain, and why he believes in art

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 Man Shot Down 1

Artist: Gerhard Richter

Completion Date: 1988

Style: New European Painting

Genre: figurative painting

Technique: oil

Material: canvas

Dimensions: 100 x 140 cm

Gallery: MoMA

For most of his career, Richter avoided political motifs in his work. A notable exception is the series October 18, 1977, in which he depicts radical Baader-Meinhof terrorists who inexplicably died in jail (it remains unclear to this day whether these young radicals committed suicide or were murdered by the police). In Erschossener 1 (Man Shot Down 1), Richter has used a photographic reference to create a blurred, monochromatic painting of a dead inmate. The morbid scene might be said to exemplify the vanity behind the terrorists’ actions; at the same time, the persistent obscurity of the image replicates the eternal mystery behind the inmates’ deaths, as well as the impossibility of securely capturing truth in any one canvas.
Gerhard Richter’s paintings of the dead RAF members caused critical reactions, as did the publication of the source photographs in the German magazine Stern in October 1980. However, the reactions differ from each other according to Richter: “I’d say the photograph provokes horror, and the painting – with the same motif – something more like grief. That comes very close to what I intended.” (Conversation with Jan Thorn-Prikker concerning the 18 October 1977, 1989, p. 229) Gerhard Richter’s artistic adaptation creates a distance from the events and enables the beholder to reflect on the terrorists’ deaths on a judgement-free level, without taking sides.

“Picturing things, taking a view, is what makes us human; art is making sense and giving shape to that sense. It is like the religious search for God.”
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It bears noting that the German painter Gerhard Richter once asserted, “Art is not a substitute for religion: it is a religion. The Church is no longer adequate as a means of affording experience of the transcendental, and of making religion real – and so art has been transformed from a means to a sole provider of religion.

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Tell Me Whom You Haunt | Marcel Duchamp And The Contemporary Readymade

Published on Aug 21, 2013

Film on the 2013 group show at Blain|Southern ‘Tell Me Whom You Haunt’, which explored the legacy of Marcel Duchamp through the readymades of various contemporary artists. Includes interviews with David Batchelor and Valentin Ruhry.

Produced by Clear Island. Copyright Blain|Southern, 2013.

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Richter, Gerhard – by Alissa Wilkinson

Gerhard Richter’s retrospective in the Tate Modern in London from 6 October 2011 – 8 January 2012

Pick Up Your Brush
 
by Alissa Wilkinson
Last Thursday I was at the Tate Modern in London for the highly-lauded retrospective of the work of Gerhard Richter, the German painter. Born in 1932 Richter has been working for nearly five decades in a variety of mediums and styles—from colour grids to highly detailed realism to total abstraction, and even some glass sculptures. The earliest works in the show are paintings of photographs; Richter painted the photos, then dry-brushed them to achieve a blurry effect. The show continues right into the present day with his marvelous, enormous series of ‘Cage’ paintings named for the composer John Cage. In between these are sculptures of glass, monochromatics that play with texture, neon abstractions, and a lot more. Richter could hardly be accused of sticking to a single style (as opposed to, for instance, the work at the MoMA’s retrospective of Dutch-born painter Willem de Kooning, in which de Kooning largely sticks to the same abstract expressionist style even as it evolves and changes).
While Richter doesn’t have a single cohesive style—though he returns to certain techniques over and over—he does have a single force behind his work that fascinated me. From the very beginning of his work, Richter has always been dialogueing with the past. The second room in the exhibit is dedicated to work that Richter produced after seeing a touring show of French bad-boy artist Marcel Duchamp, he of the urinal titled Fountain. In response to Fountain Richter created a painting of a roll of toilet paper using his signature blurry style. Duchamp had painted Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912), then decided painting was over and there was nothing left to do. In response Richter painted a soft, realistic, and quite lovely painting of his own wife descending a staircase. Painting, Richter was saying, has not ended. There is much more left to do.
Each of the rooms in the exhibit helped draw the link between Richter’s work and history—whether it was the history of art, artistic techniques or Richter’s own conflicted relationship with his country’s and family’s history in the wake of World War II. What was clear was this: Richter spends a great deal of time thinking about the history in which he finds himself. He is not the sort of painter who wants to do a new thing and therefore ignores the old. Yet he’s also not content to merely react or to rant; Richter dialogues with history and then pushes it forward. He looks backward, he looks forward, and then he picks up a brush.
That is, I think, exemplary behaviour for those who would pursue cultural change. It is not enough to want something new and just do it; we must know from where we come. We must read and pursue our histories. But to stop there, to either cling to or rebel against history, is insufficient. Pick up the brush.
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Alissa Wilkinson is co-editor of Comment. She teaches English and humanities on the full-time faculty at The King’s College in New York City. Her work on pop culture, philosophy, and fine art appears in publications including Christianity TodayBooks & Culture, the Globe & MailWORLD, and Paste. In 2008, she founded The Curator and served as editor while on staff with International Arts Movement until 2010. Her current research interests include art’s role in postmodern public life; the relationship between contemporary fiction and religion; Christianity and millenials; and technology and human flourishing.
This article was first published on January 9, 2012 on the website of Cardus, www.cardus.ca.  Cardus is a think tank dedicated to the renewal of North American social architecture. Drawing on more than 2000 years of Christian social thought, we work to enrich and challenge public debate through research, events and publications, for the common good.

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Here is a blog that takes a look at the Cage paintings:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Gerhard Richter Cages – review of the new Tate gallery

Visiting the new Transformed Visions gallery at the Tate Modern, I came to the last room and was surprised to see the Gerhard Richter “Cage” paintings just as they’d been shown at the retrospective last year (in a slightly different room).I’d enjoyed the Richter exibition, not knowing about his work previously, and liked the “Cage” paintings best, along with the iceberg painting.My reaction this time was even stronger.

The Richter cage paintings are like strange damaged landscapes. Like old suburban photos that were trapped in a flood, water damaged. Almost fragmented except the composition still hints at borders and horizons, but some lost familiar image is softened beyond recognition. Being alien and new as paintwork but at the same time mundane and nostalgic like captured memories.

One makes me think of 80s Chicago backyard barbecues, while another takes me to rainy Glasgow canals. Oddly, despite their vastness, none of these makes me think of the sea or a landscape – something I generally see in most abstract paintings.

Also, looking without my glasses actually dilutes the entire experience; usually when I do that it’s an enjoyable reduction to pure elements. But here the paintings need all the marks, both sharp and dragged. They’re like little scars and bruises that are what the painting is about. A pain in the pleasure. The yellow-green one makes me think of sunlight and spring (someone behind me says “sunflowers”) but at the same time the green is slightly wrong, too acidic, and its like sludge at the top. Of course this is exactly what the Glasgow canals are like.

I realise I don’t want to leave this room.

Then wandering back through the gallery rooms there is a Turner in front of me, and I realise the marks there are also little scars.

If you missed the Gerhard Richter: Panorama retrospective in 2011-2012 the Tate do have an excellentRichter app with the paintings, the blog, and the audio tour. 

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Both John Cage during his whole life held to the view that we are living in a chance universe with no personal infinite God in existence. Gerhard Richter today holds this same view and he in fact is a big fan of Cage’s work as can be seen in the above paintings. I want to challenge anyone who believes that God does not exist to examine the information below.

Psalms 22 was written 1000 years before Christ’s birth but yet it describes exactly how the Messiah was to be killed. Take at look at some of the amazing Bible prophecies that have been fulfilled in history:

The Bible and Archaeology (1/5)

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Applying the Science of Probability to the Scriptures

Do statistics prove the Bible’s supernatural origin?

by 

Professor Peter Stoner

For years I have been quoting a book by Peter Stoner called Science Speaks. I like to use a remarkable illustration from it to show how Bible prophecy proves that Jesus was truly God in the flesh.

I decided that I would try to find a copy of the book so that I could discover all that it had to say about Bible prophecy. The book was first published in 1958 by Moody Press. After considerable searching on the Internet, I was finally able to find a revised edition published in 1976.

Peter Stoner was chairman of the mathematics and astronomy departments at Pasadena City College until 1953 when he moved to Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. There he served as chairman of the science division. At the time he wrote this book, he was professor emeritus of science at Westmont.

In the edition I purchased, there was a foreword by Dr. Harold Hartzler, an officer of the American Scientific Affiliation. He wrote that the manuscript had been carefully reviewed by a committee of his organization and that “the mathematical analysis included is based upon principles of probability which are thoroughly sound.” He further stated that in the opinion of the Affiliation, Professor Stoner “has applied these principles in a proper and convincing way.”

The book is divided into three sections. Two relate directly to Bible prophecy. The first section deals with the scientific validity of the Genesis account of creation.

Part One: The Genesis Record

Stoner begins with a very interesting observation. He points out that his copy of Young’s General Astronomy, published in 1898, is full of errors. Yet, the Bible, written over 2,000 years ago is devoid of scientific error. For example, the shape of the earth is mentioned in Isaiah 40:22. Gravity can be found in Job 26:7Ecclesiastes 1:6 mentions atmospheric circulation. A reference to ocean currents can be found in Psalm 8:8, and the hydraulic cycle is described in Ecclesiastes 1:7 and Isaiah 55:10. The second law of thermodynamics is outlined in Psalm 102:25-27 and Romans 8:21. And these are only a few examples of scientific truths written in the Scriptures long before they were “discovered” by scientists.

Stoner proceeds to present scientific evidence in behalf of special creation. For example, he points out that science had previously taught that special creation was impossible because matter could not be destroyed or created. He then points out that atomic physics had now proved that energy can be turned into matter and matter into energy.

He then considers the order of creation as presented in Genesis 1:1-13. He presents argument after argument from a scientific viewpoint to sustain the order which Genesis chronicles. He then asks, “What chance did Moses have when writing the first chapter [of Genesis] of getting thirteen items all accurate and in satisfactory order?” His calculations conclude it would be one chance in 31,135,104,000,000,000,000,000 (1 in 31 x 1021). He concludes, “Perhaps God wrote such an account in Genesis so that in these latter days, when science has greatly developed, we would be able to verify His account and know for a certainty that God created this planet and the life on it.”

The only disappointing thing about Stoner’s book is that he spiritualizes the reference to days in Genesis, concluding that they refer to periods of time of indefinite length. Accordingly, he concludes that the earth is approximately 4 billion years old. In his defense, keep in mind that he wrote this book before the foundation of the modern Creation Science Movement which was founded in the 1960′s by Dr. Henry Morris. That movement has since produced many convincing scientific arguments in behalf of a young earth with an age of only 6,000 years.

Peter Stoner’s Calculations Regarding Messianic Prophecy

Peter Stoner calculated the probability of just 8 Messianic prophecies being fulfilled in the life of Jesus. As you read through these prophecies, you will see that all estimates were calculated as conservatively as possible.

  1. The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
    The average population of Bethlehem from the time of Micah to the present (1958) divided by the average population of the earth during the same period = 7,150/2,000,000,000 or 2.8×105.
  2. A messenger will prepare the way for the Messiah (Malachi 3:1).
    One man in how many, the world over, has had a forerunner (in this case, John the Baptist) to prepare his way?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000 or 1×103.
  3. The Messiah will enter Jerusalem as a king riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).
    One man in how many, who has entered Jerusalem as a ruler, has entered riding on a donkey?
    Estimate: 1 in 100 or 1×102.
  4. The Messiah will be betrayed by a friend and suffer wounds in His hands (Zechariah 13:6).
    One man in how many, the world over, has been betrayed by a friend, resulting in wounds in his hands?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000 or 1×103.
  5. The Messiah will be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12).
    Of the people who have been betrayed, one in how many has been betrayed for exactly 30 pieces of silver?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000 or 1×103.
  6. The betrayal money will be used to purchase a potter’s field (Zechariah 11:13).
    One man in how many, after receiving a bribe for the betrayal of a friend, has returned the money, had it refused, and then experienced it being used to buy a potter’s field?
    Estimate: 1 in 100,000 or 1×105.
  7. The Messiah will remain silent while He is afflicted (Isaiah 53:7).
    One man in how many, when he is oppressed and afflicted, though innocent, will make no defense of himself?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000 or 1×103.
  8. The Messiah will die by having His hands and feet pierced (Psalm 22:16).
    One man in how many, since the time of David, has been crucified?
    Estimate: 1 in 10,000 or 1×104.

Multiplying all these probabilities together produces a number (rounded off) of 1×1028. Dividing this number by an estimate of the number of people who have lived since the time of these prophecies (88 billion) produces a probability of all 8 prophecies being fulfilled accidently in the life of one person. That probability is 1in 1017 or 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. That’s one in one hundred quadrillion!

Part Two: The Accuracy of Prophecy

The second section of Stoner’s book, is entitled “Prophetic Accuracy.” This is where the book becomes absolutely fascinating. One by one, he takes major Bible prophecies concerning cities and nations and calculates the odds of their being fulfilled. The first is a prophecy in Ezekiel 26 concerning the city of Tyre. Seven prophecies are contained in this chapter which was written in 590 BC:

  1. Nebuchadnezzar shall conquer the city (vs. 7-11).
  2. Other nations will assist Nebuchadnezzar (v. 3).
  3. The city will be made like a bare rock (vs. 4 & 14).
  4. It will become a place for the spreading of fishing nets (vs. 5 & 14).
  5. Its stones and timbers will be thrown into the sea (v. 12).
  6. Other cities will fear greatly at the fall of Tyre (v. 16).
  7. The old city of Tyre will never be rebuilt (v. 14).

Four years after this prophecy was given, Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Tyre. The siege lasted 13 years. When the city finally fell in 573 BC, it was discovered that everything of value had been moved to a nearby island.

Two hundred and forty-one years later Alexander the Great arrived on the scene. Fearing that the fleet of Tyre might be used against his homeland, he decided to take the island where the city had been moved to. He accomplished this goal by building a causeway from the mainland to the island, and he did that by using all the building materials from the ruins of the old city. Neighboring cities were so frightened by Alexander’s conquest that they immediately opened their gates to him. Ever since that time, Tyre has remained in ruins and is a place where fishermen spread their nets.

Thus, every detail of the prophecy was fulfilled exactly as predicted. Stoner calculated the odds of such a prophecy being fulfilled by chance as being 1 in 75,000,000, or 1 in 7.5×107. (The exponent 7 indicates that the decimal is to be moved to the right seven places.)

Stoner proceeds to calculate the probabilities of the prophecies concerning Samaria, Gaza and Ashkelon, Jericho, Palestine, Moab and Ammon, Edom, and Babylon. He also calculates the odds of prophecies being fulfilled that predicted the closing of the Eastern Gate (Ezekiel 44:1-3), the plowing of Mount Zion (Micah 3:12), and the enlargement of Jerusalem according to a prescribed pattern (Jeremiah 31:38-40).

Combining all these prophecies, he concludes that “the probability of these 11 prophecies coming true, if written in human wisdom, is… 1 in 5.76×1059. Needless to say, this is a number beyond the realm of possibility.

Part Three: Messianic Prophecy

The third and most famous section of Stoner’s book concerns Messianic prophecy. His theme verse for this section is John 5:39 — “Search the Scriptures because… it is these that bear witness of Me.”

Stoner proceeds to select eight of the best known prophecies about the Messiah and calculates the odds of their accidental fulfillment in one person as being 1 in 1017.

I love the way Stoner illustrated the meaning of this number. He asked the reader to imagine filling the State of Texas knee deep in silver dollars. Include in this huge number one silver dollar with a black check mark on it. Then, turn a blindfolded person loose in this sea of silver dollars. The odds that the first coin he would pick up would be the one with the black check mark are the same as 8 prophecies being fulfilled accidentally in the life of Jesus.

The point, of course, is that when people say that the fulfillment of prophecy in the life of Jesus was accidental, they do not know what they are talking about. Keep in mind that Jesus did not just fulfill 8 prophecies, He fulfilled 108. The chances of fulfilling 16 is 1 in 1045. When you get to a total of 48, the odds increase to 1 in 10157. Accidental fulfillment of these prophecies is simply beyond the realm of possibility.

When confronted with these statistics, skeptics will often fall back on the argument that Jesus purposefully fulfilled the prophecies. There is no doubt that Jesus was aware of the prophecies and His fulfillment of them. For example, when He got ready to enter Jerusalem the last time, He told His disciples to find Him a donkey to ride so that the prophecy of Zechariah could be fulfilled which said,“Behold, your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey” (Matthew 21:1-5 andZechariah 9:9).

But many of the prophecies concerning the Messiah could not be purposefully fulfilled — such as the town of His birth (Micah 5:2) or the nature of His betrayal (Psalm 41:9), or the manner of His death (Zechariah 13:6 and Psalm 22:16).

One of the most remarkable Messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures is the one that precisely states that the Messiah will die by crucifixion. It is found in Psalm 22 where David prophesied the Messiah would die by having His hands and feet pierced (Psalm 22:16). That prophecy was written 1,000 years before Jesus was born. When it was written, the Jewish method of execution was by stoning. The prophecy was also written many years before the Romans perfected crucifixion as a method of execution.

Even when Jesus was killed, the Jews still relied on stoning as their method of execution, but they had lost the power to implement the death penalty due to Roman occupation. That is why they were forced to take Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor, and that’s how Jesus ended up being crucified, in fulfillment of David’s prophecy.

The bottom line is that the fulfillment of Bible prophecy in the life of Jesus proves conclusively that He truly was God in the flesh. It also proves that the Bible is supernatural in origin.

Note: A detailed listing of all 108 prophecies fulfilled by Jesus is contained in Dr. Reagan’s book,Christ in Prophecy Study Guide. It also contains an analytical listing of all the Messianic prophecies in the Bible — both Old and New Testaments — concerning both the First and Second comings of the Messiah.

For creation science resources see the following websites:

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There is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true as Schaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACEThere is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This link shows how to do that.

Francis and Edith Schaeffer

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Francis Schaeffer with his son Franky pictured below. Francis and Edith (who passed away in 2013) opened L’ Abri in 1955 in Switzerland.

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