Tag Archives: Makoto Fujimura

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 12 artist Wassily Kandinsky

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Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)

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

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

Josef Albers and Wassily Kandinsky

Friends in Exile: A Decade of Correspondence, 1929–1940

  • Edited and with an introduction by Jessica Boissel; Foreword by Nicholas Fox Weber

Josef Albers (1888–1976) and Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944), artists and teachers at the Bauhaus, were exiled from Germany when the school was forced to close in the early 1930s. The 46 letters in this volume document the intimate exchange between these two friends in a period when the world was coming apart. Despite the tumult, each wrote to the other of his continuous creative evolution, while also providing rich impressions of his new world. For Kandinsky, this was Paris where he navigated a new avant-garde scene. For Albers, it was the United States where he and his wife Anni began teaching at the recently founded Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Kandinsky’s and Albers’s correspondence reveals their warmth and humor, their strength in coping with unexpected circumstances, and above all their conviction in the resilience and power of art. Archival photographs, artwork, and ephemera accompany the collection, which brings together the artists’ full extant correspondence for the first time in English and German.

Jessica Boissel was collections curator at the Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Nicholas Fox Weber is the executive director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.

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

In the book “Albers and Moholy-Nagy: From the Bauhaus to the New World,”  By Achim Borchardt-Hume, Tate Modern (Gallery)   it is noted that  J.A. Rice, head of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE, invited Wassily Kandinsky and his wife Nina to come to the college  and he told them they could find more supporters in the USA and get more representation in NY Galleries and even possibly a show at the Museum of Modern Art in NY, but they said had to put off a trip. However, in the movie THE LONGEST RIDE, Kandinsky is seen lecturing at Black Mountain College which may have actually happened since many distinguished guests did visit the college and lecture to the local community in the process.

Bauhaus Utopia, Paul Klee and Some Character Design

 Haus party … students at the Bauhaus in 1931. Photograph: Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau

Motif

Bauhaus canteen,Bauhaus canteen, Dessau 1930 Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb

Personally I had a pretty intimate experience with the term “Bauhaus”. I graduated from an old liberal art college in New York who followed a Bauhaus course arrangement in their undergraduate Art Department. I lived in a new Bauhaus style dorm in my first year there. I later studied post-war architecture history with an emphasis on Bauhaus.

I didn’t like it at the time. I did not take all the required classes in art department. I did not like the dorm’s height or contour that blocked my view when I was walking. I did not like the inner design of it that did not serve its purpose. I did not like the Bauhaus slides in my favorite architecture history class because they were impressively ugly.

To some extent, coming across this term in art history study aroused my memory at the east coast. Now given this chance, I seriously revisited this term and felt refreshed towards it.


 Bauhaus Story

Lucia Moholy Photograph by Michael von Graffenried 1987

Bauhaus 1919-1933 – A Chronology

The Bauhaus occupies a place of its own in the history of 20th century culture, architecture, design, art and new media. One of the first schools of design, it brought together a number of the most outstanding contemporary architects and artists and was not only an innovative training centre but also a place of production and a focus of international debate. At a time when industrial society was in the grip of a crisis, the Bauhaus stood almost alone in asking how the modernization process could be mastered by means of design.

Founded in Weimar in 1919, the Bauhaus rallied masters and students who sought to reverse the split between art and production by returning to the crafts as the foundation of all artistic activity and developing exemplary designs for objects and spaces that were to form part of a more human future society. Following intense internal debate, in 1923 the Bauhaus turned its attention to industry under its founder and first director Walter Gropius (1883–1969). [16]

Henry van de Velde’s building of 1904, housed The Bauhaus from 1919 to 1925.

Dessau Period 1925-1932 – Prosperity of Bauhaus

The Dessau phase of the Bauhaus is characterized by the consolidation of its orientation towards the new unity of art and technology, which was initiated in Weimar in 1923. In Dessau, the Staatliches Bauhaus became the Hochschule für Gestaltung (school of design). In a departure from craftsmanship, there were now professors and students in place of masters, journeymen and apprentices. In the aspiring industrial city of Dessau, the Bauhaus found the ideal environment for the design of models for industrial mass production. [17]

Surprisingly, following the politically motivated closure of the Bauhaus in Weimar, the change of location to Dessau did not result in a crisis in the school. If anything, it fostered its consolidation on the path to the design of new industrial products for the masses.[17]

On Gropius’s recommendation, the director’s post was handed over to the Swiss architect and urbanist Hannes Meyer, previously the head of the architectural department established at the Bauhaus in 1927. Cost-cutting industrial mass production was to make products affordable for the masses. His rallying cry at the Bauhaus was, “The needs of the people instead of the need for luxury.”[17] Despite his successes, Hannes Meyer’s Marxist convictions became a problem for the city council amidst the political turbulence of Germany in 1929, and the following year he was removed from his post. [17]

With Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1930, the Bauhaus acquired its last and – in contrast to Gropius and Meyer – least politically minded director. The school’s orientation towards architecture grew under his direction; however, there was also an increasing lack of socio-political reference.[17] The students were most affected by the ban on any type of political activity and the discontinuation of production lines. Under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the Bauhaus developed from 1930 into a technical school of architecture with subsidiary art and workshop departments.[17] After the Nazis became the biggest party in Dessau at the elections, the Bauhaus was forced to move in September 1932. It moved to Berlin but only lasted for a short time longer. The Bauhaus dissolved itself under pressure from the Nazis in 1933. [17]

Walter Gropius’ building for Dessau Bauhaus.

Recently I read The Bauhaus Ideal: Then and Now. In the book, William Smock presented a vivid overview of the Modernist design and its legacy. I got to know more about the famous Bauhaus dictums “form follows function”, “truth to materials” ,”less is more”.

The Bauhaus story first started out as a school of design. Walter Gropius was the first director of this modern art and design school called Bauhaus. It was an invented word: BAU = Building , HAUS = House. He wanted to unify arts, combining fine art and design. So people could see and use aesthetically pleasing, yet functional artworks/products. However, the Bauhaus school had to go through ups and downs. It had altogether three directors which represented three different periods. It was controlled by Nazis and forced to shut down for good during WWII. Later, it got rebuilt as “the Black Mountain College” in the USA. During this process, it kept changing and widely affected our modern design and aesthetics.  [1]


Masters in House

bauhaus staff

When I read the Chinese version of The Bauhaus Group: Six Masters of Modernism [18], I saw other sides of those masters who created a new wave of design movement in the early 20th century. I realized that they all had their own belief and personality. The Bauhaus “internal” path was not at all as smooth as we could imagine. What amazed me was their collaboration in building the Bauhaus utopia. Even though they were all giants in their fields, they all served a greater purpose: art enlightenment. This openness of artists’ teamwork truly moved me. Working with others, sharing ideas, not fear of losing credit would happen when the whole team valued growing together and becoming better. The timelessness of Bauhaus was a testament to their achievement.


Paul Klee

Reading the book of The Bauhaus: Masters and Students by Themselves [2], I became very fond of Paul Klee’s works. Since the Bauhaus contained a wide range of styles and values, I chose to study Paul Klee’s art and do a formal breakdown of his work.

Klee said, “A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.” [3] In Klee’s art, I saw an “untutored simplicity”[9]. This might be a result of his admiration for children’s “positive wisdom” [10]. “The more helpless these children are, the more instructive their art, for even at this stage there is corruption ‐ when children start to absorb, or even imitate, developed works of art, ” he once said.[10] He tried to break the traditional rules constantly. He didn’t want to have any anticipation or presumption in his creating process. He wanted to stay free and discover things along the way.

Indeed, I always thought that his work is poetic. As I read his book did I recall that when I was a very little kid, it was his painting that I pointed at a music note in it and sang to my parent. I knew nothing about him or that image at that time. But I felt it. Then I read about his theory of “active lines” and “passive planes” in the book[3], I could still feel the same individual behind it – to me, his works were happy, carefree melodies. Therefore, I was not surprised to know that he was also a musician. He played violin to a professional level, yet his father, a music teacher, always encouraged his passion in art. He was a gifted and diligent artist who naturally related drawing to music. He often practiced the violin as a warm up for painting.[7] From 1921 to 1924/25 in Weimar, Klee taught classes in elemental design theory as part of the preliminary course. [8] In his Bauhaus lecture, he even compared the visual rhythm in drawings to the structural, percussive rhythms of a musical composition by the master of counterpoint, Johann Sebastian Bach. And yes, he succeeded in doing so.[7]

Klee said, “Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.” [3] Klee tried to reveal his vision. As a Modern master, he said, “formerly we used to represent things visible on earth, things we either liked to look at or would have liked to see. Today we reveal the reality that is behind visible things, thus expressing the belief that the visible world is merely an isolated case in relation to the universe and that there are other, more latent realities…”[11] But how to make the unseen seen? “Klee challenged traditional boundaries separating writing and visual art by exploring a new expressive, and largely abstract or poetic language of pictorial symbols and signs.”[12] That’s why I still remembered a music note in his painting. He used symbols as a language to describe his poem or song; but he used the symbols so simple that even a child could spot them out. I believe this was one of his ways to reveal something invisible to us. But were those jargons?  He did not shout out any definition of his vision if he only used abstract symbols. He might be hiding, or he was simply open to any explanation that the viewers would have. He delivered a vague situation for the audience to experience. I believe this was another reason that his works stayed expressive and provoked interaction.

On the other hand, Martin Heidegger commented Klee’s work that something never seen before was visible in these paintings.[13] This might be another way to make the unseen visible. Klee once said, “Art should be like a holiday: something to give a man the opportunity to see things differently and to change his point of view.” [6]

What were those things never seen before? Well, here I found some other comments on Klee’s works.

“Klee’s career was a search for the symbols and metaphors that would make this belief visible. More than any other painter outside the Surrealist movement (with which his work had many affinities – its interest in dreams, in primitive art, in myth, and cultural incongruity), he refused to draw hard distinctions between art and writing. Indeed, many of his paintings are a form of writing: they pullulate with signs, arrows, floating letters, misplaced directions, commas, and clefs; their code for any object, from the veins of a leaf to the grid pattern of Tunisian irrigation ditches, makes no attempt at sensuous description, but instead declares itself to be a purely mental image, a hieroglyph existing in emblematic space. So most of the time Klee could get away with a shorthand organization that skimped the spatial grandeur of high French modernism while retaining its unforced delicacy of mood. Klee’s work did not offer the intense feelings of Picasso’s, or the formal mastery of Matisse’s.The spidery, exact line, crawling and scratching around the edges of his fantasy, works in a small compass of post-Cubist overlaps, transparencies, and figure- field play-offs. In fact, most of Klee’s ideas about pictorial space came out of Robert Delaunay’s work, especially the Windows. The paper, hospitable to every felicitous accident of blot and puddle in the watercolor washes, contains the images gently. As the art historian Robert Rosenblum has said, ‘Klee’s particular genius [was] to be able to take any number of the principal Romantic motifs and ambitions that, by the early twentieth century, had often swollen into grotesquely Wagnerian dimensions, and translate them into a language appropriate to the diminutive scale of a child’s enchanted world.

“If Klee was not one of the great form-givers, he was still ambitious. Like a miniaturist, he wanted to render nature permeable, in the most exact way, to the language of style – and this meant not only close but ecstatic observation of the natural world, embracing the Romantic extremes of the near and the far, the close-up detail and the “cosmic” landscape. At one end, the moon and mountains, the stand of jagged dark pines, the flat mirroring seas laid in a mosaic of washes; at the other, a swarm of little graphic inventions, crystalline or squirming, that could only have been made in the age of high-resolution microscopy and the close-up photograph. There was a clear link between some of Klee’s plant motifs and the images of plankton, diatoms, seeds, and micro-organisms that German scientific photographers were making at the same time. In such paintings, Klee tried to give back to art a symbol that must have seemed lost forever in the nightmarish violence of World War I and the social unrest that followed. This was the Paradise-Garden, one of the central images of religious romanticism – the metaphor of Creation itself, with all species growing peaceably together under the eye of natural (or divine) order.“- From Robert Hughes, “The Shock of the New” [4]


Now let us look at some art.

Formal Analysis of Paul Klee’s Work Senecio (An old man)

Senecio, Paul Klee, 1922, oil on gauze, Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel

Shape & Line

We see many lines, either hard contours or edges of colors. A big circle, triangles, ellipses and rectangles depict the subject – a human. Proportions are way off. With the face being divided into two halves, basic geometric shapes lay out unsymmetrically. Two halves of the face look unbalanced. Because of the nose shape happening on the left side, we can almost guess that the two halves are separate sides of the face ( This reminds me of Picasso’s works that reveal all the hidden aspects of a figure at the same time ). Lines join together to create eye stopping points. We see shapes mainly divided by flat colors. The lips are abstracted into two squares. The left brow forms a sharp triangle while the right brow remains a smooth curve. Their difference creates different rhythms on the two parts of the face. Apart from the centered eye area, we generally see lines in vertical and horizontal directions, which is overall unified.

Color & Value

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 11.59.17 PM

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 11.59.17 PM

Primary warm colors, red, yellow and white, take the lead. We see pink, purple and orange colors too. Colors do not respond to value changes. Values do not respond to light and volume changes. However, the right side’s yellow is higher in saturation and brightness than the left one’s; the orange down below head is less saturated and darker than the upper area background. Also, the value palette shows that there is only one or two darker hues. It is very much possible that Klee uses value to separate colored shapes. High contrast colors accentuate the playfulness of his patterns.

Texture

We see texture of rough brushworks everywhere except for the pupil areas. In the pupils, we see flat rouge. Also, the eye and eyebrow areas have line contours. They are connected, leaning towards one side. Their content density creates our focus.


Character Design

As the saying goes, imitation is the highest form of flattery. After studying the Bauhaus story and ideal as well as Paul Klee’s work, I fell in love with the Bauhaus age. It had its limit, yet so full of youth and vigor. How I wish to go back to the Bauhaus “golden 10 years” (1923-1933) to witness the masters’ glory. However, time flies only forward. Today, when I look at the master’s work, there is something I can do more than merely looking at the beautiful surface of the final product. I did formal analysis and guessed his process, pretending that I would have been one of his students in the Bauhaus workshop. Hence, when I create something in the master’s style, instead of simply mirroring what I see, I can explain what I do.

Now I am designing characters based on the Bauhaus ideals after studying Paul Klee’s vision of form and color. 

Paul Klee also made some puppets for his son. When making my designs, I looked at some images from this book below. “The artist neither counts them as a component of his oeuvre, nor does he list them in his catalogue raisonné. Thirty of the preserved puppets are stored at the Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern. ” [5]

Paul Klee Hand Puppets Edited by Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Foreword by Andreas Marti, Texts by Christine Hopfengart, Aljoscha Klee, Felix Klee, Osamu Okuda, Tilman Osterwold, Eva Wiederkehr Sladeczek English 2007. 152 pp., 182 ills., 86 in color 23.00 x 26.60 cm hardcover ISBN 978-3-7757-1740-3

I want to mix those element with geometric shapes and flat colors. Going after Paul Klee’s belief, I will intentionally mimic children’s artwork. When composing my lines and colors, I will connect ambiguous shapes and forms with minimal details. Applying textures to those simple, crisp shapes will result in a collage-like style, which is a lovely trick for eyes that the modern digital media can make. In this sense, I respond to the tech reality of my age, the digital media.

Here are my character designs of a male figure and a female figure:

Character Design by Yunxia 2015

How my design reflects my knowledge and their ideas:

Design comment by Yunxia


Bibliography

1. William Smock, “The Bauhaus Ideal: Then and Now”, Academy Chicago Publishers, 2004

2. Frank Whitford, The Bauhaus: Masters and Students by Themselves, October 1, 1993

3. Klee and his teaching notes(Chinese Edition) (Chinese) Paperback, Chongqing University Press Pub. Date :2011-6-1, January 1, 2000

4. http://www.artchive.com/artchive/K/klee.html

5. Daniel Kupper: Paul Klee. p. 81

6. As quoted in the film Der Bauhaus, produced by TV-Rechte in Germany (1975)

7. Andrew Kagan, Paul Klee: Art and Music , Cornell Univ Press, 1983

8. http://bauhaus-online.de/en/atlas/personen/paul-klee

9. Paul Klee, On Modern Art , Faber & Faber, 1966

10. Susanna Partsch, Klee 1879 ‐ 1940 , Taschen, 1999. p 17

11. Fred Kleiner, Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Global History, Volume 2 , Clark Baxter, 2009. p 948

12. Rocky Mountain, Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels , Denver, CO, June 2012. p. 2

13. Watson, Stephen H., Heidegger, Paul Klee, and the Origin of the Work of Art , Academic journal article from The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 60, No. 2

14. Art in Theory: 1900-1990, An Anthology of Changing Ideas, ed. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, pp. 338-343

15. Paul Klee – Making the Visible, Nedaa Elias, January 22, 2014

16. http://www.bauhaus-dessau.de/bauhaus-1919-19333.html

17. http://www.bauhaus-dessau.de/dessau-period-1925-1932.html

18. Nicholas Fox Weber, The Bauhaus Group: Six Masters of Modernism,ISBN:9787111409199,Jixiegongye Press Pub. Date: April 1st, 2013

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Composition VIII
1923 

Black Mountain College

Uploaded on Apr 18, 2011

Class Project on Black Mountain College for American Literature

December 30, 2007

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Autumn Landscape with Boats, 1908

MODERNISM MAGAZINE
Winter 2002-2003, pp. 48-55

Copyright © 2002. Modernism Magazine.

I found the Bauhaus movement very interesting and the article above even noted:

The leading role of the Bauhaus, such as Walter Gropius, Oskar Schlemmer, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Xanti Schawinsky, Paul Klee, Wasily Kandinsky experimented synthesis among human, space and machine not only in their own area, but also on the stage. They believed that their research about mechanical and abstract stage design, costume, doll, dance, humorous movement, light and sound could even make a change of the modern human body and mind.

What exactly were some of these artists attempting to do and why does this statement finish with the bold assertion “could even make a change of the modern human body and mind”?

Let me tell you what  Wasily Kandinsky (who was seen in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) and Paul Klee were attempting to do. They wanted to make a connection with art and find a word of direction from art from their lives. They were secular men so they were not looking for any spiritual direction from a personal God. However, the Bible clearly notes that God exists and we all know He is there. Romans Chapter one asserts, “For that which is KNOWN about God is EVIDENT to them and MADE PLAIN IN THEIR INNER CONSCIOUSNESS, because God  has SHOWN IT TO THEM…” (Romans 1:19).

Every person has this inner conscious that is screaming at them that God exists and that is why so many of the sensitive men involved in art have been looking for a message to break forth. Here we see something similar with the life and quest of the artist Paul Klee. I read on January 15, 2007 the blog post “Strolling Through Modern Art,” and I wanted to share a portion of that post:

This particular drawing came to mind while I was looking at the Art Institute of Chicago’s website and I came across some artwork by Joan Miro, who is exhibited at AIC. Vee Mack’s drawings generally demonstrate better draughtsmanship than this drawing displays but I thought that the concept was amusing and the implied commentary worth considering. Are you a fan of Joan Miro, Piet Mondrian, Paul Klee, Jackson Pollock, Willem De Kooning and Wasily Kandinsky?What does this elderly gentleman think of his stroll through the paramecium of the artworld? Francis Schaeffer noted in “The God Who is There” that Paul Klee and similar artists, introduced the idea of artwork generated in a manner similar to how a Ouija Board generates words from outside the artist’s conscious intent. Schaeffer observed that Klee “hopes that somehow art will find a meaning, not because there is a spirit there to guide the hand, but because through it the universe will speak even though it is impersonal in its basic structure.” [page 90] Why would an impersonal universe have something to say? What does meaninglessness have to communicate? Schaeffer explains that “these men will not accept the only explanation which can fit the facts of their own experience, they have become metaphysical magicians. No one has presented an idea, let alone demonstrated it to be feasible, to explain how the impersonal beginning, plus time, plus chance, can give personality . . . As a result, either the thinker must say man is dead, because personality is a mirage; or else he must hang his reason on a hook outside the door and cross the threshold into the leap of faith which is the new level of despair.” [page 115]Vee Mack’s sketch demonstrates the paradox of an average man viewing images, which represent the nonsense of Dadaism and chaos. It is the overeducated who will look at something that is inherently meaningless and try to find deep meaning in it, while the average man sees it and observes with reasonable common sense that this or that is an absurd waste of time.By the way, while it may appear as though I am favoring one artist for these posts, I am not receiving the variety of artwork that I had hoped for from other artists and I happen to have ample access to much of Vee Mack’s unpublished portfolio. Therefore, until I receive other artwork, I will have to rely on what I have on hand.

Posted by at 4:35 PM
Paul Klee
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Michael Gaumnitz : Paul Klee The Silence of the Angel (2005)

Published on Aug 17, 2013

PAUL KLEE: THE SILENCE OF THE ANGEL is a visual journey into the work of a major painter of the 20th century by Michael Gaumnitz, an award-winning documentarian of artists and sculptors. Like Kandinsky and Delaunay, Klee revolutionized the traditional concepts of composition and color.

Gropius with Béla Bartók and Paul Klee in 1927

Practitioners at Black Mountain College

Willem de Kooning http://www.biography.com/people/willem-de-kooning-9270057

(1904-1997) Abstract Expressionist Painter, Sculptor

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/willem-de-kooning-1433

Elaine de Kooning http://www.theartstory.org/artist-de-kooning-elaine.htm

(1918-1989) artist, art critic, portraitist and teacher.

Robert Rauschenberg Dmitri Kasterine

(1925-2008) Painter, sculptor, printmaker, photographer and performance artist

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/robert-rauschenberg-1815

Cy Twombly American painter Cy Twombly at the Louvre museum in Paris. Twombly has died aged 83. Photograph: Christophe Ena/AP

(1928-2011) Painter, draughtsman, printmaker, sculptor.

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/cy-twombly-2079

John Cage photo: Susan Schwartzenberg

(1912-1992) composer, philosopher, poet, music theorist, artist, printmaker.

http://www.last.fm/music/John+Cage

Buckminster Fuller Buckminster Fuller at Black Mountain College with models of geodesic domes, 1949 © Buckminster Fuller Institute

(1895-1983) Philosopher, designer, architect, artist, engineer, entrepreneur, author, mathematician, teacher and inventor

http://designmuseum.org/design/r-buckminster-fuller

Annie Albers © 1947 Nancy Newhall. © 2003 The Estate of Beaumont Newhall and Nancy Newhall, Courtesy of Scheinbaum and Russek Ltd., Santa Fe, New Mexico

(1899- 1994) textile designer, weaver, writer and printmaker

http://www.albersfoundation.org/Albers.php?inc=Introduction

Mary C Richards blackmtnbarb.blogspot.com

(1916-1999) Poet, Potter and writer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._C._Richards

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Good article:

Wassily Kandinsky Life and Art Periods

“Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colors, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential.”

WASSILY KANDINSKY SYNOPSIS

One of the pioneers of abstract modern art, Wassily Kandinsky exploited the evocative interrelation between color and form to create an aesthetic experience that engaged the sight, sound, and emotions of the public. He believed that total abstraction offered the possibility for profound, transcendental expression and that copying from nature only interfered with this process. Highly inspired to create art that communicated a universal sense of spirituality, he innovated a pictorial language that only loosely related to the outside world, but expressed volumes about the artist’s inner experience. His visual vocabulary developed through three phases, shifting from his early, representative canvases and their divine symbolism to his rapturous and operatic compositions, to his late, geometric and biomorphic flat planes of color. Kandinsky’s art and ideas inspired many generations of artists, from his students at the Bauhaus to the Abstract Expressionists after World War II.

WASSILY KANDINSKY KEY IDEAS

Painting was, above all, deeply spiritual for Kandinsky. He sought to convey profound spirituality and the depth of human emotion through a universal visual language of abstract forms and colors that transcended cultural and physical boundaries.
Kandinsky viewed non-objective, abstract art as the ideal visual mode to express the “inner necessity” of the artist and to convey universal human emotions and ideas. He viewed himself as a prophet whose mission was to share this ideal with the world for the betterment of society.
Kandinsky viewed music as the most transcendent form of non-objective art – musicians could evoke images in listeners’ minds merely with sounds. He strove to produce similarly object-free, spiritually rich paintings that alluded to sounds and emotions through a unity of sensation.

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Francis Schaeffer pictured below

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Here are some comments from Francis Schaeffer (includes two quotes from David Douglas Duncan) from the episode “The Age of Fragmentation” which is part of the film series HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE?

Cezanne reduced nature to what he considered its basic geometric forms. In this he was searching for an universal which would tie all kinds of individual things in nature together, but this gave a broken fragmented appearance to his pictures.
File:Paul Cézanne 047.jpg
Les Grandes Baigneuses, 1898–1905: the triumph of Poussinesque stability and geometric balance.
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In his bathers there is much freshness, much vitality. An absolute wonder in the balance of the picture as a whole, but he portrayed not only nature but also man himself in fragmented form. 
I want to stress that I am not minimizing these men as men. To read van Gogh’s letters is to weep for the pain of this sensitive man. Nor do I minimize their talent as painters. Their work often has great beauty indeed. But their art did become the vehicle of modern man’s view of fractured truth and light. As philosophy had moved from unity to fragmentation so did painting. 
From this point onward one could either move to the extreme of an ultranatural naturalism, such as the photo-realists, or to the extreme of freedom, whereby reality becomes so fragmented that it disappears, an man is left to make up his own personal world. In 1912 abstract Expressionist painter Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) wrote an article entitled “About the Question of Form” in THE BLUE RIDER saying that , since the old harmony (a unity of knowledge) had been lost, only two possibilities remained–extreme naturalism or extreme abstraction. Both, he said, were equal.  
Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), an American author living in Paris, was important at this time. It was at her home that many artists and writers met and talked of these things, hammering out in talk the new ideas–many of them long before they personally became famous. Picasso initially met Cezanne at her home.
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With this painting modern art was born. Picasso painted it in 1907 and called it Les Demoiselles d’AvignonIt unites Cezzanne’s fragmentation with Gauguin’s concept of the noble savage using the form of the African mask which was popular with Parisian art circle of that time. In great art technique is united with worldview and the technique of fragmentation works well with the worldview of modern man. A view of a fragmented world and a fragmented man and a complete break with the art of the Renaissance which was founded on man’s humanist hopes.
Here man is made to be less than man. Humanity is lost. Speaking of a part of Picasso’s private collection of his own works David Douglas Duncan says “Of course, not one of these pictures  was actually a portrait, but his prophecy of a ruined world.”
But Picasso himself could not  live  with this loss of the human. When he was in love with Olga and later Jacqueline he did not consistently paint them in a fragmented way. At crucial points  of their relationship he painted them as they really were with all his genius, with all their humanity. When he was painting his own young children he did not use fragmented techniques and presentation. Picasso had many mistresses, but these were the two women he married. It is interesting that Jacqueline kept one of these paintings in her private sitting room. Duncan says  of this lovely picture, “Hanging precariously on an old nail driven high on one of La Californie’s (Picasso and Jacqueline’s home) second floor sitting room walls, a portrait of Jacqueline Picasso reigns supreme. The room is her  domain…Painted in oil with charcoal, the picture has been at her side since shortly after she and the maestro met…She loves it and wants in nearby.”  
I want you to understand that I am not saying that gentleness and humanness is not present in modern art, but as the techniques of modern art advanced, humanity was increasingly fragmented–as we shall see, for example, with Marcel Duchamp The artists carried the ideo of a fragmented reality onto the canvas. But at the same time being sensitive men, the artists realized where this fragmented reality was taking man, that is, to the absurdity of all things. ….The opposite of fragmentation would be unity, and the old philosophic thinkers thought they could bring forth this unity from  the humanist base and then they gave this (hope) up. 
Hans Arp (1887-1966), an Alsatian sculptor, wrote a poem which appeared in the final issue of the magazine De Stijl (The Style) which was published by the De Stijl group of artists led by Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg. Mondrian (1872-1944) was the best-known artist of this school. He was not of the Dada school which accepted and portrayed absurdity. Rather, Mondrian was hoping to paint the absolute. Hand Arp, however, was a Dadaist artist connected with De Stijl. His power “Für Theo Van Doesburg,” translated from German reads:

the head downward
the legs upward
he tumbles into the bottomless
from whence he came

he has no more honour in his body
he bites no more bite of any short meal
he answers no greeting
and is not proud when being adored

the head downward
the legs upward
he tumbles into the bottomless
from whence he came

like a dish covered with hair
like a four-legged sucking chair
like a deaf echotrunk
half full half empty

the head downward
the legs upward
he tumbles into the bottomless
from whence he came

Dada carried to its logical conclusion the notion of all having come about by chance; the result was the final absurdity of everything, including humanity.

The man who perhaps most clearly and consciously showed this understanding of the resulting absurdity fo all things was Marcel Duchamp (1887-1969). He carried the concept of fragmentation further in Nude Descending a Staircase (1912), one version of which is now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art–a painting in which the human disappeared completely. The chance and fragmented concept of what is led to the devaluation and absurdity of all things. All one was left with was a fragmented view of a life which is absurd in all its parts. Duchamp realized that the absurdity of all things includes the absurdity of art itself. His “ready-mades” were any object near at hand, which he simply signed. It could be a bicycle wheel or a urinal. Thus art itself was declared absurd.

stairs

stool wheel

The historical flow is like this: The philosophers from Rousseau, Kant, Hegel and Kierkegaard onward, having lost their hope of a unity of knowledge and a unity of life, presented a fragmented concept of reality; then the artists painted that way. It was the artists, however, who first understood that the end of this view was the absurdity of all things. Temporally these artists followed the philosophers, as the artists of the Renaissance had followed Thomas Aquinas. In the Renaissance it was also philosophy, followed by the painters (Cimabue and Giotto), followed by the writers (Dante). This was the same order in which the concept of fragmented reality spread in the twentieth century. The philosophers first formulated intellectually what the artists later depicted artistically.” (187-190)

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Picasso and Olga Khokhlova

Their son Paulo (Paul) was born in 1921 (and died in 1975), influencing Picasso’s imagery to turn to mother and child themes.  Paul’s three children are Pablito (1949-1973), Marina (born in 1951), and Bernard (1959).  Some of the Picassos in this Saper Galleries exhibition are from Marina and Bernard’s  personal Picasso collection.

Pablo Picasso. Portrait of Paul Picasso as a Child.

Portrait of Paul Picasso as a Child. 1923. Oil on canvas.
Collection of Paul Picasso, Paris, France.

In 1917 ballerina Olga Khokhlova (1891-1955) met Picasso while the artist was designing the ballet “Parade” in Rome, to be performed by the Ballet Russe.  They married in the Russian Orthodox church in Paris in 1918 and lived a life of conflict.  She was of high society and enjoyed formal events while Picasso was more bohemian in his interests and pursuits.  Their son Paulo (Paul) was born in 1921 (and died in 1975), influencing Picasso’s imagery to turn to mother and child themes.  Paul’s three children are Pablito (1949-1973), Marina (born in 1951), and Bernard (1959).  Some of the Picassos in this Saper Galleries exhibition are from Marina and Bernard’s  personal Picasso collection.

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The Longest Ride: Sweet romantic Sparks

The Longest Ride (2015) • View trailer 
3.5 stars. Rated PG-13, for sensuality, fleeting nudity, dramatic intensity and brief war violence
By Derrick Bang

You gotta hand it to Nicholas Sparks: He certainly knows what sells.

Ten films have been made from his novels, since 1999’s Message in a Bottle, and most have been well received: absolutely indisputable date-bait. No. 11, based on his novel The Choice, already is waiting in the wings for release next year.

Luke (Scott Eastwood) surprises Sophia (Britt Robertson) with a “dinner date” that’s
actually an early evening picnic at the edge of a gorgeous shoreline. Could anything be
more romantic?

Some of the more recent big-screen adaptations, though, have suffered from a surfeit of predictable Sparks clichés: the too-precious, meet-cute encounters between young protagonists; rain-drenched kisses; the contrived tragedies; the wildly vacillating happy/sad shifts in tone. Indifferent directors and inexperienced leads haven’t helped, with low points awarded to Miley Cyrus’ dreadful starring role in 2010’s The Last Song, and the on-screen awkwardness of James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan, in The Best of Me.

Which makes The Longest Ride something of a relief, actually, because its stars — Scott Eastwood and Britt Robertson — share genuine chemistry. We eagerly anticipate their scenes together, in part because they occupy only a portion of their own film. In yet another Sparks cliché, this narrative’s other half belongs to an entirely different set of lovers, whose swooning courtship and marriage unfold half a century earlier, as recounted via — you guessed it — a box filled with old letters.

Sparks obviously can’t resist the impulse to cannibalize his own classic, The Notebook … which, come to think of it, also got re-worked in The Best of Me. Never argue with excess, I guess.

Anyway…

Transplanted big-city girl Sophia (Robertson), a senior majoring in modern art at North Carolina’s Wake Forest University, is inches away from graduation and an eagerly anticipated internship at a prestigious New York gallery. Romance is the last thing on the mind of this serious scholar, until she’s dragged to a bull-riding competition by best gal-pal Marcia (the adorably perky Melissa Benoist, who deserves her own starring role, and soon).

Inexplicably caught up in the suspense of these dangerous, eight-second battles between man and horned beast, Sophia can’t take her eyes off Luke (Eastwood). He’s a former champ on the comeback trail, following a disastrous accident, a year earlier, which left him with A Mysterious And Potentially Fatal Condition.

As is typical of such melodramatic touches, we never learn the exact nature of Luke’s affliction, only that he courts death — more than usual — every time he now gets on a bull. And that he pops pills, presumably pain pills, like peppermints.

Anyway…

Sophia and Luke have nothing in common, and yet they’re drawn together; a hesitant relationship blossoms, despite the certain knowledge that Sophia soon will depart for New York. These early scenes are charming: scripted simply but effectively by Craig Bolotin, and engagingly played by our two leads, who are quite good together. Sophia can’t resist Luke’s polite Southern gentility; frankly, neither can we.

Heading home late one rain-swept night, they come across a crashed car whose elderly driver, Ira Levinson (Alan Alda), is hauled from the wreck just in time … along with a box he begs Sophia to retrieve. Later, in the calm of the hospital where Ira begins his recovery, Sophia discovers that the box is filled with scores of his old love letters to Ruth, his deceased wife.

Ira’s condition is frail, his mental state approaching surrender. Perceiving that the letters bring solace to this old man, even though his eyesight isn’t up to the challenge of enjoying them himself, Sophia offers to read them aloud: a task she soon embraces on a daily basis.

(I’m not sure how Sophia finds the time for her studies, her relationship with Luke and her sessions with Ira … but there you go.)

And, thus, we’re swept back to the early 1940s, as a younger Ira (Jack Huston) meets and falls in love with Ruth (Oona Chaplin), a European Jewish refugee newly arrived in the States with her parents. Ira, besotted by this enchanting young woman, can’t believe that such a sophisticated beauty would spare a second glance at a humble shopkeeper’s son, and yet she does. Indeed, Ruth is unexpectedly forward for the era, which certainly adds to her allure.

The parallels are deliberate: Ruth is enchanted by modern art, particularly works produced by the free-thinking students/residents at nearby Black Mountain College. Ira can’t begin to comprehend her fascination with the likes of Willem de Kooning and Robert Rauschenberg, but he’s willing to learn … just as Luke can’t imagine why anybody would pay thousands of dollars for “a bunch of black squiggly lines on a white canvas.” (Nor can I, for what it’s worth.)

Scripter Craig Bolotin wisely improves upon Sparks’ novel, by more elegantly integrating these two storylines. In the book, the hospital-bound Ira’s earlier life unfolds via “conversations” with his deceased wife; his actual interactions with Luke and Sophia are minimal. Bolotin’s decision to grant Sophia a larger part of Ira’s reminiscences, and to enhance their mutual bond, is far more satisfying.

Back in time, Ira and Ruth’s whirlwind courtship is interrupted by World War II (a segment seriously condensed from Sparks’ novel) and, in its aftermath, A Disastrous Battlefield Injury that has left Ira … less of a man. Can love endure?

Okay, my snarky tone isn’t entirely fair. Although it’s more fun to spend time with Luke and Sophia, there’s no denying the similarly endearing bond between Ira and Ruth, and our genuine consternation when things go awry. Much of the credit belongs to Chaplin — daughter of Geraldine Chaplin, and granddaughter of the legendary Charlie Chaplin — whose Ruth is a force of nature.

Huston’s young Ira spends much of the film transfixed by Ruth’s very presence, his mouth slightly agape: a mildly amusing and not terribly deep reaction, and yet one we understand completely. She is captivating, and her smile is to die for.

Meanwhile, back in the present, Sophia learns of Luke’s, ah, vulnerability: not from him, but from his worried mother (Lolita Davidovich, calm and understated, which is just right). Cue the usual stubborn response from the Man Who’s Gotta Do What A Man’s Gotta Do; cue the tears, hearts and flowers.

All of which sounds hopelessly maudlin, but … funny thing: By this point, we’re well and truly hooked by both storylines, and hopelessly invested in their outcomes.

Unless, of course, you haven’t a romantic bone in your body … which obviously was the case with the two insufferably rude women sitting nearby during Tuesday evening’s preview screening, who giggled derisively during the film’s entire second half. I get it: This is syrupy soap opera stuff, so if that ain’t your bag, don’t buy a ticket. Let the rest of us dreamy suckers enjoy it in peace.

At unexpected moments, and granted just the right camera angle by cinematographer David Tattersall, Eastwood looks and sounds spookily like his old man, during his younger days. It’s uncanny, at times, and this younger Eastwood takes full advantage of the heart-melting smile and luminescent gaze that seem his birthright. The bonus is that he’s a more expressive actor than Clint, if only by a slight margin … but I’ve no doubt Scott could become a star, given careful judgment of future roles.

The extraordinarily busy Robertson has parlayed considerable television work (most recently the adaptation of Stephen King’s Under the Dome) and big-screen supporting roles into some recent starring vehicles; between this and her high-profile turn in Tomorrowland, due in late May, she’s certain to make this year’s “promising young starlet” lists.

She’s just right here, giving Sophia an initially reserved, bookish wariness that melts persuasively as she throws herself, wholeheartedly and with the ill-advised impetuousness of young love, into this relationship with Luke.

The bull-riding footage is impressive, its authenticity overseen by the film’s association with Professional Bull Riders, with additional heft supplied by cameo appearances from a few PBR world champions. Tattersall and editor Jason Ballantine do impressive work with the riding sequences, which look realistically dangerous … particularly when it comes to a dread alpha-alpha bull dubbed Rango.

The film’s melodramatic virtues notwithstanding, it’s too damn long; 139 minutes is butt-numbingly excessive for this sort of romantic trifle. At the risk of succumbing to the obvious one-liner, this “ride” would have been more satisfying, had it been shorter.

Posted by Derrick Bang at 1:00 AM

Black Mountain College: Art Innovation and Education

Black Mountain College: Art Innovation and Education

By Max Eternity

“BMC was a crazy and magical place”

Lyle Bonge, Student 1947-48

How one responds to crisis often determines and confirms tragedy or triumph. Surely, John Rice knew of this when he led the charge to open an innovative new college in Asheville, North Carolina, some 80 years ago, calledBlack Mountain College.

“Black Mountain College was interested in educating human beings to become citizens of the world” says Alice Sebrell, “so that’s why things like grades, and in many cases degrees, were not as important as this deeper level of engaging the world—contributing to it, and being an active citizen.”

The college is now a museum, and Sebrell is its Executive Director.

Founded in 1933 by John A. Rice, the concept of the Black Mountain College drew from the philosophical principles of education reform as realized by American intellectual and psychologist, John Dewey.

As the school was being born, simultaneously Nazism was swelling in Europe and the United States was adrift in the Great Depression. Responding to the US crisis, and in his visionary commitment to uplift the economy and the morale of the American people, President Franklin Roosevelt created the Public Works Arts Project—a government program for artists that was later folded into and expanded on in the creation of the Works Projects Administration (WPA).

In the US, Roosevelt was championing the arts, while in Germany Adolph Hitler shuttered the Bauhaus in Berlin, Germany—a small art and design school founded by Walter Gropius that ultimately produced many of the world’s greatest creative, including Marcel Breuer, Joseph and Annie Albers, Wassily Kandinsky, Lily Reich and Mies Van Der Rohe. Among other things, shuttering the Bauhaus signaled the end of Germany’s Weimar Republic renaissance.

Along with Jews and those with alternative gender and sexual identities, Nazi Germany launched a brutal oppression against European artists and intellectuals who did not conform to the ideals of the state, and thus were deemed degenerate.

Of those who escaped, many of Europe’s best and brightest became students and teachers at choice schools in the United States, including Walter Gropius, who became department head of the architecture graduate program at Harvard University.

Joseph and Annie Albers, who both taught at the Bauhaus, were subsequently on the faculty at Black Mountain College.

In the 1940’s, Albert Einstein was on the Board of Directors at Black Mountain College.And while Jim Crow apartheid laws were being fully enforced throughout North Carolina and much of the nation, Black Mountain College included African-American artist, Jacob Lawrence—who is best known for “The [Great] Migration series,” which tells an epic visual story of the Black exodus from the South to the North—in its faculty.

Though lesser known and smaller in size, many art historians consider Black Mountain College a parallel and peer to the Bauhaus, as it was equally as progressive and innovative as the Bauhaus. And during its 24 year lifespan, the school attracted and produced some of the greatest intellectual and creative talents of the 20th century. A partial listing of these figures include Josef and Anni Albers, Jacob Lawrence, Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, John Cage, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Kenneth Noland, Franz Kline, Arthur Penn, Ruth Asawa, M.C. Richards, Francine du Plessix Gray, Robert Motherwell, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley and many others.

Black Mountain College closed in 1957, yet decades later, and in this new century, the creative spirit and genius of Black Mountain College continues to inform of humanity’s greatest potential in art and education.

Black Mountain College (Asheville North, Carolina)

“I think that the direction that education has gone in recently where it’s all about testing and memorization is just diametrically opposed to what was going on at Black Mountain College“ says Sebrell, and in the following interview, Sebrell speaks further about the inspiration and lessons learned from Black Mountain College:

Max Eternity: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Black Mountain College?

Alice Sebrell (AS): I think is probably a visual…because I’ve worked on so many projects that have to do with the visual aspect of the college—the artist and their work, or photographs of the college, or just walking the properties.

ME: And is there a common thread in this visual imagery?

AS: What comes up is the longing to have been able to experience it in person, rather than second hand. For me it’s more of a yearning for what appears to have been an incredibly intense, creative and charged experience for everyone who lived through, and those sorts of experiences don’t come along every day.

ME: And of the school’s founder, John Rice, I’ve read he was unflinching in his passion for education, that he was a genius, and his love for teaching and learning far outweighed his interest in institutional bureaucracy. To this point, Rice was no stranger to controversy. Who was this man?

AS: I think your description is accurate. He was a brilliant man.

I think he could be caustic or impatient with people sometimes; people who weren’t as quick or intellectual as he was. So I think he stepped on some toes, and you could say that about many figures at the college. They moved along at a quick pace. It was your job as a student or college to keep up. They weren’t going to coddle you.

ME: Others have their viewpoints, but from what you know about him what might John Rice say about himself?

AS: I’m guessing here, but I think he might say that he was misunderstood. And, I think he would say that even though the college didn’t last beyond 24 years, it was very successful, and that not all radical visions in education succeed in terms of time. That that’s not the true measure of success and that he started something great that’s had a lasting impact.

ME: It’s clear that the Bauhaus was influential to BMC, and in many ways the schools mirrored one another. Could you talk about some of the similarities and differences with each school?

AS: The first similarity that comes to mind is this idea of workshops in the arts, that that was the model that they had at the Bauhaus, and was brought here through Joseph and Annie Albers. Also, the idea of experimental performance, theatre and interdisciplinary activities in the arts—that would be a similarity. Another would be the fact that the Bauhaus moved—three different locations in its short life—and Black Mountain had 2 different homes. And that kind of thing would not allow for any sort of entrenched or ridged way of getting into a rut.

At the first place at Blue Mountain Ridge, they had to go away every summer. So each fall they set up a new, and that’s certainly uncommon.

ME: Yes, a radical approach to living and learning.

AS: They were living on the edge. At Black Mountain College they were always financially living on the edge. And at the Bauhaus, in the final years they too were living on the edge; in terms of the politics going on around them.

The main difference—from afar, my impression is that the Bauhaus was better funded, and larger.

ME: The Bauhaus was a government funded project. So, they had those coffers to draw from.

AS: Yes, so they had a little more stability in that way.

ME: Next, there is a section on your website that speaks to an educational exhibition, called A Radical Vision. I want to read to you a few of the statements taken from that online catalog, and ask if you can respond to each respectively, starting with:

“A group of creative people living, learning, and working together with common purpose – community by design – that was Black Mountain College, a radical vision of college as community.”

AS: I would say that it was community by design, and they certainly made sure that it continued that way through the life of the college. It was also by necessity, to some degree.

Community was part of the vision of the founder of the college, and that contributed to the intensity of that community because not only was it a group of people who saw each other all the time, but many of them were creative geniuses. That aspect also factored into how it has a lasting impression on every one.

And I think it’s certainly different from almost every college or university today. That’s [community] not a part of anybody’s vision today.

ME: More specifically, how so?

First of all it has to be very small, and there are very few colleges as small as Black Mountain was. There are some that are small, but they are quite different.

ME: And of this:

”People must be as free as possible to make their own choices and create their own lives”

AS: How refreshing, is what I would say—that the responsibility for one’s choices, one’s education, one’s life, is left is in their own hand.

Black Mountain College was interested in educating human beings to become citizens of the world. So that’s why things like grades, and in many cases degrees, were not as important as this deeper level of engaging the world—contributing to it, and being an active citizen

ME: And finally, of this:

“Cooperation – and sometimes conflict – was generated by the intensity of the community experience.”

AS: Well, I think that’s true. The history of the college confirms that.

There were periodic skirmishes, and epic battles. And if you read about some of those battles there is an admission that people’s egos got the best of them, where they were engaged in a particular struggle not so much because they felt they were arguing for the right point of view, but for the struggle itself. And it became important [just] to win.

These are all very human experiences that we obviously still face today. But that experience of an intense community can be uplifting, and can lead to incredible accomplishments that perhaps wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

It can bring out that absolute best, and sometimes worst, in a human.

ME: With this year being the 80th anniversary of the school, what lessons might educational administrators and educational advocates learn and employ toward enriching and improving their own learning institutions?

AS: This is just my personal opinion: I think that the direction that education has gone in recently where it’s all about testing and memorization is just diametrically opposed to what was going on at Black Mountain College. So I personally feel that maybe getting away from this current direction, and maybe heading back a little bit more towards education of the whole person—experimental education, and some of these ideas that Black Mountain College borrowed from John Dewey—might be an approach that leads to a more informed and engaged citizenry.

ME: Any last thoughts about the enduring legacy of the school?

AS: I guess for us, not only is it an anniversary of Black Mountain College, it’s also the 20th anniversary of our Museum and Art Center.

We’re pretty proud of that, and we hope that in what we’re doing the alumni would see our effort as worthy.

The work we do in some sense is an echo; honoring some of those important ideas and approaches to living that they carried out at the college.

ME: And to students today, regardless of where they may be, what would you say to them in the spirit of learning and growing that they could draw on from the legacy of Black Mountain College?

AS: To students, I would say the most fruitful path is often just to follow their interest…and keep following it. Because, that’s going to be the fuel for that path, which comes from inside, rather than from outside—not somebody telling them who to be, or where to go.

I would say that to follow that compass driven by interest and passion. It doesn’t usually lead us astray.

Related posts:

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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”)

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March 24, 2015 – 12:57 am

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

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

Published on May 16, 2012

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

Part of Bauhaus: Art as Life (3 May – 12 Aug) at Barbican Art Gallery. Find out more – http://bit.ly/mBAT3e

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At Black Mountain College

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

Teaching at Brauhaus

Color in Context: Revisiting Albers, with Anoka Faruqee

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

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

Published on Jul 29, 2013

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

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Later in life:

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

Josef Albers drawing class:

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

Black Mountain College

Uploaded on Apr 18, 2011

Class Project on Black Mountain College for American Literature

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Postcards from Black Mountain

 

THE 5 BEST ARTISTS OF THE ‘20S

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

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

An Experiment in American Education

By Carol Cruickshanks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Albers Arrives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Designer-Craftsperson

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

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

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

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

Collaborations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

______

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

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

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

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

– See more at: http://www.theartstory.org/school-black-mountain-college.htm#sthash.IrnxTUFZ.dpuf

Great article 

Bauhaus Movement and Chronology

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

Oskar Schlemmer

BAUHAUS SYNOPSIS

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

BAUHAUS KEY IDEAS

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

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MOST IMPORTANT ART

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

Bauhaus Beginnings

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

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

Concepts and Styles

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

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

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

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

BAUHAUS LEGACY

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

Original content written by Larissa Borteh
Bauhaus. [Internet]. 2015. TheArtStory.org website. Available from:
http://www.theartstory.org/movement-bauhaus.htm [Accesed 04 May 2015]

QUOTES

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE LONGEST RIDE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

” It’ s the toughest sport on dirt.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related posts:

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 55 THE BEATLES (Part G, The Beatles and Rebellion) (Feature on artist Wallace Berman )

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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THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 10 Irwin Kremen (ARTIST)

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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

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

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

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

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

In the 10th post I look at the art of Irwin Kremen who studied at Black Mountain College in 1946-47 and there Kremen spent his time focused on writing and the literature classes given by the poet M. C. Richards.

Irwin Kremen: Beyond Black Mountain (1966 to 2006)
Through June 17
Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University

click to enlarge

There is a Kabalistic notion that at the moment of one’s death, all one’s days come together at the locus of the soul. “Gather Your Days” is the term for this phenomenon; it is also the title of a work by Irwin Kremen in his current exhibition at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke. Kremen, who holds no mystical or religious beliefs, sees this exhibition as perhaps as close as one might come to such an experience.

Irwin Kremen: Beyond Black Mountain (1966 to 2006) is an opportunity to enter a unique world of making and seeing. In 1966, at the age of 41, Irwin Kremen began to make art. Kremen was a psychology professor at Duke with a full academic calendar and family life, but he found a way to begin a 40-plus year journey that has produced an astonishing body of work. Kremen was clearly inspired and energized by his friendship with modern luminaries such as Merce Cunningham and John Cage (Cage’s notorious “silent piece,” 433, is dedicated to Kremen). And he was also profoundly encouraged by Italian artist Italo Valenti. But ultimately Kremen cultivated a highly personal and innovative approach to artmaking that is all his own. He calls it “work-of-my-kind.”

Upon entering the Nasher’s lobby you will first see the large sculptures of steel, aluminum and wood that represent Kremen’s most recent collaborative venture with sculptor William Noland. The epic scale of these forceful and spatially mutable works is in notable contrast to what one encounters in the exhibition space. It is in some ways difficult to reconcile the small scale of Kremen’s collages with their impact. They require a degree of patience, a kind of reorienting of one’s own rhythms. This is not a show you can jet through and get. But if you give yourself some time, the pieces begin to convey a feeling of the infinite.

“The Unsung No. 2” (1989) is a small collage of paper and another undetermined material, referred to as “paper vinyl (?).” A stain of ochre grounds the base of the composition, which opens upward into grays with some blue passages. A deeper gray along the topmost edge frames the upper section. Continue to look and paper seams begin to show themselves cutting across the surface of the piece. There is play between straight cuts and torn edges. Further investigation brings into view the scars, specks and grime of the surface itself, the suggestion of screen-printed letters. The work seems never to stop offering information or essence. This experience of being able to go deeper and deeper into a piece is overwhelmingly true of almost all of the collage works.

click to enlarge

Kremen’s materials are a key element of his work. They come from multiple locations and sources, harvested with precision and zeal. The archival care and technique wielded by Kremen in relation to these materials suggests that they have not so much been found as rescued. In some cases they even feel like they’ve been mined; Kremen’s sensitivity to color and his capacity to build painterly surfaces can produce an almost gem-like glow, as seen in some of the more brightly colored pieces such as “Retinal Splash” (1977) or “Luxe No. 2” (1989/2004). Another key element of Kremen’s work is his collage technique, which seems to have stemmed from an impulse to preserve and value his materials. Rather than gluing or pasting, Kremen painstakingly builds his compositions and traces what he calls a “schematic.” He then adheres thin Japanese paper against the back of each fragment and assembles them with paper “hinges.” The result is an almost sculptural experience of the materials—edges are allowed their autonomy. This method incorporates the use of magnifying lenses and fine tools, some of which Kremen has forged himself.

Kremen’s singular approach to constructing these works contributes to the powerful intentionality and sense of the monumental in small, ostensibly simple compositions such as “Junctures” (1979). “Junctures” measures 5 3/8 x 4 5/8 inches and consists of a black central rectangular shape built out of paper fragments, surrounded by a torn frame of blue. The materials are paper and paint, although as in much of Kremen’s work, it’s hard to discern where one medium ends and another begins. Kremen allows the white underside of the paper to reveal tears and delineate shapes, which offers dimension as well as a sense of age. In this way many of Kremen’s collages begin to resonate as artifacts, bearing the traits of ancient archeological finds.

While Kremen refuses metaphor or attendant meaning in connection with the rest of his oeuvre (but for the Re’eh series—see below), it is difficult not to see or feel themes emerge as one makes one’s way through this exhibition. And if there were a dominant single theme, it might be about the desire to hold and frame the joy of visual essences as they flash by us, to preserve and also to transform them, to create works that simultaneously celebrate and mourn the press of days and the experience of sentient life.

The Re’eh series

Irwin Kremen maintains that his work has no metaphoric or symbolic content. The one exception is the Re’eh series, which is displayed in its own separate room in the exhibition space. The Re’eh series stands as a rupture, self-described by Kremen as a shock when the first of the series “appeared” to him. In the winter of 1980 Kremen created a piece that undercut his preconceptions about what “work-of-his-kind” was supposed to be. In this piece, “Im Lager,” Kremen recognized imagery that echoed the horrors of Nazi Germany. In Kremen’s own words:

I knew that it had to do with the Holocaust, knew it with immediacy. Those stripes! And that shape with its broken Hebrew word! Torah scroll, tombstone? At once, the stripes that were worn in the camps and a scroll whose script is entombed in the same stripes! What else, if not both the camps and the world that the camps destroyed!

And while he had invested himself in the idea that his work was never to be “about” anything, he recognized the need to create a series that would follow the trajectory begun in that seminal work, a monument to victims of the Holocaust. Thus the Re’eh series, which includes works with such titles as “Broken Words,” “The Inconsolable” and the starkly grim “Transport,” constitutes an anomaly in Kremen’s output. But the series also serves as a cornerstone, even the soul of the exhibition. Each piece in the Re’eh series speaks in multiple layers, grappling with the unspeakable. The series also speaks to a kind of artistic courage—to relinquish preconceptions in the act of making. —Amy White

Irwin Kremen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Irwin Kremen (born 1925) is an American artist who at 41 began making art while Director of the Duke University Graduate Program in Clinical Psychology, after earning a Ph.D. six years earlier in clinical psychology at Harvard University.

Kremen’s artwork mainly consists of non-representational collage, sculpture, and painting. In his later years he has defined a fourth grouping which he calls “multimodes.”[1] These are syntheses of the other three or sometimes of just two. Early on, he worked in the first three modes but in 1969, while on sabbatical in Florence, Italy as a Fellow at Villa I Tatti, the Harvard Center for Renaissance Studies, he began to compose collages of weathered paper and continued this for a decade.[2][3] Becoming unhappy with conventional methods of gluing collage elements, he developed a conservational method of affixing the disparate pieces together via tiny hinges of Japanese paper.[4][5]

In the late 1970s, while continuing collage making, Kremen returned to three-dimensional work, now in iron and scrap steel, and by the later 90s entered a collaboration with the sculptor William Noland. Over the next decade they made monumentally sized works, three of which were exhibited in Kremen’s 2007 retrospective at Duke University‘s Nasher Museum of Art. He also sporadically resumed work with acrylic paints and toward the late 90s began making painted panels below which were rows of collages arranged rhythmically.

Among Kremen’s major works is the Re’eh Series, a single work relative to the Holocaust, consisting of 11 narrative collages.[6]

Life[edit]

Born and raised in Chicago, Kremen attended Northwestern University for two-and-a-half years leaving in 1945 to become a reporter on ‘’The Chicago Journal of Commerce’’.[7] By that time he had independently encountered avant-garde art and modern literature and had begun writing poetry. Whereupon, in 1946, he left Chicago for the renowned Black Mountain College, an experimental educational community founded in 1933 near Asheville, N.C.[8] There Kremen spent his time focussed on writing and the literature classes given by the poet M. C. Richards.

Beginning in 1947 and for the next eight years he lived in Greenwhich Village, writing, reading widely, working variously in bookstores and in publishing, and broadening his knowledge of art and its history. And he became involved with the avant-garde circle around John Cage to whom he had been introduced by M.C. Richards in 1951 in New York, as also to David Tudor and Merce Cunningham. [9] In 1953 Cage dedicated to Kremen the score of 4’33” in proportional notation, as later he also did theTacet versions of 4’33”, the published editions of the so-called silent piece . [10] During that time he married Barbara Herman whom he had met at a Cage concert; completed a B.A. at The New School for Social Research; and went on to obtain a Ph.D. inclinical psychology at Harvard University. With his wife Barbara Kremen and their two children he left Cambridge for a professorial position on the faculty of the Psychology Department at Michigan State University. Two years later he joined that faculty at Duke University, and in another three years, in 1966, made his first work of art. He retired from Duke in 1992, and continues to make art.

Art[edit]

In 1977, after having kept his art private for twelve years, Kremen, then 54, agreed to an exhibition organized by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Collection of Fine Arts (now the Smithsonian American Art Museum) with two solo venues, the first in 1978 at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) in Winston Salem, NC, and the second in 1979, at its Museum in Washington.+ Twenty-nine solo venues followed, all but two in museums or contemporary art centers, and his work has been included in 27 group shows. The first exhibit of the Re’eh Series was held in 1985 at the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA; nine other exhibits of it have followed. In the spring of 2007, the Nasher Museum of Art presented Kremen’s first retrospective. It included more than 172 works – collage, painting and sculpture – spanning each of the 40 years of Kremen’s art-making since he began at age 41.[11] In 2011, the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center in Asheville, NC held an exhibit of Kremen’s late work.

The Longest Ride Movie CLIP – Bull Riding Lesson (2015) – Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood Movie HD

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8:30 PM PDT 4/6/2015 by Todd McCarthy

The Bottom Line

A chance to check out up-and-coming actors in cloyingly calculated performances

Opens

April 10 (20th Century Fox)

Cast

Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Jack Huston

Director

George Tillman Jr.

The latest Nicholas Sparks adaptation stars Scott Eastwood (son of Clint) and Britt Robertson as oddly matched lovers

When it comes to Nicholas Sparks, you’re either up for the ride or you’re not. If you are, you’re part of a Middle American fan club that has supported nine schmaltzy, formulaic, achingly sincere film adaptations of the novelist’s books to the cumulative box office tune of about $750,000,000. If you’re not, well, The Longest Ride will feel like one of the longest 128 minutes of your life. Old-fashioned in all the most tedious ways, this by-the-numbers romance between oddly mismatched lovers plods along in a way that will nonetheless provide the cinematic equivalent of an agreeable airplane novel read for the already converted.

What’s most strange here is how Sparks, in a calculated attempt to link people from very different worlds, offers up social backgrounds for them that simply don’t mix at all — modern Southern college sorority life, the circumstances for World War II Jewish refugees, enclaves of modern art a half-century ago and today and, per the title, the good-ol’-boy milieu of professional bull riding. On top of that, no matter what crises may arise (and they are numerous), everyone is always perfectly attired and surrounded by pristine North Carolina settings in which no blade of grass is ever out of place.

The pretty couple at the center of things has modern cowboy Luke (Scott Eastwood), comeback-minded after having been violently thrown by a mighty mean bull named Rango, pursuing a very gentlemanly courtship of Wake Forest college senior Sophia (Britt Robertson) shortly before she’s due to move to New York for a high-end art gallery internship. Luke’s the sort to tote flowers when he shows up for their first date (“Call me old-school,” he bashfully intones), while Sophia is mentally already half-way out the school door on the way to her big-city future.

But fate intervenes, as it has a habit of doing, when the couple rescue an old man from a car accident on a dark rainy night and take him to a hospital. While he recovers, genial old gent Ira Levinson (Alan Alda) allows Sophia to read aloud to him from old letters that recount his poignant relationship with his beloved late wife, Ruth. So even as it’s not explained why so many letters were written when, in fact, Ira and Ruth were in the same place most of the time back in the early 1940s, we see extended flashbacks of the newly arrived Austrian Ruth (Oona Chaplin), a vivacious, forthright, immaculately attired young woman, capturing the heart of the pleasant looking but exceedingly placid Ira (Jack Huston, bearing absolutely no resemblance to Alda, young or old).

The couple’s many trials and tribulations, notably including Ira’s Jake Barnes-like war injury that prevents him from giving Ruth the children she craves and their failure to adopt a parentless hillbilly boy who shows intellectual promise, simply serve to demonstrate how few obstacles Luke and Sophia face compared to theirs. But more directly, Ruth’s passion for modern art fostered at the (real) progressive Black Mountain College in North Carolina feeds oh-so conveniently into Sophia’s career interests, while also providing the springboard for one of the most outrageously preposterous surprise endings in recent movies.

Leaving his career origins in Soul Food and the Barbershop series (which he produced) very far behind indeed, director George Tillman Jr. indulges, nay, embraces the sanitized banality of Sparks’ world with a straight face. Just as the basic plot points are hard to swallow, even the most rudimentary aspects of the characters’ interactions feel forced, artificial and unspontaneous. A significant part of the interest here surely lies in the film’s role as a showcase for four just moderately known young actors. Robertson, who co-stars in the highly anticipated, about-to-arrive Tomorrowland, often seems to have a bridle on here, keen to impart some spontaneity that’s being kept in check. Eastwood, in his first significant starring role after several supporting gigs, most recently in Fury, certainly resembles his dad both physically and in his inclination for minimal dialogue; he’s easy on the eyes and comfortably inhabits a Western-style character, but his potential remains to be determined.

Curiously, the couple from 70-odd years ago has been cast with grandchildren of Hollywood luminaries from that period. Huston displays none of the gumption associated with his director grandfather John or the latter’s thespian offspring. By contrast, Chaplin, granddaughter of Charles, daughter of actress Geraldine and namesake of her grandmother, is the sole younger actor to pop here; playing the only one of the youthful characters with any boldness or inclination to speak her own mind, the unconventional-looking performer comes off as assertive, driven and appealing in an idiosyncratic manner.

But providing the film with whatever emotional grounding it can claim is Alda. Restricted almost exclusively to a hospital bed, the 79-year-old actor makes the canned sentimentality of his 91-year-old character go down quite easily as he comments to Sophia about the vicissitudes of his life.

The settings and compositions are picture-postcard, the score syrupy, the bull-riding coverage not entirely convincing, the sentiments cliched and reassuring. But, boy oh boy, the ending! In Sparks’ world, when happiness rains, it pours.

Production: Fox 2000 Pictures, Temple Hill, Nicholas Sparks Productions

Cast: Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin, Alan Alda, Lolita Davidovich, Melissa Benoist, Gloria Reuben

Director: George Tillman Jr.

Screenwriter: Craig Bolotin, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks

Producers: Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Nicholas Sparks, Theresa Park

Executive producers: Michele Imperato Stabile, Robert Teitel, Tracey Nyberg

Director of photography: David Tattersall

Production designer: Mark Garner

Costume designer: Mary Claire Hannan

Editor: Jason Ballantine

Music: Mark Isham

Casting: Mary Vernieu, Lindsay Graham

PG-13 rating, 128 minutes

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Psychology Department’s “Artist in Residence”

Right NowI a Villema II
Irwin Kremen collages: Right Now, top; I a Villema II, bottom
Les Todd

Irwin Kremen, an assistant professor emeritus of psychology, is known almost as well for his art as for the academic career that has been his primary occupation.

This spring, “Irwin Kremen: Beyond Black Mountain (1996-2006),” a retrospective featuring more than 160 of the artist’s works, opened at the Nasher Museum of Art. The exhibition, which will run through June 19, comprises collages, paintings, and sculpture that span the forty years that Kremen has been making art—since he began in earnest at age forty-one, three years into his teaching career at Duke. On April 29, Kremen will lecture on a series of eleven collages included in the exhibition that relate to images of the Holocaust.

Many of Kremen’s collages consist of scraps of weathered paper he gathered during overseas travels. His sculptures, often large in scale, are composed of iron, saw blades, and steel, among other materials.

Kremen’s career as part-scholar, part-artist actually began years before he joined the Duke faculty, years before he considered psychology an interest, much less a career choice. He dropped out of Northwestern University after three years and worked as a reporter and a columnist for a local newspaper before moving to New York. There, he read an article about Black Mountain College, an art school near Asheville, North Carolina. “I immediately got on the train and went down there,” he said in a 2000 Duke Magazine profile, “and I decided that was the place for me to go.”

At Black Mountain, he concentrated on his writing, forming a close relationship with teacher M.C. Richards, a writer and potter. In 1951 in New York, Richards introduced him to celebrated artists associated with Black Mountain—John Cage, David Tutor, and Merce Cunningham—all of whom became close friends and eventually ardent supporters.

Later, after Kremen had discovered his love for psychology and made his start along an academic career path, Richards pushed him to turn his attention to collage making. What began in the late 1960s as a personal experiment would morph into a lifelong pursuit.

Kremen’s debut exhibit was organized by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Collection in 1978; since then, his work has been shown in more than thirty venues at museums and art centers nationally and abroad. “The Art of Irwin Kremen,” an exhibition consisting of seventy-three collages and seventeen metal sculptures, was displayed at the Nasher’s predecessor, the Duke University Museum of Art, in 1990.

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asheville.com community news
The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center Launches New Exhibit “Late Works by Irwin Kremen” on February 18 

The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (BMCM+AC) presents the new exhibition In Site: Late Works by Irwin Kremen opening Feb. 18, 2011 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and extending through June 4, 2011. There will be a gallery talk by the artist at 11:00am on Sat., Feb. 19th. The exhibition will primarily focus on recent collages by this master collagist and Durham, NC resident, but it will also include a selection of his sculptures. A 48-page color catalogue will accompany the exhibition with an essay by the artist. This exhibition is organized by the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center located at 56 Broadway in downtown Asheville, NC. After it closes here, the show will travel to The Phillips Museum of Art at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA.Working as a reporter and columnist for a local daily newspaper in New York City, five months after he had quit studying journalism at Northwestern University, Irwin Kremen came across an article featuring Black Mountain College. Without hesitation, he hopped on a train and joined this small, avant-garde community flourishing in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Kremen recalls that he “sought fresh experience, different ideas, expanded feeling, in short, another way to be in the world.”

Although Kremen enrolled in Black Mountain College in 1946 to pursue his aspirations as a young writer, the progressive and collective environment he encountered there permanently re-defined his ideas about education. Black Mountain College exposed Kremen to such various and influential artists as poet and potter M.C. Richards and abstract painters Josef Albers and Kenneth Noland. Richards, who became a life-long friend of Kremen’s, prompted his first collage experiment nearly twenty years after Kremen had left Black Mountain College. What, at the time, had seemed to be only a playful assignment instigated what some consider Kremen’s ultimate metamorphosis, a transformation that continues to this day.

After Black Mountain College, Kremen lived in New York’s Greenwich Village where he befriended John Cage, Merce Cunningham and David Tudor, all of whom spent time at BMC after Kremen left. Cage dedicated his famous piece 4’33” to Kremen. Eventually Kremen went back to school and earned his Ph.D in clinical psychology from Harvard and moved to Durham to teach at Duke in 1963. It was a few years later that M.C. Richards introduced him to collage making. Kremen is known for his elegant found-paper collages that employ a unique “hinge” construction technique. He says about his work, “I hunt out papers that have been in sun, in rain, covered with the dirt of the city. Yet as I look at them, I realize their exquisite potential.”

Irwin Kremen has had solo exhibitions at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, as well as at a long list of galleries and museums. He won the Sam Ragan Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Fine Arts of NC in 1998.

Programming during the exhibition will include an Artist’s Talk and an Advanced Collage Workshop with the artist as well as a panel about Writing on Art and a reading by three NC-based writers.

(Image provided by the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center.)

Looking for more happenings in the area? Check out Asheville.com’s comprehensive visitor center.

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BLACK MOUNTAIN: WAS IT A REAL COLLEGE OR DID WE JUST MAKE IT UP OURSELVES? BY MARY EMMA HARRIS

Black Mountain:
Was It a Real College Or Did We Just Make It Up Ourselves?
by Mary Emma Harris, Featured Speaker

REVIEWING BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE 6
26-28 September 2014—UNC Asheville, Asheville, NC

 Editor’s Note:
Mary Emma Harris is Chair and Director of The Black Mountain College Project. Hailed by Charles Alan Watkins as a “well-researched and handsomely illustrated history” of BMC, Ms. Harris’ groundbreaking study, The Arts at Black Mountain College (Massachusetts Institute for Technology Press, 1987), is an indispensable guide to the school’s history and curriculum that weds its praxis to its ideals and founding mission. This work continues to inform and inspire, serving as foundational text not only for scholars in the field but also for all interested in experimental education in America. Ms. Harris welcomed conferees at the sixth annual gathering at UNC Asheville with a formal talk, which formed the basis for this article. Lauding the school’s democratic ideas and progressive curriculum in the visual, literary, and performing arts, she celebrates the state of BMC studies, rethinks Black Mountain College’s history, and challenges us to see our creativity and innovation as part of the school’s legacy.

“Beginnings,” Anni Albers wrote, “are usually more interesting than endings” (52). Those of us writing about Black Mountain College and leading new institutions are pioneers. There will be those who come after us who will continue our work, but just as the experience of the founders of Black Mountain College or those who built the Studies Building was different than that of those who came after, our experience is unique and the responsibility great. When I first heard about Black Mountain College in 1968, I was starting with a blank page. I did not know who was at the college, when or why they were there, or what they did. The educational ideals were a mystery. There were no books to which I could turn. Pioneers had preceded me. Robert Moore at East Tennessee University had curated the first Black Mountain College exhibition. His papers are now at The Western Regional Archives of the State of North Carolina as a part ofThe Black Mountain College Project Papers. Martin Duberman had started his research, but his pioneering study of the college, Black Mountain College: An Exploration in Community (E.P. Dutton) did not appear until 1972.

I did not grow up in an academic or artistic family. I was one of six children raised by a single parent on a small tobacco farm in Eastern North Carolina. We received Life Magazine and the Saturday Evening Post. I handed tobacco and worked a number of jobs. I attended Greensboro College, a small Methodist college, before enrolling at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In many ways BMC has been my education—my “higher learning.” Several years ago a BMC student confronted me with a daunting question, “What, Mary, if you have done all this work and nobody cares?” “That being the case,” I responded, “it has been well worth the journey.” As I write, there are exhibitions being organized in Europe and the United States, concerts in rehearsal, books in press, a movie being made, dissertations and theses in progress. Humbly, I am reminded of Josef Albers’ advice to youth:

 Calm down
what happens
happens mostly
without you. (n.p.)

Personally, I yearn to unbox my own research and to return to my work as an independent scholar. There are books there to be written. There is information that should be digitalized as a resource for those interested in the college. There is an extensive chronology with thousands of entries: a year-by-year roster of faculty, students, staff and family; the Advisory Council and the Board of Fellows; the officers of the corporation; plays, concerts and exhibitions; visitors; publications; and other material. Already I begin to mull over in the back of my mind the best way to put this together and how it might be a living resource with contributions and additions from scholars over time. I am beginning to explore possible institutional connections, which will insure its survival long after me. I only hope that I have enough years left to complete this work and for a few adventures.

Thankfully, many hard-working individuals and institutions with devoted staffs and volunteers are working diligently to preserve the history of BMC. By increasing our understanding of its complexity, its historicity, its richness, and its legacy, they make the past speak to us today. While there is much more work to be done, there is much to celebrate:

  • The Western Regional Archives of the State of North Carolina, which has the largest collection of Black Mountain College documents in the world. Its holdings are the foundation for any study of the college. I am so very pleased that the collections, previously housed in Raleigh, have found their way home to Western North Carolina. I would specifically like to thank Heather South for her untiring efforts to help researchers from everywhere. I would also like to thank Theodore Dreier, Jr., who is here today, and his sister Barbara B. Dreier, for the donation of their parents’ papers to the Western Regional Archives;
  • The Black Mountain College Museum+Arts Center located at 56 Broadway in Asheville, which is dedicated to exploring the history and legacy of the world’s most acclaimed experimental educational community and offers a wide range of exhibitions, a video archive, research materials, and a selection of books and other materials for sale. Its collections, exhibitions and programming are expanding our knowledge and understanding of the college and providing Asheville with a new and different voice in the arts. A recent grant from the Windgate Foundation is both witness to and guarantee of the longevity of BMCM+AC that has enabled it to expand its programs and facilities. This institution that helps sustain the arts in Asheville was the brainchild of Mary Holden Thompson, founder of the museum. Connie Bostic, Alice Sebrell, Brian Butler, and many others continue to make her vision a reality;
  • BMCS, The Journal of Black Mountain College Studies, an online peer-reviewed publication of BMCM+AC, which provides scholars with a coherent voice for the publication of their work. We thank its co-founders, Brian Butler and editor Blake Hobby, Alessandro Porco, who serves as its associate editor, and all who have dedicated their time and talent;
  • The Asheville Art Museum for its commitment to a comprehensive Black Mountain College Collection, which includes art of Black Mountain College students and faculty. The collection, an ongoing project, complements the BMCM+AC collection. I’m grateful to Pamela Myers and the museum staff for making it possible for me to bring into a museum collection a large body of material that needed a permanent home. The AAM, located at 2 South Pack Square, is a community-based, nonprofit organization established by artists and incorporated in 1948. Its focus is on Twentieth and Twenty-first Century art of the Western North Carolina and the Appalachian area.
  • The Black Mountain College Project (BMC Project), of which I am Chair, as it moves forward in the realization of its goals. Two years ago the BMC Project donated its collection of primary documents—photos and negatives, journals, student notes—to the Western Regional Archives, expanding significantly its holdings. The art works in the BMC Project collection were donated to the Asheville Art Museum. Presently, I am preparing 400 interviews and transcripts for an archive. Once the work of the BMC Project is completed, its assets will be donated to another institution, and the Project will happily dissolve, declaring, “Mission accomplished.”
  • The many private and public archives housing documents of those who taught and studied at the college: The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, The University of Connecticut in Storrs, The State University of New York at Buffalo, The Getty Research Institute, and Stanford University, among others. John Andrew Rice’s papers are at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina;
  • Scholars and artists worldwide who are doing careful, enlightening work on specific aspects of Black Mountain College and on the individuals who taught and studied there;
  • Those brave souls who taught and studied at Black Mountain for their courage, their wisdom, and their imagination. They have been my friends, my mentors, my critics and my teachers over many years.

Through the efforts of local institutions and others like them, Western North Carolina is now the epicenter for Black Mountain College studies.

It is important for those institutions and individuals in Asheville to remember that Black Mountain College settled near the Village of Black Mountain as a matter of chance. It was here that it put down its roots though it remained throughout its history an outsider. Almost a century after BMC’s founding, Asheville has embraced the college as its own. The Asheville institutions and all of us who seek to preserve and document the college’s history and influence should remember that these collections and the college’s legacy are held in trust. No individual or institution can claim ownership. The college was Black Mountain and Asheville. It was also New York, Boston, Berlin, San Francisco, Cambridge, Dessau and Frankfurt. It was John Cage and Lou Harrison. It was J.S. Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Virgil Thompson, Sir Edward Elgar and the Early Music. The college opened its doors to people of many nationalities, ethnicities, political beliefs and races. Its legacy should not be encompassed by a narrow provincialism that limits its history and our understanding of its significance.

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“Was That A Real Poem
Or Did You Just Make
It Up Yourself?” (n.p.)

In his essay “Was That A Real Poem Or Did You Just Make It Up Yourself?,” Robert Creeley muses on a number of issues regarding poetry and the poet: What is a poem? Why does one write? The title is a question posed to another poet at a college reading: “Tell me,” the student queried, “that next to the last poem you read—was that a real poem or did you just make it up yourself?”

In his own search for an answer, Creeley turned first to his trusted 1935 edition of the The Pocket Oxford Dictionary of Current Englishand was horrified to find “’elevated expression of elevated thought or feeling, esp. in metrical form….’” He then turned to the more recent American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (1969) and found “the art or work of a poet” which he defined as a real “cop-out.” The definition Creeley articulates avoids both the formula and the cop-out. It is descriptive. It is complex. It requires the reader or listener to think and to respond: “It is equal wonder,” Creeley writes, “when the rhythms which words can embody move to like echo and congruence. It is a place, in short, one has come to, where words dance truly in an information of one another, drawing in the attention, provoking feelings to participate.” This definition requires that the individual listen, respond, and participate. It is nuanced and comprehensive. A poem is a “place.”

Was Black Mountain College a “real” college, or was it simply made up by a group of incompetent, unaccredited, idealistic, unemployed, disaffected, disillusioned, and disenfranchised professors? What is a “real” college? Following Creeley’s example, I turned to an early edition of Webster’s Dictionary in which Black Mountain was listed as a college in the end-materials along with other colleges. Here was one credential. I then turned to my well-worn Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary (1965). There “college” is “An institution ofhigher learning [emphasis added] that gives the bachelor’s degree in liberal arts or science or both.” The definition goes on to describe it as an institution that offers certain instruction, the faculty and students, and the buildings where the instruction takes place. Until the 1950s BMC did not grant degrees, and when it did, they were not accredited.

In an essay “Fundamentalism and the Higher Learning” in the May 1937 issue of Harper’s Magazine, John Andrew Rice, BMC founder, addressed that very issue of “higher learning.” He challenged the assertion of Robert Maynard Hutchins, President of the University of Chicago and creator of the Great Books curriculum, that students should be introduced to “a common stock of fundamental ideas” gleaned from a select group of books deemed to be the “classics” or that a “fixed curriculum based on eternal truths” was a meaningful education (587; 594).

“’In general education…,’” Hutchins had posited, “’we may wisely leave experience to life and set about our job of intellectual training.’” Rice points out the disparity between “logic” and “truth.” Simply reading and thinking, he observes, does not prepare the student for life. He asserts that experience is essential to education, but that is the quality of experience that counts. Language, he notes, is only an “approximation” of thought. Feeling plays a role. In Nazi Germany, he warns, well-educated people with their emotions raised by a “house-painter” turned to “savagery.” “While intellection was being sharpened and polished, savagery was going its way, waiting for a chance. If we think this cannot happen here we are fools” (588-90).

The “higher learning” Rice suggests is “to follow the Socratic direction to teach the young how to become, not how to be, philosophers and to show them that in their quest for certainty the only thing on which they can rely with assurance is the experience of the quest.” “Education,” he proposes, “instead of being the acquisition of a common stock of fundamental ideas, may well be a way of learning of a common way of doing things, a way of approach, a method of dealing with ideas or anything else. What you do with what you know is the important thing. To know is not enough.” Rice’s Plato class was less about Plato than it was about the Socratic method. Students were challenged to examine their assumptions and beliefs as a step toward the process of becoming philosophers (592; 595).

Rice concludes his essay with a statement which for years puzzled me: “When every day offers the adventure of seeking the word for the meaning rather than the meaning for the word, when action and word merge and become one, then shall we have the higher learning in America, and not before” (596). Robert Creeley understood that the definition for the word should not determine the meaning (or experience). Instead the experience should define the word.

The issue today is the possibility that the “real” Black Mountain College is being lost in the frenzy of excitement over the more luminous events in its history. Almost fifty years ago when I first heard about Black Mountain College, it had for the most part disappeared from memory. A few in San Francisco and some in the Massachusetts area knew about the college through the Black Mountain Poets, which carried its name. Frequently, those in education dismissed it as an interesting but failed experiment in American education that had no lasting influence. Now in the second decade of the Twenty-first Century, its influence is undeniable. For most, however, the college is associated with a few names—John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller—all of whom were there for only a few months as guest faculty members. Unfortunately, its educational ideals are less known and often reduced to a few clichés: No grades, work program, farm. The danger today is not so much the unconsidered dismissal of the college as it is an over-inflation of the small modest school and a distortion of its history. The danger is that the educational ideals and the dynamics of the small community, the foundation on which the college thrived, are being oversimplified or ignored.

I encountered the myth early in my Black Mountain journey. When I entered the art department at Washington University in St. Louis and asked about a former student from Black Mountain College, a student working in the office responded, “Oh, Camelot!” It is all too possible to romanticize BMC, to forget that there was magic but also there was a dayliness to classes, farm work, study and committees. It is all too easy to forget the struggle each year to raise money and pay bills. It is all too easy to forget that all this was not easy.

In his novel The Longest Ride (2013), Nicholas Sparks writes of the life-changing experience of Ira and Ruth, a young couple who visited the college on their honeymoon in the summer of 1946. Ruth exclaims in wonder, “‘…to think that it was all there, at a small college in the middle of nowhere! It was like finding….’” And Ira finishes, “’A treasure chest!’” “‘It was Abstract Expressionism!’” (194). In an effort to enhance the experience of the honey-mooning couple, Sparks places Willem and Elaine de Kooning at the college in the summer of 1946 along with “Ken and Ray and Robert,” when, in fact, that summer only Ray Johnson was in attendance, and Abstract Expressionism was not introduced until two years later. Nevertheless, Ira purchased for Ruth six Abstract Expressionist paintings one each by Ken, Ray, Elaine, and Robert and two by “Elaine’s husband.” (This is probably the only instance in which Willem de Kooning has been referred to as “Elaine’s husband.”) Even in fiction to recreate the historic facts of the college to enhance a story is to create a double-fiction and to distort our perception of the “real” Black Mountain. Likewise, for scholars to condense the college’s history into a few luminous events, which actually were scattered over a period of twenty-four years, is to perpetuate the Camelot myth (197).

Last year when I conducted a tour of the Blue Ridge Assembly buildings, we entered a large auditorium with a capacity of hundreds. A representative of Blue Ridge noted that college concerts and performances took place there. When I commented that, in fact, they took place on an improvised stage in the dining hall, in the lobby of Lee Hall, or on occasion in the gym, someone noted that there would have been townspeople attending. In fact, twenty townspeople would have been a large turnout.

Is the “real” Black Mountain College relevant today? The issues of the arts in education, of testing, of the relevance of manual activities in a digital world and of the role of faculty and administration are contemporary themes. Recently, on the news a school was featured where the teachers, tired of having directives handed down, took over the school. As at Black Mountain, decisions are reached by consensus. Learning is project-based. The school principal remains though she does not have an office. In his New York Times 14 August 2014 editorial, “Don’t Dismiss the Humanities,” Nicholas Kristof notes how parents of students in the humanities are concerned that their children will be “dog-watchers for those majoring in computer science.” He argues that “the humanities are [not] obscure, arcane and irrelevant” because it is through the humanities that we come to understand the world.

A poem is a place; likewise, the “real” Black Mountain College was aplace. It was a complex landscape— vibrant, interactive, torn by conflicting personalities and ideals, and often dull. It was a “made-up” world affording innumerable higher learning experiences that redefined the possibility of what a college might be.

Works Cited

Albers, Anni. On Weaving. Middleton, CT: Wesleyan UP, 1965. Print.
Albers, Josef. Poems and Drawings. New Haven: Readymade Press, 1958. Print.
Creeley, Robert. “Was That A Real Poem Or Did You Just Make It Up Yourself?” Sparrow 40. Santa Barbara, CA: Black Sparrow Press, January 1976. Print.
Kristof, Nicholas. “Don’t Dismiss the Humanities.” New York Times. 14 August 2014. Print.
Rice, John Andrew. “Fundamentalism and the Higher Learning.”Harper’s Magazine 174 (May 1937): 587-97. Print.
Sparks, Nicholas. The Longest Ride. New York/Boston: Grand Central Publishing, 2013. Print.

Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, MA: G Merriam Company, 1965. Print.

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BILL TREICHLER REMEMBERS BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE

When I first arrived with my parents at Black Mountain College in late summer of 1947 to begin school for the fall term, the school entrance looked weedy and the grounds were grown up with long grass. We had traveled from Iowa across beautiful Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, and driven into the scenic mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina to the site of this college, already famous as an art school, where the property looked ignored and neglected.

We drove up the roadway past the dining hall then along the lake and parked our car near several others close to the entrance deck of the Studies Building. The first person to greet us was M.C. Richards who was getting into a car. She introduced herself in a very friendly way—my parents liked her immediately—, and she directed us to follow a path that led across a footbridge above a narrow wooded gorge to a building that contained the college office. We walked there and made arrangements to stay overnight in the guest room upstairs in the same building.

Undoubtedly, I told a person in the office that I had come as a new student. We must have walked around, looked into some of the buildings, and eaten our supper in the dining hall, but I don’t remember doing any of these things, because I was dismayed by the appearance of the school—this wasn’t the small rural experimental college I had expected. I was already homesick and ready to drive back to Iowa with my parents. Mother and Dad tried to cheer me up. “You should give the place a try,” they said. “Maybe you can cut the grass and weeds.”

My parents had moved with my sister and me in 1928 —  from living in Cedar Rapids and from my father’s law partnership with his father — to a rundown farm. They had fixed up the farm house by their own efforts and with very little money. Some of that money my mother had made by selling her hooked rug patterns, stenciled in color onto burlap. Their farming endeavors barely earned enough to pay taxes and interest. Together they cleared away brush and picked up trash. We gardened to raise food for ourselves. Mother canned tomatoes on a wood-fired cook stove, dried sweet corn in the sun, baked bread from home-grown wheat, and even made her own soap. My father built fences; tended livestock, learned to milk a goat, then a cow; raised hay, corn, oats and wheat; and put up buildings from salvaged materials.

They both worked to make our house livable and beautiful with paint and wallpaper. I can remember Mother painting a woodland scene with a Japanese tea house in the distance on the walls of the dining room using fresh cut birch boughs as a guide.

Both of my parent’s fathers had been farm boys and gave my folks much encouragement. City friends of my mother and dad were skeptical about my folk’s move to the country with two small children. Family and city acquaintances remained curious and came often on weekends to our farm to see how Esther and Bill were doing and were amazed by their accomplishments.

Going to Black Mountain wasn’t my first time away from home. I had been in the Army Air Force for 27 months, part of that time as a crewman on a B17 bomber based in England. Before that, just out of high school, I had taken a summer session of introductory engineering at Iowa State College and then worked half a year for the Corps of Engineers before I was drafted. After the war I had gone for one term to Iowa State, this time to take agronomy, forestry and animal husbandry courses.

In the early 1940s our family had become very interested in organic farming. We read J.I. Rodale’sOrganic Gardening Magazine, articles and books by Louis Bromfield, Edward Faulkner and Albert Howard. While I was in England, stationed at Great Ashfield in East Anglia, I saw in an Ipswich bookstore The Living Soil by E. B. Balfour displayed alongside Faulkner’s Plowman’s Folly which I had read. Louis Bromfield’s introduction to Faulkner’s book had helped make it a best-seller. I bought The Living Soil and discovered from a map inside, that the farm where the author, Eve Balfour, was comparing organic, chemical and mixed farming practices was only a few miles from our airbase.

I soon bicycled to the Haughley farm to see for myself. Fortunately, the first person I met when I arrived at Newbells Farm was Eve Balfour. She was too busy that day to give me a tour of the farm, but she invited me to return later at a more convenient time when she could show me around. When I came back another day, we walked over the whole farm and she showed me that it was divided into three sections: one managed with livestock and compost, one with commercial chemical fertilizers, and one using a combination of practices. After that visit I was a frequent visitor and even stayed overnight. Lady Eve always wore working clothes when I saw her and was busy with farm work. She was a niece of A. J. Balfour, prime minister of the U.K. (1902 – 1905).

While still in England, whenever I was in a bookstore, I looked for books on farming. To help me out, Lady Eve suggested titles and even ordered books from her publisher for me. I read them, and ordered copies for other people after the war when I was home.

Just after the war, our family heard of the decentralist movement in this country and we went to conferences organized by Mildred Loomis featuring the ideas of Ralph Borsodi about rural homestead living. At these meetings we heard speakers on organic gardening, whole nutrition, home production, and we met other people who lived in the country, produced their own food and shelter, and practiced crafts such as weaving. I remember being very impressed by a home-loomed suit worn by a man at one of these conferences. I was determined to learn all I could to live a self-sufficient life.

My mother read Milton Wend’s book How to Live in the Country Without Farming. In the book he described his life style and stressed home-production, and in a chapter toward the end of the book, Wend even listed colleges where a homesteading family might send their children. Black Mountain College was listed along with Berea and Bennington. Berea College might have been more appropriate for my interests, but Berea didn’t often accept students outside five southern states. So I applied to Black Mountain and was accepted.

The morning following our arrival my parents drove off, and I stayed. I was assigned a study in the Studies Building. I went to classes and chose to take Natasha Goldowski’s chemistry course. I wanted to gain a scientific understanding of how organically raised foods could provide better nutrition. I also chose to take the beginning weaving class taught by Trude Guermonprez because learning to weave was a principal reason for my choosing to attend Black Mountain College. I also enrolled in Max Dehn’s “Geometry for Artists” and Mrs. Jalowetz’s evening activity on bookbinding.

Of course, I soon visited the farm and became acquainted with Ray Trayer who taught classes in rural sociology and ran the farm which produced milk and eggs for the school kitchen and some vegetables for the summer session. Ray let me use the tractor and field mower to cut grass and weeds along the road edges and the lawn areas near the entrance. Next, I mowed the flat plots on either side of the Studies Building and along the library. Mrs. Rice approved of mowing the tall weeds and her son Frank, who taught linguistics and German, rode the dump rake to gather the cut grass into windrows so it could be picked up and hauled to the farm yard.

About this time the group that administered school affairs assigned me the work-coordinator job. My responsibility was to make up lists of student names for the different jobs such as washing dishes, trimming brush along foot paths, and unloading coal from a railroad car. All of us students were supposed to be involved in some way with work necessary to operate the school. Some students found special jobs for themselves, and some of the faculty may have had special projects for the school. I remember that Ted Dreier and Ted Rondthaler were always visible setting an enthusiastic example working with students outdoors to clean up trash or examine the reels of fire hose, and indoors filling in with a crew to wash dishes.

Every year in the fall, the college bought a full rail car of coal for winter heating. Unloading the gondola meant picking up and throwing chunks of coal over the side of the car into a truck parked alongside. When the truck body was full, it was driven to the school and unloaded into a storage dump by the Studies Building or into a coal bin behind the kitchen. Crews of students with the help and encouragement of Rondy and Ted Dreier heaved the coal from the rail car into a truck. It was a dirty job, but it took only about a day. Once we had thrown out enough chunks of coal to get to the bottom of the car, a shovel could be used to scoop the smaller pieces into the truck.

I remember one morning, when we were waiting in the truck in front of the girl’s dormitory for every one to get aboard, one girl came down the dormitory steps and started to climb into the truck wearing a beautiful and expensive sweater. Several other girls said to her, “You can’t wear that; it will be ruined.” She got something else to wear and came along to help. Picking up sooty lumps of coal was work she had never imagined.

The student body was made up of somewhat distinct groups. There were the art students, students mostly interested in academic studies, and those that took the more general college courses combined with art classes and craft activities. Students came from New York City, Chicago, St. Louis and San Francisco and others from smaller places in New England, the Midwest, and from Southern States. Many of the students who were there my first year did not return the next year, but there was a sizeable increase in the number of students the second year. The faculty was constantly shifting and this affected student enrollment. When Albers was there, students came for his courses. There were strong factions within the faculty, and power would shift from one faction to another when certain members left or returned.

The faculty lived in the large old lodges from the time of the Lake Eden resort, in apartments in the office building, in the dormitories, and one in the Studies Building, and in several newer houses. Those who didn’t eat in the dining hall came to the kitchen at lunch and supper time and took prepared food home to eat. Occasionally some ate dinner in the dining room. The evening dinner was supposed to be a dress-up time. Saturday night dinner was often followed by a performance or by Mr. Bodky playing Viennese waltzes for several hours. He played with great gusto. Ted Dreier was one of the star performers, and would at times rapidly draw or dash his partner across the floor. He was spectacular. Ted Dreier Jr. was a good waltzer, too. Donald Alter and Misi Ginesi seemed to be a natural dancing couple and Delores Fullman and Bob Raushenberg were a great dancing pair. Dolores also gave classes in jitterbugging. There were regular classes in modern dance given by Betty Jennerjahn in the dining room. Saturday night was a great affair. Mr. Bodky would exhaust himself at the piano. He taught music at the school and was a regular performer on the harpsichord, broadcasting from an Asheville radio station. The Bodkys lived in the stone house across the road from the dining hall. Mrs. Bodky looked after the arrangements for student laundry.

Luckily for me, Natasha Goldowski had come to teach science at Black Mountain. I told Natasha at the beginning of her chemistry course that I wanted to better understand a scientific basis for organic farming. She was agreeable to my purpose, but, she told me, it would require considerable preliminary study. I would need to start at the beginning to be familiar with chemical processes. The first day of class she wrote out a page full of simple chemical equations for me to solve and she explained how to do the exercise. We went on from there through basic chemistry, organic chemistry and began bio-chemistry. I could not have found a better teacher nor one more responsive to a student’s interest.

Natasha always considered herself to be a physicist and I remember she would say to us, “You need to know physics to understand chemistry, we will have to have a physics class.” And, “You do pretty well at arithmetic, but we need to have a mathematics class.” And she would set up another class or tutorial to move us along.

Natasha had come to this country as an expert on corrosion chemistry and had been a consultant, I understood, to the Manhattan Project at the end of the Second World War. She had met the big names in physics and she had personal opinions of their merits and personalities and would express them to us. She was well read on the developing ideas in the physical world. I remember how excited she was when she read Norbert Wiener’s new book (then) on cybernetics. She would come up to one of us and say, “I just read something amazing.” And then go on to explain it to us novices.

Natasha decided that we should send for a new chemistry text by Linus Pauling in which he detailed his theory of atomic bonding as an explanation of chemical behavior. Pauling changed the study of chemistry from memorization of discovered reactions to an understanding of why substances did or did not react. (Pauling at this time was getting a lot of publicity for his anti-war stance.) Linus Pauling went on into the field of biochemistry, studying the importance of the essential nutrients, the vitamins, especially Vitamin C. His work continues today in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Linus Pauling’s elementary chemistry book made chemistry understandable for me and his later work fulfilled what I wanted to know about the relationship of good husbandry to nutrition and healthy plants, animals, and humans.

Natasha’s choice of a text for our organic chemistry study was by a French husband and wife team. Natasha always favored the French. Understandably, it was her preferred language because she had spent a lot of time living in France. Born in Moscow, she moved to Paris for schooling. She told us that she had earned a Ph.D. in physics and another in chemistry and an engineering degree at the University of Paris, and had never gone a day to school. She had to work to support herself and her mother who came on to Paris in a short time to look after her. Natasha worked at a job during the day, bought notes of the lectures, studied them at night, passed the examinations, and was awarded the degrees. She worked on chemical corrosion projects for the French air ministry, and was in the Resistance during the war.

Natasha was a wonderfully enthusiastic teacher, always delighted when a student grasped a concept or she caught some nuance herself. “For-mi-dab-la!” she would exclaim. Natasha used a blackboard like a note pad to chalk up equations or notes, and had a board in her office/study in the apartment where she and her mother lived in the back of the office building. My intellectual life at Black Mountain for the 2 years I was there was mostly taken up studying with Natasha.

Madame Goldowski always had her students come to her apartment for their French lessons. They would meet in her living room. She had more students than any other teacher at Black Mountain but she wasn’t paid. She didn’t complain.

Every time Madame saw me going to or coming from Natasha’s office she would say, “When are you going to learn Francais? Eet is not difficult; you already know all of those words ending in t-i-o-n.” Because I didn’t come for her French lessons, she would wag her finger scoldingly, but smile at me. Madame knew that I had lived on a farm and worked then at the college farm. She would say, “Work with ze clods; become like ze clods.” She did tell us marvelous stories of her youth when she went to functions in the Kremlin. “The doorways into the ballroom are very low. Everyone has to stoop to enter. That is so one or two armed men could defend the entrance from invaders.” Madame was very short. Did she have to stoop under the lintels?

Since one of my reasons for coming to Black Mountain was to learn to weave, I entered a beginning weaving class taught by Trude Guermonprez. Each student was assigned a loom in the weaving gallery on the bottom floor of the Studies Building. We could spend as much time as we wished working on “our” loom. Some people seemed always to be there weaving. Willie Joseph, a long-time student and weaver at BMC, worked on a large double-warp-beam loom trying out patterns for upholstery fabrics. With that loom he could form corduroy type weaves. Willie used only black and white thread in the true Albers fashion. I got to know Willie pretty well: we visited in the weaving room, we were room mates in the dormitory, we had both been in the war, he was in one of Natasha’s classes with me, ate at the same table in the kitchen, and I even rode home with him once as far as Cincinnati where he lived. Willie came to see us later in Iowa.

Anni Albers occasionally did some weaving in the gallery. I remember that she brought back wool garments from South America; some had been fashioned before Columbus’s voyage. Lore Kadden  Lindenfeld probably spent more time than anyone in the gallery. She wove place mats which the weaving department sold, I think, in gift shops.

Trude did have class time with us beginners when she explained the different weaves: plain, twill, satin, mock leno. She taught us how to diagram weave patterns on graph paper. She showed us how to make up a warp, install it on a loom and place the correct thread through a heddle and tie it to a stick fastened to the cloth beam. Our class went on a trip to Burlington Mills where we saw a large room filled with many looms turning out parachute cloth. All of us in the class were impressed by the finger dexterity of a pleasant woman in another room who was knotting with a simple motion of her forefinger against her thumb two threads, one from a new roll of warp to the corresponding thread of an old warp that was still running through the heddles in frames from a loom. She took time to show us how easy it was, but I couldn’t make the knot.

On the same trip we went to a hosiery mill and saw nylon hose being formed on steam-heated aluminum leg forms. Knitted white stockings were pulled over the legs and patted into place then pulled off as shapely hose. We thought the oscillating leg forms looked like a scene from “Ballet Mechanique.” Sometimes a run would appear, but the women running the machine deftly picked at the apparent run and it disappeared. Lorna Blaine Howard arranged through her father for our excursion of the mill. She and her husband Tasker Howard, a former student who was teaching at the college, came along on the trip.

I haven’t done any weaving since my days at Black Mountain and so haven’t fulfilled my early ambition to weave for home production. I realize that purchasing ready-made clothing is far more efficient use of my time. However, my daughter and daughter-in-law are skilled spinners and we have an old, large-frame loom acquired in Vermont which my daughter set up and used at one time when we lived at a boarding school in Vermont. The girls don’t spin, knit or weave anymore either. I do have hundreds of pounds of shorn wool from a small flock of Romney sheep.

Yet, in the late 1940s, weavers at Biltmore Industries in Asheville were turning out fine hand-loomed woolens and tailoring them into men’s suits. We went there and saw cloth being hand woven, then taken outdoors to be shrunk and dried in sunlight. Later my father bought one of the Biltmore suits by mail, and he was very pleased with the suit he received. I wonder if Biltmore Industries is still in business.

Beautiful bed coverlets were woven 150 years ago by independent weavers in this country. I wish now that the school had had a loom set up with a Jacquard or barrel attachment to weave intricately patterned coverlets and I could have seen or had the experience of weaving a coverlet with intricate patterns including names and dates.

The other course I took my first year was Max Dehn’s “Geometry for Artists.” Dr. Dehn introduced us to points, lines, planes and solids; cones sectioned into circles, ellipses, parabolas, and hyperbolas; spheres and regular polyhedrons. He showed us that any two lines drawn from opposite ends of the diameter forming a semi circle will always meet the arc at a 90 degree angle. He drew on the chalkboard geometric relationships such as the Pythagorean Theorem. Professor Dehn told us the 25 prime numbers from 1 to 100, and then asked us, as an assignment, to find as many as we could above 100. He told us about Fibonacci’s Number and its relationship to the “Golden Mean” of the Greeks, and to volutes so commonly observable in nature. He considered our grade school learning lax in that we hadn’t memorized the squares to 25. To remedy our insufficiency, he taught us a simple way to compute squares.

Max Dehn and his wife Toni lived up the road to the farm in a small house. They took part in community meetings and often ate in the dining room. He was then corresponding with former colleagues in Munich and was concerned with the meager amount of food they had to eat. Max wanted the school to send them money, but the school was very hard-up. An arrangement was worked out, however, and Harry Holl prepared his famous Spanish rice casserole for all of us to eat in place of a regular meal and the saving in food expense was sent to Munich.

For an evening activity I went to Mrs. Jalowetz’s bookbinding class. She taught us how to rebind badly worn books from the library by showing us how to take a sewn book completely apart, make necessary repairs, and then reassemble the book. We learned how to fix pages with tears using paste along the torn edges, not cellophane tape. We sewed sets of pages, signatures, as we assembled them in a bookbinder’s rack, then clamped them tightly together and glued a strip of mesh fabric along the spine. The board covers were replaced if they had bent corners or worn coverings. When the covers were ready, the book core was placed in the middle between the two sides and the edges of the binding fabric pasted to the cover boards. Lastly, end papers were cut and pasted on the inside of the cover to hide the binding fabric and make everything neat.

Mrs. Jalowetz also taught us to make covered portfolios and boxes for holding photographs or letters. She not only showed us how to do the work but she also always applauded our efforts.

I remember Mrs. Jalowetz telling us that when she was young in Europe, a household would have enough bed sheets for the whole time of winter because people didn’t launder in cold weather. Sheets stayed on a bed for a week. The top hem of a sheet had button holes for a row of buttons across the top of the upper blanket. The sheet was folded over the blanket edge and was held in place by the buttons. Bookbinding class was always a pleasant evening time for me.

Mrs. Jalowetz taught voice. I think she had been an opera singer in Prague. Dolores Fullman was Mrs. Jalowetz’s principal student that year at BMC.

Printing class was another activity that I enjoyed. Frank Rice and Jim Tite had fixed up a print shop where we could learn to set and justify type. We practiced picking pieces of type from a case and placing each one in a composing stick which holds the type pieces in alignment. Thin strips of copper or brass were placed between letters and word spacers to make each line equal in length. From the composing stick we learned to slide the type carefully onto a flat stone. When we had enough set for the job we placed a chase around it and locked the type tightly in place so all could be mounted in the press.

Jim and Frank showed us how to ink the rollers of the Kluge press and how to stand erect before the press and safely reach into the open press to remove the printed paper and place a fresh sheet against the clips before the press closed against type bed. Jim Tite spent a lot of time in the shop printing brochures and forms for the college. The print shop used only two type faces: Bodoni, a serifed type, and Futura, a non-serifed type family.

During my second year, I took a biology course. It was first taught by an older woman who had retired from missionary work in China and lived then in Black Mountain. I don’t remember her name but she was a lively and entertaining teacher. Part way through the year she turned the class over to a former student of hers, a young Chinese woman, Mrs. Tsui, who was competent but less conversational than our first instructor.

I took first-year German that year from Frank Rice. It was a course in conversational German. “Meine name ist Wilhelm Treichler. Wo ist das bahnhof? Danke sehr.” Frank was an enthusiastic teacher and we students enjoyed “conversing” in class. He was reading Arnold Toynbee at the time, so we heard a good deal from the complete version of A Study of History, not the Somervell condensation I later read. At the time, he was learning Arabic and later went off to Saudi Arabia to teach the language there to employees of the Arabian-American Oil Company.

Frank was the pride of his mother, Nell Rice, who had been at the school from its earliest days and seemed to have a story about anyone who was ever connected to the school. She often told us about the years at Blue Ridge Seminary: how reasonable the rent was but what a burden it was to completely pack up everything when the owners, the YMCA, needed the building for conferences in the summer. Mrs. Rice was delighted to have Frank teaching at Black Mountain College. Her daughter, Mary, came to visit frequently. Frank did go to visit his father John Rice occasionally.

Nell Rice was a sister of Frank Aydelotte, president of Swarthmore. Her father had held an important position at the University of Nebraska when she was a girl. Mrs. Rice may have liked me because I came from Iowa, a state neighboring Nebraska. I was in the library, Mrs. Rice’s territory, the first time I gathered enough nerve to speak to Miss Martha Rittenhouse. Nell Rice always promoted our friendship, invited Martha and me to a tea party at her apartment, and later sent birth presents for our children. Perhaps, she knew well that the most important function of a college is to bring couples together.

Martha had come in 1948-49, the second year that I was there. She came from a farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Our rural background gave us an affinity even before we found many common interests. We often studied together and went on many hikes with other students and with 12-year-old John Corkran, who liked Martha, and nearly always walked right between us.

The very first week of my time at BMC, John’s mother, Mrs. Corkran, invited me with other students to one of her wonderful get-acquainted suppers. Her husband David Corkran taught history and had been at the North Shore Country Day School out of Chicago. I think the Corkrans had attracted a sizeable Chicago contingent to Black Mountain. Their two school-age boys, David and John, mixed a lot with the students.

The Corkrans took me and other students and their boys on a weekend camping trip to Roan Mountain. We hiked over much of the treeless mountain top that had large clumps of rhododendron sprinkled over the fairly level top, and we boys talked of what a marvelous resort site it would make with room enough for a landing strip. Such an idea would be avoided today with all the concern for wild areas, but we had exuberant fun planning.

The Rondthaler family occupied the other half of the house where the Corkrans lived. Theodore Rondthaler (always Rondy) taught English and was the business manager of the college. Mrs. Rondthaler was the office manager and oversaw the kitchen. I think she also taught business classes. Mrs. Rondy was a busy and capable person. She had gone to Sweetbriar. Rondy’s father was president of Salem College in Winston-Salem and a bishop, I believe, in the Moravian Church. The Rondthalers celebrated a Moravian Christmas with putzes of the nativity scene. They had a home on Ocracoke Island, the only 2-story house on the island. The family frequently talked of Ocracoke and went there whenever they could. Bobbie Rondthaler was a popular student at BMC. Their son, Howard, was around a lot and was a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I remember visiting his room there along with Howard, Manvel Schauffler, and Ed Adamy. We were driving the school’s weapons carrier truck pulling a large single-axle trailer on a trip to pick up surplus property, principally a new dishwasher for the kitchen, at a naval station somewhere farther east in North Carolina.

The Rondthalers took Howard and Bernie Karp and me, and probably some others, on a wonderful weekend trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We slept overnight in a lean-to shelter along the Appalachian Trail. I will always remember Rondy imparting fatherly advice to us boys, “If you get cold at night, you need to get up and urinate.” We went to Gatlinburg and also stopped along the road to see a small grist mill that had a homemade turbine called a tub-wheel to gain energy from a tumbling mountain stream. It was fashioned from a tree trunk. The vertical turbine shaft extended through a platform above and rotated the bottom buhrstone of the mill. Grains poured through the center hole of the upper stationary buhrstone were ground into meal between the two buhrs. Seeing such primitive engineering was inspiring—a great part of a memorable trip.

At another time a group of us walked from the college up the valley to the ridge and then followed the Blue Ridge Parkway some miles to the top of Mt. Mitchell. I think Rondy and Howard suggested this hike at dinner time one evening and a number of us went along with them. Someone drove there, probably Mrs. Rondy, and brought us back in a car. As I remember, it was a 40-mile round trip by automobile.

Later, Ray Trayer invited me to go with his rural sociology class on a field trip to the Tennessee Valley Authority dams in North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. The curious part of that trip was our reversed reactions: the class probably approved of government projects like the TVA, but they were upset that so many valley farms had been flooded by the dams. I was always opposed to government projects, against the TVA concept, but I was thrilled by the engineering of the dams and the massive electric generators. We were all appalled that a project of the United States Government would have separate drinking fountains for “Colored” and “White.”

One of the favorite hikes at the school was to go up the side of the mountain to the saddle where you could see in the distance fountains of water aerating at the Asheville water-treatment plant. We walked up through an old abandoned orchard. Some said it was from moon-shining days, probably not, but there were trees that had wonderful apples. We carried all we could down to eat between meals.

The food at Black Mountain must have out-classed the fare of any other college in the country. George Williams was a wonder with meat pies and casseroles. Everyone enjoyed his great dishes. George hovered around the stoves and work tables. Mrs. Rice remembered that George at one time experimented with food coloring to serve brighter entrees. After all, BMC was recognized primarily as an art school. So what’s wrong with culinary color studies.

His wife Cornelia was always there in front of the two coal-fired stoves. For breakfast she placed trays of sliced bread in the ovens, and in a short time pulled them out to turn the slices, then shoved them back for a half-minute or so before pulling the trays out and shaking the toast onto a tray. Cornelia always grasped the hot trays with a large dry towel. The smoke puffed out from the oven; Cornelia wiped her eyes and face free from smoke and perspiration and stuck in another tray. She prepared bacon the same way.

For breakfast there were always eggs, bacon, toast and fresh-cooked oat meal and grapefruit and raw milk from the farm. Malrey Few cooked with George and Cornelia. One morning when I dished out a bowl of steaming oatmeal for myself and stood idly stirring the pot she looked at me disapprovingly and I asked, “What’s the matter?” “You’ll make it gummy by stirring.” Her oatmeal was always flaky, and I was ruining it. I have never stirred oatmeal since. Her grandson Alvin came to visit occasionally and played with the faculty children and talked with the students.

Ben Sneed was another fixture of the kitchen. He was general handyman and I believe took care of the fires in the main buildings. Howard Rondy liked to say that he was the only person at the school who could go to Black Mountain or Asheville for supplies and, without a written list, bring back everything he went to get. Ben didn’t talk much; he drove a Crosley car.

My sister came from Bennington for her 1948 winter work term to help in the kitchen. Ann worked for Mrs. Rondy and did odd cooking jobs. One of her successes was baking sour, leathery apricots, the school had received from the government as surplus food, into a delicious apricot torte dessert.

The cooks got Sunday evening off. Everyone made their own meals from set-out bread, cheese, lettuce and other fixings. Oftentimes we got together to have a picnic or a party Sunday afternoons or evenings. I remember that Susie Schauffler and Harry Weitzer found an enameled chamber pot. They cleaned it up and we ate soup heated in it, feeling very daring.

Generally the students got along with each other. I don’t remember any student quarrels. Some students kept to themselves and their own interests. Occasionally former students came back. Alex Reed who had built the Quiet House arrived in a little British sports car that barely cleared the road ruts, and Henry Adams came a couple of times from the University of North Carolina.

Black Mountain had regular visitors, and occasional visitors. Every winter Dr. William Morse Cole came after Christmas for some weeks and audited the books of the college. He was retired from Harvard, I think, where he had been head of the School of Accounting. During his stay, Professor Cole held an evening Shakespeare class in his room in the office building.

A frequent Sunday afternoon visitor was Dr. Cooley from Black Mountain. He was one of the local well-wishers for the school, and he would bring friends in his car and cruise up the roadway through the college and back down again at a speed of only several miles an hour. He came to examine me when I had been sick for several days. Mrs. Trayer thought I should have the doctor look at me and stay in a room in their farmhouse. I got well in good time.

Nathan Rosen from Princeton was a frequent visitor. He came to visit Natasha and they talked physics and probably Princeton politics. He had taught at Black Mountain earlier. His wife came in the summer for a week and played in a stringed-instrument music group.

John Cage and Merce Cunningham came. I remember watching John Cage put rubber erasers and other things between the strings of the concert grand in the dining room one afternoon for a performance that night. He wasn’t pretentious about fixing the piano. There were other notables who came, celebrities in the art and literary world, but only names to me. There was one woman who amused some of us students because she always wore a stole as though it were a performance. I can’t remember her name.

I remember that Marguerite Wildenhain came and spoke about making pots. She told us that it wasn’t woman’s work; you had to be strong to handle the clay. She looked to be entirely capable in every way to be a potter.

Ralph Borsodi came at Ray Trayer’s invitation and spoke one evening about his ideas of living in the country as a part of a three-generation family, where every person would have an opportunity and ample time to develop their full talents. I was pleased to see that Mr. Borsodi did win over the interest of many students who at first were put off by their concept of the isolation and drudgery of rural living. He patiently, without condescending, answered objections and made an economic case for self-sufficient country life. Borsodi had lived his early life in NYC and had been an economist at Macys. Years earlier in the thirties he had visited Black Mountain.

Buckminster Fuller came with a small house trailer the first time I saw him at the school. He brought models of geodesic domes and tetrahedrons and talked about all his ideas. I was eager to see Bucky Fuller because I had read of him and his Dymaxion car some years before. Natasha got him to come back for the 1949 summer session and he brought a group of boys with him who worked setting up displays and projects. Fuller liked to give long lectures for his disciples. He did have a lot of novel ideas. Kenneth Snelson was a student at BMC who designed tensile structures and was very interested in Fuller’s engineering designs.

When Fuller came for the summer session, his wife came down, too. I remember one afternoon when she was having tea with my mother she told us that she had had a house of her own design built before Bucky did. She said, well, my father was an architect. Mrs. Fuller was pleasant company. So was Mr. Fuller, and he entered into all activities enthusiastically.

There were several exciting times at the college. One afternoon a rain in the valley above the school sent torrents down in amounts that isolated the cottage where the cooks lived. Fortunately, the rain stopped and the water level fell in about an hour and no one was hurt.

The night the chemistry laboratory burned I was sleeping in the Brown Cottage next door to the lab. Kenneth Snelson, Donald Droll and I roomed there together. I was awakened by the glaring light from the flames just outside the window in my room. Rondy had coached us always in case of fire to first sound the alarm on the big triangular fire gong near the kitchen and dining hall, and second to dash to the hose shed by the Studies Building to get the Siamese-twin fitting with two valves that was necessary to connect the smaller hoses with nozzles to the larger hose that ran from the hydrants. We got the “Y” with the twin valves, and students kept water on the shingle walls of the Brown Cottage. The laboratory was too far gone to stop and I was sure that the cottage would burn with all of my clothing and possessions, but it didn’t, thanks to those who played water continually on the roof and walls.

In 1949, my parents made plans to come to Black Mountain to help the school. My mother did come and worked to brighten up the dormitories. We made milk paint using skim milk from the dairy and dry colors, mostly umbers and siennas, bought at a hardware store in Asheville that sold dyes in bulk. We also took the dining room chairs with sagging and broken seats to a farmer craftsman near Hendersonville who redid the seats with oak splints he made himself. The man showed us how he split thin strips from a small white oak tree. He told us he performed regularly on an Asheville radio station and then sang for us the day we were there. This farmer craftsman fashioned beautiful chairs without any glue. I have always regretted that I didn’t buy for myself some of his delicate but sturdy ladder backs for sale in the same Asheville hardware store. His name, I cannot recall. I expected to see him in the Foxfire books but didn’t.

A local carpenter, Mr. Elkins, built roomy bunks in the boy’s dormitory and did other carpentry jobs. For awhile there was activity to improve student accommodations; then the money gave out. N.O. Pittenger who had been business manager, I think at Swarthmore, came down to straighten out finances but that didn’t happen.

My dad remembered that Bucky Fuller was on hand when we left to say goodbye. Nell Rice’s daughter Mary and her husband were there at the time, and they insisted that we stay in their apartment near Washington on our way to visit Martha’s family on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

My feelings about Black Mountain College at the time of leaving were not too different from my dismay at the unkempt appearance of the school when I first arrived. At my departure, I was disillusioned because the vision of a school where everyone was free to explore aptitudes, improve talents, try ideas and work without imposed requirements and restrictions was disintegrating because of personality conflicts. Was the college only an artificial, dependent, fractionated and transplanted urban culture? Too bad that in the beautiful southern highland setting, the school couldn’t have become self-supporting, adaptive, inventive, comprehensive. Perhaps like Ralph Borsodi’s dream, a School of Living.

I have come to realize that I probably gained more from the two years I spent at Black Mountain College than any other person who ever went to the college. First, and most importantly for me, it led to my meeting Martha Rittenhouse who can do anything and everything so well—she taught me how to be a better parent, she provided our family good nutrition even before she became a dietitian, she showed us all how to create a beautiful home, and she is a complete partner in all of our interests and activities. There was also my great educational experience of learning so much from courses and from the friendship of the faculty, and from the experience of living at Black Mountain College.

© William Treichler, 2004. Printed with permission. All rights reserved.

March 2004

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Great article


       William Edmund Treichler  



Date
of birth:
July 24, 1924
Profession:
Farmer


Student

1947-48
1948-49
Staff
1949 Spring Semester
INTERNAL LINKSMartha Treichler
Treichler CottageRecent issues of  TheCrooked Lake Review.

Bill Treichler was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and moved with his parents in 1928 to a farm near Troy Mills, 24 miles north of Cedar Rapids. On graduation from high school, he took a three-month, defense-training course in engineering at Iowa State College at Ames. He then worked for the Corps of Engineers at Rock Island, Illinois, until he was drafted. Bill entered the army in September 1943, and in early 1945 was a B-17 bomber crewman stationed at Great Ashfield in East Anglia, UK. He returned home in November 1945, and took agronomy, forestry and animal husbandry courses at Iowa State College in the spring of 1946.

Bill’s mother first read about Black Mountain College in Milton Wend’s How to Live in the Country Without Farming (1944, Doubleday, Doran & Co., Garden City, New York) in which several schools, including Black Mountain, were mentioned. She encouraged Bill to apply, and he was accepted for the 1947 fall term.

On his arrival, Bill, whose parents had driven him from Iowa to Black Mountain, was dismayed by the unkempt appearance of the grounds and would have returned to Iowa had his parents not insisted that he give the college a try. Ray Trayer, who ran the college farm, willingly let Bill use the farm tractor and mower to cut weeds along the entrance road and around the Studies Building and library areas. A few people objected to the grooming, but when Albers, who was on a sabbatical returned for a visit, he gave the project his stamp of approval.

Shortly after his arrival, Bill was appointed student work coordinator. He was responsible for scheduling students with their choice of work-program jobs. In the spring of 1949 he was a staff member, responsible for grounds maintenance and other projects. Bill’s sister, Ann, came down from Bennington College in January 1948 for her winter work term and did various jobs.

On their farm in Iowa, the Treichler family was interested in organic farming and in the decentrist, rural, self-sufficient, three-generation-family life-style promoted by Ralph Borsodi. While Bill was stationed in England, he visited the Haughley research project where organic culture was compared to chemical farming practices. At Black Mountain he enrolled in Natasha Goldowski’s introductory chemistry class and continued in her physics and organic chemistry courses. She supported his desire to learn more about biochemical reactions related to soil fertility and plant and animal nutrition.

At a decentralist conference, Bill had been very impressed by a man who wore a homespun suit he had woven, and Black Mountain’s weaving curriculum had been an attraction for him. He enrolled in Trude Guermonprez’s weaving class and was provided with a loom for practice and experiment. The class visited Burlington Mills, and Biltmore Industries near Asheville. He also took Max Dehn’s “Mathematics for Artists,” Johanna Jalowetz’s bookbinding lessons, and Frank Rice’s German class, among others.

The Treichler parents remained enthusiastic supporters of the Black Mountain College ideal. In 1949 his mother joined him at the college to help with various projects. His father planned to join them later. By the end of the 1949 summer, however, there was little money for improvements, and when his father arrived, the family returned to the Iowa farm. Bill recalled that although he was disillusioned with Black Mountain College when he left, his classes, camping trips with faculty and many happy experiences with other students and staff were a balancing factor. He met his future wife, Martha Rittenhouse, also from a farming family, and they were married in April, 1950.

For fifteen years the Treichlers practiced their ideas about organic farming and decentralized living in a three-generation family setting. They settled on his parents’ farm where Bill, with his father, designed and built their home, a cottage using boards sawn from logs from the farm, purchased plywood, and cement. They salvaged bricks for a chimney and stone for flooring. Martha helped dig holes for footings, peel poles, and paint walls and shelves. Their five children—Rachel, Joe, George, Barbara and John—were born on the farm. In 1954, Martha and Bill organized a three-day Homesteaders Conference in the village of Troy Mills. Ralph Borsodi came and talked on living the good life. Other experienced conferees presented demonstrations on good nutrition, clothing, and owner-built rammed earth and concrete home construction.

By the 1960s a new dam was proposed on the Wapsipinicon River that would flood and force abandonment of the farm. Martha and Bill needed more income than farming, sawmilling, selling farm-produced whole wheat flour, fresh sweet corn and garden vegetables, and doing odd jobs to provide for their family of five growing children. They applied to teach organic gardening at small, private farm-based boarding schools and were offered a position at Colorado Rocky Mountain School. In 1966 they moved their family to CRMS near Carbondale, Colorado, where they farmed and gardened for the school. Two years later they moved to another rural, college-preparatory, boarding school, The Mountain School, at Vershire, Vermont, where, in addition to farming and gardening activities, Martha taught French and English and Bill taught science courses.

In the summer of 1975 the Treichlers moved to a farm they had bought in 1971 near Hammondsport, New York. In addition to homemaking, Martha worked as a food service director and a consulting dietitian at local hospitals and nursing homes to earn necessary money. Bill restored their 1830s farmhouse and farmed their 87 acres. They still raise much of the food they eat, heat with wood, and do their own construction.

The Treichlers presently live on the Hammondsport farm. Although their children hold jobs, four live at home or nearby, continuing the practice of multi-generational continuity and interdependency. Their daughter, Rachel, a lawyer advocates for the Green Party; John is an electrical engineer; Joe, a farmer and private contractor; George, a mechanical engineer; and Barbara, a lawyer, a homemaker who homeschools her her children in Tokyo.

In 1988, Martha and Bill started The Crooked Lake Review, a local history journal. The first 100 issues appeared monthly. Presently, it is published quarterly.

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Related posts:

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 55 THE BEATLES (Part G, The Beatles and Rebellion) (Feature on artist Wallace Berman )

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 )

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 8 artists Anni Albers and her teacher Paul Klee

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

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

Movie Review: The Longest Ride

Updated: Friday, April 10, 2015 | Ryan Painter

(KUTV) The Longest Ride
2.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: George Tillman Jr.
Starring: Scott Eastwood, Britt Robertson, Alan Alda
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rated: PG-13 for some sexuality, partial nudity, and some war and sports action
Recommended To: Nicholas Sparks devotees only.

Synopsis: Sophia, a young woman about to graduate from college and move to New York for an internship, falls for Luke, a stubborn bull rider who on their first date pulls Ira, an elderly man from a burning vehicle.  Sophia befriends Ira while he is in hospital and entertains him by reading old letters that Ira wrote to his now-deceased wife.

Review: The Longest Ride is a fairly ambitious tale from the mind of Nicholas Sparks as it takes place in both modern times and in and around World War II. It tells two love stories; one about a Jewish couple in flashbacks and a cowboy and an art student in the present. The flashbacks come via a box full of letters that Ira, a shopkeeper, wrote to his love interest Ruth, a great admirer of contemporary art, throughout their lives together (it’s more romantic than Ira keeping a journal). Ira and Sophie have their hardships (the story was better told when it was a film called Up) that somewhat mirror the budding romance between Like and Sophia (she likes art; he doesn’t think much of it). All of this is an excuse for Sparks to reference Black Mountain College, a progressive liberal arts school that was established in 1933 and later shut down in 1957. It’s a nice nod to the art community, but it lacks any sort of depth and feels like Sparks’ attempt to dress the scenery with something new so he can essentially tell the same story he always tells without completely repeating himself. He does at least hint at some of the anti-Semitism that Ira and Ruth faced, but he doesn’t address it head on. Maybe Sparks realized that he isn’t the right person to handle heavier issues.
Had Sparks focused entirely on Ira and Ruth The Longest Ride might have been a solid film. Sadly, the film is more interested in the cheesy romance between an often-shirtless cowboy and the not-so-mousey art student. It’s as cheesy and cliché packed as you’d expect and while this might appease Sparks’ core audience; it does absolutely nothing for those looking for a film that presents romance in a realistic light.

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

Published on May 16, 2012

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

Part of Bauhaus: Art as Life (3 May – 12 Aug) at Barbican Art Gallery. Find out more – http://bit.ly/mBAT3e

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Josef and Anni Albers, lifelong artistic adventurers, were among the leading pioneers of twentieth-century modernism.

Black Mountain College

Uploaded on Apr 18, 2011

Class Project on Black Mountain College for American Literature

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Anni Albers in her weaving studio at Black Mountain College, 1937. Photograph by Helen M. Post

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

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

J.B. Neumann art collector pictured below:

Teaching a student at Black Mountain College

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,

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.

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Anni Albers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Anni Albers
Anni Albers.jpg
Born Annelise Else Frieda Fleischmann
June 12, 1899
Berlin, Germany
Died May 9, 1994 (aged 94)
Orange, Connecticut, United States
Nationality German American
Education Bauhaus
Known for Textiles
Graphic design
Website
http://www.albersfoundation.org

Annelise Albers (née Fleischmann) (June 12, 1899 – May 9, 1994)[1] was an American textile artist and printmaker. She is perhaps the best known textile artist of the 20th century.

Life[edit]

Albers was born Annelise Else Frieda Fleischmann in Berlin of Jewish descent. Her mother was from an aristocratic family in the publishing industry and her father was a furnituremaker. Even in her childhood, she was intrigued by art and the visual world. She painted during her youth and studied under impressionist artist, Martin Brandenburg, from 1916 to 1919, but was very discouraged from continuing after a meeting with artist Oskar Kokoschka, who upon seeing a portrait of hers asked her sharply “Why do you paint?” She eventually decided to attend art school, even though the challenges for art students were often great and the living conditions harsh. Such a lifestyle sharply contrasted the affluent and comfortable living that she had been used to. Albers attended the Kunstgewerbeschule in Hamburg for only two months in 1920, though eventually made her way to the Bauhaus at Weimar in April 1922.

The Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany

At Walter Gropius‘s Bauhaus she began her first year under Georg Muche and then Johannes Itten. Women were barred from certain disciplines taught at the school, especially architecture, and during her second year, unable to get into a glass workshop with future husband Josef Albers, Anni Albers deferred reluctantly to weaving. With her instructor Gunta Stölzl, however, Albers soon learned to love weaving’s tactile construction challenges.

In 1925 Anni and Josef Albers, the latter having rapidly become a “Junior Master” at the Bauhaus, were married. The school moved to Dessau that year, and a new focus on production rather than craft at the Bauhaus prompted Albers to develop many functionally unique textiles combining properties of light reflection, sound absorption, durability, and minimized wrinkling and warping tendencies. She had several of her designs published and received contracts for wall hangings. For a time Albers was a student of Paul Klee, and after Gropius left Dessau in 1928 Josef and Anni Albers moved into the teaching quarters next to both the Klees and the Kandinskys. During this time, the Albers began their lifelong habit of travelling extensively: first through Italy, Spain, and the Canaries.

The Bauhaus at Dessau was closed in 1932 under pressure from the Nazi party and moved briefly to Berlin, permanently closing a year later in August 1933. Anni and Joseph Albers were invited by Philip Johnson to teach at the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina, arriving stateside in November 1933. Both taught at Black Mountain until 1949. During these years Anni Albers’s design work, including weavings, were shown throughout the US. Albers wrote and published many articles on design. In 1949, Anni Albers became the first designer to have a one-person exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Albers’s design exhibition at MoMA began in the fall and then toured the US from 1951 until 1953, establishing her as one of the most important designers of the day. During these years, she also made many trips to Mexico and throughout the Americas, and became an avid collector of pre-Columbian artwork.

After leaving Black Mountain in 1949, Anni moved with her husband to Connecticut, and set up a studio in her home. After being commissioned by Gropius to design a variety of bedspreads and other textiles for Harvard, and following the MoMA exhibition, Albers spent the 1950s working on mass-producible fabric patterns, creating the majority of her “pictorial” weavings, and publishing a half-dozen articles and a collection of her writings,On Designing. In 1963, while at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles with Josef for a lecture of his, Anni Albers was invited to experiment with print media. She grew immediately fond of the technique, and thereafter gave up most of her time to lithography and screen printing. She was invited back as a fellow to Tamarind in 1964, wrote an article for Britannica in 1963, and then expanded on it for her second book, On Weaving, published in 1965. Her design work and writings on design helped establish Design History as a serious area of academic study.

In 1976, Anni Albers had two major exhibitions in Germany, and a handful of exhibitions of her design work, over the next two decades, receiving a half-dozen honorary doctorates and lifetime achievement awards during this time as well, including the second American Craft Council Gold Medal for “uncompromising excellence” in 1980. She continued to travel to Latin America and Europe, to design and to make prints, and to lecture until her death on May 9, 1994, in Connecticut. Josef Albers, who had served as the chair of the design department at Yale, after the artists had moved from Black Mountain to Connecticut, in 1949, had predeceased her in 1976.

In 1971, the Albers founded the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation,[2] a not-for-profit organization they hoped would further “the revelation and evocation of vision through art.” Today, this organization not only serves as the office Estate of both Josef Albersand Anni Albers, but also supports exhibitions and publications focused on Albers works. The official Foundation building is located in Bethany, Connecticut, and “includes a central research and archival storage center to accommodate the Foundation’s art collections, library and archives, and offices, as well as residence studios for visiting artists.”[3] The U.S. copyright representative for the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation is the Artists Rights Society.[4] The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation is represented for unique work by The Pace Gallery, New York, and Waddington Galleries, London, and for editioned work by Alan Cristea Gallery, London.

Albers was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame in 1994.[5]

Artwork[edit]

Albers was a designer who worked primarily in textiles and, late in life, with print media. She produced numerous designs in ink washes for her textiles, and occasionally experimented with jewelry design. Her woven works include many wall hangings, curtains and bedspreads, mounted “pictorial” images, and mass-produced yard material. Her weavings are often constructed of both traditional and industrial materials, not hesitating to combine jute, paper, and cellophane, for instance, to startlingly sublime effect.

Bibliography[edit]

By Anni Albers[edit]

  • On Designing. The Pellango Press, New Haven, CT, 1959. Second edition, Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, CT, 1962. First paperback edition, Wesleyan University Press, 1971 (ISBN 0-8195-3024-7).
  • On Weaving. Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, CT, 1965.

On Anni Albers[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

REHABILITATING MATERIALS: HARDWARE JEWELRY BY ALEX REED AND ANNI ALBERS

The Black Mountain College’s location at Lake Eden near Asheville, North Carolina, physically isolated from metropolitan or cultural centers, generated a specific intensity of life. Unusually, faculty and students lived on campus and ate together in the dining hall. Neither faculty members nor students abandoned campus on weekends. On the contrary, entertainment during the weekends, like parties attended by both students and faculty, played a vital role in community life. (1) Such an environment allowed the formation of intense relationships between students and teachers, leading to the creation of outstanding collective artwork, such as Anni Albers’s and Alex Reed’s hardware jewelry.

Black Mountain student Alexander (William) Reed developed a close relationship to the Albers during the time he spent at the college. Mary Emma Harris considered him a surrogate son (2), which is also reflected in the close cooperation between Josef Albers and Reed. When Josef Albers was granted a sabbatical for the year 1940-41, Reed who had graduated in art in the spring of 1940, agreed to work as an art teacher in his absence. When Albers returned, Reed remained at the college until the summer of 1942 to work as his assistant.

As a student Reed attended Josef Albers’s design course, exploring the correlation between form and material. Through combinative exercises Albers made his students discover the “discrepancy between the physical fact and the psychic effect” (sic!) (3) of object’s surfaces when juxtaposed, modifying their perception of the materials. Reed, for example, let glass marbles appear soft by placing them in a moss-covered piece of wood. Albers design course, influencing Reed profoundly, gave the latter a new understanding of both the possibilities of combining different materials and the intrinsic quality of materials. Albers and his wife Anni valued materials for their visual effect, considering a pebble as precious as a diamond. (4)

Demonstrating that there is no hegemony among objects, Anni Albers and Alex Reed created a collection of jewelry made of washers, screws, angles, colored jacks etc. spotted in hardware stores and Five & Dime shops. They produced hardware necklaces by, for example, attaching paper clips to a sink strainer, which in turn was linked by two paper clips to a key chain or hanging bobby pins from a metal-plated ball-link chain. (5) Regarding household objects as jewelry, they invented a sort of anti-luxury jewelry, proposing a new definition of value:

From the beginning we were quite conscious of our attempt not to discriminate between materials, not to attach to them the conventional values of preciousness or commonness. In breaking through the traditional valuation we felt this to be an attempt to rehabilitate materials. We felt that our experiments perhaps could help to point out the merely transient value we attach to things, though we believe them to be permanent. (6)

The idea of working with everyday objects and composing them to jewelry was developed throughout the process by experimenting with materials, comparable to Josef Albers teaching methods:

It was not started with any clear knowledge of its possible inferences. Like any other work that has not been tried before, it took on form only by being tried. We knew the direction in which we wanted to go but not where we would end. (7)

The first stimulus to work with the world as found was given by Reed’s and Albers’s visits of archaeological excavations at the temple of Monte Alban in Mexico. The pieces of jewelry exposed there comprised gold, pearls, rock-crystal, but also shells and pebbles. But not the materials themselves exerted fascination for Albers and Reed, but rather their unusual combinations. According to Albers the compositions of precious and everyday materials emerged through a process of experimenting with the combination and interaction of materials. (8)

We saw silver beads and remembering Monte Albán combination of rock-crystal and gold, we combined onyx with silver. We made variations of this first combination and later, back in the States, we looked for materials to use. In the 5 & 10 cents stores we discovered the beauty of washers and bobbypins: Enchanted we stood before kitchen-sink stoppers and glass insulators, picture hooks and erasers. The art of Monte Albán had given us the freedom to see things detached from their use, as pure materials, worth being turned into precious objects. (9)

Due to their lack of knowledge about goldsmithery or “even the simplest metal work or stone polishing” (10) Reed and Albers used given materials as elements and linked them to a piece of jewelry, instead of reshaping them or making all parts fit a given whole.

Reed’s and Albers’s jewelry attracted America-wide interest. First exhibited in 1941 at Willard Gallery in New York City, it was shown several times in the United States such as at the MoMa exhibition “Modern Handmade Jewelry” in 1946. (11)

Notwithstanding their succesful cooperation, other projects of Albers and Reed are not known. One reason for this could be the death of Alexander Reed in 1965, rendering impossible any future projects. It is, however, more likely that it was the special, intensive atmosphere at Black Mountain College that allowed such a fruitful cooperation. Certainly, not all of the relationships between teachers and students turned out to work so well and happened to be on an equal footing, demonstrated by Buckminster Fuller and Kenneth Snelson’s quarrel about the autorship of “Early X Piece”. Regardless of whether it worked out or not, the particular environment at Black Mountain College, the close knit community of students and faculty, fostered such collaborations in the first place, which at another college, where students and faculty would have lived in a more seperated way, would not have been possible at all.

By Verena Kittel

1 See Harris, Mary W.: The arts at Black Mountain College, (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1998) 47.
2 Ibid. 76
3 Josef Albers in interview with Phelan Outten, cited by ibid. 78
4 Ibid. 78
5 See Benfey, Christopher: Red Brick Black Mountain White Clay. Reflection on Art, Familiy & Survival, (New York: Penguin Books, 2012) 133.
6 Anni Albers: “On Jewelry”, Talk at Black Mountain College, March 25, 1942, accessed March 25, 2015,http://albersfoundation.org/teaching/anni-albers/lectures/
7 Ibid.
8 Benfey 134.
9 Albers: “On Jewelry”.
10 Ibid.
11 See exhibition press release published on September 18, 1946, accessed March 25, 2015:http://www.moma.org/momaorg/shared//pdfs/docs/press_archives/1064/releases/MOMA_1946-1947_0047_1946-09-16_46916-45.pdf?2010

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Interview with Anni Albers
Conducted by Sevim Fesci
At New Haven, Connecticut
July 5, 1968

Preface

The following oral history transcript is the result of a tape-recorded interview with Anni Albers on July 5, 1968. The interview took place in New Haven, Connecticut, and was conducted by Sevim Fesci for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Interview

SEVIM FESCI: SEVIM FESCI
ANNI ALBERS: MRS. JOSEF ALBERS (ANNI ALBERS)

SEVIM FESCI: Mrs. Albers, the first question I would like to ask you is when did your interest in weaving start?

ANNI ALBERS: Well, it really started when I first went to the Bauhaus at Weimar in 1922. I had been to an art school and an applied arts school in Germany, which I felt were very unsatisfactory. And also I was at that time interested in painting and I felt that the tremendous freedom of the painter was scaring me and I was looking for some way to find my way a little more securely. But I didn’t know how. And when I got to the Bauhaus I found that every student who entered there had first to go through a preliminary course and then choose one of the workshops. And I wasn’t at all interested in those workshops really. Because the metal workshop I felt was painful to the hands. The woodworking workshop was so terribly hard, lifting lumber and so on. The wall painting I couldn’t stand. I’d be standing on a ladder and getting all dirty every day. In the distance I saw my husband in the glass workshop, in the stained glass workshop. And I thought that was rather intriguing. The material and the men working and him in the distance there, you see. And I was told that there wasn’t a chance to get into that workshop because there were so very few chances to execute a stained glass window. And there was one man that was already there; that was all. So the only thing that was open to me was the weaving workshop. And I thought that was rather sissy.

SEVIM FESCI: You never did weaving before?

ANNI ALBERS: No, no.

SEVIM FESCI: This was before the Bauhaus?

ANNI ALBERS: No, there was this weaving workshop. I didn’t like the idea at all in the beginning because I thought weaving is sissy, just these threads. And there was a very inefficient lady, old lady, sort of the needlework kind of type, who taught it. And I wasn’t a bit interested. But the only way of staying at that place was to join that workshop. And I did. And once I got started I got rather intrigued with the possibilities there. And, as I have mentioned in this little magazine here, . . .

SEVIM FESCI: Yes.

ANNI ALBERS: . . . I’ll show you an article. There — there is this very mistaken idea that there really was an organized course teaching the student at that time. Early there wasn’t. And, as I have written in that article, what I learned I learned from my co-students. But I got more and more intrigued with it and gradually found it very satisfying and very . . . .

SEVIM FESCI: More secure in a way?

ANNI ALBERS: Yes. I felt that the limitations and the discipline of the craft gave me this kind of like a railing. I had to work within a certain possibility, possibly break through, you know.

SEVIM FESCI: Yes.

ANNI ALBERS: And I find today that, if the New York scene people would stick to or turn to a craft, it would save their soul. Because they are, I think, in this really hopeless situation of constantly searching their inners and not finding a way to something that is really satisfactory. They splatter and they spit and they do heavens knows what and try to be awfully original. And the results to my mind are very awful things that you have one look at and wouldn’t look again or turn away sometimes even in disgust. And I have this very what you call today “square” idea that art is something that makes you breathe with a different kind of happiness.

[Mr. Albers’ voice fleetingly on the tape: How is it going?]

SEVIM FESCI: Very good.

ANNI ALBERS: And I find art is something that gives you something that you need for your life. Just as religion is something that you need even if you constantly find it denied today.

SEVIM FESCI: Are you religious yourself, Mrs. Albers?

ANNI ALBERS: Well, not in any organized way. But there is something I think that everybody believes in whether they deny it or not.

SEVIM FESCI: So you would say that . . . ?

ANNI ALBERS: And they are searching for something. And I feel that art is this something that goes beyond that what you need in your daily doings in a sense.

SEVIM FESCI: Yes. To be above all this daily . . . .

ANNI ALBERS: Well, I find that Pop art or Dada have tried to get away from this fine art barrier in a very healthy way, maybe. But that still it’s only breaking away to find . . . to free yourself for a new way of doing things, but that very often it’s not an end in itself.

SEVIM FESCI: Yes. Would you say . . . ?

ANNI ALBERS: What am I saying? I have to think. I’d better . . . . Sometimes one talks more easily than one thinks.

SEVIM FESCI: But would you say that an artist needs some discipline?

ANNI ALBERS: Yes. Very much so. And I find that a craft gives somebody who is trying to find his way a kind of discipline. And this discipline was driven in earlier periods through the technique that was necessary for a painter to learn. In the Renaissance they had to grind their paints, they had to prepare their canvas or wood panels. And they were very limited really in the handling of the material. While today you buy the paint in any paint store and squeeze it and the panels come readymade and there is nothing that teaches you the care that materials demand.

SEVIM FESCI: The love of materials.

ANNI ALBERS: And it produces this too great quickness, I think.

SEVIM FESCI: Yes. Not enough consideration involving the work . . . .

ANNI ALBERS: Yes. Yes. That’s it. When the painter or the weaver or someone has to prepare the material, you learn what the material tells you and what the technique tells you. While today . . . .

SEVIM FESCI: There’s a sort of dialogue between you and the material.

ANNI ALBERS: And that frees you from this too-conscious searching of your soul which very often turns just into this kind of intestinal painting. It frees you and gets you away from a too-subjective way of work. And I think that art should be something that can last above the 30 years that Duchamp puts on a work of art. I don’t believe in that.

SEVIM FESCI: Yes, I understand. But although, as you said, that it frees you from the subjective . . . .

ANNI ALBERS: From the too-subjective. You can’t avoid being subjective. But a kind of objectifying happens when you have to concentrate on the demands of the materials and the technique.

SEVIM FESCI: Yes.

ANNI ALBERS: And I find that healthy and not limiting. And I still think that it really might be the salvation for many of those who dabble so easily in the too-readily-available materials.

SEVIM FESCI: Yes. I understand now. If I understand correctly, Klee was your teacher?

ANNI ALBERS: Well, in a very limited way. I admire Klee very much. But what I learned from him I learned from looking at his pictures. Because as a teacher he was not very effective. I sat in a class which he gave to the weaving students and I think I only attended perhaps three of the classes. Klee was so concerned with his own work. He would walk into the room, go up to the blackboard, turn his back to the class, and start to explain something that he probably thought was of concern to those listening to him. But he probably didn’t know at all where each of us there was in his own development, in his own concern, in his own searching. I’m sure there were some students who had more direct contact with him. But I didn’t have it at all. On the other hand, I find that he probably had more influence on my work and my thinking by just looking at what he did with a line or a dot or a brush stroke and I tried in a way to find my way in my own material and my own craft discipline.

SEVIM FESCI: I understand that imagery never interested you very much?

ANNI ALBERS: You mean by that representational work?

SEVIM FESCI: Yes, representational.

ANNI ALBERS: No. No, not really. Because of this what I just said I was trying to build something out of dots, out of lines, out of a structure built of those elemental elements and not the transposition into an idea, into a literary idea.

SEVIM FESCI: Yes. It was more abstract idea.

ANNI ALBERS: Not the cat or the sunset but a building out of that what was available to me in the elemental form of thread, and loom operation, et cetera.

SEVIM FESCI: Yes. And what about the colors. Mrs. Albers?
ANNI ALBERS: Yes. Color. That is an interesting thing because color of course involves you in an emotional sense far beyond line and . . . .

SEVIM FESCI: Squares and dots.

ANNI ALBERS: Yes. On the other hand, in concentrating on what the weaving materials told you color was almost interfering with this because the roughness, the smoothness, the gloss, et cetera, comes out clearer if you are not concerned with additional color, but if you stick to just what this character of the material was. And therefore, I find that colors in weaving have not the first place, like with a proper painter, but only as a secondary one. And if you think of working for industrial production, as I have done to a small degree, a curtain that you build should be — I don’t know — transparent, or opaque, folding easily, washable, and so on, and you can have it in blue or red or green in the end, which is further concern, but is not the one out of which to build the main character of the material. You see?

SEVIM FESCI: Yes, I understand. But, looking at your work, you are interested very much also in color. I mean the different, you know . . . ?

ANNI ALBERS: Yes. I was concerned for a while with working for industrial production, material production . . . .

SEVIM FESCI: Yes.

ANNI ALBERS: And there I tried to concentrate on the utility of the material and I think I quoted there in my article that little sentence that Klee once said: “Textiles are serving objects.”

SEVIM FESCI: Yes.

ANNI ALBERS: And I tried to develop this serving quality to the best I could so that upholstery material would be really suited to upholstering, that drapery material would drape well, et cetera. And then I tried very much to avoid in those serving objects, in this utility material, the personal handwriting, the subjective work. Because I thought that it’s very disturbing to come into a room and immediately say, “Ah, this is Mr. X doing this.” I find that this kind of — well, “expression” is such a bad word — but this personal expression should be reserved for a concentrated form, which is art, to my mind. So in my own work I try to separate very clearly the utilitarian objective work from that what I think of as in the direction of art. And there color of course comes in. Do you see?

SEVIM FESCI: Yes, I understand now. Yes. You just said that you did some designing for industrial design?

ANNI ALBERS: Yes.

SEVIM FESCI: Do you enjoy doing it? Or do you feel . . . ?

ANNI ALBERS: To a degree, yes. It is really interesting to concentrate like an architect has to concentrate on the functioning of a house, so I enjoyed concentrating on what that specific material demanded. I developed a series of wall covering materials, which at the time I did it was non-existent really. And I tried to make them so that they were partly even light reflecting, that they could be brushed off, that they could be fixed straight and easily on the wall without pulling into different shapes, you know. So a specific task sets you a very interesting way of dealing with your choice of material, with your technique, and so on. On the other hand, I was concerned also with — well what one usually thinks of as art. And I tried to work something in that direction. Although, as I told you before we started taping this, I find this great problem that people are so inclined to think of textiles always in this useful sense. They want to sit on it; they want to wear it. And they don’t like to think of it as something that might hang on the wall and have the qualities that a painting or a sculpture has, that you turn to it again and again and that it might possibly last for centuries, as some of the ancient Peruvian things have.

SEVIM FESCI: You just mentioned Peruvian textiles. If we look at the history of weaving, which epoch are you most attracted to?

ANNI ALBERS: Well, I admire the pre-Columbian, the Peruvian textiles more than any other cultures. And I think I’m not the only one who thinks of those textiles as the highest textile culture in the world. Because, although the Coptic period has beautiful examples of textiles, it is technically much more limited and also in the inventiveness within the scope of weaving. It’s much more limited than the Peruvian materials which have a tremendous range and go far beyond in technique what we today can do.

SEVIM FESCI: And what about Western traditional weaving?

ANNI ALBERS: You mean European?

SEVIM FESCI: European, yes.

ANNI ALBERS: Well, of course there are beautiful Renaissance materials and so on and, well, mainly also the Gobelin tapestries of the Renaissance. The earlier medieval tapestries are very beautiful.

SEVIM FESCI: Maybe for you they have this sense of symbolism?

ANNI ALBERS: Yes. This is a great period, too. Well, it soon slipped into the area of painting that Raphael’s tapestries are not as good as paintings by Raphael and not as good as weaving. They missed this specific character that a textile might have.

SEVIM FESCI: Yes. Before we leave the Bauhaus, because we were still there — I would like to ask you what is this creative atmosphere of the Bauhaus?

ANNI ALBERS: This is what I mentioned there in the article — well, the Bauhaus today is thought of always as a school, a very adventurous and interesting one, to which you went and were taught something; that it was a readymade spirit. But when I got there in 1922, that wasn’t true at all. It was in a great muddle and there was a great searching going on from all sides. And people like Klee and Kandinsky weren’t recognized as the great masters. They were starting to find their way. And this kind of general searching was very exciting. And in my little articles this is what I called the creative vacuum. But the word “education” was never mentioned. And the people we think of as the great masters — Klee and Kandinsky –– they weren’t available for questions. They were the great silent ones who talked among themselves maybe, but never to small little students like me. But we knew that what the Academy was doing was wrong and it was exciting that you knew you had the freedom to try out something. And that was fine. But, as I say, it wasn’t that you went there and were taking something home from there. You were a contributor.

SEVIM FESCI: It was more a kind of laboratory.

ANNI ALBERS: Yes, from all sides. Everybody tried his best and we didn’t know in which direction we were going. Because there was nothing. You only knew that what there was in other schools or academies was wrong and didn’t satisfy.

SEVIM FESCI: That something new had to be done.

ANNI ALBERS: There was a need for doing something new but what it looked like nobody knew.

SEVIM FESCI: Yes. But in relation — I’m not sure now what it said — but wasn’t there also a relationship with industry?

ANNI ALBERS: Not in the early years. This idea of industry gradually developed and it really came on much stronger after Gropius left. Because, in the early years, there was a dabbling in a kind of romantic handicraft where you made beautiful pillowcases which — well, you couldn’t wash them, perhaps you couldn’t sit on them. And these tablecloths in very brilliant and bright colors. But this wasn’t what was suited for industry. They couldn’t make it in a hundred different threads and colors and so on. And also it wasn’t satisfying because it was an over-subjectifying of something that wasn’t worth it. When you have a tablecloth that is so active you can’t put a plate on that tablecloth, you can’t put a vase with flowers on it, it was far too dominating. And we only very gradually turned to this what I explained to you coming with this very excellent sentence from Klee to these “serving objects.”

SEVIM FESCI: Yes. And then you left the Bauhaus, I think, with your husband in the Thirties?

ANNI ALBERS: Well, no, I left the weaving workshop earlier because they had a teacher there and there was really no place for me. And I had developed something for which I got the Bauhaus diploma. Which was a rather interesting kind of work because it was something very different from what you usually think that textiles can do. The Director of the Bauhaus who followed Gropius was Hannes Meyer. And he was building a large school, a kind of union school, and in the auditorium there was an echo.

SEVIM FESCI: An echo?

ANNI ALBERS: Yes, when you spoke it sounded back. You see?

SEVIM FESCI: Oh, yes, yes.

ANNI ALBERS: And he asked me if I could think of a way of subduing this echo, if we could make a textile that would be suitable. The usual solution at that time, in the 20’s, was that you put velvet on the walls. The little fibers absorbed the sound. And, of course, if the velvet was to be at all practical in a room used by hundreds of people so very often it would have to be a dark color. Otherwise you could see all the marks of fingerprints and so on. A light color just wouldn’t work there. And I had an idea that if I made a surface that was made out of a kind of cellophane — and cellophane just was coming as a new material. We had been in Florence, Italy and I had bought a little crocheted cap made of this material. And I unraveled it and used it for a first attempt to make a surface for a material that could be put on the wall, and this velvet quality of absorption I put in an interesting construction into the back of this material. So it had on the surface a light-reflecting quality and in the back the sound-absorbing quality. And this went into production. I don’t think it was produced on machines. But it was produced in workshops that made yard goods. And it was used for this auditorium. And it worked. And I think in this little pamphlet that I gave you there is a photo of it because at that time we were very intrigued by scientific angles to various problems. And the Zeiss Icon Works in Germany made a kind of analysis of how the light-reflecting surface worked when light fell on the surface at different angles.

SEVIM FESCI: I see. The relation of light with the material?

ANNI ALBERS: Yes. And a light-reflecting material was something completely new at that time, as was a sound-absorbing material that had a light surface. So this was quite an intriguing kind of textile engineering.

SEVIM FESCI: That’s interesting. I didn’t know that.

ANNI ALBERS: Yes. You asked me if utilitarian materials are that interesting. Well, this was a very interesting task, you see. It led me then to other materials for wall coverings, which I mentioned just now. And also, for instance, I made for architectural use when the idea of a textile exhibition came up that the Museum of Modern Art was giving me, I made a series . . . .

SEVIM FESCI: When was this?

ANNI ALBERS: That was I think 1949 or thereabouts. I made a series of space dividers which was also a conception at that point — it probably was in existence but was quite unusual. And I thought that architects might, well, make use of materials separating between rooms instead of always the rigid walls. And so I made a series of seven or eight, I believe, different materials in different opaquenesses. You could look through at this very open one with 4-inch spaces between. In my book on Designing there’s a photo of it which shows that material. And on the other hand I made one that is quite opaque but again of a quality that can be brushed off if you can’t send it, like a piece of silk, to the cleaner’s — or that the moths would get into.

SEVIM FESCI: So when you left the Bauhaus . . . ?

ANNI ALBERS: Yes — how did I get onto my sound-absorbing material? I left when I was given this diploma. But I had come to the end there. And I did freelancing at home in Dessau. And in 1933, of course, my husband and I . . . .

SEVIM FESCI: You came to the United States.
ANNI ALBERS: First the Bauhaus was shifted to Berlin for a very ineffective short period. Funds ran out. And the Nazis and so on. And in 1933 we both were asked to come to Black Mountain College which was a small pioneering college in North Carolina.

SEVIM FESCI: Yes. Before we talk about that I just want to ask you how many years did you spend at the Bauhaus altogether?

ANNI ALBERS: From 1922 to 1928 or 1929 or something like that. I can’t quite remember any more.

SEVIM FESCI: Yes. And were you doing free lance at the same time? Or were you just a student?

ANNI ALBERS: Well, I was a student for many years, until my diploma. But I did those wall hangings which I showed you just now, which only now really get recognition. Which is 40 years later. They weren’t really liked very much. What was liked was a much more romantic kind of thing.

SEVIM FESCI: Now we’ve just talked about your work. I would like to ask you do you really sense there’s a very different style between what you did at the Bauhaus and what you’re doing now, for instance, where the line is much more . . . ?

ANNI ALBERS: Not really. Well, like everybody has a period of development. Those which I showed you are — although they may look very simple — are technically very intricate. They are two-ply weaving. That is something that is in handweaving very rarely done today. And so from technical considerations various ideas developed. I see no real break, although the things may look different.

SEVIM FESCI: I see. In the looks.

ANNI ALBERS: There is no break. When I left the Bauhaus I stopped doing this.

SEVIM FESCI: No, I mean I was thinking of the whole period of your work.

ANNI ALBERS: Well, as a whole period of the work you can say — and I mentioned that to you also — that I am less interested in areas and more interested in the voice of the single thread. On the other hand, in the work that I showed you also just now — the silk screen prints that I’m doing — there I am turning back again to areas playing against each other in colors. Which is of course related to a different technique. Every technique brings up a different kind of demand on the use of the element.

SEVIM FESCI: Yes. And then you came to Black Mountain?

ANNI ALBERS: To Black Mountain College. During the start and rise of the Hitler period we received a letter at Berlin which said, “Will you consider coming to Black Mountain College? It’s a pioneering adventure.” And when we came to that point we both said, “That’s our place.” And it turned out to be a very interesting place because it gave us a freedom to build up our own work. Josef built up his whole teaching there and his whole color work which has nothing to do with anything we had left behind in Europe. I built up a weaving workshop and got into teaching and developed teaching methods that . . . .

SEVIM FESCI: What is your method of teaching? How do you . . . ?

ANNI ALBERS: Well, maybe it’s an exaggerated term to call it “method” at all. But I tried to put my students at the point of zero. I tried to have them imagine, let’s say, that they are in a desert in Peru, no clothing, no nothing, no pottery even at at that time (it has been now proved that archaeologically textiles have come before pottery), and to imagine themselves at the beach with nothing. And what do you do? There are these fish at the Humboldt Current, marvelous fish swimming by, the best in the world in fact, because of the cold current there. And it’s hot and windy. So what do you do? You wear the skin of some kind of animal maybe to protect yourself from too much sun or maybe the wind occasionally. And you want a roof over something and so on. And how do you gradually come to realize what a textile can be? And we start at that point. And I let them use anything, grasses, and I don’t know what. And let them also imagine what did they use at that point. Did they take the skin of fish and cut it into strips possibly to make longitudinal elements out of which they could knot something together to catch the fish? And get carrying materials in that way.

SEVIM FESCI: Quite a bit of imagination there.

ANNI ALBERS: Exactly. Absolutely inventing something. And gradually then we invented looms out of sticks and so on. And the Peruvian back strap loom. And once they understand these basic elements, that the Peruvian back strap loom has embedded in it everything that a high power machine loom today has. And they understand it in a completely different sense than walking into a factory and seeing these things operate because they know what is necessary and what kind of inventions have occurred in the course of history. Well, this is a very rough way of doing it. So it goes back to imagination and invention.

SEVIM FESCI: Yes. And how many years did you teach there?
ANNI ALBERS: How long? Well, we were there for 16 years. And I continued here in a free lance way. And you develop those ideas. Because I don’t think I started that way in Black Mountain. I think I started with the loom and so on. And in my two books you will find various developments of some of these ideas and how I went about it and how I developed it. So I have been working in these three areas: utilitarian fabrics, teaching, and the things in the direction of art.

SEVIM FESCI: That’s very interesting. I would like to ask you, today, — is weaving fashionable?

ANNI ALBERS: No, no. And I think also that the invention of new knitting machines comes much closer to what we need today. That is shaped fabrics for wearing. While the Peruvians had shaped fabrics in weaving and worked them in very intricate ways, but we wouldn’t think of wearing underwear woven out of heavier material and the shaping would be very difficult and awkward, while the knitting process perhaps does it now already, and probably more in the future. So weaving I think is probably a dying art in a way. Although you wouldn’t believe it seeing the millions of yards of material that are produced today. But perhaps less for wear than for interiors and so on.

SEVIM FESCI: And what would be for you a definition of weaving if somebody asked you? What does it require? A lot of discipline maybe?

ANNI ALBERS: Well, that is vague because anything needs that. I think it is closest to architecture because it is a building up out of a single element, to building a whole out of single elements.

SEVIM FESCI: Yes, I understand. Yes, it is closer to architecture than painting or sculpture.

ANNI ALBERS: Yes, because you are building up something. While painting is applied on to something. Sculpture uses a given material. But, on the other hand, sculptors today are welding very much; they are building again something out of elements. So there is an interpenetration in the various fields really.

SEVIM FESCI: Well, thank you very much, Mrs. Albers. I enjoyed it very much.

ANNI ALBERS: Not at all.

[END OF INTERVIEW]

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I found the Bauhaus movement very interesting and the article above even noted:

The leading role of the Bauhaus, such as Walter Gropius, Oskar Schlemmer, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Xanti Schawinsky, Paul Klee, Wasily Kandinsky experimented synthesis among human, space and machine not only in their own area, but also on the stage. They believed that their research about mechanical and abstract stage design, costume, doll, dance, humorous movement, light and sound could even make a change of the modern human body and mind.

What exactly were some of these artists attempting to do and why does this statement finish with the bold assertion “could even make a change of the modern human body and mind”?

Let me tell you what  Wasily Kandinsky (who was seen in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) and Paul Klee were attempting to do. They wanted to make a connection with art and find a word of direction from art for their lives. They were secular men so they were not looking for any spiritual direction from a personal God. However, the Bible clearly notes that God exists and we all know He is there. Romans Chapter one asserts, “For that which is KNOWN about God is EVIDENT to them and MADE PLAIN IN THEIR INNER CONSCIOUSNESS, because God  has SHOWN IT TO THEM…” (Romans 1:19).

Every person has this inner conscious that is screaming at them that God exists and that is why so many of the sensitive men involved in art have been looking for a message to break forth. Here we see something similar with the life and quest of the artist Paul Klee. I read on January 15, 2007 the blog post “Strolling Through Modern Art,” and I wanted to share a portion of that post:

This particular drawing came to mind while I was looking at the Art Institute of Chicago’s website and I came across some artwork by Joan Miro, who is exhibited at AIC. Vee Mack’s drawings generally demonstrate better draughtsmanship than this drawing displays but I thought that the concept was amusing and the implied commentary worth considering. Are you a fan of Joan Miro, Piet Mondrian, Paul Klee, Jackson Pollock, Willem De Kooning and Vasily Kandinsky?What does this elderly gentleman think of his stroll through the paramecium of the artworld? Francis Schaeffer noted in “The God Who is There” that Paul Klee and similar artists, introduced the idea of artwork generated in a manner similar to how a Ouija Board generates words from outside the artist’s conscious intent. Schaeffer observed that Klee “hopes that somehow art will find a meaning, not because there is a spirit there to guide the hand, but because through it the universe will speak even though it is impersonal in its basic structure.” [page 90] Why would an impersonal universe have something to say? What does meaninglessness have to communicate? Schaeffer explains that “these men will not accept the only explanation which can fit the facts of their own experience, they have become metaphysical magicians. No one has presented an idea, let alone demonstrated it to be feasible, to explain how the impersonal beginning, plus time, plus chance, can give personality . . . As a result, either the thinker must say man is dead, because personality is a mirage; or else he must hang his reason on a hook outside the door and cross the threshold into the leap of faith which is the new level of despair.” [page 115]Vee Mack’s sketch demonstrates the paradox of an average man viewing images, which represent the nonsense of Dadaism and chaos. It is the overeducated who will look at something that is inherently meaningless and try to find deep meaning in it, while the average man sees it and observes with reasonable common sense that this or that is an absurd waste of time.By the way, while it may appear as though I am favoring one artist for these posts, I am not receiving the variety of artwork that I had hoped for from other artists and I happen to have ample access to much of Vee Mack’s unpublished portfolio. Therefore, until I receive other artwork, I will have to rely on what I have on hand.

Posted by at 4:35 PM
Paul Klee
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Michael Gaumnitz : Paul Klee The Silence of the Angel (2005)

Published on Aug 17, 2013

PAUL KLEE: THE SILENCE OF THE ANGEL is a visual journey into the work of a major painter of the 20th century by Michael Gaumnitz, an award-winning documentarian of artists and sculptors. Like Kandinsky and Delaunay, Klee revolutionized the traditional concepts of composition and color.

 

THE 5 BEST ARTISTS OF THE ‘20S

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

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

 

Gropius with Béla Bartók and Paul Klee in 1927

Practitioners at Black Mountain College

Willem de Kooning http://www.biography.com/people/willem-de-kooning-9270057

(1904-1997) Abstract Expressionist Painter, Sculptor

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/willem-de-kooning-1433

Elaine de Kooning http://www.theartstory.org/artist-de-kooning-elaine.htm

(1918-1989) artist, art critic, portraitist and teacher.

Robert Rauschenberg Dmitri Kasterine

(1925-2008) Painter, sculptor, printmaker, photographer and performance artist

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/robert-rauschenberg-1815

Cy Twombly American painter Cy Twombly at the Louvre museum in Paris. Twombly has died aged 83. Photograph: Christophe Ena/AP

(1928-2011) Painter, draughtsman, printmaker, sculptor.

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/cy-twombly-2079

John Cage photo: Susan Schwartzenberg

(1912-1992) composer, philosopher, poet, music theorist, artist, printmaker.

http://www.last.fm/music/John+Cage

Buckminster Fuller Buckminster Fuller at Black Mountain College with models of geodesic domes, 1949 © Buckminster Fuller Institute

(1895-1983) Philosopher, designer, architect, artist, engineer, entrepreneur, author, mathematician, teacher and inventor

http://designmuseum.org/design/r-buckminster-fuller

Annie Albers © 1947 Nancy Newhall. © 2003 The Estate of Beaumont Newhall and Nancy Newhall, Courtesy of Scheinbaum and Russek Ltd., Santa Fe, New Mexico

(1899- 1994) textile designer, weaver, writer and printmaker

http://www.albersfoundation.org/Albers.php?inc=Introduction

Mary C Richards blackmtnbarb.blogspot.com

(1916-1999) Poet, Potter and writer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._C._Richards

SATURDAY, JULY 02, 2011

a ten-day trip to north carolina

sarah, siena, and i recently returned from a ten-day trip to north carolina. we stayed mostly in hickory, where sarah’s friend and college roommate pattie, her husband dan, and their daughters kenzie and maya live. good times for all, including the girls.
for three days, i bolted to nearby asheville. with help from a USF faculty development fund award, i was able to spend time with the black mountain college museum + arts center collection at ramsey library at the university of north carolina asheville.
black mountain college, or BMC, was a small liberal arts college that existed between 1933 – 1957 in the blue ridge mountains in western north carolina. the focus of black mountain college was the education of the whole human being.for its time – and for our times – black mountain college was massively experimental. faculty owned the university. all students, faculty, and faculty families lived on campus, where they ate together in the dining hall and danced together on saturday nights. there were no grades. classes were not mandatory but once enrolled, students – as well as professor – were expected to be fully prepared and participatory. at the center of the curriculum was arts because arts encourage students to focus, create, engage, and cooperate. students were included in nearly all meetings and committees, even those responsible for faculty hiring and firing. the responsibilities of running the college were shared by all.i am especially interested in BMC’s work program. black mountain college combined formal studies and physical labor. in between classes and coursework, students – and sometimes faculty – cleared the hillside for pasture, waited tables in the dining room, maintained campus roads, hauled coal, dug ditches, collected field stones for masonry work, served and cleared four o’clock tea, and, miraculously, designed and built a building.
my main interest is the farm on black mountain college. in particular, i am interested in the history of the farm and its changing role within the college and its work program. i am interested in the farm work – who taught the skills? who organized the teams? who did the work? i am also interested in the farm’s output – what was grown? which animals were raised? who got the food? and finally, i am interested in how the farm was used as a creative and collaborate space for student and faculty learning.





black mountain college is primarily known and remembered for the remarkable faculty, visiting faculty, and students it attracted. a partial list includes josef and anni albers, ruth asawa, john cage, robert creeley, merce cunningham, willem and elaine de kooning, buckminster fuller, alfred kazin, jacob lawrence, charles olson, arthur penn, robert rauschenberg, and m.c. richards. new and important things happened here – bucky fuller would attempt his first geodesic dome, john cage would stage the world’s first “happening,” and merce cunningham would form his dance company.

because of this, black mountain college has received plenty of attention. there’s martin duberman’s black mountain college: an exploration in community and mary emma harris’ the arts at black mountain college. there’s cathryn davis and neeley house’s documentary fully awake: black mountain college and the black mountain college project. and then there’s the über archive, the black mountain college collection at the state archives in raleigh, north carolina.

after three days in asheville, i said thanks to sally klipp, special collections librarian at ramsey library, and drove back to hickory. then, pattie, dan, kenzie, maya, sarah, siena, and i drove to blowing rock for a few days in a log cabin in the mountains. fun, watermelon, and good food were had by all.




before we left, i asked pattie when the best times are to visit north carolina. “april and october,” she answered without hesitation. thinking of my sabbatical a year from now, i said, “cool – we’ll be back then.”

Related posts:

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 55 THE BEATLES (Part G, The Beatles and Rebellion) (Feature on artist Wallace Berman )

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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THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 7 M.C. Richards, Potter and Poet

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“Fully Awake” a Documentary Film on Black Mountain College

Fully Awake PhotoFully Awake. a documentary film which explores the history of Black Mountain College, will be shown on Tuesday, September 16th, at 7:30 PM in the auditorium (third floor) of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church. This showing will be the monthly program for Alamance Artisans Guild and the public is invited. This film has further local connections as it was directed by Neely House and Cathryn Davis Zommer and was produced, at least partially at Elon. Cathryn is the sister of Courtney Davis Shoemaker, Elon’s current Espicopal Chaplain. The film won a Special Jury Award at the Rome International Film Festival 2007 and was selected for Berkshire International Film Festival. Please join us to see this incredible film.“Hidden in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Black Mountain College (1933 – 1957) was an influential experiment in education that inspired and shaped twentieth century American art. FULLY AWAKE: BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE is a documentary film that explores the college’s progressive pedagogy and radical approach to arts education. FULLY AWAKE explores how the confluence of this diverse community came together to create a unique educational model. Through narration, archive photography, and interviews with students, teachers, historians, and current artists, FULLY AWAKE investigates the development of this very special place; the site of Buckminster Fuller’s first geodesic dome, John Cage’s first ‘happening’, and the Black Mountain Review, and how its collaborative curriculum inspired innovations that would change the very definition of “art.” Fullyawake.org
“WHY REMEMBER BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE?
• Teachers and students included:John Rice,
Founder & Classics Scholar
Josef Albers, Painter
Charles Olson, Writer
John Cage, Composer
Buckminster Fuller, Architect
Merce Cunningham,
Dancer & Choreographer
Robert Creeley, Poet
Jacob Lawrence, Painter
Willem de Kooning, Painter
Franz Kline, Painter
Robert Rauschenberg, Painter
M.C. Richards, Potter & Poet
• Black Mountain College was the first American experimental college boasting complete democratic self-rule, extensive work in the creative arts, and interdisciplinary academic study
• First geodesic dome built by Buckminster Fuller in 1948
• First multimedia happening occurred at Black Mountain College in 1952, staged by John Cage
• The Black Mountain Review, from 1954-1957, published influential authors including Beat Writer Allen Ginsberg
From http://www.ibiblio.org/

Fully Awake – PREVIEW

Tucked in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Black Mountain College (1933-1957) was an influential experiment in education that inspired and shaped 20th century modern art. Through narration, archive photography and interviews with students, teachers and historians, Fully Awake explores the development of this very special place – and how its collaborative curriculum inspired innovations that changed the very definition of “art”.

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bill levi and mc richards at Black Mountain College

Britt Robertson & Scott Eastwood Interview – The Longest Ride

Published on Mar 14, 2015

Britt Robertson & Scott Eastwood 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

Subscribe for movie reviews, exclusive interviews & comic con panels ► http://bit.ly/FlicksSubscribe

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

From Black Mountain College with love

From Black Mountain College with love-attachment0

Author photo by Nina Subin

“When you finish a novel, your creative muscles are very much in shape, so I don’t like to waste that period and just do nothing,” says North Carolina-based romance author Nicholas Sparks. He tells Xpress that within two weeks of completing one project he begins looking for an idea for his next book. “I like to maintain that creative fitness, so to speak.”

If writing really equaled working out, Sparks would be an elite athlete: His just-released novel,The Longest Ride, is his 17th work of fiction. But even this far into a career that’s spawned multiple seven-figure publishing deals and eight (to date) movies made from his books (The Notebook, Dear John and, most recently, Safe Haven among them), he says that he’s still surprised by how tough the writing process is. “The challenge of doing it new and original and well remains as difficult as it was on the very first novel,” he says. (That first attempt, by the way, was never published.)

“M.C. Richards: The Paradox of Being
a Woman in Cage’s Circle” (Olin)


Presenter
Jenni Sorkin

Abstract
Through original archival research, this presentation posits that the American poet, potter, and translator M.C. Richards (1916-1999) was one of the primary, if as yet unacknowledged, intellectual forces of the burgeoning 1950s queer aesthetic. It explores her unique legacy as the sole woman within her intellectual milieu, first at Black Mountain College in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and then at the Gate Hill Cooperative, a radical community formed in Stony Point, New York, that she co-founded in 1954, along with other Black Mountain exiles, including Cage, David Tudor, Paul and Vera Williams, Karen Karnes, and David Weinrib.

M.C.Richards: The Fire Within http://www.mcrichardsfilms.com

Uploaded on Dec 2, 2010

“M.C. Richards: The Fire Within” is an adventure into discovering the source of our creativity told through the life of Mary Caroline Richards (1916-1999). Author of the underground classic Centering: In Pottery, Poetry and the Person, M.C. was a pivotal figure at the famously experimental Black Mountain College serving as head of faculty (1949-51) with those soon to be avant garde luminaries in the New York art scene — Robert Rauschenberg, Elaine and Willem deKooning, Jacob Lawrence, Arthur Penn, Robert Motherwell, Merce Cunningham and John Cage among others. Reviews: “What a life force!” Eric Utne; “Unexpectedly moving” Anne Fabbri, art critic; “Unforgettable … in its simplicity and complexity” Michael Rumaker, author; “Inspiring film”, Arthur Penn

M.C. Richards’ Most Famous Workshop

Uploaded on Dec 6, 2010

Creativity: Clay, Color and Word — an M.C. Richards’ Workshop.” A virtually uncut documentation of a workshop by one of the world’s greatest philosopher’s of creativity.
“(an) articulately perceptive film” Robert Creeley, poet
“.. it’s all about … flesh.” Matthew Fox, theologian/author Original Blessing
“… the Mother Teresa of the art world.” Marjory Bankson, Theologian/author
” unforgettable … in its simplicity and complexity.” Michael Rumaker, author, Black Mountain Days “… a challenge to the very assumptions about how we ‘author’ our lives” Mary Emma Harris, author, The Art of Black Mountain College
“Unexpectedly moving” Anne Fabbri, art critic/curator
” What a life force! What a catalyst!” Eric Utne, founder Utne Reader

M. C. Richards

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mary Caroline Richards (July 13, 1916, Weiser, Idaho – September 10, 1999, Kimberton, Pennsylvania) was an American poet, potter and writer, best known for her book Centering in Pottery, Poetry and the Person.[1] Educated at Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, and at the University of California at Berkeley, she taught English at the Central Washington College of Education and the University of Chicago, but in 1945 became a faculty member of the notoriously experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina.

Later in life she taught art at the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality (ICCS) at Holy Names College (now Holy Names University). ICCS was founded by former Roman Catholic and current Episcopal priest Matthew Fox (priest).

She was married in 1943 to Vernon Young (marriage dissolved), and secondly in 1945 to Bill Levi (marriage dissolved).

The correspondence between Mary Richards and James Herlihy is preserved at the University of Delaware Library.

She spent the last 15 years of her life living and working as a volunteer at Camphill Village Kimberton Hills, where she worked with residents with developmental disabilities and took up painting, and where the film “M.C. Richards: The Fire Within” was made. “Her art-of-many-genres wove together all her concerns, including community, agriculture, craft itself, and spiritual ideas. Always a poet, she regarded the end of her life – as physically limiting as it was – as another fulfilling adventure, “living toward dying, blooming into invisibility.” – Margaret Wakeley

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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.

THE ENDLESS MOUNTAINS SPIRIT: M.C. Richards & Paulus Berensohn

Suraci Gallery
Mar 21, 2015 – May 08, 2015

A synergetic nexus of the arts occurred in Susquehanna County when clay artists and teachers Mary Caroline Richards and Paulus Berensohn lived and worked in Northeast Pennsylvania. During that time an influx of artists, dancers, writers, and actors visited and worked at the Endless Mountains Farm, a cooperative and a place of creative energy. Iconic books are associated with the Farm –– Towards Wholenessand The Crossing Point: Selected Talks and Writings by M.C. Richards and Paulus Berensohn’sFinding One’s Way With Clay. The exhibition documents that place and time in our region, many of the people involved with examples of their work in clay, and a lasting legacy of creativity.

The exhibition is a collaborative project between Marywood ceramics faculty, Matt Povse and Skip Sensbach, and Sandra Ward Povse, director of Marywood Art Galleries, along with Laurie Graham and Larry Wilson, current owners of The Endless Mountains Farm. Throughout Matt Povse’s tenure in the Department of Art at Marywood University, he would hear snippets about Paulus Berensohn, M.C. Richards, various artists, friends, and the Endless Mountains Farm: “Over the years living in Northeast Pennsylvania and being a part of the art community, I’ve learned of a rich history of creative energy right here in our backyard.” Together the group decided to document that period of time, and according to Matt Povse, “…with what seems to be a lingering energy from The Endless Mountains Spirit, we have been able to sew together a brief history and document the creative and communal haven just down the road from here.”

In 1965 Paulus Berensohn found property in the Endless Mountains region of Pennsylvania and bought 100 acres with an old farmhouse and a barn to live and work as a potter. In 1968, Richards moved to the Farm after she was mugged and robbed near her home in NYC. The exhibition focuses on the life–long dance between Berensohn and Richards, and the land. Through the combined synergy of these two artists, the Endless Mountains Farm became a melting pot of both the creative and human spirit, bringing together individuals from various backgrounds to create a special place and time in ceramics history.

During the time that Richards and Berensohn owned the Farm it became a creative haven for many friends and colleagues. Artists would spend time at the Farm’s studio to create their own work. Some would stay for short amounts of time while others stayed longer and used the Farm as their studio space. The environment instilled in the Farm by the relationship of Berensohn and Richards made it possible for others to share in the creative spirit. Although Berensohn left the Farm in 1972, his association with the Farm did not end there. Berensohn, who now lives and works in Penland, NC, still returns and stays at the Farm. Richards continued visiting her friends Graham and Wilson up until her death in 1999.

Following Berensohn’s departure, the Farm was set up as a cooperative ownership between Richards and three regular visitors: June Ekman, Burt Supree, and Remy Charlip, who had all met Berensohn through the New York dance scene. Ekman came to New York to dance with the Martha Graham School of Dance. Supree was a dancer, writer and the Dance Editor for the “Village Voice” in New York City. Charlip was a dancer, choreographer, and founding member of Merce Cunningham Dance Company. This cooperative arrangement made it possible for everyone to visit throughout the years and maintain their connection to the property. As people left the Farm, the shares changed hands to fewer principals and eventually was sold to longtime caretakers and stewards, Larry Wilson and Laurie Graham, who had lived and worked at the Farm throughout.

The exhibition is accompanied by a small catalog, The Endless Mountains Spirit, written by Sensbach with photography by Marguerite I. Fuller. The catalog text is based on interviews, historical accounts and archives, and ceramic objects made by Berensohn, Richards, and many of the artists who lived and passed through the Farm in the late 1960s–early 1980s. In 1968 the Farm hosted a ceramics workshop that included many of today’s prominent ceramists including Anne Stannard and Karen Karnes. The catalog concludes with Jordan Taylor’s residency from 2002–2010 at the Endless Mountains Farm, the last ceramic artist to work at the Farm. The work that Taylor created there connected him to the legacy of ceramic work that the Farm has born witness to for nearly 50 years.

Reception: April 18, 6–8 PM

Gallery Talk: April 22, 3 PM

Film Screening: April 29, 5:30 PM – TO SPRING FROM THE HAND: The life and work of Paulus Berensohn by Neil Lawrence, Swartz Center, McGowan Community Room

Please Note: Exhibition hours for May 4–8: 9am – 4pm


Paulus Berensohn at the Endless Mountains Farm, May 2014Image: Marguerite I. Fuller

M.C. Richards, courtesy of the Estate of M.C. Richards

Child’s Play from Finding One’s Way with Clay, both by Paulus Berensohn

M.C. Richards, Brown Flameware Casserole, Signed: Nov 3, ‘79

M.C. Richards, Thunder Dance, ca. 1971 (pictured in The Crossing Point, p. 38)

Installation detail.

Installation detail.

Installation detail.

Installation detail.Black Mountain College

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Related posts:

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 55 THE BEATLES (Part G, The Beatles and Rebellion) (Feature on artist Wallace Berman )

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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THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 6 Vera Williams (Political activist and writer of Children Books)

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The Longest Ride: Britt Robertson Red Carpet Movie Premiere Interview

Nicholas Sparks Project to Focus on Black Mountain College

BY HARRIET STAFFnotebook10

Well this is odd/interesting/anodynely adverbial: Best-selling, “achingly tender” novelist Nicholas Sparks (author of Our Favorite Ryan Gosling Movie) is focusing on a new project about–wait for it–Black Mountain College! From, appropriately, Black Mountain News:

Sparks, writer of “Safe Haven,” “The Lucky One,” “The Notebook,” and “Nights in Rodanthe,” has turned his sights to the mountains for his latest novel, “The Longest Ride.”

Playing a key role in the parallel story of two couples is Black Mountain College, an experimental institution that from 1933-57 sought to push art and design to the forefront of American education.

A Sparks book and movie focusing on the college will remind the public of how the institution helped transform art and architecture, Alice Sebrell, Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center program director, said.

“I think it’s exciting, because it is going to bring the story of Black Mountain College to a whole new audience,” Sebrell said.

The college had two campuses in Black Mountain. School officials rented the Blue Ridge Assembly conference center until 1941 then bought property just north of town. Now Camp Rockmont owns the land, on which some college buildings remain.

In the socially conservative 1940s and ‘50s, the college was a refuge for the American avant-garde, including artists and innovators such as Franz Kline, John Cage, Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, Robert Creeley, Jacob Lawrence, Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, and M.C. Richards. During World War II, it was a haven for refugee European artists such as designers Josef and Anni Albers, who arrived from Germany.

Highly democratic and faculty-owned, the school considered the creative arts and practical responsibilities as equally important components to intellectual development.

In the Longest Ride, Sparks features two couples, one young and an older husband and wife, who visited the college annually for many years, said Sebrell, who read an advance electronic version of the book.

“They met and befriended some of the artists at the college. This is fictionalized, but it is loosely based on history. And they began buying art from those artists,” she said.

Posted in Poetry News on Friday, August 2nd, 2013 by Harriet Staff.

Author/Illustrator Vera B. Williams talks about her writing process.

Uploaded on Jul 30, 2009

Vera B. Williams discusses her writing process regarding her book, A Chair for my Mother. She also talks about her own mother and family and her influence on her writing.
http://www.schoolwideblog.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.

John Cage pictured below at Gate Hill Cooperative Community around 1955:

Vera B. Williams Creates Community in Her Books

Vera Baker was born in Hollywood, California, on January 28, 1927. She and her family moved to New York City when she was quite young. Luckily for Vera, they lived near a studio space called Bronx House where she learned painting, writing, acting, and dance. When she was nine-years-old, one of her paintings, called “Yentas,” was put on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. She was filmed there explaining to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt the meaning behind her work. The Movietone film reel ran before the regular features at the movies. This, Vera recalled, made her quite a big shot in the neighborhood!

She attended Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Black Mountain was a very unusual college, begun by teachers who had fled the Nazis in the 1930s. Looking for a peaceful way to learn and live together, students and faculty studied the arts and practical crafts needed to be self-sufficient. Vera learned to plant corn, make butter, work a printing press, and build her own house. She also graduated with a degree in graphic arts and married a fellow student, Paul Williams. They lived at Gate Hill Cooperative with other graduates of Black Mountain College from 1953 to 1970. Through the years, Vera became involved in politics and demonstrated for non-violence and the rights of women and children.

Vera and her husband raised three children at Gate Hill, and she taught in the community school. After her divorce in 1970, she moved to Canada and lived on a houseboat in Vancouver while working as a teacher and a baker. She loved the Yukon River and took a 500-mile trip down it. Vera later captured much of the joy of her travels in the children’s book, Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe, which combines how-to information with the story of an amazing family adventure. This book won a Parents’ Choice Award for Illustration.

Books about Rosa and Her Family

Cover to A Chair for My MotherWhen Vera was growing up in Brooklyn, she and her family didn’t have a lot of money, especially nothing for any luxuries like nice furniture. A Chair for My Mother is based on the memory of her mother wishing for and wanting a new chair so much that it put the family finances in trouble as they struggled to pay for the chair in installments. In Vera’s book, she changed what happened to make it a warmer story. The mother, so tired from working all day, brings a big empty jar from the restaurant where she works. Over time, the jar fills up with little savings from here and there. When the chair is finally bought outright, Grandma, Rosa, and Mother all enjoy a rest on its plush and comforting cushions.

A Chair for My Mother won the Caldecott Honor in 1983. Vera has taken us back to visit Rosa and her family twice more. InSomething Special for Me, this time around the savings from the big jar will be used for something that Rosa wants. She finds the perfect gift, one that gives joy to herself and others. Music, Music for Everyone finds Rosa using her special gift to help raise money for her family when her grandmother is ill.

Stringbean’s Trip to the Shining Sea

When Stringbean and his older brother take off (with their parents’ permission) on a trip from their home in the Heartland to the California Coast, Stringbean faithfully sends back postcards from all the strange and exciting places they visit along the way. Like Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe, Stringbean’s trip recreates the wonders and hardships of a family trip. Along the way, Stringbean grows up quite a bit and learns important things about his family’s past.

Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart

This is another story pulled together from fragments of Vera’s childhood. Unlike her other writings, Vera has the sisters speak to us from simple poems. Plain and short, they carry the feelings and events of two young girls who need to look after each other. As in her Rosa books, the family is living through hard times.

Amber’s and Essie’s father has gone to jail, and their mother must work very hard to support them. Amber, the little sister, cannot really understand what has happened. Neither sister really knows whether or not life will ever be better or how they should feel about their father now. Amber Was Brave… has a lot of artistry to it. With only the barest of words which ring true to the thoughts of the young girls, the author manages to convey a world of hurt, love, and forgiving.

Scooter

When Elana Rose Rosen and her mother first move to an apartment in New York City, “Lanny” is lonely for her father, her cousin, and her grandparents back in California. But with her beautiful blue and silver scooter, she finds the courage to try to make new friends. This book is written in Lanny’s own words with great honesty, giving full expression to her joy, jealousy, anger, and outrage. Brave and resourceful, Elana Rose Rosen is a terrific kid to get to know.

We own many of Vera B. Williams’ books in our library. Click your CRRL Library Card to reserve a book to pick up at your favorite branch. If you wish, you can contact the author at this address: Vera B. Williams, c/o Author Mail, Greenwillow Books, 105 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016.

Vera on the Web:

 

Black Mountain College: An Introduction
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/black_mountain_college….
From PBS, a little history behind the famous North Carolina school of the 30s and 40s that focused on liberal arts and communal living.

 

Vera B. Williams from Biography Resource Center and Who’s Who Database http://www.librarypoint.org/articles_databases
Use your CRRL library card to access these articles from Contemporary Authors, Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, and St. James Guide to Children’s Writers.

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Vera B. Williams

Vera B. Williams, born in 1927, didn’t illustrate her first picture book until 1975. But her path towards an artistic career began much earlier, when she was growing up in New York City in the 1930s and 40s. At the Bronx House, a local community center, she acted, danced, and painted. When Williams was 9 years old, one of her paintings was included in a WPA exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. She later graduated from New York City’s High School of Music and Art, and then graduated from the Black Mountain School in North Carolina with a degree in graphic arts.
Williams has pursued a wide variety of personal and professional interests throughout her life. She raised three children; she helped found an alternative community and school in New York; she ran a bakery in Ontario, canoed down 500 miles of the Yukon River, and has contributed her talents and time to political organization and activism. Williams’ life experiences, love of children, and social conscience shine through her fine collection of books for young readers

Vera Williams

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Vera B. Williams
Born January 28, 1927 (age 88)[1]
Hollywood, California, USA[1]
Occupation Writer and illustrator
Nationality American
Period 1975-present
Genre Children’s literature, picture books
Notable works As writer:
It’s a Gingerbread House(1978)
Spouse Paul Williams (-1970)
Children Sarah
Jennifer
Merce

Vera B. Williams (born January 28, 1927) is an American children’s writer and illustrator. Her best known work, A Chair for My Mother, has won multiple awards and was featured on the children’s television show Reading Rainbow.[2] For her lifetime contribution as a children’s illustrator she was U.S. nominee in 2004 for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest recognition available to creators of children’s books.[3] Additionally, she was awarded the 2009 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature.[4]

Biography[edit]

Early life and education[edit]

Vera Baker was born January 28, 1927 in Hollywood, California. She has one sister, Naomi.[5] As a child, her family moved to the Bronx, New York, where her father was frequently absent during her early childhood. Encouraged by their parents to explore the arts, she studied at The High School of Music & Art[5] and Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where she received her BFA in Graphic Art in 1949.[1]

Marriage and children[edit]

While at Black Mountain College, she married fellow student Paul Williams. The couple divorced in 1970. Together they had three children:

  • Sarah Williams
  • Jennifer Williams
  • Merce Williams

She has five grandchildren:

  • Hudson Williams
  • August Williams
  • William Babcock
  • Rebecca Babcock
  • Clare Babcock

Career[edit]

Williams was a co-founder of the Gate Hill Cooperative Community and served as a teacher for the community from 1953-70. She taught at alternative schools in New York and Ontario throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. Following her divorce, she emigrated to Canada, where she committed to becoming a children’s author and illustrator. In 1975 she was invited by Remy Charlip to illustrate Hooray For Me, which she did while living on a houseboat in Vancouver.[5] She established a publishing relationship with Greenwillow Books that continues to this day. Today, Ms. Williams lives in New York City and remains active in local issues such as The House of Elder Artists[6] and participated in the 2007 PEN World Voices literary festival.[7]

Philosophical and political views[edit]

Ms. Williams has long supported nonviolent and nuclear disarmament causes. In 1981 she spent a month in Alderson Federal Prison Camp following arrest at a women’s peaceful blockade of the Pentagon.[8] She served on the executive committee of theWar Resisters League from 1984 to 1987.

Works[edit]

As author[edit]

  • It’s a Gingerbread House (1978)
  • The Great Watermelon Birthday (1980)
  • Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe (1981)
  • A Chair for My Mother (1982)
  • Something Special for Me (1983)
  • Music, Music for Everyone (1984)
  • My Mother, Leah and George Sand (1986)
  • Cherries and Cherry Pits (1986)
  • Stringbean’s Trip to the Shining Sea with Jennifer Williams (1988)
  • “More More More” Said the Baby (1990)
  • Scooter (1993)
  • Lucky Song (1997)
  • Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart (2001)
  • A Chair for Always (2009)

 

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‘The Longest Ride’: Nicholas Sparks novel becomes a film

 

Two young lovers with polarized passions and conflicting ideals come across an elderly man, whose memories of his own decades-long romance with his beloved wife deeply inspire them.

Directed by George Tillman Jr., “The Longest Ride” centers on the star-crossed love affair between Luke (played by Scott Eastwood), a former champion bull-rider looking to make a comeback, and Sophia (Britt Robertson), a college student who is about to embark upon her dream job in New York City’s art world.

Their world is shaken when they both rescue an elderly widower named Ira (Jack Huston), who has been seriously injured in a crash. They befriend the old man and discover the details about his fascinating life and long marriage.

“The Longest Ride” is based on the book of the same name by Nicholas Sparks.

 

‘The Longest Ride’ is something I’ve never done in film before,” Sparks said. “It’s really two stories in one. [The novel] has an epic quality that applies to both love stories. The love story between Ruth and Ira, which starts before World War II, is contrasted with the entirely different world of professional bull-riding.”

He said that what differentiated this film from the other adaptations of his work was its epic quality and the dual love story, of two stories coming together.

“When you meet the person with whom you fall in love, the feeling’s the same, whether you’re in the 1930s or in the present day,” he said. “Everybody goes through the same emotions. There’s universality to the way we feel, and that’s what I wanted to show. I think the fun of the film is trying to figure out how on earth these two stories are going to come together in the end.”

Sparks did more research for “The Longest Ride” than he had for any of his other novels.

“My explorations covered many areas I didn’t know anything about,” he explains. “I needed to find out what the art world was like in the ’30s and ’40s; what life was like for Jewish people in North Carolina in the 1930s; and the many facets of the Professional Bull Rider’s tour and its riders.”

Black Mountain College

Sparks research for the novel led him to Black Mountain College, which was the center of the modern art movement in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. Black Mountain College was founded in the ’30s as an experimental college, and came to define the Modern Art movement.

“Everyone from De Kooning to Rauschenberg was there,” Sparks said. “Robert De Niro’s father, another noted artist, attended Black Mountain College. There were very famous artists there, and if you look at the American modern art movement in the 1940s and 1950s, there were important intersections there with the great works of this century.”

“The Longest Ride” opens April 15 in cinemas nationwide, from 20th Century Fox, to be distributed by Warner Bros.

 

 

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Related posts:

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 55 THE BEATLES (Part G, The Beatles and Rebellion) (Feature on artist Wallace Berman )

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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THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 5 ceramic artist Karen Karnes and her husband sculptor David Weinrib

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

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 Introduction

Uploaded on Jul 27, 2009

FULLY AWAKE is a 60 minute documentary film about the legendary Black Mountain College (1933-1957), an influential experiment in education in Western North Carolina that inspired and shaped 20th century modern art. The film uses narration, archival photography, and interviews with former students, teachers, and historians to explore the schools beginnings, its unique education methods, and how its collaborative curriculum inspired innovation that changed the very definition of art. For more information, please visit http://www.fullyawake.org or to purchase the film, please visit http://www.filmbaby.com.

The 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. Both Susan Weil and Robert Rauschenberg were featured in the second post in this series and both of them were good friends of the composer John Cage who was featured in my first post in this series. 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.

In  1952 David Weinrib and his wife Karen Karnes came to Black Mountain College and became friends with John Cage and his partner Merce Cunningham  and several others such as David Tudor and Paul and Vera Williams and Mary Caroline Richards. In 1954 they all moved to Stony Point, Rockland County, 40 miles from New York and they had hoped to start a community that would grow but it didn’t turn out that way. Below is the story of the art of Karen Karnes and her first husband David Weinrib and the story of John Cage and his mushroom story as told by Francis Schaeffer.

Josef Albers
Fiddling with Leica.
1944
Merce Cunningham
In an oudoor solo.
1948
Merce Cunningham
Photo by Robert Rauschenberg
1952

Black Mountain College

Uploaded on Apr 18, 2011

Class Project on Black Mountain College for American Literature

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Mark Shapiro: The Ceramic Art of Karen Karnes (at 11 min mark discusses Black Mountain College) 

Published on May 23, 2012

Mark Shapiro gave a presentation about the life and work of ceramic artist Karen Karnes at the 2012 American Craft Council Baltimore Show.
http://www.craftcouncil.org

Smithsonian Oral History Interview: Karen Karnes

Oral history interview with Karen Karnes, 2005 Aug. 9-10, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Karnes, Karen, b. 1925, Potter, Morgan, Vt.

An interview of Karen Karnes conducted 2005 Aug. 9-10, by Mark Shapiro, for the Archives of American Art’s Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at the artist’s home and studio in Morgan, Vt.

Karnes discusses her childhood in Brooklyn and the Bronx as the daughter of Russian and Polish immigrants working in the garment industry; living in a cooperative housing project built especially for garment workers and their families; attending the High School of Music and Art, New York City; going on to Brooklyn College, and fortuitously landing in the class of Serge Chermayoff, who taught primarily in the Bauhaus style; meeting her first husband, David Weinrib, with whom she eventually moved to Pennsylvania; David bringing home a slab of clay for her to work with, her first experience with the material; traveling to Italy and working in a ceramics factory there; attending a summer session at Black Mountain College in North Carolina and taking a class with Josef Albers; moving to Stony Point, in Rockland County, N.Y., to start Gatehill Community; her first gallery relationship, with Bonniers, New York City; the birth of her son Abel in 1956; the first time she used a salt kiln, while at the Penland School of Arts and Crafts, Penland, NC, in 1967, and its effect on the character of her work; her relationship with the Hadler-Rodriguez Galleries, New York City; the pottery show in Demarest, New Jersey; her teaching philosophy and methods…meeting her life partner, Ann Stannard, in 1970; Ann’s home in Wales, and living there before settling in Vermont; the fire that destroyed their home and studio in 1998; the issues of privacy and isolation in an artists life; her expectations about her career, especially as a Jewish woman; and her feelings on the work of contemporary potters.

Karnes also recalls John Cage, Soetsu Yanagi, Bernard Leach, Shoji Hamada, Charles Olsen, Marguerite Wildenhain, Paul and Vera B. Williams, Mary Caroline Richards, Goren Holmquist, Paul J. Smith, Mikhail Zakin, Jack Lenor Larsen, Isamu Noguchi, D. Hayne Bayless, Zeb Schactel, Warren Mackenzie, Garth Clark, Joy Brown, Robbie Lobell, Paulus Berensohn, and others.

_________________

00

when david weinrib* installed hank de ricco’s 27 pole piece on the green area outside of the design center, it took me a while to get used to this

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(L–R) Leon Smith, Guardian, 2003, painted steel, 5 ½ x 3 x 2½ feet; Sculpture Park Curator David Weinrib with sculptor Leon Smith

work called Double Loops 1965

1962 work called Needle

Weinrib’s Pocket

Published on Apr 11, 2014

Curatorium. Hudson ny

Sometimes we sit around Harriet HQ and daydream about what it woulda been like to be a student at Black Mountain College in the 50s. Sitting in on Charles Olson’s marathon workshops

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8:00 pm, Friday, November 30
Admission: $7 / $5 BMCM+AC members + students w/ID

On Friday, November 30th at 8:00 pm the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (56 Broadway in downtown Asheville) presents a rare opportunity to hear first-hand about the Black Mountain College pottery program and the amazing artists who worked at the school in the early 1950s. Artist David Weinrib was potter-in-residence and guest faculty along with Karen Karnes from summer 1952 through summer 1954 at Black Mountain College.

In 1952, David Weinrib and Karen Karnes were invited to come to Black Mountain College for the summer. This visit evolved into their positions as BMC’s Potters in Residence. That same year, they played hosts to a symposium moderated by Marguerite Wildenhain, featuring Bernard Leach, Shoji Hamada and Soetsu Yanagi as presenters. The following year, the pair organized a summer session with yet another influential group of ceramicists: Peter Voulkos, Daniel Rhodes and Warren Mackenzie. These symposia were hugely influential to the studio pottery movement, with some potters claiming that their directions as artists were forever altered.

In the time that followed his Black Mountain College experience, Weinrib was instrumental in starting the intentional community, the Gate Hill Cooperative at Stony Point in New York. Involved in this live/work project were several faces from BMC: John Cage, David Tudor, Karen Karnes, Paul & Vera Williams and M.C. Richards.

David Weinrib has worked as an instructor, potter, designer, curator and sculptor (in various mediums, including plastics), and has received numerous awards for his work. The pieces that Weinrib created at BMC have a painterly quality that is at once engaging and unique. His work displays a versatility and creative energy that is not often rivaled.

This is perhaps one of the most famous photographs taken at the Archie Bray Foundation. From left to right are Soetsu Yanagi, Bernard Leach, Rudy Autio, Peter Voulkos, and Shoji Hamada.

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Shoji Hamada, Bernard Leach, Soetsu Yanagi, and Marguerite Wildenhain at Black Mountain College

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Many Paths: A Legacy of Karen Karnes

Catalog essay for the show that Mark curated at the Penland Gallery, March 22–May 8, 2011.

show announcement

People often ask whether I was a student of Karen Karnes. It is always somehow awkward to answer. I first say no, explain that she doesn’t really teach, that I have gotten to know her over the years, that her work and place in the world are deeply important to me. That she is a mentor even though I never actually studied or worked with her.

My hunch is that many potters feel this way. The thirteen artists whose work is represented in Many Paths: A Legacy of Karen Karnes certainly do. In fact, Karnes’s outstanding career of over sixty years has touched several generations of potters. She has inspired many young potters to pursue their unlikely vocation, and artists of her own generation—even those working in other fields—to take up clay. Her influence derives mostly from her quiet personal magnetism, integrity, and the uncanny power of her work. An encounter with Karnes is often a transformational event.

Unlike many of the well-known figures of the studio pottery movement, Karnes never taught for any length of time at a university, influencing students as they passed through. Nor did she have apprentices working in her studio to internalize her attitudes and protocols and carry them forward, nor books extending her following. Many of the prominent mentors in modern ceramics have arisen out of such contexts. For example, the British potters Bernard Leach and his apprentice Michael Cardew not only influenced the many apprentices who worked in their studios, but their seminal writings reached thousands of readers. University professors such as Karnes’s contemporary, Warren MacKenzie (who himself apprenticed with Leach), have had important impacts on younger potters [1].

In the Studio

Karnes has preferred to work in the quiet privacy of her studio, rarely employing assistants, and never directly on her work. Though she did share her studio at several points over her career—at Black Mountain College in 1952–4 with her then-husband sculptor, David Weinrib; and for several years with Weinrib and the poet, painter, and scholar M.C. Richards at the Gate Hill Cooperative in Stony Point, New York—she did so in the spirit of cooperative engagement with partners and peers. (She shared a studio again two decades later when she formed a life-partnership with Ann Stannard, an accomplished educator and artist, this time for a decade or so until Ann’s interests moved on to other areas.) But generally, Karnes fiercely protected the privacy of her studio and worked alone.

Growing up, McKenzie Smith was an occasional visitor to Gate Hill, where Karnes had her studio for 25 years, and Smith’s aunt, Johanna Vanderbeek, was also a resident. He recalls Karnes’s formidable presence, amidst the wildness and freedom of the scene at Gate Hill in the late 1960s—“flat-out naked hippieville,” it seemed to him, in contrast to his more conventional Florida upbringing. Karnes stood apart, literally, as her studio was separated from two clustered hillside quadrangles, and in her serious and disciplined persona. She might indulge the band of roving boys McKenzie was tearing around with by giving them each a small lump of clay, but after a brief time she would indicate clearly that it was time for them to move on so that she could return to work.

Her studio solitude only shifted as she entered her 80s and welcomed Normandy Alden, a student she’d met teaching with me at Haystack School in 2005, to share her studio in northern Vermont. By then Karnes was producing much less work and needed help maintaining her studio and rural homestead.

The Question of Teaching

Karnes is sometimes erroneously described as having been on the faculty at Black Mountain College, but actually she and Weinrib were artists-in-residence and did not officially teach. Curious faculty and students would visit the pot shop; M.C. Richards, for example, began working more seriously in clay there with the couple’s encouragement.

Later, at Gate Hill, after she and Weinrib split up and MC moved back into the city, Karnes taught some classes in her studio, but she strictly limited her teaching to one afternoon a week and stopped when her pots sold more reliably. It was in these studio classes, though, that Mikhail Zakin, who had been working in jewelry and sculpture, took up pottery; eventually she helped Karen build her salt kiln. Zakin, five years Karnes’s senior, might be said to be the earliest and longest bearer of her influence.

In the 1960s, as workshop teaching opportunities expanded with the growth of the craft movement, Karnes taught sporadically, twice at Haystack School and, notably, once here at Penland, where in 1967 she first salt-glazed, a career-changing event. From then on her primary material vocabulary turned to salt surfaces and her work for the next dozen years took on the iconic orange-peel texture and rich tonality that we associate with classic Karnes. But though many studio potters became regulars on the workshop circuit, Karnes did not. She was simply too absorbed with the private pleasures and demands of the studio, now irresistible as she was finding her voice—and market—with this new approach.

Still, one workshop she gave at the Wesleyan Potters studio in Connecticut broke the pattern. It was so compelling that the students arranged to continue meeting every few months on an ongoing basis. The “Continuum,” as they called it, met periodically in different studios over half a dozen years until 1979, mainly under Karnes’s leadership, but also under guest presenters such as British potters Mick Casson and David Leach. It was as a peripheral participant in this group that Malcolm Davis first encountered Karnes.

Old Church

The institution, however, most associated with Karnes’s legacy is the annual pottery show at the Art School at Old Church Cultural Center, in Demarest, New Jersey, just north of Manhattan. The weekend show, which she has curated since 1974, each year features 25 potters from around the country. Potters donate a third of their sales to benefit the art school, which Zakin had founded in an old abandoned church. For years, the show was the main fundraising event for the school. When Zakin originally came to Karnes with the idea of the show, Karnes accepted her curatorial role on condition that the potters be “really treated well”: the school would provide them with housing, food, and prepared display spaces, take care of sales and packing so they could enjoy each other, mingle with the customers, and maybe even spend an afternoon in the city. This was to be a show by potters forpotters. And the potters, Karnes was adamant, would be promptly paid. The atmosphere would be celebratory and coalesce around a festive potter’s dinner on Saturday night. The idealism with which the show was conceived is consistent with Karen’s early history of communitarian self-sufficiency, and reflects the values of mutual aid among the tradespersons living in the Bronx “Coops,” the first worker-owned housing project in New York City, where she grew up with her parents, who were garment workers and socialist union activists.

Each year, Karnes introduces younger potters among the regulars who rotate in and out of the show. A few participants enjoy a kind of tenured status—Zakin, who has participated from the beginning; Rob Sieminski, since 1977; Scott Goldberg since 1980; and Malcolm Davis a few year later. All of the potters in Many Paths (with the exception of Alden, who is currently in graduate school, and Paulus Berensohn, who worked in other media and did not produce pots in quantity) have shown multiple times at Old Church. They all remember feeling honored and encouraged by Karen’s belief in their work, and especially grateful for the sustaining sense of community that she fostered.

For many, the show was their first national professional venue, a chance to put work next to peers and senior practitioners in the field and in front of a savvy public. The event has been a rite of passage for many, myself included. Malcolm Davis’s first experience of the show is typical. As he was just beginning to make pots seriously, Karnes responded to something incipient in his forms, and invited him to exhibit, though he didn’t feel his work yet merited it. “She saw something in my pots and opened a door to professionalism and gave me courage. It was a huge stroke.”

Karnes and Zakin set up the show to give concrete economic support to the potters. Not only did it connect potters to enthusiastic buyers each December, but the invitations dependably went out considerably in advance, and first-time potters were given a several-year commitment. All this meant that the show could be part of a longer-term plan, giving potters a respite from the uncertainties of juried craft shows. Rob Sieminski, knowing he could count on an income stream every December, felt greater freedom to take bolder risks in his work because of this and the sense of Karnes’s unqualified support for his creativity. As he says, “pots with nails fired into them” (a feature of his work for a number of years) “weren’t exactly an obvious popular direction.”

In the case of Robbie Lobell, Karnes’s support extended to the sharing of her pioneering formula for making flameware—low-expansion clay and glazes that could be put directly over a burner. These were the basis of Karnes’s famous line of casseroles that sold so well over almost four decades. Lobell felt the practical intent of Karnes’s generous gesture. “She always talked about how hard it is to be a potter. She was handing me something that would allow me to make a living.”

Bob Briscoe notes, “Karen proved that there is strong support for functional ceramics in the general public. By recognizing and nurturing this support, Karen has shown that it is possible for numerous potters to make their living doing what they love.” In fact, the show has become a model for several others around the country, notably the Northern Clay Center’s American Pottery Festival, which Bob Briscoe and Mathew Metz initiated after brainstorming on their long drive back to Minnesota after participating in Old Church in 1998 [2].

The Woman over Time

From very early on, Karnes was a strong and successful woman, making her living by selling her wares independently and on her own terms, without the backup of a professional spouse’s income. She built her own kiln (with Zakin) and began firing with salt at a time when such activities were quite male-dominated. Mary Barringer and Aysha Peltz, whose sights as young potters were set on making a living from studio production, were particularly encouraged by Karnes’s example as a successful independent craftswoman. Barringer’s words speak for scores of women who encountered Karnes as they were thinking about making a life in clay: “I visited Karen at her Stony Point studio, and I can still recall the impact that seeing her in her own working space had upon me. Seeing with my own eyes the evidence of a working woman potter opened a door in my mind that I had not realized was closed. Karen’s example sent me forth into my working life.”

Karnes’s vitality, continued productivity, and constant creative growth well into her 80s is one of her most admired qualities, remarked on by many but particularly meaningful to younger women. Regardless of the limitations of her body, she has never ceased to make new work, experimented with different firings as a guest in colleague’s kilns—and last year even building a new salt kiln. And she has continued her role as Old Church curator. “As a woman aging in a physically demanding field, Karen is a hero for me,” says Silvie Granatelli. Working alongside Karnes in her Morgan, Vermont, studio, encouraged Normandy Alden to “look expansively at my own life in clay and consider how I might prepare for an aging body that inevitably comes.” Gail Kendall hopes to “match her vigor and engagement in the field over time. She is always changing, growing, and exploring.”

Life and Art

Karnes seems to have achieved an almost perfect merging of life and art, perhaps any artist’s highest aspiration. As Scott Goldberg puts it, “Karen has devoted her life to her work. Through the years, she steadily, self-confidently, invents, and holds to ideals that express exquisite, subtle form and meticulous craftsmanship. Her unwavering approach to the merging of the crafts of life and art has been an inspiration to me.” This seemingly effortless representation of her whole being in her work, the way it encompasses her environment, body image, all the rhythms of her days is truly remarkable. Peltz sees this fluid and peaceful integration of experience and expression at the heart of Karnes’s accomplishment, “her self, sources, and experiences are present in her work with an organic ease that few potters achieve.”

This resonates with my sense of Karnes as an embodiment of the complete artist, one confidently in pursuit of a transformative vision, in harmony with the world, at peace with her refusal of its distractions, organically and inexorably moving with her work into new places. As she says in one of her rare pronouncements about her creative process, “The pots kind of grow from themselves—it’s a feeling. The forms will extend themselves—or contract. I feel my forms live in my body, on my breath.” It is this somatic integration of her creativity, her beautiful embodiment of it that makes her so compelling.

Even her very physical presence carried Karnes’s art. Maren Kloppman remembers the “magical moment” she met Karnes during a thunderstorm. Karnes’s “keen eye and gentle honest criticism inspired ambition and possibility in me,” says Kloppman. For Paulus Berensohn, the encounter was fateful. He was a young New York dancer, was attending an annual picnic at Gate Hill, when he wandered off from his hosts and happened to see Karnes at her wheel—no surprise that she was hard at work even during such an event—through the window of her studio, facing away from him. As he describes it, “she was seated throwing a cylinder her back long straight and beautiful. She reached a graceful arm toward the slip bucket and without for a second taking her eyes off the spinning pot, picked up the waiting sponge. I just had to learn that dance.”

The graceful confidence that she exudes physically flows in part from how completely she is at peace with her choices and accepts their moral implications. She rejects compromise of her artistic intent for worldly gain and eschews any distraction from her muse. I am reminded of a dealer who, knowing of the demand for Karnes’s classic large-scale work, her need for funds, and the limitations of her aging body, suggested that she hire a young thrower to make her forms. Karnes, baffled, responded, “Why would I ever do that?” Zakin sums it up eloquently: “Karen is somebody who lives with total integrity to her value system. That has been the great lesson for me—that it can be done, that you can live that way.”

Mentors and Patrons

These stories focus on Karnes’s influence on and mentorship of other artists, but it seems important to circle back to her early days as an artist, her own experience starting out. I have mentioned how Karnes’s conditions for curating the Old Church show reflected the ameliorative engagement of her childhood milieu, a commitment to helping others that is in her blood. This instinct was also nurtured by mentors and patrons who played different supportive roles in her early career.

As a student in the 1940s, her creative gift was recognized by Serge Chermayeff, the Chechen-born modernist architect and designer who headed the art department at Brooklyn College. Chermayeff believed in her strongly and encouraged her to apply to Harvard in architecture. Though she declined, she is one of the only former students he singles out in his Chicago Architects History Project interview (1986) in which he calls her pot an example of the “brilliant… awfully good” students he taught at Brooklyn [3]. He later arranged for her full fellowship at Alfred University in Charles Harder’s studio. She was again recognized during her stay in the Italian pottery town of Sesto Fiorentino when her work caught the eye of leading designer Gio Ponti. Ponti was so taken with her work that he featured it in his prestigiousDomus magazine. Chermayeff and Ponti were both masters in fields somewhat peripheral to Karnes’s chosen one, and were in positions to offer avenues of advancement to the young Karnes.

At Black Mountain College, Karnes experienced a different kind of a transformational teaching when she encountered a master working in her own material, the legendary Japanese potter, Shoji Hamada, who along with Bernard Leach, Soetsu Yanagi, and Marguerite Widenhain came to the college to give a seminar the first summer of her residence. She describes “breathing in” his spirit as he quietly worked, uncomplaining, with the available clay while Leach went on and on about proper clay, plasticity, etc. She says that whenever she had any doubts about throwing pots in front of a group she would recall Hamada’s peaceful undistracted presence.

At the college she also enjoyed the support of the college’s rector, poet Charles Olsen. While in the 1950s, pottery was somewhat marginal to the heady abstract discourse of the students, Olsen wanted to move the college toward a curriculum based on his “institute model” where students would study consecutively four of bodies of knowledge that would begin with crafts, with pottery enjoying parity with weaving, architecture, and graphics. As he stated in a 1952 letter to Wildenhain (who he tried to recruit to the college before Karnes signed on), “…it damn well interests me as an act, (pots do)” [4].

Finally, the architect Paul Williams extended generous patronage to Karnes (and the other residents at Gate Hill Cooperative), building her house and studio and even providing a VW bug for the community to use, enabling Karen to pursue her passion at a time when she had few material resources at her disposal. The consistent support Karnes has extended to others over her long career, then, is a reciprocation rooted in the legacies and support from which she herself benefited.

The diversity and excellence of the work of the multigenerational assembly of artists in Many Paths and their connections to Karnes and to one another is testimony itself to Karnes’s rich legacy. Though the space here at the Penland Gallery has limited this group to a baker’s dozen, many more in the Penland community and around the country also carry her as a touchstone of excellence and a model of commitment, community, and integrity. Potters everywhere have been transformed by the fierce beauty of her life and work. Karnes is not just essential to the many paths taken by the artists in this show; her presence runs through generations of American ceramists.

Acknowledgments

I am grateful to Karen Karnes for being the inspiring artist and person she is; to Kathryn Gremley at the Penland Gallery for encouragement and putting the exhibition together; to the Penland School for funding this essay; and to the thirteen artists in the show, for their work and their thoughts about Karnes’s influence that are at the heart of Many Paths. Finally I am indebted to my wife Pam Thompson for her incisive editing and unwavering support.

Notes

1 MacKenzie exemplifies this model of mentorship. From his position at the University of Minnesota, he created a vibrant ceramic culture and taught many students, notably an exceptional group of potters in the late 1960s, including Michael and Sandy Simon, Mark Pharis, Randy Johnston, Wayne Branum, and Jeff Oestreich.

2 The highly successful St. Croix Pottery Tour has since extended this legacy. The Tour, a circuit of six host studios north of the Twin Cities, hosts an additional three dozen guest potters and includes social events that reflect the community spirit that Karnes nurtured at Old Church.

3 Serge Chermayeff, interview by Betty J. Blum. Wellfleet, MA, 23–4 May 1985. Chicago Architects Oral History Project. (Chicago: Ernest R. Graham Study Center for Architectural Drawings. Department of Architecture, The Art Institute of Chicago) 26.

4 Charles Olsen, letter to Bernard Leach. 24 May 1952. Black Mountain College Papers, II. 25.

The Experimenters: Chance and Design at Black Mountain College

The Experimenters: Chance and Design at Black Mountain College

Eva Diaz

Practically every major artistic figure of the mid-twentieth century spent some time at Black Mountain College: Harry Callahan, Merce Cunningham, Walter Gropius, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, Aaron Siskind, Cy Twombly – the list goes on and on. Yet scholars have tended to view these artists’ time at the college as little more than prologue, a step on their way to greatness. With The Experimenters, Eva Diaz reveals the influence of Black Mountain College – and especially of three key instructors, Josef Albers, John Cage, and R. Buckminster Fuller – to be much greater than that. Diaz’s focus is on experimentation. Albers, Cage, and Fuller, she shows, taught new models of art making that favored testing procedures rather than personal expression. The resulting projects not only reconfigured the relationships among chance, order, and design – they helped redefine what artistic practice was, and could be, for future generations. Offering a bold, compelling new angle on some of the most widely studied creative minds of the twentieth century. The Experimenters does nothing less than rewrite the story of art in the mid-twentieth century.

Chicago, 2015, 17.8 x 25.4cm, illustrated, 256pp. Hardback.

Friday, April 8, 2011

John Cage Collecting Mushrooms

When I was a teen I was lucky to meet John Cage. He died in 1992 so one had to be quick about it. He was in Broward Community College. He preformed his work with the students there, which were regular instruments and found instruments(that one wouldn’t consider an instrument). He rehearsed the work twice when he said the performance was fine and played the whole thing. He had a very Zen like attitude to his creations that all the performances were going to be different, but a specific attitude what instruments or situations were going to be used. It was a relief to me that a performance doesn’t have to be identical. Most of his later works were done with the I Ching divination, that would show the outcome of the notes, the instruments he would use was asked of the I Ching. He didn’t want a self expression, but the notes and instruments would follow a certain way. Then later there was a formal concert were he played his piano composition that were early and not chance works. Then he did a very long reading from one of his books which was a total chance operation from the I Ching. I had earlier taken pictures with him. I let him sign his book, “A Year from Monday.” A few years later I went to a concert that they played Martinu orchestra music, Cage music for percussion, and a large work of Earl Brown a friend contemporary of Cage sat beside me in the audience. It was a very memorial concert for many orchestral instruments. A past time cage had was collecting mushrooms, hence the picture.

The Mushroom Man!

John Cage, Stony Point (c.1955)/Photo credit: David Gahr

Here’s a little find!  A short interview with Laurette Reisman, former student of John Cage’s Mushroom Identification class at the New School in 1962, talking about Cage, mushroom walks, and the conception of the New York Mycological Society.  This story was produced by Aasim Rasheed for National Public Radio’s “Storycorps Digital Storytelling” program.  Reisman, interviewed by Rasheed, calls John Cage “The Mushroom Man.”

Thanks to Rasheed for providing the interview in both recorded and transcribed form to the ever-growing archives of the John Cage Trust!

Laura Kuhn

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

John Cage and His “Art”

I’m teaching an apologetics and worldview class for high schoolers.  One of the textbooks we are using is James Sire’s The Universe Next Door (5th edition).

In discussing nihilism Sire talks about how “nihilism means the death of art” (p. 114).  Sire writes:

Art is nothing if not formal, that is, endowed with structure by the artist.  But structure itself implies meaning.  So to the extent that an art-work has structure, it has meaning and thus is not nihilistic.  Even Beckett’s Breath has structure.  A junkyard, the garbage in a trash heap, a pile of rocks just blasted from a quarry have no structure.  They are not art.  (p. 115)

Since Sire mentions Beckett’s Breath here is one renditon:

Breath

Uploaded on Jan 11, 2008

National Theatre School First Year Technical Production Class project, production of Samuel Beckett’s play Breath.

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Sire goes on to state:

Some contemporary art attempts to be anti-art by being random.  Much of John Cage’s music is predicated on sheer chance, randomness.  But it is both dull and grating, and very few people can listen to it.  It’s not art.  (p. 115)

To get a flavor for John Cage’s work here are few items.  The first piece is “Music of Changes–part one”

John Cage-Music of Changes Book 1 (1951)

Published on Nov 14, 2012

Vicky Chow, piano
DiMenna Center, NYC
NY SoundCircuit
June 9, 2012

John Cage performing Water Walk

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This piece entitled “Imaginary Landscape No. 4” uses 12 radios to make random sounds

John Cage: “Imaginary Landscape No. 4” for 12 radios (1951)

Uploaded on Dec 7, 2008

As performed by students of Hunter College (NYC) in Prof. Joachim Pissarro’s + Geoffrey Burleson’s “Cage Class” 12/5/08. 2 players per radio – 1 for frequency tuning, the other for volume, tone, and page-turning of the score.

John Cage’s 4’33”

Uploaded on Dec 15, 2010

A performance by William Marx of John Cage’s 4’33.
Filmed at McCallum Theatre, Palm Desert, CA.

Composer John Adams wrote the following in The New York Times review of Mr. Cage’s new biography, “The Zen of Silence” :
“John Cage….prodded us to reevaluate how we define not only music but the entire experience of encountering art.”
Read the complete review of Kenneth Silverman’s book:

John Cage – 4’33”

Is John Cage’s 4’33” music?: Prof. Julian Dodd at TEDxUniversityOfManchester

Published on Jun 8, 2013

Julian is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Manchester with a particular interest in the philosophy of music. He has recently worked on authenticity in musical performance, the ontology of jazz and musical profundity. In this talk Julian discusses the controversial 4’33” by 20th century American composer John Cage, a famous classical music composition…or is it?

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

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I first learned of John Cage from reading Francis Schaeffer’s The God Who Is There (1968).  Here a few of his comments:

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 could not allow his 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 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 could not be determined ahead of time, and the musicians followed that.  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.  All this is below the line of anthropology.  Above the line there is nothing personal, only the philosophic other, or the impersonal everything.

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 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.

Cage himself, however, is another example of a man who cannot live with his own conclusions.  He says that the truth about the universe is a totally chance situation.  You must just live with it and listen to it; cry if you must, swear if you must, but listen and go on listening.

Towards the end of The New Yorker Profile we read this:

In 1954 … the sculptor David Weinrib and his wife moved into an old farmhouse on a tract of land in Stony Point, Rockland County, forty miles from New York, which the Williamses had brought.  Cage lived and worked in an attic room that he shared with a colony of wasps, and often took long, solitary walks in the woods.  His eye was caught right away by the mushrooms that grew so abundantly in Rockland County, in all shapes, and sizes and brilliant colors.  He started to collect books on mushrooms and to learn everything he could about them, and he has been doing so ever since.  After all, mushroom hunting is a decidedly chancy, or indeterminate pastime.

No matter how much mycology one knows—and Cage is now one of the best amateur mycologists in the country, with one of the most extensive private libraries ever complied on the subject—there is always the possibility of a mistake in identification.  “I became aware that if I approached mushrooms in the spirit of my chance operations, I would die shortly,” Cage said not long ago.  “So I decided that I would not approach them in this way!”

In other words, here is a man who is trying to teach the world what the universe intrinsically is and what the real philosophy of life is, and yet he cannot even apply it to picking mushrooms.  If he were to go out into the woods and begin picking mushrooms by chance, within a couple of days there would be no Cage!

Francis Schaeffer The God Who Is There [1968] in Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy (Westchester, Ill.: Crossway, 1990), 77-79.

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THE LONGEST RIDE Interview – Nicholas Sparks, Britt Robertson & Scott Eastwood

LongestRide3

20TH CENTURY FOX VIA FACEBOOK

In Plot Recreated With Reviews, a feature I’ve been doing for a few years now, we use the summary grafs from reviews to recreate the entire plot of the movie, an idea based on the premise that a bad movie isn’t nearly as entertaining as curmudgeonly, verbose critics describing a bad movie. It all began with a Nicholas Sparks movie, and Nicholas Sparks, God bless that old cheese-dick cornball, no movies are better fodder for Plot Recreated with Reviews than his.

This week brings us The Last Ride, based on a 2013 Sparks novel, a love story starring Clint Eastwood’s wooden son Scott and Britt Robertson (along with Eastwood, it also stars Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter Oona and John Huston’s grandson Jack). It features everything you’d expect from a Nicholas Sparks movie – gauzy romance, melodramatic tragedy, gratuitous flashbacks to the 40s, a pretty white lady who has to choose between an old-fashioned hunk and her empty internship/scholarship/fellowship in New York City – along with a fresh new Holocaust twist. I haven’t seen it, but something tells me the guy who sets all his novels in North Carolina writes really realistic Jews. As a nod to the title, it’s apparently 128 minutes long. Two-plus hours. So as you read this, never forget the sacrifice these critics made.

 “The Longest Ride” tells the story of a bull rider and an upwardly mobile sorority girl who meet one day at the rodeo. (SF Chronicle)

Scott Eastwood, 29, plays Luke, a hunky, but gentlemanly, bull rider. He lives in a well-appointed former barn. Meadow grass blows in the breeze whenever he saunters by. (USA Today)

Luke continues to ride, against doctor’s orders, because he needs money to save his family ranch. (FilmRacket)

Sophia is a New Jersey girl, an art history major at Wake Forest University who has tagged along with some of her sorority sisters hoping to see “the hottest guys.” (NY Times)

Her sorority sisters squeal and shout, “I want a cowboy!” Moronic bull-riding commentators call Luke “easy on the eyes and a magician on a bull!” (Red Eye)

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. (Tribune News Services)

When he asks her on a date, she is all but unfamiliar with this quaint custom. What, you mean he wants to pick her up? And have plans? And not just text here “Wanna hang out?” Ladies, he even arrives with flowers, to the collective sighs of the entire sorority house. (BeliefNet)

The first date is eventful: Luke brings her flowers, surprises her with a romantic picnic near a mountain lake, and saves an elderly man from a burning car. (The Dissolve/USA Today)

Amid a mild thunderstorm, and before drifting out of consciousness, the man adamantly urges Sophia to save the box of love letters he has in the front seat. (Slant Magazine)

As Luke lugs [the old man] to safety, Sophia pulls a box of letters from the burning car (he just carries them around, as one does). (Miami Herald)

And the stage is set for one of Sparks’ bifurcated then-and-now narratives, in which the lessons of the past help to guide the action of the present. (Variety)

LongestRideAlda

20TH CENTURY FOX

During each of Sophia’s daily visits to Ira (Alan Alda) [at the hospital], she reads a different letter that he wrote many years before, and on each occasion this introduces a flashback to the early 1940s. (SF Chronicle)

The Alda character is revealed as one Ira Levinson, a Jewish nonagenarian whose coveted letters tell of his 60-year romance with wife Ruth (Oona Chaplin).

It’s not quite clear why he wrote so many letters to a woman he saw every day — letters that sometimes seem to narrate what they did together just a few hours before the time of composition — but it’s sweet that he saved them. (NY Times)

In a nod to Jewish culture and history, we learn Ruth’s desire for family is tied to the loss of hers. Most of her relatives didn’t make it out of Austria before Hitler took control. That reveal comes as she and Ira walk home from a synagogue, moments that look remarkably like typical Southern Sunday go-to meeting scenes except for the “good Shabbats.” (LA Times)

…phlegmatic Borscht Belt accents and references to Shabbos. (Variety)

Some jokes work in either era, like Viennese sophisticate Ruth fondly calling her small-town beau “a country pumpkin.” When Ira explains that Americans say “bumpkin,” she says either term works fine. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

There’s even a consultant in Jewish culture listed in the credits. (BeliefNet)

She wants kids but he returns from war impotent, leading him to drown his sorrows at the local soda jerk. (Metro)

Longest-Ride-Chaplin-Huston

20TH CENTURY FOX

Unable to have children, Ira and Ruth collect art, traveling to nearby Black Mountain College to buy paintings by real-life artists. (NY Times)

…and their failure to adopt a parentless hillbilly boy who shows intellectual promise, simply serve to demonstrate how few obstacles Luke and Sophia face compared to theirs. (Hollywood Reporter)

As Sophia runs into relationship trouble with Luke, she [continues to] visit Ira in the hospital and reads the letters with him. (AV Club)

He’s into rodeos, barbecue and “old school” manly ways; she’s into Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and liberated female thinking. (Toronto Star)

Luke doesn’t believe in women buying him a drink or calling him first. (AV Club)

Sophia loves art, as she explains: “I love art. I love everything about it.” (AV Club)

This guy’s “old-school” and says so. (“Call me old-school,” Luke says.) (Chicago Tribune)

When Sophia invites Luke to meet the art dealer she intends to intern under, and his reaction to the collection she brought from New York to display to prospective buyers is a smirk: “I think there’s more bullsh*t here than in my field.” (Slant Magazine)

Twice here, when characters get their hearts scuffed, thunder claps and it begins to rain. (LA Weekly)

[But] as Sophia hears Ira’s stories, she realizes Luke is the one for her. (FilmRacket)

Tillman has fun contrasting an old-fashioned gentleman like Luke with the frat bros at Sophia’s college, soft man-children in pastel polo shirts who text late at night instead of courting her with dinner dates and flowers. (LA Weekly)

Soon after, she decides pop music gives her headaches and switches the radio to country. (LA Weekly)

Beautiful landscapes loom large. Gauzy curtains sway as the lovebirds get tastefully amorous. (USA Today)

Seacoast and sunlight, white people kissing in-the-rain (NY Times)

sun-dappled shots of lovers sitting together, smiling and staring at an undetermined spot (Metro)

misty vistas of gauzy fog draped delicately over lush North Carolina forests and gleaming lakes (Seattle Times)

kissing under a spray of water (NY Times)

honey-glow sunsets and utter fraudulence (Chicago Tribune)

at least three instances of Ira giving Ruth a gift and her jumping on him in joy. (Metro)

Smiles are dazzling. Complexions are flawless. Hair is perfect. (Seattle Times)

Insulting to immigrants, minorities, soldiers and horses (Red Eye Chicago)

Montages of walks along the ocean, horseback rides through verdant meadows and Eastwood’s ever-present abs (LA Times)

His blue eyes, high cheekbones and chiseled jaw have Clint Eastwood’s genetic imprint. His toned pecs and abs are given nearly as much focus (USA Today)

to say nothing of the incipient crinkles in both his voice and his forehead. (The Wrap)

At the right angle, he looks exactly like Dirty Harry Callahan — but the young Eastwood has more sex appeal than his flinty father did. (Newsday)

those distracting Eastwood abs. (LA Times)

chiseled Luke could easily get a gig as an underwear model (The Wrap)

LongestRide2

20TH CENTURY FOX

The two end up in a lovemaking montage that intercuts bull-riding with their mistily shot grapplings. (Boston Globe)

one effective sequence that cuts together Luke’s professional bull-riding, Sophia’s attempt to ride a practice rig, and the couple having sex constantly.  (AV Club)

crosscutting their first sexual tryst with clips of him teaching her to ride an oil barrel suspended by ropes (Slant Magazine)

But, despite their attraction, they know the romance is going nowhere. She’s about to graduate and head up to New York to work in an art gallery. She might as well say she’s going to spend the summer burning American flags. (Guardian)

Much is made of this art-gallery internship throughout the movie: Should Sophia stay with the man she loves …or take a job that pays no money? (SF Chronicle)

The movie tries to wring suspense from Luke’s confrontation with his greatest enemy: the villainous bull that threw him off and gave him his head injury in the first place. (AV Club)

One year earlier, Luke was violently thrown from a practically undefeated bull-nado and spent two weeks in a coma. Disregarding doctor’s orders, his only current priority is to buck his way to the top. (Slant Magazine)

His mom (Lolita Davidovich) begs him to quit. “It’s eight seconds,” his mom says. “That girl could be the rest of your life.” (USA Today)

Everyone sane in Luke’s life is begging him to hang up the spurs. Naturally, he won’t. He’s got to be the best. And that means one final ride against Rango (credited “as himself”), even if the doctors warn he may never walk again. (Guardian)

“This is what I do,” he tells Sophia. “It’s all I know.” (Toronto Star)

Luke, in the lead as 2015’s top cinematic narcissistic asshole, doesn’t, in fact, sever his spine. His idiotic machismo gets him the trophy and, even worse, the girl. This is after she dumps him for refusing to give up his idiotic career. (Guardian)

A third-act twist, in which these nice and nice-looking people are handsomely rewarded for so much niceness, has all the narrative sophistication of a 10-year-old closing her eyes and wishing dreamily before blowing out the candles. (Austin Chronicle)

Finally everything is tied up in a neat moral bow, with Luke realising that the challenge of the rodeo pales next to the “longest ride” of the title, which – I hope I’m not giving too much away – is the ride they call life. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Folks, I hope that was enough closure for you. I combed through so many damned reviews waiting for someone to spoil the twist ending that I feel like I’ve seen this horrible movie six times over.

Also, after putting together at least three or four of these features on Nick Sparks movies, I’ve come to the conclusion that you could actually write a really solid Nick Sparks fan-fiction story in the style of a Nick Sparks novel. It’s about this guy from rural North Carolina whose college girlfriend leaves him to take a scholarship in New York. Instead of just moving to be with her, the guy stubbornly stays home, and spends the next 30 years writing the same goddamned story about a handsome, perfect, old-fashioned good ol’ boy being such a honey-dicked stud that he gradually convinces some liberated woman to turn down her scholarship and spend the rest of her life having his babies and baking peach cobbler. Then one day, he crashes some dumb car he bought with his schmaltz money, and the woman who left him all those years ago reads about it in the newspaper and rushes to his side. She gets to the hospital just in time to tell him that she’s read all his books, and that his 37 nearly identical self-mythologizing novels are the ultimate proof of what an obsessed, delusional sociopath he always was, right before he dies. He doesn’t have time to alter his will and it turns out he’s left everything to her, the only woman he ever loved. She uses a little of it to fix the transmission on her Volvo and have him cremated, and gives the rest to charity. The end.

Related posts:

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 55 THE BEATLES (Part G, The Beatles and Rebellion) (Feature on artist Wallace Berman )

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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THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 4 artist Xanti Schawinsky

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“The Longest Ride” by Nicholas Sparks

Author Nicholas Sparks explores two very different relationships that are separated by many decades in his latest bookThe Longest Ride (Grand Central Publishing). The story of Ira Levinson starts quickly, as the elderly man is involved in a one car accident on a snowy road in the North Carolina mountains. Even though Ira is alone in the vehicle, as he drifts in and out consciousness, he envisions his late wife, Ruth, who comes to visit him and offer encouragement. Ira’s injuries, along with his advanced age, make survival seem unlikely, but Ruth’s visit prompts him to remember their courtship and the troubling times they had during their decades long love affair. Her goal appears to be to keep Ira occupied until help arrives. Their back story is told throughout the book and is juxtaposed with another courtship, of a much younger couple, Sophia and Luke.

Sophia is a college student who is recovering from a failed relationship with a former boyfriend. She is trying to get her life back on track when she meets Luke, a young rancher/bull rider. Their initial encounter is not pleasant, as Sophia’s former boyfriend (and problem drinker), Brian, is harassing her at a party until Luke intervenes. Soon thereafter, Luke and Sophia strike up a quick friendship and agree to meet again soon. However, Luke has more than one secret and enough drama in his life to scare some folks away. Regardless, the youngsters fall in love, but have to overcome many obstacles along the way, not unlike Ira and Ruth.

Nicholas Sparks explores both relationship is great detail, from the early 20th century meeting between Ira and Ruth, to the modern day one shared by Luke and Sophia. As a result, Sparks uses world history, much of it centered around the time of the second World War, and also art history, to further flesh out the older characters. Both Ira and Ruth become art lovers over the years and several artists are mentioned throughout the book, including Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol, among others. I suspect readers familiar with modern artwork will appreciate the numerous references and philosophy surrounding the various artists.

Faithful readers of Sparks’ many best selling novels will find the familiar setting of North Carolina as the backdrop for the two intertwined stories. While I have seen a few films based on the author’s previous work, this is my first exposure to his writing and I found the descriptions of various cities, including Durham, Greensboro and Asheville, to be comforting. The use of four principal characters allows readers to get to know each of them intimately and they are all likable, but certainly flawed in some respects, which humanizes them and makes them easy to root for them. In addition, Sparks has a gift for writing interesting and realistic conversations, which I preferred to the descriptive nature of other parts of the book. The Longest Ride, which refers to a couple experiencing the ups and downs of life together, is a enjoyable read that held my attention throughout and will likely be appreciated by the author’s core fan base and romantics alike.

Britt Robertson The Late Late Show 2015 02 27

Xanti Schawinsky, approx. 1924

Black Mountain College

Uploaded on Apr 18, 2011

Class Project on Black Mountain College for American Literature

Stage Studies, Spectodrama, approx. 1938

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Xanti Schawinsky in his play Olga Olga, 1926

 

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,

 

The 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. Both Susan Weil and Robert Rauschenberg were featured in the second post in this series and both of them were good friends of the composer John Cage who was featured in my first post in this series. 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.

Anke Kempkes wrote in December 2009:

Born in 1904 in Switzerland, to a Jewish family of Polish decent, Alexander “Xanti” Schawinsky worked for three years in Theodor Merrill’s Cologne architecture office before enrolling at the Bauhaus in 1924 where he studied with Walter Gropius, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, Oskar Schlemmer and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Schawinsky had a significant presence at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau….

In 1936, Hans Albers secured Schawinsky and his wife safe passage to the United States to teach at the later legendary Black Mountain College in North Carolina. In charge of theater arts, Schawinsky expanded his ideas for experimental theater to a multi-media “total experience.” His production of Spectrodrama and Danse Macabre at the Black Mountain College demonstrated these ideas and importantly laid the foundations for the work of John Cage and others at the College in the post-war time. It can clearly be argued that Schawinsky brought the radical and avant-garde Bauhaus theater to the United States, a relation that has been receiving special attention recently. Irene Schawinsky also contributed to the College. She collaborated with Anni Albers on clothes designs and she create paper sculptures which became iconic props of Xanti’s Spectodrama plays (in the following years Irene used these paper sculptures for shop window designs in New York).

Fully Awake: Black Mountain College Introduction

Uploaded on Jul 27, 2009

FULLY AWAKE is a 60 minute documentary film about the legendary Black Mountain College (1933-1957), an influential experiment in education in Western North Carolina that inspired and shaped 20th century modern art. The film uses narration, archival photography, and interviews with former students, teachers, and historians to explore the schools beginnings, its unique education methods, and how its collaborative curriculum inspired innovation that changed the very definition of art. For more information, please visit http://www.fullyawake.org or to purchase the film, please visit http://www.filmbaby.com.

Walter Gropius & Xanti Schawinsky, Ascona, 1930

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Lux T. Feininger, Xanti Schawinsky in Bauhaus Musical Group, 1928

Collage with Bauhaus Jazz Band, approx.1938

Xanti Schawinsky at Broadway 1602

January 29th, 2010

 

Xanti Schawinsky at Broadway 1602

Artist: Xanti Schawinsky

Venue: Broadway 1602, New York

Exhibition Title: Beyond Bauhaus, Faces of War

Date: January 9 – February 20, 2010

Xanti Schawinsky at Broadway 1602

Xanti Schawinsky at Broadway 1602

Xanti Schawinsky at Broadway 1602

Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.

Images:

Images courtesy of BROADWAY 1602, New York

Press Release:

The rediscovered oeuvre of first generation Bauhaus artist Xanti Schawinsky offers the contemporary consciousness a valuable untapped reservoir of aesthetic memory in the midst of the new century’s multi-front wars and financial turmoil.

His subtle, intimate, but powerful work from the 1940’s particularly draws attention to the not yet explored dimensions of the afterlife of Bauhaus ideals subject to the pressures of war and forced immigration. It is an aesthetic with a more existentialist and dystopian face, far from the positivism and bravura of the Bauhaus architects’ further achievements in the US after the decline of the influential school in Europe.

Born in 1904, in Switzerland, to Polish Jewish parents, Alexander “Xanti” Schawinsky worked for three years in Theodor Merrill’s Cologne architecture office before enrolling at the Bauhaus in 1924 where he studied with Walter Gropius, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, Oskar Schlemmer, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Schawinsky had a significant presence at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau. He was particularly active in the theater department and strongly inspired by Schlemmer, whose position as teacher he took on and developed further. Photos from the early years of the Bauhaus show Schawinsky as a dynamic figure in many of its experimental extra-curricular activities. Among them was the influential Bauhaus Jazz band where Schawinsky introduced his “Step Danse-Step Machine” style of mechanical music and dance to pounding rhythms coupled with dramatic lighting effects and performance elements.

Schawinsky’s protean role at the Bauhaus was documented in the original 1938 MoMA Bauhaus exhibition organized with the help of Herbert Bayer, fellow Bauhaus student and teacher, and Walter Gropius, founder and director of the famed 20th c. school. This pivotal show of MoMA’s early days included a prominent group of Schawinsky’s theater and architecture paintings, his experimental photography, innovative graphic designs, ultra modern costume, set and exhibition designs, and his avant-garde theater and music work.

During their 20’s, most people build foundation skills, beliefs, and a firm positive sense of identity from their experience with teachers and mentors in a relative secure environment. While having the privilege to learn many technical skills in an exceptional avant-garde environment, Schawinsky also observed and experienced anxiety and persecution. He saw his Bauhaus undergo political pressure and ouster from the very cities that hosted it, saw the leaders he admired forced to leave, and the school, itself, compelled to close. He had seen the school, in an effort to survive, shift emphasis from handicraft, Expressionism, and the “the spiritual in art” to partner with industry, design for mass production, and embrace the machine aesthetic. As a Swiss/Polish “foreigner” and a Jew, the rise of Fascism was a perilous time. What Schawinsky learned in the anxious years between the two World Wars was that survival was an anxious process of constantly changing locations, creative styles and identities.

In 1936, Albers secured Schawinsky and his wife safe passage to the United States to teach at the legendary Black Mountain College. In charge of theater arts, Schawinsky expanded his ideas for experimental theater to be a multi-media “total experience.” His production of “Spectrodrama” and “Danse Macabre” at the Black Mountain College, demonstrated these ideas and laid the foundations for the work of John Cage and others at the College.  In 1938 political in-fighting among the faculty led him to move again, this time to New York City. There he collaborated on pavilion designs for the 1939 World’s Fair with colleagues Gropius, Bayer, and Marcel Breuer.

In New York among the tight-knit ex-patriot cultural community centered on the activities of avant-garde gallerist Julien Levy, Schawinsky for the first time experienced a sense of safety and integration. His new-comer status afforded him unique new perspectives on his life and the arts. He had the freedom and burden of confronting his own identity and purpose in “life during wartime.” At the same historical moment that the French philosopher Gabriel Marcel was coining the term “existentialism,” and Jean-Paul Sartre began to lecture and write about it, Schawinsky began to compose his own existential works with images which speak as clearly as words.

From work Schawinsky did for the “Visual Problems Unit” of the Army Air Corps designing anti-aircraft targeting patterns for artillery manuals, he conceived his 1942 series The Faces of War. In these imaginative tempera and graphite drawings Schawinsky expressed a fundamental despair that  “the machines” of the utopian Bauhaus theater had become the machines of mass destruction in the dystopian theaters of war. He made each a camouflage-painted robotic golem – a man/machine – at turns a threatening enemy or a powerful avenger. In his series of photo collages, Theme and Variation on a Face: Walter Gropius, he reflected upon his creative father/mentor and friend, presenting the architect in positive and negative versions integrated with linear architectural forms (culture) and tree forms including roots (nature and history). In the photo collages The Variations on a Face Series (Woman,) he confronted the enigmatic disembodied face of a woman, floating in a variety of spaces – landscape space, night sky space, topographically diagrammed space. However, Schawinsky extended his meditations using the portrait head motif still further.

Kurt Schwitters said that during the war years artists had to rebuild themselves from scraps and Schawinsky, possibly inspired by Czech poet Vít?zslav Nezval’s 1937 poem The Man Who Composes His Own Portrait With Objects, did so in his 1943 Character Head Series of graphite drawings of potential identities thematically pieced together from elements of nature, culture, and trade in the world around him. In a style related to the “paranoiac-critical” imaging methods of Salvador Dali, Schawinsky worked through his own need to make himself one with his environment by literally re-making himself from his environment.

The pastel drawing Untitled from 1945, though, is perhaps a summation of the artist’s existentialist experience of wartime, immigration and the post-war era. Two abstract featureless figures float in a dark nebulous space filled with light linear vortexes inspired by flight and targeting patterns the artist had designed for the army. The larger, a head and shoulders patterned in a regular grid suggesting the all-glass curtain-wall façade of a Modernist skyscraper, confronts a smaller golden yellow silhouette that stands framed in a doorway of bright yellow, violet, red-orange and green planes drawn in forced perspective.

In this vivid eerie scene of the existential aftermath of the war Schawinsky gives form to his anxiety and brings to bear his visionary experience as a synthesizer of the man-machine of the Bauhaus aesthetic into multi-media performance – an aesthetic picked up emblematically by Kraftwerk and other musician/artists in the 1970s as an expression of the climactic phase of the cold war.

Anke Kempkes, Larry List
New York, December 2009

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Xanti Schawinsky in Ascona, Sul Ponte Maggia, 1933

 

Human, Space, Machine – Stage Experiments at the Bauhaus

Nov.12,2014 – Feb.22,2015

  Bauhaus (1919-1933) as an Art & Design educational institution had a great influence on the development of the 20th century art, architecture, textile, graphic, industrial design and typography. Bauhaus was aimed to reach the total work of art and operated to educate new artists who could bring social changes.

From the early stage of the Bauhaus, they explored the role and function of art that closely related to our daily life in modern technology civilization through various workshops such as metal, textile, design and architecture under each meister. Their experiment and instruction method was not just purposed to develop the individual’s creativity and ability, but also guided to reach a total art through workshops by members of the Bauhaus.

Particularly, they mainly dealt with dynamic role of stage as space of harmony among human, space and machine. For this, their study about ‘total theater’ as a playground for primary experimentation was proceeding from the beginning of the Bauhaus. The Bauhaus stage workshop was established by Walter Gropius in 1921 and it was led by Lothar Schreyer, director, until 1923 and taken over by Oskar Schlemmer, painter and choreographer, in 1929.

The leading role of the Bauhaus, such as Walter Gropius, Oskar Schlemmer, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Xanti Schawinsky, Paul Klee, Wasily Kandinsky experimented synthesis among human, space and machine not only in their own area, but also on the stage. They believed that their research about mechanical and abstract stage design, costume, doll, dance, humorous movement, light and sound could even make a change of the modern human body and mind. Thus, we could readily understand a characteristic of stage experiments at the Bauhaus that tried to develop a new idea of modern man collectively by Johannes Itten’s word “Play becomes work, work becomes party, party becomes play.”

Human Space Machine-Stage Experiments at the Bauhaus was planned in collaboration with the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation since 2012. This exhibition deals with the Bauhaus’s experiments about new type of human response to changes of a new era, from World War I to early 1930s. Exhibitions about architecture and design of the Bauhaus were often shown, but this is the first full-scale exhibition ever to focus on stage experiments in Asia. The exhibition is organized in seven sections; Section one ‘Body of Harmonization’, section two ‘Atmospherical Devices’, section three‘Constructivist Figuration’, section four ‘Eccentric stage mechanisims’, section five ‘Sculptural choreographies’, section six‘Total theaters’, section seven ‘Programmed collectives’. In this exhibition organization make possible to recognize characteristic of the Bauhaus as an arena of creative and experimental idea toward multiple approach of art.

In addition, this exhibition presents six Korean contemporary artists; Na Kim, Paik Namjune, Ahn Sangsoo, Oh Jaewoo, Cho Sohee, Han Kyungwoo to show an enormous creativity and imagination of the Bauhaus also thrive in 21th century Korea contemporary art. Their artworks influenced by Bauhaus both directly and indirectly reminds us the Bauhaus movement was not a particular tendency within a certain period, but closer to the intrinsic manner of artists.

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I found the Bauhaus movement very interesting and the article above even noted:

The leading role of the Bauhaus, such as Walter Gropius, Oskar Schlemmer, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Xanti Schawinsky, Paul Klee, Wasily Kandinsky experimented synthesis among human, space and machine not only in their own area, but also on the stage. They believed that their research about mechanical and abstract stage design, costume, doll, dance, humorous movement, light and sound could even make a change of the modern human body and mind.

What exactly were some of these artists attempting to do and why does this statement finish with the bold assertion “could even make a change of the modern human body and mind”?

Let me tell you what at Wasily Kandinsky (who was seen in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) and Paul Klee were attempting to do. They wanted to make a connection with art and find a word of direction from art from their lives. They were secular men so they were not looking for any spiritual direction from a personal God. However, the Bible clearly notes that God exists and we all know He is there. Romans Chapter one asserts, “For that which is KNOWN about God is EVIDENT to them and MADE PLAIN IN THEIR INNER CONSCIOUSNESS, because God  has SHOWN IT TO THEM…” (Romans 1:19).

Every person has this inner conscious that is screaming at them that God exists and that is why so many of the sensitive men involved in art have been looking for a message to break forth. Here we see something similar with the life and quest of the artist Paul Klee. I read on January 15, 2007 the blog post “Strolling Through Modern Art,” and I wanted to share a portion of that post:

This particular drawing came to mind while I was looking at the Art Institute of Chicago’s website and I came across some artwork by Joan Miro, who is exhibited at AIC. Vee Mack’s drawings generally demonstrate better draughtsmanship than this drawing displays but I thought that the concept was amusing and the implied commentary worth considering. Are you a fan of Joan Miro, Piet Mondrian, Paul Klee, Jackson Pollock, Willem De Kooning and Vasily Kandinsky?What does this elderly gentleman think of his stroll through the paramecium of the artworld? Francis Schaeffer noted in “The God Who is There” that Paul Klee and similar artists, introduced the idea of artwork generated in a manner similar to how a Ouija Board generates words from outside the artist’s conscious intent. Schaeffer observed that Klee “hopes that somehow art will find a meaning, not because there is a spirit there to guide the hand, but because through it the universe will speak even though it is impersonal in its basic structure.” [page 90] Why would an impersonal universe have something to say? What does meaninglessness have to communicate? Schaeffer explains that “these men will not accept the only explanation which can fit the facts of their own experience, they have become metaphysical magicians. No one has presented an idea, let alone demonstrated it to be feasible, to explain how the impersonal beginning, plus time, plus chance, can give personality . . . As a result, either the thinker must say man is dead, because personality is a mirage; or else he must hang his reason on a hook outside the door and cross the threshold into the leap of faith which is the new level of despair.” [page 115]Vee Mack’s sketch demonstrates the paradox of an average man viewing images, which represent the nonsense of Dadaism and chaos. It is the overeducated who will look at something that is inherently meaningless and try to find deep meaning in it, while the average man sees it and observes with reasonable common sense that this or that is an absurd waste of time.By the way, while it may appear as though I am favoring one artist for these posts, I am not receiving the variety of artwork that I had hoped for from other artists and I happen to have ample access to much of Vee Mack’s unpublished portfolio. Therefore, until I receive other artwork, I will have to rely on what I have on hand.

Posted by at 4:35 PM
Paul Klee
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Michael Gaumnitz : Paul Klee The Silence of the Angel (2005)

Published on Aug 17, 2013

PAUL KLEE: THE SILENCE OF THE ANGEL is a visual journey into the work of a major painter of the 20th century by Michael Gaumnitz, an award-winning documentarian of artists and sculptors. Like Kandinsky and Delaunay, Klee revolutionized the traditional concepts of composition and color.

Herbert Bayer, Xanti Schawinsky and Walter Gropius.

Gropius with Béla Bartók and Paul Klee in 1927

Practitioners at Black Mountain College

Willem de Kooning http://www.biography.com/people/willem-de-kooning-9270057

(1904-1997) Abstract Expressionist Painter, Sculptor

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/willem-de-kooning-1433

Elaine de Kooning http://www.theartstory.org/artist-de-kooning-elaine.htm

(1918-1989) artist, art critic, portraitist and teacher.

Robert Rauschenberg Dmitri Kasterine

(1925-2008) Painter, sculptor, printmaker, photographer and performance artist

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/robert-rauschenberg-1815

Cy Twombly American painter Cy Twombly at the Louvre museum in Paris. Twombly has died aged 83. Photograph: Christophe Ena/AP

(1928-2011) Painter, draughtsman, printmaker, sculptor.

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/cy-twombly-2079

John Cage photo: Susan Schwartzenberg

(1912-1992) composer, philosopher, poet, music theorist, artist, printmaker.

http://www.last.fm/music/John+Cage

Buckminster Fuller Buckminster Fuller at Black Mountain College with models of geodesic domes, 1949 © Buckminster Fuller Institute

(1895-1983) Philosopher, designer, architect, artist, engineer, entrepreneur, author, mathematician, teacher and inventor

http://designmuseum.org/design/r-buckminster-fuller

Annie Albers © 1947 Nancy Newhall. © 2003 The Estate of Beaumont Newhall and Nancy Newhall, Courtesy of Scheinbaum and Russek Ltd., Santa Fe, New Mexico

(1899- 1994) textile designer, weaver, writer and printmaker

http://www.albersfoundation.org/Albers.php?inc=Introduction

Mary C Richards blackmtnbarb.blogspot.com

(1916-1999) Poet, Potter and writer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._C._Richards

Since I am profiling the Jewish artist Xanti Schawinsky today I thought this article below was quite fitting.

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 Extended TV SPOT – Let’s Go (2015) – Melissa Benoist, Britt Robertson Movie HD

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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)

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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!!)

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March 24, 2015 – 12:57 am

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THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 3 artist Jorge Fick

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Black Mountain College

Uploaded on Apr 18, 2011

Class Project on Black Mountain College for American Literature

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Below Dorothea Rockburne with Jorge Fick Black Mountain College, ca. 1950-1953 Photograph by Marie Tavroges

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,

Jorge 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. Both Susan Weil and Robert Rauschenberg were featured the second post in this series both of them were good friends of the composer John Cage who was featured in my first post in this series.

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Jorge Fick, 'Zoroaster,' 1965, Eric Firestone Gallery

Jorge Fick

Zoroaster, 1965

January 2012: Black Mountain College and Its Legacy @ Loretta Howard Gallery

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1948 Buckminster Fuller Architecture Class. The Venetian Blind Dome. Image courtesy of the North Carolina state archives.

Black Mountain College and Its Legacy
Loretta Howard Gallery, New York City
September 15 to October 29, 2011

Kudos to the Loretta Howard Gallery in Chelsea for the stunning paintings, photos, films, sound recordings, wire constructions of various kinds and other attention to detail that made their recent show Black Mountain College and Its Legacy more like a museum show than a gallery exhibition. By highlighting one artist at a time with a beautiful photograph from that era and then, whenever possible, pairing one or two early works against a mid-career triumph by that same artist, the exhibition slowly unfolds into a powerful testimonial to the important output of Black Mountain as well as to its times and those who taught and studied there.

What if the 20th century’s best kept secret turned out to be an understated but astounding collection of—literally—many of its most talented and influential men and women, networked loosely together around innovative ideas and bold action in both science and the arts who made history solely by virtue of their coming together against all odds and playfully one-upping each other over the course of a couple of decades in one tiny isolated hamlet? That might be the way you could d