Tag Archives: Peter Blake

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

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Charles Olson and daughter Kate, Black Mountain College. Photo by Mary Ann Giusti. Courtesy Mary Ann Giusti

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

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Scott Eastwood Interview – The Longest Ride

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charles Olson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Charles Olson
Charles Olson.jpg
Born 27 December 1910
Worcester, Massachusetts
Died 10 January 1970 (aged 59)
New York City, New York
Resting place Gloucester, Massachusetts
Language English
Nationality American
Education B.A. and M.A. at Wesleyan University
Genre Poetry
Literary movement Modernism
Notable works The Distances, The Maximus Poems
Spouse Constance Wilcock, Betty Kaiser
Children Katherine, Charles Peter
Relatives Karl (Father), Mary Hines (Mother)

Literature portal

Charles Olson (27 December 1910 – 10 January 1970) was a second generation American poet who was a link between earlier figures such as Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams and the New American poets, which includes the New York School, the Black Mountain School, the Beat poets, and the San Francisco Renaissance. Consequently, many postmodern groups, such as the poets of the language school, include Olson as a primary and precedent figure. He described himself not so much as a poet or writer but as “an archeologist of morning.”

Life[edit]

Olson was born to Karl Joseph and Mary Hines Olson and grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts, where his father worked as a mailman. Olson spent summers in Gloucester, Massachusetts, which was to become the focus of his writing. At high school he was a champion orator, winning a tour of Europe as a prize.[1] He studied literature and American studies, gaining a B.A and M.A at Wesleyan University.[2] For two years Olson taught English at Clark University then entered Harvard University in 1936 where he finished his coursework for a Ph.D. in American civilization but failed to complete his degree.[1] He then received a Guggenheim fellowship for his studies of Herman Melville.[2] His first poems were written in 1940.[3]

In 1941, Olson moved to New York and joined Constance “Connie” Wilcock in civil marriage, together having one child, Katherine. Olson became the publicity director for the American Civil Liberties Union. One year later, he and his wife moved to Washington, D.C., where he spent the rest of the war years working in the Foreign Language Division of the Office of War Information, eventually rising to Assistant Chief of the division.[2] (The chief of the division was the future senator from California, Alan Cranston.) In 1944, Olson went to work for the Foreign Languages Division of the Democratic National Committee. He also participated in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt campaign, organizing a large campaign rally at New York’s Madison Square Garden called “Everyone for Roosevelt”. After Roosevelt’s death, upset over both the ascendancy of Harry Truman and the increasing censorship of his news releases, Olson left politics and dedicated himself to writing, moving to Key West, Florida, in 1945.[1] From 1946 to 1948 Olson visited poet Ezra Pound at St. Elizabeths psychiatric hospital (sic) in Washington D.C., but was repelled by Pound’s increasingly fascist tendencies.[3]

Gravestone of Charles and Betty Olson, Beechbrook Cemetery,Gloucester, Massachusetts

In 1951, Olson became a visiting professor at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, working and studying here beside artists such as John Cage and Robert Creeley.[2] He subsequently became rector of Black Mountain College and had a second child, Charles Peter Olson, with one of his students, Betty Kaiser. Before his divorce from his first wife finalized, Olson married Kaiser.

Olson’s ideas came to deeply influence a generation of poets, including writers such as Denise Levertov, Paul Blackburn, Ed Dorn and Robert Duncan.[2] At 204 cm (6’8″), Olson was described as “a bear of a man”, his stature possibly influencing the title of his Maximus work.[4] Olson wrote copious personal letters, and helped and encouraged many young writers. He was fascinated with Mayan writing. Shortly before his death, he examined the possibility that Chinese and Indo-European languages derived from a common source. When Black Mountain College closed in 1956, Olson settled in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He served as a visiting professor at the University at Buffalo (1963-1965) and at the University of Connecticut (1969).[2] The last years of his life were a mixture of extreme isolation and frenzied work.[3] Olson’s life was marred by alcoholism, which contributed to his early death from liver cancer. He died in New York in 1970, two weeks past his fifty-ninth birthday, while in the process of completing The Maximus Poems.[5] 8″

Work[edit]

Early writings[edit]

Olson’s first book, Call Me Ishmael (1947), a study of Herman Melville‘s novel Moby Dick, was a continuation of his M.A. thesis from Wesleyan University.[6]

In Projective Verse (1950), Olson called for a poetic meter based on the poet’s breathing and an open construction based on sound and the linking of perceptions rather than syntax and logic. He favored metre not based on syllable, stress, foot or line but using only the unit of the breath. In this respect Olson was foreshadowed by Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s poetic theory on breath.[7] The presentation of the poem on the page was for him central to the work becoming at once fully aural and fully visual[8] The poem “The Kingfishers” is an application of the manifesto. It was first published in 1949 and collected in his first book of poetry, In Cold Hell, in Thicket (1953).

Olson’s second collection, The Distances, was published in 1960. Olson served as rector of the Black Mountain College from 1951 to 1956. During this period, the college supported work by John Cage, Robert Creeley, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Duncan, Fielding Dawson, Cy Twombly, Jonathan Williams, Ed Dorn, Stan Brakhage and many other members of the 1950s American avant garde. Olson is listed as an influence on artists including Carolee Schneemann and James Tenney.[9]

Olson’s reputation rests in the main on his complex, sometimes difficult poems such as “The Kingfishers”, “In Cold Hell, in Thicket”, and The Maximus Poems, work that tends to explore social, historical, and political concerns. His shorter verse, poems such as “Only The Red Fox, Only The Crow”, “Other Than”, “An Ode on Nativity”, “Love”, and “The Ring Of” are more immediately accessible and manifest a sincere, original, emotionally powerful voice. “Letter 27 [withheld]” from The Maximus Poems weds Olson’s lyric, historic, and aesthetic concerns. Olson coined the term postmodern in a letter of August 1951 to his friend and fellow poet, Robert Creeley.

The Maximus Poems[edit]

In 1950, inspired by the example of Pound’s Cantos (though Olson denied any direct relation between the two epics), Olson began writing The Maximus Poems. An exploration of American history in the broadest sense, Maximus is also an epic of place,Massachusetts and specifically the city of Gloucester where Olson had settled. Dogtown, the wild, rock-strewn centre of Cape Ann, next to Gloucester, is an important place in The Maximus Poems. (Olson used to write outside on a tree stump in Dogtown.) The whole work is also mediated through the voice of Maximus, based partly on Maximus of Tyre, an itinerant Greek philosopher, and partly on Olson himself. The last of the three volumes imagines an ideal Gloucester in which communal values have replaced commercial ones. When Olson knew he was dying of cancer, he instructed his literary executor Charles Boer and others to organise and produce the final book in the sequence following Olson’s death.[5]

External links[edit]

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Modern, Romance: Touring MoMA with Nicholas Sparks, King of the Tearjerker

By Terry Wyatt/Getty Images.
The best-selling romance author designed his own crash course in Abstract Expressionism to research The Longest Ride.

Before his debut novel The Notebook, the ur-chick-lit text, sold for $1 million in 1995, Nicholas Sparks got by selling dental equipment and pharmaceuticals. Seventeen novels, 90 million copies, and 10 movies later, all in the grab-the-tissues category, Sparks can afford to follow his heart’s desires. In 2006, he founded a private school, the Epiphany School of Global Studies, whose graduates are “health-cognizant, emotionally intelligent, openly generous, deeply humble, visibly trustworthy, and profoundly honest.” Recently, he has taken to collecting art, with an eye toward what complements the decor of his palatial house and its private bowling alley in New Bern, North Carolina.

“That would match my home,” Sparks said recently, looking up at a Gerhard Richter pastoral at the Museum of Modern Art. Andy Warhol wouldn’t make the cut, neither would Edward Ruscha.

“I’m not a massive fan of minimalism,” Sparks said walking past a black-and-white Frank Stella canvas. “It doesn’t move me.”

In his 20 years as a writer, Sparks, 49, has tried many permutations of the “love is the greatest gift of all” chestnut. He studied business in college, and wrote at night. He chose romance as his genre because he noticed, with a salesman’s eye, that there was room in the market. His novels, which promise “extraordinary journeys” and “extraordinary truths,” tend toward maximalism. Lovers, young and old, are pulled apart by doubt, secrecy, and illness, but once they let love in, they can receive “the greatest happiness—and pain” they’ll ever know.

And yet, each book needs new material. In The Longest Ride, Sparks’s 2013 flirtation with art-history fiction, which opens as a film on Friday, a couple in the 1940s begin buying paintings from a group of young artists from Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Decades later those artists are household names—de Kooning, Twombly, Rauschenberg—and the collection is worth more than Sparks’s own real-life fortune many times over. I had invited Sparks to MoMA for a morning tour with Eva Diaz, a professor of art history at Pratt, who recently published The Experimenters: Chance and Design at Black Mountain College, which describes the school as “a vital hub of cultural innovation.”

Amid the crush of school groups, Sparks, dressed in Levi’s and a red Burberry polo shirt, found Diaz, who reminded us that the college’s success sprang from tragedy: Bauhaus artists persecuted by the Nazis had fled to the States, helped establish the unaccredited school, and brought new energy to painting, design, and architecture in America.

To write the story of Ira and Ruth, the collectors in the book, Sparks designed his own crash course in Abstract Expressionism. “I’m certainly nowhere near as knowledgeable,” Sparks said, bowing his head toward Diaz. “I’m a kindergartner compared to a grad student.”

“Hey, I’m a professor,” said Diaz, who wore fading orange lipstick and wild curly hair. On the museum’s third floor, she pointed out four album covers that had circles and squares arranged in whimsical patterns, the work of Black Mountain instructor Josef Albers.

“So much of this is playing with repetition,” she said.

“You can say the same things about my novels,” Sparks said, echoing his critics. “It’s always a love story, it’s North Carolina, it’s a small town, a couple of likeable people.”

And, yet, he insists variations keep the books from feeling formulaic. “There are a few threads of familiarity, but you don’t know the period, you don’t know the age of the characters, you don’t know the dilemma, you don’t know whether it’s first person, third person, limited third person omniscient, some combination, you don’t know whether its going to be happy, sad, or bittersweet.”

Sparks spotted a Jackson Pollock and asked Diaz about the artist’s education. She said Pollock didn’t get an art degree before he established his studio in a barn on Long Island.

“I’m Jackson Pollock in the shed,” said Sparks, who majored in finance, his voice booming in the quiet gallery.

Diaz led Sparks to Willem de Kooning’s “Woman,” the first of a six-part series, which he painted after studying with Albers. Diaz explained that though the gestures on the canvas seem improvised and random, de Kooning spent months making the work. Sparks’s imagery—“in the distance, the banks of a small lake were dotted with cattle, smoky, blue-tipped mountains near the horizon framing the landscape like a postcard”—hews closer to Thomas Kinkade’s than de Kooning’s, but he saw similarities in their processes.

“When I’m creating something, I often know that a section is wrong,” Sparks said. He typically works at a brisk pace, six months per a novel, but a recent paragraph had taken 22 hours. “I sometimes wonder if de Kooning never got it quite right. That’s what I sense in the ‘Woman’ series: he looked at it, and says, ‘So much is right, but it’s not right.’”

In the lobby, Sparks paused to call his driver to take him the seven blocks to the Sherry-Netherland where he was staying. In addition to art, The Longest Ride involves a subplot about a handsome bull rider, played in the film by Scott Eastwood. Sparks had heard there was a bar equipped with a mechanical bull nearby, but declared a limit to his willingness to research his subject.

“I ain’t riding that bull,” he said.

Katia Bachko is the executive editor of The Atavist magazine, and a writer based in New York.

North Carolina’s Black Mountain College: A New Deal in American Education

September 13, 2010 Mary Emma Harris

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Black Mountain College was founded in the fall of 1933 by a group of faculty who had broken away from Rollins College following a fracas in which several faculty members were fired and others resigned in protest. It closed in the spring of 1957 after a judge ordered that academic programs should be ended until all debts were paid. In the intervening twenty-four years, the college evolved into a unique American venture in education, and the energy and ideas engendered there continue to influence the arts and education in the United States. Fine Arts Magazine

Left: John Andrew Rice. Courtesy NCSA, BMC Papers.

At the center of the Rollins controversy was John Andrew Rice, Professor of Classics. A gadfly with an ingrained dissatisfaction with the status quo and authority figures, Rice, along with others, had challenged President Hamilton Holt’s progressive educational program. In April 1933, Rice was fired. Soon thereafter, Ralph Reed Lounsbury and Frederick Raymond Georgia, who had objected to Rollins’s violation of Rice’s academic freedom, were also fired. [1] These three along with Theodore Dreier, who had resigned, found themselves unemployed in the depths of the Great Depression. It seemed an opportune time to create the ideal college that had long been the subject of late-night discussions. They had two months in which to locate a ready-made campus, write a charter and obtain a certificate of incorporation, hire faculty and recruit students, and organize their ideas into a coherent philosophy. Literature teacher Joseph Martin recalled that the informal opening ceremony on the porch of Robert E. Lee Hall was similar to a “pick-up game of football,” an occasion “happily terminated by lunch.” [2]  By the end of the first quarter there were twelve teachers and twenty-two students.

John Rice had been at odds with administrations at all colleges and universities where he had taught, and the experience at Rollins had only enhanced his discontent. Black Mountain College would be owned and administered by the faculty. There would be a Board of Fellows composed of several faculty elected by their peers and one student elected by students. The Board of Fellows would manage financial matters and the hiring and firing of faculty. Faculty would control all academic matters. An Advisory Board, with only the power of persuasion, was primarily a list of prominent individuals who believed in the college’s ideals and generously lent their names to increase the college’s credibility to a skeptical public. Among its members were John Dewey, Walter Gropius, and Alfred Einstein. There was to be no endowment, and donations were accepted only if they came with no effort to influence the college’s educational program.

Essentially the founders’ intention was to educate students for productive, participatory life in a democratic society. This was to be achieved through a curriculum which encouraged independent, critical thinking and life in a community where students would mature emotionally into responsible adults. At the center of the educational program was a close relationship between faculty and students and responsibility by the students for many aspects of their educational experience. Students entered in the Junior Division, a period of general study, and after passing a two-day examination covering all aspects of the curriculum, moved to the Senior Division, a period of specialization. Graduation was achieved by oral and written examinations by an outside examiner who was an authority in the student’s area of study. It was a rigorous process and only about sixty students graduated in the college’s twenty-four year history. Although term-end grades were recorded in the office for transfer purposes, the student did not know what grades were given. Of great significance for the college’s history and influence, the practice of the arts would be at the center of the learning experience.

The Black Mountain lifestyle and traditions evolved in the first years and were essential to the creative, unstructured environment. In its idealism, the college resembled a small religious community; in its reliance on limited means, a pioneering village; in its intense and experimental arts activity, a Bohemian arts colony; in its informal life style and woodland setting, a summer camp. Strongly influenced by the personalities of those who taught and studied at the college, the tenor of the community changed year by year. National and international events such as the Great Depression, World War II, and McCarthyism altered its history and were a catalyst for new programs and possibilities.

The Blue Ridge Assembly buildings provided the college with an ideal campus. Robert E. Lee Hall with its three-story high wooden columns was an imposing structure. One entered into a large lobby that extended through to the back of the building. On either side and on the second and third floors were rows of dormitory-style rooms used by YMCA guests at summer conferences. Faculty without children and students lived in Lee Hall, and those with children, in nearby cottages on the property. There were so many rooms that each student and faculty member had a study although students shared rooms for sleeping. The dining hall in which students, faculty and families shared meals was located behind Lee Hall and joined by a covered walkway.

There were classes in the mornings and evenings. In the afternoons everyone took part in a work program that included general maintenance, work on the college farm which was started the first year, and office and administrative work. Dress was informal with most wearing jeans during the daytime and casual clothes for dinner. Isolated in the Blue Ridge Mountains, far from any major metropolitan center, energies were focused inward on study and college activities

There were no bells to announce the beginning or end of classes and no students rushing with books from one class to another. Limited financial means encouraged innovation, and the students and faculty provided their own entertainment in the form of weekend concerts and drama productions, hikes in the mountains, parties (either simple or with elaborate decorations), after dinner dancing or community sings, or hikes in the mountains. For students such as Sewell ‘Si’ Sillman, it was the not the “highlights” – the luminaries and intense summer sessions in the arts – but the “day-to-day routine that was really Black Mountain.” [3] It was the interaction among individuals and the integration of learning with work, community, and recreation that had a profound effect on students.  With considerable effort the college managed to achieve publicity in national publications, and visitors, both the curious and the committed, arrived to observe the college, among them John Dewey, Aldous Huxley, Henry Miller, May Sarton, and Thornton Wilder. Visitors were frequently called on for group discussions, concerts and lectures to the community.

In the first semester the college brought Josef Albers, abstract artist and former teacher of the fundamental course at the recently-closed Bauhaus, from Germany to teach art. At Black Mountain, he adapted these courses, formulated to train professional designers, to general education. His wife Anni Albers, eminent weaver, taught weaving and textile design. From their arrival, Black Mountain College was to be the setting for a dynamic fusion of American Progressivism and European Modernism, and the college was to be associated with modern art and innovative teaching in the visual arts.

John Rice and Josef Albers, both born in 1888, were charismatic teachers and most in the community took their courses. In appearance and personality they were polar opposites. Rice was a Southerner, short and rotund, with a wink in his eye and a quick wit. Albers was slim and ascetic, disciplined and focused. Rice prided himself on his ability to assess and reveal the foibles of others, a practice that was to be a source of controversy in the community. Among Rice’s courses were creative writing and a class called Plato in which students examined concepts and questioned assumptions. Albers taught classes in design, color, painting, and drawing. Born in Brooklyn in 1902, Theodore Dreier, who taught mathematics and physics, was tall, athletic, and idealistic. His family was well-to-do and had close connections to the art world. He immediately assumed the role of fund-raiser, and for sixteen years, his dedicated efforts and endless proselytizing were responsible for the college’s survival. John Evarts, a young musician with a gift for improvisation, taught music. He was able through his piano playing after dinner and on weekends to bring the often-divided college together for dance and song, and when he left to join the war effort in 1942, he was irreplaceable. Other faculty in the 1930s included Rhodes scholar Joseph Walford Martin in literature, Robert Wunsch in theater, and Frederick Georgia in chemistry.

Josef and Anni Albers were the first of many refugee artists and scholars hired by the college. Some had already arrived in the United States; others the college brought directly from Europe. Among those teaching in the 1930s were Fritz Moellenhoff, former student of Hans Sachs who had been assistant director of the Kuranstalten Westend in Berlin, and Erwin Straus, a neurologist and a noted phenomenologist in the field of psychology who had been editor of Der Nervenartz and a member of the faculty at the University of Berlin; Alexander ‘Xanti’ Schawinsky, artist and theater director who had studied with Oskar Schlemmer at the Bauhaus; and Heinrich Jalowetz, along with Anton Webern and Alban Berg among Schoenberg’s first students, who had been director of the Cologne Opera before he lost his position when Hitler came to power in 1933. Jalowetz was one of the most beloved teachers at Black Mountain and died and was buried there in 1946. These accomplished individuals had been leaders in their fields, and their respect for disciplined study provided a critical balance to the college’s informal structure. They both changed and were changed by the college.

Although in the beginning – largely at the urging of John Rice – there was an attempt to determine what were acceptable Black Mountain teaching methods, this critical assessment was eventually abandoned, and teachers were left to decide how to run their classes. Some lectured and required regular papers; others did not. Generally, a completed assignment was a ticket to class. There were tests in some classes but no scheduled school-wide end of the term examinations. An attempt to teach an interdisciplinary class in the first year was not repeated. Essentially the unending conversation in the dining hall and informal gatherings was a far more effective form of interdisciplinary education that a formal class. In the cases where there was more than one teacher in a field, faculty worked together on the curriculum, but there were no formal departments.

The administration of the college was a time-consuming responsibility for the faculty. Generally, decisions were arrived at by consensus, and Board of Fellows, faculty, student and community meetings were endless. There were committees to handle all aspects of college life. Without a separate administration to settle disputes, all too often differences in opinion became explosive conflicts and ended with a group of faculty and a coterie of their student supporters leaving, a loss the college could ill afford.

The 1930s ended with the resignation of John Rice in 1940 after a long leave-of-absence and the move in June 1941 by the college to its own property Lake Eden. The Blue Ridge owners were constantly in search of a more lucrative tenant, and in 1937 the college had purchased the Lake Eden property north of the Village of Black Mountain as a hedge against a sudden ouster. In 1939 Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer were commissioned to design a modern, unified campus which would provide for music and art studios and workshops, classrooms, common rooms for community gatherings, a dining hall, faculty housing and other facilities.  In the spring of 1940, when the faculty began to raise funds for the buildings, they discovered that, while donors would make small contributions for the annual running of the college, they would require an administrative structure with a guarantee of longevity and continuity of purpose to make large contributions. The situation was further complicated by the buildup of wartime production and the fact that Weatherford had found a new tenant and had given the college notice that they would have to vacate the property at the end of the 1941 spring semester.

Lawrence Kocher, former editor of the Architectural Record and a long-time advocate for the college, was hired to design simpler, modern buildings which could be constructed by faculty and students working with a contractor.  The property had been developed as a summer camp and inn, and there were two lodges which could be used for dormitories, a dining hall, and a number of cottages, all in a rustic mountain style. The year 1940-41 was the most cohesive in the college’s history as everyone pulled together to construct the Studies Building, to winterize existing buildings, to construct a house for the kitchen staff, and to begin work on a barn and additional faculty cottages. [4]

Black Mountain College was able to survive the war years only by taking out a second mortgage on the college property. Most of the men students and younger faculty were drafted or left to join the war effort, and those who remained were largely European refugees and women students. Despite travel and building restrictions, the college had a vibrant academic program. Among the new faculty were Eric Bentley, a young Englishman and Brechtian scholar who had graduated from Yale University and taught at UCLA. Two new music teachers, both refugees, were Fritz Cohen, cofounder of the Jooss Ballet and composer of the score for the dance, The Green Table, and Edward Lowinsky, a young scholar of Early Music. The college farm thrived and provided essential food when wartime rationing was in effect.

At Blue Ridge, the college had to vacate the buildings in the summers when the YMCA held its summer assemblies. In 1940, 1941 and 1942 at Lake Eden it held a regular summer session and a work camp to help with the construction of new buildings and to provide the farm with workers. In 1943 it sponsored a Seminar on America for Foreign Scholars, Teachers, and Artists. In 1944, in addition to the summer session and work camp, it sponsored music and art institutes. These intense summer programs in the arts which attracted a large number of students, some of whom remained as fulltime students, were ultimately to alter the history and influence of the college. In the summer of 1944 the Music Institute was a celebration of Arnold Schoenberg’s seventieth birthday. Although Schoenberg was unable due to failing health to travel from California, the Institute brought together leading performers and interpreters of his music for an intense series of concerts and lectures. The Art Institute had as its faculty muralist Jean Charlot, sculptor José de Creeft, painter Amédée Ozenfant, and photographers Barbara Morgan and Josef Breitenbach. The college had to rent rooms across the valley at Blue Ridge to accommodate the students. Faculty in the summers of 1945 and 1946 included Will Burtin, Lyonel Feininger, Fannie Hillsmith, Jacob Lawrence, Leo Lionni, Robert Motherwell, Beaumont Newhall and Ossip Zadkine in art, and in music, Erwin Bodky, Alfred Einstein, Eva Heinetz, Hugo Kauder, and Josef Marx, among others.

As the college was enveloped in an intense round of classes, concerts, and lectures in the summer of 1944, it was simultaneously embroiled in what was without question the most vituperative internal conflict in its history. The previous year a number of fractious issues had torn the college, the most difficult being that of integration. North Carolina was a segregated state, and there were those who feared for the college’s safety if it were to integrate. Finally, the issue was resolved with a decision to permit two black women students to enroll for the summer. Nerves were still raw over the integration debate when in the middle of the summer session, two women students who had hitchhiked to visit Eric Bentley, who was teaching at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, were arrested in Chattanooga on their return to the college and jailed. The crisis culminated in the resignations of Bentley, Cohen and his wife dancer Elsa Kahl, Clark Forman, and languages teacher Frances de Graaff, along with a large coterie of students.

As the international conflict came to an end in the summer of 1945, a critically wounded Black Mountain College began slowly to rebuild. Black students were admitted for the regular sessions. Recruitment was not easy, and the college found that few were able to attend a college that did not offer an accredited degree. New faculty members were hired including M.C. Richards, a young scholar from the University of Chicago, to teach writing and literature, and her husband Albert William Levi in social sciences and philosophy. Max Wilhelm Dehn, eminent Frankfurt geometer, taught mathematics and philosophy, and Fritz Hansgirg, metallurgist who had been hired during the war, remained to teach chemistry. Theodore Rondthaler, a North Carolinian from an esteemed Moravian family, arrived to teach Latin, history and literature. John Wallen, who was exploring methods of group dynamics, taught psychology, and David Corkran, former headmaster at the North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, Illinois, taught history. When the Alberses were on sabbatical, Ilya Bolotowksy taught art, and Trude Guermonprez Elsesser and Franziska Mayer, weaving and textile design.

Approval under the GI Bill of Rights was essential to the college’s survival after the war, and with that approval a number of students, attracted both by the arts curriculum and by the opportunity to study in an unregimented environment, enrolled. As the student body swelled to almost a hundred students, there was concern that it was becoming too large.  The GIs who were older and who had experienced the discipline of military life and the horrors of conflict were eager to pursue a delayed education. Among those enrolled during this period, both GIs and recent high school graduates, were filmmaker Arthur Penn, writer James Leo Herlihy, and artists Ruth Asawa, Joseph Fiore, Lorna Blaine Halper, Ray Johnson, Lore Kadden Lindenfeld, Kenneth Noland, Robert Rauschenberg, Sewell Sillman, Kenneth Snelson, John Urbain, and Susan Weil.

In the summer of 1948, Josef Albers organized a Summer Session in the Arts which was be a pivotal moment in the college’s arts programs. Although previously both the regular sessions and the special summer sessions had brought together American-born and refugee faculty, the Europeans, far more accomplished than the younger American teachers, had been dominant. The 1948 summer faculty included John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Willem de Kooning, and Buckminster Fuller, all at the time unrecognized, but artists who would become seminal figures in the arts in the United States during the second half of the Twentieth Century. Buckminster Fuller, who was a last minute replacement, attempted to erect his first geodesic dome that summer. When it failed, it was dubbed the “supine” dome, and everyone cheerfully dismissed the “failure” as part of the process of experimental and a step on the way to success. Cage and Cunningham captivated the imagination of the community. They were to remain a presence at Black Mountain through 1953 as visitors and as summer faculty.

During the 1948-49 school year, the college once again was split into opposing camps. At issue was an effort to find a way to provide for the college’s survival. GI Bill revenues were declining, and it was nearly impossible to raise the funds annually to keep the college open. Many plans were considered. One was to have the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill adopt Black Mountain as an experimental school. Another was to narrow the curriculum to focus on the arts with limited offerings in other areas. The crisis ended with the resignations in the spring of 1949 of Theodore Dreier, Josef Albers, Anni Albers, Charlotte Schlesinger, and Trude Guermonprez.

During the 1950s, even as the college began to sell land to survive, it experienced an explosion of creative activity. Poet and historian Charles Olson, who had taught one long weekend a month during the 1948-49 school year, returned to teach fulltime in 1951. Students Joseph Fiore and Pete Jennerjahn were hired to teach art, and Hazel Larsen Archer, to teach photography. M.C. Richards remained to teach “reading and writing.” Katherine Litz taught dance, and composers Stefan Wolpe and Lou Harrison, music. Wesley Huss taught theater. In the last years, in addition to Olson, writers Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, and Robert Hellman taught writing. Creeley, who was living in Mallorca, edited the Black Mountain Review, which gave a coherent means of publication for Olson, Creeley, Duncan and their associates. Pete Jennerjahn taught a Light, Sound, Movement Workshop which explored non-literary multimedia performance. The press, which previously had been used primarily to print college forms and concert and drama programs, was used by the students and faculty to print their own writing. Students during the 1950s included John Chamberlain, Edward Dorn, Francine du Plessix Gray, Joel Oppenheimer, Robert Rauschenberg, Michael Rumaker, Cy Twombly, and Jonathan Williams.

Through the summer of 1953 the college continued to sponsor summer sessions which attracted exceptional faculty, including John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Paul Goodman, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Ben Shahn, Theodoros Stamos, and Jack Tworkov. In 1952, faced with an ever smaller student body, Charles Olson proposed a radical change in the college program. Already, through attrition, the college had become a college of the arts. Under Olson’s plan the college would abandon any remaining vestiges of progressive education such as the work program, the farm, and community in education in favor of a series of year-round institutes which would bring together major figures in the arts, the sciences and the humanities.  The Pottery Institute in the fall of 1952 had as its faculty Shoji Hamada, Bernard Leach, Soestsu Yanagi, and Marguerite Wildenhain. An Institute in the New Sciences of Man had Marie-Louise von Franz and Robert Braidwood as guest speakers. The 1953 summer institute, the last of the major summer programs, featured potters Peter Voulkos, Warren MacKenzie, and Daniel Rhodes along with a general faculty in art, dance, theater and music. At summer’s end, faced with a greatly diminished student body and faculty, the lower campus with the Studies Building and Dining Hall were closed, and students and faculty moved up the hill into faculty cottages. It was impossible for the small coterie to keep up the property or to manage the farm.

By the fall of 1956 there were three teachers: Charles Olson, Wesley Huss, and Joseph Fiore, and Fiore was taking a year’s sabbatical. Olson and Huss decided that the time had come to close the Lake Eden campus. Students, including a group who had worked that summer with Robert Duncan on Medea: The Maidenhead, the first of his Medea triology, returned with him to San Francisco to continue their studies as part of Olson’s “dispersed” university. Olson remained at Lake Eden to formulate other programs and deal with legal issues. Since 1951, the faculty had been paid half-salaries in money (and at times beef from the farm) and the other half had been listed as a debt against the college. Three sued the college for the unpaid salaries, both because they were seniors and badly in need of income and because they, along with others, felt the time had come for the college to close. Olson traveled to San Francisco to deliver his, Special View of History lectures as part of the Black Mountain curriculum. In March a judge ordered that academic programs cease until debts were paid and legal issues resolved. The final issue of the Black Mountain Reviewappeared in the fall of 1957. Olson, the last rector, had arranged in advance for its printing costs. On January 9, 1962, the Final Account was approved and the college books were closed respectably with all debts paid and a balance of zero.

The influence of Black Mountain College and the productivity of its faculty and students has been extensive and diverse. Many have had stellar careers; others have achieved significant recognition as university professors, early childhood educators, artists, musicians, writers, and scientists. Institutions as diverse as Marlboro College in Vermont, the North Carolina School of the Arts, and Catlin Gable School in Portland, Oregon have been influenced by Black Mountain. The “Black Mountain Poets” include both poets and prose writers who published in the Black Mountain Review, some of whom were never at the college. The designation excludes other Black Mountain writers who were at the college but did not publish in the Review. Among the artists, there is no identifiable Black Mountain style. This diversity, rather than a limitation, is a tribute to the college’s fostering of independent thinking and working.

Essential to the success of Black Mountain College was its administration by the faculty; this also was the root of many of its problems. In the instances when the college sought the assistance of a professional administrator, inevitably there was talk of a standard curriculum, predictable results, and a conventional appearance. In each case, the college refused to exchange the open, receptive, flexible atmosphere for the possibility of longevity. A critical part of the college program was its willingness to let things happen, not to create a circumscribed program with a predictable result. Fuller’s “Supine Dome,” the founding of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, John Cage’s first “happening,” and Josef Albers’s design and color curriculum which he later taught at Yale University were not planned outcomes.

More than five decades have passed since Black Mountain College closed. Still, its story continues to have an impact in the arts and education worldwide. Biographies are being written, documentaries filmed, and exhibitions organized. The energy and ideas engendered are a continuing catalyst for new beginnings in the arts and education.

by Mary Emma Harris ©, 2010, Contributing Writer

Mary Emma Harris is an independent scholar and author of, The Arts at Black Mountain College (The MIT Press, 1987). She is Chair of the Black Mountain College Project, Inc. (www.bmcproject.org), a not-for-profit organization devoted to the documentation of the history and influence of Black Mountain College.

____________________________________

Legend

BMC Project. Black Mountain College Project, Inc., New York, New York.

NCSA, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina.

BMC Papers, Black Mountain College Papers.

BMC Research Project Papers. Black Mountain College Research Project Papers.

References:

[1]  The American Association of University Professors investigated. Their report essentially vindicated Rice and his followers. See Arthur O. Lovejoy and Austin S. Edwards, “Academic Freedom and Tenure: Rollins College Report,” Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors, 19 (November 1933):416-39.

[2] [Joseph Walford Martin], “Black Mountain College: 1933,” NCSA, BMC Papers.

[3] Interview with Sewell Sillman by Mary Emma Harris, 7 March 1971, NCSA, BMC Research Project Papers. Permission Sewell Sillman Foundation.

[4] For a detailed description of the architectural program at the college, seewww.bmcproject.org – architecture.

See a related article on Black Mountain College alumnus, Sewell Sillman at: http://www.artesmagazine.com/2010/03/griswold-museum%e2%80%99s-krieble-gallery-features-modern-art-of-sewell-sillman/

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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)

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

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

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”.

Great website:

I was born in Detroit and now reside in Texas.  In between, I’ve lived in North Carolina, Iowa, Northern and Southern California, Hawaii, Nebraska, and Florida–not necessarily in that order.  Long before starting to write plays, I concentrated on acting as an undergrad at Black Mountain College, the U. of Iowa, and a grad student at Hawaii.  In Iowa, I acquired a theatre historian/husband; we have two grown children.I have thirteen published scripts, with some 1500 productions–ranging from Iditarod Elementary School in Alaska to Actor’s Theatre of Louisville.  My adaptation of SECRET GARDEN was translated and published in the Netherlands.  My most popular script ANNE OF GREEN GABLES has been produced all over the U. S., with recent productions in England, Scotland, Australia, Canada.  Needless to say, I also have scripts in process.

In the article ‘The Longest Ride,’ A Love Story About Luke, A Champion Bull Rider, And Sophia, A Young College Girl, Is Based On The Bestselling Nicholas Sparks Novel, Hits Theaters April 10, 2015, I read:

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.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the 21st post I look at the life of the playwright Sylvia Ashby.

WHAT I DID LAST SUMMER
Black Mountain College, 1948
by
Sylvia Ashby


Sylvia Ashby
This image is housed at the Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

In October 2012 I turned the corner to 84. So when I write about my errant youth, you know it was a long, long time ago.

Sylvia Ashby: “This sketch of me was a birthday card for me done by room mate Sheila Oline (later Marbain) who had a print studio in Manhattan for decades ( Maurel Studios). The inscription reads ‘I have a birthday in my pocket.’ The costume was pretty much the BMC uniform.”

This item is housed at the Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

I like to write in old blue books. Not just old blue books but old, used blue books. When you sit down to write in a torn-up blue book, even if you’re writing drivel, at least you’re not wasting paper. Maybe that’s why I like to write in those discarded exam booklets. My blue books belong in a museum. They were used when I taught Freshman English in days of yore. Of course, I’d never taken Freshman English or Freshman anything for that matter. The idea was that students wrote on one side of the five-cent booklet, then made corrections on the opposite side. After finals, there’d be a stack of left-over blue books. I’d tear out the first few scribbled-on pages and have the rest for my very own. There’s something comforting, non-threatening about an old blue book. As for reading, I like memoirs—that’s my genre. I like reading about everyone’s life. Though not my own. When you think of memoirs, you think of confessions. I wonder if this is my confession–this story from my slightly errant, mostly clueless youth: Almost eighteen, an idealistic young thing, I rode the bus from Detroit to a college that was totally unaccredited—no grades, no hours, no tests, no majors, no rules. Black Mountain College, on a farm near Asheville, North Carolina, was the outpost of progressive education the U.S. At its height, when I arrived in 1946, there were at most 100 students.

Sylvia Ashby, second from right, with washboard.
This image is housed at the Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

In the summer session of 1948, the faculty included Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Buckminster Fuller. I’d like to say I was cool and understood how fascinating these folks were, but alas, I was a naive, self-absorbed Midwesterner. So many of the students had either grown up on the streets of Greenwich Village or were GI’s returning from the exploits of WWII. If “avant-garde” was the typical description of BMC, you could safely say I was bringing up the rear.

I thought the world’s first geodesic dome, which Bucky Fuller fashioned from rolls of aluminum venetian blind strips, was somewhat peculiar. Besides, it fell down a few days later.

Every night after dinner, John Cage serenaded us with an Eric Satie concert, perhaps the world’s first, possibly last, Eric Satie Festival. A few years before, Cage had chunked bits of hardware into the bowels of a piano thus creating his so-called “prepared piano.” Just what it was prepared for I’m not certain. I’ve read that BMC was credited with the world’s first “Happening” that summer, though again, I’m not sure what happened. I do remember then-student Arthur Penn, he of Bonnie and Clyde fame, directing a Satie script in which Merce danced (his wonderful “Monkey Dances” stayed in his repetoire) and Bucky proved a capable comic actor. I guess my claim to fame is that I danced with William de Kooning, though it lasted less than the required fifteen minutes. I’d heard he was supported, even then, by art patrons. Personally, I thought he should get a job. In the interest of full disclosure, I should admit to studying acting with Arthur Penn, and played the ingenue in his “Hello, Out There” and “Shadow and Substance.” Though a BMC student, Arthur was already a theatre professional, coming up through the ranks of the Neighborhood Playhouse, NYC bastion of Stanislavski’s Method Acting. In my defense, I’ll add that I did recognize his brilliance and fine future.

Our beloved literature teacher M. C. Richards had translated the Satie piece (and later translated Artaud’s “Theatre and Its Double”). M.C. looked kindly on the few scraps of poetry I’d managed to turn out. Attending a conference at the university in Greensboro, she showed my collected works to poet Randall Jarrell. He said I was operating under the influence of e. e. cummings. Bingo! If she’d shown him my prose, he would have said I was under the spell of Gertrude Stein, also true: I had just learned to discard all punctuation marks. Capital letters, I decided, were a bourgeois hindrance. But, as you can see, those determined little marks have crept back in. Occasionally visitors would appear on the scene, coming to check us out—to see just what was going on there. I recall James Farmer, a leading civil rights crusader from the 60’s and beyond; Denzel Washington played Farmer in a 2007 film. Photographer Irving Penn came out of curiosity, but mainly to see his kid brother Arthur. For me, most intriguing of visitors was Anais Nin, on the scandalous side even then, a reputation enhanced by her relationship with the more notorious Henry Miller. What impressed me about Anais was her make-up: I had never seen anyone with such a painted face, not even on canvas. All pinks and lavenders with bold dark lines, it had the exaggeration of ballet stage make-up–not that I’d ever seen a ballet. In fact, I’d never heard of Anais Nin. As for Mr. Miller, forget it. I’m sure Wikipedia could tell you who portrayed Anais in the film Henry and June.

America made history when Southern colleges and universities were desegregated in the early 60’s. But BMC, in that same segregated South, had black students when I arrived, and even before I arrived, and nobody paid any attention. I guess we slipped in below the radar. There was no public transportation, so on one of those rare occasions when I got to town—Asheville—I was walking down the main street with Jeanne, a pretty black student from Tennessee. We passed a Woolworth’s Five and Ten. “Let’s go get something to eat,” I said. Jeanne quickly turned, “I can’t do that!” She was shocked, no doubt, by my general cluelessness. The point was made more forcefully during the first Christmas break. At the train station in Asheville I discovered we could not sit together. Our small group sat in one car, but Jeanne would have to sit several sections back. You’d think I could have figured out that much by now. But BMC was so isolated, and so few people had cars, we could have been dropped by parachute onto another planet—a very beautiful planet.

Unlike most—no, make that all colleges—BMC had no Regents, no Board of Directors, no Deans. Instead there was a faculty council. No surprise, toward the end of my first year, they voted to put me on probation. I responded with a simple letter. Again, M.C. was pleased with my writing, longer than the compacted bits I usually squeezed out. M.C. read my letter at the next meeting. Arthur, as student rep on the council, was there too. Some faculty members feared I was suffering from a case of Terminal Stanislavki, contracted from over-exposure to Arthur’s “Method Acting.” Maybe there was madness in the Method? Had I been permanently transformed? My rebuttal must have worked: The BMC governors granted a last-minute reprieve, for better or worse.

At the end of two years, all my friends were leaving. Writer Isaac Rosenfeld, part of the 1948 summer faculty, preached the value of the orgone box; this was a mysterious invention of Wilhelm Reich, émigré psychoanalyst who, in a handful of years, would spend time in jail on fraud charges. The orgone box, a wooden structure you sat in, was somehow supposed to improve your sex life. Naturally, a few friends left in search of the Holy Grail—a.k.a, the orgone box.

I don’t know where everyone exited to. Arthur to U. of Perugia. One group traipsed off to start a commune in Oregon, though that term was not yet in common usage—not in the 40’s. Those who headed for San Francisco became in short order the forerunners of Beatniks and Hippies. That’s when Peggy Vaughn, living on a houseboat in Sausalito, pioneered the Tin Angel, a famous San Francisco night spot. My childhood friend Marion, returning to UCLA, gradually evolved into an Oscar-nominated film editor. Sheila went back to Manhattan, living with her boyfriend in a $6 a month cold-water flat. In time, Sheila mastered silk-screen printing; decades later she gave me copies of the posters she’d made for the likes of Andy Warhol, plus the iconic LOVE poster of Robert Indiana. But, Chick Perrow went straight, ended up a Yale sociology prof.

I returned home to Detroit. Isaac, the orgone box advocate, had encouraged me to try a university, maybe something in the mid-west. Jim Herlihy was a BMC buddy: we were about the same age, both from Detroit, both interested in acting and writing. He called me up. “So, what are you going to do?” “I don’t know,” I said. By now it was late August. “I’ve been accepted here at Wayne and the University of Iowa. I don’t know where to go.” Jim, who would later write Midnight Cowboy under his full title—James Leo Herlihy—found an almanac in his fairly-bookless, tar-papered home and read to me over the phone: Iowa City was a small town of 10,000 with a river running through it. Thank you, Jim. That did it. So off I went, once again. This time trading freedom for structure. And that’s when I saw my first blue book….

Sylvia Ashby: “I was born in Detroit, now reside in Texas, and have lived in North Carolina, northern and southern California, Hawaii, Florida, Nebraska–not necessarily in that order. I concentrated on acting when I was a student at Black Mountain College and at the University of Iowa, and as a grad student at the University of Hawaii. In Iowa, I acquired a theatre-historian husband; we have two grown children. I have published 15 scripts for family audiences, with some 2,000 productions. The most popular, Anne of Green Gables, has been produced on three continents. In the last decade I returned to acting: favorite roles were in Gin Game; Beauty Queen of Leenane; Importance of Being Earnest.”For a YouTube history of Black Mountain College, go

here.

________________

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)

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_____________

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

_________________

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opening of the ’50 Years of the Bauhaus’ exhibition in Stuttgart: speech by Walter Gropius to students from the Hochschule für Gestaltung (College of Design) in Ulm, protesting about its closure, 1968

after 1933

The Bauhaus was forced to close down in 1933 due to pressure from the Nazis. However, its ideas continued to spread all over the world along with the emigrating Bauhaus members – to the USA, Switzerland, Russia, Israel and many other countries.

In the USA, Josef Albers became a respected art teacher at Black Mountain College (Asheville, North Carolina), which at times regarded itself as a successor to the Bauhaus. In 1937, László Moholy-Nagy founded the New Bauhaus in Chicago, which took up the educational programme developed in Weimar and Dessau by Walter Gropius and developed it further. Photography now played a more important part than it had earlier. The methodology of the New Bauhaus was adopted and modified by many other American colleges. This played a role in pushing back the Beaux Arts tradition that had predominated in the USA up to that time. In addition, the emigré former Bauhaus Directors Walter Gropius, Professor at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Director of the Department of Architecture at the Armour Institute in Chicago, contributed to the further spread of Bauhaus thought in their work and teaching.

In West Germany, the Bauhaus idea of linking the arts and crafts was initially continued after the Second World War at crafts colleges such as those in Krefeld, Cologne and Kassel. From 1955, the College of Design in Ulm arrived on the scene with a claim to be working in the spirit of the Bauhaus. The goal was ‘to improve the quality, form and usefulness of consumer goods that are manufactured in Germany’. Although the college later tried to distance itself from the Bauhaus model by developing contours of its own, its beginnings under its first Rector, former Bauhaus student Max Bill, were clearly marked by the Bauhaus. The college in Ulm became the internationally most important college of design after the Bauhaus, and its products represented German design for many decades.

In East Germany, an initial attempt to revive the Bauhaus in Dessau failed one year after the end of the war. The college was politically unwelcome in the early period of the GDR, and a rapprochement with it only took place in 1976 with the reconstruction of the Dessau Bauhaus building in accordance with its historic monument status. A start was made on establishing a historical collection on the Bauhaus, and the Bauhaus theatre was revived. Ten years later, the GDR celebrated the reopening of the Bauhaus as a ‘Centre for Design’, under the aegis of the East German Construction Ministry. The fall of Communism in 1989 ended this chapter of the Bauhaus’s history.

Some elements of the Bauhaus teaching method – particularly the preliminary course – are still being used at college level. The Bauhaus’s influence continues to be seen above all in its fundamental ideas and methods, even more than in specific forms and products.

 

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Allegra Fuller Snyder – Black Mountain: The Start of a Critical Path

Published on Oct 12, 2012

Reviewing 4 Black Mountain College Museum International Conference
Allegra Fuller Snyder (Conference Keynote Speaker)
Black Mountain: The Start of a Critical Path

Allegra Fuller Snyder is Buckmister Fuller’s only living child and is the Founder, first President, and now Board member emeritus of the Buckminster Fuller Institute. She is also Professor Emerita of Dance and Dance Ethnology, UCLA; 1992 American Dance Guild Honoree of the Year; former Chair of the Department of Dance; and founding Coordinator of the World Arts and Cultures Program. She has been on the Dance Faculty at Cal Arts as well as Professor of Performance Studies at New York University, and Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Surrey, Guildford, England. She began her career as a performer and choreographer and has been concerned with the relation of dance to film since the late 1940s. She has made several prize winning documentary films on dance. She has done dance research around the world, was the recipient of several Fulbright Scholarships. Among many special projects Snyder was a Core Consultant on the PBS series DANCING for WNET/Channel 13. Recently returning to performance, Jennifer Fisher of the LA times said of her in “Spirit Dances 6: Inspired by Isadora,” “She was a haiku and an epic.”

Sponsored by the Green Restaurants of AIR (Asheville Independent Restaurants)

Videography and Post by Michael Folliett
at Image Preservations.com

GIVING UP THE HORSE – TED DREIER AND WALTER GROPIUS

Theodore (‘Ted’) Dreier was – in many ways – the unsung hero of Black Mountain College. John Andrew Rice receives much of the credit for the College’s founding, though Dreier was at his side following the famous ‘Rollins fracas’ (1) and remained a central member of the College community for the first sixteen years of its existence. Dreier was never the outspoken and confrontational pedagogue that Rice was, nor was he a ground breaking artist like Josef or Anni Albers, the other longest-serving members of the BMC faculty. However, Dreier’s contributions to the College were just as – if not more – crucial to its survival than anyone else’s. Through his dogged commitment, patient accounting, and relentless fundraising, Black Mountain College continued operation through immense difficulty. Dreier gave much of his life to the College, which could never have survived without him.

Summer Arts Institute Faculty, Black Mountain College, 1946. Left to right: Leo Amino, Jacob Lawrence, Leo Lionni, Ted Dreier, Nora Lionni, Beaumont Newhall, Gwendolyn Lawrence, Ise Gropius, Jean Varda (in tree), Nancy Newhall (sitting), Walter Gropius, Mary "Molly" Gregory, Josef Albers, Anni Albers. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives.

An engineer with a degree from Harvard, Dreier always wished he could spend more time teaching at Black Mountain. He was listed in various Black Mountain Bulletins as the instructor in mathematics and physics. Later, he spent a great deal of time preparing a course on the ‘Philosophy of Science.’ Yet most of the time, he found himself in charge (first as treasurer, later as rector) of the College’s finances and its physical plant. Many of his wealthy contacts were called upon time and time again to rescue Black Mountain from collapse. Dreier had an unshakable belief in the College’s mission, so eloquently put forward by Rice from the beginning, but he matched that ideological commitment with a practical ability to raise funds and win supporters – the much-needed ‘Friends of the College.’ His family lived at Black Mountain, and his son – Ted Jr. – grew up and studied there. The distressing chapter of Dreier’s Black Mountain story came years after Rice’s departure, when – after the Second World War – the College went through its most difficult and trying period.

An American of German descent, Dreier had very close relationships with Josef and Anni Albers, and also – on even more personal terms – with Walter and Ise Gropius, and their daughter Ati, who graduated from Black Mountain College in 1946 and who was the godmother of the Dreiers’ daughter. Founder of the legendary German design school, the Bauhaus, Gropius exercised enormous influence over Black Mountain. Though he never served there permanently, he was a member of the Board of Advisors, taught at the famous summer art institutes, and acted in generous friendship toward Black Mountain and the Dreier family.

In the Bauhaus Archive, Berlin, a large portion of Gropius’ collected correspondence illustrates the close relationship his family had with the Dreiers. It also – quite painfully for one invested in the history of the College – tells the story of Dreier’s disillusionment and, finally, his departure from the radical institution he played such a large part in creating. One letter to Dreier shows the sacrifices Gropius was willing to make in order to allow his daughter Ati’s continued education at Black Mountain:

I had meant to write to you regarding Ati when your letter arrived. Meanwhile I have carefully checked up on my financial status regarding a second college year for Ati. I have given up my horse, our second car and we put up a roomer in Ati’s room. After this the utmost my shrunken budget allows me to spend for Ati’s next College year is 1000$. I should like to leave it to you to decide which may be the better way for Ati to make good on the difference either in your summer camp or here in war work.(2)

In response, Dreier assured Gropius that Ati might find work as part of the summer music institute – work that would not be so demanding as in a war factory or on the College farm, and which would allow her time and energy to pursue her studies in art. On April 26, Dreier wrote, ‘Ati was quite jealous of my having heard from you before she did but she was really extremely happy to think that there was a good chance now of her coming back next year […] I have a feeling myself that it would be a good thing and I believe that the Albers agree with me.’

Many other letters between Dreier and Gropius sketch a close, familial relationship. They invite one another and their families for visits to Cambridge, Mass., Black Mountain, and New York; they recount holidays together and hopes for putting the College’s affairs in order. Dreier even wrote to Ise Gropius about the possibility of moving to post-war Germany:

The other day we had a faculty candidate for history who had been in Military Government in Germany for a year speak. He had been Educational and Fine Arts Officer […] Most people liked his talk which was certainly very interesting, but there is something that bothers me terribly about the kind of aloof objectivity with which such a man can talk about Germany and the people and the problems of education and denazification. Although I am naturally not considering any such thing seriously because I still hope things may work out here at Black Mountain (and please consider my mentioning it confidential), the idea had crossed my mind that if I left maybe a place that I could be of as much use as any would be in Germany […] But the very thought of living comfortably in a country while everyone else was half-starving and discouraged is something that would be almost impossible to do if one has any feelings for the people at all. (3)

With the closeness of their relationship, it is no wonder that Dreier included Gropius in the mailing of his resignation from Black Mountain. On August 31, 1948, Dreier wrote to Walter and Ise, ‘This is just a line to say that the die is finally cast. A few days ago I came to the conclusion that I simply could not undertake another reorganization of the college […] I said I wanted to leave.’ (4) In fact, Dreier stayed on just a bit longer in order to help transition to the leadership of Josef Albers as College rector.

Beside personal correspondence, one of the most fascinating pieces in the Gropius collection is Ted Dreier’s ‘Summary Report – Black Mountain College: the First 15 ½ Years,’ written as part of his resignation. The ten-page document was written at a point when Dreier was understandably frustrated and bitter, yet the clarity (and even charity) of his writing still comes through when addressing the core principles of the Black Mountain experiment. He writes, ‘For 15 ½ years Black Mountain has stood for a non-political radicalism in higher education which, like all true radicalism, sought to find modern means for getting back to fundamentals.’ (5) This, he concedes, was largely achieved in the early years, and the character of the College under Albers exemplified these ideals. Dreier saw the reconstitution of the College after the War as the period in which things changed. Infighting was rampant. Younger members of staff who – Dreier points out – had no connection to the foundation of the College advocated divergent pedagogies. ‘There has to be agreement,’ Dreier wrote, ‘about method as well as about aim, and readiness to follow the method.’ (6)

Yet Dreier had not entirely given up hope for Black Mountain, even as he knew his time there was finished: ‘If the effort is made to continue the College it will have to be made by others who may or may not stand for what Black Mountain has stood for in the past.’ Even in despair, Dreier anticipated a rebirth of the College. This is exactly what would happen, very much in the way Dreier describes. When Charles Olson became the dominant force at Black Mountain in the early 1950s, he looked back to the founding principles laid out by Rice and Dreier, while also looking toward a future that would be, in many ways, quite different. Olson’s Black Mountain – and especially his style of leadership – would probably not have been met with Dreier’s enthusiasm. (We must recognize, Olson’s leadership finally failed; he was not the organizer and fundraiser that Dreier had been.) In the end, it was Olson – not Dreier – who had to spend years liquidating the College’s assets and setting its affairs in order. But, after Dreier’s departure, the College did gain new life. Many people today know of Black Mountain through the Olson phase, which included writers Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan, and the creation of the “Black Mountain Review”. However, Dreier must be given his due. If it were not for his strenuous efforts on behalf of the institution, there would have been no place at Lake Eden for those who followed.

by Jonathan Creasy
Trinity College Dublin/ New Dublin Press


(1) Rice was terminated from his tenured position as professor at Rollins College in Florida when the College’s President, Hamilton Holt, objected to Rice’s teaching practices and general demeanor. A famous hearing occurred, held by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), in which Rice was vindicated, but he left Rollins anyway. This is the fabled beginning of the move toward Black Mountain. Most of the initial faculty and students at BMC followed Rice from Rollins. Dreier was a key member of this group. (For more detail, see Martin Duberman’s Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community, Dutton: 1972.)
(2) Letter from Walter Gropius to Theodore Dreier, April 16, 1944. The Bauhaus Archive, Berlin.
(3) Letter from Theodore Dreier to Ise Gropius, August 22, 1947. The Bauhaus Archive, Berlin.
(4) Letter from Theodore Dreier to Walter and Ise Gropius, August 31, 1948. The Bauhaus Archive.
(5) Dreier, Theodore. ‘Summary Report – Black Mountain College: The First 15 ½ Years.’ Walter Gropius Collection, The Bauhaus Archive, Berlin.
(6) Ibid.

 

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Walter Gropius, educator, architect and founder of the Bauhaus, fled Germany for England where he worked with Maxwell Fry and the Isokon Group in London. In 1937, he accepted an invitation to teach architecture at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. From 1938-52 he was Chairman of the Department of Architecture.

Gropius first visited Black Mountain in December 1937. His former Bauhaus colleagues Josef and Anni Albers and Xanti Schawinksy were teaching there, and the visit was an occasion both for a visit with friends and for an informal discussion of plans for the development of the Lake Eden property which the college had purchased in June 1937. Gropius and his wife Ise Frank Gropius, along with their daugher Beate “Ati”, had arrived in the United States the previous May.

In January 1939, Gropius and Marcel Breuer, with whom he had formed a partnership, were commissioned by the college to design a complex of buildings for the Lake Eden campus. Had these buildings been constructed, they would have been the architects’ first major architectural project in the United States, and their influence undoubtedly would have been equal to that of the Bauhaus buildings at Dessau. (Gropius-Breuer designs)

A publicity and fundraising campaign for the buildings was launched with a meeting at the Museum of Modern Art in January 1940 and with a second meeting in June. For a number of reasons – the necessity of a move to Lake Eden in June 1941, the impending entry of the United States in the European conflict, and failure to raise the initial $75,000 to construct the first building – the buildings were never constructed.

From 1939 until 1949, when Josef and Anni Albers left the college, Gropius had a close relationship with Black Mountain. He was a member of the Advisory Council from April 1940 until the spring of 1949 and visited the college for meetings. He also was guest lecturer at the 1944, 1945 qnd 1946 Summer Art Institutes. After the war the college turned to the newly-formed Architects Collaborative, of which Gropius was a member, for plans for a women’s dorm. In May 1946 his house was one of three opened for a benefit for the college. His daughter Beate ‘Ati’ Gropius (Johansen) attended the college from the summer of 1943 through the summer of 1946.

At Harvard Gropius encountered an entrenched beaux-arts tradition, and the transition to a modern curriculum was a slow process. He invited Josef Albers to teach seminars and for a full semester, but he was never able to obtain a tenured professorship for him. On the other hand, Albers, when he observed the struggles Gropius encountered in effecting change at Harvard, was not eager to leave Black Mountain where there was no established tradition. Gropius encouraged his Harvard students to study with Albers at Black Mountain and to attend the summer program for practical building experience.

Black Mountain. An Interdisciplinary Experiment 1933 – 1957

from: 05.06.2015 to: 27.09.2015
Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin

The Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin presents the first comprehensive exhibition in Germany devoted to the legendary Black Mountain College. Founded in 1933 in North Carolina, USA, Black Mountain rapidly rose to fame on account of its progressive teaching methods and the many prominent figures who taught and studied there. Its influence upon the development of the arts in the second half of the 20th century was enormous; the performatisation of the arts, in particular, that emerged as from the 1950s derived vital impetus from the experimental practice at Black Mountain. The founders wanted to establish a democratic, experiential, interdisciplinary educational facility in line with the forward-thinking pedagogical ideas of philosopher John Dewey. The exhibition traces the history of this university experiment in its main outlines. In the first few years of its existence, the college was strongly shaped by German and European émigrés – among them several former Bauhaus members such as Josef and Anni Albers, Alexander “Xanti” Schawinsky and Walter Gropius. After the Second World War, the creative impulses issued increasingly from young American artists and academics, who commuted between rural Black Mountain and the urban centres on the East and West Coast. Right up to its closure in 1957, the college remained imbued with the ideas of European modernism, the philosophy of American pragmatism and teaching methods that aimed to encourage personal initiative as well as the social competence of the individual.

Within an architectural environment designed by the architects’ collective raumlabor_berlin, the exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof is showing works both by teachers at the college, such as Josef and Anni Albers, Richard Buckminster Fuller, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Shoji Hamada, Franz Kline, Xanti Schawinsky and Jack Tworkov, and by a number of Black Mountain students, including Ruth Asawa, Ray Johnson, Ursula Mamlok, Robert Rauschenberg, Dorothea Rockburne and Cy Twombly. A wealth of photographs and documentary film footage, as well as publications produced by the college, offer an insight into the way in which the institute worked and into life on campus.

The interdisciplinary and experimental methods and community-based forms of living adopted at Black Mountain had a profound influence upon the artistic and social transformations of the 1960s and are still relevant today. In order to investigate the contemporary relevance of Black Mountain’s pedagogical approach, students from various colleges are presenting archival materials in the form of readings, concerts and performances within the exhibition itself over the entire duration of the show. Specifically for these performances, artist and composer Arnold Dreyblatt has developed a concept under the title “Performing the Black Mountain Archive”. Within the framework of a score drawn up by Dreyblatt, short performances will take place at various locations within the exhibition every morning between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and every afternoon between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

The project “Performing the Black Mountain Archive” will be implemented by students from the following colleges and universities: Universität der Künste Berlin (Sound Studies), Hochschulübergreifendes Zentrum Tanz, Berlin (Dance, Context, Choreography), Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, Bonn (North American Studies Program / German Studies), Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden (Fine Art), Muthesius Kunsthochschule, Kiel (Media Art / Typography and Design), Hochschule der Künste Bern (Performance Art / Media Art CAP), Kunstakademiet i Oslo (Fine Art), Norwegian Theater Academy – Høgskolen i Østfold, Fredrikstad (Theatre), Konstfack – University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm (Fine Art).

In collaboration with the Freie Universität Berlin (Institute of Theatre Studies, Prof. Annette Jael Lehmann) and the Dahlem Humanities Center, it has been possible to prepare two public symposia (in May 2014 and on September 25 + 26, 2015) and maintain a blog directly related to the exhibition.

For further information see www.black-mountain-research.com

Exhibition curators: Eugen Blume, Gabriele Knapstein

Curatorial assistance and project management: Matilda Felix

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, published by Spector Books, Leipzig

For further information about the Black Mountain College see www.blackmountaincollege.org

An exhibition by the Nationalgalerie  in the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, in cooperation with the Freie Universität Berlin and the Dahlem Humanities Center

With the support of the German Federal Cultural Foundation

The Longest Ride
The Longest Ride
The Longest Ride

Nicholas Sparks Flick ‘The Longest Ride’ With Scott Eastwood & Britt Robertson

Photo of Kevin JagernauthBy Kevin Jagernauth | The PlaylistDecember 22, 2014 at 9:59PM

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The Longest Ride

“I cried at ‘The Notebook.’ If anybody said they didn’t cry in ‘The Notebook‘ they are just lying,” Scott Eastwood declared to ET. If you wept while watching the Nicholas Sparks adaptation Eastwood speaks of, then chances are you are the target demographic for “The Longest Ride.” And the first trailer is here.

Co-starring Eastwood and Britt Robertson and directed by George Tillman Jr. (“Notorious,” “Faster“), the movie tracks some intersecting storylines, first following a 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. Will the country boy and city bound gal make it? Well, good thing Sophia and Luke make an unexpected connection with Ira, whose memories of his own decades-long romance with his beloved wife deeply inspire the young couple. Cue tears, romance and hankies.

Alan Alda Talks ‘Longest Ride’ | TODAY

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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)

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

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Fully Awake – PREVIEW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scott Eastwood Interview – The Longest Ride

In the article ‘The Longest Ride,’ A Love Story About Luke, A Champion Bull Rider, And Sophia, A Young College Girl, Is Based On The Bestselling Nicholas Sparks Novel, Hits Theaters April 10, 2015, I read:

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.”

Group Portrait, Blue Ridge Campus, Black Mountain College. Photograph of Charles Lindsley (?), John Evarts, Robert Wunsch, Erwin Straus, Heinrich Jalowetz.

 

Heinrich Jalowetz (Black Mountain College music instructor, 1939-1946) with students

Faculty meeting at Black Mountain College, Blue Ridge campus. Left to right: Robert Wunsch, Josef Albers, Heinrich Jalowetz, Theodore Dreier, Erwin Straus,…

Faculty meeting; Left to right: Robert Wunsch, Josef Albers, Heinrich Jalowetz, Theodore Dreier, Erwin Straus, unknown, Lawrence Kocher.

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Albers1

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

 

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Jalowetz, Heinrich. At BMC 1939-46. Taught Music. Had been conductor in Europe, including Prague and Cologne, member of Schoenberg’s inner circle. Forced out by Nazis. Died 1946.

Heinrich Jalowetz

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Heinrich Jalowetz (December 3, 1882,[1] Brno – February 2, 1946,[2] Black Mountain, North Carolina, USA) was an Austrian musicologist and conductor who settled in the USA. He was one of the core members of what became known as the Second Viennese Schoolin the orbit of Arnold Schoenberg.

A musicology pupil of Guido Adler,[3] Jalowetz was among Schoenberg’s first students in Vienna, 1904-1908. From 1909 to 1933 he worked as a conductor in Regensburg, Danzig, Stettin, Prague, Vienna and Cologne (as successor to Otto Klemperer). After emigrating to the USA in 1938 he taught at Black Mountain College, North Carolina. Though his name is less widely known than that of many of Schoenberg’s more famous students, Schoenberg regarded Jalowetz very highly indeed. He is one of the seven ‘Dead Friends’ (the others being Berg, Webern, Alexander Zemlinsky, Franz Schreker, Karl Kraus and Adolf Loos) to whom he once envisaged dedicating his book Style and Idea, with the comment that those men ‘belong to those with whom principles of music, art, artistic morality and civic morality need not be discussed. There was a silent and sound mutual understanding on all these matters’.

Stravinsky on art and limits vs. Schaeffer on 20th-century music

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I’m in the country this summer, reading, resting, and working on curriculum projects. One of these projects is sets of Composer Study lessons. The best part, so far, has been reading some great books about music and the appreciation of music, including Igor Stravinsky’s Poetics of Music in the Form of Six Lessons.

Here are a few gems:

“The old original sin was chiefly a sin of knowledge; the new original sin, if I may speak in these terms, is first and for most a sin of non-acknowledgement — a refusal to acknowledge the truth and the laws that proceed therefrom, laws that we have called fundamental.”

“For imagination is not only the mother of caprice but the servant and handmaiden of the creative will as well. The creator’s function is to sift the elements he receives from her, for human activity must impose limits on itself. The more art is controlled, limited, worked over, the more it is free.”

“I have no use for theoretical freedom.”

I find these fascinating because they contradict a simplistic understanding of the “modern” period in art and cultural history as one of license and fragmentation, in which art governed by chance and lacking in limits was elevated above the art of order and natural law that supposedly existed before (in the Golden Age of Bach and Rembrandt who Believed in God).

In trying to remember where I got that simplistic understanding in the first place, I realized it probably originated from Francis Schaeffer and a system of teaching about art and culture that was born out of his book How Shall We Then Live?, published in 1976. I looked it up today, my country retreat handily having a copy. He doesn’t have much to say about Stravinsky (and no wonder, I suppose, because Stravinsky, though hugely influential in 20th-century music, does not strengthen his case), but he does have this to say about Schoenberg:

“Then came Schoenberg (1874-1951), and with him we are into the music which was a vehicle for modern thought. Schoenberg totally rejected the past tradition in music and invented the ’12-tone row.’ This was ‘modern’ in that there was perpetual variation with no resolution. This stands in sharp contrast to Bach who, on his biblical base, had much diversity but always resolution. Bach’s music had resolution because as a Christian he believed that there will be resolution both for each individual life and for history. As the music which came out of the biblical teaching of the Reformation was shaped by that world view, so the world view of modern man shapes modern music.”

Here, in contrast, is what Stravinsky has to say about Schoenberg’s music inPoetics of Music:

“Cacophony means bad sound, contraband merchandise, uncoordinated music that will not stand up under serious criticism. Whatever opinion one may hold about the music of Arnold Schoenberg (to take as an example a composer evolving along lines essentially different from mine, both aesthetically and technically), whose works have frequently given rise to violent reactions or ironic smiles — it is impossible for a self-respecting mind equipped with genuine musical culture not to feel that the composer of Pierrot Lunaire is fully aware of what he is doing and that he is not trying to deceive anyone. He adopted the musical system suited to his needs and, within that system, he is perfectly consistent with himself, perfectly coherent. One cannot dismiss music that he dislikes by labeling it cacophony.”

Schaeffer argues that Schoenberg turns his back on resolution, but Stravinsky argues that, within the perfectly rational system he uses, Schoenberg is coherent. What is resolution in music but meeting the expectations of a certain system of tonality? “Will they be met? Will they be met? Yes, here it is.” That’s what’s happening in our brains when we listen. A friend of mine who studied music composition once told me that, with training, the ear hears 12-tone music with the same dialogue of expectation and fulfillment that we naturally bring to our more common system of major/minor tonality.

It isn’t that 12-tone music is a system of constant variation but no resolution. It’s that resolution occurs under different circumstances within the 12-tone system. The tonality of Bach happens to be better-known and easier for us to hear, but Schoenberg’s system is no less ordered. It doesn’t deny an ordered universe.

Back to those interesting Stravinsky quotes at the beginning of the post, you would think that the “revolutionary” whose Rite of Spring caused an actual riot upon first hearing would support Schaeffer’s claims about fragmentation in 20th century music, but in Poetics of Music he sounds as orderly and unified as Schaeffer could wish. “Art is by essence constructive,” Stravinsky says, and “art is the contrary of chaos. It never gives itself up to chaos without immediately finding its living works, its very existence, threatened.”

I find Stravinsky’s words encouraging as I go about the large task of trying to help students hear order in music, to listen, within any given musical framework, for tension and release, for narrative, for drama, for idea, for dialogue. It is no less difficult with Mozart, which students can hear simply as “nice” or “boring,” than it is for Schoenberg and Stravinsky, which they might perceive as “ugly,” but it is a worthwhile endeavor for both.

Schoenberg: Variations for Orchestra Op 31 (1934) – Pierre Boulez and the CSO (Part 1)

Arnold Schoenberg

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Arnold Schoenberg, Los Angeles, 1948

Arnold Schoenberg or Schönberg (German: [ˈaːʁnɔlt ˈʃøːnbɛʁk]; 13 September 1874 – 13 July 1951) was an Austrian composer and painter, associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School. With the rise of the Nazi Party, by 1938 Schoenberg’s works were labelled as degenerate music because he was Jewish (Anon. 1997–2013); he moved to the United States in 1934.

Schoenberg’s approach, both in terms of harmony and development, has been one of the most influential of 20th-century musical thought. Many European and American composers from at least three generations have consciously extended his thinking, whereas others have passionately reacted against it.

Schoenberg was known early in his career for simultaneously extending the traditionally opposed German Romantic styles of Brahms and Wagner. Later, his name would come to personify innovations in atonality (although Schoenberg himself detested that term) that would become the most polemical feature of 20th-century art music. In the 1920s, Schoenberg developed the twelve-tone technique, an influential compositional method of manipulating an ordered series of all twelve notes in the chromatic scale. He also coined the term developing variation and was the first modern composer to embrace ways of developing motifs without resorting to the dominance of a centralized melodic idea.

Schoenberg was also a painter, an important music theorist, and an influential teacher of composition; his students included Alban Berg, Anton Webern, Hanns Eisler, Egon Wellesz, and later John Cage, Lou Harrison, Earl Kim,Leon Kirchner, and other prominent musicians. Many of Schoenberg’s practices, including the formalization of compositional method and his habit of openly inviting audiences to think analytically, are echoed in avant-gardemusical thought throughout the 20th century. His often polemical views of music history and aesthetics were crucial to many significant 20th-century musicologists and critics, including Theodor W. Adorno, Charles Rosen andCarl Dahlhaus, as well as the pianists Artur Schnabel, Rudolf Serkin, Eduard Steuermann and Glenn Gould.

Schoenberg’s archival legacy is collected at the Arnold Schönberg Center in Vienna.

Bogeyman — Prophet — Guardian (Schoenberg documentary): Episode 1: Part 1

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Arnold Schönberg in Payerbach, 1903

Arnold Schoenberg was born into a lower middle-class Jewish family in the Leopoldstadt district (in earlier times a Jewish ghetto) of Vienna, at “Obere Donaustraße 5”. His father Samuel, a native of Bratislava, was ashopkeeper, and his mother Pauline was native of Prague. Arnold was largely self-taught. He took only counterpoint lessons with the composer Alexander von Zemlinsky, who was to become his first brother-in-law (Beaumont 2000, 87).

In his twenties, Schoenberg earned a living by orchestrating operettas, while composing his own works, such as the string sextet Verklärte Nacht (“Transfigured Night”) (1899). He later made an orchestral version of this, which became one of his most popular pieces. Both Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler recognized Schoenberg’s significance as a composer; Strauss when he encountered Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder, and Mahler after hearing several of Schoenberg’s early works.

Strauss turned to a more conservative idiom in his own work after 1909, and at that point dismissed Schoenberg. Mahler adopted him as a protégé and continued to support him, even after Schoenberg’s style reached a point Mahler could no longer understand. Mahler worried about who would look after him after his death. Schoenberg, who had initially despised and mocked Mahler’s music, was converted by the “thunderbolt” of Mahler’s Third Symphony, which he considered a work of genius. Afterward he “spoke of Mahler as a saint” (Stuckenschmidt 1977, 103; Schoenberg 1975, 136).

In 1898 Schoenberg converted to Christianity in the Lutheran church. According to MacDonald (2008, 93) this was partly to strengthen his attachment to Western European cultural traditions, and partly as a means of self-defence “in a time of resurgent anti-Semitism”. In 1933, after long meditation, he returned to Judaism, because he realised that “his racial and religious heritage was inescapable”, and to take up an unmistakable position on the side opposing Nazism. He would self-identify as a member of the Jewish religion later in life (Marquis Who’s Who n.d.).

In October 1901, he married Mathilde Zemlinsky, the sister of the conductor and composer Alexander von Zemlinsky, with whom Schoenberg had been studying since about 1894. Mathilde bore him two children, Gertrud (1902–1947) and Georg (1906–1974). Gertrud would marry Schoenberg’s pupil Felix Greissle in 1921 (Neighbour 2001). During the summer of 1908, his wife Mathilde left him for several months for a young Austrian painter,Richard Gerstl. This period marked a distinct change in Schoenberg’s work. It was during the absence of his wife that he composed “You lean against a silver-willow” (German: Du lehnest wider eine Silberweide), the thirteenth song in the cycle Das Buch der Hängenden Gärten, Op. 15, based on the collection of the same name by the German mystical poet Stefan George. This was the first composition without any reference at all to a key (Stuckenschmidt 1977, 96). Also in this year, he completed one of his most revolutionary compositions, the String Quartet No. 2, whose first two movements, though chromatic in color, use traditional key signatures, yet whose final two movements, also settings of George, daringly weaken the links with traditional tonality. Both movements end on tonic chords, and the work is not fully non-tonal. Breaking with previous string-quartet practice, it incorporates a soprano vocal line.

Schoenberg’s Der Rote Blick (Red Gaze), 1910

Bogeyman — Prophet — Guardian (Schoenberg documentary): Episode 1: Part 2

Bogeyman — Prophet — Guardian (Schoenberg documentary): Episode 1: Part 3

Bogeyman — Prophet — Guardian (Schoenberg documentary): Episode 2: Part 1

Bogeyman — Prophet — Guardian (Schoenberg documentary): Episode 2: Part 2

Bogeyman — Prophet — Guardian (Schoenberg documentary): Episode 2: Part 3

Published on Jun 26, 2013

Final part of the second episode in a two-part series on composer Arnold Schoenberg. Directed by the inimitable Barrie Gavin, 1974.

 

During the summer of 1910, Schoenberg wrote his Harmonielehre (Theory of Harmony, Schoenberg 1922), which remains one of the most influential music-theory books. From about 1911, Schoenberg belonged to a circle of artists and intellectuals who included Lene Schneider-Kainer, Franz Werfel, Herwarth Walden and the latter’s wife, Else Lasker-Schüler.

In 1910 he met Edward Clark, an English music journalist then working in Germany. Clark became his sole English student, and in his later capacity as a producer for the BBC he was responsible for introducing many of Schoenberg’s works, and Schoenberg himself, to Britain (as well as Webern, Berg and others).

Another of his most important works from this atonal or pantonal period is the highly influential Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21, of 1912, a novel cycle of expressionist songs set to a German translation of poems by the Belgian-French poetAlbert Giraud. Utilizing the technique of Sprechstimme, or melodramatically spoken recitation, the work pairs a female vocalist with a small ensemble of five musicians. The ensemble, which is now commonly referred to as the Pierrot ensemble, consists of flute (doubling on piccolo), clarinet (doubling on bass clarinet), violin (doubling on viola), violoncello, speaker, and piano.

Wilhelm Bopp, director of the Vienna Conservatory from 1907, wanted a break from the stale environment personified for him by Robert Fuchs and Hermann Graedener. Having considered many candidates, he offered teaching positions to Schoenberg and Franz Schreker in 1912. At the time Schoenberg lived in Berlin. He was not completely cut off from the Vienna Conservatory, having taught a private theory course a year earlier. He seriously considered the offer, but he declined. Writing afterward to Alban Berg, he cited his “aversion to Vienna” as the main reason for his decision, while contemplating that it might have been the wrong one financially, but having made it he felt content. A couple of months later he wrote to Schreker suggesting that it might have been a bad idea for him as well to accept the teaching position (Hailey 1993, 55–57).

World War I[edit]

Arnold Schoenberg, byEgon Schiele 1917

World War I brought a crisis in his development. Military service disrupted his life when at the age of 42 he was in the army. He was never able to work uninterrupted or over a period of time, and as a result he left many unfinished works and undeveloped “beginnings”. On one occasion, a superior officer demanded to know if he was “this notorious Schoenberg, then”; Schoenberg replied: “Beg to report, sir, yes. Nobody wanted to be, someone had to be, so I let it be me” (Schoenberg 1975, 104) (according to Norman Lebrecht (2001), this is a reference to Schoenberg’s apparent “destiny” as the “Emancipator of Dissonance”).

In what Ross calls an “act of war psychosis,” Schoenberg drew comparisons between Germany’s assault on France and his assault on decadent bourgeois artistic values. In August 1914, while denouncing the music of Bizet,Stravinsky and Ravel, he wrote: “Now comes the reckoning! Now we will throw these mediocre kitschmongers into slavery, and teach them to venerate the German spirit and to worship the German God” (Ross 2007, 60).

The deteriorating relation between contemporary composers and the public led him to found the Society for Private Musical Performances (Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen in German) in Vienna in 1918. He sought to provide a forum in which modern musical compositions could be carefully prepared and rehearsed, and properly performed under conditions protected from the dictates of fashion and pressures of commerce. From its inception through 1921, when it ended because of economic reasons, the Society presented 353 performances to paid members, sometimes at the rate of one per week. During the first year and a half, Schoenberg did not let any of his own works be performed (Rosen 1975, 65). Instead, audiences at the Society’s concerts heard difficult contemporary compositions by Scriabin, Debussy, Mahler, Webern, Berg, Reger, and other leading figures of early 20th-century music (Rosen 1996, 66).

Development of the twelve-tone method[edit]

Arnold Schoenberg, 1927, by Man Ray

Later, Schoenberg was to develop the most influential version of the dodecaphonic (also known as twelve-tone) method of composition, which in French and English was given the alternative name serialism by René Leibowitz andHumphrey Searle in 1947. This technique was taken up by many of his students, who constituted the so-called Second Viennese School. They included Anton Webern, Alban Berg and Hanns Eisler, all of whom were profoundly influenced by Schoenberg. He published a number of books, ranging from his famous Harmonielehre (Theory of Harmony) to Fundamentals of Musical Composition (Schoenberg 1967), many of which are still in print and used by musicians and developing composers.

Schoenberg viewed his development as a natural progression, and he did not deprecate his earlier works when he ventured into serialism. In 1923 he wrote to the Swiss philanthropist Werner Reinhart:

“For the present, it matters more to me if people understand my older works … They are the natural forerunners of my later works, and only those who understand and comprehend these will be able to gain an understanding of the later works that goes beyond a fashionable bare minimum. I do not attach so much importance to being a musical bogey-man as to being a natural continuer of properly-understood good old tradition!” (Stein 1987, 100; quoted in Strimple 2005, 22)

His first wife died in October 1923, and in August of the next year Schoenberg married Gertrud Kolisch (1898–1967), sister of his pupil, the violinist Rudolf Kolisch (Neighbour 2001; Silverman 2010, 223). She wrote the libretto for Schoenberg’s one-act opera Von heute auf morgen under the pseudonym Max Blonda. At her request Schoenberg’s (ultimately unfinished) piece, Die Jakobsleiter was prepared for performance by Schoenberg’s studentWinfried Zillig. After her husband’s death in 1951 she founded Belmont Music Publishers devoted to the publication of his works (Shoaf 1992, 64). Arnold used the notes G and E (German: Es, i.e., “S”) for “Gertrud Schoenberg”, in the Suite, for septet, Op. 29 (1925) (MacDonald 2008, 216) (see musical cryptogram).

Following the 1924 death of composer Ferruccio Busoni, who had served as Director of a Master Class in Composition at the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin, Schoenberg was appointed to this post the next year, but because of health problems was unable to take up his post until 1926. Among his notable students during this period were the composers Roberto Gerhard, Nikos Skalkottas, and Josef Rufer.

Along with his twelve-tone works, 1930 marks Schoenberg’s return to tonality, with numbers 4 and 6 of the Six Pieces for Male Chorus Op.35, the other pieces being dodecaphonic (Auner 1999, 85).

Third Reich and move to America[edit]

Schoenberg continued in his post until the Nazis came to power under Adolf Hitler in 1933. While vacationing in France, he was warned that returning to Germany would be dangerous. Schoenberg formally reclaimed membership in the Jewish religion at a Paris synagogue, then traveled with his family to the United States (Friedrich 1986, 31). However, this happened only after his attempts to move to Britain came to nothing. He enlisted the aid of his former student and great champion Edward Clark, now a senior producer with the BBC, in helping him gain a British teaching post or even a British publisher, but to no avail.

His first teaching position in the United States was at the Malkin Conservatory in Boston. He moved to Los Angeles, where he taught at the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles, both of which later named a music building on their respective campuses Schoenberg Hall (UCLA Department of Music [2008]; University of Southern California Thornton School of Music [2008]). He was appointed visiting professor at UCLA in 1935 on the recommendation of Otto Klemperer, music director and conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra[citation needed]; and the next year was promoted to professor at a salary of $5,100 per year, which enabled him in either May 1936 or 1937 to buy a Spanish Revival house at 116 North Rockingham in Brentwood Park, near the UCLA campus, for $18,000. This address was directly across the street from Shirley Temple‘s house, and there he befriended fellow composer (and tennis partner) George Gershwin. The Schoenbergs were able to employ domestic help and began holding Sunday afternoon gatherings that were known for excellent coffee and Viennese pastries. Frequent guests included Otto Klemperer (who studied composition privately with Schoenberg beginning in April 1936), Edgard Varèse, Joseph Achron, Louis Gruenberg, Ernst Toch, and, on occasion, well-known actors such as Harpo Marx and Peter Lorre (Crawford 2009, 116; Feisst 2011, 6; Laskin 2008; MacDonald 2008, 79; Schoenberg 1975, 514; Starr 1997, 383; Watkins 2010, 114). Composers Leonard Rosenman and George Tremblay studied with Schoenberg at this time.

After his move to the United States in 1934 (Steinberg 1995, 463), the composer used the alternative spelling of his surname Schoenberg, rather than Schönberg, in what he called “deference to American practice” (Foss 1951, 401), though according to one writer he first made the change a year earlier (Ross 2007, 45).

He lived there the rest of his life, but at first he was not settled. In around 1934, he applied for a position of teacher of harmony and theory at the New South Wales State Conservatorium in Sydney. The Director, Edgar Bainton, rejected him for being Jewish and for having “modernist ideas and dangerous tendencies”. Schoenberg also at one time explored the idea of emigrating to New Zealand. His secretary and student (and nephew of Schoenberg’s mother-in-law Henriette Kolisch), was Richard (Dick) Hoffmann Jr, Viennese-born but who lived in New Zealand 1935–47, and Schoenberg had since childhood been fascinated with islands, and with New Zealand in particular, possibly because of the beauty of the postage stamps issued by that country (Plush 1996).

Stroop Report original caption: “Smoking out the Jews and bandits.” –Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

During this final period, he composed several notable works, including the difficult Violin Concerto, Op. 36 (1934/36), the Kol Nidre, Op. 39, for chorus and orchestra (1938), the Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte, Op. 41 (1942), the haunting Piano Concerto, Op. 42 (1942), and his memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46 (1947). He was unable to complete his opera Moses und Aron (1932/33), which was one of the first works of its genre written completely using dodecaphonic composition. Along with twelve-tone music, Schoenberg also returned to tonality with works during his last period, like the Suite for Strings in G major (1935), theChamber Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 38 (begun in 1906, completed in 1939), the Variations on a Recitative in D minor, Op. 40 (1941). During this period his notable students included John Cage and Lou Harrison.

In 1941 he became a citizen of the United States.

Later years and death[edit]

Schoenberg’s grave in theZentralfriedhof, Vienna

Schoenberg’s superstitious nature may have triggered his death. The composer had triskaidekaphobia (the fear of the number 13), and according to friend Katia Mann, he feared he would die during a year that was a multiple of 13 (quoted in Lebrecht 1985, 294). He dreaded his sixty-fifth birthday in 1939 so much that a friend asked the composer and astrologer Dane Rudhyar to prepare Schoenberg’s horoscope. Rudhyar did this and told Schoenberg that the year was dangerous, but not fatal.

But in 1950, on his seventy-sixth birthday, an astrologer wrote Schoenberg a note warning him that the year was a critical one: 7 + 6 = 13 (Nuria Schoenberg-Nono, quoted in Lebrecht 1985, 295). This stunned and depressed the composer, for up to that point he had only been wary of multiples of 13 and never considered adding the digits of his age. He died on Friday, 13 July 1951, shortly before midnight. Schoenberg had stayed in bed all day, sick, anxious and depressed. His wife Gertrud reported in a telegram to her sister-in-law Ottilie the next day that Arnold died at 11:45 pm, 15 minutes before midnight (Stuckenschmidt 1977, 520). In a letter to Ottilie dated 4 August 1951, Gertrud explained, “About a quarter to twelve I looked at the clock and said to myself: another quarter of an hour and then the worst is over. Then the doctor called me. Arnold’s throat rattled twice, his heart gave a powerful beat and that was the end” (Stuckenschmidt 1977, 521).

Schoenberg’s ashes were later interred at the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna on 6 June 1974 (McCoy 1999, 15).

Music[edit]

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Played by the Carmel Quartet with soprano Rona Israel-Kolatt, in 2007

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In Schoenberg’s Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31tone row form P1’s second half has the same notes, in a different order, as the first half of I10: “Thus it is possible to employ P1 and I10 simultaneously and in parallel motion without causing note doubling” (Leeuw 2005, 154–55). About this sound Play 

Featuring hexachordal combinatoriality between its primary forms, P1 and I6, Schoenberg’s Piano Piece, Op. 33a tone row About this sound Play  contains threeperfect fifths, which is the relation between P1 and I6, and a source of contrast between, “accumulations of 5ths”, and, “generally more complex simultaneity” (Leeuw 2005, 155–57). For example group A consists of B-F-C-B while the, “more blended”, group B consists of A-F-C-D

Schoenberg’s significant compositions in the repertory of modern art music extend over a period of more than 50 years. Traditionally they are divided into three periods though this division is arguably arbitrary as the music in each of these periods is considerably varied. The idea that his twelve-tone period “represents a stylistically unified body of works is simply not supported by the musical evidence” (Haimo 1990, 4), and important musical characteristics—especially those related to motivic development—transcend these boundaries completely. The first of these periods, 1894–1907, is identified in the legacy of the high-Romantic composers of the late nineteenth century, as well as with “expressionist” movements in poetry and art. The second, 1908–1922, is typified by the abandonment of key centers, a move often described (though not by Schoenberg) as “free atonality”. The third, from 1923 onward, commences with Schoenberg’s invention of dodecaphonic, or “twelve-tone” compositional method. Schoenberg’s best-known students, Hanns Eisler,Alban Berg, and Anton Webern, followed Schoenberg faithfully through each of these intellectual and aesthetic transitions, though not without considerable experimentation and variety of approach.

First period: Late Romanticism[edit]

Beginning with songs and string quartets written around the turn of the century, Schoenberg’s concerns as a composer positioned him uniquely among his peers, in that his procedures exhibited characteristics of both Brahms and Wagner, who for most contemporary listeners, were considered polar opposites, representing mutually exclusive directions in the legacy of German music. Schoenberg’s Six Songs, Op. 3 (1899–1903), for example, exhibit a conservative clarity of tonal organization typical of Brahms and Mahler, reflecting an interest in balanced phrases and an undisturbed hierarchy of key relationships. However, the songs also explore unusually bold incidental chromaticism, and seem to aspire to a Wagnerian “representational” approach to motivic identity. The synthesis of these approaches reaches an apex in his Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4 (1899), a programmatic work for string sextet that develops several distinctive “leitmotif“-like themes, each one eclipsing and subordinating the last. The only motivic elements that persist throughout the work are those that are perpetually dissolved, varied, and re-combined, in a technique, identified primarily in Brahms’s music, that Schoenberg called “developing variation”. Schoenberg’s procedures in the work are organized in two ways simultaneously; at once suggesting a Wagnerian narrative of motivic ideas, as well as a Brahmsian approach to motivic development and tonal cohesion.

Second period: Free atonality[edit]

Schoenberg’s music from 1908 onward experiments in a variety of ways with the absence of traditional keys or tonal centers. His first explicitly atonal piece was the second string quartet, Op. 10, with soprano. The last movement of this piece has no key signature, marking Schoenberg’s formal divorce from diatonic harmonies. Other important works of the era include his song cycle Das Buch der Hängenden Gärten, Op. 15 (1908–1909), his Five Orchestral Pieces, Op. 16 (1909), the influential Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21 (1912), as well as his dramatic Erwartung, Op. 17 (1909). The urgency of musical constructions lacking in tonal centers, or traditional dissonance-consonance relationships, however, can be traced as far back as his Chamber Symphony No. 1, Op. 9 (1906), a work remarkable for its tonal development of whole-tone andquartal harmony, and its initiation of dynamic and unusual ensemble relationships, involving dramatic interruption and unpredictable instrumental allegiances; many of these features would typify the timbre-oriented chamber music aesthetic of the coming century.

Third period: Twelve-tone and tonal works[edit]

In the early 1920s, he worked at evolving a means of order that would make his musical texture simpler and clearer. This resulted in the “method of composing with twelve tones which are related only with one another” (Schoenberg 1984, 218), in which the twelve pitches of the octave (unrealized compositionally) are regarded as equal, and no one note or tonality is given the emphasis it occupied in classical harmony. He regarded it as the equivalent in music of Albert Einstein‘s discoveries in physics. Schoenberg announced it characteristically, during a walk with his friend Josef Rufer, when he said, “I have made a discovery which will ensure the supremacy of German music for the next hundred years” (Stuckenschmidt 1977, 277). This period included the Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31 (1928); Piano Pieces, Opp. 33a & b (1931), and the Piano Concerto, Op. 42 (1942). Contrary to his reputation for strictness, Schoenberg’s use of the technique varied widely according to the demands of each individual composition. Thus the structure of his unfinished opera Moses und Aron is unlike that of his Fantasy for Violin and Piano, Op. 47 (1949).

Ten features of Schoenberg’s mature twelve-tone practice are characteristic, interdependent, and interactive (Haimo 1990, 41):

  1. Hexachordal inversional combinatoriality
  2. Aggregates
  3. Linear set presentation
  4. Partitioning
  5. Isomorphic partitioning
  6. Invariants
  7. Hexachordal levels
  8. Harmony, “consistent with and derived from the properties of the referential set”
  9. Metre, established through “pitch-relational characteristics”
  10. Multidimensional set presentations

Reception and legacy[edit]

First works[edit]

After some early difficulties, Schoenberg began to win public acceptance with works such as the tone poem Pelleas und Melisande at a Berlin performance in 1907. At the Vienna première of the Gurre-Lieder in 1913, he received an ovation that lasted a quarter of an hour and culminated with Schoenberg’s being presented with a laurel crown (Rosen 1996, 4; Stuckenschmidt 1977, 184).

Nonetheless, much of his work was not well received. His Chamber Symphony No. 1 premièred unremarkably in 1907. However, when it was played again in the Skandalkonzert on 31 March 1913, (which also included works by Berg, Webern and Zemlinsky), “one could hear the shrill sound of door keys among the violent clapping, and in the second gallery the first fight of the evening began.” Later in the concert, during a performance of the Altenberg Lieder by Berg, fighting broke out after Schoenberg interrupted the performance to threaten removal by the police of any troublemakers (Stuckenschmidt 1977, 185).

Twelve-tone period[edit]

According to Ethan Haimo, understanding of Schoenberg’s twelve-tone work has been difficult to achieve owing in part to the “truly revolutionary nature” of his new system, misinformation disseminated by some early writers about the system’s “rules” and “exceptions” that bear “little relation to the most significant features of Schoenberg’s music”, the composer’s secretiveness, and the widespread unavailability of his sketches and manuscripts until the late 1970s. During his life, he was “subjected to a range of criticism and abuse that is shocking even in hindsight” (Haimo 1990, 2–3).

Watschenkonzert, caricature in Die Zeit from 6 April 1913

Schoenberg criticized Igor Stravinsky‘s new neoclassical trend in the poem “Der neue Klassizismus” (in which he derogates Neoclassicism, and obliquely refers to Stravinsky as “Der kleine Modernsky”), which he used as text for the third of his Drei Satiren, Op. 28 (Schonberg 1970, 503).

Schoenberg’s serial technique of composition with twelve notes became one of the most central and polemical issues among American and European musicians during the mid- to late-twentieth century. Beginning in the 1940s and continuing to the present day, composers such as Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luigi Nono and Milton Babbitt have extended Schoenberg’s legacy in increasingly radical directions. The major cities of the United States (e.g., Los Angeles, New York, and Boston) have had historically significant performances of Schoenberg’s music, with advocates such as Babbitt in New York and the Franco-American conductor-pianist Jacques-Louis Monod. Schoenberg’s students have been influential teachers at major American universities: Leonard Stein at USC, UCLA and CalArts; Richard Hoffmann at Oberlin; Patricia Carpenter at Columbia; and Leon Kirchner and Earl Kim at Harvard. Musicians associated with Schoenberg have had a profound influence upon contemporary music performance practice in the USA (e.g., Louis Krasner, Eugene Lehner and Rudolf Kolisch at the New England Conservatory of Music; Eduard Steuermann and Felix Galimir at the Juilliard School). In Europe, the work of Hans Keller, Luigi Rognoni, and René Leibowitz has had a measurable influence in spreading Schoenberg’s musical legacy outside of Germany and Austria.

Criticism[edit]

In the 1920s, Ernst Krenek criticized a certain unnamed brand of contemporary music (presumably Schoenberg and his disciples) as “the self-gratification of an individual who sits in his studio and invents rules according to which he then writes down his notes.” Schoenberg took offense at this masturbatory metaphor and answered that Krenek “wishes for only whores as listeners” (Ross 2007, 156).

Allen Shawn has noted that, given Schoenberg’s living circumstances, his work is usually defended rather than listened to, and that it is difficult to experience it apart from the ideology that surrounds it (Taruskin 2004, 7). Richard Taruskin asserts that Schoenberg committed what he terms a “poietic fallacy”, the conviction that what matters most (or all that matters) in a work of art is the making of it, the maker’s input, and that the listener’s pleasure must not be the composer’s primary objective (Taruskin 2004, 10). Taruskin also criticizes the ideas of measuring Schoenberg’s value as a composer in terms of his influence on other artists, the overrating of technical innovation, and the restriction of criticism to matters of structure and craft while derogating other approaches as vulgarian (Taruskin 2004, 12).[clarification needed]

Personality and extramusical interests[edit]

Arnold Schoenberg, self-portrait, 1910

Schoenberg was a painter of considerable ability, whose pictures were considered good enough to exhibit alongside those of Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky (Stuckenschmidt 1977, 142) as fellow members of the expressionist Blue Rider group.

He was interested in Hopalong Cassidy films, which Paul Buhle and David Wagner (2002, v–vii) attribute to the films’ left-wing screenwriters—a rather odd claim in light of Schoenberg’s statement that he was a “bourgeois” turnedmonarchist (Stuckenschmidt 1977, 551–52).

Schoenberg experienced triskaidekaphobia (the fear of the number 13), which possibly began in 1908 with the composition of the thirteenth song of the song cycle Das Buch der Hängenden Gärten Op. 15 (Stuckenschmidt 1977, 96).Moses und Aron was originally spelled Moses und Aaron, but when he realised this contained 13 letters, he changed it[citation needed]. His superstitious nature may have triggered his death. According to friend Katia Mann, he feared he would die during a year that was a multiple of 13 (quoted in Lebrecht 1985, 294).

Francis Schaeffer in his book HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? noted on pages 200-203:

Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) is perhaps the clearest example in the United States of painting deliberately in order to make the statements that all is chance. He placed canvases horizontally on the floor and dripped paint on them from suspended cans swinging over them. Thus, his paintings were a product of chance. But wait a minute! Is there not an order in the lines of paint on his canvases? Yes, because it was not really chance shaping his canvases! The universe is not a random universe; it has order. Therefore, as the dripping paint from the swinging cans moved over the canvases, the lines of paint were following the order of the universe itself. The universe is not what these painters said it is.

The third way the idea spread was through music. This came about first in classical music, though later many of the same elements came into popular music, such as rock. In classical music two streams are involved: the German and the French.

The first shift in German music came with the last Quartets of Beethoven, composed in 1825 and 1826. These certainly were not what we would call “modern,” but they were a shift from the music prior to them. Leonard Bernstein (1918-) speaks of Beethoven as the “new artist–the artist as priest and prophet.” Joseph Machlis (1906-) says in INTRODUCTION TO COMTEMPORARY MUSIC (1961), “Schoenberg took his point of departure from the final Quartets of Beethoven.” And Stravinsky said, “These Quartets are my highest articles of musical belief (which is a longer word for love, whatever else), as indispensable to the ways and meaning of art, as a musician of my era thinks of art and has to learn it, as temperature is to life.”

Beethoven was followed by Wagner (1813-1883); then came Gustav Mahler (1860-1911). Leonard Bernstein in the NORTON LECTURES at Harvard University in 1973 says of Mahler and especially Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, “Ours is the century of death and Mahler is its musical prophet…If Mahler knew this (personal death, death of tonality, and the death of culture as it had been) and his message is so clear, how do we knowing it too, manage to survive? Why are we still here, struggling to go on? We are now face to face with the truly ultimate ambiguity of all…We learn to accept our mortality; yet we persist in our search for immortality…All this ultimate ambiguity is to be heard in the finale of Mahler’s Ninth.” Notice how closely this parallels Nietzsche’s poem on page 193. (Oh Man! Take heed, of what the dark midnight says: I slept, I slept–from deep dreams I awoke: The world is deep–and more profound than day would have thought. Profound in her pain–Pleasure–more profound than pain of heart, Woe speaks; pass on. But all pleasure seeks eternity–a deep and profound eternity.) This is modern man’s position. He has come to a position of the death of man in his own mind, but he cannot live with it, for it does not describe what he is.

Then came Schoenberg (1874-1951), and with him we are into the music which was a vehicle for modern thought. Schoenberg totally rejected the past tradition in music and invented the “12 tone row.” This was “modern” in that there was perpetual variation with NO RESOLUTION. This stands in sharp contrast to Bach who, on his biblical base, had much diversity but always resolution. Bach’s music had resolution because as a Christian he believed that there will be resolution both for eah individual life and for history. As the music which came out of the biblical teaching of the Reformation was shaped by that world-view, so the world-view of modern man shapes modern music.

Among Schoenberg’s pupils were Allen Berg (1885-1935), Anton Webern (1883-1945), and John Cage (1912-). Each of these carried on this line of nonresolution in his own way. Donald Jay Grout (1902-) in A HISTORY OF WESTERN MUSIC speaks of Schoenberg’s and Berg’s subject matter in the modern world: “…isolated, helpless in the grip of forces he does not understand, prey to inner conflict, tension, anxiety and fear.” One can understand that a music of nonresolution is a fitting expression of the place to which modern man has come.

In INTRODUCTION TO CONTEMPORARY MUSIC Joseph Machlis says of Webern that his way of placing the weightier sounds on the offbeat and perpetually varying the rhythmic phrase imparts to his music its indefinable quality of “hovering suspension.” Machlis adds that Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-), and the German Cologne school in general, take up from Webern with the formation of electronic  music which “generates, transforms and manipulates sounds electronically.” Stockhausen produced the first published score of electronic music in his ELECTRONIC STUDIES. A part of his concern was with the element of chance in composition. As we shall see, this ties into the work of John Cage, whom we will study in more detail below. But first let us look at the French stream.

The French shift began with Claude Debussy (1862-1918). His direction was not so much that of nonresolution but of FRAGMENTATION. Many of us enjoy and admire much of Debussy’s music, but he opened the door to FRAGMENTATION in music and has influenced most of the composers since, not only in classical music but in popular music and rock as well. Even the music which is one of the glories of America–black jazz and black spirituals–was gradually infiltrated.

It is worth reemphasizing that this FRAGMENTATION in music is parallel to the FRAGMENTATION which occurred in painting. An again let us say that these were not just changes of technique; they expressed a world-view and became a vehicle for carrying that world-view to masses of people which the bare philosophic writings never would have touched.

John Cage provides perhaps the clearest example of what is involved in the shift of music. Cage believed the universe is a universe of chance. He tried carrying this out with great consistency. For example, at times he flipped coins to decide what the music should be. At other times he erected a machine that led an orchestra by chance motions so that the orchestra would not know what was coming next. Thus there was no order. Or again, he placed two conductors leading the same orchestra, separated from each other by a partition, so that what resulted was utter confusion. There is a close tie-in again to painting; in 1947 Cage made a composition he called MUSIC FOR MARCEL DUCHAMP. But the sound produced by his music was composed only of silence (interrupted only by random environmental sounds), but as soon as he used his chance methods sheer noise was the outcome.

But Cage also showed that one cannot live on such a base, that the chance concept of the universe does not fit the universe as it is. Cage is an expert in mycology, the science of mushrooms. And he himself said, “I became aware that if I approached mushrooms in the spirit of my chance operation, I would die shortly.” Mushroom picking must be carefully discriminative. His theory of the universe does not fit the universe that exists.

All of this music by chance, which results in noise, makes a strange contrast to the airplanes sitting in our airports or slicing through our skies. An airplane is carefully formed; it is orderly (and many would also think it beautiful). This is in sharp contrast to the intellectualized art which states that the universe is chance. Why is the airplane carefully formed and orderly, and what Cage produced utter noise? Simply because an airplane must fit the orderly flow lines of the universe if it is to fly!

Sir Archibald Russel (1905-) was the British designer for the Concorde airliner. In a NEWSWEEK: European Edition interview (February 16, 1976) he was asked : “Many people find that the Concorde is a work of art in its design. Did you consider its aesthetic appearance when you were designing it?” His answer was, “When one designs an airplane, he must stay as close as possible to the laws of nature. You are really playing with the laws of nature and trying not to offend them. It so happens that our ideas of beauty are those of nature. That’s why I doubt that the Russian supersonic airplane is a crib of ours. The Russians have the same basic phenomena imposed on them by nature as we do.”

Cage’s music and the world-view for which it is the vehicle do not fit the universe that is. Someone might here bring in Einstein, Werner Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty and quantum, but we have considered them on page 162, and so will not repeat the discussion here. The universe is not what Cage in his music and Pollock in his painting say it is. And we must add that Cage’s music does not fit what people are, either. It has had to become increasingly spectacular to keep interest; for example, a nude cellist has played Cage’s music under water.

A further question is: Is this art really art? Is it not rather a bare philosophic, intellectual statement, separated from the fullness of who people are and the fullness of what the universe is? The more it tends to be only an intellectual statement, rather than a work of art, the more it becomes anti-art

Q&A with Vincent Katz about Black Mountain College

Happy Wednesday! Here’s our Q&A with Vincent Katz, editor of  Black Mountain College: Experiment in Art. Unavailable for several years, this generously illustrated book documents the most successful experiment in the history of American arts education. Vincent Katz is a poet, translator, and curator based in New York City.

 

What inspired you to edit a book about Black Mountain College?

I was asked by Juan Manuel Bonet, the Director of the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, if I would be interested in curating an exhibition on Black Mountainfor the museum. I had curated the first museum retrospective of Rudy Burckhardt’s work for the Institute of Modern Art in Valencia, when Bonet had been the Director there. I said yes to the Black Mountain idea instantly, though I must admit that my knowledge of the school then was much less than it has become. With Bonet’s support, we put on an exhibition of more than 300 objects, including paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, artist’s books, manuscripts, films, and audio. MIT published the English version of the catalogue, and it is on a scale commensurate with the exhibition, including four essays by specialists and over 500 illustrations, many in color.

 

Has your perception of Black Mountain College’s influence changed in the years since the first edition of this book came out in 2003?

I have found that Black Mountain infiltrates itself into almost any discussion of modern and contemporary art, from the early history of the Bauhaus to the work of contemporary artists today. I have noticed many people referring to Black Mountain in recent years. This is especially true in the poetry world, where the influence of poets such as Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, and others continues to be central to the most innovative practices in poetry. In the world of visual arts, the wide range of artists who taught and studied at Black Mountain—from Josef and Anni Albers to Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Susan Weil, Dorothea Rockburne, and a multitude of others—is such that one constantly finds references to people who either studied with these artists, knew them, or were influenced by their work.

 

Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, Robert Rauschenberg, and Cy Twombly, among several others, were all connected to Black Mountain College. How did such a small school (fewer than 1,200 students in 23 years) attract such a high caliber of artistic talent?

The school had a unique approach to education, and the arts program was central from the beginning. There was no governing board, so the teachers, with input from the students, had entire decision-making powers. Students would create their own curricula, based on the availability of teachers in their chosen areas. There were ample opportunities for collaborative work and cross-fertilization. Dorothea Rockburne went to study art but found some of her most fruitful studies at Black Mountain in mathematics. Sculptors studied poetry, poets were involved in dance and pottery. The printing press played a central role, with teachers like M.C. Richards and Charles Olson encouraging students to take the reins and publish their own work. Jonathan Williams, who came to study with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind, ended up being, in addition to an excellent portrait photographer, one of the most important poetry publishers of his time. Word somehow got out, and the most adventurous students were attracted to the place.

 

Why was this school so successful and, alternatively, unsuccessful?

The success of the school was based on its freedom from conventional supervision—artists had a significant say in how the curriculum was designed and implemented. This was true from the school’s very first years, when Josef Albers was instrumental in establishing its pedagogical basis, and it was true in the school’s final years, when Charles Olson took the lead in offering as challenging a curriculum as he could devise. The perils were financial and organizational. Without a governing board, the school was always strapped for cash and often did not know if it could continue. Teachers often worked for room and board, an indication of their willingness to sacrifice for the educational ideals the school embodied.  Finally, the organizational challenges become too great, as the numbers of students dwindled. The school started selling off pieces of the farm that had always given it part of its identity, and ultimately it had to close.

 

Do you think this level of experimental art still happens today?

I believe that the same level of experimental art does happen today, though it is rare. Rarer still is an educational institution that will sacrifice everything for its ideals, thus bringing students into the creative nexus of experimentation and collaboration.

 

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ART DOCUMENTATION • Volume 22, Number 2 • 2003

Alternative Education

BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE: EXPERIMENT IN ART /

Edited by Vincent Katz.–Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press,

March 2003.–329 p.” ill.–ISBN 0-262-11-279-5

(cl., alk. paper):  $75.00

Seventy years after its formation, the educational experiment embodied in Black Mountain College still holds fascination for those seeking to discern the wellsprings of American art, music, and literature in the twentieth century.  This generously endowed book accompanied the exhibition Black Mountain College: Una Aventura Americana, curated by Vincent Katz, at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid from October 28, 2002 to January 13, 2003.  Katz, a poet and critic, also contributed the book’s longest and most substantive essay, profiling sixty-five renowned painters, sculptors, photographers, and fiber artists who passed through Black Mountain College as faculty or students.  Drawing on recent interviews as well as documentary sources, Katz characterizes the College’s impact on each artist’s development.  he also discusses the innovative artistic interactions during the late 1940s that were generated by the presence of Buckminster Fuller and John Cage on campus.  Although Katz describes the educational and cultural forces that led to the school’s founding in North Carolina in 1933, he neither provides a comprehensive history of the college nor does he explore the college’s demise in 1956.  For this, researchers need to turn to the definitive monograph The Arts at Black Mountain College by Mary Emma Harris (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987) that has recently been reprinted.  Harris provides the historical and scholarly framework that is lacking in Black Mountain College: Experiment in Art; she includes a roster of faculty and students, a comprehensive bibliography, and scores of documentary photographs.  However, Harris’s book reproduces only a handful of art works in color, whereas half of the 470 illustrations in the new book are in color.  Katz has made a concerted effort to include several examples of each artist’s work, often selecting unfamiliar pieces that were created during the artist’s tenure at Black Mountain, many of which are still in the artist’s possession.  Unfortunately, none of the illustrations are referred to in the text.

The book’s second essay is by Martin Brody, a composer and music professor at Wellesley College.  Brody takes one event, Black Mountain’s 1944 Summer Music Institute celebrating Arnold Schoenberg’s eightieth birthday, and traces its impact on the musical and cultural landscape of the United States.

Kevin Power, chair of American Literature at the Universidad de Allocate, contributes the book’s third essay, an impressionistic accounting of the short-lived literary journal Black Mountain Review (1953-57).  Under the editorship of poet Robert Creeley, the Black Mountain Review gained a reputation as an experimental forum where the poetics of American experience and language were explored.

The final essay is Robert Creeley’s eloquent reminiscence of Charles Olson, the expansive poet who served as Black Mountain’s Rector during the College’s final years.  Creeley describes Olson’s impact on the College and perceptively characterizes his mentor’s energy, focus, and intensity.

Three previously unpublished poems by Olson, Creeley and John Wieners complete the book by conveying a bit of the spirit and vitality that characterized Black Mountain.  Regrettably, the poems are not indexed or referenced by name in the Table of Contents.

The book’s scholarly apparatus leaves much to be desired.  The two-page bibliography cites only major publications on the College and books by and about the most well known faculty members.  This index, limited to personal names, is similarly inadequate.  Scholars will continue to rely on the extensive bibliographies in Harris’s The Arts at Black Mountain College, as well as historian Martin Duberman’s Black Mountain College: An Exploration in Community (New York, NY: Dutton, 1972).

This book is a welcome complement to the available literature on Black Mountain College because it focuses on the creative output of specific influential artists and includes abundant visual documentation.  It is most appropriate for the scholar or graduate student who already has some familiarity with Black Mountain College and with the cultural milieu of the United States in the mid-twentieth century.

Janis Ekdahl

New York, NY

 

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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)

 

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

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USA: Poetry: Robert Duncan and John Wieners (1965) by Richard O. Moore

Legend of Black Mountain

ROBERT DUNCAN AT BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE

Robert Duncan 1959, photo © Patricia Jordan

The poet Robert Duncan came to teach at Black Mountain in 1956, very near the end of the extraordinary experiment in art and learning founded back in 1933. But he actually spent a very brief moment at BMC as a student in 1938. He later recalled,

I had not been there since sometime in 1938 when, having written from Berkeley I received an acceptance as a student and, as I remember, a part scholarship, and, precariously, set out, arriving there late one night, only to be turned away after the following day, firmly, with the notification by the instructor who had welcomed me that I was found to be emotionally unfit. Was it after the heated argument I got into the morning of that day concerning the Spanish Civil War? In my anarchist convictions, the Madrid government seemd to me much the enemy as Franco was. (1)

When Duncan returned in 1956, Charles Olson was rector of the college. Olson was also deeply engaged in letter correspondence with Duncan, who viewed Olson as a groundbreaking influence. He vowed to follow Olson into new activities of poetry, signaled by Olson’s famous essay on “projective verse,” first published in 1950. In Duncan’s “The H.D. Book” – a legendary collection of writings started in 1959, yet only properly published in book form in 2011 by University of California Press – he draws on transformative experiences under the stars, naming constellations, to summon the impact of Olson and Black Mountain:

The figure of the giant hunter in the sky brings with it, as often, the creative genius of Charles Olson for me. Since the appearance of Origin I a decade ago, my vision of what the poem is to do has been transformed, reorganized around a constellation of new poets – Olson, Denise Levertov, Robert Creeley – in which Olson’s work takes the lead for me. This man, himself a “giant’ – six foot seven or so – has been an outrider, my own Orion.
It was the same time of year, with Orion overhead, in 1955 (2), when Olson read aloud to Jess and me the beginnings of a new sequence of poems, O’Ryan. The scene in the bare room at Black Mountain with its cold and the blazing winter sky at the window springs up as I write. The fugitive hero of that sequence was drawn from Robert Creeley [.] (3)

At Black Mountain, Duncan taught poetry and theatre. In fact, as part of Olson’s plan to create a ‘college on wheels’ after the closure of the North Carolina campus, Duncan undertook establishing a Black Mountain theatre company in San Francisco. Truly, it was in Northern California that Duncan began to develope his unique, prophetic voice as a poet in the 1940s. He was an integral part of the ‘Berkeley Rennaissance’ and the Bay Area arts scene, along with his partner, the artist Jess Collins. But his activities at Black Mountain brought him into contact with ideas and pedagogical practices he could not have picked up anywhere else. For instance, Josef Albers’s teaching gave Duncan a clear example:

I just had what would be anybody’s idea of what Albers must have been doing. You knew that [Albers’s students] had color theory, and that they did a workshop sort of approach, and that they didn’t aim at a finished painting … I thought “Well, that’s absolutely right”… I think we had five weeks of vowels …and syllables … Numbers enter into poetry as they do in all time things, measurements. But … [with] Albers … it’s not only the color, but it’s the interrelationships of space and numbers. (4)

It was also at Black Mountain that Duncan completed many of the poems later collected in what is perhaps his most important book, “The Opening of the Field” (1960). The title refers clearly to Olson’s idea of ‘composition by field,’ and a poetics based on the breath rather than conventional verse forms. With the additional influence of Jess’s collage works, Duncan pushed Olson’s ideas even further, envisioning the poem as a ‘grand collage’ in which any and all activities of the poet – aesthetic, intellectual, visual, emotional, sexual, pedagogical, etc. – would interact. In what is probably Duncan’s most widely read poem from “The Opening of the Field”, he offers a stirring vision of this new space open for the poet and poetry:

‘Often I am permitted to Return to a Meadow’

as if it were a scene made-up by the mind,
that is not mine, but is a made place,

that is mine, it is so near to the heart,
an eternal pasture folded in all thought
so that there is a hall therein

that is a made place, created by light
wherefrom the shadows that are forms fall.

Jonathan Creasy
Trinity College Dublin / New Dublin Press

(1) Duncan, Robert. ‘Black Mountain College,’ March 1955. Robert Duncan Papers. Quoted in Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov: The Poetry of Politics, The Politics of Poetry. ed. Albert Gelpi and Robert J. Bertholf. Stanford University Press, 2006. p. 7
(2) Duncan and Jess visited Olson at BMC for one evening in 1955, before Duncan returned to teach in 1956.
(3) Duncan, Robert. The H.D. Book. University of California Press, 2011. p. 204
(4) Jarnot, Lisa. Robert Duncan, The Ambassador from Venus. University of California Press, 2012. p. 154

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the 17th post I look at the founder Ted Dreier and his strength as a fundraiser that make the dream of Black Mountain College possible. In the 18th post I look at the life of the famous San Francisco poet Robert Duncan who was both a student at Black Mountain College in 1933 and a professor in 1956.

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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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1919–1988

Robert DuncanHarry Redl

Described by Kenneth Rexroth as “one of the most accomplished, one of the most influential” of the postwar American poets, Robert Duncan was an important part of both the Black Mountain school of poetry, led by Charles Olson, and the San Francisco Renaissance, whose other members included poetsJack Spicer and Robin Blaser. A distinctive voice in American poetry, Duncan’s idiosyncratic poetics drew on myth, occultism, religion—including the theosophical tradition in which he was raised—and innovative writing practices such as projective verse and composition by field. During his lifetime, critics such as M.L. Rosenthal heralded him as “the most intellectual of our poets from the point of view of the effect upon him of a wide, critically intelligent reading.” Duncan’s work drew on a wide range of references, including Homer, Dante, and the work of modernist poets such as H.D. His many books of poetry include Heavenly City Earthly City (1947), The Opening of the Field(1960), Roots and Branches (1964), A Book of Resemblances (1966), Bending the Bow(1968), and, after a 15-year publishing hiatus, the influential volumes Ground Work I: Before the War (1984) and Ground Work II: In the Dark (1987). His Selected Poems(1993) was published posthumously, as was his volume of collected writings, and personal tribute to the work of H.D., The H.D. Book (2011). A decades-long project that distills much of Duncan’s thinking on poetry, modernism, and the role of the occult in the imagination, The Nation’s critic Ange Mlinko described The H.D. Book as a “palimpsest.” Mlinko noted the importance of book for being “not only revisited and restarted many times over the years, but incorporating different sources from different points in time… Duncan’s roving eye for patterns consistently saw relationships between the new science of his day and the ancient wisdom of the poets.”

Duncan was a syncretist possessing “a bridge-building, time-binding, and space-binding imagination” wrote Stephen Stepanchev in American Poetry since 1945. A typical Duncan poem, accordingly, is like a collage, “a compositional field where anything might enter: a prose quotation, a catalogue, a recipe, a dramatic monologue, a diatribe,” Davidson explained. The poems draw sources and materials together into one dense fabric. Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Jim Harrison called the structure of a typical Duncan poem multi-layered and four-dimensional (“moving through time with the poet”), and compared it to “a block of weaving… Bending the Bow is for the strenuous, the hyperactive reader of poetry; to read Duncan with any immediate grace would require Norman O. Brown’s knowledge of the arcane mixed with Ezra Pound‘s grasp of poetics… [Duncan] is personal rather than confessional and writes within a continuity of tradition.”

Duncan was born in 1919 in Oakland, California. His childhood experiences shape and inform his later poetics. Adopted at an early age by a couple who selected him on the basis of his astrological configuration, his adopted parents’ chosen religion, theosophy, and reverence for the occult was a lasting influence on his poetic vision. Encouraged by a high school English teacher who saw poetry as an essential means of sustaining spiritual vigor, Duncan chose his vocation while still in his teens. He studied at the University of California-Berkeley for two years before leaving California to briefly attend Black Mountain College. Duncan also lived in New York for a period, and made the acquaintance of literary figures like Arthur Miller and Anaïs Nin. Duncan was drafted in 1941, but discharged after coming out as gay. One of the first literary figures to openly acknowledge his sexuality, Duncan’s article “The Homosexual in Society” appeared in the influential journal Politics in 1944. Duncan returned to San Francisco in 1945, where he met Rexroth, Spicer, Blaser and others. He studied Medieval and Renaissance literature at Berkeley. During the 1950s and ‘60s, Duncan was, according to Paul Christensen “at the center of the San Francisco renaissance; his connections to Olson and Black Mountain College, where he taught in 1956, put him at the center of the Black Mountain movement as well.” In 1951 Duncan met Jess Collins, a painter and collagist. The two remained lovers for the rest of Duncan’s life.

Many of Duncan’s best-known poems were shaped by ideas associated with Olson and the Black Mountain School of poetry. Both “projective verse,” poetry shaped by the rhythms of the poet’s breath, and “composition by field,” in which the page becomes a field of language activity beyond its traditional use of margins and spacing, influenced Duncan’s poetry from The Opening of the Field (1960) onward. Generally, Duncan advocated a poetry of process, not conclusion. In some pages from a notebook published in Donald Allen’s The New American Poetry: 1945-1960, Duncan stated: “A longing grows to return to the open composition in which the accidents and imperfections of speech might awake intimations of human being… There is a natural mystery in poetry. We do not understand all that we render up to understanding… I study what I write as I study out any mystery. A poem, mine or another’s, is an occult document, a body awaiting vivisection, analysis, X-rays.” The poet, he explained, is an explorer more than a creator. “I work at language as a spring of water works at the rock, to find a course, and so, blindly. In this I am not a maker of things, but, if maker, a maker of a way. For the way is itself.” As in the art of marquetry (the making of patterns by enhancing natural wood grains), the poet is aware of the possible meanings of words and merely brings them out. “I’m not putting a grain into the wood,” he told Jack R. Cohn and Thomas J. O’Donnell in a Contemporary Literatureinterview. Later, he added, “I acquire language lore. What I am supplying is something like… grammar of design, or of the possibilities of design.” The goal of composition, he wrote in a Caterpillar essay, was “not to reach conclusion but to keep our exposure to what we do not know.”

Known for his anarchic political views, Duncan’s work frequently took on political dimensions as well. Books like Bending the Bow and Groundwork I: After the Warattempt to trace the difference between organic and imposed order, and the necessity and scope of an individual’s political commitment. In his introduction to Ground Work (2006), the combined edition of After the War and In the Dark, poet Michael Palmer noted of the connections between Duncan’s politics and his poetics: “War will follow war, within and without. Any opposition to the immediate war must acknowledge its various meanings, the forms of contention that for Duncan are also the source of poesis, poetic making and meaning. The poet is everywhere implicated in such human and metaphysical circumstances. He or she cannot stand apart or above. The poem itself cannot preach without betraying its nature; it must enact.” Duncan’s political views on the Vietnam War cost him his friendship with the poet Denise Levertov. Their correspondence is collected in The Letters of Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov (2003).

Robert Duncan died in San Francisco in 1988 after a long battle with kidney disease. His papers are housed at the State University of New York-Buffalo. Even after his death, Duncan has continued to exert a powerful and profound influence on the shape of American poetry. The publication of The H.D. Book in particular was heralded as a milestone in both Duncan scholarship and the history of modernism. As Christensen noted, “His work embodies the restless spirit of midcentury, with its exploration of sexuality and religion and its need to investigate the hidden corners of the psyche.”

 

CAREER

Poet. Worked at various times as a dishwasher and typist. Organizer of poetry readings and workshops in San Francisco Bay area; Experimental Review, co-editor with Sanders Russell, publishing works of Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Lawrence Durrell, Kenneth Patchen, William Everson, Aurora Bligh (Mary Fabilli), Thomas Merton, Robert Horan, and Jack Johnson, 1940-41; Berkeley Miscellany, editor, 1948-49; lived in Banyalbufar, Majorca, 1955-56; taught at Black Mountain College, Black Mountain, NC, spring and summer, 1956; assistant director of Poetry Center, San Francisco State College, under a Ford grant, 1956-57; associated with the Creative Writing Workshop, University of British Columbia, 1963; lecturer in Advanced Poetry Workshop, San Francisco State College, spring, 1965; core professor in the Poetics Program at New College of California, 1980-1986.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

POETRY

  • Heavenly City, Earthly City, drawings by Mary Fabilli, Bern Porter, 1947.
  • Medieval Scenes (1947), Centaur Press (San Francisco), 1950, reprinted with preface by Duncan and afterword by Robert Bertholf, Kent State University Libraries, 1978.
  • Poems, 1948-49 (actually written between November, 1947 and October, 1948), Berkeley Miscellany, 1950.
  • The Song of the Border-Guard, Black Mountain Graphics Workshop, 1951.
  • The Artist’s View, [San Francisco], 1952.
  • Fragments of a Disordered Devotion, privately printed, 1952, reprinted, Gnomon Press, 1966.
  • Caesar’s Gate: Poems, 1949-55, Divers Press (Majorca), 1956, 2nd edition, Sand Dollar, 1972.
  • 1953-56 Letters, drawings by Duncan, J. Williams (Highlands, NC), 1958.
  • Selected Poems (1942-50), City Lights Books, 1959.
  • 1956-59 The Opening of the Field, Grove, 1960, revised edition, New Directions, 1973.
  • 1959-63 Roots and Branches, Scribner, 1964.
  • Wine, Auerhahn Press for Oyez Broadsheet Series (Berkeley), 1964.
  • Uprising, Oyez, 1965.
  • Of the War: Passages 22-27, Oyez, 1966.
  • A Book of Resemblances: Poems, 1950-53, drawings by Jess, Henry Wenning, 1966.The Years as Catches: First Poems, 1939-46, Oyez, 1966.
  • Boob, privately printed, 1966.
  • Christmas Present, Christmas Presence!, Black Sparrow Press, 1967.
  • Epilogos, Black Sparrow Press, 1967.
  • My Mother Would Be a Falconress, Oyez, 1968.
  • 1952-53 Names of People, illustrations by Jess, Black Sparrow Press, 1968.Bending the Bow, New Directions, 1968.
  • The First Decade: Selected Poems, 1940-50, Fulcrum Press (London), 1968.
  • Derivations: Selected Poems, 1950-1956, Fulcrum Press, 1968.
  • Achilles Song, Phoenix, 1969.
  • Playtime, Pseudo Stein; 1942, A Story [and] A Fairy Play: From the Laboratory Records Notebook of 1953, A Tribute to Mother Carey’s Chickens, Poet’s Press, c.1969.
  • Notes on Grossinger’s “Solar Journal: Oecological Sections,” Black Sparrow Press, 1970.
  • A Selection of Sixty-Five Drawings from One Drawing Book, 1952-1956, Black Sparrow Press, 1970.
  • Tribunals: Passages 31-35, Black Sparrow Press, 1970.
  • Poetic Disturbances, Maya (San Francisco), 1970.
  • Bring It up from the Dark, Cody’s Books, 1970.
  • A Prospectus for the Prepublication of Ground Work to Certain Friends of the Poet, privately printed, 1971.
  • An Interview with George Bowering and Robert Hogg, April 19, 1969, Coach House Press, 1971.
  • Structure of Rime XXVIII; In Memoriam Wallace Stevens, University of Connecticut, 1972.
  • Poems from the Margins of Thom Gunn’s Moly, privately printed, 1972.
  • A Seventeenth-Century Suite, privately printed, 1973.
  • Dante, Institute of Further Studies (New York City), 1974.
  • (With Jack Spicer) An Ode and Arcadia, Ark Press, 1974.
  • The Venice Poem, Poet’s Mimeo (Burlington, VT), 1978.
  • Veil, Turbine, Cord & Bird: Sets of Syllables, Sets of Words, Sets of Lines, Sets of Poems, Addressing… , J. Davies, c. 1979.The Five Songs, Friends of the University of California, San Diego Library, 1981.
  • Towards an Open Universe, Aquila Publishing, 1982.
  • Ground Work: Before the War, New Directions, 1984.
  • A Paris Visit, Grenfell Press, 1985.
  • The Regulators, Station Hill Press, 1985.
  • Ground Work II: In the Dark, New Directions, 1987.
  • Selected Poems, edited by Robert J. Bertholf, New Directions, 1993.
  • Ground Work, combined edition of Before the War and In the Dark, introduced by Michael Palmer, New Directions, 2006.

PROSE

  • Writing Writing: A Composition Book of Madison 1953, Stein Imitations (poems and essays, 1953), Sumbooks, 1964.
  • As Testimony: The Poem and the Scene (essay, 1958), White Rabbit Press, 1964.
  • Six Prose Pieces, Perishable Press (Rochester, MI), 1966.
  • The Truth and Life of Myth: An Essay in Essential Autobiography, House of Books (New York City), 1968.
  • Fictive Certainties: Five Essays in Essential Autobiography, New Directions, 1979.
  • Selected Prose, New Directions, 1995.
  • The H.D. Book (The Collected Writings of Robert Duncan), edited by Michael Boughn and Victor Coleman, University of California Press, 2011.

PLAYS

  • 1959-60 Faust Foutu: Act One of Four Acts, A Comic Mask, 1952-1954 (an entertainment in four parts; first produced in San Francisco, CA, 1955; produced in New York), decorations by Duncan, Part I, White Rabbit Press (San Francisco), 1958, reprinted, Station Hill Press, 1985, entire play published as Faust Foutu, Enkidu sur Rogate (Stinson Beach, CA), 1959.
  • Medea at Kolchis; [or] The Maiden Head (play; first produced at Black Mountain College, 1956), Oyez, 1965.
  • Adam’s Way: A Play on Theosophical Themes, [San Francisco], 1966.

OTHER

  • The Cat and the Blackbird (children’s storybook), illustrations by Jess, White Rabbit Press, 1967.
  • The Letters of Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov, edited by Robert Bertholf and Albert Gelpi, Stanford University Press, 2003.

Represented in anthologies, including Faber Book of Modern American Verse, edited by W. H. Auden, 1956, The New American Poetry: 1945-1960, edited by Donald M. Allen, 1960, and many others. Contributor of poems, under the name Robert Symmes, to Phoenix and Ritual. Contributor to Atlantic, Poetry, Nation, Quarterly Review of Literature, and other periodicals.

FURTHER READING

BOOKS

  • Allen, Donald M., The New American Poetry, 1945-1960, Grove, 1960.
  • Allen, The Poetics of the New American Poetry, Grove, 1973.
  • Bertholf, Robert J. and Ian W. Reid, editors, Robert Duncan: Scales of the Marvelous, New Directions, 1979.
  • Charters, Samuel, Some Poems/ Poets: Studies in American Underground Poetry since 1945, Oyez, 1971.
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale, Volume 1, 1973, Volume 2, 1974, Volume 4, 1975, Volume 7, 1977, Volume 15, 1980, Volume 41, 1987, Volume 55, 1989.
  • Dickey, James, Babel to Byzantium, Farrar, Straus, 1968.
  • Dictionary of Literary Biography, Gale, Volume 5: American Poets since World War II, 1980, Volume 16: The Beats: Literary Bohemians in Postwar America, 1983.
  • Faas, Ekbert, editor, Towards a New American Poetics: Essays and Interviews, Black Sparrow Press, 1978.
  • Fass, Ekbert, Young Robert Duncan: Portrait of the Homosexual in Society, Black Sparrow Press, 1983.
  • Fauchereau, Serge, Lecture de la poesie americaine, Editions de Minuit, 1969.
  • Foster, Edward Halsey, Understanding the Black Mountain Poets, University of South Carolina Press (Columbia), 1995.
  • Mersmann, James F., Out of the Viet Nam Vortex: A Study of Poets and Poetry against the War, University Press of Kansas, 1974.
  • Parkinson, Thomas, Poets, Poems, Movements, University of Michigan Research Press, 1987.
  • Pearce, Roy Harvey, Historicism Once More: Problems and Occasions for the American Scholar, Princeton University Press, 1969.
  • Rexroth, Kenneth, Assays, New Directions, 1961.
  • Rexroth, American Poetry in the Twentieth Century, Herder and Herder, 1971.
  • Rosenthal, M. L., The New Poets: American and British Poetry since World War II, Oxford University Press, 1967.
  • Stepanchev, Stephen, American Poetry since 1945, Harper, 1965.
  • Tallman, Warren, Godawful Streets of Man, Coach House Press, 1976.
  • Weatherhead, Kingsley, Edge of the Image: Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, and Some Other Poets,University of Washington Press, 1967.

PERIODICALS

  • Agenda, autumn/winter, 1970; autumn, 1994, p. 308.
  • American Book Review, May, 1989, p. 12.
  • Audit/Poetry (special Duncan issue), Number 3, 1967.
  • Boundary 2, winter, 1980.
  • Caterpillar, number 8/9, 1969.
  • Centennial Review, fall, 1975; fall, 1985.
  • Concerning Poetry, spring, 1978.
  • Contemporary Literature, spring, 1975.
  • History Today, January, 1994, p. 56.
  • Hudson Review, summer, 1968.
  • Library Journal, March 1, 1993, p. 81, August, 1994, p. 132.
  • London Review of Books, March 10, 1994, p. 20.
  • Maps (special Duncan issue), 1974.
  • Minnesota Review, fall, 1972.
  • New York Review of Books, June 3, 1965; May 7, 1970.
  • New York Times Book Review, December 20, 1964; September 29, 1968; August 4, 1985.
  • Poetry, March, 1968; April, 1969; May, 1970.
  • Publishers Weekly, February 15, 1993, p. 232; May 16, 1994, p. 63.
  • Sagetrieb, winter, 1983; (special Duncan issue) fall/winter, 1985.
  • Saturday Review, February 13, 1965; August 24, 1968.
  • School Library Journal, August, 1994, p. 132.
  • Southern Review, spring, 1969; winter, 1985.
  • Sulfur 12, Volume 4, number 2, 1985.
  • Times Literary Supplement, May 1, 1969; July 23, 1971; November 25, 1988, p. 1294.
  • Unmuzzled Ox, February, 1977.
  • Voice Literary Supplement, November, 1984.
  • World Literature Today, autumn, 1988, p. 659; spring, 1994, p. 373.

PERIODICALS

  • Los Angeles Times, February 4, 1988.
  • New York Times, February 2, 1988.
  • Times (London), February 11, 1988.

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The Longest Ride

NEW YORK — Though it’s likely to prove a crowd pleaser, the romantic drama “The Longest Ride” (Fox) amounts to little more than a sentimental soap opera.

Reliant on contrived methods of dramatization, director George Tillman Jr.’s adaptation of Catholic author Nicholas Sparks’ novel also includes late plot developments that send an ambiguous signal about marital fidelity.

Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood star in a scene from the movie "The Longest Ride." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (CNS photo/Fox)

Amid lush rural scenery and a glorification of contemporary cowboy culture such as might be featured in a pickup truck commercial, Wake Forest University senior Sophia (Britt Robertson) falls for professional bull rider Luke (Scott Eastwood). Shy Sophia has only to witness Luke’s cattle-subduing stamina during what is literally her first time at the rodeo for love to start bucking her world.

The ride home from Sophia and Luke’s initial get-together takes an unusual turn when they stop to rescue 90-year-old Ira (Alan Alda) from the roadside wreckage of his car, thereby saving his life. At Ira’s feebly voiced behest, Sophia also retrieves a wicker box that turns out to contain a series of letters young Ira (Jack Huston) wrote to the girl of his dreams, Ruth (Oona Chaplin).

What better way to pass Ira’s stint in the hospital than for Sophia to read these epistles aloud to him? Screenwriter Craig Bolotin can certainly think of none, so we get Ira’s back story.

Ruth was a vibrant Jewish refugee from Nazi-occupied Vienna whose exile in Greensboro, North Carolina, was softened by her budding relationship with Ira. But Ira’s battlefield heroism during World War II shortly after the two became engaged led to a problem that threatened their impending marriage.

When she’s not providing Ira with the opportunity to narrate his saga, Sophia agonizes over the barriers that seem to obstruct her own path to happiness. These include the fact that she’s soon to depart the Tar Heel State for far-off New York City where she’s landed a prestigious internship at an art gallery — but whither her beau, alas, will not be following.

Worse yet, homespun Luke, it seems, don’t cotton to Kandinsky and such.

The device of using Ira’s letters to Ruth to tell their story has a fatal flaw: Unlike the audience, after all, Ruth would presumably not have needed Ira’s elaborate written explanations to understand events she herself had just experienced. On the other hand, touches of humor do keep things moving along.

Circumstances between Ira and Ruth take a turn that can be read either as undercutting or supporting nuptial faithfulness. Though the outcome is a morally positive one, steps along the way to it suggest that wedding vows can legitimately be set aside if they seriously impede a spouse’s self-fulfillment.

The film contains brief combat violence with mild gore, a few scenes of semi-graphic premarital sexual activity, partial nudity, a couple of instances of profanity and a smattering of crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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

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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)

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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”)

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

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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

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”.

Original Black Mountain College faculty, September 1933

Front row: Joseph Martin, Helen Boyden Lamb Lamont, Margaret Loram Bailey, Elizabeth Vogler, and John Andrew Rice.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the 17th post I look at the founder Ted Dreier and his strength as a fundraiser that make the dream of Black Mountain College possible.

Theodore Dreier. Photo courtesy North Carolina State Archives, Black Mountain College Papers.

Others

Gisela Kronenberg Herwitz:
: If challenging a student to explore and analyze concepts as well as the evidence on which they are based and make such an exercise stimulating and enjoyable, then Jack French was my best teacher. He encouraged his students to think for themselves, often playing the “devil’s advocate.” He encouraged me to pursue independent study of perception and let me teach what I had learned to one of his classes.Claude Stoller: Calculus with Ted Dreier. Mathematics had been my bugaboo, but Ted held a weekly seminar along with the regular classes in which we read excerpts from Russell, Hogben, White, Newton and others. I became aware of Calculus as a precise description of observed beauties such as the curve of a waterfall’s descent or that of a ball thrown in the air, etc. (It was an adjunct of Albers’s admonition about learning to see).Claude Stoller: Architectural Design with Larry Kocher…. Larry’s teaching was largely “hands on.” We generally built what we designed. Larry was a highly experienced and dedicated architect who nonetheless made us feel that he accepted us as colleagues. We worked hard and all played major roles in the construction portion of the Work Program.

Robert Sunley: I took a math course with Ted Dreier; quite a few considered him a poor teacher. Yet he earnestly sought to find the dynamics underlying math, and to help me and others work out the formulation of concepts into figures and graphs. But in my class of four I was the only one remaining at the end of the term.

Emil Willimetz: It was a course on Form in Literature and was given to me by two of the top professors, Fred Mangold and John Rice. During the year I studied the literary form of ten writers—how words were put together to reach an effect. Thomas Browne, Dickens, Hardy, Hemingway, Proust, Gertrude Stein and others. I then wrote a short story which I had to rewrite in the style of each of the ten authors. It was, without a doubt, the most exciting and fulfilling course I’ve ever taken.

Robert Sunley: John Evarts’s classes in music I found particularly valuable. Rather than the usual “music appreciation” course he combined intense attention to listening and understanding a few pieces; and going along with that (which he did with his playing at the piano as well as records) we learned the elements of harmony, counterpoint, beginning composition, training of the ear, and so on. By trying my hand at a simple canon or fugue, or later a simple atonal piano piece, I gained first hand a feel for and love of music….

Lucian Marquis: Heinrich Jalowetz, who taught us both to listen to the music but also understand the social context of that music, taught us through Brahms’s German Requiem to listen and to understand in a wider sense.

Theodore Dreier. Photo courtesy North Carolina State Archives, Black Mountain College Papers.

Allegra Fuller Snyder – Black Mountain: The Start of a Critical Path

Published on Oct 12, 2012

Reviewing 4 Black Mountain College Museum International Conference
Allegra Fuller Snyder (Conference Keynote Speaker)
Black Mountain: The Start of a Critical Path

Allegra Fuller Snyder is Buckmister Fuller’s only living child and is the Founder, first President, and now Board member emeritus of the Buckminster Fuller Institute. She is also Professor Emerita of Dance and Dance Ethnology, UCLA; 1992 American Dance Guild Honoree of the Year; former Chair of the Department of Dance; and founding Coordinator of the World Arts and Cultures Program. She has been on the Dance Faculty at Cal Arts as well as Professor of Performance Studies at New York University, and Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Surrey, Guildford, England. She began her career as a performer and choreographer and has been concerned with the relation of dance to film since the late 1940s. She has made several prize winning documentary films on dance. She has done dance research around the world, was the recipient of several Fulbright Scholarships. Among many special projects Snyder was a Core Consultant on the PBS series DANCING for WNET/Channel 13. Recently returning to performance, Jennifer Fisher of the LA times said of her in “Spirit Dances 6: Inspired by Isadora,” “She was a haiku and an epic.”

Sponsored by the Green Restaurants of AIR (Asheville Independent Restaurants)

Videography and Post by Michael Folliett
at Image Preservations.com

GIVING UP THE HORSE – TED DREIER AND WALTER GROPIUS

Theodore (‘Ted’) Dreier was – in many ways – the unsung hero of Black Mountain College. John Andrew Rice receives much of the credit for the College’s founding, though Dreier was at his side following the famous ‘Rollins fracas’ (1) and remained a central member of the College community for the first sixteen years of its existence. Dreier was never the outspoken and confrontational pedagogue that Rice was, nor was he a ground breaking artist like Josef or Anni Albers, the other longest-serving members of the BMC faculty. However, Dreier’s contributions to the College were just as – if not more – crucial to its survival than anyone else’s. Through his dogged commitment, patient accounting, and relentless fundraising, Black Mountain College continued operation through immense difficulty. Dreier gave much of his life to the College, which could never have survived without him.

Summer Arts Institute Faculty, Black Mountain College, 1946. Left to right: Leo Amino, Jacob Lawrence, Leo Lionni, Ted Dreier, Nora Lionni, Beaumont Newhall, Gwendolyn Lawrence, Ise Gropius, Jean Varda (in tree), Nancy Newhall (sitting), Walter Gropius, Mary "Molly" Gregory, Josef Albers, Anni Albers. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives.

An engineer with a degree from Harvard, Dreier always wished he could spend more time teaching at Black Mountain. He was listed in various Black Mountain Bulletins as the instructor in mathematics and physics. Later, he spent a great deal of time preparing a course on the ‘Philosophy of Science.’ Yet most of the time, he found himself in charge (first as treasurer, later as rector) of the College’s finances and its physical plant. Many of his wealthy contacts were called upon time and time again to rescue Black Mountain from collapse. Dreier had an unshakable belief in the College’s mission, so eloquently put forward by Rice from the beginning, but he matched that ideological commitment with a practical ability to raise funds and win supporters – the much-needed ‘Friends of the College.’ His family lived at Black Mountain, and his son – Ted Jr. – grew up and studied there. The distressing chapter of Dreier’s Black Mountain story came years after Rice’s departure, when – after the Second World War – the College went through its most difficult and trying period.

An American of German descent, Dreier had very close relationships with Josef and Anni Albers, and also – on even more personal terms – with Walter and Ise Gropius, and their daughter Ati, who graduated from Black Mountain College in 1946 and who was the godmother of the Dreiers’ daughter. Founder of the legendary German design school, the Bauhaus, Gropius exercised enormous influence over Black Mountain. Though he never served there permanently, he was a member of the Board of Advisors, taught at the famous summer art institutes, and acted in generous friendship toward Black Mountain and the Dreier family.

In the Bauhaus Archive, Berlin, a large portion of Gropius’ collected correspondence illustrates the close relationship his family had with the Dreiers. It also – quite painfully for one invested in the history of the College – tells the story of Dreier’s disillusionment and, finally, his departure from the radical institution he played such a large part in creating. One letter to Dreier shows the sacrifices Gropius was willing to make in order to allow his daughter Ati’s continued education at Black Mountain:

I had meant to write to you regarding Ati when your letter arrived. Meanwhile I have carefully checked up on my financial status regarding a second college year for Ati. I have given up my horse, our second car and we put up a roomer in Ati’s room. After this the utmost my shrunken budget allows me to spend for Ati’s next College year is 1000$. I should like to leave it to you to decide which may be the better way for Ati to make good on the difference either in your summer camp or here in war work.(2)

In response, Dreier assured Gropius that Ati might find work as part of the summer music institute – work that would not be so demanding as in a war factory or on the College farm, and which would allow her time and energy to pursue her studies in art. On April 26, Dreier wrote, ‘Ati was quite jealous of my having heard from you before she did but she was really extremely happy to think that there was a good chance now of her coming back next year […] I have a feeling myself that it would be a good thing and I believe that the Albers agree with me.’

Many other letters between Dreier and Gropius sketch a close, familial relationship. They invite one another and their families for visits to Cambridge, Mass., Black Mountain, and New York; they recount holidays together and hopes for putting the College’s affairs in order. Dreier even wrote to Ise Gropius about the possibility of moving to post-war Germany:

The other day we had a faculty candidate for history who had been in Military Government in Germany for a year speak. He had been Educational and Fine Arts Officer […] Most people liked his talk which was certainly very interesting, but there is something that bothers me terribly about the kind of aloof objectivity with which such a man can talk about Germany and the people and the problems of education and denazification. Although I am naturally not considering any such thing seriously because I still hope things may work out here at Black Mountain (and please consider my mentioning it confidential), the idea had crossed my mind that if I left maybe a place that I could be of as much use as any would be in Germany […] But the very thought of living comfortably in a country while everyone else was half-starving and discouraged is something that would be almost impossible to do if one has any feelings for the people at all. (3)

With the closeness of their relationship, it is no wonder that Dreier included Gropius in the mailing of his resignation from Black Mountain. On August 31, 1948, Dreier wrote to Walter and Ise, ‘This is just a line to say that the die is finally cast. A few days ago I came to the conclusion that I simply could not undertake another reorganization of the college […] I said I wanted to leave.’ (4) In fact, Dreier stayed on just a bit longer in order to help transition to the leadership of Josef Albers as College rector.

Beside personal correspondence, one of the most fascinating pieces in the Gropius collection is Ted Dreier’s ‘Summary Report – Black Mountain College: the First 15 ½ Years,’ written as part of his resignation. The ten-page document was written at a point when Dreier was understandably frustrated and bitter, yet the clarity (and even charity) of his writing still comes through when addressing the core principles of the Black Mountain experiment. He writes, ‘For 15 ½ years Black Mountain has stood for a non-political radicalism in higher education which, like all true radicalism, sought to find modern means for getting back to fundamentals.’ (5) This, he concedes, was largely achieved in the early years, and the character of the College under Albers exemplified these ideals. Dreier saw the reconstitution of the College after the War as the period in which things changed. Infighting was rampant. Younger members of staff who – Dreier points out – had no connection to the foundation of the College advocated divergent pedagogies. ‘There has to be agreement,’ Dreier wrote, ‘about method as well as about aim, and readiness to follow the method.’ (6)

Yet Dreier had not entirely given up hope for Black Mountain, even as he knew his time there was finished: ‘If the effort is made to continue the College it will have to be made by others who may or may not stand for what Black Mountain has stood for in the past.’ Even in despair, Dreier anticipated a rebirth of the College. This is exactly what would happen, very much in the way Dreier describes. When Charles Olson became the dominant force at Black Mountain in the early 1950s, he looked back to the founding principles laid out by Rice and Dreier, while also looking toward a future that would be, in many ways, quite different. Olson’s Black Mountain – and especially his style of leadership – would probably not have been met with Dreier’s enthusiasm. (We must recognize, Olson’s leadership finally failed; he was not the organizer and fundraiser that Dreier had been.) In the end, it was Olson – not Dreier – who had to spend years liquidating the College’s assets and setting its affairs in order. But, after Dreier’s departure, the College did gain new life. Many people today know of Black Mountain through the Olson phase, which included writers Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan, and the creation of the “Black Mountain Review”. However, Dreier must be given his due. If it were not for his strenuous efforts on behalf of the institution, there would have been no place at Lake Eden for those who followed.

by Jonathan Creasy
Trinity College Dublin/ New Dublin Press


(1) Rice was terminated from his tenured position as professor at Rollins College in Florida when the College’s President, Hamilton Holt, objected to Rice’s teaching practices and general demeanor. A famous hearing occurred, held by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), in which Rice was vindicated, but he left Rollins anyway. This is the fabled beginning of the move toward Black Mountain. Most of the initial faculty and students at BMC followed Rice from Rollins. Dreier was a key member of this group. (For more detail, see Martin Duberman’s Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community, Dutton: 1972.)
(2) Letter from Walter Gropius to Theodore Dreier, April 16, 1944. The Bauhaus Archive, Berlin.
(3) Letter from Theodore Dreier to Ise Gropius, August 22, 1947. The Bauhaus Archive, Berlin.
(4) Letter from Theodore Dreier to Walter and Ise Gropius, August 31, 1948. The Bauhaus Archive.
(5) Dreier, Theodore. ‘Summary Report – Black Mountain College: The First 15 ½ Years.’ Walter Gropius Collection, The Bauhaus Archive, Berlin.
(6) Ibid.

Book Review: “The Longest Ride” by Nicholas Sparks

Ok, so I may be a bit biased with my first official book review because #1: I’m a hopeless romantic and #2: I’m a die hard Nicholas Sparks fan.  But I’m still going to review the heck out of this book

“The Longest Ride” Book Review

“The Longest Ride” tells the story of two couples in North Carolina.  The first is about Ira Levinson, an old widow who became stranded after crashing his truck down an embankment.  While struggling to stay alive he relives the memories of his late wife Ruth and we get to experience the love they had and how they came to spend their lives together.

The second follows the story of a young couple Sophia Danko, a college senior at Wake Forest University,  and Luke Collins, a cowboy and Champion bull rider.  After meeting during a rodeo after-party, they begin to fall in love, but both have different paths and their love is tested.  They have life decisions to make and put them aside until they finally have to face them.

This book shows you the beginning and end of life with another person.  It’s like the “I Do” and “Till Death Do Us Part” combined into one book.  It’s about making memories and looking back on them for comfort and joy.  It’s about sacrifices a person makes in order to make a relationship work.

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While the book seemed to be primarily about Sophia and Luke, I really enjoyed Ira’s story.  It’s sad how he’s remembering his wife while trying to stay alive long enough for someone to find him, but the stories told about their life together makes me feel that true love really does last forever.

At ninety-one, the crash left him with injuries that made him immobile and struggling to stay awake.  This is when his subconscious brings his beloved wife, Ruth, back to him.  Ruth asks him to tell her about significant moments in their lives like when they met, when Ira went to war, his proposal, and their honeymoon.  All in an effort for him to hold on just a bit longer because he still had unfinished business to do.

*Spoilers Ahead

The more I read about Ira, the more I realized that it’s the simple things in life that are important.  I think this is one reason Ira was one of my favorite characters.  The relationship he had with Ruth seemed real, not some fairytale romance.  There were ups and downs, but Ira and Ruth worked through even the toughest of times.  This is something that many marriages fail to do these days…fight to keep love alive.

There were two significant times during Ira and Ruth’s relationship that truly tested them.  The first is when Ira returned home from serving in WWII.  Before going off to war he had proposed to Ruth and it was completely lacking romance.  Not in the sense that Nicholas Sparks didn’t add enough romance to the proposal, but Sparks created Ira as a man who has a tough time being romantic, which is how many men are.  However, even seemingly unromantic men can surprise you.  Keep that in mind when you read this book.

Ira had returned home as a wounded solider.  He was in the hospital for a few weeks recovery from gun shot wounds during an air raid.  Doctors thought he wouldn’t survive especially since he developed peritonitis and had a severe fever for thirteen days.  When he returned, he broke off the engagement to Ruth.  Of course Ruth was heartbroken…what woman wouldn’t be?  She didn’t understand why he had made this decision, but months later he finally told her.

Due to the peritonitis it was likely he couldn’t have children.  Ira knew that having a child was something Ruth really wanted in the future and he didn’t want to deprive her of that.  He thought the right thing to do was to let her move on with someone that could give her exactly what she wanted.  This is when Ruth had to make the decision to stay or go…she stayed.

Ira should have told Ruth right from the beginning the reason they shouldn’t get married.  It’s worse to leave a woman in the dark because she wonders, what did I do wrong?  But I also see Ira’s side of the story.  It’s a painful feeling knowing you can’t give someone you love exactly what they want.  But I was glad that he finally had the courage to tell her, considering how much he loved her.

The second most trying moment for Ira and Ruth was many many years later.  They still had no children and Ruth was a school teacher where children came from very poor families.  That’s where she met Daniel who became the son she never had.  They were contemplating adopting Daniel, but after coming home from their yearly anniversary trip Daniel was gone and she never found out where he had been taken.  It’s not until much later in the book that you find out.  Ruth took this terribly and their marriage was in turmoil.  Ira thought that it was ending between them.

But they made it…

What you don’t know yet, about Ira and Ruth, is they had started collecting art pieces during their first honeymoon.  They would take a yearly trip to Black Mountain College or exhibits in various places, where they would buy artwork from young upcoming artists.  By the time Ira was stranded in his truck he was worth millions and millions of dollars based on their art collection.  This is an important part of the ending because Ira and Ruth never sold one painting….they kept them.  That meant Ira had to decide where they would go once he was gone.

Now, I want to turn the attention over to Sophia and Luke.  I believe they embody what being a young couple is about.  Everyone has been in the phase when you try to spend as much time as possible together because it’s so new and exciting.  That’s what was going on with Sophia and Luke.  But they both had things that troubled them.  Sophia was worried about school and what would happen after she graduated.

From personal experience, when you’re in college things are really put into perspective about where you want your life to be going.  Sophia was no different.  She was starting her senior year as an art history major and wanted to end up working in a museum.  Sophia’s struggles are like many college students preparing to graduate.  Studying for finals, applying for jobs or internships, and essentially dealing with the fear of the unknown because nobody ever really knows what will happen after graduation.

Luke is on the complete opposite spectrum of Sophia..but there’s a phrase “opposites attract”.  He never went to college and had no plans to go in the future.  All he knew was farming and bull riding because that’s how he grew up.  Tending to cattle, growing and harvesting pumpkins, and bailing hay were just some of the daily chores Luke grew up doing.  He was also a very good bull rider.  He was well known in the sport, but a little over a year before he met Sophia, Luke had a terrible accident.  When Luke finally told Sophia just how serious this accident was she gave him an ultimatum.  He had to choose between Sophia and riding.

I did understand the internal struggle Luke had with this because he wasn’t riding again for the glory.  He was riding so that his mother wouldn’t lose the farm.  The money he won helped pay bills that were overdue and mortgage payments that would eventually double.  It was like he had to choose between Sophia and his mother.  Sophia did have a good reason to give Luke an ultimatum.  Riding would most certainly kill him.  Bull riding is dangerous to begin with, but the injuries he sustained a year before increased his chances of death substantially.  This is why I believe Sophia made the right decision.

Thankfully, right before an important ride, Luke makes the decision…he chooses Sophia.

I know you’re probably wondering if Ira makes it, which was what I was thinking through most of the book.  A good thing because it kept me on my toes and wanting to read more.  I’m going to tell you that yes, Ira does make it and guess who found him….Sophia and Luke.

Ira didn’t last too much longer…but he asked Sophia to do one thing for him.  He asked her to read a letter that he had written to his wife.  This is when I was tearing up.

Now, I don’t want to give away the ending, but I will say that you may or may not know what’s coming.  I certainly figured out what was coming, but that didn’t take away from how sweet it was.  I will say that you shouldn’t forget about the large estate of paintings Ira had left.

In the end, everyone got what they needed and things turned out right.  While Ira did pass on, he was able to join Ruth again…something he truly wanted.  Luke got more than he ever dreamed of, which would change his life and that of Sophia’s forever.

All four main characters, Ira, Ruth, Luke, and Sophia were giving up something in order to have something worth so much more….the chance to have a life filled with love and happiness.  I believe this is what the book was striving for.

Favorite Quotes:

“If we’d never met, I think I would have known my life wasn’t complete. And I would have wandered the world in search of you, even if I didn’t know who I was looking for.”

“After all, if there is a heaven, we will find each other again, for there is no heaven without you.”

“His voice, even now, follows me everywhere on this longest of rides, this thing called life.”

“Remember me with joy, for this is how I always thought of you. That is what I want, more than anything. I want you to smile when you think of me. And in your smile, I will live forever.”

“Sophia, after all, was the real treasure he’d found this year, worth more to him than all the art in the world.”

Overall Rating

From a scale of 1-10 I give “The Longest Ride” a 9.  This book didn’t have as much of an emotional impact on me as others he has written, like “The Last Song”.  I literally was bawling reading that book, but this one is still very good.  I would recommend this book to those who enjoy love stories and are hopeless romantics like myself.

Let me know what you think or if you have any book recommendations by leaving a comment.

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

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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”)

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

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Black Mountain College: A Thumbnail Sketch

Published on Aug 14, 2014

A 13 minute documentary about the legendary arts school in the mountains of North Carolina

Legend of Black Mountain

Uploaded on Apr 20, 2008

Black Mountain College was a phenomenal circumstance. The fact that so many artists of that level in their respective fields could organize and develop such an institution is unparalleled. Who would’ve thought that a small mountain town of western North Carolina would be their home, albeit for a short while.

It has been my practice on this blog to cover some of the top artists of the past and today and that is why I am doing  this current series on Black Mountain College (1933-1955). Here are some links to some to some of the past posts I have done on other artists: Marina AbramovicIda Applebroog,  Matthew Barney, Aubrey Beardsley, Larry BellWallace BermanPeter Blake,  Allora & Calzadilla,   Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Heinz Edelmann Olafur EliassonTracey EminJan Fabre, Makoto Fujimura, Hamish Fulton, Ellen GallaugherRyan Gander, John Giorno, Rodney Graham,  Cai Guo-Qiang, Jann HaworthArturo HerreraOliver HerringDavid Hockney, David Hooker,  Nancy HoltRoni HornPeter HowsonRobert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Martin KarplusMargaret KeaneMike KelleyJeff Koons, Richard LinderSally MannKerry James MarshallTrey McCarley,   Paul McCarthyJosiah McElhenyBarry McGee, Richard MerkinYoko OnoTony Oursler, George PettyWilliam Pope L.Gerhard Richter, Anna Margaret Rose,  James RosenquistSusan RothenbergGeorges Rouault, Richard SerraShahzia Sikander, Raqub ShawThomas ShutteHiroshi Sugimoto, Mika Tajima,Richard TuttleLuc Tuymans, Alberto Vargas,  Banks Violett, H.C. Westermann,  Fred WilsonKrzysztof WodiczkoAndrea Zittel,

The amazing setting and backstory of The #LongestRide Movie

20th Century Fox invited our writer, Jennifer Donovan, on an expenses-paid set visit to North Carolina for Nicholas Sparks’ new movie, The Longest Ride, in theaters April 10.

Earlier this week, I wrote about my visit to the set of The Longest Ride movie, focusing on the casting and the characters. In this post, I’m going to look at some of the interesting elements of the plot, which made for a great book, but will also look great on screen.

TLR-bull riding

Nicholas Sparks on the Bull-riding Element

One of the great things about this film, but the partnership that Fox had with the PBR to develop this film was like nothing you’ve ever seen. And it was necessary because people who make movies are good at making movies. And every time you see an animal in a movie, that animal is tame or trained, so they go to their spot, and so you know where to put the camera.

You don’t know where that bull is going, so how do you get Scott on the bull? How do you get the angle right? Well, guess who knows How to do that? The PBR, among other things.  So, then Fox can do things that the PBR can’t with the level of quality of the camera. It’s the most realistic stuff. These are real cowboys. They’re from the PBR.

These are the real bulls from the PBR. I mean, you can look up the bull in the PBR. The thing is ranked number three in the world right now. It’s unbelievable.

TLR-Image6

Art in post-war North Carolina

In my post at 5 Minutes for Books, On Reading Nicholas Sparks for the First Time, I wrote about talking with one of the other bloggers for whom this was her first experience with a Nicholas Sparks novel. One of the things she noted, and that I liked about this novel as well, was the rich backstory and characterization of Ira and Ruth Levinson. The backdrop of art was interesting to me, not only because my daughter is an artist, but because I always love learning about a different culture or hobby or occupation while I’m reading fiction. Between bull riding and art collecting in post-war North Carolina, I learned a lot while reading The Longest Ride.

So, I have this idea for this story, and Ira and Ruth, and I have in my mind that they’re going to collect art. And I’m sitting there thinking, “How am I going to pull this off? I live in North Carolina, right. There’s a nice Jewish couple in North Carolina. If they’re in New York, maybe you could see it happening, right.”
So, I said to myself, “How can I make this seem believable?” So, my first notion was that they were just going to meet an artist who happened to be vacationing in North Carolina, befriend this person, man or woman, go with him to wherever the art scene was, and that’s how they got started.
So, that was my plan. So, I said, “Okay. So, let’s find a North Carolina artist who might have been around in the ’40s, ’50s. So, I Google like literally “North Carolina artists in the 1940s,” or something.
And boom, up pops Black Mountain College. And it turns out that Black Mountain College was this experimental college, ran for about 24 years in the 1930s to, I think, 1956 or 1957.
And it was the center of the modern art movement for American painters. Everyone from Willem de Kooning was there, to Rauschenberg, to Franz Kline, to Pat Passlof.
I mean, De Kooning’s paintings, they go for $350 million. He’s over here teaching at Black Mountain College. Buckminster Fuller was there. Robert DeNiro’s father, who was a very famous artist, he was a graduate of Black Mountain College.
Came in, they did painting and sculpture, whatever they did. And it was there, and it was a couple of hours away.
So, there I’m writing, I’m looking for an artist, and I find out that this key element that I need to make the art collecting believable, that center was like two hours from where I placed them originally.
I was like, “Wow.” So, I called my agent and I said, “You are not going to believe this. You are not going to believe what I just found.” And so, of course, then I learned all I could about Black Mountain College.

The Longest Ride is in theaters April 10.

Based on the bestselling novel by master storyteller Nicholas Sparks, THE LONGEST RIDE centers 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 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.

Starring: Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin, and Alan Alda

Directed by: George Tillman, Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black Mountain College: An Introduction

bmc logo by j.albersThe story of Black Mountain College begins in 1933 and comprises a fascinating chapter in the history of education and the arts. Conceived by John A. Rice, a brilliant and mercurial scholar who left Rollins College in a storm of controversy, Black Mountain College was born out of a desire to create a new type of college based on John Dewey’s principles of progressive education. The events that precipitated the College’s founding occurred simultaneously with the rise of Adolf Hitler, the closing of the Bauhaus by the Nazis, and the beginning of the persecution of artists and intellectuals on the European continent. Some of these people found their way to Black Mountain, either as students or faculty. Meanwhile, the United States was mired in the Great Depression, and Franklin Roosevelt, committed to putting people back to work, established the Public Works Arts Project (a precursor of the WPA).

The founders of the College believed that the study and practice of art were indispensable aspects of a student’s general liberal arts education, and they hired Josef Albers to be the first art teacher. Speaking not a word of English, he and his wife Anni left the turmoil in Hitler’s Germany and crossed the Atlantic Ocean by boat to teach art at this small, rebellious college in the mountains of North Carolina.

Black Mountain College was fundamentally different from other colleges and universities of the time. It was owned and operated by the faculty and was committed to democratic governance and to the idea that the arts are central to the experience of learning. All members of the College community participated in its operation, including farm work, construction projects and kitchen duty. Located in the midst of the beautiful North Carolina mountains near Asheville, the secluded environment fostered a strong sense of individuality and creative intensity within the small College community.

Legendary even in its own time, Black Mountain College attracted and created maverick spirits, some of whom went on to become well-known and extremely influential individuals in the latter half of the 20th century. A partial list includes people such as Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Josef and Anni Albers, Jacob Lawrence, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Cy Twombly, Kenneth Noland, Ben Shahn, Franz Kline, Arthur Penn, Buckminster Fuller, M.C. Richards, Francine du Plessix Gray, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Dorothea Rockburne and many others, famous and not-so-famous, who have impacted the world in a significant way. Even now, decades after its closing in 1957, the powerful influence of Black Mountain College continues to reverberate.

For more information:

Willem de Kooning

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning in his studio.jpg

De Kooning in his studio in 1961
Born April 24, 1904
Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died March 19, 1997 (aged 92)
East Hampton, New York, United States[1]
Nationality Dutch, American
Known for Abstract expressionism
Notable work Woman I, Easter Monday,Attic, Excavation
Awards Praemium Imperiale
National Medal of Arts (1986)

Willem de Kooning (/ˈwɪləm də ˈknɪŋ/;[2] Dutch: [ˈʋɪləm də ˈkoːnɪŋ]; April 24, 1904 – March 19, 1997) was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.[3]

In the post-World War II era, de Kooning painted in a style that came to be referred to as Abstract expressionism or Action painting, and was part of a group of artists that came to be known as the New York School. Other painters in this group included Jackson Pollock, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Hans Hofmann, Adolph Gottlieb, Anne Ryan, Robert Motherwell, Philip Guston, Clyfford Still, and Richard Pousette-Dart.

Early life[edit]

Willem de Kooning, Woman V(1952–53), National Gallery of Australia

Woman III, (1953), private collection

Willem de Kooning (1968)

De Kooning as sculptor: Seated Woman on a Bench, bronze of 1972 (cast 1976), in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Willem de Kooning was born in Rotterdam, in South Holland in the Netherlands, on April 24, 1904. His parents, Leendert de Kooning and Cornelia Nobel, were divorced in 1907, and de Kooning lived first with his father and then with his mother. He left school in 1916 and became an apprentice in a firm of commercial artists. Until 1924 he attended evening classes at the Academie van Beeldende Kunsten en Technische Wetenschappen, the academy of fine arts and applied sciences of Rotterdam, now the Willem de Kooning Academie.[3]

In 1926 de Kooning travelled to the United States as a stowaway on the Shelley, a British freighter bound for Argentina, and on August 15 landed at Newport News, Virginia. He stayed at the Dutch Seamen’s Home inHoboken and found work as a house-painter. In 1927 he moved to Manhattan, where he had a studio on West Forty-fourth Street. He supported himself with jobs in carpentry, house-painting and commercial art.[3]

De Kooning began painting in his free time; in 1928 he joined the art colony at Woodstock, New York. He also began to meet some of the Modernist artists active in Manhattan. Among them were Stuart Davis, the Armenian Arshile Gorky and the Russian John Graham, who together de Kooning called the “Three Musketeers”.[4]:98 Gorky, who de Kooning first met at the home of Misha Reznikoff, became a close friend and, for at least ten years, an important influence.[4]:100 Balcomb Greene said that “de Kooning virtually worshipped Gorky”; according to Aristodimos Kaldis, “Gorky was de Kooning’s master”.[4]:184 De Kooning’s drawing Self-portrait with Imaginary Brother, from about 1938, may show him with Gorky; the pose of the figures is that of a photograph of Gorky with Peter Busa in about 1936.[4]:184

De Kooning joined the Artists Union in 1934, and in 1935 was employed in the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration, for which he designed a number of murals including some for the Williamsburg Federal Housing Project in Brooklyn. None of them were executed,[1] but a sketch for one was included in New Horizons in American Art at the Museum of Modern Art, his first group show. From 1936, when De Kooning had to leave the Federal Art Project because he did not have American citizenship, he began to work full-time as an artist, earning income from commissions and by giving lessons.[3]

Work[edit]

Early work[edit]

De Kooning’s paintings of the 1930s and early 1940s are abstract still-lifes characterised by geometric or biomorphic shapes and strong colours. They show the influence of his friends Davis, Gorky and Graham, but also of Arp, Joan Miró, Mondrian and Picasso.[1] In the same years de Kooning also painted a series of solitary male figures, either standing or seated, against undefined backgrounds; many of these are unfinished.[1][3]

Black and white abstractions[edit]

By 1946 de Kooning had begun a series of black and white paintings, which he would continue into 1949. During this period he had his first one-man show at the Charles Egan Gallery; it consisted largely of black and white works, although a few has passages of bright color. De Kooning’s black paintings are important to the history of Abstract Expressionism of their densely impacted forms, their mixed media, and their technique.[5]:25

The women[edit]

De Kooning’s well-known Woman series, begun in 1950 the time after meeting his future wife and culminating in Woman VI, owes much to Picasso, not least in the aggressive, penetrative breaking apart of the figure, and the spaces around it. Picasso’s late works show signs that he, in turn, saw images of works by Pollock and de Kooning.[6]:17 De Kooning led the 1950s’ art world to a new level known as the American Abstract Expressionism. “From 1940 to the present, Woman has manifested herself in de Kooning’s paintings and drawings as at once the focus of desire, frustration, inner conflict, pleasure, … and as posing problems of conception and handling as demanding as those of an engineer.”[7] The female figure is an important symbol for de Kooning’s art career and his own life. This painting is considered as a significant work of art for the museum through its historical context about the post World War II history and American feminist movement. Additionally, the medium of this painting makes it different form others of de Kooning’s time.

Individual works[edit]

Solo exhibitions[edit]

1948

Willem de Kooning, Egan Gallery, New York, April 12-May 12.[5]:126

1951

Willem de Kooning, Egan Gallery, New York, April 1-30, and tour to Arts Club of Chicago[5]:126

1953

Willem de Kooning: Painting on the theme of the Women, Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, March 16- April 11.

De Kooning 1953-1953, Museum School, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, April 21-May 8, and tour to Workshop Center, Washington, D.C [5]:126

1955

Recent Oils by Willem de Kooning, Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, November 9- December 3.[5]:126

1956

De Kooning, Sidney Janis Gallery, April 2-28[5]:126

1959

de Kooning, Sidney Janis Gallery, May 5-30[5]:126

1961

Willem de Kooning, Paul Kantor Gallery, Beverly Hills, California, April 3-29[5]:126

1962

Recent painting by Willem de Kooning, Sidney Janis Gallery, May 5-31 [5]:126

1964

“Women” Drawing by Willem de Kooning, Hames Goodman Gallery, Buffalo, January 10-25.

Willem de Kooning: Retrospective Drawings 1936-1963, Allan Stone Gallery, New York, February[5]:126

1956

Willem de Kooning, Paul Kantor Gallery, March 22- April 30, and tour to Aspen Institute, Colorado

Willem de Kooning: A retrospective Exhibition from public and private collections, Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts, April 8- May 2, and tour to Hayden Gallery, Massachusetts Institute of technology Cambridge.[5]:126

1966

De Kooning’s Women, Allan Stone Gallery, March 14- April 2.[5]:126

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

______

______________

Paul and de Kooning

Small details from three paintings

From left to right: Robot and star, 1995, Brains on fire, 1994, Black scratch I, 1994

“You have to paint abstract after you’ve been seeing Bill de Kooning” – Sir Paul McCartney

Paul credits the artist Willem de Kooning with being one of his greatest influences, as well as being a family friend. They met at the end of the seventies when de Kooning was a client of Linda’s father’s law firm.

Linda and Paul frequently visited the artist in his studio and Paul often became so fired up by the visits that he would go to the paint shop on the way home and buy all the same paints and canvases as de Kooning, or ‘Bill’ as he affectionately refers to him.

Abstract painting

Paul remembers De Kooning’s attitude to his painting as a particular source of inspiration. One day he asked the artist what his painting was meant to be, to which de Kooning replied, “I don’t know, it looks like a couch, huh?” Paul found the remark profoundly liberating. In his own words, ‘he never looked back’.

Art Criticism journal, volume 20, number 1.
[Images, not originally in Art Criticism, have been added here]Martin Ries                        DE KOONING’S ASHEVILLE  
AND ZELDA’S IMMOLATION
“Perhaps I am more of a novelist than a poet.”
-Willem de Kooning
“What was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event.”
-Harold Rosenberg

One of the important experiments in American art education began in Asheville , North Carolina , in 1933. Black Mountain College was conceived at a critical moment in history; its founding occurred concurrent with ominous events abroad: Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, and the Nazi terror of book-burnings, street beatings, political arrests of Jews, communists, homosexuals and others, and incinerations in concentration camps. The Nazis closed the famous Bauhaus, the innovative school of art, architecture, and design. Josef Albers came to Black MountainCollege as director, bringing his Bauhaus experience to encourage artistic cross-fertilization. By the time the College closed in 1957 it had attracted a venerable Who’s Who of the avant-garde, including Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, Eric Bentley, Robert Motherwell, Paul Taylor, Alfred Kazin, and many others. Willem de Kooning taught there in 1948.[1]

In the late 1930s and early 1940s Abstract and Cubist art were formalist structures that did not necessarily embody transcendent, universal themes. Inspired by the Freudian method of free association, the Surrealists put great emphasis on the instinctual and invented “psychic automatism” to breed buried images unavailable to the conscious mind. The goal of forward-looking American artists (fellow artist Jacob Kainen called them “the alert artists”) was to synthesize the modern movements into an entirely new pictorial style; what interested them about Surrealism was its processes, its attitudes toward creativity and the unconscious, and its emphasis on content as opposed to form. A few of the Surrealist artists “painted responses to the political and historical events of the period … Picasso’s Guernica more successfully captured the Americans’ imagination as a direct response to disaster…” [2]

The Europeans had shown the way; yet the avant-garde American artists had to work desperately to break away from the influence of the School of Paris and especially from that Olympian, Pablo Picasso. Like the Collective Unconscious or the dreams of childhood, Picasso’s images and icons kept creeping in while the Abstract Expressionists used both Surrealism and Abstraction to break the Spaniard’s stranglehold. Discussing art in the 1930s and 1940s, Jackson Pollock complained, “Damn that Picasso, just when I think I’ve gotten somewhere I discover that bastard got there first;” Arshile Gorky mourned that they were “defeated” by Picasso; while de Kooning said, “Picasso is the man to beat.”

De Kooning drew on the School of Paris (Pollock called him a “French” painter); his “apparent aim is a synthesis of tradition and modernism that would grant him more flexibility within the confines of the Late Cubist canon of design,” stated Clement Greenberg; “… there is perhaps even more Luciferian pride behind de Kooning’s ambition than there is behind Picasso’s.” [3]Thomas B. Hess wrote, “He will do drawings on transparent paper, scatter them one on top of the other, study the composition drawing that appears on top, make a drawing from this, reverse it, tear it in half, and put it on top of still another drawing. Often the search is for a shape to start off a painting…” [4]Harold Rosenberg, who upheld the idea of “high art” in defiance of mass culture, applied existential relationships between artists and the world: “The vision of transcending the arts … rests upon one crucial question: What makes one an artist?” [5]He did not see abstraction as a projection of individual emotions so much as a reflection of overall psychic need. Abstract art in its final analysis, he asserted, was transcendental.

            De Kooning admired Cubism for its emphasis on structure; [6]  yet Asheville, (1948, Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.) its surface sensuality dominating compositional logic, is both linear and
Willem de Kooning, Asheville, 1948, oil and enamel / cardboard,
64.9×81 cm (25½x31-7/8), The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.
painterly as well as structural. The need for the ordered geometric background structure of Cubism did not begin to disappear from de Kooning’s work until he increased his gestural activity, probably under Jackson Pollock’s influence, by loosening shapes and allowing the paint to run in such paintings as Light in August.
Willem de Kooning, Light in August, 1947,
55×41½, Museum of Contemporary Art, Teheran
               The use of the sign painter’s liner brush [7] allowed him to get the precipitate look of a quick expressionist sketch; each stroke is integrated with every other stroke that shift ceaselessly as forms merge with background as well as with other forms to mold a single consolidated surface. Art dealer and friend of the artist, Allan Stone, described the forms as opening up and flowing into the background, “creating fluidity and movement which can be termed ‘liquification of cubism.'”  [8]

The push toward a new expression in Asheville is beyond literal legibility. [9] Nevertheless Charles F. Stuckey says the sulfuric color scheme of ocher, red, black and white “evoke flames, smoke and ashes”; [10] he reads a large dark “eye” to the right as looking like a “cigarette burn in cloth;” he also sees “torn and displaced legs, elbows, and torso”, body parts [11] scattered like martyr’s attributes, as well as “lips cracked to expose teeth”, and finds a “darkened left side of a mouth that

Diagram of Ashville

seems to curl forward to suggest the way paper curls when it burns” (there is a plethora of gnashing teeth in Picasso’s Weeping Women [“postscripts” to Guernica, summer,1937]).

Pablo Picasso, Weeping Women 1937

However, Stuckey also finds these conflagration similes in the frantic brushstroke of de Kooning’sLight in August as they refer to the fire episode in William Faulkner’s Light in August, a novel the painter especially liked. The titles of several of de Kooning’s black and white paintings at this time:Dark Pond, Night Square, together with Black Friday (the darker name for “Good Friday,” the day of the Crucifixion) and Light in August, are “drawn from the Bible, Aeschylus, and William Faulkner.” [12]

The title of Light in August is derived from the novel of the same name by Faulkner. Heir of the Symbolists, he was little appreciated until Malcolm Cowley’s Portable Faulkner was published in 1946. F. Scott Fitzgerald suffered a similar fate: when he died in 1940 none of his books was in print, “The revival – or, better, the apotheosis – of [The Great] Gatsby began after the author’s death ….  That was in 1941. It took another five years for a new generation to rediscover it.”[13] De Kooning, a “fervent reader,” [14] may have been part of that generation and read about “the macabre valley of ashes presided over by the eyes on a billboard” in Gatsby.

  1. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda embodied the “flaming youth” [15] in the 1920s before she suffered a mental breakdown. Zelda was confined to mental institutions throughout the 1930s and 1940s until her tragic death in March of 1948 when fire destroyed the Highland Hospital inAsheville, North Carolina, where she was a patient. De Kooning may have read about Zelda’s death in the New York Times of March 12, 1948 : “Flames quickly engulfed the four-story central building of the Highland Hospital for Nervous Diseases. … Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald, widow of the author and a victim of the hospital fire, had been ill for some years and went to the Highland Hospital three months ago…”

Assuming de Kooning read of the tragic fire at Highland Hospital, he probably would have recalled the devastating fire in Gorky’s studio, Gorky’s Charred Beloved of 1946 and Agony of 1947 (Gorky committed suicide while de Kooning was working on Asheville), as well as the flames in Picasso’s Guernica (fig. 2) and related studies. Stalin’s scorched earth policy, the fire-storms ofEngland, Germany, and Japan during the war, as well as the frequent blazes in New York City , may have also occurred to him.

De Kooning’s penchant for the soot and detritus of the city is the reverse of Marcel Proust’s “golden morning brightness of a Parisian sidewalk” and more like Baudelaire’s “botanist of the sidewalk.” Edwin Denby, poet and friend in the 1930s and 1940s, recalled the artist’s attraction to minute details encountered in his environment:  “I remember walking at night in Chelsea with Bill … and his pointing out to me on the pavement the dispersed compositions – spots and cracks and bits of wrappers and reflection of neon-light…” [16] Indeed, Rosalind Krauss similarly has commented on Picasso’s turning the dross of collage into art [17] as he shaped “these bits and pieces into an organized montage.” [18] In Apollinaire’s Zone, written just as Picasso was embarking on collage, the poet praised what the artist saw in the streets: “The inscription on the sign boards and the walls … You read the handbills, catalogs, posters that sing out loud and clear  …” [19]

Willem de Kooning, Abstraction, 1949/50,
Thyssen-Bornamisza collection, Madrid.

De Kooning often began several pictures with related images; Asheville [20] andAbstraction (1949/50, Thyssen-Bornemisza collection, Madrid) have much in common. The floor line in the ashen-hued Abstraction, leading in from the bottom right corner, creates a “nook” on the right side (and a resting place for a dark skull – an unusually non-abstract and specific image for the artist at that time) which “houses” a ladder, window, and door, as well as the torso, leg, and rectangular structure at bottom left. The vibrant yellows, blues, and fuchsias are dispersed by black strokes within modified white areas. There is a Picassoid hoof-form in the upper left corner, a house structure in the upper right (the same double-bar as in Asheville, a visual abutment which undoubtedly corresponds to the window edge in Guernica and related sketches), as well as several rectangular window and door shapes and a ladder from Minotauromachia.

Pablo Picasso, Guernica , 1937,
oil / canvas, 349x777cm (137-3/8×305-7/8),
Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid.
Pablo Picasso, Minotauramachia, 1935,
etching, 49.5×69.2 cm (19½x27¼).

Is the ladder a metaphor for escape? A fireman’s attempt at rescue? A passage from one plane to another? The ladder of life and the time-honored symbol of ascension, the primal idea that one climbs the ladder of one’s forebears (however Olympian) as with Jacob’s Ladder?

In Asheville de Kooning depicts a book of charred matches (left) which he seems to have used from his earlier Still Life with Matches (c.1942, collection Mr. & Mrs. Stephen D. Paine),

Willem de Kooning, Still Life with Matches, c.1942,
13.9×19 cm (5½x7½), Mr & Mrs Stephen D. Paine collection.

very much as Thomas Hess described his working methods. This detail is topped by a blackened circle that probably was originally a thumbtack (top left) to keep fragments of drawings in position as the artist worked. A second folded matchbook is at the top just below the “thumbtack.” Are the shapes references to squares, rectangles, openings, windows, doors, and other apertures? Are they meant to appear burnt and damaged? Geometric shapes, imbued with implied order, are usually inserted in an effort to stabilize the picture, but they keep getting lost in de Kooning’s shuffle of shapes. Certainly the series of rectangles on the left of Asheville includes a “spent book of matches” (Stuckey); they are also similar to the ladder in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Abstraction, both of which may have been prompted by the ladder in Picasso’s Minotauromachia, and/or the many ladders in Joan Miró’s and Paul Klee’s and other Surrealists’ works where the Jacob-like ladder leads upwards to a fusion of tangible and intangible, a transcending union of heaven and earth, to “higher realities.”

            Indeed, below the spent safety matches is a form very much like the leg of the dying horse inComposition Study for Guernica comparable to the form in the lower left of Asheville, both in similar
Pablo Picasso, Detail, Composition Study for Guernica, (II), 1 May 1937,
pencil on blue paper, 21x27cm (8-1/4×10-5/8), Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid.
areas of both paintings, not to mention two very Picassoid horse’s hoofs, bottom center (also bottom center in Guernica). The foot of the Rushing Woman in Guernica is comparable to the shape in the lower right corner of Asheville (similar areas of both paintings); the rectangles in the upper right corner of Asheville are like the right-angled edges of the window of the burning house in Guernica(similar areas of both paintings).

Picasso’s Guernica and Minotaur images, often reproduced in Cahiers d’Art and Minotauremagazines, could have been seen in the late ’30s and early ’40s by American artists. The mural itself was exhibited in New York at the Valentin Gallery in 1939, and an extensive Picasso exhibition was held at the Museum of Modern Art in the same year. De Kooning was undoubtedly familiar with the first important book on Guernica [21] with its related studies and photographs of the mural in progress.

If Asheville is turned upside-down, the matchbooks relate to the more recognizable rectangles, apertures, and ladder in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Abstraction, as well as to Picasso’s many ladders.
Other paintings at that time indicate fragments of drawings are shuffled and scattered in the search for new paintings. Specific forms in such as those in the upper right are identical to the forms in.

Willem de Kooning, Painting, c.1950,
76.5×101.6 cm (30-1/8×40), David Geffen collection, Los Angeles

Willem de Kooning, Little Attic, c.1949, oil / paper / press board,
77.4×10.1 cm (30½x40), Dr. Israel Rosen collection.

The imagery in these two works, both the same size, presumably derived from a single drawing and then migrated from one painting to another. [22] These “specific forms” are similar to the progression of rectangular forms on the left side of Asheville. Other forms in Geffen’s Painting, such as ladders and gaping mouths, are repeated throughout the compositions of this period (the heart shape on the right in Little Attic is reminiscent of the shape of testicles in much of Picasso’s depictions of bulls. Both organs relate to man’s emotional life, they bind male psyche and male soma).

The Olympian Picasso continued to possess his progeny.

De Kooning often used window-like rectangles (usually delineated with black paint) in his early work to organize the background and relate the composition to the edges of his canvas. With no directional trajectories, the tension of the window shapes make enclosure dynamic rather than ambiguous. An aperture for penetration into space, a window often symbolizes the eye* of the artist opened for revelation; one can look in as well as out [23] into larger vistas, or greater consciousness.

————————–

*  
After death, the eyes of the deceased are closed; this gesture symbolically shuts the “window of the soul.”

————————–

De Kooning was probably familiar with Wassily Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art, (N.Y., 1947) where he attributes to colors certain universal meanings: “Black is something burnt out, the ashes of a funeral pyre … The silence of black is the silence of death …” Completed shortly after the artist’s black and white period, Asheville combines color as well as black and white, but none dominates. Generally, color isn’t abstract in the sense that it involves nuances of mood, while black and white is more abstract because it relates less to nature.  However, we’re often disconcerted by color schemes with values of equal importance when there is no dominant hue.

Space is a pre-condition of all that exists, its appearance is emptiness, and therefore can contain everything; or as de Kooning explained, space contains “billions and billions of hunks of matter … floating around in darkness according to a great design of nothingness.” [24] De Kooning’s picture plane, to which any shape or image could be attached, is not dissimilar to the relativistic unified field theory that tries to integrate into one comprehensive idea the many clashing bits of data and complex uncertainty of randomness that is modern physics.

In the manner of Levi-Strauss’s bricoleur, the handyman, tinkerer, or inventor of myths, memory accumulates appealing images and materials that can then be reshaped and used over and over again. Many of the abstract shapes in Asheville look like fragments from previous works, a kind of visual promiscuity, or what another critic called “willful pentimenti.” [25] Although there are many unrecognized and suggestive abstract forms in the painting, they pass before us almost without our recognizing them, like fleeting images in a dream. Yet Asheville , with its loopy liner brush lines and sooty colors, is certainly one of de Kooning’s most regal works.  As Rudolf Arnheim explained, in reference to Picasso: “The creative process has systolic and diastolic stages. The artist condenses his material, eliminating unessentials, or paints an abundance of shapes and ideas, recklessly crowding the concept. Rather than grow consistently like a plant, the work often fluctuates between antagonistic operations.” [26]

Or, as Harold Rosenberg said, abstract art in its final analysis is transcendental.

– E N D –

NOTES:

[ 1 ] Martin B Duberman, Black Mountain : An Exploration in Community, Peter Smith, Gloucester ,Massachusetts , 1988. p.283: The artist and Buckminster Fuller became “great friends, really extraordinary friends,” said Fuller. “I used to have to go to Asheville to get things for my structures, for my classes…and Bill de Kooning used to like to ride along with me and talk philosophy. Bill is a very, very wonderful thinker.”
S. Naifeh and G.W. Smith, Jackson Pollock: American Saga, Clarkson Potter, N.Y., 1989, p.710: de Kooning and Rosenberg shared a thoughtful if not deep philosophical streak; when asked if he would rather be a “half-assed philosopher or a great painter, de Kooning replied, “Let me think about that.”

[2] Stephen Polcari, Abstract Expressionism and the Modern Experience, Cambridge University Press, New York, Port Chester, Melbourne, Sydney, 1991, p.28.

[3] Clement Greenberg, Art and Culture: Critical Essays, Beacon Press, Boston, 1961, p.213.

[4] Thomas B. Hess, Willem de Kooning, Museum of Modern Art , N.Y., 1968, p.47.

[5] Harold Rosenberg, The De-definition of Art, Horizon Press, N.Y., 1972, p.13.

[6] Willem de Kooning, “What Abstract Art Means to Me,” Museum of Modern Art Bulletin 18,Spring 1951, p.7; reprinted in Hess, p. 146. De Kooning also described Cubism as “a poetic frame … where an artist could practise  his intuition;” in Hess, p. 146.

[7] Willem de Kooning: Tracing the Figure, essays by Cornelia H. Butler, Paul Schimmel, RichardShiff and Anne M. Wagner, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles , Princeton UniversityPress, Princeton and Oxford , 2002. Elaine de Kooning’s brother, Conrad Fried, remembered that deKooning made his own brushes with extra-long floppy hairs designed to make “fast,” whiplash lines.Shiff, p.158.

[8] Allan Stone, Willem de Kooning: Liquefying Cubism, Allan Stone Gallery catalog, New York, 1994, p. iii.

[9] Willem de Kooning: “I feel certain parts you ought to leave up to the world” in “The Renaissance and Order”, trans/formation 1, 1951; quoted in Thomas B. Hess, Willem de Kooning, Museum of Modern Art , N.Y., 1968, p.141; and in Robert Goodnough, ed., Artists’ Sessions at Studio 35, N.Y.,1950, p.16.

[10] Charles F. Stuckey, “Bill de Kooning and Joe Christmas,” Art in America, vol.68, no.3, March1980, p.78.

[11] Willem de Kooning: Tracing the Figure, essays by Cornelia H. Butler, Paul Schimmel, RichardShiff and Anne M. Wagner, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Princeton UniversityPress, Princeton and Oxford , 2002. Shiff, p. 164, n. 1: “I nevertheless believe that nearly all of deKooning’s “abstractions” either began with a reference to the human figure or incorporated figuralelements along the way.”

[12] Sally Yard, “The Angel and the demoiselle – Willem de Kooning’s Black Friday,” Record of the Art Museum, Princeton University, vol. 50, no. 2, 1991, p.15.

[13] The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, introduction by Charles Scribner III , N.Y. , 1992, p.xviii]: The Great Gatsby “led the Fitzgerald rediscovery and restoration of 1945-50…” Fitzgerald wrote of “…the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes … commensurate with their capacity to wonder.” as well as the “…sporting life at Asheville …” [The Great Gatsby, preface and notes by Matthew J. Bruccoli, N.Y., 1992, p.23].

[14] Numerous friends, associates and critics have cited de Kooning’s wide reading, from Kierkegaard, Melville and Proust to Dostoevsky, Joyce and Whitman.

[15] John Tytell, Passionate Lives, Birch Lane Press , New York , 1991, .p.77. Fitzgerald said Zelda had “a more intense flame at its highest than ever I had.”

[16] Elaine de Kooning, “Edwin Denby Remembered – Part 1,” Ballet Review 12, spring 1984, p. 30; also, Edwin Denby, Willem de Kooning, N.Y., Hanuman Books, 1988, p.46.

[17] Rosalind E. Krauss, The Picasso Papers, N.Y., Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998, p. 72, quoting David Cottongton’s “turning the dross of the vernacular into the gold of art” in Picasso & Braque: A Symposium,  (ed., Lynn Zelevansky) N.Y. Museum of Modern Art, 1992, p. 69.

[18] Krauss, p. 42.

[19] Krauss, p. 72-73.

[20] The painting is inscribed as Ashville [sic] on the back of the panel, with the emphasis on “Ash.” Charles Moore Brock, unpublished Master’s Thesis, “Describing Chaos: Willem de Kooning’s Collage Painting Asheville and its Relationship to Traditions of Description and Illusionism in Western Art,” 1993, University of Maryland , p.8.

[21] Juan Larrea, Guernica: Pablo Picasso, introduction by Alfred H Barr, published by the art dealer, Curt Valentin, N.Y., 1947.

[22] Hess, p. 47-51.

[23] Carla Gottlieb, The Window in Art: a Study of Window Symbolism in Western Painting, Abaris Books, Pleasantville , N.Y. , 1981.

[24] De Kooning, p. 7; reprinted in Hess, p. 146.

[25] Sally Yard, Willem de Kooning: The First Twenty-Six Years in New York – 1927-1952 ( New York : Garland , 1986, p. 57.

[26] Rudolf Arnheim, Picasso’s Guernica: The Genesis of a Painting, University of California Press,Berkeley & Los Angeles , 1962, p.56.

This paper was written with the help of a Release-Time Research Grant from Long Island Universityat Brooklyn . I wish to thank John Ott, educator, computer scientist, and mathematician, for his suggestions in preparing this study.

Copyright  © 2005  Martin Ries

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

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”)

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

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

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Scott Eastwood Interview – The Longest Ride

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PBS Show on Black Mountain College:

Black Mountain College

For a short time in the middle of the twentieth century a small town in North Carolina became a hub of American cultural production. The town was Black Mountain and the reason was Black Mountain College. Founded in 1933, the school was a reaction to the more traditional schools of the time. At its core was the assumption that a strong liberal and fine arts education must happen simultaneously inside and outside the classroom. Combining communal living with an informal class structure, Black Mountain created an environment conducive to the interdisciplinary work that was to revolutionize the arts and sciences of its time.Among Black Mountain’s first professors were the artists Josef and Anni Albers, who had fled Nazi Germany after the closing of the Bauhaus. It was their progressive work in painting and textiles that first attracted students from around the country. Once there, however, students and faculty alike realized that Black Mountain College was one of the few schools sincerely dedicated to educational and artistic experimentation. By the forties, Black Mountain’s faculty included some of the greatest artists and thinkers of its time: Walter Gropius, Jacob Lawrence, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, John Cage, Alfred Kazin, Merce Cunningham, and Paul Goodman. Students found themselves at the locus of such wide ranging innovations as Buckminster Fuller‘s Geodesic Dome, Charles Olson’s Projective Verse, and some of the first performance art in the U.S.By the late 40s, word of what was happening in North Carolina had started to spread throughout the country. With a Board of Directors that included William Carlos Williams and Albert Einsteinand impressive programs in poetry and photography, Black Mountain had become the ideal of American experimental education. Its concentration on cross-genre arts education would influence the programs of many major American institutions.In 1953, as many of the students and faculty left for San Francisco and New York, those still at Black Mountain saw the shift in interest and knew the school had run its course. Black Mountain had existed on its own terms, and on its own terms had succeeded in expanding the possibilities of American education. Realizing that they had essentially achieved their goals, they closed their doors forever. Black Mountain’s legacy continued however, with former students such as painter Robert Rauschenberg, publisher Jonathan Williams, and poet John Wieners bringing the revolutionary spirit of their alma mater to the forefront of a number of other cultural movements and institutions.

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Great article 

Willem de Kooning Life and Art Periods

“I’m not interested in ‘abstracting’ or taking things out or reducing painting to design, form, line, and color. I paint this way because I can keep putting more things in it – drama, anger, pain, love, a figure, a horse, my ideas about space. Through your eyes it again becomes an emotion or idea.”

WILLEM DE KOONING SYNOPSIS

After Jackson Pollock, de Kooning was the most prominent and celebrated of theAbstract Expressionist painters. His pictures typify the vigorous gestural style of the movement and he, perhaps, did more than any of his contemporaries to develop a radically abstract style of painting that fused Cubism, Surrealism and Expressionism. Although he established his reputation with a series of entirely abstract pictures, he felt a strong pull towards traditional subjects and would eventually become most famous for his pictures of women, which he painted in spells throughout his life. Later he turned to landscapes, which were also highly acclaimed, and which he continued to paint even into his eighties, when his mind was significantly impaired by Alzheimer’s disease.

WILLEM DE KOONING KEY IDEAS

De Kooning strongly opposed the restrictions imposed by naming movements and, while generally considered to be an Abstract Expressionist, he never fully abandoned the depiction of the human figure. His paintings of women feature a unique blend of gestural abstraction and figuration. Heavily influenced by the Cubism of Picasso, de Kooning became a master at ambiguously blending figure and ground in his pictures while dismembering, re-assembling and distorting his figures in the process.
Although known for continually reworking his canvases, de Kooning often left them with a sense of dynamic incompletion, as if the forms were still in the process of moving and settling and coming into definition. In this sense his paintings exemplify ‘action painting’ – they are like records of a violent encounter, rather than finished works in the old Beaux Arts tradition of fine painting.
Although he came to embody the popular image of the macho, hard-drinking artist – and his most famous Women series seems painted with angry vigor – de Kooning approached his art with careful thought and was considered one of the most knowledgeable among the artists associated with the New York School. He is thought to possessed the greatest facility and polished techniques of painters in the New York School, one that compares to that of Old Masters, and he looked to the likes of Ingres, Rubens and Rembrandt for inspiration.

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MOST IMPORTANT ART

Seated Woman (1940)
Seated Woman was de Kooning’s first major painting of a woman, and it evolved, curiously, out of a commission for a slightly earlier picture, Portrait of a Woman (c.1940). The artist seems to have held on to the commissioned portrait and started to use it to develop new pictures. The earlier work was shaped in part by contemporary images of women in magazines and by de Kooning’s wife Elaine who had even stood in as a model when the portrait’s subject was not available. These factors surely encouraged de Kooning to see the possibilities of using a ‘portrait’ to represent womankind in general, rather than a specific individual. Seated Woman was also undoubtedly influenced by Arshile Gorky, in particular the figurative The Artist and his Mother, which Gorky worked on for almost fifteen years after 1926.
Oil and charcoal on masonite – The Philadelphia Museum of Art

WILLEM DE KOONING BIOGRAPHY

Childhood / Early Training

Born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands in 1904, Willem de Kooning was raised mostly by his mother, who owned a bar, after his parents divorced when he was three. He found his vocation early and left school when he was twelve to apprentice at a commercial design and decorating firm. He also studied at Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Techniques. During this period, he became interested in Jugendstil, the German variant of Art Nouveau, and its organic forms were significant in shaping his early style. However, he was soon distracted by the ascendant Dutch movement De Stijl, becoming particularly interested in its emphasis on purity of color and form, and its conception of the artist as a master craftsman.

After living for a year in Belgium in 1924, de Kooning returned to Rotterdam before travelling as a stowaway to the United States, arriving in Virginia in August 1926. He worked his way to Boston on a coal ship, then worked as a house painter in Hoboken, New Jersey before moving across the Hudson to Manhattan. There he took jobs in commercial art, designed window displays and produced fashion advertisements, work which would consume him for several years. De Kooning was still unable to devote himself to the art he loved, but he found the community of artists in New York too valuable to leave behind; when offered a salaried job in Philadelphia, he remarked that he would rather be poor in New York than rich in Philadelphia.

Willem de Kooning Biography

Several artists proved important for his development in those early years. He valued the example of Stuart Davis’ urbane modernism, as well as John Graham’s ideas, but Arshile Gorky was to be the biggest stylistic influence on de Kooning – “I met a lot of artists,” he once said, “but then I met Gorky.” Gorky had spent years working through Picasso’s Cubism and then Miró’s Surrealism before reaching his own mature style, and in subsequent years, de Kooning would follow a similar path: he was impressed by two major exhibitions he saw at MoMA in 1936, “Cubism and Abstract Art” and “Fantastic Art, Dada, and Surrealism,” and he was powerfully influenced by a Picassoretrospective that was staged at the same museum in 1939.

De Kooning worked on projects for the WPA mural division from 1935-37, and for the first time he was able to focus entirely on fine art instead of commercial painting. His network expanded to include Harold Rosenberg, the art critic who later heralded him as a leader of action painting. And in 1936 he was included in the show New Horizons in American Art at MoMA. Men were often the subjects of his pictures in this period, and although they are often traditionally posed, the bodies of figures such as The Glazier (c.1940) were radically distorted and the planes flattened. De Kooning often struggled with certain details in his portraits – hair, hands and shoulders – and this encouraged a habit of scraping back and reworking areas of his pictures, which left them with the appearance of being unfinished. He also painted highly abstract pictures during this time, and these, such as The Wave (c.1942-44), are characterized by flat, biomorphic forms similar to those which had first attracted the young artist to Jugendstil.

Willem de Kooning Photo

In 1938, de Kooning took on Elaine Fried as an apprentice; she became his wife in 1943, and in time she would become a prominent Abstract Expressionist in her own right. The two shared a tempestuous, alcohol-fueled relationship, one which was not aided by extramarital affairs on both sides. Following their separation at the end of the 1950s, de Kooning had a child with another woman, and even had an affair with Ruth Kligman, the former lover of Jackson Pollock who had survived the car crash that killed him. However, Elaine and Willem reunited in the mid 1970s and remained together until her death in 1989.

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WILLEM DE KOONING LEGACY

Although undoubtedly an equal of Jackson Pollock in talent and achievement, de Kooning’s work has proved less influential. His achievement was to blend Cubism,Expressionism and Surrealism, and he did so with astonishing power throughout a career remarkable for its consistent high quality. Yet as artists’ concerns moved away from those of modernism, his work seemed less relevant, and for a generation of less macho, more Pop-influenced artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, de Kooning represented the epitome of the grand heroics they distrusted. Rauschenberg himself would express their distance from him most powerfully – and famously – when he purchased a drawing by de Kooning, erased it, and exhibited the result as his own artwork (Erased de Kooning Drawing, (1953)). Nevertheless, de Kooning’s influence on painters remains important even to this day, particularly those attracted to gestural styles; the highly abstract and erotic work of prominent 1990s painter Cecily Brown is inconceivable without his example.

Original content written by The Art Story Contributors
Willem de Kooning. [Internet]. 2015. TheArtStory.org website. Available from:
http://www.theartstory.org/artist-de-kooning-willem.htm [Accesed 03 May 2015]

WILLEM DE KOONING QUOTES

“I don’t paint to live, I live to paint”

“I’d like to get all the colors in the world into one painting”.

“I never was interested in how to make a good painting.. But to see how far one can go”.

“Art never seems to make me peaceful or pure. I always seem to be wrapped up in the melodrama of vulgarity.”

“I don’t paint with ideas of art in mind. I see something that excites me. It becomes my content.”

“Even abstract shapes must have a likeness”

“Flesh was the reason why oil painting was invented”

INFLUENCES

ARTISTS

Pablo Picasso

Joan Miró

Piet Mondrian

Arshile Gorky

Chaim Soutine
FRIENDS

Clement Greenberg

Harold Rosenberg

Franz Kline

John Graham
MOVEMENTS

Cubism

De Stijl

Surrealism

Expressionism
Willem de Kooning Bio Photo
Willem de Kooning
Years Worked: 1930 – 1990
ARTISTS

Robert Rauschenberg Overview

Robert Rauschenberg

Joan Mitchell Overview

Joan Mitchell

Franz Kline Overview

Franz Kline

Richard Diebenkorn Overview

Richard Diebenkorn

Cecily Brown Overview

Cecily Brown
FRIENDS

Harold Rosenberg Overview

Harold Rosenberg

Clement Greenberg Overview

Clement Greenberg

Arshile Gorky Overview

Arshile Gorky
MOVEMENTS

Pop Art Overview

Pop Art

Post-Painterly Abstraction Overview

Post-Painterly Abstraction

Neo-Expressionism Overview

Neo-Expressionism

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Good article

This is the PopLifeArt.com blog. I’ll use the blog to let you know what’s going on in the world of celebrity art.

Paintings by Paul McCartney

Ancient Connections by Paul McCartney

Like his former Beatles bandmates Ringo Starr and the late John Lennon, Paul McCartney is a painter. His interest in art developed in the 1960s through his friendship with gallery-owner Robert Fraser. Through Fraser McCartney met many well-known artists including Andy Warhol. He later became a fan of Rene Magritte. He used Magritte’s painting of an apple for the Apple Records logo. He also established a friendship with artist Willem de Kooning who is said to have had a large influence on McCartney’s artistic style. Paul McCartney took up painting in 1983. He exhibited his paintings for the first time in Siegen, Germany in 1999. The catalog from this exhibition was later released as a book titled Paul McCartney: Paintings. In 2002 he had a comprehensive exhibition of his artwork at the Walker Art Gallery in his home town of Liverpool. The image posted here is “Ancient Connections” by Paul McCartney.

See the Pop Life Art homepage for links to the artwork of Paul McCartney and other singers, musicians, and actors.

Paul McCartney Free Concert and Art Exhibit in the Ukraine (4/29/08)

Photographs by Linda McCartney to go on Display in London (4/4/08)

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Paul McCartney and Luigi’s Alcove

Big Mountain Face

I’m sure you know Paul McCartney as a singer and song-writer. But did you know the ex-Beatle also paints?

A few years ago, I got the book Paul McCartney: Paintings. He does these big, expressive, semi-abstract pieces that have a sort of visceral effect, with lots of drips and runs. Very much influenced by Willem de Kooning’sabstract expressionism.

Great article on Black Mountain College:

Experimental liberal arts college at Black Mountain, NC, open from 1933 to 1957. In the 1940s and early 1950s it was a centre for a group of painters, architects, musicians and poets associated particularly with the development of performance and multimedia work, crossing many disciplines. It was founded by John Andrew Rice (1888–1968) and a group of students and staff from Rollins College, Winter Park, FL. It was located in the Blue Ridge Assembly Buildings, c. 29 km east of Asheville, NC, until 1941, when it moved to nearby Lake Eden until its closure. The progressive ideas of John Dewey influenced the interaction of formal education with community life, the absence of conventional grades and credits and the central importance accorded to the arts. The college was owned and administered by the staff. The setting was modest, and fewer than 1200 students attended in 24 years.

In the founding year Josef Albers, the first of many European refugees to teach at Black Mountain, came from Germany to teach art; through his activities the college disseminated Bauhaus teaching methods and ideas into American culture. The visual arts curriculum included courses in design and colour that later became a standard part of art education, as well as workshops in weaving, wood-working, printing, photography and bookbinding. Anni Albers, a former Bauhaus student, developed a weaving course that emphasized designing for industrial production. Xanti Schawinsky (1904–79), who studied with Oskar Schlemmer at the Bauhaus, taught art and stage studies from 1936 to 1938 and directed Spectodrama: Play, Life, Illusion, one of the earliest performances of abstract theatre in the USA.

In 1944 Black Mountain College sponsored its first summer arts programme, which attracted many major artists for intense periods of teaching and participation in concerts, exhibitions, lectures and drama and dance performances. Among the European artists who taught were Lyonel Feininger, Walter Gropius, Leo Lionni (b1910), Amédée Ozenfant, Bernard Rudofsky (1905–88) and Ossip Zadkine. Other summer staff included Leo Amino (b 1911), John Cage, Mary Callery (1903–77), Merce Cunningham, Willem de Kooning, Buckminster Fuller, Jacob Lawrence (b 1917), Barbara Morgan (b 1900) and Robert Motherwell. Ilya Bolotowsky taught from 1946 to 1948.

After Josef Albers left in 1949, the central figure in the community was the poet and critic Charles Olson (1910–70), who taught at the college in 1948–9 and returned in 1951. Under his direction the college became a centre for the formulation of a new poetics based on open form and ‘projective verse’. The Black Mountain Review, edited by Robert Creeley (b 1926), was one of the most influential small-press journals of the period, and the college played a formative role in the revival of the small-press movement in the USA. Creeley, Joseph Fiore (b 1925), M. C. Richards (b 1916) and Robert Duncan (1919–88) were among the members of the young American staff. A ceramics course was added to the curriculum and the faculty included Robert Turner (b 1913), Karen Karnes (b 1925) and David Weinrib (b 1924). The summer sessions in the arts brought many artists to the campus, including Harry Callahan, Shōji Hamada, Franz Kline, Bernard Leach, Ben Shahn, Aaron Siskind, Jack Tworkov and Peter Voulkos (b 1924).

Albers and the other European artists brought the spirit of modernism to the progressive, experimental spirit of the founders, and the fusion of these two movements culminated in a creative atmosphere and an intense, intellectual community, receptive to experimental ventures in the arts. It was at Black Mountain College that Buckminster Fuller attempted to raise his first dome in 1948, that John Cage staged his first work of performance art in 1952, and that the Cunningham Dance Company was founded in 1953. Through the work of its students, among them Ruth Asawa (b 1926), John Chamberlain, Ray Johnson, Kenneth Noland, Robert Rauschenberg, Dorothea Rockburne (b 1929), Kenneth Snelson, Cy Twombly, Stanley Vanderbeek (1927–84) and Jonathan Williams (b1929), the college played a formative role in the definition of an American aesthetic and identity in the arts during the 1950s and 1960s.

Mary Emma Harris
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

Spark’s latest ‘The Longest Ride’ filmed across NC

Like most of NC native Nicholas Sparks‘ stories, “The Longest Ride” is set in North Carolina and involves love stories that intertwine across time. In “The Longest Ride”  Luke, a rodeo rider played by Clint Eastwood’s son Scott Eastwood, and Sophia, an art history major at Wake Forest University  played by Britt Robertson, fall in love against a backdrop of North Carolina mountains and Piedmont hills. A second plot line features Ira, a WWII vet played by Alan Alda. Told mostly in flashback, this story is largely set at historic Black Mountain College, an experimental school just outside Asheville which left a huge legacy both in the arts and in education during its brief life.
Released by 20th Century Fox on April 10, 2015, the film was made in North Carolina, using locations across the state. Filming destinations included Wilmington, Winston-Salem, Jacksonville and the Yadkin River Valley, home of North Carolina’s largest wine area, as well as the NC mountains and the isolated peak of Pilot Mountain, just north of Winston-Salem.
“Nicholas Sparks, who makes his home in New Bern, N.C., finds endless inspiration in the history and beauty of North Carolina,” said Wit Tuttell, executive director of Visit North Carolina. “By using the natural landscapes to bring ‘The Longest Ride’ to the screen, the filmmakers have created a special invitation to explore the state’s scenery, heritage and an artistic streak that extends from the mountains to the coast.”
To help film tourists experience places featured in the film and the novel, Visit North Carolina has put together a four-day trip across the state (we think a week would do it more justice). Here are some highlights:
The itinerary begins in Asheville’s River Arts District, where you can join the stars in exploring some 189 working studios and dine in some of the trendiest restaurants in this foodie obsessed city. Consider an overnight stay at the Omni Grove Park Inn, with majestic views of the city and the mountains, where Alda and his bride, played by Oona Chaplin, honeymooned. Downtown Asheville is also a great spot to begin your exploration of the phenomenon that was Black Mountain College. The Asheville Art Museum houses the Black Mountain Collection which includes works by some of the most influential artists who made their home at the college including Elaine de Kooning, Ken Noland, and Ray Johnson. The Black Mountain College Museum and Event Center, located a block or so away, tells the history of this remarkable institution.
Day Two takes visitors down I-40 for a driveby of the old Black Mountain College campus on Lake Eden off Old Hwy 70. In operation from just 1933 to 1957, the grounds are now used as a boys camp, but regain some of their artistic spark during the Lake Eden Arts Festival, held twice a year. The artsy community of Black Mountain, home of numerous galleries and shops, is worth a visit year round.
Continue down I-40 to I-77 for a hike or horse ride on the trails at Pilot Mountain State Park, with 2,421-foot quartzite dome, a National Natural Landmark, climbed by Luke and Sophia in the movie. This is the heart of the Yadkin Valley wine region, with lots of options for tastings and dining, as well as accommodations on winery grounds. To complete the film experience, plan a stay at the Mitchell River House, Luke’s home in “The Longest Ride.”
Day Three heads for Winston-Salem, home of the lush campus of Wake Forest University, where Sophia studied art. Plan your trip into town through the towns of Pinnacle and King, location of the American Legion Complex scene of the movie’s rodeo action. The city of Winston-Salem is home to several important art galleries, including the Reynolda House Museum, once home of the Reynolds family, as well as the living history neighborhood of Old Salem. Follow Luke and Sophia’s steps to Sakura Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar or the elegant Fabian’s Restaurant.
Day Four of the itinerary travels to Wilmington, a 3.5 hour drive down I-40. Make a short detour at Exit 384 to visit the charming downtown of Wallace, NC, which stood in for downtown Greensboro during the era when Ira was growing up there. Locations from the film include Wallace storefronts that “played” Ira’s father’s haberdashery, the soda shop, bus station and newsstand.
Much of the filming of “The Longest Ride” took place in Wilmington, known as Hollywood East and the location of the sound stages of EUE/Screen Gems Studios, which are again open for touring during the travel season. Wilmington locations used in filming include the Temple of Israel, the Union Station Building, St. Mary’s Catholic School and homes in historic neighborhoods, best seen by horse-drawn carriage. The galleries of the Cameron Art Museum stood in for several of the museums visited in the film. Sign up for the Hollywood Location Walk to discover Wilmington locations used in many movies from “Blue Velvet” to “Iron Man 3” as well as many Sparks films and TV shows. Plan to stay at the Greystone Inn, where the “Longest Ride” party scene was filmed.
The final stop in the itinerary is nearby Caswell Beach, located on remote Oak Island, which served as a stand-in for the Outer Banks where Ruth’s family vacationed.
Learn more and access everything you need for planning a trip at VisitNC.com, or call 1-800-VISITNC (1-800-847-4862).

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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”)

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

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This is the 14th post in this series on the amazing artists, poets and professors associated with Black Mountain College (the college that was featured in the recent film THE LONGEST RIDE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Publication date: April 10, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wild Intellectuals and Exotic Folks

By Rachel Galvin | HUMANITIES, July/August 2001 | Volume 22, Number 4

A small college in the mountains of North Carolina brought together some of the most innovative artists and thinkers of its time—Robert Motherwell and Buckminster Fuller and John Cage. Plagued by debts, the school sold off its land, cattle, and pianos until it eventually closed its doors in 1957.

The poet Charles Olson called Black Mountain a “little hotbox of education,” saying, “The place is overrun with talent for me to use, and learn by.” A crucible for artistic talent, Black Mountain College was founded in 1933 and for twenty-four years was a magnet for artists in a variety of media: John Cage, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Willem de Kooning, Robert Duncan, Buckminster Fuller, Franz Kline, Jacob Lawrence, Charles Olson, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, and Ben Shahn, among others.

Black Mountain was a progressive liberal arts college founded on the idea of complete academic freedom. But with the traditional parameters of the classroom nearly eradicated, was Black Mountain still an institution of higher learning?

“Most work in 1955-1956 was done in tutorial fashion, one member of the community asking another’s opinion on a painting, a piece of writing, a text, an idea,” Martin Duberman writes in his book, Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community. “And that might be exactly why so many who were in the community during 1955-1956 insist today that it was a learning environment—an occasional loony bin, a rest camp, a pressure cooker, a refuge, and a welfare agency—but nonetheless a learning environment.”

“Black Mountain is a legendary school in terms of art circles and in North Carolina,” says Dick Lankford, archivist at the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. Lankford is directing the department’s effort to preserve Black Mountain College materials. With an NEH grant, sixteen collections of audiotaped interviews, brittle records, and deteriorating photographs are being conserved, archived, and cata-loged in a searchable reference system that will be accessible on the Web. The Department hopes to digitize the materi-als and eventually make them available on the Internet.

Project archivist Barbara Cain says scholars and students are coming from all over the world to consult the collections. “We have a scholar working on neo-Dadaism coming from France, and a German scholar interested in the carry-over from Germany to the United States, particularly in the teaching of art.” Other projects include a book on the teaching methods of Josef Albers, who taught color and design at Black Mountain; a study of the Bauhaus movement in America; and a college course on poet Robert Creeley and other Black Mountain writers.

“There was a period of time when people looked down at Black Mountain as a failure because it closed its doors, but history provides a certain perspective,” Lankford says. “Black Mountain has been a pivotal institution since its founding in 1933 right up until its demise in 1957. Its educational philosophy was way ahead of its time.”

The college was founded by John Andrew Rice, Theodore Dreier, and other former faculty members from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. The group envisioned a college that would be run democratically, owned and administered by the faculty and students themselves. No courses would be required, no grades given, and students would be free to direct their course of studies as they pleased. Everyone—students and faculty—would participate in the work program, preparing meals, maintaining the campus, and working on the school farm. And in contrast to the majority of colleges and universities of the time, Black Mountain would be a place where knowledge was put into action and the arts given equal importance with the rest of the curriculum.

“Now we take for granted that every college has an art department,” says Mary Emma Harris, art historian and project consultant. “Then, you could study art history, but not really get a degree in art—and when a degree did exist, it was given through the home economics department.”

Black Mountain’s founders looked to John Dewey, author of Democracy and Education, who wrote that to develop one’s creative abilities was “an inalienable right.” In Harper’s Magazine in May, 1937, Rice explained his theory that the arts ought to be an educational activity rather than simply a subject of study: “What you do with what you know is the important thing. To know is not enough.”

In its first year, the college offered courses in physics, mathematics, chemistry, music, English, psychology, economics, and Romance languages, as well as art classes. To lend credibility to the institution, the founders assembled a distinguished roster of advisers that included John Dewey, Walter Gropius, Carl Jung, Max Lerner, Franz Kline, and Albert Einstein. Despite the hesitation of many parents to send their children to an unaccredited college that would not offer a degree, the college managed to attract a sufficient number of students dissatisfied with traditional education, and in 1933 its doors opened.

“Black Mountain was a community, first and last—a company of people,” says Robert Creeley, poet and former faculty member. Creeley believes artist John Chamberlain put it most aptly: “At Black Mountain one found, as he said, people who were more interested in what they didn’t know than in what they did. It was an extraordinary sense of conduct and thinking, despite its small numbers. It had only faculty and students as its determinants—no overseers, no administration other than those so participating. That was its absolute virtue—the interactive condition of its faculty and students. No one was or could get ‘outside.’”

Students came from all over the U.S. to attend Black Mountain, but the majority con-sisted of northeasterners—many from New York City, according to Jonathan Williams, former Black Mountain student and publisher of Jargon Books. Potential students were most often reached by word of mouth. “M. C. Richards, who was there in the forties mostly as a writer—she became a potter as well—would go out in the spring and try to recruit people,” says Williams. “There wasn’t any money to do much of anything. They would put out the occasional bulletin or advertising brochure once a year, some very attractively designed by the graphic arts people there.”

At its inception, the college had only three rules. The first was formulated by Rice: “The constant admonition of a college should not be ‘Be intellectual’ or ‘Be muscular!’ (in both cases the dividing line is the neck) but ‘Be intelligent!’” The second was that firearms must be deposited with the administration; and the third rule was that women students must not hitchhike in the South. There was also a tacit agreement that a “Do Not Disturb” sign ought to be respected.

“The fact that there were no academic departments—there weren’t enough people for that—meant that the learning was interdisciplinary,” says Harris.

“Everybody was sharing ideas from their field. It wasn’t compartmentalized or departmentalized.” Composer John Cage believed the most important learning at Black Mountain took place at mealtime, because faculty and students sat together in the dining hall.

“The relationships between faculty and students were much less formal,” says Harris. “In the end it was a communal learning situation.”

The founders of the college had no illusions about creating a utopia, however, and focused on building an educational community with an emphasis on the arts. “Black Mountain College combined elements of the progressive schools, farm schools, religious sects, and summer camps,” Harris writes in her book, The Arts at Black Mountain College. “There was a strong sense of pioneering in the American tradition of building a ‘log cabin college’ out of nothing and of providing a good education without tremendous laboratories, expensive buildings, and stadiums.”

The college reaffirmed democratic government, individual freedom, and responsibility in a period of economic instability and rising totalitarianism, says Harris. In the same year the college was founded, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany, the Bauhaus movement was closed down by the Nazis, and the persecution of Jews, artists, and intellectuals was beginning in Europe. The Depression held the United States in its grip, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt had just been elected president.

The addition of European artists to the Black Mountain faculty had a tremendous impact on the atmosphere of the college and the aesthetic taught there. Only a few months after the college opened, Josef and Anni Albers arrived from Germany, fleeing the rise of Nazism. Josef Albers, the first of the Bauhaus teachers to come to the United States, was an advocate of abstract art. “Abstracting is the essential function of the Human Spirit,” he wrote in 1936. He later said he wanted the same right as the composer to create abstract forms that “have life within themselves as music has.” Albers’s philosophy had a palpable impact on artists of all disciplines who studied with him at Black Mountain.

When the United States entered World War II, most young men were drafted or left to join the war effort. The student body remaining at Black Mountain consisted of women, men past the draft age, and European refugees. In 1941 Black Mountain College moved onto its own property at Lake Eden, where students and faculty constructed a number of buildings, expanded their farming activities, and set up a mica mine to prepare the mineral for sale as war material.

After the war, Black Mountain managed to get approved for GI bill benefits even though it was not an accredited college. “If that had not happened, the college would have closed after the war,” says Harris. “Instead, enrollment skyrocketed to more than ninety students.”

A number of as yet unrecognized artists came to Black Mountain in the late 1940s, either as visiting summer faculty or as students, furthering the college’s reigning spirit of interdisciplinary collaboration. Jacob Lawrence taught a course on “creative painting” in 1946, giving him the occasion to meet Josef Albers, who encouraged his newfound interest in abstraction. In the summer of 1948, John Cage gave the first performance ofSonatas and Interludes while Merce Cunningham danced. Both had received some atten-tion, though Cunningham had not yet left the Martha Graham Company to begin his own dance company. Willem de Kooning—who could not manage to sell any work from his first one-person exhibition in New York—came to teach art. Buckminster Fuller, an engineer and architect considered a “delightful nut,” had not yet developed his geo-desic dome, which he would do while at Black Mountain.

By the 1950s, Rice and the Albers had left Black Mountain, and in contrast to the period in which the college had been founded, America was experiencing an era of prosperity and conservatism. The college’s association with liberal causes brought it under suspicion of harboring communist sympathies. “The times then were quite hostile,” says Robert Creeley.

“The FBI had a person come check out Black Mountain College on a regular basis, ‘Frank,’ who was amiable enough, as it happens, and even gave us advice as to how we might have secured government grants.”

In 1951, poet and unorthodox scholar Charles Olson became rector of the college. Under Olson’s guidance, the college metamorphosed into a primarily arts-driven institution and the farmwork aspect of the program was all but terminated. In a letter to Creeley, Olson wrote that the college would focus on “painting, music, dance, writing, architecture, pots, cloth, wood, theatre, printing, sculpture & photography. . . . No academics.”

Olson’s personality and views on writing and art dominated the college during its remaining years. In his 1950 essay “Projective Verse,” published in Poetry New York, Olson had advocated open forms, describing the poem as a “field” and stressing that a line ought to be measured in terms of a person’s breath. These ideas distinguished him from the predominant movement in literature, New Criticism, and its proponents such as Allan Tate, Lionel Trilling, T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, Robert Lowell, and Elizabeth Bishop.

“Meeting Charles Olson was rather like meeting Ralph Waldo Emerson, I suspect. He was very much in that tradition of New England sages,” says Jonathan Williams. “He was enormous —about 6’9” and 275 pounds—he was a towering sort of person and also as a personality. Like Emerson, he was almost oracular in his writing and would just come bursting out with extraordinary remarks—practically three a minute.”

“My relation to Black Mountain had far more to do with Olson than with any fact of the institution,” says Creeley. “It was he who arranged, in effect, for the publication of the journal, Black Mountain Review, and also set up my being invited there to teach in the spring of 1954.”

Black Mountain floundered financially during Olson’s tenure. The faculty often went without pay, and the college periodically sold off its land, cattle, and pianos to raise funds.

“By the time I got to Black Mountain, its faculty and student body were very small indeed,” says Creeley. “The classes I taught were about six to eight people, period—the entire student body ranged from thirty to twenty as I recall. At that point the structure and operation of the college was all but derelict.”

While its administration was disintegrating, Black Mountain entered a period of flourishing productivity and artistic collaboration that continued to attract talented artists. Ben Shahn, Robert Motherwell, John Cage, Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Fielding Dawson, Joel Oppenheimer, and John Chamberlain taught at the college. In the summer of 1951, students witnessed Shahn debating the relative merits of figurative and abstract art with Motherwell; Shahn painted designs for Nick Cernovich’s dance; and writers who would become known as the “Black Mountain poets” collaborated with artists in magazines such as Black Mountain Review, Cid Corman’s Origin, and Jonathan Williams’s Jargon.

“I began Jargon only a few weeks before going to Black Mountain,” says Williams. “The first thing I did there was Jargon number two, which was a poem by Joel Oppenheimer dedicated to Kathryn Litz—a dancer who was at Black Mountain that summer—and I asked Bob Rauschenberg for a work to put in with the poem.” That summer, Litz had danced in a stage production called The Glyph, with a set designed by Ben Shahn and text by Olson.

Williams went on to publish Olson’s Maximus poems, as well as collections by Creeley, Kenneth Patchen, Robert Duncan, Louis Zukofsky, Michael McClure, Paul Metcalf, Mina Loy, and Lorine Niedecker. Jargon continues to publish new and innovative work and to encourage collaboration between writers and visual artists. “Jargon is very much as it was. I use a lot of photography in the design of the books,” says Williams. “I like the idea of two people working together in a book.”

“The support Jonathan Williams’s Jargon Press gave me was very, very helpful,” says Creeley. “Cid Corman is also an old friend indeed and Origin’s publication of my work as a feature in its second issue again let me take my writing seriously and found me a company I have never lost and forever value. That’s what magazines really are for, as Olson writes, ‘we who live our lives quite properly in print’—or words to that effect.”

Creeley’s endeavor to combine words and imagery, which preceded his association with Black Mountain, continues today. A current traveling exhibition entitled “In Company” showcases Creeley’s affiliation with visual artists, several of whom he worked with while at Black Mountain.

Black Mountain in the mid-fifties was a locus of artistic vitality. Robert Duncan wrote in the 1956 Black Mountain Review that “in American poetry the striding syllables show an aesthetic based on energies.” He also recognized the “bravura brushstroke” in abstract expressionist painting: “the power and movement of the arm itself . . . the involvement of the painter in the act.”

Donald Allen calls Olson, Creeley, Duncan, Williams, and their peers “our avant-garde, the true continuers of the modern movement in American poetry,” in his preface to the 1960 New American Poetry. “These poets have already created their own tradi-tion, their own press, and their public.”

The vision of experimental education delineated by Black Mountain’s founders in the early 1930s was dramatically revised by the time lack of funds caused the school to close its doors in 1957, yet the college continued to draw individuals interested in intellectual and artistic freedom and to nurture ground-breaking artists. One former student said that at any place on the campus, day or night, “there were always people arguing and talking. . . .  All kinds of people with completely different, associated interests and fields.”

“Black Mountain being so small and freewheeling, Olson’s class began after supper,” Jonathan Williams recalls. “It would go on until about 10:30 and then everybody would get in cars and race down to the local beer joint, Ma Peak’s Tavern, until that closed around twelve, and then people would bring cases of beer back to the college. I don’t know what those poor mountain folks thought of all those wild intellectuals and exotic folks from New York. A lot of interesting talk got talked down there— there were big booths, so you could get seven or eight people in one of those booths and jabber away. That’s what Dahlberg said, ‘Literature is the way we ripen ourselves by conversation.’”

“There was one occasion when Olson’s class ran for two days—it got so interesting at dawn of the first day that people said listen, we’re really getting somewhere, let’s just keep going. It went on all that day and all the next night.”

Friday, 29 September, 2000, 06:03 GMT 07:03 UK

Sir Paul McCartney

Abstract art: Sir Paul started painting when he was 40

The first UK exhibition of Sir Paul McCartney’s art work has opened in Bristol.The 58-year-old singer has been painting since he was 40, but he has only exhibited his work once before, in Germany last year.Featuring a selection of the 500 canvasses he has painted, the exhibition, at the Arnolfini Gallery, coincides with the publication of a book on his art.Speaking on the eve of the exhibition’s opening, Sir Paul said he had always wanted to be an artist, and felt he had missed out on formal training in his teenage years.”I always liked drawing as a kid and I liked the idea of painting but I felt there was some sort of reason why I shouldn’t, because I hadn’t been trained, because I hadn’t been to art college, because I was just a working class person,” he said.Abstract art

Sir Paul recounted how a conversation with US artist Willem de Kooning prompted him to pick up palette and brushes.

Willem de Koonig

Willem de Kooning, abstract artist who inspired Sir Paul, died in 1997

While looking at one of the late painter’s works Sir Paul asked de Kooning: “At the risk of appearing gauche, what is it, Bill?”De Kooning, an abstract expressionist, replied: “I dunno, looks like a couch, huh?”

“I thought his painting looked like a purple mountain and he thought it looked like a couch, but the fact that he said that it didn’t matter what it was just freed me,” Sir Paul said.

Spat with Lennon

The exhibition coincides with the recent re-publication of an interview fellow Beatle John Lennon gave to Rolling Stone magazine in 1970.

Lennon attacks Sir Paul in the interview, but the musician pointed out that it came when the band members were going through their worst crisis.

John Lennon

John Lennon: Interview ‘hurt a lot at the time’ according to Sir Paul

“It hurt a lot at the time but we got back together as friends and he is on record as saying a lot of that slagging off he gave me was really just him crying for help,” Sir Paul said.“He could have been boozed out of his head, as he was during that period, he could have been crazed on this, that or the other substance.

“But we did get very friendly, and he did tell me that a lot of those things he said he didn’t mean.

“I was very lucky in as much as before he got killed we were able to tell each other we loved each other,” he added.

Willem de Kooning chronology


de Kooning with painting, 1946. Photograph by Harry Bowden, 10x9in. Archives of American Art.

1904 April 24, Willem de Kooning is born in Port of Rotterdam, Holland, to Leendert de Kooning (b. February 10, 1876) and Cornelia Nobel de Kooning (b. March 3, 1877). He has one older sister, Marie (b. 1899). (His mother later gives birth to three more daughters, none of whom live past one year.)

1909 Parents divorce; court awards custody of five-year-old Willem to his father. His mother, however, kidnaps Willem and is later awarded full custody.

1916 Completes grammar school.

1916-1920 Begins training in commercial art under Jan and Jaap Giding, proprietors of a large commercial art firm, with whom he resides. Enrolls in the Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten en Technische Wetenschappen in Brussels, Belgium, attending night classes until 1924, when he graduates with certifications in both carpentry and art.

1920 Leaves the Giddings to begin training with Bernard Romein, noted art director of a large department store in Rotterdam.

1924-1926 Travels to Antwerp and enrolls in the Van Schelling School of Design, commuting to Brussels to study simultaneously at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts, supporting himself with commercial work.


The Kiss, 1925. Graphite on paper, 48.3×33.5cm. Allan Stone Gallery, New York City.

1926 Immigrates to United States as a stow-away on the SS Shelly, arriving in Newport News, Virginia on July 30. Takes ship to Boston, Massachusetts, then travels by train to Rhode Island. Settles in Hoboken, New Jersey, and finds lodging at the Dutch Seaman’s Home. Becomes acquainted with other artists and moves to New York City. Works as commercial artist and as a sign-painter, window dresser, and carpenter.

1927 Moves to Manhattan and begins working for Eastman Brothers, a design firm. Meets Misha Reznikoff, who is later instrumental in securing his 1948 summer teaching job at Black Mountain College.

1928 Spends the summer at the artists’ colony in Woodstock, New York.

1929 Becomes associated with modern artists John Graham and Stuart Davis. Buys Capehart hi-fi sound system, spending nearly six months’ salary. Frequents George’s in the Village and the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem with David Margoli and other artists.

1930 Meets David Smith and Arshile Gorky. Moves into studio apartment with Gorky. Works as a window dresser for A.S. Beck, a chain of shoe stores in New York. Meets Virginia “Nini” Diaz, with whom he goes to Woodstock, New York. in late May. Moves to 348 W. 55th Street with Diaz in the autumn; Diaz’s mother moves in. Diaz has first of three abortions, the last in 1935, which leaves her unable to conceive.

1932 Moves to Greenwich Village with Diaz.

1934 Joins Artist’s Union, which leads to attending John Reed Club (a pro- Communist group) meetings, despite his anti-Commuist leanings. Meets Julie Browner in May and begins relationship; Diaz moves out. Returns to Woodstock and rents home with Browner for the summer. Invites Diaz to join them, which she does, resulting in a ménage à trois. Invites Marie Marchowski and her friend to join them; they also move in. Returns to New York City, live at 40 Union Square, a home owned by friend and architect Mac Vogel. Browning returns from Woodstock; she and de Kooning move to 145 West 21st Street, then to 145 West 23rd Street.

1935 Meets Rudy Burckhardt and Edwin Denby, who become first collectors of de Kooning’s work. Begins full-time employment with the mural division of the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project, one of which is the Williamsburg Federal Housing Project in Brooklyn. Makes pivotal decision to devote his life to art, inspired by WPA director Burgoyne Diller. Leaves A.S. Beck to pursue art full time. Meets art critic, Harold Rosenberg. His mother comes to visit.

1936 Moves with Browner to commercially-zoned 156 West 22nd Street. Meets artist Mark Rothko. Unfinished work for the Williamsburg mural is included in group exhibition New Horizons in American Art at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, September 14-October 12; this is his first public recognition in America. Declines participation in the American Abstract Artists group.

1937 System and Dialectics of Art, by John Graham, is published, naming de Kooning one of eight painters he considered “outstanding.” Arshile Gorky paints Portrait of Master Bill, a painting of de Kooning. Resigns from the WPA in August when “American citizens only” policy is announced, effective post-July. Begins work on a mural, Medicine, for the World’s Fair on the Hall of Pharmacy building; work on this continues until early 1939.

1938 Browner moves in with Diaz. Meets Elaine Marie Fried, a fellow artist and teacher. Paints a series of male figures, including Two Men Standing, A Man, and Seated Figure. Begins abstractions Pink Landscape and Elegy.

1939 Becomes influenced by the Surrealist style of Gorky and Picasso and the Gestural style of Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline. Suffers financially; tutors local art students. Becomes engaged to Fried. Visits Balcomb Greene in Fishkill. With other artists, petitions the Museum of Modern Art to show the work of Earl Kerkam after his death.

The Glazier, 1940. Oil on canvas, 54×44 in. Metropolitan Museum. Figure.

1940 Alcoholism and poverty are both significant. Becomes identified with the Abstract Expressionist movement. Drawings appear in Harper’s Bazaar. On May 14, his birthplace, Rotterdam, is hit by Germans. Harper’s Bazaar commissions four hairstyle sketches, with Elaine as model, for $75 each.

1941 Attends Miro exhibition. Is influenced by Matta, with whom he and Gorky become friends.

1942 Work is featured in the January 20-February 6 John Graham exhibition at McMillan, Inc. Drawing of a sailor with pipe is used in advertisement for Model Tobacco in Life Magazine.

1943 George Keller promises a one-man show at his Bignou Gallery; de Kooning fails to send sufficient work to exhibit. A group show included Pink Landscape and Elegy; both were bought by Helena Rubenstein for $1,050. Moved to 156 West 22nd Street. In summer, meets Franz Kline at Conrad Marca Relli’s 148 West 4th Street studio. Marries Elaine Fried on December 9. Shortly thereafter, he discovers her in bed with ex-lover, Robert Jonas.

1944 Abstract and Surrealist Art in the United States features de Kooning’s work at the Cincinnati Art Museum, February 8 – March 12. After closing, the exhibition moves to the Mortimer Brandt Gallery. Sidney Janis publishes the book, Abstract and Surrealist Art in America.

1945 Painting The Netherlands wins competition sponsored by the Container Corporation of America in January. The Wave is shown in the Autumn Salon at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century exhibition in the fall. Elaine sails to Provincetown with physicist Bill Hardy; de Kooning disapproves. Paints Pink Angels.

1946 Inspired by Pollock and Kline, begins first black-and-white abstracts. Charles Egan opens gallery at 63 East 57th Street. Marie Marchowsky commissions backdrop for a dance performance at New York Times Hall; de Kooning and Resnick collaborate on the project. Rents a studio with Jack Tworkov. Contacts father by letter in November requesting to see him. His father encourages him to seek more stable employment.


Valentine, 1947. Oil and enamel. Museum of Modern Art, New York. Abstract.

1947 Creates the black-and-white painting, Orestes, entitled by Tiger’s Eye magazine.

1948 Charles Egan Gallery arranges first one-man show on April 12, consisting of black-and-white enamels includingPainting, Village, Square & Dark Pond; reviews are favorable. Museum of Modern Art purchases Painting for $700; it is the only sale of the exhibition. Teaches summer session at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Returns with student Pat Passlof.. Arshile Gorky hangs himself July 21. Elaine has affairs with Charles Egan, a brief fling with Harold Rosenburg, and then an affair withThomas Hess; the latter relationship lasts until the early 1950s. Willem has numerous trysts and involvements.Mailbox is shown at the Whitney’s annual show of American art the fall. Life magazine names de Kooning one of the five “young extremists.”

1949 Meets Mary Abbott; begins affair which extends intermittently until the mid-1950s. Is introduced to projector by Franz Kline; begins series of large canvas abstractions. Gives first public statement at The Subjects of the Artist School. Drinking increases. Rents cottage with Elaine in Provincetown. PaintsSailcloth and Two Women on a Wharf. Sidney Janis Gallery features portrait of de Kooning with Elaine in exhibition.Intrasubjectives exhibition at Samuel M. Kootz Gallery, September 4 – October 3, includes de Kooning. Opens restaurant, The Club, with other artists.

1950 Begins Woman I; at nearly seven feet in height, it is his largest, completes in 1952. Participates with Alfred Barr in the Venice Biennale exhibition of younger American Painters in the U.S. Pavilion, June 8-October 15. Young Painters in the U.S. and France exhibits Woman (1949-1950) at the Sidney Janis Gallery. Joins symposium which writes letter of protest to New York Herald Tribune regarding the national jury of selection for the Metropolitan Museum of Art; group pickets the Museum and refuses to submit work. New York Herald Tribune calls the group “The Irascible Eighteen.” Protest is covered in numerous national magazines. Teaches at Yale School of Art until 1952. Helps title Franz Kline’s first one-man show.

1951 Excavation is exhibited in Abstract Painting and Sculpture in America at the Museum of Modern Art, January 23 – March 25. Speaks at symposium organized by the Museum of Modern Art. Holds one-man show at Egan Gallery in April, with limited sales and no proceeds after expenses. Participates inNinth Street Exhibition. Receives financial support from Sidney Janis, contingent upon agreement to call his studio the Janis Gallery. Excavation wins $4,000 first prize in the 60th Annual American Exhibition: Paint and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago. One of 20 artists exhibited in the American Vanguard Art for Paris exhibition at Sidney Janis Gallery, December 26 – January 5, 1952.

1952 Abandons Woman I, but revisits at the urging of art historian Meyer Sharpiro in June; completes in mid-June, but begins reworking in December. Starts several new “Woman” works. Elaine accompanies him to the Hamptons. Moves to 88 East 10th Street; spends much time with Harold Rosenberg. Meets art student Joan Ward, who becomes pregnant; the pregnancy is aborted.


Woman I, 1950. Oil on canvas, 192.7×147.3. Museum of Modern Art, New York.

1953 Officially changes studio name to Janis Gallery. Exhibits small retrospective at the Workshop Center for the Arts in Washington and School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. First show at Sidney Janis Gallery opens in March. Drinking increases, as does continual reworking of paintings.

1954 Participates in Venice Biennale with Excavation; becomes famous as leading Abstract Expressionism artist. Has affair with Marisol Escobar. Rents house in Bridgehampton in the summer with Elaine, Ward, Ludwig Sander, and Franz Kline. Sells pictures to Martha Jackson and uses money for fare for his mother to visit. Begins painting abstract landscapes, using bright “circus colors.”

1955 Joan Ward becomes pregnant.

1956 Ward gives birth to Johanna Lisbeth (Lisa) de Kooning on January 29. Has second one-man show at Sidney Janis Gallery, April 3; the show is a sell-out. Jackson Pollock and Edith Metzger die in car crash August 11. Elaine returns from Europe and joins de Kooning, Ward and Lisa at Martha’s Vineyard.

1957 Has affair with Pollock’s widow, Ruth Kligman. Later has affair with actress Shirley Stoler; allegedly offers her painting, which she refuses. Creates abstract landscapes, continues “Woman” art from 1957- 1961.


Two figures in landscape. Oil. National Galleyr of Australia. Painting.

1958 Takes Ruth Kligman to Cuba in February; they drift apart but reunite and spend early summer at Martha’s Vineyard together. Meets attorney Lee Eastman. Travels to Europe to meet Kligman. Hires Bernard Reis as accountant in May.

1959 Moves studio to 831 Broadway. Monograph on de Kooning by Thomas B. Hess is published by Braziller in New York. Sidney Janis Gallery opens exhibition of new large abstractions on May 4; all pieces sell. Woman series and some urban landscapes are shown at The New American Painting as shown in 8 European Countries 1958-1959 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, May 28 – September 8. Buys 4.2 acres in the Springs of Long Island on June 23. Stays with Kligman in Rome from July 28 until January 1960, where he begins working with black enamel mixed with pumice, also produces several collages. Ward moves to San Francisco with Lisa. Work is featured in Sixteen Americans exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, December 16 – February 17, 1960.

1960 Michael Sonnabend and Robert Snyder make film documentary which features Sketchbook No. 1: Three Americans. Returns from Italy and hires young California artist Dane Dixon as assistant. Grove Press publishes De Kooning, by Harriet Janis and Rudi Blesh. Spends summer in Southhampton. Visits Joan Ward and Lisa in San Francisco; visits galleries and does lithographs in Berkelely. Convinces Ward to return to New York. Drinking escalates.


Waves, 1960. Lithograph, 109x73cm, Yale University Gallery. Print.

1961 Buys more land in the Springs. Has affair with Marina Ospina.

1962 Becomes American citizen. March exhibition at the Sidney Janis Gallery fails. Meets Mera McAlister in March; affair lasts until winter. Sidney Janis allows Allan Stone to handle some small works; Newman- De Kooning, an exhibition of two founding fathers opens at the Allan Stone Gallery at 48 East 86th Street, October 23. The New Realists group show runs October 31 – December 1 at the Sidney Janis Gallery. Elaine paints portrait of President Kennedy for the Harry S. Truman Library.

1963 Moves back to the Springs in March, resides with Ward and Lisa. Later moves to East Hampton, Long Island. PaintsClam Diggers. Begins affair with neighbor Susan Brockman in the summer; moves in with Brockman and her friend, Clare Hooten. Later moves with Brockman to cottage on Barnes Landing, then to house owned by Bernice D’Vorazon. Later stays with John and Rae Ferren, then rents home near studio on Woodbine Drive. Splits from Brockman, but reunites in winter. Is hospitalized for alcoholism, but drinks again after release. Produces only one painting, Two Standing Women.

1964 Plans 1968 retrospective with Eduard de Wilde from the Stedelijk Museum in Holland. Ward and Lisa move to 3rd Avenue apartment. Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom in September. Becomes friends with art collector Joseph Hirshhorn. Harold Rosenberg writes profile for Vogue magazine.

1965 The Institute of Contemporary Art features de Kooning inThe Decisive Years, 1943 to 1953, exhibiting January 13 – February 19. Ends relationship with Sidney Janis, resulting in multiple lawsuits. Rents cottage with Brockman in the spring; relationship ends shortly thereafter. Accepts retrospective at Smith College, April 8 – May 2. Gives paintings to Ward and Lisa; draws up will, leaving most of his money to Lisa. Personal assistant John McMahon becomes part-time employee; Michael Wright is hired. Intermittent hospitalizations for alcoholism. Has affair with Molly Barnes. Police Gazette sells for $37,000, October 13.

1966 Enters Southampton Hospital for alcoholism in January. Attends Lisa’s birthday party in New York. Becomes involved with anti-war protests, grows hair. Draws Women Singing I,Women Singing II, and Screaming Girls.

1967 Walker and Company publishes 24 charcoal drawings produced in 1966. Joins prestigious New York gallery M. Knoedler and Company to start contemporary art department. Eastman negotiates $100,000 annual guarantee for first refusal of work. Provides 22 additional paintings on August 4, including several of the Women on the Sign series. Ward and Lisa return to the Springs. First exhibition at M. Knoedler and Company opens November 10; works include Woman Sag Harbour, Woman Accobanac, Woman Springs, and Woman, Montaulk. Despite negative reviews, some sell. Enters Southampton Hospital for alcoholism in December.

1968 Michael Wright resigns. Visits Europe, returns to Holland for major retrospective at Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, accompanied by Ward, Lisa, and Leo Cohan. (Exhibition begins there September 18, travels to London on December 8, then New York, March 5 – April 26, 1969.) Sees sister, Marie, and step-brother, Koos Lassoy; they visit their mother September 19, who dies October 8. Has car crash on Thanksgiving after drinking, he and Ward survive.

1969 Retrospect of 147 paintings, pastels, collages and drawings is held at the Museum of Modern Art, March 5 – April 26, to mixed reviews. Begins renovations of home with Ward in spring. Takes Brockman to Italy in summer; upon return, stays with her and visits Ward and Lisa. Begins sculpting in bronze. Hires David Christian to make enlarged experimental version of previous small work, Seated Woman.

1970 Visits Japan. Works on lithography; produces Love to Wakako and Mr. and Mrs. Krishner. Has affair with Emilie (Mimi) Kilgore in August; proclaims true love.


Minnie Mouse, 1971. Lithograph, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Print.


Landscape at Stanton Street, 1971. Lithograph, 75.8x56cm. Art Gallery of New South Wales. Print.

1971 Sculpts Clam Digger. Moves back into studio in August. Exhibits Seven by de Kooning at the Museum of Modern Art in December.

1972 Takes Mimi to attend the Venice Bienne in June. Has final exhibition at the Sidney Janis Gallery (part of legal settlement) in October. Lisa moves to New York, residing with de Kooning before taking apartment at 3rd Avenue and 10th Street.

1973 Enters Southampton Hospital with liver and pancreas damage in February. Undergoes rehabilitation in October and November.

1974 Traveling exhibition is organized by Fourcade, Droll. Inc., which runs until early 1977. Woman V sells for $850,000 in September, a record price for a living American artist. Dane Dixon becomes full-time assistant after McMahon leaves.

1975 Exhibits in Japan and Paris. Proposes to Kilgore, who declines. Completes 24 works in six months. Exhibits at Fourcade, Droll, Inc. in October.


Two Trees, 1975. Oil on canvas. Thought Factory. Painting.

1976 Hirshhorn Museum and the U.S. Information Agency organize major traveling exhibition to tour eleven cities in Europe. Xavier Fourcade becomes exclusive art dealer of de Kooning; mounts show of 12 new works, to favorable reviews.

1977 Attends Alcoholics Anonymous with Elaine.

1978 Willem de Kooning in East Hampton exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, February 10 – April 23, is successful. American Art at Mid-Century: The Subjects of the Artist exhibit features de Kooning at the opening of the new East Building of the National Gallery in Washington in May. Goes on binge in June after several friends, including Harold Rosenberg and Thomas Hess, die.

1979 Stops painting. Drinking continues.

1980 Works becomes graphic. From 1980 to 1987, Tom Ferrarra is assistant.

1981 Lisa begins building house on studio grounds. Revises will to include Elaine as equal beneficiary with Lisa. Begins painting again in spring.

1982 February issue of Art News features Willem de Kooning: I Am Only Halfway Through, by Avis Berman; cover photograph of de Kooning ` and Paul McCartney taken by Linda Eastman, wife of McCartney and daughter of Lee Eastman. Dustin Hoffman films documentary, De Kooning on de Kooning forStrokes of Genius series in March. Attends premier. Also attends White House dinner to honor Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in April. New work is exhibited as New Paintings: 1981- 1982 at the Fourcade, Droll Gallery, March 17 – May 1.

1983 Finishes 54 paintings with the help of staff assistants. Is encouraged by Fourcade and Eastman to authorize enlarged photographs of sculptures. Untitled #2 is cast in a sterling silver, limited edition by Gemini Foundry in California. Allan Stone buys Two Women for $1.2 million in May. Willem de Kooning: Drawing, Paintings, Sculpture opens at the Whitney Museum of Art on December 15.

1984 Finishes 51 paintings. Receives commission to paint triptych for St. Peter’s Church in New York City; paintsHallelujah, which fails to receive hoped-for price of $900,000 and is taken down at the insistence of the congregation.

1985 Paints 63 pieces. Early signs of Alzheimer’s disease are apparent. Works with help from Elaine and assistants onUntitled XIII and Untitled XX. Last show at the Fourcade, Droll Gallery, Exhibition of de Kooning’s recent work from 1984-1985is held in October.

1986 Completes 43 works. Exhibition of Willem de Kooning’s work from 1983-1986 exhibits at the Anthony d’Offay Gallery in London.

1987 Does 26 paintings via projection of old sketches onto canvases by assistants. Pink Lady sells for $3.63 million. Xavier Fourcade dies of AIDS; de Kooning is not told. Elaine is diagnosed with lung cancer.

1988 Paints 27 paintings. Elaine authorizes a series of prints; encourages the changing of the will to make Lisa sole beneficiary. Attempt is blocked by Eastman, who remains executor. Elaine undergoes radiation treatments at Sloan-Kettering.

1989 Elaine dies at age 70; de Kooning is never told. Lisa and Eastman file petition declaring de Kooning incompetent. Eastman also attempts to become sole conservator, charging Lisa with mismanagement; court rules they remain co-conservators. Enters Southampton Hospital in May for a hernia operation, then in July for prostate surgery.

Untitled XXII, 1983. Oil on canvas, 70x80in. Saint Louis Museum of Art. Painting.

1990 Stops painting. Mini-retrospective, Willem de Kooning: An Exhibition of Paintings is held at the Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, September – October. De Kooning / Dubuffet: The Woman is shown at the Pace Gallery from December until January, 1991.

1993 Willem de Kooning from the Hirshhorn Museum Collection opens at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on October 21. Jennifer McLaughlin resigns; she is his final assistant.

1994 The Naitonal Gallery of Art in Washington exhibitsWillem de Kooning: Paintings, May – September 5.

1996 The Academie Van Beeldende Kunsten en Technishche Wetenschappen, where de Kooning studied in Amsterdam, officially changes its name to the Willem de Kooning Academy.

1997 Dies March 19, 1997 in the Springs. Funeral is attended by some 300 friends and associates, including Ruth Kligman, Susan Brockman, Molly Barnes, and Emilie Kilgore. Lisa is guest speaker.

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 Great article

WILLEM de KOONING (1904–1997)

Asheville, 1948
Willem de Kooning’s Asheville takes its name from the North Carolina town near Black Mountain College where de Kooning taught in the summer of 1948. A small but extremely complex work, it gathers together numerous, often oblique allusions, including references to the college and sections that recall de Kooning’s early training in crafts such as marbling, woodgraining, and lettering.De Kooning’s works often blur the distinctions between drawings, studies, and paintings. Rather than the traditional academic progression from study to finished painting, de Kooning creates a constant flow and exchange of ideas and forms across different media. Four other versions ofAsheville show shapes similar to those found in The Phillips Collection’s painting, suggesting that de Kooning consciously refined the seemingly random forms of the Phillips painting through his manipulations of form in the related works.Asheville is an important example of de Kooning’s intricate experiments in “collage painting” of the late 1940s in which he used collage procedures, combining different materials such as torn paper and drawings to create illusions that might be used as a source for visual ideas. These techniques assisted the artist in working out a final composition that was free from any actual collaged elements. In the completed work, de Kooning created jumps and visual ruptures between passages that mimic collage. Additional deceptions in Asheville include the illusion of a tack holding a cut-out form at the upper left and a depiction of paper peeling from the surface to the left of what appears to be a mouth at the picture’s center.De Kooning enhanced these effects by scraping down and building up the surface of the painting numerous times. This layering blends spontaneity and measured thought, giving Asheville a look of immediacy and chance, though de Kooning actually constructed the painting thoughtfully over a number of months. In addition, he interspersed sinuous black lines throughout the work with a liner’s brush, a tool with unusually long brush hairs traditionally used by sign painters. These gestures of black tracery resemble the spontaneous, unconscious marks of Surrealism’s psychic automatism, but upon closer inspection they reveal de Kooning’s technical mastery of the brush and reflect his fascination with precise line.Content in Asheville is suggested through momentary glimpses of reality. The skyline noted near the upper-center edge of the painting suggests the Blue Ridge Mountains looming over the grounds of Black Mountain College. Beneath this passage is an area of blue that may refer to Lake Eden, which was adjacent to the school. Additional fragments include eyes, hands, and a mouth, as well as a window of green, an effective foil for the interplay between indoor and outdoor space in the picture.Central to de Kooning’s art is the ambiguity and multiplicity of meanings through appropriations and transformations of reality. At the time de Kooning painted Asheville, the abstract expressionists struggled to come to terms with a multiplicity of ideas: the emotional legacy of World War II, the heritage of modernism, and the array of influences available to them in New York. De Kooning responded to this flux of ideas and experiences with an extraordinary degree of self-conscious control. His depictions of collage in Asheville are characteristic of a measured approach that allowed him to respect older traditions of figuration, illusion and craft, while simultaneously engaging more radical modern idioms.

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