Monday, January 30, 2017

Andrew Reach on From Bauhaus | To Black Mountain


“I think you are writing a very important book on the subject of the Bauhaus and Black Mountain College—in a way not touched in academia, as far as I know—inclusive to the interconnections with the Jim Crow South, and shedding light on new territory about African American modernists. I think also your perspective is fresh, in comparison to the usual suspects in mainstream academia who have dominated the subject. On a side note, the cover art you created for this project is beautiful, and connects with the modernity of the Bauhaus and Black Mountain College.” 


Andrew Reach
Architect | Artist

Monday, December 19, 2016

Convergence | Divergence | Emergence: A New Conversation on Bauhaus + BMC (Part Two)



Convergence | Divergence | Emergence: A New Conversation on Bauhaus + BMC (Part Two)

By Max Eternity


On a visit to Asheville, North Carolina, last year, I spent time at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. I interviewed Alice Sebrell while there, at which time the museum was exhibiting a show called Convergence | Divergence: Exploring Black Mountain College and Chicago’s New Bauhaus / Institute of Design.

Harriet Sohmers Zwerling, The Studies Building, ca. 1949, gelatin silver print. Gift of the artist.

In Part One of the interview, Sebrell talked about the interconnectedness of the [original] German Bauhaus with Black Mountain College (BMC) and the New Bauhaus, both in the United States. We talked also about how the exhibition came together—the endeavored work of Michael Reid, who curated the show.

Now in the continuation and conclusion of our conversation, Sebrell recalls the preservation effort I led for the Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library, which was the final building built by Bauhaus alumni, Marcel Breuer. We also talked briefly about some of the art and textiles at the Bauhaus, and at BMC, including works by master weaver, Gunta Stotzl. Thereafter, Sebrell and I talked about the campus buildings at BMC—the first campus and the second campus—and specifically about E. W. Grove, who was the property developer responsible for initially building the BMC site, and other notable sites in the area.

What follows is the end of our recorded conversation and some snapshots of the catalog for Convergence / Divergence: Exploring Black Mountain College Chicago’s New Bauhaus / Institute of Design.

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Conversations: Ruth Erickson, Curator @ ICA Boston, Part Four

Conversations: Ruth Erickson, Curator @ ICA Boston, Part Four
By Max Eternity


In the final segment of my podcast interview with Ruth Erickson, the conversation concludes with a discussion about Merce Cunningham.  A link to Part One is here, a link to PartTwo is here, and a link to Part Three is here.  And below is a Youtube video from a 1966 performance:


Cunningham was born in 1919:  the same year that World War One ended and the same year that the Bauhaus school was opened.  Years later, in the summer of 1953 while teaching at BMC, Cunningham would form the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.


MERCE CUNNINGHAM (1919-2009) was a leader of the American avant-garde throughout his seventy year career and is considered one of the most important choreographers of our time. Through much of his life, he was also one of the greatest American dancers. With an artistic career distinguished by constant innovation, Cunningham expanded the frontiers not only of dance, but also of contemporary visual and performing arts. His collaborations with artistic innovators from every creative discipline have yielded an unparalleled body of American dance, music, and visual art.

What follows now is my discussion with Erickson, as we talk about Cunningham and some of the other important, though lesser known, choreographers and dancers at BMC:

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Convergence | Divergence | Emergence: A New Conversation on Bauhaus + BMC


Convergence | Divergence | Emergence
A New Conversation on Bauhaus + BMC

By Max Eternity



There are so many things to be learned about Black Mountain College (BMC)—about how the school came into being in 1933 and what went on for the 24 years of its existence, as well as studying the institution’s unrivalled broad appeal to artists and intellectuals of that era, within the Americas inclusive to African-Americans and ad other minorities, and all the contributors of Europe.

(NOTE:  After returning to California, I decided to redesign all of the websites within the Eternity Group, which is why this interview material is just being published a year later.)


The [original] Bauhaus of Germany, Staatliches Bauhaus, and the New Bauhaus of the United States, located in Chicago, Illinois, both had impacts on BMC.  It seems evident, as well, that the Harlem Renaissance (school) and The New School, both in New York City, helped to shape BMC.

I first began formal documentation and writing about the Bauhaus | Black Mountain continuum in 2008, when I led a campaign to preserve the Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library from demolition.  Before that time and since my work on the subject(s) has manifested n some form or another, including channeling some of the creative ideas of that collective movement into my own art and design.     
         
"Color Charm" by Max Eternity.  ca. 2006
“Invasion of the Spiders”  by Max Eternity.  1996. 
                                             

In addition to writing a new book, entitled From Bauhaus | To Black Mountain, for which this blog is dedicated.  I am also exploring new research for a [proposed] PhD dissertation, entitled The Agency of Art:  War Pedagogy and Social Change in the Western World - 1915 to 1965, whose primary research question is:

How did a transcontinental intersection of Western artists, educators and moralists harness the global upheaval of the Two World Wars toward achieving high-minded social change between 1915 and 1965, particularly as it relates to the Harlem Renaissance (School), Staatliches Bauhaus and Black Mountain College?

Here now, however, is the first podcast segment of an onsite interview I conducted with Alice Sebrell about an exhibition, entitled Convergence | Divergence Exploring Black Mountain College and Chicago’s New Bauhaus / Institute of Design, while I was visiting the East Coast last year. 


László Moholy-Nagy, Plexi-Chrome Sculpture, 1947, vintage gelatin silver print, 8.875 x 6.25 inches. Collection of Michael Reid.

Sebrell is the program director at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, and in this multi-part interview our conversation starts off with Sebrell saying “we knew there were common faculty members and students between Bauhaus, Black Mountain and Chicago, but the extent of those intersections and connections we didn’t really know.”  The curator of the show, Michael Reid, was the person, however, who “did tons of research and made a lot of discoveries that hadn’t really been articulated and pulled together,” says Sebrell.  And she also talks about the involvement of Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer at BMC:

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Conversations: Ruth Erickson, Curator @ ICA Boston, Part Three




Peter Voulkos, Rocking Pot, 1956, stoneware with colemanite wash, 13 5⁄8 x 21 x 17 1⁄2 inches. Smithsonian American Art Museum. Gift of the James Renwick Alliance and various donors and museum purchase © Voulkos Family Trust
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In Part One of my talk with Ruth Ericson, she explained the layout of the Leap Before You Look exhibition while it was still on display in Southern California.  As that show was in its final week, in Part Two of the conversation was published, in which Ericson and I talked some about the architects involved with Black Mountain College, most notably Lawrence Kocher.

The exhibition has since traveled to the Wexner Center for the Arts (the Wex) at Ohio State University, where it opened on September 17th.

   

Ruth Asawa, Dancers, c. 1948, oil on blotting paper 12 x 19 inches. Weverka Family Collection. © Estate of Ruth Asawa. Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
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Moving on to Part Three of our conversation, Ericson and I first talk about pottery at BMC.  And thereafter, Ericson shares details about Ruth Asawa’s prolific body of work created while at BMC.  I then mentioned Jacob Lawrence, who taught at BMC and was one of the most renowned Black artists of the 20th century, also inviting Ericson to talk about some of the other] African-Americans involved with Black Mountain College(BMC), where she replied in part that “Black Mountain made the decision after a heated debate in 1944, which is a full 10 years before Brown vs Board…and it was an African-American female singer who came, and her name was Alma Mae Stone Williams.”  





Jacob Lawrence, Watchmaker, 1946, tempera and graphite on paper, 30 1⁄2 x 21 1⁄2 inches.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn. Photo by Lee Stalsworth. 
© 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle/Artists Rights Society (ARS)

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Ericson also talked about Roland Hayes, who taught at BMC in 1945, and who was—according to the Harris Arts Center and other arts institutions—considered “the first African-American classical singer to have an international career on the concert and operatic stage.”

What now follows is a statement by the Wex, and thereafter Part Three of my podcast with Ericson:
This fall, step into an immersive, sweeping exploration of one of America’s most important artistic legacies. Featuring 200 works by 90 artists, Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957 sheds light on an experimental school in North Carolina that has had an extraordinary impact on contemporary art. Its influence is still profoundly felt today…

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SYNOPSIS: From Bauhaus | To Black Mountain

Without the past there can be no present or pathway to the future, and with the knowledge that the telling of history determines who is most enfranchised in the everyday, there is at least one story about the history of art and education in the 20th century deserving a much closer and careful examination.

By investigating one of the most enduring spans in the history of modern art—from 1919 to 1933 and directly thereafter 1933 to 1957—representing the respective years of operation for the Bauhaus school, which closed the same year that Black Mountain College opened—renowned artist, writer and historian, Max Eternity, goes beyond familiar tropes and conversations on the subject.  Eternity illuminates a multitude of crucial transatlantic arts and humanities relationships in the Western world during those times, whereby sharpening and refining the historical lens.

Observed in the study of Germany's Bauhaus and the United States’ Black Mountain College, and by playing close attention to the social impact of these educational (forums) institutions and their respective players, From Bauhaus | To Black Mountain presents an intriguing and voluminous, yet concise, historical record in a manner accessible to layperson, practitioner, and academic.

In the malleable present and within the great hallways of collective memory, From Bauhaus | To Black Mountain offers an intellectually exciting and richly detailed understanding of the roots, and other aspects, of early to mid-century modernism’s family tree.