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.

video






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:

video

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:

video

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
__________________________________________________________

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
_______________________________________________________

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)

______________________________________________________

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…

video

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.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Asheville Art Museum: Eternity Interviews Pam Myers on BMC and Commissioned Works



Ronald Robertson Studies Building at Black Mountain College, oil on Masonite, 17.9 x 18.6 inches. Gift of the Artist. 2013.19.04.21.


A popular resurgence of interest in Black Mountain College (BMC) continues to grow nationally.  There are numerous exhibitions happening this year recalling the school’s rich historical past while holding high its living legacy, with a show entitled  Geometric Vistas: Landscapes by Artists of Black Mountain College opening on August 6th at the Asheville Art Museum in North Carolina.  And for my latest feature article at MaxEternity.com, I spoke with the excutive director of the Asheville Art Museum, Pam Myers.  Read more.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Conversations: Lessons from the Weimar Republic with Eric Weitz

Germany’s Weimar Republic lasted only 14 years, yet produced immense creativity and intellectual achievement.  And in my latest article, published at MaxEternity.com, I interviewed Eric Weitz, Dean of Humanities and Arts and Distinguished Professor of History at The City College of New York.  Weitz is also the author of Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy, and in our conversation we talked about global politics—how much of it mirrors Germany’s Weimar Republic, especially in the US—and we talked, as well, about how the Weimar Republic launched the [Bauhaus] birth of modernism.  Describing what the Weimar Republic was like, Weitz says it’s an “interesting, strange juxtaposition of both crisis and artistic creativity, and I think they are related…the fragility of the economy and the political system inspired artists to innovate.”   Read more.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

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

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Haus am Horn: The First House Built by Bauhaus School @ Houzz

Bauhaus - Haus am Horn (Weimar)

In a story about the Bauhaus, the Haus am Horn is featured at length in an article writtend by Eva Zimmerman.  The Haus am Horn for the first architectural project by the staff and students of the Bauhaus.  Built in 1923, the Haus am Horn consited of a house with all the essential furniture and other furnishings necessary for everyday life.

Zimmerman writes:

All the Bauhaus workshops helped build and furnish the house, which emerged as a residential prototype.  
It was supposed to be the beginning of a Bauhaus village that would be like a university campus today. However, after the state elections of 1924, the power structure in Thuringia changed, and the new conservative administration cut the school’s budget by half. In 1925, the Bauhaus moved to Dessau, and the village did not come to fruition.

Zimmerman acquired an excellent selection of photos for the piece, which includes images of early furniture designs by Marcel Breuer.  And curiously, although many architects came and went at the Bauhaus, the Haus am Horn was actually designed by an artist, named Georg Muche.


Architekturikone: Das erste Bauhaus-Gebäude der Welt

Interviewed for the article is Michael Siebenbrodt, the director of the Haus am Horn and curator of the Bauhaus Museum, and it's fair to say that overall Zimmerman has really done her homework for the piece, which I recommend reading for anyone truly interested in the origins of modernism.  The article is found here. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

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

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

In the first part of my interview with curator Ruth Erickson, she talked about how the Leap Before You Look exhibition was designed to engage museum visitors.  Now moving deeper in the dialog, Erickson talks more specifically about the different departments at  Black Mountain College and how that influenced the exhibition, saying that “a lot of people remark on [how]we mixed media and styles, just as it was a very heterogeneous place at Black Mountain, there is a real mix of styles.” 

Within this framework, Erickson says “there’s an area of pedagogy that we look at experimental architecture—we have some of the Bucky [Buckminster] Fuller models that he had of geodesic domes” that now reside at Stanford University.

The exhibition took 4 years of research and development, during which time Erickson says she and the curatorial team looked at thousands of art and articles.

Speaking to architects who had a hand in shaping the Black Mountain College (BMC) experience, Erickson starts off by talking about Lawrence Kocher, who in addition to his relationship to BMC, was a long-time editor for Architectural Record.

“One of the most important architects was this guy named Lawrence Kocher, who had been in Pennsylvania—an important player who brought down the Breuer/Gropius plans for the new campus,” says Erickson, which in the end were deemed too costly to build.   “Kocher taught really interesting classes” at BMC, she says, including a class “for low- income housing.”  Adding that, Kocher “is in some ways the most important architect at Black Mountain.”

Erickson also talks about Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes, and this span of the interview concludes with Erickson taking at length about artist Ruth Asawa


Leap Before You Look is on display at UCLA’s Hammer Museum for another week, and travels North later this year, opening on September 17th at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio.

video

Friday, April 22, 2016

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.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

David Ryan gives a succinct 2-minute talk about the Bauhaus

From a 1999 video, David Ryan, who was at the time a curator at the Minneapolis Art Institute, give a succinct 2-minute talk about the Bauhaus.  Naturally, Ryan talks about Germany, but like so many other historians, he mentions the Bauhaus post-war migration to Chicago, but fails to mention Black Mountain College in Asheville, North Carolina.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

FLASHBACK: Black Mountain College: Art Innovation and Education (PART 2)

Author's Note:  In the second half of my 2013 interview with Alice Sebrell, Program Director of Black Mountain College + Museum (BMC+M), we start by talking about, John A. Rice, the founder of Black Mountain College (BMC).  From there, the conversation moves to A Radical Vision, which was an educational exhibition presented by BMC+M.  Too this, Sebrell talks about 80th anniversary of BMC, which coincided with this interview.  And the discussion closes with Sebrell sharing her thoughts on how students can benefit from education today.

Black Mountain College: Art Innovation and Education


By Max Eternity


Black Mountain College seal.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ME:  More specifically, how so?

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

ME:  And of this:  

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

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

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

ME:  And finally, of this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

FLASHBACK: Black Mountain College: Art Innovation and Education

Author's Note:  In 2013 I wrote an article about the 80th anniversary of Black Mountain College, which coincided with the 20th anniversary of Black Mountain College + Museum.  Reprinted below is the first half of that article, which includes a feature interview with Alice Sebrell, Program Director, Black Mountain College + Museum:

Black Mountain College: Art Innovation and Education

By Max Eternity



“BMC was a crazy and magical place”
Lyle Bonge, Student 1947-48


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Black Mountain College (Asheville North, Carolina)

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

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

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

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

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

(... to be continued)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

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

Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadisches Ballet


Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadisches Ballet (Triadic Ballet) is a modern movement performance in three parts.  Created in 1922, the geometrically composed and choreographed dancers of the Triadisches Ballet move in spatial relation to a trinity of costume, dance and music.

An interdisciplinary artist since childhood, in 1920, Schlemmer was invited by Bauhaus founder, Walter Gropius, to head the sculpture and stage workshops at the Bauhaus, then located in Weimar, Germany

He had a unique and very distinguished career that saw many notable achievements.  And in many respects Schlemmer opitimized "Gesamtkunstwerk" in that he was one of the most versatile artists of the 20th century, creating costumes, murals, sculptures, drawings and paintings, as well as being a highly-effective educator.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

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

More than any other school in the 20th century, it is Black Mountain College (BMC) that reached the height and set the standard for the apex of art and innovative education in the United States.  And presently touring the nation is the largest and most comprehensive exhibition and presentation of the school’s work products and sweeping global legacy.

Josef Albers, Leaf Study IX, c. 1940, leaves on paper, 28 x 24 ¾ inches. (c) The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/ Artists Rights Society New York. Photo: Tim Nighswander/Imaging 4 Art.

The show is entitled Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957.  It is the curatorial brainchild of the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston.

A former curator at the ICA, Helen Molesworth, is the organizer of the show and says “Leap Before You Look examines the college’s critical role in shaping many major movements, and ideas in postwar art and education, including assemblage, contemporary dance and music, the New American Poetry, and the American studio craft movement—influences that can still be seen and felt today.”

BMC was founded by John A. Rice, who prior taught at Rollins College in Florida.   BMC was a parallel to and an inheritor of many principles and players of Germany’s Bauhaus school, which closed in 1933.  The same year BMC was opened.

BMC also incorporated the progressive pedagogy reformation of John Dewey, who was philosopher and psychologist, and one of early to mid-20th century’s most renowned public intellectuals.  Speaking to this, Molesworth says “Black Mountain College is an important historical precedent for thinking about relationships between art, pedagogy, democracy, and globalism.”

The exhibition includes 261 objects by almost 100 different artists, and yesterday I had a chance to speak with ICA Associate Curator, Ruth Erickson.  The first segment of our talk follows below, in which Erickson explains the layout and structure of the exhibition, currently on display at UCLA’s Hammer Museum:

video


Monday, February 29, 2016

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.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

"Art Equality" article by Max Eternity mentions Jacob Lawrence @ Black Mountain College

In my latest article, published today at Truthout, there is mention of Jacob Lawrence, an African-American artist of the Harlem Renaissance, who was mentored by Agusta Savage and Winhold Reiss, and who taught at Black Mountain College in the 1940's segegrated South, at the invitation of Joseph and Anni Albers.
"...during the 1940s, in the age of Jim Crow segregation - at the invitation of Josef and Anni Albers, who were former instructors at Germany's Bauhaus School - Lawrence became an instructor at Black Mountain College in Asheville, North Carolina, where Walter Gropius, Albert Einstein and Buckminster Fuller also taught among many other notables, like Harlem Renaissance visitors, Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes."  Read more.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Walter Gropius, “Bauhaus Manifesto”

On April 1, 1919 the Bauhaus school opened in Weimar, Germany.  And declaring "Art and Technology: A New Unity," the Bauhaus Founding Director, Walter Gropius, explained the Bauhaus Manifesto:

The ultimate aim of all visual arts is the complete building! To embellish buildings was once the noblest function of the fine arts; they were the indispensable components of great architecture. Today the arts exist in isolation, from which they can be rescued only through the conscious, cooperative effort of all craftsmen.  Architects, painters, and sculptors must recognize anew andlearn to grasp the composite character of a building both as an entity and in its separate parts.  Only then will their work be imbued with the architectonic spirit which it has lost as “salon art.” 
The old schools of art were unable to produce this unity; how could they, since art cannot be taught. They must be merged once more with the workshop. The mere drawing and painting world of the pattern designer and the applied artist must become a world that builds again. When young people who take a joy in artistic creation once more begin their life's work by learning a trade, then the unproductive “artist” will no longer be condemned to deficient artistry, for their skill will now be preserved for the crafts, in which they will be able to achieve excellence. 
Architects, sculptors, painters, we all must return to the crafts! For art is not a “profession.” There is no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman. The artist is an exalted craftsman. In rare moments of inspiration, transcending the consciousness of his will, the grace of heaven may cause his work to blossom into art. But proficiency in a craft is essential to every artist. Therein lies the prime source of creative imagination 
Let us then create a new guild of craftsmen without the class distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between craftsman and artist! Together let us desire, conceive, and create the new structure of the future, which will embrace architecture and sculpture and painting in one unity and which will one day rise toward heaven from the hands of a million workers like the crystal symbol of a new faith. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

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

Nicolas Fox Weber: An Insider's Glimpse of Bauhaus Life


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

BOOK SYNOPSIS:

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.