Friday, December 22, 2017

Mesoamerican Homage: Josef Albers at the Guggenheim

An article at the New York Times this month reviews the latest exhibition of artwork by Josef Albers.  On display at the Guggenheim in New York, the show entitled Homage to Mexico: Josef Albers and His Reality-Based Abstraction, displays Mesoamerican inspired artwork by Albers, much of which was created while he taught at Black Mountain College in the 1930's and 40's.

From the New York Times piece:
Art rarely thrives in a vacuum. It is by definition polyglot and in flux, buffeted by the movement of art objects, goods and people across borders and among cultures, and also by individual passion. This much, especially the passion part, is demonstrated by “Josef Albers in Mexico,” a quietly stunning exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum that contrasts Albers’s little-known photographs of the great Mesoamerican monuments of Mexico with his glowing abstract paintings.  Read more.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Black Mountain College: A Thumbnail Sketch

In 1989 independent filmmaker, Monty Diamond, made a documentary short on Black Mountain College, which contextualizes the emergence of the school within the global context of rapidly shifting political and educational trends in of the early 1930's.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Harassment and Intimidation of BMC by Federal Government Revealed by Investigative Report

In 2015, an investigative report by Carolina Public Access revealed that US Government perceived Black Mountain College (BMC) as an "internal threat."  This led to a multi-year investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that found no wrong doing, but did create turmoil at the school.

Written by by John Ellison, the report states in part that:

In the early 1940s, for example, the bureau recruited an informant in a class taught by the college’s anthropology professor, Paul Radin, to spy on him, according to Radin’s FBI file. The bureau suspected that Radin, a self-professed radical leftist, was a Communist operative.
The informant, reporting on classroom discussions, told the FBI that Radin was a staunch advocate for racial integration and indeed a Communist Party member, according to historian David Rice’s 2004 book, Threatening Anthropology: McCarthyism and the FBI’s Surveillance of Activist Anthropologists. 
No less than Buckminster Fuller, the famous futurist and inventor who was a visiting professor at BMC in 1948 and ’49, also garnered an FBI file, which was recently released.

The report is entitled "FBI investigation of Black Mountain College revealed in newly released file" and can be read in full here.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Barry Bergdoll, "Learning from the Americas: Gropius and Breuer in the New World"

In 2010, I interviewed Barry Bergdoll in relation to my work educating the public about Marcel Breuer, which had become a necessary aspect to the preservation effort to save Breuer's final building, The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library, from demolition.  I had been leading that effort for a number of years, and along the way Bergdoll and many others signed the petition I drafted on behalf of the building and its terraced plaza and monumental sculpture by Richard Hunt, entitled The Wisdom Bridge.  At the time, Bergdoll was (is) a professor at Columbia University, and he also held the title of Chief Curator of Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art.  What follows below is a video from a lecture Bergdoll gave in 2015 at Harvard University, entitled "Learning from the Americas: Gropius and Breuer in the New World."  For those who may be unaware, Walter Gropius was the founder of the Bauhaus, and Breuer was one of his star students, and subsequent partner on numerous collaborations in Europe and the United States.  Also, they both taught at Harvard in the years after the closing of the Bauhaus - before, during and after the end of World War II.

Friday, April 21, 2017

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.

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