What's a teaching mama to do?
I'm putting together a kick-butt presentation and project on modernism, the Bezalel School, architorture, and Yaacov Agam's art (i.e., the "tainted by the Bauhaus" instruction), but the problem is, I won't be there to present it because my sister-in-law is getting married this weekend. I was gonna have so much fun relaying this little tale from my early a-school days:
A while back, near the end of my teens, I was in the holding tank called Freshman Foundation at the college I attended, and I noticed a load of people coming into the cafeteria for lunch who were giggling away and /or laughing uproariously at the tirade their drawing teacher had gone on earlier in the morning. Tirades by art teachers weren't all that unusual. In fact, my particular group of foundationeers was having a great time playing off the teaching philosophies of our 2-D and 3-D design teachers, ferrying their different tirades back and forth to each guy and having a laugh at how they would tear each other apart.
This tirade really stuck in my head, however, because someone's drawing, or someone's drawing style, subject matter, what have you, got this particular guy going about how we'd all been tainted by the Bauhaus all these years and it was spilling over into every class he'd taught for decades now. Just look at it and draw it! Don't try to impose order on it! Don't become influenced by the Bauhaus!!!
And folks, I'm not talking about THIS Bauhaus.
I'm talking 'bout this one:I think, once most people see what folks like Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, and Josef Albers were doing in Germany between the world wars, they will certainly agree that "The numerous consequences of this experiment still today flow into contemporary life." Gropius took a lot of his design ideas from Frank Lloyd Wright, but, in founding the Bauhaus, he deviated some from the individualistic thrust of Wright's school/cheap student labor source/home, Taliesin. Nazi Germany shut down the Bauhaus, dispersing these folks and their designs, which is why there are buildings like these in many other countries:
Okay, so the ones in the pictures are all in that country called New York City. The Bauhaus designers did end up changing the world, sure. Mies' "less is more" certainly gave carte blanche to the appearance of miniscule and immense boxy buildings everywhere, to the point where people are beginning to ask if some of the early monolithic monsters not designed by the Bauhaus crew ought to be eligible for historic preservation. Though I can't find the Preservation Resource Center's specific issue online, I recall seeing a publication of theirs that put an ugly green modernist office building on Canal Street on the cover. The implication was that this was a building worthy of preservation, even though it has not been occupied for quite some time and is really looking the worse for wear (heck, the PRC picture made the building look better that it actually does). So the Bauhaus design principles basically made every building its own island, without much consideration for its surroundings, something that is being challenged some today.
But I digress.
After all, I can't present all of that to a bunch of seventh and eighth graders. I've got to water it down some and distill it into a lesson relating to two-dimensional art and the development of Agam's kinetic art. Reeeeeeal simple.
Something that is a tad less simple is that my son might well be on his way to getting booted out of religious school for a year, since he's not interested enough in the group activities to sit still. I know he's not ADD, because I have seen him focus very intently on whatever he is interested in. I guess he's just not interested enough in the lessons to behave in class. Ugh. Must meet with religious school head today about this.
Maybe she'll end up blaming things on this little episode...