Saturday, February 28, 2015

Art Critics: Roberta Smith & Jerry Saltz, "Seeing Out Loud!" (Special Issue)

Roberta Smith (left) and Jerry Saltz (right) on the speaker's stage addressing a packed house, for a Clyfford Still Museum speaking event held at the Denver Art Museum
Feb. 12, 2015.
Roberta Smith &
Jerry Saltz 
Seeing Out Loud!
"Friends of Clyfford Still" 
Winter Keynote Program

On Thursday, February 12, 2015, The Clyfford Still Museum, which is a part of the Denver Art Museum complex in downtown Denver, Colorado, invited Roberta Smith, a critic for The New York Times, and her husband, Jerry Saltz, a critic for New York Magazine, to have a dialogue about art with Colorado artists and art appreciators. The official title of the event was A Critical Conversation: Roberta Smith and Jerry Saltz Get Down About It All. 

Roberta Smith (left) discusses art criticism with a patron of the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, CO.

Roberta Smith has been writing for the New York Times since 1986 and lectures widely on art and art criticism. She writes on art from all periods, the decorative arts, architecture, design, and outsider art. For many, she tops the list of all international art critics writing today. Sample: Louise Nevelson: ‘Collage and Assemblage’ February 27, 2015 - NYTimes "ARTS".
Jerry Saltz (left) with a Denver art enthusiast at the Winter Keynote speaking event for the Clyfford Still Museum in downtown Denver, CO.

Jerry Saltz has been a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism and last month won the prestigious National Magazine Award, in the Columns and Commentary category, a rarity for art criticism! (Check out his winning essays on Jeff Koons, Henri Matisse, and young abstract art.)
This event was held in the DAM's large Ponti Hall to a standing room only crowd, many of whom were Colorado based artists. Smith and Saltz told of their rarified life as art critics in today's changing media environment and shared some of their insider information about the art world. A lively question-and-answer session followed the art couple's comments on contemporary art and art criticism. 

(EDITOR'S NOTE: ALL of the editorial points included in this article were made by Roberta Smith and Jerry Saltz while at the podium on February 12, 2015, during the Clyfford Still Museum Winter Keynote Speaker event. No audio or video recording was made by ARTSnFOOD for this article and, although the text is written as a conversation, almost 100% of the article is PARAPHRASED being derived from quick, handwritten notes. The statements are attributed, but THE COMMENTS ARE NOTES, NOT QUOTES. Finally, this married couple sometimes completes each others thoughts, because of this, portions of certain statements may be mis-attributed, to avoid dividing up a sentence.)

A Critical Conversation: 
Roberta Smith and 
Jerry Saltz 
Get Down About It All

Hello - I'm Roberta Smith, and I'm Jerry Saltz, we were invited to come to Denver, to see Clyfford Still's museum and, while here, were shown Denver's "art highlights". We are here to talk about our work as art critics.

R.S. - You have such a strong ART presence in Denver, especially with the Clyfford Still museum. 
J.S. - I didn't know what to expect from the museum. There are only a few Clyfford Stills out there in the art world, because, for much of his life, he didn't show his work publicly. I was worried we were going to have to endure some very questionable "Octogenarian Abstract Expressionistic Paintings". Happily we are very impressed at how extensive his oeuvre was, how diverse his mediums were and how interesting it is to view so many works from one artist's oeuvre in a single museum. It gave us a different perspective on the artist.
R.S. - Clyfford Still did so much art. This museum shows his ambition and his drive to create.
R.S. - We work as art critics. It's interesting that fewer and fewer people are writing about art as a paid profession. 
J.S. -  There are only about 12 full-time jobs in the US, where the "Art Critic" is paid a livable wage, gets health benefits and concentrates his or her writing only on the visual arts. "12!" Roberta is one. I am also, but you would be surprised how little I make, I don't get paid for any of the blogging or social media work that I do and I personally don't have a contract with New York magazine. I write for them at their pleasure, they can fire me tomorrow. 
J.S. - How many of you in the audience are artists?
(Approximately 40% of the crowd raised their hands.)
J.S. - Wow! Thanks for not giving up! Well here we are, all of us, dancing naked in public!
R.S. - It is not easy being an artist. I must say, if you have a choice at all with your interests and talents, do something else, anything else other than art - do that, not art! You will be so much happier with your career choice and if you also love art, dedicate some of your income to helping those who have chosen to give their life to their art process. Support artists by buying art. 
J.S. - Now, to the artists out there. Artists must have an incredible work ethic - and don't be big babies - you are never going to have enough money or enough time. Just get to work. You must communicate, through your art, who YOU are. And like Roberta said, don't be an artist if you don't have to - YOU MUST WORK, WORK, WORK all of the time! If you have not done any work in the past six months, you might not be an artist. If you have not done any work in the past two years, you are no longer an artist!
R.S. - Jerry coined the term "Seeing Out Loud", THAT is what we do. It is not necessary to understand any of the art we all look at, because ART is its own language. There is always a one-to-one communication between a work of art and the viewer.
J.S. - Most people don't understand art.
R.S. - I probably got into the art criticism business because I had a very critical mother. She had strong opinions, but also was generally interested in what I thought about the things we were considering: colors, furniture, collectibles, etc. There was this whole thing about "closely looking" at things and having a definite opinion. She said I had a good eye.
     I researched Donald Judd, in depth, as a part of my Art History studies. He was an organizer and collector of both the best and the worst of things. My first, full-time, "real" job was being a personal secretary at MoMA. One day I read an article about Judd. Soon I sat down and wrote a rebuke to that article, then I showed it to the curator I worked for at MoMA. She said she knew the editor of Art Forum, Phil Leider, and would send it off to get his opinion. A return letter arrived from Art Forum regarding my essay. Leider said it was an obnoxious way to become a critic, but if I would cut the text by half, he would run it! From then on, I was an art critic! I remember thinking I didn't want to be a critic like Robert Rosenberg or even Donald Judd (who also wrote about art), they could not get past the era they loved and seldom appreciated art styles and approaches as the history of art progressed through the decades.

J.S. - I started being an art critic by accident. I was an artist myself. I had moved to NYC and my personal quest was to draw (illustrate) all aspects of Dante's "The Divine Comedy". I needed a day job, but I was a very self-conscious employee. I didn't enjoy anyone looking over my shoulder as I performed a task. I thought driving a delivery truck would be a good option, since the boss would never be around. I landed a job in "Long Distance Trucking". I still wanted to be in the art world, while I drove, so I decided to learn art criticism via audio recordings. Soon I started writing criticism and I ended up here.  
     By the way, most people in the "Art World" are NOT artists. They are people who enjoy or love art and want to work in the business in some auxiliary way. They work in galleries, frame shops, museums, as art handlers, etc. 
R.S. - It is well known, I was fired from the Village Voice, but first how I got there. I was writing criticism and being published in various art publications, reviewing art exhibitions after the fact. I had a discussion with a colleague about my work, they told me I needed "readers". I responded, I have readers - back at me - they said, not really, you need to write for a large circulation publication, where people will follow what you write. So I went to the Village Voice, told them I was an art critic and they hired me. Suddenly I had "readers" and I was writing about current shows that were still up and would be viewed by my "readers". I was petrified I would get it wrong. Fear was the motivation to make certain what I wrote was "useful to my 'readers'". My writing was now only about ME, the ART and the READER. The connection was intoxicating, then I got fired! For a while I didn't know who I was, because what I thought, my writing, was not in print. Many months later I was hired by The New York Times as an art critic, and I am still there today. Everyone should get fired once in their lives, to learn: "When bad things happen, you can and will recover - life goes on."
     Another point, when I wrote for the art magazines, I was writing for the artists, at the Village Voice I was writing for the viewers of art. Artists would come up to me and say "That is not what I was trying to say with my artwork." 
J.S. - The reality is, artists don't know what their art says to an individual viewer, or at a later time, in some completely unexpected context.
     Roberta and I go to 30 to 40 art exhibitions a week. That is all we do, days, weekends, evenings, and if things are slow, we start looking for sculpture parks or other art venues to review. 
     85% of all gallery shows are "CRAP"! The interesting thing about art is the turbulence. The 85% that's considered "CRAP" is different for each person forming an opinion about it. As it goes around, almost every type of art is appreciated by someone.
R.S. - Although there are many opinions regarding what is good and bad art, a critic must occasionally write negative reviews, if that is how they see it. Writing only positive reviews is not helpful to the progress of art. I am content to I write what I write and let others think what they think.
J.S. - We often hear: "The Model" (art that's noticed) is the "ONE" speaking to the "MONEY". In the arts, you must do what you do, even if you don't get paid for it. To be an artist, you have to be addicted to your work.
R.S. - We are all excellent critics of our every day lives, making decisions driven by pleasure and these decisions also have an aesthetic component. All of us are good critics of popular culture, we have strong opinions about the music we like, or movies or humor. 
     When looking at "Art" there is subjective data transferred to us, while we stand in front of a work. Our schools don't teach "visual literacy" the same way they do literature and music. We would live in an entirely different culture if they did.
J.S. - We are invited to all of the glitzy art parties and I go to some, Roberta does not. 
R.S - Generally speaking I don't fraternize with the people I may have to write about. Integrity is the essence of art and criticism. Through our actions we show art is important and we make our love of art evident in what we do. 
J.S. - Museums are storage places for these objects made by people. They house art pieces which have enough presence to be deemed worthy of being kept for the cultural future. 
Question: How do you tell if a work of art is good?
R.S. - A critic is looking for a bit of pleasure - GOOD ART is always making some noise. I walk into a room and something catches my eye, there is an attraction, and I want to look deeper into it.
Question: Is anything new or is it all derivative?
J.S. - There are comparisons - hey, we all steal and have influences, but I am not usually thinking about another artist, when I view a piece of art. I am in the moment with that art.
Question: Do critics get frustrated with all the problems of the Art World and in publishing? 
J.S. - Yes, critic are whiners! They often declare with great fan-fare, they are going to quit. Then the next month they're back. I say, "The Art World is an all volunteer army, no one is being forced to be a part of it. If you are unhappy, please leave!"
Question: What pivotal moments have you witnessed in the progress of Art History?
J.S. - I remember the beginning of the Fall Art Season, September of 1990. I went to a gallery to see a new young artist named Matthew Barney. I stood there and watched this young man put Vaseline into every opening of his body: eyes; nose; ears; etc. I remember thinking, this is a paradigm shift in what we call art. I was also thinking about the numerology of the timing! The number "9" is very powerful and we were in the ninth month, of nineteen ninety, at the start a new art season, with a new artist and I was viewing something I had never seen the-likes-of before. In that moment, I felt a seismic shift, we were starting a new chapter in art history.
Question: Does art history miss good things along the way?
J.S. - Talented people were doing art other than Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s, but AbEx. caught everyone's attention. You should Google the artist James Castle who worked in the same era.
Question: Does your voice change when writing in different publications?
R.S. - Yes, of course your point of view changes with different publications and for different audiences. Realistically, as a rule: I think everyone should always write as close to how they talk, as possible. 
J.S. - Write it close to how you talk!
     We are all dancing naked in public: artists; writers; museum directors; and all creative types. There is no pretense when you are naked, JUST BE YOUR VERSION OF YOU.
R.S.- Clyfford Still is a great example. Almost all of his work was done out of the market. He did his work for his consumption only, representing his vision. Seeing this large collection of his work, here in Denver, was a great experience.
J.S.- We need to make envy and cynicism our enemy. These adversarial relationships must stop. Clyfford Still considered the "Art World" his enemy, but it is the "Art World" who created him, they made him famous and no one else cares. No matter what he said, he probably wanted attention, just like the rest of us!
R.S. - When viewing art, there is not much else going on in and around you, that is not about the art you are viewing. You are concentrating on the art and connecting with it.
J.S. - Also, the art you hate is speaking to you.
R.S. - The negative emotions you may feel, are coming out of your communication with that artwork.
Question: What are you doing to keep yourself open to the "NEW" and to female artists or Hispanic artists, etc.?
R.S. - Yes, we are constantly evaluating those kinds of things, trying to be inclusive.
J.S. - We search out female, or Hispanic artists and other ethnicities.

J.S. - Back to artworks I don't like! I always ask myself, "What would I be like, if I was the kind of person who liked this art?" 
     The more you look at art, the more you see. We are all building an experience bank. It takes a certain amount of time to create true and mature appreciation of artistic concepts and philosophies. Collectors want to jump on the band wagon, investing in these young artists still in grad school, but I feel sorry for artist who have young success. They are at a conceptual disadvantage and many get trapped in immature approaches by being recognized before their thought processes have seasoned. 
     I have written about "Zombie Formalism". IF YOU MAKE ART, YOU HAD BETTER MAKE IT YOUR OWN!
(Editor's Note: Zombie Formalism: “Zombie” because it brings back to life discarded aesthetics of past art movements and “Formalism” because the art involves traditional, straightforward methods of making a painting.)
R.S. - We should speak about ideologies, beliefs people assume, IE: the author is dead; argument is at issue; everything can be repeated; art has a responsibility to change the world, etc.
     Art is just fine! If you think an art object is passive, you are mistaken.
Question: What is your opinion of regional art? Can we succeed as regional artists?
R.S. - Great art can and is being created outside of New York City and Los Angeles. With jpegs, social media, plus quick and easy communications, you can connecte with the Art World from anywhere. Here in Denver you have an advantage over many cities with your Clyfford Still museum, your encyclopedic Denver Art Museum, your Museum of Contemporary Art, and your many good galleries. 
     Writing criticism several times a week is a little different. A top tier critic must be in a city like New York, because of the extensive number of gallery shows available to cover and all of the museum shows to be reviewed.
J.S. - It's certainly possible to work successfully as an artist in a regional market, but L.A. is only an hour and a half away from Denver by air. Would it kill you to go there once a year, just to keep up with what's going on?
J.S. - Art is a point of view, when you go into an exhibition and you get defensive about what is good or bad, remember just look at the art, then let it go. There is plenty of other art out there.
R.S. - We go to many museum shows, only to see most of the people concentrating on the large text, silk-screened onto the walls, and the labels by the artworks, instead of spending time with the art itself. ART IS A CONVERSATION BETWEEN YOU AND THE ART, its not about labels!
J.S. - I agree, spend your time with the art! I have learned over the years, if you do want to read the exhibition labels, they finally get around to any useful information in the last two sentences, that is all you need to read. That's what I do.

Until Later,
ARTSnFOOD, is an online publication dedicated to "The Pursuit of Happiness, the Arts and Food." ™ All rights reserved. Concept, Original Art, Text & Photographs are © Copyright 2015 Jack A. Atkinson under all International intellectual property and copyright laws. Any gallery, event, museum, fair or festival photographs were taken with permission. Images © individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Digital Artworks by the Artist Jack A. Atkinson + Food: Boiled Custard

The basis for all of Jack A. Atkinson's art are preliminary monotone, ink and brush works
usually painted in the moment, from life -  then converted into digital outputs as the final presentation.
"Picturing the 
Essence of Life: Energy!"
Digital Artworks by Jack A. Atkinson

(Editor's Note: Jack A. Atkinson is the Editor & Publisher of and the subject of this issue. The first person commentary is in quotes.)

Simplicity, ENERGY, Beauty is the test artist Jack A. Atkinson requires of his work before he lets it go. 

Through the artist's computer, he adds scale or color or manipulation to enhance the essence already captured with-in his preliminary ink paintings, his intended subject is always: Life's Energy!

Break-dancer, spinning while doing a hand-stand, down in the subway, NYC.
Ink & Brush Digital Color Painting 1/1 

Atkinson thinks of his digital art as being similar to photojournalism, except he uses his eyes, brain, hand, brush and ink on natural paper for his capture device (in photography, the analogy would be a camera and photo-negatives). He converts these preliminary artworks, with-in the computer's programs, into "unique" (1/1) archival digital outputs. Thus Atkinson transforms, alters or repaints his preliminary prehistoric, ink and brush medium, into bold, twenty-first century digital artworks.

Jack A. Atkinson comments on his art: "The time I have worked on each of my digital painting incarnations, shown below, represents years of exploration with-in each period of time. I'm again enjoying the beauty of my drawings, by showing "one-of-a-kind" (1/1), digital, b/w "blow-ups", similar to the first digital works I created on canvas during my first phase of work. Now the art is flush mounted on aluminum and floated away from the wall."

 Shy Tibetan Boy (displayed on bold wallpaper, with a chair and zebra heels).

Girl on the street in NYC, large output,
flush mounted on aluminum.

Man checking messages on the subway, large output,
flush mounted on aluminum.

Native American Fancy Dancer, large output,
flush mounted on aluminum.

Native American Fringe Dancer, large output,
flush mounted on aluminum.

A Short Professional Bio
for Jack A. Atkinson
Artist • Photographer
• Editor/Publisher • Cook/Chef
Artist Statement:
"The focus of my life has been aesthetics and my adult career has exclusively been devoted to the visual arts. "Simplicity, Energy, Beauty" is the test for all of my projects, visual or otherwise. It has been my privilege to work in the arts, for my entire life and I now embrace what we call "Fine Art".

ARTIST: I was born an artist and also played music professionally for five years during my youth. I worked as an Art Director for most of my professional life in the applied-arts: in corporations; freelance; for regional magazines; major metropolitan newspapers; and national magazines. Today I exhibit my artworks in galleries. I helped to organize and participated in The First All-Digital-Output Art Exhibition in New York City's Chelsea Arts District, titled "5 Digital Artists" at Caelum Gallery in 2007.
PHOTOGRAPHER: As an Art Director, I stood looking over the left shoulder of many great photographers as they took pictures I had assigned to them. Now, I enjoy creating photography myself and have self-published four coffee-table books of my photographs. I would classify this work as fine art photograph, with a photo-journalistic approach.
EDITOR / PUBLISHER: I currently publish a weekly online Arts and Food magazine: During my print publication career, creating excellent publications was a thrill. When the ability to publish my own magazine materialized through blogging, I jumped on the bandwagon. I am amazed at how widely read "ARTSnFOOD" actually is, hundreds of thousands have read it world-wide. The magazine mostly covers art exhibitions in galleries and museums in NYC, throughout the USA and around the globe. It also incorporates the culinary arts in a weekly food feature and from time to time the publication covers Art Related Shopping and Art Related Travel.

COOK/CHEF: My first full-time job was as the Corporate Art Director for Holiday Inns International, Inc. Our friends became the extraordinary chefs Holiday Inns had brought in from around the world to oversee the H.I. Food and Beverage Department. The experience of eating out with these chefs, in their homes and around their tables with their families, launched my love of great food and entertaining! We now regularly entertain at our home, having many large dinner parties a year, where we prepare and serve gourmet food."

Jack A. Atkinson's Digital Artworks can be divided into five distinct periods
and now he has returned to his first approach, but with a new presentation.

1st Period
Ink & Brush Blow-Ups - Unique Digital Paintings 

Wet Dog, large output,
archival ink on canvas.

Duckling Swimming, large output, archival ink on canvas.

2nd Period
Ink & Brush Altered Monochrome Digital Paintings 

All of Atkinson's art starts with preliminary ink and brush paintings, but his digital works have gone through several periods of experimentation, in an attempt to emphasize the "energy" he seems to capture in his ink and brush preliminary paintings. This second period is "Ink & Brush Altered Monochrome Paintings". These are all digital archival Epson outputs on canvas, "unique" (1/1).

 Dutch Girl

Horse Circus 

Young Couple at the Piano

3rd Period
Ink & Brush Digital Color Paintings 

Starting with the preliminary ink & brush art, in Atkinson's 3rd period of experimentation, he added flat color to the final artworks. All art is digital archival outputs on canvas, "unique" (1/1).

 Alex Katz, drawn from life.

Frank at Festival of Mountains & Plains

Gallery Pup

Pelon & his pet, Kiwi. 

"Rasta Poet" Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

Jack Atkinson Self-portrait (drawn looking in a mirror).

4th Period
Ink & Brush Color Paintings with Abstractions 

From preliminary life drawings done in ink & brush, Atkinson's 4th incarnation of digital painting was again a search to better express the energy he recognized with-in his b/w preliminary paintings. The artist moved beyond his computer generated color paintings by adding expressive alterations and digital painting techniques. The works shown are all digital Epson archival outputs on canvas, "unique" 1/1.

 Buddha, the brush & ink was drawn from life in a Tibetan monastery.

 Drawn during a play about Paris in the 1890s. This scene showing clients at a brothel. Lincoln center, NYC.

 A young woman and a more mature woman on a couch, in conversation.

Caldecott the Cat. A mysterious soul.

Friend of the artist, at an opening in NYC.

Skiers, Copper Mountain, Colorado.

5th Period
Ink & Brush "Color Energy Paintings"

The artist feels the naturally occurring energy in the preliminary art is the real subject of his art and the most interesting aspect of the artworks. Thus the objective of this period of his exploration of color digital painting was to go all in and attempt to visualize the "pure energy" found in his ink and brush paintings. Searching for a name, he called these "Color Energy Paintings", "Spirit Paintings" or "Aura Paintings". They are all digital Epson archival outputs on canvas, "unique" 1/1.

 African Fertility Doll, energy painting.

Chris on stage, energy painting. 

 Guilin Landscape, energy painting.

Girl in a Turban, energy painting.

 Sailboat on the Hudson, energy painting.

Tibetan Boy, energy painting.

Today, the artist has come full circle and refocused on his "one-of-a-kind" (1/1), digital, b/w "blow-ups" this time flush mounted on aluminum and floated away from the wall. The reason for abandoning color for now is because the energy in the b/w art is direct and obvious and the scale adds a contemporary flair and drama. 

Simplicity, Energy and Beauty are all present in the most pure and simple ways.

At an art opening, pictured: "Betty @ 100"

Guilin Landscape

 Legs at a MoMA Art Party

 Two Young Women from Argentina at a museum exhibition.


For more information 
go to the website:

All art in this issue is © Copyright Jack A. Atkinson, 2015.
Do not copy, republish, or reproduce in any form the images above without written permission of Jack Atkinson Studios.
No Pemission is Required for Links:
Or to the website  

Boiled Custard
A Southern Comfort 
Sweet Treat!

1 quart of homogenized milk
2 Tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in cold water
3 eggs, well beaten to a lemon color
½ - ¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place milk in a double boiler.  Heat milk until warm, then add 2 teaspoons of corn starch which has been dissolved in cold water. Next add 3 well beaten eggs (beat to a lemon color), add ½ cup sugar (3/4 if you want it sweeter) to the beaten eggs, stir until mixed well.  Add eggs and sugar to the milk, stirring constantly until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon.  Add vanilla.

If you like a thick boiled custard use 3 Tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in cold water instead of 2 Tablespoons.  Have your beaten eggs and sugar ready to put into the warm milk as soon as you have stirred in cornstarch (this is important).

If you like a sweet boiled custard, add ¾ cups of sugar to beaten eggs instead of ½ cup.  To make ½ gallon, double measurements. Top boiled custard with whipped cream if you would like a rich presentation when served.

Yield:  Makes 2 quarts.
(Source: Mary Boylston Crichton, Atkinson Family Cookbook)

Until Later,
ARTSnFOOD, is an online publication dedicated to "The Pursuit of Happiness, the Arts and Food." ™ All rights reserved. Concept, Original Art, Text & Photographs are © Copyright 2015 Jack A. Atkinson under all International intellectual property and copyright laws. All gallery, museum, fair or festival photographs were taken with permission. Images © individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Bauhaus Costume Parties 1924-1926 + Food: Couscous Salad

Bauhaus Costume Parties 1924-1926 
Photos by Oskar Schlemmer


(See our postscript section below for the complete article on the Bauhaus, published in 1925.) 

Couscous Salad with Cucumbers, Peppers and Tomatoes
A delicious meal by itself, which should be served with a multi grain pita on the side.
  • 1 cup (6 oz) couscous
  • 2 green bell peppers roasted & cut in 1/2 inch squares
  • 1/2 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into 1/2 in, dice
  • 1 sm fresh red/green Jalapeno or Serano chile, seeded and minced
  • 6 Tbls extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 Tbls(2-1/2 fl oz)fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/3 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1In saucepan bring 1 cup water to boil. Remove from heat & add couscous and 1/2 tsp salt. Stir well, cover and let stand 10 minutes. Transfer to large, shallow baking dish, fluffing with fork and spreading evely. Let sit to cool completely.
  • 2Transfer couscous to a large bowl. Scatter bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, chile and cilantro over top.
  • 3In small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, paprika, and garlic. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Add to couscous and toss together.

These photos were originally published in June -July of 1925 as
“Élet a Bauhausban,” Periszkop 

Source: Text Translated from the Hungarian by John Bátki.
From Between Two Worlds: A Sourcebook of
Central European Avant-Gardes, 1910-1930.
(The MIT Press. Cambridge, MA: 2002).

Bauhaus Costume Parties
Photos by Oskar Schlemmer c.1925

bauhaus-costumes-4 (1)

Bauhaus costume, 1920s

Bauhaus costume, 1920s

It is the first institution in Europe dedicated to realizing the achievements of the new arts for the purposes of human existence. Its inception was the first step toward a recognition that has become widespread by now: that “atelier art” has divorced itself from life and is dead, and that every person possessing creative powers must seek his or her vocation in the fulfillment of the practical needs of everyday life. Today’s scientific and technological advances will not become assimilated into general culture as long as humankind still lives under medieval conditions. The machine is still a foreign object in the houses of today; the documents of technological culture are still relegated to books atop fancy carved desks, radio music by the fireplace. The age demands a style, a common denominator for its visible phenomena. However, “style” is an unsuitable word, we do not like to use it, for it usually refers to the external pseudo-unity of things, a system of decorative forms.

Each and every object that we have to build anew will be different, according to its material, function, and structure, instead of resembling each other in form. The common denominator will be provided by the object’s functionality and beauty demanded by its practicality; it will be the kinship of objects equivalent in their quality.
Bauhaus costumes, 1920s
Bauhaus costumes, 1920s
The architect Walter Gropius, founder and director of the Bauhaus, was among the pioneers in the fight against entrenched historical forms. His prewar creations (such as the Faguswerk in Alfeld) had already demonstrated that he was able to realize his goals with absolute technical mastery. He conducted the task of organizing the Bauhaus with the greatest consistency and perseverance in spite of the difficult circumstances and lack of understanding on the part of the authorities. The Bauhaus as organized is the prototype of a new kind of educational institution that does not merely “educate for life” but actually places its students into practical real-life situations. It is articulated into three subdivisions: 1) the school itself where theoretical and practical professional instruction is given in workshops, 2) the production workshops (stone, wood, metal, and glass processing shops, as well as textile, ceramics, murals, printing and theatrical workshops) where work is done on commission and ongoing experimental work is conducted, and 3) the architecture and design department, for the design and construction of all sorts of building projects.
At the time of its founding Gropius declared that in our days there are no architects and no artists capable of executing the loftier tasks of our age in practical form. Therefore the new artists would have to develop here, learning in the course of a constant immersion in materials the ability to think realistically, to make cool-headed calculations, and to draw daring conclusions. We live at a time of the greatest possibilities, a time of the greatest need. Unaccomplishable projects can only hinder us. The artist’s pride obstructs development and progress, which is promoted by the forward thrust of mechanical aptitude.
Bauhaus costume, 1920s
Bauhaus costume, 1920s
The 1923 exhibition gave evidence of how much of its promise the Bauhaus has realized after a mere four years of existence. They have built a model home in a manner totally devoid of clichés, introducing outstanding technical innovations in its structure and demonstrating creative invention in the layout of its ground plan. The entire building was completely furnished with built-in and multi-functional, movable furniture. Everything was produced at the Bauhaus workshops, including the rugs and dishes. The architecture department exhibited a large number of photographs showing completed buildings and several series of novel projects for inexpensive apartment buildings.
The exhibition of the products of the workshops included several prototypes that have been adopted by industry for mass production. The theater department produced Triadic Ballet and Mechanical Cabaret. The printing department published a huge Bauhaus volume including reproductions of representative works. Colorful reliefs were installed in the stairways and halls of the main buildings as public examples of innovative spatial design.
Bauhaus costumes, 1920s
Bauhaus costumes, 1920s
The Bauhaus exhibition was able to show very positive financial results even though it took place at a time of the greatest crisis in Germany. Widespread praise in the press and from professional circles was followed by such an influx of orders for various industrial fairs that the production workshops, already overloaded by their instructional schedules, were unable to fulfill the majority of orders. This has occasioned the current crisis at the Bauhaus, since the state that had compliantly erected the original buildings could not afford at present to enlarge the productive workshops, while refusing to approve the involvement of private capital in a state-run institution. Thus Gropius was faced with a choice: to continue with a school which would sooner or later sink to an academic level, or else to establish a corporation in tandem with the Bauhaus staff in order to realize their original goals. Gropius chose the latter, all the more so since the government of Thüringia, not very sympathetic to the school’s latest efforts, had become increasingly stingy with its subsidies.
German manufacturing industry and the circles that promote progress in the industrial arts (Werkbund,WerkfreundeIndustrieverband) have already given repeated evidence of their support of the Bauhaus, and in all likelihood will make the establishment of a G.m.b.H. possible in the near future. Given all this, the Bauhaus will be able to look forward with confidence to a future that will not be restricted to one locality but contains the potential of fulfilling a Europe-wide interest.
Bauhaus costume, 1920s
Bauhaus costume, 1920s
For someone to be admitted to the Bauhaus workshops he or she must not only know how to work but also how to live. Prospective students are required to send an autobiography and a photograph along with their applications. This is especially important in the case of women…Only healthy and intact individuals are suitable for admission. Education and training are not as essential requirements as a lively, alert temperament, a flexible body, and an inventive mind. Nightlife at the Bauhaus claims the same importance as daytime activities. One must know how to dance. In Itten’s apt phrase: locker sein [loosen up].
If you are not familiar with the festivals of the Bauhaus, then you don’t really know the Bauhaus product. These festivals arise suddenly, on the most varied pretexts. Take, for example, a day of great winds. Whereupon a gigantic placard is carried all over the community: FESTIVAL OF AERIAL GAMES. Two hundred airplanes of all sizes, shapes, and colors float in the air at the end of thin leashes.  There is nothing more beautiful than that. Games played by two hundred children of all ages. There are some incredible things that soar superbly. The best in the show was a piece by Fritz Schleifer, our “pretty boy,” whose forte was making constructions of air. As such, he was definitely a “keeper.” Eventually he became a taxi dancer.
Summer brings many other delights, such as the water games known as bathing. The philistines are especially incensed, for it is rumored that the Bauhaus folk are fond of forgetting to bring their swimsuits. But this is not true. I passed three summers there without a single occasion when members of both sexes bathed together like that. Of course there were a few exceptions, here and there, but these were extremely rare. But everyone loved the cold water and the stony beach. And boxing. I challenged Gropius, “the Grand Seigneur” himself, to three rounds.
The nights, too, are beautiful. Especially in the vast park in Weimar. You see, this is where the model house is located, just above the Goethe-House, and next to the Bauhaus vegetable gardens. I lived there for a summer. It was the busiest time — during the Bauhaus exhibition. We certainly gave that model house a workout. You would never imagine how valuable a large, central, sky-lit hall can be in such a small apartment that economizes on space. And how practical those small sleeping cubicles can be. The Breuer beds, the Otte rugs, and the telephone, affording a “connection” at any time.  Breuer’s toilette mirror is a veritable wonder. If you place the small mirror horizontally across your face and look into the other, the nose disappears and this way the face is always very attractive; turning it slightly you end up with only one eye on your head, making the facial expression truly monumental.
Bauhaus costume, 1920s
Bauhaus costume, 1920s
Lantern Festival: what a banal term. But it signifies a real attraction, if you want to see a worldly congeries of the most varied assortment of geometric shapes, and masses of transparent color changes.  We, too, can provide some real surprises. Schmidtchen’s things possess a magical appeal. They blow even the philistines’ minds.El Lissitzky takes me by the arm; this serious little Constructivist engineer exudes sentimentality. Bah! Proun pictures. This is reality.
The winters are even more perilous. This is the season when dancing becomes a health requirement. The ballroom (Il Montecarlo) is huge. But strangers are not granted admittance. The district chief decides to give us a tax break. The “Schüpo” is always on our side. This is the time when the girls really blossom. If you knew the Bauhaus girls you would drop your low opinion of German women’s stockings. Of course many of them are from abroad. But among the German ones those whose names begin with I and L are 100 percent more efficacious than Greek goddesses. They are also more beautiful. My best dancing partner was Princess To (born in 1906 in the German Congo).
Bauhaus costume, 1920s
Bauhaus costume, 1920s
Of course the greatest credit goes to Arnold Weininger (born 1899 in Karancs). He organized the Bauhaus band. Jazz band, accordion, xylophone, saxophone, bombast, revolver. When he sits at the piano he rules over all the band masters; he leads the band like Admiral Scheer, he uplifts, he motions, he conducts, he directs. His smile is world-famous. He has also imported Hungarian music. He would make a terrific movie actor. In Hamburg, as author and actor at the Cabaret Jungfrau, he has enjoyed tremendous success.
Here the various kinds of dances are not performed in their customary forms, but as dictated by the throbbing pulse of the blood and the beat. There are also special Bauhaus-dances, just as there were special Bauhaus clothes, until the appearance of Georg Teltscher (when the process of Americanization began). Our dances to original music are the Bauhaus schritt, the Bauhaus trot, the Bauhaus gerade, and so on.
The dancing is suddenly disrupted by a resounding crash. All eyes are upon the stage. The Bühnenwerkstatt is at work. This merits a whole article in itself. The most striking farces, bloody tragedies, persiflages, exoticisms. But there is something even more novel here: those spontaneously arising improvisations. The first was Steegreif in 1919. And everybody performs. One after another they take the stage; much of the time the action is simultaneous in the middle of the hall, up in the galleries and on the podium. The spellbinding story may end as a serious rumble or else as a square dance.  Directed by Kurt Schmidt (his nails artfully blackened).
Bauhaus costume, 1920s
Bauhaus costume, 1920s
The greatest expenditures of energy, however, go into the costume parties. The essential difference between the fancy-dress balls organized by the artists of Paris, Berlin, Moscow and the ones here at the Bauhaus is that our costumes are truly original. Everyone prepares his or her own. Never a one that has been seen before. Inhuman, or humanoid, but always new. You may see monstrously tall shapes stumbling about, colorful mechanical figures that yield not the slightest clue as to where the head is. Sweet girls inside a red cube. Here comes a winch and they are hoisted high up into the air; lights flash and scents are sprayed.
And now one or two intimate details about the bigwigs. Kandinsky prefers to appear decked out as an antenna, Itten as an amorphous monster, Feininger as two right triangles, Moholy-Nagy as a segment transpierced by a cross, Gropius as Le Corbusier, Muche as an apostle of Mazdaznan, Klee as the song of the blue tree. A rather grotesque menagerie…
Bauhaus costume, 1920s
Bauhaus costume, 1920s
The dance is non-stop. The members of the Jazz-kapelle break up their instruments. The proprietor loses his patience. Outside the police set up machine guns made of cherry brandy bottles. Inside, the high point is reached. Barometer at 365 degrees. Maximal tension. But it all comes to an end. Hebestreit the executioner shows up. The red arrow points at the emergency exit.
( Previously posted by The Charnel-House)
Until later, 
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