Category Archives: Art History

Bauhaus, Rockets & The Atom Bomb

bauhaus-characterAsymmetry, elegance, beauty and practicality, this describes some of the Bauhaus design curricula. The school emphasized a teaching method that shifted the mindset from competition-focused to a focus on personal potential and universal purpose. Bauhaus-stage-charactersLead by Walter Gropius, Bauhaus was founded in 1919 in Weimar, Germany. The Bauhaus teaching style resembled a utopian artists’ guild. To set up a new way of living, the Bauhaus taught principles that instituted creative design and technical disciplines. Community living in a unified-designed environment can influence an individual to adopt a more creative design awareness. Design knowledge can add vitality to live a better life. The school moved to Dessau, Germany in 1924. By 1933, the Nazi political party had forced the school to close


Consemueller_1926_bauhaus-chairteapotMarcel Breuer and Joseph Albers immigrated to the United States to take teaching positions at Yale. After Walter Gropius went to Harvard, Moholy-Nagy eventually established a New Bauhaus school.



In 1922, Bauhaus principles were introduced in the United States with The Chicago Association of Arts and Industries. The association’s primary purpose was to open a school of design. Funding to initiate the New Bauhaus school was a major problem. Maholy-Nagy’s hard work and persistence eventually led to the opening of The School of Design in 1939. A few years later in 1944, a new board of directors dissolved The School of Design and formed the new Institute of Design. What started out as an artists’ guild and design school with a pedagogical teaching approach in Germany, evolved into one of the most prestigious industrial design graduate schools in the United States, the Illinois Institute of Technology – Institute of Design.

german-rocket-pioneersAs World War II progressed, the import of other highly regarded Germans was essential to the U.S. war effort. A secret project “Operation Paperclip” involved 88 German scientists and rocket technology production. Other German scientists provided necessary help developing the Atomic Bomb.



The video shows a quick fundamental review of the Bauhaus School’s history, philosophy and achievements.

Klee 9000

The Swiss-German Paul Klee (December 18, 1879 – June 29, 1940) taught in Weimar, Germany at the Bauhaus school of art, design and architecture with Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky. Klee’s lecture writings, “Paul Klee Notebooks,” on form and design theory became one of the most respected in the Modern art movement. Klee’s extensive work in color theory allowed the experimentation to express moods, beliefs, dry humor and his childlike perspective. In 1919, at the Academy of Art in Stuttgart, Klee created artworks influenced by Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism and Abstraction. The artwork produced is difficult to categorize because Klee combines and morphs the various art movement styles to create his own. He usually worked alone and analyzed art trends based on his own perspective. Klee used inventive methods and techniques to apply many types of media to different painting surfaces. Over the years, Klee created about 9000 artworks. The videos combined show just a small percentage of Klee’s artwork accompanied with music.

Future On Old (updated)

800px-France_in_XXI_Century._SchoolAround the year 1900, various French, German and Russian artists expressed their vision of the next century on small labels and cards. The art created was derived from the artists’ current environmental, social and technological viewpoint. Some of the artworks are very imaginative but departs from what we would think of as practical. The artists illustrated the idea of great and small public flying vehicles. The idea they expressed is not likely to happen at any time in near the future. The artists dreamed of automation and robotics that eliminated hard labor and personal chores to create a better lifestyle. The art shows technology that adds fun to a sport and other social events that take place on the ground, in water and the air.  Inventive scenarios of technology, science and industry seem to still have relevance today. It is apparent the artists did not consult fashion designers on what clothes would look like in the future. By today’s standards, the attire that is worn underwater is quite entertaining.

Past Futurism Now

Futurism became one of the most important Italian modern art movements of the early 20th century. Committed to new technology and mobility, its members wanted to change culture and demonstrate the advancements of modern life. The artists worked in traditional media such as painting and sculpture, in styles influenced by Post-Impressionism. They were interested in embracing popular social subjects, media and new technologies to communicate their ideas as many artists do today.

Ruth’s Demons of Surrealism

by Bailey Dolenc

praying-mantisRuth Markus in her article “Surrealism’s Praying Mantis and Castrating Woman” explains the Surrealists’ demonic beliefs of women and the artworks depicting them during the late 1920s into the mid-1930s. Markus makes it clear that Surrealist painters such as Dali, Ernst, and Picasso had a disturbing complex concerning women. The woman was a symbol of sexual desire and devouring death, concepts derived from the sexual rites of the praying mantis. During copulation the female overpowers the male and decapitates him, leaving him to die. No matter the artist’s personal dilemma, the concept of the decapitating praying mantis, or otherwise named the castrating woman or the vagina dentata, was central to relationships between men and females. Markus delves into indigenous beliefs ranging from the Native North American tribes to the Bushmen to further unravel and rationalize the male fear of the castrating woman.

Salvador-Dali-A-Woman-with-a-Head-of-RosesSalvador Dali’s painting A Women with a Head of Roses (1935) is a symbolic expression that further illustrates Markus’s theory with the small male figure in the background watched and dominated by a monstrous skull-shaped hill. In the foreground the bouquet-headed woman dominates the scene, making herself beautiful to elicit deceptive devouring death.

In Ernst’s painting Joy of Life (jungle) of 1936, the forests and tangled undergrowth are derived from the rich Romantic heritage in German art. Upon closer inspection, the title becomes bitterly ironic. The jungle has grown to enormous proportions, dwarfing a sculpture of a woman and animal living together in harmony.Max-Ernst-The-joy-of-life Instead of a paradise, the scene is a scary one in which giant praying mantises do battle. The mantises also symbolize the fears and suppressed desires of the human mind. The female mantis is overpowering the male mantis, symbolizing the metamorphic and deceptive qualities of women. Picasso’s painting The Kiss (1931), Markus adds, ultimately liberates the female from being the aggressor. Picasso-the kiss (two heads)1922

The iconographic praying mantis became a primary inspiration for the Surrealists, mainly due to the outcome of its bizarre mating ritual in which the female devours the male during and after copulating. Scientists such as Sigmund Freud with his writings on man’s repressed sexuality influenced the Surrealists artists. The Surrealists discovered the insect’s cannibalistic marriage a fascinating image of the hypothetical erotic viciousness lurking in the murkier recesses of the human mind. Although other insects act identically, the mantis with its extremely humanoid form is further symbolized with the scientific observations of J. H. Fabre. Fabre’s descriptions gave his insect subjects a more poetic and imaginative life.

(Jean-Henri Casimir Faber was a famous French scientist who devoted his whole life working in entomology)


Pollack – Turmoil Creates Major Legacy

Paul Jackson Pollock was born on January 28, 1912. After his early studies with Thomas Hart Benton and experimentation with the artistic styles of Picasso, Miro and Diego Rivera, Pollock created a technique that was uniquely his own: drip painting. He married his most trusted advisor and fellow artist Lee Krasner in 1945. Although Pollack had a short and difficult life ending with his accidental death in 1956, through all of the turmoil he established himself as one of America’s most influential artists in the Abstract Expressionism movement.



World’s First Soap Operas?

by Bailey Dolenc

Lady Murasaki

Murasaki Shikibu was one of the world’s finest early novelists who inspired artists to paint the lifestyles of the Japanese aristocracy. Some argue that Murasaki wrote the world’s first modern novel. One could even say that she ignited the creation of our modern series of soap operas.

In her early twenties, Lady Murasaki married a distant relative. Her husband tragically died two years following the birth of their child. After hearing of her unfortunate circumstances and learning of her brilliant mind and exceptional writing skills, the Imperial family brought Lady Murasaki to court. During her time in Empress Shoshi’s court, Lady Murasaki kept a diary for two years. While giving a vivid account of court life in Japan’s literary pinnacle Heian period, it also gives insights into Lady Murasaki’s personal thoughts. In part, she did not agree with the frivolous aspects of court life. From the Imperial Palace in twelfth century Japan emerged her psychological novel, The Tale of Genji (Genji-monogatari).

men lighting torchesLady Murasaki wrote The Tale of Genji in chapter installments which were later recorded on a scroll and illustrated delicately. The main character Genji, his love affairs, and those of his offspring are the main focus of the storyline. Interestingly, the illustrations in each chapter were created by different groups of skilled painters and monks. Psychological intensity is present in each painting with the painters’ elevated techniques of adding vertical and diagonal lines that coincide to portray heightened emotions and an underlying framework. Ox-drawn carts of Emperor's ladies-in-waiting (illustration of the 3rd scene)Aristocrats found interest in the artistic psychological presence, delicately painted brush strokes, gold and silver flakes, and precise calligraphy that some of the aristocrats created themselves. Other characteristics portrayed in the scroll which are associated with the Japanese aristocracy of this time include elaborate silk robes, soft and sympathetic faces, and lifted roofs to reveal the inner-workings of an aristocratic home as it was in twelfth century Japan.Third scene d.

Similar to today’s soap operas, The Tale of Genji allows us to glimpse into the private world of romantic relationships. However, the art form has miraculously evolved from written and illustrated scrolls into film comprising a cast and crew. Now easily accessible, enthusiasts can watch their favorite soap operas via television, online, DVD, and DVR.

The scroll of the Tale of Genji is now preserved at the Tokigawa Art Museum and the Gotoh museum.