This particular Crate is coming a day late due to a lovely long weekend away from the big city – I thought about preparing it beforehand and posting it on Sunday evening as usual and then… I decided against it. Sometimes holidays should really be holidays. However, now, as I’m returning to everyday life for a few days, the Crate is due and this time we’ll start with a look at an unusual and tragic figure from the Victorian age. Let’s get to opening it without further ado.
Mary Ann Bevan started exhibiting symptoms of acromegaly soon after her marriage to Thomas Bevan in 1903. In her case it meant developing abnormal facial growth, migraines and problems with sight – however, as the disorder, that’s now known to be caused by excess growth hormone produced by the pituitary gland was not known or understood at the time, it continued unchecked. Thomas Bevan died suddenly in 1914, leaving Mary Ann and their four children without a sufficient income. Having read an American circus agent’s ad looking for the ‘Ugliest Woman on Earth’, she had her first photograph taken and sent it in. She won the competition and moved to the United States in 1920 to perform in Coney Island’s Dreamland sideshow and Ringling Brothers’ Circus freakshow, touring in the US for the most of her remaining years.
After all the last weeks spent in the company of Bauhaus, now it’s time to turn our attention to something completely different. So today let’s take a tour to the rockabilly era and get acquainted with “the female Elvis” who rocked a platinum blonde pompadour together with slacks and Hawaiian steel guitar like nobody’s business. Introduction done, let’s get to opening this week’s Crate without further ado.
Sparkle Moore who was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1936 as Barbara Morgan started playing rockabilly at local venues at about 1955 and quickly gained local fame. Her style was compared to James Dean and her musical style to Elvis Presley – however, unlike Presley, Sparkle Moore only released two singles before settling down to start a family and disappearing from the wider music stage.
2. Debt as a question of morality has been a polarizing discussion topic since the economic crisis started in 2008. However, its meaning has changed a lot since the days of the 18th century American colonists, who regarded it from the position of its utility.
3. Birds are supposedly known by their song. But how to you know a bird whose song is mimicking everything around it? Meet the lyrebird.
Today is a special day – not only because it’s a lovely hot day in July, but because today is the day when I conclude the Bauhaus series that’s spanned over the last five Crates. In today’s Crate as a final step on the road, let’s take a look at the ‘children of Bauhaus’ – the new institutions it spawned all over the world after its closure in 1933, when its staff and alumni spread around the globe like dandelion seeds. So, without further ado, let’s get to opening this week’s Crate.
The direct descendant of Bauhaus, the New Bauhaus was founded in Chicago in 1937 as The Institute of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology led by the former Bauhaus Master László Moholy-Nagy. IIT had first approached the former headmaster Walter Gropius who, however, was about to teach at Harvard and recommended Moholy-Nagy instead. A visionary educator, Moholy-Nagy modified the original Bauhaus system of segregated crafts and replaced them with three departments – product design, architecture and light workshop (advertising arts). And the Chicago New Bauhaus wasn’t the only chip off the old block – besides that, Bauhaus alumni and staff went on to establish a number of art schools like Ulm School of Design, Nieuwe Kunstchool in Amsterdam, Black Mountain College in North Carolina and several others.
2. Scared of the dentists’ drill? There might be a brighter future in sight, one where cavities can be fixed with no drilling at all.
4. If one were to follow the media coverage it would be easy to get the impression of humanities as a useless pastime. But that’s not the whole story. Meet Project Cassandra – a plan to use literature to predict potential future wars.
5. Is the axe still the same axe after you’ve changed the handle and the head?
6. And to finish off for this week a little princess-frog comic from Wrong Hands.
And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!
As we are approaching the end of the Bauhaus series, let’s continue to look at the heritage of this short-lived and yet disproportionally influential school. In the last Crate I touched upon the influence of Bauhaus that through its former staff and alumni reached all the way to Japan. This time, let’s turn our gaze towards another side of the world – South America – more precisely Argentina – and find out how the avantgarde approach of Bauhaus found its way over there. So let’s get to opening this week’s Crate without further ado.
Grete Stern started out studying graphic design in Stuttgart and working as a freelance graphic designer in Wuppertal, but her way to Bauhaus began with photography lessons with Walter Peterhans in Berlin in 1927. There she met her lifelong friend and collaborator Ellen Auerbach, with whom she went on to establish possibly the first female-owned photography studioringl+pit. Peterhans was called to teach photography in Dessau (where Bauhaus resided at that point) in 1930 and Stern followed him there in order to continue her studies, whilst Auerbach kept the studio going during her absence. At Dessau, Grete Stern met the Argentinian photographer Horacio Coppola, who she eventually married. After the closure of Bauhaus in 1933, the couple emigrated first to London and later to Argentina, where they co-presented the first modern photography exhibition in Argentina. Today they are both regarded as two most important Argentinian photographers.
Still continuing with the topic of Bauhaus and its heritage, now it’s time to examine the influence it had far away from its birthplace in Weimar. After its closure in 1933, the staff and alumni of Bauhaus, emigrating from Germany and settling all over the world, disseminated its founding ideas like dandelion seeds. Today, let’s have a look at a Japanese couple that brought Bauhaus design ideas back to Japan with them – so let’s get to opening this week’s Crate with no further ado.
Japanese architecture and aesthetics had been an inspiration to several Bauhaus teachers, including its founder Walter Gropius and colour theory teacher Johannes Itten. Moreover, in 1925 when Takehiko Mizutani joined the school, Bauhaus gained its first student from Japan. Iwao and Michiko Yamawaki studied at Bauhaus from 1930 until 1932, when mounting political pressure on the school motivated them to return to Japan. Iwao, being a trained architect, focused on architecture classes at first and later changed to photography, whereas Michiko studied at the weaving workshop. After their return, Iwao taught photography at the school known as the ‘Japanese Bauhaus’ (School for New Architecture and Design – Shinkenchiku kōgei) – an establishment that brought together the Japanese Bauhaus alumni and had great influence in establishing Japanese modernism. The most famous work of Iwao Yamawaki is, however, his photo collage aptly called ‘Der Schlag gegen das Bauhaus‘ (The Attack on the Bauhaus).
For yet another week we’ll continue the voyage into the phenomenon of Bauhaus. Having thus far dealt with the women of Bauhaus represented by Anni Albers and its connection to Greece, exemplified by Jan Despo (Ioannis Despotopoulos). Today we’ll have a look on the tragic side of Bauhaus, as not all of its teachers survived WW2. So let’s get to opening this week’s Crate without further ado.
As promised in the previous Crate, I’ll continue to explore the personalities connected to the legendary school of Bauhaus as well as its legacy – and considering just how much in terms of artistic movements and developments has sprouted from there, I’m flush with material for weeks to come. This week I’ll direct the gaze closer to home and take a look at the direct link binding Greece and Bauhaus. So, let’s get to opening this week’s Crate without further ado.
Bauhaus was an international establishment by design and the its founder Walter Gropius made a point of inviting teachers to join from all over Europe. Ioannis Despotopoulos (Jan Despo) back then still an architecture student, also moved to Weimar in order to join the establishment. There seems to be some doubt whether he was actually ever a registered student at Bauhaus, but it is certain that he was in contact with many of its prominent members during the two years he lived in Weimar. It is also without doubt that the spirit and ideas of Bauhaus influenced him deeply, as witnessed by his writing “The Organic City” («Η Οργανική Πόλις») and numerous other papers that to large extent have remained unpublished. It does not seem to be widely known that Jan Despo is the architect behind The Athens Conservatory that was in 1959 originally intended to be a part of the Cultural Center of Athens. Unfortunately, the Athens Conservatory was the only part of the complex that was ever built and even that stayed unfinished for years due to lack of funds. Despotopoulos’ original designs for the Conservatoire even included acoustic panels and other minute details of its interior design. His other works include Sotiria and Tripoli sanatoriums, Asvestichori hospital in Thessaloniki, the School Complex of Academia Platonos and others.
2. Need to come up with a revolutionary product? Now you can let this list of 10 types of innovation guide your brainstorming sessions.
3. Watermelon season is nearly here, so it’s just about time to learn how to pick the best and ripest one.
As I was searching for articles for this week’s Crate in my bulging folder of bookmarks, I came across a few about women in Bauhaus and this reminded me that I had wanted to do something involving Bauhaus for a good while. It is by far my favourite “school” of art and their philosophy of incorporating art into everyday life is something that I very much agree with. So, in the coming weeks the Crate will among other things explore the people and heritage of that short-lived yet enormously influential institution. Let’s get to it right away.
The quirk and genius of Bauhaus was in demolishing the idea of art education altogether and putting it together from scratch. So, where before had been fortifications and fences between crafts, ‘fine art’ and ‘commercial art’, suddenly there were none. Crafts got the possibility to take their proper place among other fields of art and there is no place that exemplifies it better than the weaving workshop of Bauhaus. In principle all workshops of Bauhaus were open for all applicants, but in reality women were discouraged from applying to ‘heavy craft areas like carpentry’ – and thus in 1922 Anni Albers – back then still Annelise Elsa Frieda Fleischmann – ended up in the weaving workshop instead of glass. However, after initially having considered weaving to be inherently for sissies, she slowly became fascinated by it and by systematically exploring the possibilities of the medium, opened it up for completely new uses and interpretations. As if her work wasn’t enough, her marriage to Josef Albers, one of the central figures of Bauhaus turned her one of the figureheads of the movement even long after the closure of the school.
2. There is something about islands and some of them have a particular IT-factor. Apparently the tiny island of Saint Martin has it in abundance, as despite its minuscule size of 87 square km, it is still divided between two nations – namely the French and the Dutch. This split that dates back to the Treaty of Concordia in 1648 has also provided the island with two very aptly named fortifications – namely Fort Amsterdam and Fort Louis.
3. Ever seen a remarkable colour on a picture and wondered to yourself what on Earth it might be called? There’s a way to find out – this nifty colour finder lets you search from the colour wheel or upload your own image.
4. In case you’re occasionally wondering about the roots of your perennial misery – we’ve got the answer. It’s the age – and apparently things will start looking up after you’ve passed your 47th birthday.
5. The image of postwar USA seems all rosy and sunny looking back from the distance of many decades. However, where there’s sun, there are shadows – and those shadows were reflected in film noir – the most class-conscious genre Hollywood has ever produced.
6. And to finish off for this week a cartoon from 1901 French satirical magazine Le Rire – The Simple and Quick Method of Recognizing the Nationality of Women by the Geometric Method.
And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!
It was a lovely hot evening today here in Athens. If it wasn’t for still having to wear a mask outside, one could be forgiven for forgetting entirely that a pandemic is still not entirely eradicated. I hadn’t had time to prepare the content of all this months’ Crates yet, so this one I’d dare to describe like I would an effortlessly stylish outfit – ‘ just something I threw together’. So, let’s have a look at it without any further ado.
Now, be completely honest – how many Finnish painters can you name? Most probably none, so let’s make sure that next time someone asks you this question you’d have earned some bragging rights. Enter Helene Schjerfbeck – a deeply private painter, set on the road of an artist by a broken hip at the age of four, when her father gave her pencils to amuse herself during convalescence. Despite the lifelong limp the badly healed hip left her with, financed by government grant she studied art in France, and after experimenting with different styles, arrived at a confident minimal expression by the end of the 19th century.
2. What is creativity? We don’t necessarily like to combine it with the world of finance, yet this is exactly what Robert J. Sternberg has done with his Investment Theory of Creativity. I found this little gem from the post of Might Could Studio, which is absolutely worth checking out.
For the first time, in the beginning of May I actually planned a whole months of Crates ahead and decided that as I had rather enjoyed composing the Isolation special edition, I’ll do another thematic Crate this month… and this time the theme is going to be siblings in the widest sense of the word. So, after a greyish somewhat rainy afternoon and evening, let’s proceed to opening this special Crate without further ado.
Surely you have heard more than enough about Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo who used to be the only one who bought his paintings. However, Vincent and Theo also had three rather remarkable sisters – Willemien, Elisabeth and Anna.
2. As the theme embraces the concept of ‘sibling’ in the widest possible sense, what else is an association, but a brother-or sisterhood based on shared principles rather than shared bloodline? The 14 rebellious students who left the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg in 1863, ended up forming The Society for Travelling Art Exhibitions, more widely known as The Peredvizhniki or The Wanderers in 1870. During their over 50 years of existence, they arranged 48 mobile exhibitions and although by far the most of the ‘common people’ their art was aimed at could not afford to attend the exhibitions, the widespread reproduction of the Peredvizhniki paintings as postcards and illustrations in magazines made them well-known throughout Russia. The art of the Wanderers was no renewal of style, but a renewal of subject matter that successfully managed to turn landscape painting into a tool of Russian nation-building.
5. Occasionally, however, instead of rivals, siblings can end up as friends and co-inventors like the Wright Brothers. Entrepreneurs, rather than scientists they actually worked together on a range of different projects before embarking on aviation.
6. A surefire way of building lasting bonds is team sports – exemplified by Sisterhood FC, the first women’s Muslim football club in the UK.
7. The 1960’s California cult The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, however, wished to establish the bonds between fellow humans through the influence of magic mushrooms and LSD.