The Bauhaus Bookshelf: Download Original Bauhaus Books, Journals, Manifestos & Ads That Still Inspire Designers Worldwide

The Bauhaus, Barry Bergdoll writes in the New York Times of the German design school founded a century ago last month, "lasted just 14 years before the Nazis shut it down. And yet in that time it proved a magnet for much that was new and experimental in art, design and architecture — and for decades after, its legacy played an outsize role in changing the physical appearance of the daily world, in everything from book design to household lighting to lightweight furniture." Celebrations of the Bauhaus' centenary have taken many forms, including the documentary series Bauhaus World, the reimagining of modern corporate logos in the classic Bauhaus style, and now the free online resource Bauhaus Bookshelf.

Bauhaus Bookshelf creator Andrea Riegel calls the site "my modest contribution to #bauhaus100 and beyond: (almost) all Bauhaus books and journals in a virtual bookcase — with the possibility to download and take a closer look at the media and original sources, supplemented by short excerpts and contributions by Bauhaus people and contemporary witnesses or other content in context."

In other worlds, you'll find there not just the original Bauhaus manifesto, but sections on the series of "Bauhaus books" published by Walter Gropius and László Moholy-Nagy; Bauhaus-associated creators and teachers like Paul Klee; Bauhaus advertising; the women of the Bauhaus (a subject previously featured here on Open Culture); and materials from the 1938 exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art that introduced the Bauhaus to the world.

And 100 years after its founding, the world is still thinking about the Bauhaus, which, in Bergdoll's words, "produced one of the most powerful expressions of a view that design was everything. It served, in a way, as the embassy of modernist design. But its success has often led to a reductionism in our understanding of the rich nexus of artistic movements that crisscrossed at the school itself, as well as the diverse developments it helped inspire." For a better understanding of the Bauhaus, perhaps we must go back to the Bauhaus itself, not just in the sense of looking at the art, craft, design, and buildings its teachers and students produced, but the documents it issued on its mission and ideals. Whether in its English or German versions, Riegel's Bauhaus Bookshelf serves as an intellectually and aesthetically stimulating place to find them.

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32,000+ Bauhaus Art Objects Made Available Online by Harvard Museum Website

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Watch Bauhaus World, a Free Documentary That Celebrates the 100th Anniversary of Germany’s Legendary Art, Architecture & Design School

Modern Corporate Logos Reimagined in a Classic Bauhaus Style: Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Bauhaus Movement Today

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

The Story of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Rise in the 1980s Art World Gets Told in a New Graphic Novel

Jean-Michel Basquiat was keenly sensitive to the way the art market thought about him. He was compared to “a preacher possessed by the spirit,” his art, wrote critics, indicative of his “inner child.” This talk, writes Artnet's Bruce Gopnik, “could easily veer into ideas of the Noble Savage.” The artist thought so; he was disgusted by his portrayal as “a wild man running around,” he said. He wanted no part of the primitivist image forced upon him. Yet “to this day, he’s almost always billed as being more in touch with his emotions and the passions of urban life than with the orderly reasoning of post-Enlightenment culture.”

This itself is a false dichotomy—between expressionist and conceptual art, “urban” passions and reason—but if anyone gets caught in-between, it’s Basquiat. Gopnick leans, maybe too heavily, on the conceptual side of things, pushing comparisons between Jenny Holzer and Hans Haacke, downplaying Basquiat’s roots as a street artist and his connections to hip hop and new wave. Basquiat had his ear to the street—also an artifact of post-Enlightenment culture—and was hardly comfortable with the orderly reasoning of the massively profitable art market.

Whatever anyone wants to call his work, it makes no sense to separate it from its context: Basquiat’s Brooklyn home and Lower East Side stomping grounds, the downtown scene in which he came of age, his complicated relationships with Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, and Julian Schnabel, three of many figures who, along with Basquiat, created the huge 1980s art market and art gallery culture. A new graphic novel by Italian illustrator Paolo Parisi promises a new take on the now-well-worn biography of Basquiat. It's a story written and drawn by a fellow conceptual artist, albeit one whose work more fits the image.

With eye-popping primary and secondary tones—the comic book colors favored by Basquiat and his contemporaries—Parisi takes some license, imagining conversations that may or may not have occurred. “Basquiat comes off as a bit more naïve and far less conflicted than we now know him to be,” writes Eileen Kinsella at Artnet. The chapter excerpted there, “New Art/New Money,” (see a few pages above and below), has multiple perspectives. In a reconstructed dinner scene between art dealers Mary Boone and Larry Gagosian, Basquiat doesn’t even appear.

But the narrative also draws directly from Basquiat’s own words. One page is a facsimile of a handwritten note the artist made in April 1984. “I have money everywhere, everywhere. I’m paid exorbitant sums for a single piece,” he writes, not to boast but to marvel at the incredible amount of inflation he sees all around him:

A picture I sold to Debbie Harry for $200 only a couple of years ago is now worth $20,000. That’s the art market today. Working with gallery owners is exhausting.

                                                They always want




Later Parisi adapts the artist’s thoughts in a critical monologue: The gallerists “have this way of doing things I’ve never seen before. They focus a lot on the artist’s image, buy in bulk, decide who to promote and how. They often buy and sell among themselves, between galleries. They never respect agreements. I don’t think I’ll be able to trust them.” Basquiat’s frustration at “something rotten in this scene” made him consider giving up painting for good. He didn’t get the chance, though Parisi has him tell a girlfriend “Picasso died at ninety… I’m certainly not going before then.”

Parisi, who has also written and illustrated graphic biographies of Billie Holiday and John Coltrane, has an ear for American speech patterns and class and race dynamics, drawing out with more or less subtlety the associations between the art world’s fascination with “primitivist” art and the continuing resonances of slavery and colonialism in its hyper-capitalist economy. Was Basquiat a childlike character who only slowly realized the greedy machinations of the dealers?

In the 2010 documentary The Radiant Child, his former graffiti partner Al Diaz explains his motivations from the very beginning. “We wanted to do some kind of conceptual art project.” Basquiat aimed directly at the art world, writing messages on walls like “4 THE SO-CALLED AVANT-GARDE.” Once in its company, however, he found, like many other fiercely independent artists who make it big, it wasn’t worth the money. Read the fully excerpted chapter at Artnet and purchase Parisi's graphic novel Basquiat online.

via Artnet

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MIT Robot Breaks Rubik’s Cube World Record, Solving It in 0.38 Seconds

A robot created by MIT students Ben Katz and Jared Di Carlo managed to solve a Rubik’s Cube in a record-breaking, lightning-fast 0.38 seconds. The video above shows it happening in real time, then in progressively slower times. By comparison, Yusheng Du, a Chinese speedcuber, holds the [human] record for solving a 3x3x3 cube in 3.47 seconds.

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via BoingBoing

Who Is Neil Young?: A Video Essay Explores the Two Sides of the Versatile Musician–Folk Icon and Father of Grunge

Neil Young has worked with Rick James in the Mynah Birds and David Crosby, Steven Stills, and Graham Nash in CSNY. He’s recorded everything from tearjerking piano ballads to brilliantly meandering psych rock to folk, country, and early 80s electronic. He perfected the spontaneous sound of albums recorded live and loose in a barn, but he is meticulous about technology and sound quality. He’s a superstar and self-described “rich hippie” who has near-universal credibility with indie artists. He is both “a hippie icon but also the godfather of grunge,” says the Polyphonic video above.

Young’s many seeming contradictions only strengthen his musical integrity. The shaggy Canadian singer, songwriter, guitarist, and leader of Buffalo Springfield and Crazy Horse has made films under the pseudonym “Bernard Shakey,” recorded soundtracks for acclaimed films, and inspired far more than the signature Seattle sound, though Pearl Jam and Nirvana both acknowledged their debt.

The Velvet Underground may get much of the credit for the sonic qualities of indie and alternative rock, but Young deserves more than a little recognition for influencing not only Kurt Cobain but also the likes of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, and Pavement's Stephen Malkmus.

It’s a hell of a rock and roll resume, to have achieved lasting, significant influence on modern folk, country, and indie rock, just to name the most obvious genres Young has touched, in a career showcasing some of the most emotionally honest music ever captured on record. Despite the shambling, seemingly out-of-control nature of much of his output, it’s a very carefully crafted showcase. The 1979 live album Rust Never Sleeps, for example, functions as both a summation of his musical output up to that point and a metacommentary on the many—or well, the two—sides of Neil Young.

On one side, mellow, moody, solo acoustic folk, on the other, raucous, distorted rock and roll, courtesy of Crazy Horse. Bookending the record, the mirror image songs “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” and “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black),” tracks that apply the two different treatments to similar lyrics and arrangements, integrating the two sides of Young, which Polyphonic roughly divides into his acoustic Canadian pastoral side—warbling homesick ballads full of references to Ontario and other points north—and his American side: raw, edgy, full of righteous political indignation in songs like “Ohio, “Southern Man,” “Alabama,” and “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

Those who love Neil Young need no further inducement to embrace his contradictions, even when his work is uneven. The tension between them keeps fans hanging on, knowing full well that his less successful efforts are paths on the way to yet more brilliant restatements of his major themes and minor chords. Those less familiar, or less appreciative, of Neil Young’s formidable legacy may find they’ve underestimated him after watching this whirlwind tour through his tireless crusade against musical complacency, war, racism, and environment destruction, and the rust that has crept over so many of his contemporaries.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Keith Moon Plays Drums Onstage with Led Zeppelin in What Would Be His Last Live Performance (1977)

When Led Zeppelin appeared in late 1968, they already had the makings of a supergroup, so to speak, though only founding member Jimmy Page was a famous rock star. Four equally talented and seasoned musicians, each integral to the band’s sound. But it might have been otherwise. Page first intended to create a literal supergroup, joining his fellow former Yardbird Jeff Beck and The Who’s Keith Moon and John Entwistle.

Who knows what might have come of it? Moon supposedly quipped that it would go down like a lead balloon, inspiring the name of the band that was to come. This history makes all the more poignant the fact that Moon’s last onstage performance before his death was with Led Zeppelin.

Moon joined the band during the L.A. stop of their 1977 tour to ramble drunkenly into the microphone and sit in on a drum and tambourine with John Bonham during a nearly 20-minute drum solo on “Moby Dick.”

Moon also joined the band during the two-song encore of “Whole Lotta Love” and “Rock & Roll.” See parts of those performances at the top in audience footage. His brief moments behind John Bonham’s drums cannot be considered representative of what a hypothetical Keith Moon-backed Led Zeppelin might sound like. Not only was he playing another drummer’s kit—a significant handicap for Moon—but also, the Keith Moon of 1977 was not the Keith Moon of 1968. These documents of rock history can’t tell us what might have been, only, for a brief moment, what was.

Moon has been regarded as one of the greatest drummers in rock for his huge musical personality. “No drummer in a true rock & roll band has ever been given—has ever seized, perhaps—so much space and presence,” wrote Greil Marcus in tribute when Moon died the year after his Led Zeppelin cameo. Moon, “as Jon Landau pointed out years ago… played the parts conventionally given over to the lead guitar.” Moon called himself, with typical sarcasm, “the best Keith Moon-type drummer,” an insight into just how singular his playing was. His total lack of restraint fit The Who perfectly.

But history would decree that Bonham become the ideal Led Zeppelin-type drummer. He played lead parts as well, but never at the expense of rhythm. The pitfall of a supergroup—or a group of equally superb musicians—is that everyone can tend to overplay. Bonham was a superb musician, but also a drummer who knew exactly how to accommodate others’ virtuosity—building spacious rhythmic structures that held together the bombast of Plant and Page in a coherent whole. Bonham could follow Page’s riffs just as often as he could deploy his own thundering hooks.

Keith Moon was at his best playing Keith Moon, sounding “as if he came out of nowhere to take over the world,” wrote Marcus. The Who’s “best singles and album tracks not only featured Moon, they were built around him,” Entwistle and Townshend providing structure while Moon supplied the fiery core. Hear him at his incandescent best in the isolated drum track for “Wont’ Get Fooled Again” above and read more about what made him so indelibly unique in Marcus’ eulogy for “the best drummer in the history of rock ‘n roll.” Listen to a full audience audio recording of that 1977 concert just below.

via JamBase

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness.

Discover Kōlams, the Traditional Indian Patterns That Combine Art, Mathematics & Magic

Have accomplished abstract geometrical artists come out of any demographic in greater numbers than from the women of South Asia? Not when even the most demanding art-school curriculum can't hope to equal the rigor of the kōlam, a complex kind of line drawing practiced by women everywhere from India to Sri Lanka to Malaysia to Thailand. Using humble materials like chalk and rice flour on the ground in front of their homes, they interweave not just lines, shapes, and patterns but religious, philosophical, and magical motifs as well — and they create their kōlams anew each and every day.

"Feeding A Thousand Souls: Kōlam" by Thacher Gallery at the University of San Francisco is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

"Taking a clump of rice flour in a bowl (or a coconut shell), the kōlam artist steps onto her freshly washed canvas: the ground at the entrance of her house, or any patch of floor marking an entrypoint," writes Atlas Obscura's Rohini Chaki.

"Working swiftly, she takes pinches of rice flour and draws geometric patterns: curved lines, labyrinthine loops around red or white dots, hexagonal fractals, or floral patterns resembling the lotus, a symbol of the goddess of prosperity, Lakshmi, for whom the kōlam is drawn as a prayer in illustration."

Colorful Kolam - Sivasankaran - Own work

Kōlams are thought to bring prosperity, but they also have other uses, such as feeding ants, birds, and other passing creatures. Chaki quotes University of San Francisco Theology and Religious Studies professor Vijaya Nagarajan as describing their fulfilling the Hindu "karmic obligation" to "feed a thousand souls." Kōlams have also become an object of genuine interest for mathematicians and computer scientists due to their recursive nature: "They start out small, but can be built out by continuing to enlarge the same subpattern, creating a complex overall design," Chaki writes. "This has fascinated mathematicians, because the patterns elucidate fundamental mathematical principles."

"Kolam" by resakse is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Like any traditional art form, the kōlam doesn't have quite as many practitioners as it used to, much less practitioners who can meet the standard of mastery of completing an entire work without once standing up or even lifting their hand. But even so, the kōlam is hardly on the brink of dying out: you can see a few of their creators in action in the video at the top of the post, and the age of social media has offered kōlam creators of any age — and now even the occasional man — the kind of exposure that even the busiest front door could never match. Some who get into kōlams in the 21st century may want to create ones that show ever more complexity of geometry and depth of reference, but the best among them won't forget the meaning, according to Chaki, of the form's very name: beauty.

Read more about kōlams at Atlas Obscura.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

Graduation Highlight: Billionaire Robert F. Smith Announces That He’ll Pay Off the Student Loans of Morehouse’s Class of 2019

Robert F. Smith, the billionaire CEO of Vista Equity Partners, received an honorary degree from Morehouse College on Sunday. And he gave something back--a grant to retire the student loans of Morehouse's 2019 graduating class. Like that an estimated $40 million in debt was gone.

Meanwhile, in other news, a titan of industry spent $90 million this week on a Jeff Koons rabbit statue. And now it will likely serve as an ornament piece in a walled-off mansion somewhere. Imagine how that money could have been put to more productive use...

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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Pink Floyd Songs Played Splendidly on a Harp Guitar: “Comfortably Numb,” “Wish You Were Here” & More

Harp guitars have been around since at least the 19th century, and if you want a good, enthusiastic, intellectual argument on the exact date of its birth, you’ll find many an organologist ready to do that. (Here’s a page filled with information about the subject.) But it was only recently, in 2014, that the Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments finally recognized the harp guitar as its own thing. New- or old-fangled as it might be, the harp guitar contains both the usual six strings and fretted neck and a neighboring series of unstopped open strings. Well known musicians who have played them include John McLaughlin, David Lindley, and Robbie Robertson.

But look up the instrument on the ‘net and there’s one name that will pop up before anybody else: 29 year old Canadian Jamie Dupuis. He’s earned millions of views on his YouTube channel for arranging and performing covers of rock and metal classics.

He’s certainly a fan of Pink Floyd, as you can see above in his cover of “Comfortably Numb.” The ringing, echoing quality of the harp guitar’s body suit the song well, as it starts to resemble a sort of synth-string wash.

The acoustic-based Floyd songs work as well as you might expect. “Wish You Were Here” for example.
Dupuis shows his skill with the more experimental electronics of Dark Side of the Moon. He adds a slide guitar and effects to “Time”:

...which works even better on “Breathe”:

And he brings out the very strange looking Dyer Electric Guitar Harp for “Welcome to the Machine,” using some double-tracking to give him some soloing space.

You can hear all his Floyd covers as a playlist here, and then check out his other Harp Guitar covers from Ozzy Osbourne to Tears for Fears here as well as some classical arrangements.

Oh and yes, he also plays regular ol’ acoustic guitar and some banjo. The man certainly knows his way around a fret: enjoy!

via Laughing Squid

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at and/or watch his films here.

A New Archive Transcribes and Puts Online the Diaries & Notebooks of Women Artists, Art Historians, Critics and Dealers

While one is still comparatively young, one has many more thoughts & certainly sentiments than one is able to make use of. It seems as if these might be stored up so that in old age or when one became less prolific one could find matter to use. Every thought or suggestion could be of use.

- Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitneysculptor, collector, founder of the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1906

There are very few moral defenses for rummaging inside another’s private diary or sketchbook, until that person shuffles off this mortal coil … and even then snoopers may get burned by what they read.

Or not.

Boredom is another strong possibility.

Best to stick with figures of historical import.

With all due respect to Frida Kahlo, I prefer those whom history hasn’t turned into mega-celebs.

It’s fun to discover a fascinating person via her own words and doodles, rather than seek them out as a bedazzled fan girl.

The Women’s History Project at the Archives of American Art is scanning a trove of handwritten papers as part of a year long mission to preserve and pass along the creative processes and daily doings of various women artists, art historians, critics, dealers, and gallery owners. Fascinating reading awaits those who can get past the enigmatic antique scrawl. More on that below.

A sample:

Portraitist Cecilia Beaux’s letters to her friend, frequent sitter, and possible lover, actress Dorothea Gilder. (See Beaux's painting of “Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt and daughter Ethel" from 1902 up top.)

The notebook of sculptor Anna Coleman Ladd, stuffed with quotes, poems, research, definitions, and autobiographical musings, dated the same year that she founded the American Red Cross Studio for Portrait Masks for severely disfigured WW1 vets.

The above mentioned Whitney’s 1914 travel diary, when she made several trips to France in the name of establishing and supporting a hospital in north-central France.

Ready to explore?

You can do more than that.

The project is a part of the Smithsonian Transcription Center, which depends upon the public to take a crack at deciphering the obscure cursive of these handwritten pages, strike-throughs, marginalia, and all.  You can try your hand at a single sentence or tackle an entire collection or diary. No worries if you have no transcription experience. The Center has easy to follow instructions here.

Your efforts will make the digitized documents keyword searchable, while preserving the original creators’ memories for future generations. New content will be added monthly through March 2020.

Begin your explorations of the Women’s History Project at the Archives of American Art here.

via Hyperallergic

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in New York City this June for the next installment of her book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

What Did Etruscan Sound Like? An Animated Video Pronounces the Ancient Language That We Still Don’t Fully Understand

Readers of Open Culture no doubt have more pronounced polyglot tendencies than average web-surfers, and perhaps even toward relatively unlikely languages, but let us ask this: how many Etruscan speakers do you know? You've probably heard that name, which refers to the civilization that existed in ancient Italy between roughly the eleventh and third century BC and in roughly the era of modern-day Tuscany. The Etruscans had their own language, but it didn't survive their civilization's assimilation into the Roman Republic in complete enough shape for us to understand it today. But even if we can't understand texts composed in Etruscan, we've at least determined what spoken Etruscan sounded like.

The animated NativLang video above tells the story of the Etruscan language's rediscovery, from its appearance on the linen wrappings of a mummy in a sarcophagus purchased by a European in the mid-1800s; to the determination that many of the letters European languages use descended from it (first passed down from the Phoenicians and then to the Greeks); to the frustrated search for an "Etruscan Rosetta Stone."

It also breaks down several Etruscan words : creice, meaning "Greece"; ruma, meaning "Rome"; and phersu, meaning "mask," but which "lives on right at the heart of our English vocabulary as person." Along the way, the video's narrator provides examples of quite a few Etruscan sounds and how we now know they were pronounced.

Linguists have figured all this out with a relative paucity of sources, making each and every artifact inscribed with Etruscan writing invaluable to their quest for full comprehension: the Cippus Perusinus, for example, a legal contract literally etched in stone, or the aforementioned mummy wrappings, the meaning of which remains obscure. "We don't know how this text got to Egypt. But thanks to all this work, we can tell it's a kind of ritual calendar, and sometimes we can follow whole threads of text." The narrator pronounces a few of them, and "it's almost like, if you close your eyes, I could take you right back to the days of fluent Etruscan. But ask how to say a simple yes or no, and we're lost again."

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

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