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The Bauhaus Group

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About This Book
Nicholas Fox Weber, for thirty-three years head of the Albers Foundation, spent many years with Anni and Josef Albers, the only husband-and-wife artistic pair at the Bauhaus (she was a textile artist; he a professor and an artist, in glass, metal, wood, and photography). The Alberses told him their own stories and described life at the Bauhaus with their fellow artists and teachers, Walter Gropius, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, as well these figures’ lesser-known wives and girlfriends.

In this extraordinary group biography, Weber brilliantly brings to life the Bauhaus geniuses and the community of the pioneering art school in Germany’s Weimar and Dessau in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Here are:
Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus, the architect who streamlined design early in his career and who saw the school as a place for designers to collaborate in an ideal setting . . . a dashing hussar, the ardent young lover of the renowned femme fatale Alma Mahler, beginning when she was the wife of composer Gustav Mahler . . .
Paul Klee, the onlooker, smoking his pipe, observing Bauhaus dances as well as his colleagues’ lectures from the back of the room . . . the cook who invented recipes and threw together his limited ingredients with the same spontaneity, sense of proportion, and fascination that underscored his paintings . . .
Wassily Kandinsky, the Russian-born pioneer of abstract painting, guarding a secret tragedy one could never have guessed from his lively paintings, in which he used bold colors not just for their visual vibrancy, but for their “sound” effects . . .
Josef Albers, who entered the Bauhaus as a student in 1920 and was one of the seven remaining faculty members when the school was closed by the Gestapo in 1933 . . .
Annelise Else Frieda Fleischmann, a Berlin heiress, an intrepid young woman, who later, as Anni Albers, made art the focal point of her existence . . .
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, imperious, decisive, often harsh, an architect who became director—the last—of the Bauhaus, and the person who guided the school’s final days after SS storm troopers raided the premises.

Weber captures the life, spirit, and flair with which these geniuses lived, as well as their consuming goal of making art and architecture. A portrait infused with their fulsome embrace of life, their gift for laughter, and the powerful force of their individual artistic personalities.


From the Hardcover edition.
Show less
Nicholas Fox Weber, for thirty-three years head of the Albers Foundation, spent many years with Anni and Josef Albers, the only husband-and-wife artistic pair at the Bauhaus (she was a textile artist; he a professor and an artist, in glass, metal, wood, and photography). The Alberses told him their own stories and described life at the Bauhaus with their fellow artists and teachers, Walter Gropius, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, as well these figures’ lesser-known wives and girlfriends.

In this extraordinary group biography, Weber brilliantly brings to life the Bauhaus geniuses and the community of the pioneering art school in Germany’s Weimar and Dessau in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Here are:
Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus, the architect who streamlined design early in his career and who saw the school as a place for designers to collaborate in an ideal setting . . . a dashing hussar, the ardent young lover of the renowned femme fatale Alma Mahler, beginning when she was the wife of composer Gustav Mahler . . .
Paul Klee, the onlooker, smoking his pipe, observing Bauhaus dances as well as his colleagues’ lectures from the back of the room . . . the cook who invented recipes and threw together his limited ingredients with the same spontaneity, sense of proportion, and fascination that underscored his paintings . . .
Wassily Kandinsky, the Russian-born pioneer of abstract painting, guarding a secret tragedy one could never have guessed from his lively paintings, in which he used bold colors not just for their visual vibrancy, but for their “sound” effects . . .
Josef Albers, who entered the Bauhaus as a student in 1920 and was one of the seven remaining faculty members when the school was closed by the Gestapo in 1933 . . .
Annelise Else Frieda Fleischmann, a Berlin heiress, an intrepid young woman, who later, as Anni Albers, made art the focal point of her existence . . .
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, imperious, decisive, often harsh, an architect who became director—the last—of the Bauhaus, and the person who guided the school’s final days after SS storm troopers raided the premises.

Weber captures the life, spirit, and flair with which these geniuses lived, as well as their consuming goal of making art and architecture. A portrait infused with their fulsome embrace of life, their gift for laughter, and the powerful force of their individual artistic personalities.


From the Hardcover edition.
Product Details
eBook (544 pages)
Published: October 27, 2009
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Knopf
ISBN: 9780307273345
Other books byNicholas Fox Weber
  • The Clarks of Cooperstown

    The Clarks of Cooperstown
    Nicholas Fox Weber, author of the acclaimed Patron Saints (“Exhilarating avant-garde entertainment”—Sam Hunter, The New York Times Book Review) and Balthus (“The authoritative account of his life and work”—Michael Ravitch, Newsday), gives us now the idiosyncratic lives of Sterling and Stephen Clark—two of America’s greatest art collectors, heirs to the Singer sewing machine fortune, and for decades enemies of each other. He tells the story, as well, of the two generations that preceded theirs, giving us an intimate portrait of one of the least known of America’s richest families. He begins with Edward Clark—the brothers’ grandfather, who amassed the Clark fortune in the late-nineteenth century—a man with nerves of steel; a Sunday school teacher who became the business partner of the wild inventor and genius Isaac Merritt Singer. And, by the turn of the twentieth century, was the major stockholder of the Singer Manufacturing Company. We follow Edward’s rise as a real estate wizard making headlines in 1880 when he commissioned Manhattan’s first luxury apartment building. The house was called “Clark’s Folly”; today it’s known as the Dakota. We see Clark’s son—Alfred—enigmatic and famously reclusive; at thirty-eight he inherited $50 million and became one of the country’s richest men. An image of propriety—good husband, father of four—in Europe, he led a secret homosexual life. Alfred was a man with a passion for art and charity, which he passed on to his four sons, in particular Sterling and Stephen Clark. Sterling, the second-oldest, buccaneering and controversial, loved impressionism, created his own museum in Williamstown, Massachusetts—and shocked his family by marrying an actress from the Comédie Française. Together the Sterling Clarks collected thousands of paintings and bred racehorses. In a highly public case, Sterling sued his three brothers over issues of inheritance, and then never spoke to them again. He was one of the central figures linked to a bizarre and little-known attempted coup against Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency. We are told what really happened and why—and who in American politics was implicated but never prosecuted. Sterling’s brother—Stephen—self-effacing and responsible—became chairman and president of the Museum of Modern Art and gave that institution its first painting, Edward Hopper’s House by the Railroad. Thirteen years later, in an act that provoked intense controversy, Stephen dismissed the Museum’s visionary founding director, Alfred Barr, who for more than a decade had single-handedly established the collection and exhibition programs that determined how the art of the twentieth century was regarded. Stephen gave or bequeathed to museums many of the paintings that today are still their greatest attractions. With authority, insight, and a flair for evoking time and place, Weber examines the depths of the brothers’ passions, the vehemence of their lifelong feud, the great art they acquired, and the profound and lasting impact they had on artistic vision in America.

    Le Corbusier

    Le Corbusier
    A Life
    From acclaimed biographer and cultural historian, author of Balthus and Patron Saints—the first full-scale life of le Corbusier, one of the most influential, admired, and maligned architects of the twentieth century, heralded is a prophet in his lifetime, revered as a god after his death. He was a leader of the modernist movement that sought to create better living conditions and a better society through housing concepts. He predicted the city of the future with its large, white apartment buildings in parklike settings—a move away from the turn-of-the-century industrial city, which he saw as too fussy and suffocating and believed should be torn down, including most of Paris. Irascible and caustic, tender and enthusiastic, more than a mercurial innovator, Le Corbusier was considered to be the very conscience of modern architecture. In this first biography of the man, Nicholas Fox Weber writes about Le Corbusier the precise, mathematical, practical-minded artist whose idealism—vibrant, poetic, imaginative; discipline; and sensualism were reflected in his iconic designs and pioneering theories of architecture and urban planning. Weber writes about Le Corbusier’s training; his coming to live and work in Paris; the ties he formed with Nehru . . . Brassaï . . . Malraux (he championed Le Corbusier’s work and commissioned a major new museum for art to be built on the outskirts of Paris) . . . Einstein . . . Matisse . . . the Steins . . . Picasso . . . Walter Gropius, and others. We see how Le Corbusier, who appreciated goverments only for the possibility of obtaining architectural commissions, was drawn to the new Soviet Union and extolled the merits of communism (he never joined the party); and in 1928, as the possible architect of a major new building, went to Moscow, where he was hailed by Trotsky and was received at the Kremlin. Le Corbusier praised the ideas of Mussolini and worked for two years under the Vichy government, hoping to oversee new construction and urbanism throughout France. Le Corbusier believed that Hitler and Vichy rule would bring about “a marvelous transformation of society,” then renounced the doomed regime and went to work for Charles de Gaulle and his provisional government. Weber writes about Le Corbusier’s fraught relationships with women (he remained celibate until the age of twenty-four and then often went to prostitutes); about his twenty-seven-year-long marriage to a woman who had no interest in architecture and forbade it being discussed at the dinner table; about his numerous love affairs during his marriage, including his shipboard romance with the twenty-three-year-old Josephine Baker, already a legend in Paris, whom he saw as a “pure and guileless soul.” She saw him as “irresistibly funny.” “What a shame you’re an architect!” she wrote. “You’d have made such a good partner!” A brilliant revelation of this single-minded, elusive genius, of his extraordinary achivements and the age in which he lived.

    Balthus

    Balthus
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    The first full-scale biography of one of the most elusive and enigmatic painters of our time -- the self-proclaimed Count Balthus Klossowski de Rola -- whose brilliantly rendered, markedly sexualized portraits, especially of young girls, are among the most memorable images in contemporary art. The story of Balthus's life has been shrouded by contradiction and hearsay, most of it his own invention; over the years he created for himself a persona of mystery, aristocracy, and glamour. Now, in Nicholas Fox Weber's superb biography, Balthus, the man and the artist, stands revealed as never before. He was born in Paris in 1908 to Polish parents. At age twelve he first stepped into the spotlight with the publication of forty of his drawings illustrating a story about a cat by Rainer Maria Rilke, who was then Balthus's mother's lover and a crucial influence on the young boy. From that moment, Balthus has never been out of the public eye. In 1934 his first exhibition, in Paris, stunned the art world. The seven canvases drew attention to his extraordinary technique -- a  mix of tradition and imagination informed by the work of Piero della Francesca, Courbet, and Joseph Reinhardt, but unique to the twenty-six-year-old artist -- and to their provocative content; one of the paintings, The Guitar Lesson, was so powerful in its sadomasochistic imagery that it was deemed necessary to remove it from public display. Continuously since then, Balthus's work has provoked both great opprobrium and profound admiration -- as has the artist himself, whether collaborating with Antonin Artaud on his Theater of Cruelty, transforming the Villa Medici into the social center of Fellini's Rome in the 1950s, or competing for the artistic limelight with his friends Picasso and André Derain. The artist's complexities are clarified and his genius understood in a book that derives its particular immediacy from Weber's long and intense conversations with Balthus -- who never previously consented to discuss his life and work with a biographer -- as well as his interviews with the painter's closest friends, members of his family, and many of the subjects of his controversial canvases. Weber's critical and human grasp (he acutely analyzes the paintings in terms of both their aesthetic achievement and what they reveal of their maker's psyche), combined with his rich knowledge of Balthus's life and his insight into the ideas and forces that have helped to shape Balthus's work over the past seven decades, gives us a striking, illuminating portrait of one of the most admired and outrageous artists of our time.

    Poems and Drawings

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    In Poems and Drawings, first published in 1958, Josef Albers attempted to penetrate the meaning of art and life by the simplest, most disciplined means. This project was extremely important to Albers, who used its format to create complementary forms in both word and line that appear deceptively simple until they begin to disclose the author’s insights into nature, art, and life. Conceived as a kind of artist’s book, the publication features 22 of Albers’s refined line drawings alongside the same number of his original poems—each appearing in both English and German. Printed initially in a limited edition and long out of print, this new edition of Poems and Drawings replicates Albers’s original book design and includes four previously unpublished poems that reveal playful and tender details behind Albers’s personal relationships, along with a new introduction by Nicholas Fox Weber. For admirers of Albers, Poems and Drawings will provide a closer look at a celebrated artist who was also an affectionate and articulate writer.

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