●Edition 2: Learning From
Jun. 7–9 2018
Workshop and Symposium

bauhaus imaginista: Learning From, New York

  • Goethe-Institut New York
  • 30 Irving Place New York, NY 10003, USA

Lena Bergner, Draft of a hand loom, 1936–39
Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, © Heirs to Lena Bergner.

bauhaus imaginista: Learning From symposium at Goethe-Institut New York

This symposium, part of bauhaus imaginista, an international research project to mark the school’s centenary, will ask what it means to take cultural materials and inscribe them within a new context, whether this is done by the 19th-century ethnographic museum, the avant-garde artist, the mid-century teaching collection or in contemporary art. Specifically, it will explore questions of appropriation and representation and the ‘learning from’ in the work of Bauhaus émigrés and their students who collected a wide range of materials indigenous to the Americas. These questions will be considered in tandem with where these debates stand today.

From the beginning, the Bauhaus school aligned with a modernist tendency to study cultural practices from outside the European mainstream, including African sculpture, Indian temple architecture, Andean textiles and European folk traditions. In the aftermath of the school’s closure, Bauhaus émigrés such as Josef and Anni Albers, Marguerite Wildenhain, Hannes Meyer and Lena Bergner travelled variously in the US and Central and South America to observe, document and collect the work of Pre-Columbian and contemporary Indigenous cultures.

The symposium will also explore the gaps in these histories of study and collecting—notably the perspective of communities from whom such materials were sourced—including arguments for the repatriation of artifacts, the use and context of objects in their original setting, as well as the wider impacts of European colonization.

Prior to the symposium a group of artists, designers, curators and art historians including symposium participants, will make a study tour to museums archives and studios in New York—including the National Museum of the American Indian, the American Museum of Natural History, the Antonio Ratti Textile Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation—to examine and discuss materials ranging from Mesoamerican artefacts to the work of the mid-century artists who found inspiration in these collections. A report from this tour will be presented at the symposium.

Speakers will include: Marion von Osten, Grant Watson, Erin Freedman, Sebastian de Line, Virginia Gardner Troy, Cecilia Vicuña, Elissa Auther, Candice Hopkins, Elvira Espejo, and Luiza Proença.

●Related Articles
Anni Albers and Ancient American Textiles

At the time Anni Albers wrote On Weaving in 1965, few discussions of Andean textiles “as art” had appeared in weaving textbooks, but there were numerous publications, many of which were German books published between 1880 and 1929, that documented and described their visual and technical properties. Albers almost single-handedly introduced weaving students to this ancient textile art through her writing and her artistic work.  → more

Andean Weaving and the Appropriation of the Ancient Past in Modern Fiber Art

Ancient and indigenous textile cultures of the Americas played a critical role in the development of the work of fiber artists who came of age in the U.S. in the late 1950s and 1960s. Anyone who has studied fiber art of this period, myself included, knows this well. They openly professed an admiration for traditions ranging from Navaho weaving, to the use of the backstrap loom in Mexico and Central America, to the ancient weaving techniques of Peru. → more

Work with Material

from: Black Mountain College Bulletin, No. 5, 1938. → more

The Harriet Engelhardt Memorial Collection of Textiles

from: Black Mountain College Bulletin, Vol. 6, No. 4, May 1948. → more

Tapestry through the Ages. The Weaving of Tapestries, Part I+II

from: Shuttle-Craft Bulletin, 1957. → more

Tapestry Rugs in an Ancient Peruvian Design

from: Shuttle-Craft Bulletin, March 1941. → more

The New Tapestry

from: Craft Horizons, Vol. XXIII, No. 2, March/April 1963, pp. 10–19, 48–49. → more

Interview with Fiber Artist Sheila Hicks

On 3rd of February and 11th of March textile researcher and writer Monique Lévi-Strauss met with her friend of 37 years, American Fiber artist Sheila Hicks, for an interview at Hicks’ home in Paris, France. They talked about the artist’s education, inspiration and her journey through South America.


The entire interview transcript and an excerpt from the original audio recording can be viewed at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. → more

Forms of Life — Marguerite Wildenhain's Pond Farm

Excerpted from Live Form: Women, Ceramics, and Community by Jenni Sorkin

© The University of Chicago. Reproduced with permission. → more