Category Archives: history

Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957

By Helen Molesworth (2015)

In 1933, John Rice founded Black Mountain College in North Carolina as an experiment in making artistic experience central to learning. Though it operated for only 24 years, this pioneering school played a significant role in fostering avant-garde art, music, dance, and poetry, and an astonishing number of important artists taught or studied there. Among the instructors were Josef and Anni Albers, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, Karen Karnes, M. C. Richards, and Willem de Kooning, and students included Ruth Asawa, Robert Rauschenberg, and Cy Twombly. Leap Before You Look is a singular exploration of this legendary school and of the work of the artists who spent time there. Scholars from a variety of fields contribute original essays about diverse aspects of the College—spanning everything from its farm program to the influence of Bauhaus principles—and about the people and ideas that gave it such a lasting impact. In addition, catalogue entries highlight selected works, including writings, musical compositions, visual arts, and crafts. The book’s fresh approach and rich illustration program convey the atmosphere of creativity and experimentation that was unique to Black Mountain College, and that served as an inspiration to so many

Posted in art, education, history

March Trilogy

By John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (2016)
Discover the inside story of the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of one of its most iconic figures, Congressman John Lewis. March is the award-winning, #1 bestselling graphic novel trilogy recounting his life in the movement, co-written with Andrew Aydin and drawn by Nate Powell. Congressman John Lewis was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. He was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and played a key role in the struggle to end segregation. Despite more than 40 arrests, physical attacks, and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. He is co-author of the first comics work to ever win the National Book Award, the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novel memoir trilogy March, written with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell. He is also the recipient of numerous awards from national and international institutions including the Lincoln Medal, the John F. Kennedy “Profile in Courage” Lifetime Achievement Award, and the NAACP Spingarn Medal, among many others. He lives in Atlanta, GA.

Posted in autobiography, counterculture, culture, history, politics

Mass Effect: Art and the Internet in the Twenty-First Century

Edited by Lauren Cornell and Ed Halter (2015)
Since the turn of the millennium, the Internet has evolved from what was merely a new medium to a true mass medium – with a deeper and wider cultural reach, greater opportunities for distribution and collaboration, and more complex corporate and political realities. Mapping a loosely chronological series of formative arguments, developments, and happenings, Mass Effect provides an essential guide to understanding the dynamic and ongoing relationship between art and new technologies.

Posted in art, culture, design, exhibition, history, language, media, technology, theory

Destruction Was My Beatrice: Dada and the Unmaking of the Twentieth Century

By Jed Rasula (2015)
In Destruction Was My Beatrice, modernist scholar Jed Rasula presents the first narrative history of Dada, showing how this little-understood artistic phenomenon laid the foundation for culture as we know it today. Although the venue where Dada was born closed after only four months and its acolytes scattered, the idea of Dada quickly spread to New York, where it influenced artists like Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray; to Berlin, where it inspired painters George Grosz and Hannah Höch; and to Paris, where it dethroned previous avant-garde movements like Fauvism and Cubism while inspiring early Surrealists like André Breton, Louis Aragon, and Paul Éluard. The long tail of Dadaism, Rasula shows, can be traced even further, to artists as diverse as William S. Burroughs, Robert Rauschenberg, Marshall McLuhan, the Beatles, Monty Python, David Byrne, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, all of whom—along with untold others—owe a debt to the bizarre wartime escapades of the Dada vanguard.A globe-spanning narrative that resurrects some of the 20th century’s most influential artistic figures, Destruction Was My Beatrice describes how Dada burst upon the world in the midst of total war—and how the effects of this explosion are still reverberating today.

Posted in art, biography, counterculture, culture, history

The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood

By James Gleick (2011)
Acclaimed science writer James Gleick presents an eye-opening vision of how our relationship to information has transformed the very nature of human consciousness. A fascinating intellectual journey through the history of communication and information, from the language of Africa’s talking drums to the invention of written alphabets; from the electronic transmission of code to the origins of information theory, into the new information age and the current deluge of news, tweets, images, and blogs.

Posted in history, language, media, science, technology

The Gutenberg Revolution: How Printing Changed the Course of History

By John Man (2009)
In 1450, all Europe’s books were handcopied and amounted to only a few thousand. By 1500, they were printed and numbered in their millions. The invention of Johann Gutenberg had caused a revolution: printing by movable type. Born in 1400 in Mainz, Germany, Gutenberg struggled against a background of plague and religious upheaval to bring his remarkable invention to light. His story is full of paradoxes: his ambition was to reunite all Christendom, but his invention shattered it; he aimed to make a fortune, but was cruelly denied the fruits of his life’s work. Yet history remembers him as a visionary; his discovery marks the beginning of the modern world.

Posted in culture, design, history, language, media, printmaking, technology, typography

Chronophobia: On Time in the Art of the 1960s

By Pamela Lee (2004)
Despite its pervasiveness, the subject of time and 1960s art has gone largely unexamined in historical accounts of the period. Chronophobia is the first critical attempt to define this obsession and analyze it in relation to art and technology.Lee discusses the chronophobia of art relative to the emergence of the Information Age in postwar culture. The accompanying rapid technological transformations, including the advent of computers and automation processes, produced for many an acute sense of historical unknowing; the seemingly accelerated pace of life began to outstrip any attempts to make sense of the present. Lee sees the attitude of 1960s art to time as a historical prelude to our current fixation on time and speed within digital culture.

Posted in art, culture, history, media, philosophy, technology, theory

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

By Steven Johnson (2011)
How do we generate the groundbreaking ideas that push forward our lives, our society, our culture? Steven Johnson’s answers are revelatory as he identifies the seven key patterns behind genuine innovation, and traces them across time and disciplines. From Darwin and Freud to the halls of Google and Apple, Johnson investigates the innovation hubs throughout modern time and pulls out applicable approaches and commonalities that seem to appear at moments of originality. What he finds gives us both an important new understanding of the roots of innovation and a set of useful strategies for cultivating our own creative breakthroughs.

Posted in culture, history, theory

Art and Electronic Media

By Edward Shanken (2009)
Art and Electronic Media is the latest installment in the THEMES AND MOVEMENTS series, a collection of groundbreaking sourcebooks on the prevailing art tendencies of our times. This is the first book to explore mechanics, light, graphics, robotics, networks, virtual reality and the possibilities afforded by the web from an international perspective. It outlines the importance of figures previously neglected by art history, including engineers, technicians, and collaborators. Included are works by over 150 artists, both familiar – Jenny Holzer, Bruce Nauman, James Turrell, Mario Merz – as well as emerging and recent pioneers, such as Robert Lazzarini, Blast Theory, Granular Synthesis, Simon Penny, Marcel.li Antunez Roca, Mikami Seiko, and Jonah Bruckner-Cohen. The book is divided into seven thematic sections arranged chronologically. Art and Electronic Media is a lucid, accessible, and authoritative evaluation of continually developing media.

Posted in art, history, media, science, technology

Craft in America

By Jo Lauria and Steve Fenton (2007)
The companion book to the PBS series of the same name, Craft in America highlights the work of America’s most interesting craft artists past and present. Illustrated with more than 200 commanding images and signature objects from furniture, wood, ceramics, and glass to fiber, quilts, jewelry, metal, and basketry, this definitive work shows how crafts, long admired for their marriage of functionality and creativity, also reflect our nation’s history and the remarkable people who passed on their traditions.

Posted in art, design, history