This talk will explore one aesthetic strand of the diaspora from the Bauhaus, after its forced closure in Berlin in 1933. Anni and Josef Albers, Walter Gropius, and other artist-teachers came to America armed with the ideas of John Dewey, among others, finding new settings and provocations for their work at innovative, recently founded American institutions such as Black Mountain College and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. A collaborative brick-and-masonry installation in Harvard's Harkness Commons, which Josef Albers titled significantly, "America," provides a microcosm of ideas and practice in a New World in which artists, as Anni Albers put it, were forced to "start from zero." Christopher Benfey is Andrew W. Mellon professor of English at Mount Holyoke College, Amherst.
Part of the series Then and Now; Walter Gropius and the Lineage of the Bauhaus, sponsored by the Breger Fund in honor of Walter Gropius.