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Edgar Kaufmann, Jr.       

Date/place of birth:
9 April 1910
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Date/place of death:
31 July 1989

Relationship to the college:
Guest faculty
1948 Summer


Architecture historian



Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. had a privileged childhood in Pittsburgh where his father owned Kaufmann's department store. He studied painting in New York, London, Vienna and Florence. On his return to the United States he was an apprentice at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin from 1933-34. It was on a visit to his son that Kaufmann's father commissioned Wright to design his Bear Run home Fallingwater. Kaufmann worked for a time in his father's store in Pittsburgh.

In April 1941 Kaufmann visited Black Mountain on a trip south to Mexico. At the time the Studies Building was under construction, and it was attracting a great deal of attention. The previous year Kaufmann had joined the staff of the Museum of Modern Art to organize the Organic Design in Home Furnishings Competition which he had proposed to Alfred Barr. Kaufmann was appointed director of the Department of Industrial Design at the museum.

In the summer of 1948 Kaufmann returned to Black Mountain for about a week to deliver a series of lectures on design. The visit was the catalyst for a one-person exhibition Anni Albers: Textiles at the Museum of Modern Art in 1949.

After his father's death Kaufmann inherited Fallingwater. He devoted himself to its preservation. In addition he was Adjunct Professor of Architecture and Art History at Columbia University and author of books on architecture and modern design.


This biography was funded by a grant from the Graham Foundation for a study of architecture at Black Mountain College.

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