Black Mountain College Project
   

Josef Albers teaching drawing. Photo courtesy North Carolina State Archives, Black Mountain College Papers, 27.110


STUDENT EXPERIENCE IN EXPERIMENTAL EDUCATION IN THE EARLY YEARS
(1933-43)

Section 2: Teachers and Teaching: Methods of Teaching

       

INTRODUCTION TO THE SUNLEY PROJECT AND DOCUMENTS

Description of the Study by Robert Sunley
*   Letter to the Students
*   Guidelines
*   Brief Biographies of
    Contributors

*   Brief Biographies of
    Faculty Mentioned in
    the Memoirs
*

SECTION 1. ROLE OF THE ARTS

    Statement by Robert
    Sunley


The artistic process as
    a major goal.


*   Individual, active
    anticipation was
    fostered but not
    required.

*   Focus on really “seeing”
    and “thinking” for
    oneself, not on the
    production of art.


Self-direction, self-
    discipline, initiative,
    development of the
    whole person....

The arts were diffused
    throughout the
    education ....    

  Josef Albers

Claude Stoller: Foremost at all times he was an intense teacher whose stubborn insistence was that his pupils "learn to see." I took his courses in drawing, color and "werklehre" more than once.

Lucian Marquis: Josef Albers fulminating against "self-expression" taught us the discipline of the minimal tools to be used, the discipline of color.

John Stix: Albers's study was just down the hall from mine; his door was always open. I hungered for his critiques of my work and when, on occasion, he was really enthusiastic, my day was made. Looking back, it was Albers’s teaching which ultimately shaped my life in its choice of physical surroundings. He made me see.

Robert Sunley: Perhaps even more important to me than the "learning through doing" (to oversimplify it) was the presence of a high level of innovation in various arts.... Albers's teaching of Werklehre conveyed such a message, not one I would have encountered in another college. And this tied in with books on the Bauhaus, which Albers and others had placed in the library, fresh from that locale of innovation which was hardly known at the time in this country. This was reinforced by visits from others from the Bauhaus (because of Albers)—Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Herbert Bayer; and by Xanti Schawinsky who was on the faculty for two years.

Leonard Billing: ... the most interesting and self-developing were the Werklehre classes of Josef Albers. He expanded my vision, encouraged my sense of color and composition which gave me a great deal of confidence.

Alexander Eliot: One thing Albers had to give was a reprise of the "Foundation Course" he had taught at the Bauhaus. It was like a medieval guild initiation restructured for the mid-20th century. But that was only half of what Albers conveyed. Mastering a sketch pencil or constructing a thin-paper bridge helps one to develop self-control as well. From artistic discipline springs confidence plus flexibility.

Emil Willimetz: Albers was our faculty advisor for all school printing. I would take him a proof of a playbill and he would examine it carefully.`"Now, I ask me," he would muse, `is this for me the best? You know, Emil, I believe in the t'ousands technique. You do a t'ousand and pick best." " Mr. Albers," I would say, "that's great for sketches, but I'm not an artist and do my layouts directly in the chase and run a proof. A thousand proofs?" "Well," he says, "better you should learn to make sketches. Ya?" I wasn't too good at sketches, but I did learn a bit about composition....

 

SECTION 2. TEACHERS AND TEACHING

Introduction

Formal Aspects of the
Curriculum 

   Class Size 
   Grades    
   Advisors 
   Junior Division  
   Senior Division  
   Graduation

Methods of Teaching
   General

   John Andrew Rice 
   Josef Albers 
   Erwin Straus 
   Robert Wunsch 
   Others


Personalities of Faculty
  
John Rice  
   Josef Albers 
   Robert
Wunsch 
   Heinrich
Jalowetz  
   Others 

Outside the Classroom
   In General  
   The Work Program 
   Visitors -
   Trips 
   Drama 
   Interlude  
   Lectures, Concerts 
   Informal Interchange