A rich, wide-ranging meditation on the iPhone as direct descendant of the 1930’s Bauhaus, one of the 20th century’s most influential schools of art and design (summed up in Mies van der Rohe’s dictum, “less is more”) whose principle aim was to connect art and industry. From one of the leading authorities on the Bauhaus and modernism.
Nicholas Fox Weber, in this deft, entertaining, and clever rumination on art and technology, writes of the iPhone as the essence of the Bauhaus principles of form following function—of honesty in design and materials that reflect the true nature of objects and buildings, favoring linear and geometrical forms; adhering to line, shape and colors; synthesizing art to modern times; the fusion in design of art and technology.
Weber, an authority and celebrant of 20th-century modernism, ranging from the paintings of Balthus to the architecture of Le Corbusier, was a close associate of Anni and Josef Albers, the last living giants of the Bauhaus, and he absorbed firsthand the truest beliefs of the Bauhaus. The Alberses emphasized their passion for “good design over bad art.”
Weber writes that the Bauhaus was not a style, but an attitude: clear design and visual acuity as the embodiment of morality and honesty.
REVIEWS ON iBauhaus
“Persuasive . . . charming . . . [I] was thrilled by his most audacious theories . . . I’ve looked at my iPhone countless times; having read this book, I now feel that I’ve truly seen the thing.”
—Rumaan Alam, The New Republic
Leland Bell (hudson hills Press, 1986)
JOSEF + ANNI ALBERS: Designs for Living (Merrell Publishers, 2004. Martin Filler, co-author).
The Art of Babar (Harry N. Abrams, 1995)
Babar the elephant left the jungle and entered Western civilization in 1931 in a book published in Paris. Since then he has fought enemies and aided friends, sailed to exotic islands, flown to distant distant planets, toured America, solved mysteries, and encountered the supernatural in a series of adventures chronicled in thirty-seven volumes to date. His story has been translated into seventeen languages, recorded on tape, animated, and set to music.
Babar is both King and Everyman. A kind and sensible leader, he is also a playful and adventurous child. He experiences the diverse realities of modern living; the pleasure of blue-water ports and bustling cities, the anguish of separation and of encounters with evil.
Both wondrous and familiar, his sagas and the pictures that illustrate them have universal appeal. He has become part of the mythology of the twentieth century. Babar was created by the painter Jean du Brunoff, who produced the first seven books of the series between 1931 and 1937, the year of his untimely death.
In 1946 his artist son Laurent took up where Jean had left off. He wrote and illustrated his first Babar book when he was twenty-one and has now done thirty Babar books. In bringing Babar back, Laurent was holding on to anenchanted childhood as well as keeping alive the legacy of his beloved father. The elephant actually had been the invention of his mother, Cécile, who thought up the first adventure one evening as a bedtime story for Laurent and his younger brother, Mathieu.
About Babar’s beginnings Maurice Sendak has said, “The devotion to family and the circumstances of life that produced Babar must account for the special power and honest sentiment that are at the very core of the books.”
In The Art of Babar, author Nicholas Fox Weber has worked with Laurent de Brunhoff to recapture aspects of the artist’s childhood in France and the values that he grew up with. He has a lot to say about how both he and his father used watercolor, and the author has explored this technical aspect of their art. The reader is presented with the development from rough sketches to final illustrations; much of this material has never before been reproduced.
If Jean de Brunhoff’s art captures successfully much of the beauty and charm of the world we know, Laurent’s dwells in part on invented, imaginary scenes. The father was the master of the familiar – clothes (very much of the era, of course), boats, motorcars, landscapes, interiors. The son has a particular bent for the fantastic.
And while Jean shows sea and jungle in the full glow of the noonday sun, Laurent is the virtuoso of night and darkness.
The Bauhaus Group
The Bauhaus geniuses and the community of the pioneering art school in Germany’s Weimar and Dessau in the 1920s and early 1930s.
- Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus, the architect who streamlined design early in his career and who saw the school as a place for designers to collaborate in an ideal setting . . . a dashing hussar, the ardent young lover of the renowned femme fatale Alma Mahler, beginning when she was the wife of composer Gustav Mahler . . .
- Paul Klee, the onlooker, smoking his pipe, observing Bauhaus dances as well as his colleagues’ lectures from the back of the room . . . the cook who invented recipes and threw together his limited ingredients with the same spontaneity, sense of proportion, and fascination that underscored his paintings . . .
- Wassily Kandinsky, the Russian-born pioneer of abstract painting, guarding a secret tragedy one could never have guessed from his lively paintings, in which he used bold colors not just for their visual vibrancy, but for their “sound” effects . . .
- Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, imperious, decisive, often harsh, an architect who became director—the last—of the Bauhaus, and the person who guided the school’s final days after SS storm troopers raided the premises.
The life, spirit, and flair with which these geniuses lived, as well as their consuming goal of making art and architecture. A portrait infused with their fulsome embrace of life, their gift for laughter, and the powerful force of their individual artistic personalities.
REVIEWS ON THE BAUHAUS GROUP
“Nicholas Fox Weber’s The Bauhaus Group deftly renders the movement’s brilliant interplay of personalities . . .” —— Vogue “[In this] groundbreaking group biography, the prolific, best-selling, and commanding Weber tells the dramatic stories of [the] Bauhaus stars. . . A grand synthesis of biography, art history, and interpretation, Weber’s dazzlingly detailed suite of Bauhaus lives greatly enriches our understanding of modernity and art.” —— Booklist (starred)
The Clarks of Cooperstown
The idiosyncratic lives of Sterling and Stephen Clark—two of America’s greatest art collectors, heirs to the Singer sewing machine fortune, and for decades enemies of each other. Nicholas Fox Weber tells the story, as well, of the two generations that preceded theirs, giving us an intimate portrait of one of the least known of America’s richest families.
Weber examines the depths of the brothers’ passions, the vehemence of their lifelong feud, the great art they acquired, and the profound and lasting impact they had on artistic vision in America.
REVIEWS ON CLARKS OF COOPERSTOWN
“Mesmerizing. An engrossing adventure into American cultural history. Truly a wonderful achievement.”
— Francine du Plessix Gray
“Absorbing and remarkable.”
— Louis S. Auchincloss
“Weber’s exquisitely sensitive yet hugely entertaining group portrait of the Clarks is a potent tale of family and wealth, anguish and the solace of art.”
— Booklist (starred review)
“[A] fine new study . . . unusually rewarding . . . Weber is to be congratulated for telling this story with admirable restraint . . . ”
— Michael Lewis, The New York Sun
Five young art patrons who, in the last 1920s and 1930s, were instrumental in bringing modern painting, sculpture, and dance to America. A combination of wealth, Harvard education privilege, and family connections enabled Lincoln Kirstein, Edward M. M. Warburg, Agnes Mongan, James Thrall Soby, and A. Everett (Chick) Austin, Jr., to introduce the work of Picasso, Balanchine, Calder, and other important artists to the United States.
REVIEWS ON PATRON SAINTS
“A brilliant tribute to pioneers of our cultural history. Highly recommended.”
—— Library Journal
“Arresting, gossipy, lavishly illustrated . . .”
—— Publishers Weekly
“Vivid; even exhilarating avant-garde entertainment.”
—— Sam Hunter, The New York Times Book Review
Louisa Matthiasdóttir: The Small Paintings
The first major life of Le Corbusier, one of the most influential, admired, and maligned architects of the twentieth century, heralded as a prophet in his lifetime, revered as a god after his death.
He was a leader of the modernist movement who sought to create better living conditions and a better society through housing concepts. He predicted the city of the future with its large, white apartment buildings in parklike settings—a move away from the turn-of-the-century industrial city, which he saw as too fussy and suffocating and believed should be torn down, including most of Paris. Irascible and caustic, tender and enthusiastic, more than a mercurial innovator, Le Corbusier was considered to be the very conscience of modern architecture.
Here revealed is Le Corbusier, the precise, mathematical, practical-minded artist whose idealism—vibrant, poetic, imaginative; discipline; and sensualism are reflected in his iconic designs and pioneering theories of architecture and urban planning.
This single-minded, elusive genius revealed; his extraordinary achievements and the age in which he lived.
REVIEWS ON LE CORBUSIER, A LIFE
“Weber’s admiring biography brings Le Corbusier to life, unraveling many obscure aspects of a man who was famously secretive and, though he wrote some 50 books, divulged very little of himself. . .[Weber] allows Le Corbusier to emerge as a fascinating if flawed human being.” — Witold Rybczynski, The New York Times Book Review“Full of provocative insights and welcome surprises.” — The New York Times
“Both megalomaniacal and brilliant, Le Corbusier emerges from Weber’s mesmerizing pages in all his complexity.” — Booklist, (starred)
The Drawings of Josef Albers (Yale University Press, 1984)
Cleve Gray (Harry N. Abrams, 1988)
The Woven and Graphic Art of Anni Albers (Smithsonian Institution Press 1985)
Anni Albers ( Harry N Abrams, 1999)
The first full-scale biography of one of the most elusive and enigmatic painters of our time — the self-proclaimed Count Balthus Klossowski de Rola — whose brilliantly rendered, markedly sexualized portraits are among the most memorable images in contemporary art.
Weber’s critical and human grasp (he analyzes the paintings in terms of both their aesthetic achievement and what they reveal of their maker’s psyche), combined with his rich knowledge of Balthus’s life and his insight into the ideas and forces that have helped to shape Balthus’s work over the past seven decades, give us a striking, illuminating portrait of one of the most admired and outrageous artists of our time.
REVIEWS ON BALTHUS
“Heroic . . . A splendid account of a complex life and as fine an artist’s biography as this season is likely to produce.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The authoritative account of his life and work.”
— Michael Ravitch, Newsday