BLACK MOUNTAIN DIARY
August 30. (Athens, Georgia) Received letter Josef Albers. Expects us at B. M. We leave tomorrow.
August 31. Leave 9 a.m. Bus all day. Arrive B.M. 6 p.m. Dinner in the open air with Albers and tour of campus. Fine.
September 1. a.m. Go see the farm. Cows, goats, horses. I sketch a gray horse towards mural (for Journalism Building at the University of Georgia).
p.m. nap. Our neighbor lady objects to the noise the children make. We visit with the Albers, the Dreiers. I sketch Eddy.
evening: see Albers paintings. Long conversation in the library.
September 2. 10:30: assist to [Gallicism: attend] Albers’ class. On color. Paper collages. Ostwald color solid.
p.m. Walk with Zohmah and children in the woods. Library: see posters ca. 1890s. Bathing in the lake with Zohmah and children.
evening: walk with Albers and pick apples.
September 3. a.m. Albers at work repairing fence on pig pen. I go with him but lack a hammer. Sketches of the gray horse. Bathe in lake. Nap.
4 p.m. coffee at Albers. His collection of Mexican antiques. His pictures and lithographs. Beautiful.
Evening: with Albers to opening local art show. punch. He exhibits.
September 4. a.m. Walk to the house that burned. The children wade in the lake.
p.m. siesta till dinner!
Evening: theater, but I stay with children. Ann holds on to my finger.
September 5. Albers drives us to Mass after breakfast. I show him photos of murals (at University of Georgia). Tentative commission. Bathe.
Picnic with Dreiers. Albers, Hubsch, etc. Good onion soup. Good conversation. After, see paintings Albers.
September 6. Walk to farm. More sketches gray horse. Bathe.
To Albers. Some admirable photos of Mexico taken by him.
September 7. Drive to Asheville. I buy a shirt. Also things for the children.
Evening: my talk on Mexico, then reception at Albers. Wine. I am asked to teach next summer.
September 8. Walk. Zohmah bathes. See Anni Albers’ textiles. Beautiful.
After dinner: music. I dance. The children dance.
Other visit to the exhibition at Black Mountain village. Albers talks. I talk. We jury for prizes.
September 9. Morning: we pack. 3 p.m., family bathes in lake. Dreier asks me to teach next summer. Expenses paid and $200.
Evening at Albers. Good conversation.
September 10. We leave 10 a.m. Arrive (Athens) 6:30 p.m.
In 1944, I was artist-in-residence at the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. The Charlot family, at the time we left for Black Mountain College: myself, my wife Zohmah, Ann, 4 years, John, 3 years, Martin, born in Athens, 3 months old. Also our colored maid, Maud.
Extracts from my diary.
June 23. Leave Athens 1.30 p.m. Arrive Asheville at 8 p.m. Dinner. To B.M.
At Lodge. Baby noisy. Bad night.
24. See campus. Coffee at Bobby Dreier. Siesta. Shop in town: lamps, etc.
Bathe in lake.
25. Sunday. Mass 10.30. The children bathe all day long. Picnic at Study Bldg.
26. Bathe in lake with Zohmah and John. Read “Siennese Ptg.”
27. Visit to our new home. No ice box! Tea at Bobby Dreier.
28. I am to paint the house tomorrow!
29. Paint all day long. I paint the house under the supervision of a house painter. Help comes from 4 girl students. Bathe 5 p.m.
30. a.m. I paint the kitchen floor. Our things not yet arrived from Athens.
p.m. Things arrive. Unpack in new house.
Bad night. Somewhat sad.
July l. At house. Uncrate the Bendix. Carry boxes to basement.
2. Wunsch to house. We buy 10 tickets for a radio raffle.
3. Our New House is called “The Black Dwarf.” We sleep in it.
4. Evening, general meeting. Speech Wunsch, etc.
5. Evening, informal class. We begin tomorrow. Awaiting arrival Albers. Anni lends us an Albers painting for the house: Visitation.
(The title of the painting was not the artist’s own. My wife called it so, saying she was not overjoyed to have 2 pregnant women depicted on our walls. For others, it was an abstraction.)
6. 2 p.m. Class. Model in bathing suit. Rain.
8. To B.M. village. Need gas ration tickets to go to church. See Fr. Kerry.
Evening. Concert. Great Mendelssohn. After, at the Jalowetz.
9. Mass 10.30. Swap Fr. Kerry gas tickets for concert tickets. We receive in new house. I do hollandaise with margarine and lemon. Good.
Evening: work in studio.
11. My class on theory of art. A few drawings.
12. Sort art photos for dept. Mostly rejects from Fogg.
Evening: lecture by Jalowetz. Beautiful rendition of Bach/Monteverdi.
16. Albers arrives. Happy to see him. After dinner, short talk by Albers in the Round House.
17. Opening of Art Institute. Schedules arranged. The Breitenbachs here. My drawing class. Bathe.
8.15. I talk on Breughel. To 10:15. Then to the Albers.
(Those evening talks were part of the Art Institute, open to all.)
19. Class. p.m. painting. Zohmah prepares tea with hot spices.
Evening, Lotti Leonard talks on song.
20. To Asheville in Bobbycat. Buy groceries, other materials.
Evening: square dancing in dining hall. Nice.
(The Bobbycat was the Dreiers’ station wagon.)
21 a.m. Albers’ class on design. Very interesting.
p.m. tea at Bobby’s for Breitenbach.
22. Drawing class a.m. Albers also corrects.
Evening: Yela Pessl at harpsichord. Beautiful concert well attended. Tombeau de Couperin.
23. Mass 10.30. begin drawing on the piles in view of painting a fresco.
24. My first class on composition. “2 dimensions.” Anni and Albers both attend.
Task given: an analysis of Taddeo Gaddi and Giotto.
Draw on piles. Also draw Yela at harpsichord.
Evening: Breitenbach lectures on photography. Party at the Albers.
25. a.m. My drawing class. p.m. panel on art education. Evening at Yela Pessl. Good goulash.
26. Drawing class held in the open. I put paper for cartoon on pile No. l.
Evening: Mrs. Gilmore (Elizabeth Gilmore Holt) talks on “The third kind of madness.” Chocolate at the Albers afterwards.
27. a.m. Draw cartoon for Inspiration. On brown paper with chalk highlights. Breitenbach photographs me before cartoon fresco.
p.m. To Asheville with Wunsch. Buy Rembrandt and Vermeer.
28. a.m. Albers’ class on design. Mimbres pottery. Disagreeable interruptions. I begin drawing panel No. 2. Tempest. We lash tarpaulin over cartoon. Red snapper for dinner.
Evening: panel on the dance with Agnes de Mille. After, square dancing. Zohmah dances.
29. Drawing class a.m. p.m. Continue cartoon of panel No. 2, version 2. from a drawing posed for by Mary [Krieger].
Evening. Brahms concert. Esther Worden Day visits from Blue Ridge.
30. Mass. At breakfast Breitenbach takes photos of the children. Tea at the Strauses. Dinner at the Dreiers with onion soup. Agnes de Mille, Humphrey.
Baby Martin gives us a bad night.
31. a.m. Class in composition. Correct “home work” after Giotto, Daddi.
p.m. Show Agnes de Mille photos of Georgia murals, the cartoons, etc.
Evening, Breitenbach lectures on photo portraits.
August l. a.m. Drawing class. p.m. I write synopsis Mexican murals book for Knopf. Evening at Albers. See his paintings. New ones beautiful. We speak of an exchange. Schnapps.
(Eventually the book was published by Yale University Press under the title “Mexican Mural Renaissance, l920–1925.”)
2. a.m. Class. p.m. I finish writing synopsis book for Knopf.
Evening, I talk on El Greco. After, party at house.
Martin discovers his feet.
3. Work on Mexican book with Zohmah. Students help change paper for panel No. 2. Will begin tomorrow version 3.
Bathe in lake with Zohmah and children.
4. a.m. Design class by Albers, on textures.
p.m. Finish drawing version 3, panel 2.
Evening, run extra slides El Greco in North Lodge.
7. Amédée Ozenfant arrives a.m. Students meet new professors.
10.30. My class in composition.
p.m. Children to doctor. Martin takes shot for whooping cough.
Evening: Rudofsky lectures (on costume). After, party at the Albers. Zohmah comes dressed ą la Rudofsky, in a bed sheet.
8. Drawing class a.m. and p. m. general assembly, secret. Decisions taken split faculty. l8 students are out, including Mary Krieger, who comes to see me.
After tea, good class of sculpture by de Creeft: how to fill in the stone silhouette. After dinner, see photos.
Great tension felt all day apropos the decisions taken.
9. De Creeft attends my drawing class. No model available so we use a cushion instead.
(The janitor, who often found a professional pretext to peek in at the life class, was disappointed that day.)
Evening, Ozenfant lectures. Illustrates with beautifully chosen pebbles and shells. After, party at Albers.
Mary to go to Smith College.
l0. Begun version 2 of panel l. Telephone call that old putty lime is not to be found. p.m. I assist to class on Plato by Dr. Straus. Very interesting. After dinner, square dancing. I dance. Long conversation with de Creeft.
11. Design class Albers. Folded paper, cut paper.
p.m. Finish version 2 of panel 1. More compact.
After dinner Ozenfant shows his own slides in Lodge. After, at Albers: Ozenfant, de Creeft, myself. Look at paintings. Drink. Good conversation.
l2. Drawing class a.m. and p.m. begin trace panel 1.
Evening concert. Zohmah has a cold. We leave early.
13. Mass 10:30. At 2 p.m. general meeting all B.M. people. Explosion! My mason arrives. We talk about the fresco job.
14. Mason here at 8.30. Begins job fresco. Frame put on panel 2 with help from Faith (a student) etc…. Mary grinds colors, after the blends from the maquette. We shall keep samples of colors for each day in test tubes.
(In fresco painting, the colors are premixed dry pigment, before they are ground in water.)
9.30 my class. Composite image of plan and elevation.
p.m. I paint portrait of Yela Pessl, 8” x l0.” Given to her.
Evening, Rudofsky talks on costume. After, Ozenfant and de Creeft at house. Conversation.
15. To Mass late for lack of gas.
Drawing class a.m. Two models pose together.
The mason finishes both frames. To Asheville with Zohmah. Bought fresco brushes, and a haircut.
Evening: Ozenfant lectures in French to French class on the XVIIIth century.
16. Drawing class a.m. Mason puts second coat, 4 of cement to 1 of sand. Tomorrow, final coat.
p.m. I show the cartoons to Ozenfant. His criticism: not enough space for the volumes.
Evening: Ozenfant lectures on pre-forms. After, party at Albers, with Gropius present.
l7. Fresco begun. Mason puts mortar from 7:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. Too wet. Rain. p.m. I paint area 1 of panel 1, Inspiration, to 5:30. Rather good. Mary, Faith, Joan help.
Very tired. Zohmah brings dinner to house in the rain.
After, last talk by Ozenfant. Questions answered.
18. Panel l, area 2. Mason works from 7:15 to 12:30.
p.m. Mason puts area 1, panel 2. I paint to 6. p.m.
J. B. Neumann arrives. Happy to see him.
19. Panel 2, area 2. I paint from 8:30 to 3 p.m. Rather good.
Wunsch celebrates completion frescoes with coco and coffee.
Evening: Concert. Beethoven. Schubert.
(The two panels were painted in three days. It appears that on the 18th, I painted both area 2, panel 1, and area 1, panel 2.)
20. Mass l0:30. Good sermon. De Amico arrives.
Picnic dinner in the forest. De Creeft cooks Catalan rice and chicken. Very good. Gropius present, etc. …
21. Morning class in composition. Analysis of plates.
Evening, my talk on Velasquez. After, party at Hansgirg.
22. Albers, good drawing class a.m. and p.m.: Mary leaves. We accompany her to B.M. village. Also to get gas for our own departure.
Evening, J. B. Neumann displays facsimiles of fifteenth-century woodcuts in dining hall. Talks about them.
23. Drawing class a.m. The board refuses us the gas needed to go to Mass. Zohmah sad, I upset.
p.m. Zohmah makes decorations with paper birds for tonight’s party.
Evening: Gropius lectures on postwar housing. Birthday party for Charles. Costumes. Gropius disguised with lobster antennae.
26. a.m. Zohmah goes to get train reservations. I help hang Albers show. Large paintings on pillars. Also shows stained glass and black and white. Nice effect.
Johnnie goes fishing with Archie. Evening concert Levy Steuermann.
28. a.m. Class in composition. Fourth dimension. Analyze the MeniĖas of Velasquez with the help of a three-dimensional maquette by Dick Albany.
p. m. work on my coming lecture on Albers.
Evening: Gropius lectures on city planning with accent on the family as unit. After, old-fashioned reception at Wunsch.
29. a.m. I walk through the woods to prepare Albers lecture. Meet J. B. Neumann who works on his lecture!
16 drawings for Sheed. Work on opera costumes for Cohan, Saturday.
(The drawings were for The Trumpet, the trade publication of the publishers Sheed and Ward.)
After dinner, I talk in French to French class. Subject: French painting in the XVIIIth century.
30. a.m. Drawing class. Work on lecture in the woods.
Evening, my talk, “Josef Albers, his life and times.” Use original paintings instead of slides. After, party at Albers.
31. I prepare to hang my show: photos for Georgia murals book and the painting bought by Hansgirg. Very tired.
Evening, good lecture by J. B.: From Rembrandt to Klee. After, to the Lowinskys.
September l. Paint portrait Maud a.m. oil 10 x 8.” For the children if she must leave us.
p.m. Paint portrait Bobby Dreier for her. 10” x 8.”
Evening: hang the large cartoons for the frescoes made here in the dining hall.
2. Cut paper accessories for Jalowetz party. Telegram from Mabel (Maud’s mother) that Maud can stay with us.
p.m. pack. Visit the Jalowetzes.
Concert, all cantata. XVIth century with Lowinsky. Milhaud–Claudel with Jalowetz. Beautiful.
After, comical bull fight arranged by de Creeft. John Reiss as Presidente . Very successful.
3. Mass l0:30. Rehearsal 2 p.m.: Flute and Orpheus.
5 p.m.: compare notes on students with Albers and de Creeft.
Evening, opera. After, with Zohmah to Leonard.
4. Last day at Black Mountain. Finish packing helped by Mary.
The whole family dines at dining hall.
Coffee at Lowinskys. The Albers take us to the station.
Train (for New York) leaves 4:30 p.m.
Edited by John Charlot.