book marks: a digression

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for Kate Wolff

As a newly minted PhD in the 1980s, I wrote a rather surly review of a monograph published in 1984 about the famous Bauhaus-trained graphic designer Herbert Bayer (1900-1985). Most of it I dismissed as hagiography and much of the rest as meaningless mumbo jumbo about Bayer’s engagement in “sustained investigation of the means by which intimate nature, monumental nature, and ultimately celestial nature can be made the apposite to human finitude.” I accused the author of depicting the great designer “as a mystical, pantheistic painter who designed on the side,” the escalation of a deplorable tendency to fetishize artists of the German Bauhaus. Continue reading