Kurt von Meier loved images and spent his life teaching others to look "through" images to see the deeper meaning and information they contained. He also loved to mug for the camera and dress up in costume at events. In this section of the website images from various periods in Kurt's life are displayed, along with information about the context and situation in which the image was produced, if known.
CLICK ON AN IMAGE TO ENLARGE.
This photo of Kurt is from 2010, taken at his home in Davis, CA. Same dimples, same twinkle in his eye, ready for what comes next.
Kurt's "Mandala" exhibition at Sac State displayed his collection of art, sacred ritual objects and odds and ends of interest to him.
Kurt drove this VW to and from Sacramento State University for years. His friend, artist Noble Richardson, painted the car. In subsequent years, Kurt traded up--all the way up--to a red-hot Ferrari!
Here's Kurt in full regalia, bearded, beaded and ready to rock and roll. His headgear indicates this photo was taken after his return from Afganistan, where he reportedly meditated while sitting on the head of a Bamiyan Buddha. (since destroyed by the Taliban).
Here's Kurt in '68 while visiting an exhibition at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, TX. Note the body language and facial expression of composer Morton Feldman (holding a drink) and the raised eyebrows and averted gaze of the other gent; conjecturing that Kurt has made a mind-stopping remark is reasonable.
Kurt took Buddhist vows around 1970 from the Tibetan lama Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche, and was given the name Karma rDorje Wangdu by Lama Tsenjur Rinpoche.
While teaching at Sac State Kurt had an opportunity to create his own design in pavement. The white, black and red circles speak to the influence of author/poet Robert Grave's masterwork The White Goddess. Graves identifies these colors with The Triple Goddess, the personification of birth, life and death (and the colors of the moon, that symbol of the feminine).
Here's Kurt hanging out with Nico of the Velvet Underground and Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.
Kurt was a physical person, well-coordinated and strong. He and his friend Jene LaRue played Rugby together and later opened The Diamond Sutra Restaurant in S.F.
It was quite the jump from Kurt's hippie VW Bug to a Ferrari. It spent a lot of time "in the shop" but Kurt stuck with it for his 15-minute drive from Davis to Sac State. He justified it, in part, as an "investment."
This might be a photo from the day in '67 when Kurt met some of his UCLA students at the Santa Monica Pier and threw a TV off the end of the pier as a conceptual art piece. Or this may not be that day. Perhaps you were there.
In the early 70s Kurt traveled to Afghanistan, where he met with students. This is a copy of his passport photo. He was stopped at the border and suspected as a spy, but they let him leave.
Looks like Kurt is having fun in '69, in Tijuana.
Imagine a small forest of 45-foot-tall Japanese Timber bamboo. The leaf canopy does not even begin until twenty-five feet above; this is how it looked from the deck at the back of the house.
Here's another picture of Kurt's painted VW, with Kurt seated comfortably on the rear bumper. During the 70's this is how he got to and fro.
In 2010 Kurt traveled to Thailand to visit his friend Joe Duane, and Joe took this photo of three bears during a side trip to Laos. Kurt considered the bear his totemic, animal ally, and bear images and references filled his life and his work.
Here's Kurt, beer in hand, wearing his Ferrari T-Shirt during Larry Barnett's 50th birthday party in 1998.
Kurt and his friend Joe Duane traveled to Yosemite to be there as Sascha von Meier, Kurt's daughter, made a three-day ascent of El Capitan. They all look pleased to see Sascha back on solid ground!
Hangin' with Kurt on the patio in Davis, CA--from left to right (front row) Cliff Barney, Noble Richardson, Larry Barnett, (back row) Jimi Suzuki, Kurt von Meier (clowning around, of course!)
While on retreat in Hawaii, Kurt woke up in a dark room and managed to walk straight into the metal door frame of the bath room, gashing his forehead and impressing it with a permanent dent.
This is Tasha, Kurt and Marijane's Carolina Wild Dog, and the last canine companion Kurt enjoyed. Kurt loved the companionship of dogs, and as Tasha grew old and infirm, Kurt nursed her lovingly until her death.
Here's a photo by Joe Duane, with Kurt in a rather Duchampian pose, juxtaposed against his iconic 1966 portrait in the background.
In his latter years, encouraged by cacti enthusiast Larry Barnett, Kurt devoted considerable effort creating a cactus garden. Here he is beside a blooming Trichocereus--an Opuntia to his right and a San Pedro to his left. The Opuntia is now 25 feet tall.
The von Meier home in Carmel was constructed by a ship-builder, and was locally famous for its woodwork. After Dorothy’s death, the home was sold and later demolished, despite its charm. Kurt’s dimples were clearly inherited from his mom.
Done up like some sort of latter-day, lefty-liberal—rose colored glasses, a goofy head-piece and “Support Afghan Freedom Fighters” T-shirt—Kurt holds a match aloft to light his famous whale’s tooth pipe. Like Andy Warhol, Kurt fell in love with taking Polaroid’s, and commonly took his photos at an angle; evidently, whoever took this photo was so instructed!
Despite his unconventional manner and casual style, Kurt took teaching seriously, preparing notes for his classes and from time to time defending his approach against department heads who disliked how he taught. Here, Kurt’s captured in the classroom in 1985.