UCLA Lecture 1967 - Renaissance to the Present


A 1967 lecture that begins as a very straightforward art history lecture about the Renaissance turns to Kurt’s concerns about teaching art history itself, and reflects upon the crisis in his own teaching career. His UCLA teaching contract terminated due to his controversial and unconventional teaching style and views about education, he reflects upon his aspirations as a teacher and intellectual. Remarking on the absurdity of it all for his students, he says, “But you do become absurd. You lose your sense of joy and discovery, humanity, you act and respond like machines. I know you do. I know because I know these forces on my life too, essentially the same forces.” And, facing the career crisis in his own life, he remarks, “Every time we reach that ultimate point in states of consciousness, we're in a critical situation; we can choose. Crisis, crossroads; take your choice which way you gonna go? Forward, backwards, left or right. Crisis mean crux, cross, crosswalks, crucial; every time you can choose you're free. Every time you do choose, you affirm your freedom. Every time you affirm your freedom, you affirm life.” Both informative and revealing, this lecture is available as both audio file and transcript.



In this excerpt from his monumental and masterful work A Ball of Twine: Marcel Duchamp's 'With Hidden Noise' Kurt von Meier examines humanism, its transformation into "individualistic humanism" and as an art historian provides an honest account of humanity's often dismal history. He writes, "The history of catastrophes is not often taught. Nevertheless, an objective account of destruction ought to be contemplated by serious educators, busy extolling themselves for the imagined accomplishments of their self-titled humanistic research. It would serve as a darkly instructive reminder about the flip side of pride. Otherwise, there seems to be self-deception in writing about art and culture without, from time to time, stopping to take stock of humanity at large, in the conventional real world...If there is sometimes a Polyanna complex on the part of scholars who write as though they have just come from, say, the planet of lost art historians, as Howard Zinn reminds us the newspapers and many of the grimmer historians also ignore the history of creativity and kindness."

Popular and Fine Arts - A UCLA Lecture 1965


In this class-note transcript from 1965, Kurt delivers a straightforward art history discussion of an essential shift in 20th century painting: the rise of Cubism and its meaning. "Before Cubism, there had always been one point of view. This is specifically manifested by the theory of one point perspective formulated in the Italian Renaissance. This perception from one point of view was prevalent all the way through the 19th century," he states. His lectures would become less traditional and more theatrical as time went on; this lecture is "all business." 

The Revolution of Popular Art


This article from 1968 was published in the pages of artscanada, a magazine in which Kurt frequently appeared. He explores the events and figures leading up to what he terms a "revolution of Popular art" wherein past distinctions, categories and criticism no longer apply. "A more finely-focused view discovers that neither is there any longer a precise sense of differentiation between the various "media" within the realm of fine arts. Nor, in terms of a much more general view, have the clear-cut separations be­tween art and life been able to function with quite the same surety as they did, say, before the beginning of the century."