Unwinding the Mystical Thread


This excerpt from Kurt's opus A Ball of Twine elucidates the mystical path, a path which intrigued and absorbed him. Exploring Soma (Amanita muscaria), Kurt then follows the mystical path of initiation through rituals and practices spread throughout the world. He concludes with a discussion of Benedictine, and Duchamp's references to it. He quotes and cites sources extensively, demonstrating his well-established habits of academic discipline.

Gender Bias in the Discipline of Art History


As was so often the case, Kurt stepped forward to urge the University to assume a leading role in social and cultural transformation, in this case gender bias. He wrote a critique and set of recommendations about Sac State's art history program while Art Department Chair, a portion of which is excerpted here, and sent it to the President of the university. "Gender bias in the discipline of Art History is real, exists and persists on several different levels," he wrote, "and requires the thoughtful attention of peers, academic administrators and students as well as future textbook authors." In the light of issues surrounding gender bias today (2018) Kurt's observations were, as usual, progressive and timely.

A Sample of Kurt's Class Preparation


As these notes from 1986 amply demonstrate, even after 20-plus years of teaching Kurt continued to make careful preparation for his classes. Though he often made notes in his ever-present blue-lined paper notebooks, in the 1980s he also kept notes by computer.

This particular batch found in his archives--in preparation for his Creative Art and Mythology class 113-D--were printed on perforated, punched paper designed for use in a "daisy-wheel" printer. There's a good deal of solid art history contained within these pages.

Audio Lecture: Kurt Schwitters

Schwitters used the word MERZ to describe the style of his work, derived from the second syllable in the German word for commerce.

Schwitters used the word MERZ to describe the style of his work, derived from the second syllable in the German word for commerce.

Iconoclastic but not malicious or mean-spirited; this is how Kurt describes the ground-breaking Dada-period artist Kurt Schwitters. This lecture delivered at UCLA in 1965 is straight-up art history; for those of you who are interested in the history of Dada and its relationship to art and life in the world of the 1920s, this recording provides a stream of Kurt's observations, understandings and insights. He does this as he describes a series of projected slides, their content, style and context. Picasso, Braque, Moholy Nagy and the cubists also are discussed. 
The recording runs about 45 minutes and takes a few moments to load.

Here are some links associated with the work of Schwitters:
Wikipedia (Schwitters)
Wikipedia (Art Style - Dada/Merz)
Google images

Mandala: Mirror Reflections

In 2003 (as Emeritus Professor of Art History during his last year of teaching), Kurt and his students at Sacramento State University created an exhibit of his teaching collection: various artworks, sacred ritual objects, carpets, tapestries and items of curiosity. A CD was created by Michael Azevedo which includes commentary by Kurt about the exhibition and the pieces displayed. The culmination of his teaching career, the exhibition and his commentary recap the remarkable diversity of his interests, his vast body of knowledge and his fascinating life experience. That CD has now been converted to a self-playing movie file on YouTube. Click on the video link above to view it (runs approximately 90 minutes).

Cover illustration by Andy Warhol, LIZ, 1962. All photos courtesy of Sam Parsons, Audio production courtesy of Spider Studios. Photo courtesy of Sam Parsons, CSUS Media Services, All images Copyright 2003, Sam Parsons, CSUS Media Services.