|Font Specimen Poster © Rachel Bartholomay 2016|
Recently while reading Nicholas Fox Weber, The Bauhaus Group: Six Masters of Modernism (New Haven CT: Yale University Press), I ran across a passage about a class exercise that the painter Paul Klee witnessed in a course at the Bauhaus taught by Johannes Itten. It required his students to draw in the dark, and of course this reminded me of the later, related experiments by Hoyt Sherman at Ohio State University, which I wrote at length about in the early 1990s. Here is the passage from Weber's interesting book (p. 115)—
At 5 pm that same day, Itten gave another course in a large lecture hall constructed like an amphitheater, where people sat on the steps rather than on seats. This time the master projected on the wall a large image of Matisse's La Danse and had the students draw its essential compositional elements in the dark. Itten's wife sat at his feet, with everyone else huddled in close. The sole exception was Klee, who sat as far away as possible, at the very top of the amphitheater, in a proper chair. Looking on from this perch, he smoked his pipe.