Sunday, June 8, 2014

Herman Sachs Batik, ca. 1920

(Click on images to enlarge).
Batik by Herman Sachs, ca. 1920s. Courtesy Stephen Clauser, Arroyo Seco Books, handler of the Napolitano Estate.

I just discovered this fantastic Herman Sachs original batik among hundreds of items in the estate of artist Pasquale Giovanni Napolitano. Through previous research on Sachs (see below) I was able to instantly identify it as it was unfolded in front of me. As it did when I similarly discovered the below heretofore uncredited Edward Weston photo of Schindler's Lovell Beach House, my heart immediately skipped a beat. I hope to use the Sachs batik, space permitting, in an upcoming exhibition that I am currently working on, "The Schindlers and the Westons: An Avant-Garde Friendship."

Lovell Beach House, Newport Beach, 1926. R. M. Schindler, architect. Photo by Edward Weston, August 1, 1927. Courtesy UC-Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, R. M. Schindler Collection.

Herman Sachs posing in front of one of his renowned Batiks, 1919. Photo by Dayton, Ohio photographer Jane Reece, a close friend of Edward Weston. From The Soul Unbound: The Photography of Jane Reece, by Dominique H. Vasseur, Dayton Art Institute, 1997, p. 135.

A photo of the same Batik. Photographer and date unknown. Photo in possession of Betty Katz's great niece Dottie Ickovitz.

Study for a Batik by Herman Sachs, ca. 1920s. From the internet.

"Batiks, Tapestries, Pottery, etc. at the Albright Art Gallery," Academy Notes, Buffalo Fine Ars Academy, January-June, 1921, p. 17.

The batik work of Sachs was very favorably reviewed in an article in the Buffalo Fine Arts Albright Art Gallery organ Academy Notes on their late-1920 arts and crafts exhibition. 
"Shown at the Albright Art Gallery from October to November 15th at the same time as the great exhibition of Screens, Panels, Paintings, and Sketches by Robert W. Chanier, the Haag Wood Carvings and the Gogarty Wrought Irons was a most remarkable collection of batiks, tapestries, pottery by the greatest geniuses in each particular line. Two of the large rooms were hung with these gorgeous hued batiks...Thirty eight were by the famous Herman Sachs who was one of the honored guests at the opening of the Exhibition. Mr. Sachs was the speaker at the joint luncheon of the Fashion Art League and the Alliance of Art and Industry recently held in the Art Institute of Chicago. He was born in Roumania, was a student of the Art School of the Chicago Art Institute in 1909, and for the last ten years has been developing impressionist art in Munich, where he was one of the leaders of their Arts and Crafts School. Mr. Sachs is an American citizen, and was in Germany all during the war. He was offered the post of the Arts and Crafts School of Potsdam, when this was established in the palace vacated by the Kaiser. In the exhibition of Mr. Sach's work, which was recently hung in the Albright Gallery, the artists demonstrated his versatility as a draftsman. He showed besides batiks and embroideries, dyeing on paper and inlaid decorations on marble, the process of which he has invented." ("Batiks, Tapestries, Pottery, etc. at the Albright Art Gallery," Academy Notes, Buffalo Fine Ars Academy, January-June, 1921, pp. 16-20). 
"Program for the Chicago Industrial Arts School" by Herman Sachs, Hull-House, Chicago, April, 1921. (From my collection).

Sachs almost certainly knew the Schindlers in Chicago before they left for Los Angeles in late 1920. Sachs created the Bauhaus-like Chicago Industrial Arts School (see above) at Hull-House, the 1915-16 home of Pauline Gibling and Edith Gutterson after their respective graduations from Smith College and Abbott Academy. Traveling in the same circles, there is a good chance that they could have discussed Sachs's lofty goals for the short-lived school and his similar efforts in Germany a few years earlier. After his school closed and possibly through connections with Dayton photographer Jane Reece (see earlier photo), Sachs accepted the post as the first director of the fledgling Dayton Museum of Art. While serving in the post ca. 1921-22 he also unsuccessfully tried to form the Dayton School of Industrial Art before finally following the Schindlers to Los Angeles in 1923 (see below). 

Catalog for Dayton School of Industrial & Fine Arts, 1921-22. Courtesy Wyn Ritchie Evans Papers, University of Pennsylvania Library.

Herman Sachs, ca. 1920. Photographer unknown. From Sachs, Herman, "How Europe Has Capitalized Art In Industry," Arts & Decoration, January 1921, pp. 209, 248.

Herman Sachs cover line, "How Europe Has Capitalized Art In Industry," Arts & Decoration, January 1921.

Thanksgiving at Kings Road, 1923 likely taken by Schindler. Courtesy UC-Santa Barbara Schindler collection.

The above photo tells a compelling story of the seemingly certain Schindler-Sachs-Howenstein-Gutterson-Brandner mutual Chicago-Los Angeles connections. Weston-Schindler intimate Betty Katz is seated front center facing the camera. Betty's future husband and recent arrival from Chicago, architect and Schindler collaborator Alexander Brandner, is seated to her left. Soon-to-be Schindler client and frequent collaborator Herman Sachs is at the far left. Back center is the Schindlers' close Chicago friend Karl Howenstein who was employed at the Art Institute of Chicago and at the time of the photo was the new Director of the Otis Art Institute. In his position as head of community outreach for school children at the Art Institute of Chicago Karl had commissioned Schindler to design a Children's Corner (see below). (For much more on Howenstein's directorship of the Otis Art Institute see my "The Schindlers and the Hollywood Arts Association").

Drawing for Children's Corner, Art Institute of Chicago, 1918, R. M. Schindler, architect. Courtesy UC-Santa Barbara Schindler collection.

To Karl's left in the above photo is his wife Edith Gutterson Howenstein, a former Chicago girlfriend of Rudolph Schindler and close friend of Pauline Schindler from their Hull-House days. Ironically, Edith and Rudolph were discussing marriage when she fatefully introduced him to Pauline Gibling at a Prokofiev concert at Chicago's Orchestra Hall on December 7, 1918. Edith also worked at the Art Institute of Chicago as an assistant curator of lantern slides. Sachs was a student at the Art Institute in 1909 and exhibited and lectured there in 1920. At the time of this photo the Howensteins were living at Kings Road in the guest apartment. Brandner and Katz would also separately live and communally party at Kings Road. Sachs, Brandner and Katz were also fellow Romanians. 

Continuing to Edith's left is architect Anton Martin Feller who was then working in Frank Lloyd Wright's nearby Harper Ave. studio on the Storer, Ennis, Millard and Freeman House designs and Pauline's sister Dorothy's girlfriend E. Clare Schooler. Feller's wife had just committed suicide three weeks earlier leaving him with a newborn baby. Feller returned with the Wright entourage to Taliesin in 1924 where he met Richard and Dione Neutra before they left to join the Schindlers in Los Angeles. The entire fascinating group would indeed have had much in common to discuss at this historic dinner. (For much more on this see my "R. M. Schindler, Richard Neutra and Louis Sullivan's"Kindergarten Chats").

Betty Katz by Edward Weston, ca. 1920. © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.

Shortly after arriving in Los Angeles the Schindlers met Betty Katz (see above) who was at the time having an affair with Edward Weston whose sons Chandler and Brett were Pauline's students at the Walt Whitman School. (For much more on this see my "The Schindlers and the Westons and the Walt Whitman School").

From Yosemite where she and Rudolph began planning their new home Pauline wrote to her by then intimate friend, and future Kings Road tenant Betty,
"... We return, perhaps at the end of the month, to Los Angeles..and do not go to Japan. Our first immediate work, to build our own studio, -one of the two or three most joyous things in the world to do. I wish we might make it several studios at once, -one for you perhaps, one certainly for Kimmie and Clyde [Chace], since she has such energies to apply toward cooperative housing experiments. Labor and utensils in common, -and much technique of the mere mechanism simplified. When you are well, and permanently in town, -we'll all do something of the sort together if you like..At least as lovely as the Hollywood Hill. You  the Community Kitchen altogether, for us, and for as many more as you please!" 
This stimulating recuperative play of ours out here sets all sorts of music and thinking going within one..I've ideas enough to last us several ways to simplicities.. The important thing is, that this new clarity, these new qualities, should outlast the return to town. ..." (Pauline Schindler to Betty Katz, October 19, 1921. Letter in possession of Betty's great niece Dottie Ickovitz.). (Author's note: Schindler designed two projects for Katz (aka Elisaveta Kopelanoff) in Palm Springs ca. 1930 which were not built).
Herman Sachs and Galka Scheyer, Los Angeles, June 1925. (Baumgartner, Michael and Houstian, Christina, "The Blue Four: Chronology of Events" in The Blue Four: Feininger, Jawlensky, Kandinsky, and Klee in the New World, p. 327).

Sachs was one of the first people fledgling Blue Four art dealer Galka Scheyer met when she arrived in Los Angeles with her traveling companion Gela Archipenko in June 1925. Sachs was then still representing Berlin Dada artist George Grosz thus they became fast friends. They met at the Schindler Kings Road House possibly through a letter of introduction to then Kings Road tenant Richard Neutra from Lyonel Feininger or more likely, Sach's fellow radical friend from his Munich days Paul Klee. (For much more on this see my "Foundations of Los Angeles Modernism: Richard Neutra's Mod Squad").

From left to right, Franz K. Ferenz, Barbara Morgan (kneeling), David Giffen, Ragenhilde Liljedahl (Mrs. Giffen), unknown, unknown, Annita Delano, Richard Neutra, unknown, Harwell Hamilton Harris and Gregory Ain. (E. Merril Owens is one of the three unidentified students). Photo by fellow class-member Willard D. Morgan, early 1929.

Schindler-Sachs mutual friends Annita Delano (above center) and Barbara Morgan (above kneeling), U. C. Southern Branch art teachers, had also befriended Sachs by at least 1924 evidenced by Barbara's lengthy description of Sach's studio in a letter to her then fiance Willard Morgan.
"Herman Sachs showed us some beautiful work at his studio the other night. Books that he had bound in papers he had dyed, pottery figurines, pottery of all kinds and of many glazes which he had made, among them an orange glaze (difficult color to obtain), many batiks of all kinds of designs bold and subtle, and silver ornaments. He had a number of panels of which the design was made with fine stitches of fine woolen threads and another hanging on a wall which was strangely crocheted in the riches[t] gamut of colors. There was a number of dolls fantastically designed caricatures of people he had known. He showed us the manuscripts of three books that are to be published in Germany soon, one on Anatomy, "How to Paint" and one on "Frescoes" (see later below) all with illustrations. Then too there was a huge bookcase filled with rare illustrated art text books, folklore etc. etc. etc. He's an interior decorator and is at present designing the interior of a bank in Santa Ana.  
Thruout seeing these there ran a semi argument Sachs vs. all the rest on American art but we great more understanding. He surely understands the economic system which strangles art. Out of doors we could see a lurid glow in the night sky. He explained that the lumber companies give a discount to these Culver City film companies and doubtless it is the same other places, if the companies burn all of the lumber in a once used set. Accordingly men are hired who do nothing but burn sets. Thrifty and far-sighted business methods!" (Letter from Barbara Johnson to Willard Morgan, September 9, 1924. From the Morgan Archive. Courtesy Lael Morgan.).
Herman Sachs Apartment. Batik wall hanging, area rugs and decorative objects by Sachs, furniture by R. M. Schindler. Photographer unknown. Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection. 

Herman Sachs Apartment, 1826-30 Lucile Ave. - 1809-11 Edgecliffe Ave., Silverlake. R. M. Schindler, architect, 1926-7. Batik wall hanging, area rugs and decorative objects by Sachs, furniture by R. M. Schindler. Photographer and date unknown. Courtesy Stephen Clauser, Arroyo Seco Books, handler of the Napolitano Estate. 

Herman Sachs in his apartment, 1826-30 Lucile Ave. - 1809-11 Edgecliffe Ave., Silverlake. R. M. Schindler, architect, 1926-7. Photographer and date unknown. Courtesy Stephen Clauser, Arroyo Seco Books, handler of the Napolitano Estate. 

The above photo of Herman Sachs in his Schindler-designed apartment relaxing on his Schindler-designed sofa next to the Schindler end table speaks volumes. The batik work is by Sachs and the decorative objects are by erstwhile Sachs apprentice and Schindler client "Johnnie" Napolitano. The curtains are most likely by noted textile designer Maria Kipp (see two below) and Napolitano's wife Emma who worked for Kipp as a weaver. Kipp and Sachs were students together at the Munich School of Applied Arts where Sachs was immersed in German Expressionism in 1918 which is likely where he befriended George Grosz and Paul Klee. Kipp studied there from 1918-20 and again in 1923-4 before moving to Los Angeles with her then husband Ernst Haeckel. Kipp reconnected with Sachs and moved into his new Schindler-designed apartment building at 1809 1/2 Edgecliff Dr. in Silverlake after its completion in 1926 (see below). (Musicant, Marlyn R., Maria Kipp: Autobiography of a Handweaver, Studies in the Decorative Arts, Fall-Winter, 2000-2001, pp. 92-107). 

Herman Sachs Apartments, 1826-30 Lucile Ave. - 1809-11 Edgecliffe Ave., Silverlake.R. M. Schindler, architect, 1926-7.

Freeman House living room with a Sach's batik decorating the wall above the Schindler-designed furniture. Photo by Julius Shulman, Freeman House, Job no. 1512, Getty Research Institute.

Other mutual friends mutual friends of Schindlers and Sachs who decorated with Sachs batiks and Schindler furniture were Sam and Harriet Freeman who commissioned their Hollywood house from Frank Lloyd Wright in 1924(see above). By 1928 Schindler had become the Freeman architect of choice and was commissioned dozens of times over the years for remodeling projects and furniture design assignments. The Freemans also welcomed Galka Scheyer into their Schindler-designed guest apartment and purchased some of her art Blue Four art work for which Schindler also designed the frames (see below for example). (For much more on this see my "Galka Scheyer's Residences in Southern California, 1927-1944").

Freeman House living room with a Jawlensky painting in a Schindler frame above the Schindler-designed table at the lower right. Photo by Julius Shulman, Freeman House, Job no. 1512, Getty Research Institute.

Kipp Residence and Design Studio from 1931 onward. Remodel designed by R. M. Schindler, 1934. Photo from Google Earth.

Kipp's first commercial job was to create the curtains for Schindler's Lovell Beach House (seen earlier above) in Newport Beach in 1926 while working out of her apartment. With their business by then booming, in 1928 Kipp and Haeckel moved into a new building a block away from the Sachs Apartments at 1773 Griffith Park Blvd. After divorcing Haeckel Kipp commissioned Schindler to remodel the building where she continued to live and maintain her design and fabrication studio. (Ibid).

Maria Kipp at her loom, n.d. From Handbook of California Design: 1930-1965, Craftspeople, Designers, Manufacturers edited by Bobbye Tigerman, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, MIT Press, 2011, p. 149. 

Lovell Beach House living room. Curtains by Maria Kipp Haeckel. Photo by Edward Weston, August 2, 1927. Courtesy UC-Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Collections, R. M. Schindler Collection. © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.

Schindler used Kipp textiles in interiors for various clients, most notably curtains in the Lovell Beach House (see above) in 1926. Like he did with Schindler, Sachs collaborated with Kipp on many interior designs including the Los Angeles City Hall Council Chambers for which he designed the ceilings assisted by his then apprentice Napolitano and artist Knud Merrild and Kipp who designed the curtains (see below) and the Title Insurance Building where Kipp painted the interiors of some of the offices. (Ibid). (Thanks to Christopher Long and Caroline Steinberg, archivist the Archiv Akademie der Bild. K√ľnste for the lead and the information regarding Kipp and Sachs's concurrent attendance at the Munich School of Applied Arts.)

Los Angeles City Hall Council Chambers, 1928. From the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

Merle Armitage, ca. 1935. Photo by Sonya Noskowiak. © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.

Napolitano also collaborated on numerous interior design projects and murals with Sachs and illustrated numerous Merle Armitage books. Betty Katz and "Brandy" bought Sachs's apartment building after his death and lived in his personal apartment until they married in 1943 and completed their new "Brandy" designed house a block down the street (see below). The Napolitanos bought most of Sachs's belongings in an auction after his 1940 death which is likely where the batik in the opening photo was acquired. 

Brandner Residence 3701 Landa St., Silverlake. Alexander Brandner, architect. Photo courtesy Dottie Ickovitz.

Maria Kipp Christmas card designed by "Johnny" Napolitano, date unknown. From Napolitano Archive via Steve Clauser, Arroyo Seco Books.

Napolitano also designed Christmas cards for Kipp and others in the Schindler-Weston circle (see above for example).

"Depiction of Lincoln Mural Stirs Controversy," Los Angeles Post Record, March 17, 1934.

It was also through the largess of Armitage, the Regional Director of the Public Works of Art Program, that Napolitano received commissions to create murals under the program's banner. His "The Freeing of the Negroes" was proudly on display in an exhibition of PWAP work at the Los Angeles Museum of Art in Exposition Park in the spring of 1934 (see above). Under the auspices of the program he also completed a fresco panel for the Beverly Hills High School Music Room, an egg tempera mural panel for the George Washington High School Science Building and a sgraffito mural panel for the South Pasadena Junior High School Music Room. Napalitano completed various other murals around Southern California during this prolific period in the 1930s. Napalitano learned all of these mural techniques from Sachs who published a book on the subject in 1927 (see below).

Lehrbuch der Maltechnik by Herman Sachs, Ernst Wasmuth Verlag, Berlin, 1927. (Author's note: Sachs inscribed presentation copies of this book for Maria Kipp and her then husband Ernest Kaeckel and for Pasquale G. Napalitano.) Courtesy antiquarian bookseller Stephen Clauser, Arroyo Seco Books).

Under a veiled racist excuse that Napolitano portrayed Lincoln in a grotesque manner in his "Freeing of the Negroes," Spanish American War Vets successfully lobbied the County Board of Supervisors to have it removed from the exhibition. Armitage also funded murals by Leo Katz and Phillip Goldstein (aka Philip Guston) whose equally "scandalous" work at the Frank Wiggins Trade School also had to be "removed." Pauline Schindler was a champion of Guston's work which she presciently favorably reviewed in the Hollywood John Reed Club newsletter The Partisan in early 1934. (G.[ibling], P.[auline], "Other Local Exhibits," The Partisan, January 1934, p. 6. Stay tuned for an article on Los Angeles Mural Censorship in the 1930's for which I am currently compiling material. For much more on the destruction of the murals of Guston and Reuben Kadish at the hands of the LAPD Red Squad see my "Richard Neutra and the California Art Club").

Phillip Goldstein (aka Philip Guston), 1930. Photo by Edward Weston. © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.

Emma Napolitano, 1935. Photo by Brett Weston.

Brett Weston accepted payment for his above and Napolitano portraits in olive oil from "Johnnie's brother Joseph's Neapolitan Olive Products Company mentioned below.

"Napolitano" by Merle Armitage, 1935. Frontispiece portrait of Pasquale Giovanni "Johnnie" Napolitano by Brett Weston, 1935.

Otis Art Institute Sculpture Class, 1924. Photographer unknown. From Otis web site.

The historic image above of the 1924 sculpture class at Otis Art Institute, then under the directorship of Karl Howenstein, is the earliest photo I have been able to find of Napolitano. He is fourth from left with instructor Harold Swartz at the center. Continuing to the right is Ruth Sowden who wih her husband commissioned Lloyd Wright to design their Franklin Ave. tour de force, Oscar statuette designer George Stanley, Harwell Hamilton Harris close friend and first client Clive Delbridge, and far right, soon-to-be Schindler-Neutra apprentice Harwell Hamilton Harris. Additionally illustrating the amazing connections among this iconic class, Schindler designed an Olive Oil Mill for Napolitano's brother Joseph's Neapolitan Olive Products, Inc. at 676 Clover St. in Los Angeles three years after this photo was taken and shortly after he had completed Sachs's apartment building. (For much more on this class and Karl Howenstein's, Frank Lloyd Wright's, and Louis Sullivan's inspiration for Harris to become an architect see my "California Arts & Architecture: A Steppingstone to Fame:Harwell Hamilton Harris and John Entenza: Two Case Studies"). 

Giovanni Napolitano working on a bust of Nelbert Chouinard, May 1924. From Chouinard: An Art Vision Betrayed by Robert Perine, Artra, 1985, p. 21. Photo courtesy Jim Trout.

Duell, Prentice, "A Note on Batik," California Southland, November 1921, p. 19.

In closing, my article, "The Schindlers and the Hollywood Art Association" includes much more on the above connections including the batik work of mutual Weston-Schindler friends Robo and Tina Modotti Richey. Sachs likely interacted with the Richeys through Jane Reece's Weston-Mather connection during their 1919 visit to Los Angeles. Weston also most likely reconnected with Reece and/or Sachs in Dayton during his late 1922 visit with his sister in Middletown, Ohio. It was during this trip that Weston captured his iconic ARMCO Steel images and continued on to New York for his fateful meeting with Alfred Stieglitz. (For much more on Weston's ARMCO work see my "Brett Weston's Smokestacks and Pylons, 1927." For much on Tina Modotti and Robo's batiks see my "Tina Modotti, Lloyd Wright and Otto Bollman Connections,1920.").