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Lecture and Concert in the German Consulate of New York City

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Lecture/Concert in NYC


Weary Blues

Synaesthesia and Music in the Oeuvre of Winold Reiss between Munich and New York


 Lecture and Concert by

Prof. Frank Mehring (Nijmegen) and pianist Jens Barnieck (Wiesbaden)

Including drawings, sketches, letters, and photos by Winold Reiss


October 25, 2012

The Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Gemany

871 United Nations Plaza

6 pm


German pianist, Jens Barnieck, and Frank Mehring, Professor for American and Cultural Studies at Radboud University in Nijmegen, The Netherlands will reintroduce the multifaceted artistic personality and oeuvre of German-American painter Winold Reiss (1886-1953) in a multimedia evening,combining an introductory talk, images, poems and a concert performance.

Born in Karlsruhe, Germany, Winold Reiss studied in Munich with the renowned artists and teachers Franz von Stuck and Julius Diez. Reiss arrived in the US in 1913, shortly before the outbreak of WWI, and eventually emerged as an influential figure in modernist aesthetics and transatlantic encounters during the 1920s and ‘30s. He established his own art school and design studio in New York City's Greenwich Village, co-founded the art magazine Modern Art Collector and became known for his graphic design as well as for his portrait drawings. His work was widely exhibited, and appeared in publications such as Scribner's Magazine, Century Magazine, The Forum and The Survey Graphic.

He collaborated with leading artists and intellectuals including Katherine Anne Porter, Paul Kellogg, Miguel Covarrubias, Alain Locke, and Langston Hughes. Among his students were Aaron Douglas, the African American key figure of the visual Harlem Renaissance. In addition to teaching in his own art school in New York City and conducting summer schools in Woodstock, New York and later in Glacier Park, Montana, he also taught at the New York School of Applied Design for Women, at the Keramic Society and Design Guild of New York, and at New York University's School of Architecture. His work in commercial architecture and interior design include his New York City restaurant interiors for Crillon and Longchamps and his mosaic murals in the Cincinnati Union Terminal.

Reiss painted portraits of many of the musicians of his time, including Sergei Rachmaninoff, Alfred Cortot or Dane Rudhyar, to name but a few, and he experimented with synaesthetic techniques in drawing. Many of Reiss’s images have a musical element encoded in their structure, which renders them particularly relevant for repositioning the “New Negro” movement both within and beyond the contact zones of the new media. The famous title of Langston Hughes’s poem, “The Weary Blues,” may be a reference both to the power of synaesthesia (the ability to hear colors and see music) and the function of color in the “New Negro” project of racial uplift. The evening’s musical program will include jazz and classical works from the 20th century, including Professor Mehring’s own piece,“The Weary Blues”, which was inspired by Langston Hughe’s poem of the same name. 

Link to the Internet Announcement of German Missions in the United States