Bauhaus Dressing: Josef Albers Loved a Good Salad Bar

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What do pioneers of twentieth-century modernism eat for lunch? Kentucky Fried Chicken (extra crispy), served on a three-tier hospital-style rolling cart. That was a typical—and presumably finger-lickin’ good—meal at the suburban Connecticut home of Josef and Anni Albers, according to Nicholas Fox Weber, who shared it with them on a fall day in 1970. Weber sheds new light on the life and work of the Alberses, Walter Gropius, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in his forthcoming group biography, The Bauhaus Group (Random House). Among the delicious revelations in the advance excerpt that appears in this month’s issue of ARTnews is that of Josef Albers’ deep appreciation for the salad bar at a Boston chain resturant called the Plank House. “For this,” writes Weber, “there were many reasons”:

The clear plastic domed shield that served the purposes of hygiene while one looked at the produce was…a perfect match of a modern material with multiple goals. The array of salads and condiments thrilled him—especially the pickled beets and the various seeds, which reminded him of some of the tastes and textures of his youth. But what was best of all was the way that the serving bowls and the plates were all kept chilled. He noted particularly how the metal containers retained their coldness even longer than other vessels.

He didn’t just make casual comments about these details; he marveled at them. They reflected an intelligence, a knowledge, and a clarity of thought that had, he told me, been the very essence of what he had tried to impart at the Bauhaus.

Hungry for more? Read the full excerpt here.