A table in Tholonet

The Marchutz Tapes — Reflections on Art

— Repas au Tholonet (1936), from the album Château-Noir 1933-1937, Ed. Atelier 48 BIS

On a warm summer evening in early July, 2019, a group of nearly 20 people gathered for dinner at a large outdoor table in Tholonet. Brought together by their commitment to the legacy of Leo Marchutz, they represented nearly four generations of history with the Marchutz School, including current and former students, faculty, and well-wishers.

The conversation was lively and varied, skipping from philosophy of art to the challenges of maintaining a studio practice, from fine points of educational theory to the question of Leo Marchutz’s place in the history of modern art. In other words, it really wasn’t so different from the conversations we might have had nearly 50 years ago when the German-born artist was still alive.

We’ve begun this blog as a way of acquainting readers with a recently transcribed set of interviews between Leo Marchutz and his students recorded on cassette tape between 1974 and 1976. Each post contains a brief extract from these transcriptions selected by someone with a strong interest in Marchutz and his theories about art.

Through Faults and Errors

Leo Marchutz underlines the practice of learning through vision and how visually studying works of art by the great masters is an essential lesson students use to navigate through the art world.

Man I Can Hear It

In this excerpt, Leo Marchutz speaks to a question that seems particularly relevant in our present world — what's the purpose and value of art-making in the face of dire social, political and environmental crisis.

The Marchutz Tapes

“We came with a tape recorder with the dual intention of documenting Leo’s voice and his art-related wisdom and at the same time trying to lift his spirits, if only for an hour or two.

To remember Leo as he was then is to remember the wisdom he so unselfishly imparted. It is to remember not only what he said, but how he said it.”

Extract from Leo & I and the Ghost of Cézanne: A Memory of Art and Provence, by William M. Weyman (Daedalus Gallery)

Sam Bjorklund and William Weyman (1978)
Co-founders of the Leo Marchutz School of Painting and Drawing and originators of The Marchutz Tapes.

A Table in Tuebingen

Leo Marchutz's characters or mountains or architecture are fluid, moving open volumes, totally connected with the outside, interwoven with the space they breath. In Leo Marchutz's work, inside and outside are One.

I Copy The Masters to Find My Place

Copywork is more than a way to practice the techniques of master painters of the past. At the Marchutz School, it is how students find their place in the tradition of art and begin to assert themselves as artists.

Newness and Tradition

The study of past artists was of great importance to Leo Marchutz and his students, and many of their conversations centered around the ways in which their own work could be bettered by contact with great works of the past.

On Light and Shadows

When Leo Marchutz was in his early 20's, he spent eight months in Italy, between November 1924 and June 1925. Verona, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Naples… The trip ended with a stay in Capri, where Marchutz made a series of heads.

The Question of Sacrifice

In the following excerpt from “The Marchutz Tapes”, Leo Marchutz describes his experience of drawing in the streets of Aix-en-Provence. It is intriguing to discover how Leo Marchutz began his drawings of Aix. As a student, I have taken inspiration from Marchutz’s thoughts on drawing, of what is important, and how to make sacrifices along the way.

What is Important

Leo Marchutz created, over time, drawings and lithographs of streets... as he said “the street ones are all along the way”. First in Aix and then later on in Venice he drew and made lithographs of the streets.
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