is supported, in part, by grants from the Andy Warhol Foundation
for the Visual Arts, the Annenberg Foundation, the Pasadena
Art Alliance, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.
October 13, 2006 – January 7, 2007 Curated by IFF Director Margaret Wertheim
and Norman Brosterman
of us today experienced kindergarten as a loose assortment of playful
activities – a kind of preparatory ground for school proper.
But in its original incarnation kindergarten was a formalized system
that drew its inspiration from the science of crystallography. During
its early years in the nineteenth century, kindergarten was based
around a system of abstract exercises that aimed to instill in young
children an understanding of the mathematically generated logic
underlying the ebb and flow of creation. This revolutionary system
was developed by the German scientist Friedrich Froebel whose vision
of childhood education changed the course of our culture laying
the grounds for modernist art, architecture and design. Le Corbusier,
Frank Lloyd Wright and Buckminster Fuller are all documented attendees
of kindergarten. Other “form-givers” of the modern era
– including Piet Mondrian, Wassily Kandinsky and Georges Braque
– were educated in an environment permeated with Frobelian
Froebel believed that education of the very young would enable the
flowering of human potential. “By education,” he declared,
“the divine essence of man should be unfolded, brought out,
lifted into consciousness.” Froebel’s insights would
expand the minds not just of children, but also of their teachers.
Denied access to universities, women of intellect were also yearning
for mental stimulation and Froebel’s system provided an outlet
of expression for hundreds of thousands of women around the world
who flocked to become kindergarten teachers. Among them was Anna
Wright, mother of the future architect. From the world of early
kindergarten it is largely the teacher’s output that has been
preserved and in this remarkable body of work we witness the stirrings
of a new era. Mostly created in the late nineteenth century, the
objects on displayed in this exhibition prefigure the aesthetic
upheavals of the following century. As kindergarten scholar and
collector Norman Brosterman has proposed, in the work undertaken
by “kindergartners” we may locate the seed-bed of modern
Inventing Kindergarten surveys rare objects and artifacts from the
collection of Norman Brosterman, Froebel scholar and author of the
book Inventing Kindergarten.
- On Friday October 13, 5pm, join Wertheim and Brosterman for
walk-through talk about the show.
- A catalog booklet about the exhibition with an essay by Wertheim
available on site.
For further information about the kindergarten system see the Institute
For Figuring’s Online
intricate paper weaving workbook by Ms. F. Wegerich, Germany, c.
1880. Very fine strips of paper woven into complex patterns- 19th
century predecessors to the digital revolution.
This exhibition is supported, in part, by grants from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Annenberg Foundation, the Pasadena Art Alliance, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.