by Dean Schwarz
This is a new, revealing book about the psychological life of a well-known French-born American potter named Marguerite Wildenhain, who was one of the
first students at the Weimar Bauhaus. One of the major reasons for the book's significance is that virtually everything in it has not been previously
published. As the Nazis came to power, Wildenhain (a French citizen, of Jewish ancestry) was forced to move from Germany to Holland and then, in 1940,
to the U.S., but her husband (a German citizen) was denied a visa. As a result, the Wildenhains were physically separated for seven years, and, during
the first months of that period, had no contact of any kind. So Marguerite did not know her husband's whereabouts, nor even if he had survived (as
it turned out, he had been forced to join the German Army). During part of that time (especially as she traveled slowly across the U.S., en route to
California), she made drawings and letter-like entries to Franz in a diary of sorts.
This book is the first publication of those pages, with her text translated into English. Throughout, her words are supplemented by wonderfully rich illustrations
(vintage drawings and photographs, examples of her pottery, specimens from their rock collection, and a suite of commemorative woodblock prints by
Luther's David Kamm). A conspicuous highlight is a stunning sepia photograph of a beautiful and exquisitely dressed Marguerite in 1929. The richness
of her diary is largely because of her candor in describing what and who she meets. Artists, designers, art historians, women's studies scholars, and
historians in general will find this book of value. In addition, any readers who have been in love, or married to someone from whom they've become
separated, for whatever reason, should find themselves drawn into the painful details of the text.