“A Pure Artist Working for the Good of the Cause”: The Creative Endeavors of Henry H. H. Remak

Henry H. H. Remak as "Servant Henry," 1997

Today, I came to an alarming realization – I have been working on the papers of Professor Emeritus Henry H. H. Remak (1916-2009) for almost exactly a year!  During that time I truly feel that I have come to know this professor-extraordinaire, a man who spent almost sixty years at Indiana University teaching, administering, and being a delightful friend and mentor to those who knew him.  The most recent update I have to offer you – in this, my 9th, processing blog about the Remak collection – is that the teaching files have been arranged!  Contained within this 12-box series are the course materials from over 60 courses that Remak taught at IU in the Departments of Germanic Studies, West European Studies, Comparative Literature, and Honors.  This series also contains correspondence between Remak and many of his former students, as well as student papers and autobiographies.  In addition, there are files on several of Remak’s visiting professorships, including the Fulbright Award he received in 1962, which enabled him to conduct a course on Faust at the University of Lille in France.

A personal poem by Remak, 1997

Through my blog posts over this past year, I have attempted to highlight some of the most fascinating, interesting, even touching aspects of this man’s life and work as viewed through his personal and professional papers. In doing so, I have often focused on Remak’s remarkable talents as a teacher, but for this post I’d like to focus on something a bit different and share with you two lesser known facts about Professor Remak.  The first is that Remak was a poet, not just at heart but in practice.  He would often author short compositions to honor a colleague’s accomplishments or in the event of a retirement or death.  Included in the collection here at the IU Archives are poems written to colleagues Dan Zaffarano, Charles Jelavich, and Paul Gebhard.  Remak even attempted to have one of his poems published – a lament written in 1965 for politician Adlai Stevenson.

The second lesser known fact is that Remak took great pleasure in yet another creative endeavor – acting.  During his tenure at IU, he appeared in a total of seven IU operas, the last of these being the 1997 IU Opera & Ballet Theater’s production of La Traviata.  From Vice Chancellor and Dean of Faculties and Director of the Institute for Advanced Study to the ever-humble “Servant Henry,” Remak was absolutely delighted to join the cast.  Did “Servant Henry” sing, you might be wondering?  Unfortunately, no – a decision, which Henry jokingly assesses as: “‘very narrow-minded of them.'”  When asked about his experience during an interview for the Indiana Alumni Magazine, Professor Remak reflects:

I was engaged as one of four waiters.  Then we were upgraded to four butlers.  And then, in the second week of rehearsals, the stage manager upgraded me to head butler.  So I told my university colleagues, ‘It took me a week to get promoted in the opera, and look how long it took me to get promoted in the university.’

Contained within the collection are clippings about the opera, programs, rehearsal schedules, photos, and detailed descriptions of “Servant Henry’s” duties.  In a mischievous caption added to his “Rehearsal Schedule for Supernumeraries,” he underlines the term supernumeraries (i.e. extras) and writes: “that means: way above any other opera participants.”  At the bottom of the page, in his characteristically witty fashion, he adds:

Puschi – PLEASE tell the Press and TV  as well as Radio that I will not give any interviews about my skyrocketing career because I am a pure artist working for the good of the cause, not for  fame. – Henri Remac (please note my real – my artistic – name).

From browsing these files, it is apparent that Professor Remak – or Henri Remac, if you will – put forth as much care and devotion into performing as an extra in the opera or composing a few lines for a friend, as he did into his professional activities.  Perceiving Henry Remak as an aspiring actor and poet, as well as a teacher and scholar adds yet another layer of enjoyment to this rich and multifaceted collection.  Please do not hesitate to contact us at the IU Archives if you are interested in learning more about the Remak collection.

New! Martha McCarthy papers, 1976-2011

 Women’s History Month is an excellent time to highlight the recently processed collection of Dr. Martha McCarthy, Chancellor’s Professor Emerita of Education Leadership and Policy Studies at Indiana University. Dr. McCarthy began her career at Indiana University as Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in 1975 and after a long and prestigious career retired in 2011.
In 1978, she served as the Project Director of a team leading to the creation and implementation of a workshop and training program for the Equity for Women in Higher Education Project sponsored by the University Council for Educational Administration. The project included a one-day workshop, the goal of which was to enhance women’s equity in education.
The program was the result of a two-year grant from the staff of the Women’s Educational Equity Act to develop six training modules in hopes that they would be incorporated into university courses.

 The training materials state that, “The serious female academic confronts sexual barriers at every phase of her career, beginning with formal and informal socialization processes before she enters an institution of higher education and continuing even as she rises to a successful position in her field.” In order to combat these issues, Dr. McCarthy was responsible for creating an “Equity Goal Ranking Process” which sought to create a plan of priorities for raising awareness and creating solutions for gender inequalities in higher education. She also helped to create a casebook of reality-based scenarios about issues of discrimination faced by women in higher education. Audio tapes and slide tapes of these case studies are available in the Martha McCarthy papers in the University Archives.

The “Equity Goal Ranking Process” consists of a set of activities designed to help participants identify equity issues of major concern and devise strategies for attaining top  priority goals that could then be used in reviewing institutional policies, programs, and resource allocation. Examples of some of these equity goals include the following: “Establish salary, promotion and tenure policies that ensure equal treatment of women;” “Revise course content, class activities and student support services to eliminate sex bias;” “Develop objective policies to ensure equitable working conditions for women;” and “Provide training experiences to sensitize personnel to equity issues and existing discriminatory practices.”

Training materials also include suggestions for using the Equity Goal Rankings and Case Studies in a university course, with ideas for incorporating them into a semester-long course to create awareness of gender-based equity issues and devise strategies for eliminating biases.

Appendices includes information about conferences dealing with equity issues, opinionnaires, and pre- and post-evaluation forms.

As always, please contact the IU Archives to view the collection!

Henry H. H. Remak as Administrator – or as he put it – “a Lamb in Lamb’s Clothing”

Remak in his IAS office, 1992

Since May of 2011 I have been processing the professional papers of Henry H. H. Remak (1916 – 2009) who served Indiana University as a devoted professor, scholar and – at various points – administrator. At the end of last semester, I finished sorting this 108-box collection into groups of related materials – or series – based on Remak’s various roles at IU. This semester my work has begun on arranging and organizing each series. Last week, I finished arranging the administrative series, which highlights Remak’s diverse leadership roles. He served as chairman not only for one, but for three departments on campus – Germanic Studies (1962), Comparative Literature (1954-1963, intermittently) and West European Studies (1966-1969). Remak also served as Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Faculties (1969-1974), as well as Director of the Institute for Advanced Study(1988-1994, 1997-1998). While files from each of these diverse roles are included in the collection, for this post I’ll be focusing on Remak’s term as director of the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS).

IAS was founded in 1982 with the goal of bringing distinguished lecturers and visitors from all over the world to Bloomington in order to pursue their research and collaborate with IU faculty and students. Composer Leonard Bernstein, author Ursula K. Le Guin, and anthropologist Sir Edmund R. Leach are just a few of the noteworthy individuals that IAS has brought to IU in past years.

Remak with IAS fellow, Toru Haga, 1991

In 1988, when Remak assumed directorship of the Institute, he had already retired once. Yet, at the ripe, young age of 72 Remak was still teaching. He was also still active in his research, so what would stop him from directing “Indiana University’s leading center for the pursuit of new knowledge and new directions of inquiry in all fields of study” (Institute for Advanced Study)? In one of his “memos to fellow faculty members” – which were, without fail, characteristically enthusiastic, charming and rather lengthy – Professor Remak reassured his colleagues that he came to them “as a lamb in lamb’s clothing.” He went on to explain that his objectives were to “serve” the research needs of IU’s faculty and students, as well as “re-personalize” faculty interactions “in a university whose size and universality are great assets behind which lurks the danger of becoming a well-run bureaucracy where process is smothering substance.” During his tenure as director, Professor Remak certainly followed through with these promises by contributing to the Institute’s prolific list of fellows and visiting scholars.

Remak with Ivona Hedin of IAS and IAS fellow, Toshie Kawamoto, 1992

In 1989, Remak welcomed world-renowned semiotician, historian, and fiction author – Umberto Eco – to the Institute. In 1994 two-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize and spokeswoman for the Chinese Democracy Movement – Chai Ling – came to IU thanks to the Institute. Leading European chemist Lord Lewis of Newnham and Sergei Denisov, who won the prestigious Lenin Prize in Physics, are just two more examples of the high-caliber scholars that Professor Remak helped bring to IU for the benefit of faculty and students alike. While I have just listed some “big” names to give you a small sample of what kinds of fellows the Institute was able to procure, as Remak noted:

The Institute for Advanced Study stands for more than bringing ‘big shots’ to Indiana University for ephemeral headlines. We have had our share of Nobel Prize winners and other celebrities (and that is fine), but we have also had “Assistant Lecturers” and “Resident Tutors.” Titles don’t matter. What matters is the quality of thinking and how it may contribute to Indiana University.

In 1994, Henry H. H. Remak retired from directing the Institute for Advanced Study. However, it would seem that Professor Remak had quite a flexible interpretation of the term retired. In 1997 he came back to the Institute in full swing and served as Interim Director for one more year. As gratitude for his many contributions as director, in 1994 the Remak Distinguished Scholarship award was set up in his honor. Additionally, in 1991 various IAS fellows contributed to a Liber Amicorum (a book compiled to honor a respected academic while they are still living) not only to thank Remak for his contributions to IAS but to mark the occasion of his 75th birthday.

As always, Remak did his job not just as a job but as a privilege that he undertook with skill, amiability and contagious enthusiasm.

Processing Blog #7: The Henry H. H. Remak Collection

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an update on the Henry H. H. Remak Collection. The fall semester is now behind us, and I’m happy to say that I have almost completed a first run through. My processing on this collection began back in April and since then, I have sorted through 99 boxes of materials and have only 9 more to go!

Up to this point I have sorted the files into various series: administrative files; teaching files; editorial files; research and publications; professional associations and activities; and correspondence. More recently, I’ve had to start sorting by decade, as many of the records came to us out of folders and without any clear organization. Over the last month, I’ve come across quite a few files, mostly correspondence, pertaining to Remak’s tenure as vice-chancellor and dean of faculties from 1969-1974. Also, if you are interested in Henry Remak’s research in comparative literature, a multitude of research notes will soon be available for you to peruse.

My work is far from over, but I hope to have this collection researcher-friendly by next fall. In the meantime, I’ll continue to keep you posted!

David Roland Smith

David Smith working on Sitting Printer, 1954. Photograph by the artist, taken at his workshop in Bolton Landing, New York.

I recently had the opportunity to delve a little deeper and learn about a famous sculptor who taught at Indiana University for the academic year of 1954-1955.  David Roland Smith came to I.U. to temporarily replace full-time Professor of Sculpture Robert Laurent who was on sabbatical serving as an artist-in-residence at the American Academy in Room and at the same time conceptualizing the early designs for IU’s Showalter Fountain.  In May 1954, Henry Hope, Director of the School of Fine Arts, confirmed the arrival of Smith and welcomed him to I.U.  During spring 1954 and fall of 1955 Smith taught multiple classes including First Year Sculpture I & II, Second Year Sculpture I & II, and a Graduate Sculpture course. Shortly after arriving in Bloomington, Smith rushed off to Venice, Italy as the United States delegate to the International Conference on Plastic Arts.  His sculptures were also included in the International Biennial Exhibition of Art which preceded the conference in Venice. 

Indiana Daily Student, September 28, 1954 - Smith travels to Italy for International Art conference

Now you may be wondering who is this Smith guy and how did he achieve this level of success?  Smith began his training at the Cleveland Art School while still in high school.  After graduation he studied at Ohio University for a year and quickly moved to Notre Dame University, where he would only stay for a short time. During summer breaks he spent his time working at the Studebaker automobile factory in South Bend, Indiana where he began honing his skills as a riveter as well as soldering and spot-welding.

David Smith, Construction in Rectangles, 1955, steel painted, 78 x 10 7/8 x 10 1/2 inches. Private collection. Created while Smith was at I.U.

By 1927 Smith ventured off to Washington, D.C. and then New York City where he met Dorothy Dehner, a young painter studying at the Art Students League (ASL). By December of that year they were married. From 1927-1932 Smith studied at the ASL under many artists including the American realist painter John Sloan, drawing instructor Kimon Nicolaides and Czech modernist painter Jan Matulka.

After more traveling and a variety of jobs, Smith and Dehner finally bought a fixer-upper in upstate NY where they would spend the next decade.  Along the way Smith continued to travel, meet more artists, and became very interested in combining constructed forms and paintings.  Smith continued to blossom as an artist by expanding and using a wide array of mediums including: wood, wire, stone, aluminum rods, soldered materials and – my favorite – “found” materials, all the while slowly building his art studio which became known as Terminal Iron Works.  By the time Smith arrived at I.U. in 1954 he had already produced a multitude of pieces and participated in a wide array of exhibits.

Indiana Daily Student, September 28, 1954 - Midwestern Art Conference held at I.U., October 28-30, 1954

Although Smith was only at I.U. for a brief time he continued to create art work and even participated in the Midwestern College Art Conference held at I.U. in October 1954.  Smith exhibited 13 sculptures and his 15 “medals for dishonor” at the conference.  His medals were cast before World War II and depict the horrors of war.  He said he got the idea for the “medals” from German war medallions that were used for propaganda during the war.  Check the medals out for yourself here.

After his time was up at I.U. he continued to travel the world and create, up until his tragic death in 1965.  To learn more about David Smith and his art work check out the David Smith Estate.

"David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy," installation view of exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art until January 8, 2011. Left to right: Tanktotem VII, 1960, Construction in Rectangles, and Circle IV, 1962 (all: painted steel). Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson

To see more of David Smith’s work in person you can visit the exhibition David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy, currently on view at the Whitney Musuem of American Art through January 8, 2012.

"David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy," installation view of exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art until January 8, 2012. Left to right: Cubi XXI, 1964, anc Cubi I, 1963 (both stainless steel). Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.