Ingeborg Lauterstein, “Portrait of Sewell Sillman,” c. 1948-49. Oil on masonite. Courtesy of The Johnson Collection.
Ingeborg Lauterstein (Student 1948-1949) (b.1923-d.2012)
Ingeborg Lauterstein, known as Inga, was born in Vienna, Austria, and lived there during Hitler’s rise to power, an experience she channeled into her novels The Water Castle, Vienna Girl, and Shoreland. She studied Art and earned a D.A. from the Glasgow School of Art.
In Austria, she studied at Salzburg with Oskar Kokoschka. She came to the United States to attend Black Mountain College where she studied with Josef Albers and Charles Olson. She credits Olson with giving her the permission to claim herself as a writer. Later, Lauterstein studied writing with Caroline Gordon and Margaret Young at the New School in New York City. She married Lincoln Lauterstein, an attorney for the Metropolitan Opera, and had one son. Inga’s wedding dress was designed by fellow BMC student Robert Rauschenberg.
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“Black Mountain College remains the safest place I have ever known. It was far removed from political events, war, threat of invasion and more war. Students and faculty had constructed the study building, which shimmered by our lake as though it might drift away. Snapping turtles sunned themselves on rocks. I hiked through the North Carolina woods with old Professor Dehn, the German mathematician and philosopher who came from Harvard University to lecture to us. He showed me wild orchids I had never seen before, as well as snakes and a bear near a waterfall.
In spite of unavoidable conflict in a democratic setting, Europeans who had come away from danger had a special need to keep a safe, orderly community. Several students had been there for eight or nine years when I arrived. Even the Josef Albers paintings seemed to me carefully and geometrically designed. Closer to science than art.”