Jan and Cora Gordon with Luise and Heinrich Fürmann in pre-WW1 Munich

Jan and Cora Gordon remembered their pre-WW1 time in Munich upon meeting, in 1927, a tattoed German performer at Coney Island. Cora Gordon much later (1950) wrote about those days as follows,

"The Pension Fürmann was then famous as the abode of the liveliest and most impoverished students, sub-editors, teachers and cranks of the city [Dering 1998]. Fürmann, a fatherly man with a kind eye and a formidable chin, had in his youth emigrated to America. On returning he inherited a small farm situated in the bohemian and formerly outlying part of the town. He added to the building and for three marks (2s. 6d.) a day you got a room and excellent board with high jinks and dancing on Saturday evenings. Once a month we paid two marks each towards the fee of a little peasant dance orchestra and also enjoyed a barrel of beer in the kitchen."

"Those monthly balls were treated by us as great occasions for which we designed fancy dresses and made quite elaborate decorations."

In the account told in "On Wandering Wheels"(1929),  the German "professional wild man", as a supper companion of the Gordons and their friends at the "Künstlerpension Fürmann" one evening, found his family values offended by this German Bohemia; "the mountebank was shocked."

Cora Gordon remembered the friendly send-off after a year of study at 57 Belgradstrasse. "... after studying for a year in Munich, we were seen off by thirty-five student friends who sang to us as the train moved out. We had no idea that thirty-five presents, including some boxes of cigarettes had been surreptitiously stowed on the rack behind our luggage." Jan and Cora were later horrified after they had nonchalantly passed customs and subsequently discovered their gifts.

The creative talents ("Art students, decorators, poets, philosophers, doctors of law and science, even a rapscallion Dalmatian priest") who had attended the pension with the Gordons are discussed here. They included Rhoda Rhoda the columnist; Expressionist writer and poet Albert Michel (1877-1915), who was killed on the Western Front in June 1915; the Bulgarian Jules Pascin (1885-1930), then an illustrator on Jugend, a friend of Modigliani who later committed suicide in Paris; and Bertram Hartman (1882-1960) who later returned to New York where he became known for landscapes and scenes of New York City.

The Gordons did a mock "Salon des Independants" for their colleagues at the pension, using cheap tempera mixtures (a favourite medium of Jan Gordon in a later series of paintings in London) and huge rolls of canvas paper. They took two days to paint nineteen "big and ridiculous pseudo modern pictures, painted with our tongues in our cheeks - fauves, cubist and futurist and any other 'isms that we had seen but had not yet understood." An English lady who attended the show, unaware that the Gordons were the culprits, begged them "as decent English people to make a firm stand against such atrocities."

- Gordon, G.J. and C.J. 1929. On Wandering Wheels. John Lane the Bodley Head Ltd.
- Gordon, C.J. 1950. The Artist as a Traveller. In: Michael, M.A. Ed, Traveller's Quest, pp. 127-147. William Hodge and Company, London.
- Dering, Florian: Die Pension Fürmann, in: Bauer, Helmut u. Elisabeth Tworek (Hrsg.): Schwabing. Kunst und Leben um 1900. München 1998, S.85-91


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