Bauhaus was an influential art and design movement that began in 1919 in Weimar, Germany. The movement encouraged teachers and students to pursue their crafts together in design studios and workshops. The school moved to Dessau in 1925 and then to Berlin in 1932, after which Bauhaus—under constant harassment by the Nazis—finally closed. The Bauhaus movement championed a geometric, abstract style featuring little sentiment or emotion and no historical nods, and its aesthetic continues to influence architects, designers and artists.

Walter Gropius

The Weimar school founded by architect Walter Gropius in 1919 was inspired by Expressionist art and the work of architect Frank Lloyd Wright and designer William Morris. Its creators believed in bringing artists and craftspeople together for a utopian purpose.

Under the leadership of Gropius, the Bauhaus movement made no special distinction between the applied and fine arts. Painting, typography, architecture, textile design, furniture-making, theater design, stained glass, woodworking, metalworking—these all found a place there.

The Bauhaus style of architecture featured rigid angles of glass, masonry and steel, together creating patterns and resulting in buildings that some historians characterize as looking as if no human had a hand in their creation. These austere aesthetics favored function and mass production, and were influential in the worldwide redesign of everyday buildings that did not hint at any class structure or hierarchy.

Gropius remained as director for nine years and steered the Bauhaus school into developing a cohesive style, though that was not his original intention. Starting in 1925, Gropius oversaw the school’s move to Dessau, allowing the opportunity for the principles of Bauhaus to manifest in the school’s physical space. Gropius designed the Bauhaus Building and several other buildings for the new campus.

Fine art became a major offering at the school in 1927 with a free painting class offered by Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. Instruction focused less on function (like so many Bauhaus offerings) and more on abstraction. Expressionism and Futurism would have a noticeable influence on the art produced in the school alongside its specific style of geometric design that at times resembled Cubism.

Paul Klee

Paul Klee joined the school’s faculty in 1920, bringing with him a fascination with the art and artistic processes of non-Western cultures and children that he melded with a geometric, often scientific approach to abstract painting. His tenure at Bauhaus saw him create works that are lauded for their poetry and humor, as with his 1922 painting, Dance, Monster, to My Soft Song!

Klee left the Bauhaus in 1931 and died in 1940. Surrealist painters Joan Miró and Andre Masson credit Klee as a major influence on their work.

Wassily Kandinsky

Painter Wassily Kandinsky began teaching in 1922. Turning his back on representational art, Kandinsky embraced what he saw as the spiritual qualities of color and form.

During his tenure at Bauhaus, Kandinsky’s work became more focused on abstract shapes and lines, as displayed in his 1923 painting Composition VIII. Kandinsky remained with the school until its closing.

László Moholy-Nagy

Hungarian artist László Moholy-Nagy arrived at the school in 1923 to teach preliminary classes and run a metal workshop, but his real passion was for photography.

Moholy-Nagy was known for darkroom experimentation, utilizing photograms and exploring light to create abstract elements through distortion, shadow and skewed lines, similar to the works of Man Ray though conceived separately from them.

Moholy-Nagy also created sculptures such as his kinetic light and motion machines called “light modulators,” and abstract, geometrical paintings.

Oskar Schlemmer

Oskar Schlemmer taught at the school from 1920 to 1929, specializing in design, sculpture and murals, but preferring to pursue theater. He was appointed the school’s director of theater activities in 1923 and created an experimental theater workshop in 1925.

Schlemmer was known for focusing all his disciplines on the human body. His most famous work, 1922’s The Triadic Ballet, Schlemmer transformed his dancers in kinetic sculptures by costuming them in geometric shapes made from metal, cardboard and wood.

Joseph Albers

Joseph Albers is best known during his time in the Bauhaus school for his glass pictures in 1928, which utilized glass fragments. His process consisted of sandblasting the glass, painting it in thin layers and baking in a kiln to create a glowing surface. His most famous work of the Bauhaus era is a glass painting from 1928, City.

Albers was appointed to the teaching staff in 1923 before he had even completed his courses at the school. He began in the glass painting workshop and taught furniture design, drawing and lettering.

His wife Annie Albers studied weaving at the Bauhaus, a choice due to her frailty (caused by Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease). Often mentioned as the most important textile artist of the 20th century, her efforts entered the realm of abstract art with her wall hangings—she even created new textiles.

Other notable students include Marcel Breuer, who designed the Whitney Museum; Wilhelm Wagenfeld, a designer renowned for his household products; Master potter Otto Lindig; and furniture designer Erich Dieckmann.

Mies van der Rohe

In 1928, Swiss architect Hannes Mayer took over from Gropius, but his tenure was a troubled one, with student-teacher ratios becoming a big problem for the school and various disputes with Communist students and anti-Communist faculty members. He was dismissed in 1930.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was considered the top architect in Germany when he was tapped by Gropius to take over as school director that same year.

Under his leadership, the school moved during a struggle for survival with Germany’s ever-encroaching National Socialist Party, whose interference demanded experimental work be toned down as it seized control of the school.

End of the Bauhaus

Mies van der Rohe’s solution to Nazi intervention in the school was to move it to an empty telephone factory in Berlin and designate it a private institution. But the National Socialists continued to harass the school, attacking what the Nazis perceived as a Soviet Communist ideology and demanding that Nazi sympathizers replace select faculty members.

The faculty flatly refused to work with the Nazis, and rather than cooperate with them, the school was closed in 1933 by the faculty’s vote.

Following this decision, Mies van der Rohe, Gropius, the Albers and many others within the Bauhaus school fled to the United States, where they continued to have a profound and lasting influence on 20th-century art and design.


Meggs’ History of Graphic Design. Philip B. Meggs and Alston W. Purvis.
History of Modern Art. H.H. Arnason and Marla F. Prather.
Bauhaus 1919 – 1933. Michael Siebenbrodt and Lutz Schobe
The Bauhaus Group: Six Masters of Modernism. Nicholas Fox Weber.
Art in Time: A World History of Styles and Movements. Phaidon.

Bauhaus - History and Concepts

The Bauhaus, named after a German word meaning "house of building", was founded in 1919 in Weimar, Germany by the architect Walter Gropius. In 1915 he had taken over the Grand-Ducal Saxon School of Arts and Crafts, and it was through the merger of this institution four years later with the Weimar Academy of Fine Art that the radical new design school was formed. In conceptual terms, the Bauhaus emerged out of late-19 th -century desires to reunite fine and applied art, to push back against the mechanization of creativity, and to reform education. At the same time, the development of Russian Constructivism in the 1910s provided a more immediate and stylistically apposite precedent for the Bauhaus's merging of artistic and technical design. When the Bauhaus opened its doors in 1920, however, it was a sign of its debt to the aesthetic fashions of the previous decades it took up residence in the former sculpture studio of the Grand-Ducal Saxon School, designed in the Art Nouveau style by the school's penultimate director Henry van de Velde .

Gropius called for the school to show a new respect for craft and practical technique, suggesting a return to the attitudes towards art and craft that had characterized the medieval age. He envisioned the Bauhaus as encompassing the full totality of artistic media, including fine art, industrial design, graphic design, typography, interior design, and architecture.

How Bauhaus Redefined What Design Could Do for Society

Bauhaus encapsulated everything the design movement stood for, bringing arts, crafts and industry together to form a single masterpiece. It would be an understatement to say that the current state of the graphic design industry and architecture design owes a lot to the Bauhaus movement. The movement sought to embrace the 20th century in a way that allowed basic necessities like buildings, furniture, and design, to be completed in a more functional yet effective way. The Bauhaus belief ties in the artist and the craftsman, and focuses on the productivity of design as a whole. Bauhaus’ vision was to embrace the new technological developments unifying art, craft, and technology. With many design movements throughout our history, the outcomes can appear to be outdated over time. In contrast, the Bauhaus philosophy has had a constant influence on all forms of design. This movement has impacted everything from design and typography to furniture and buildings and has influenced countless designers and architects worldwide through the decades. 100 years later, and the Bauhaus principles, trends and designs still hold true. The Bauhaus can still be experienced in many places throughout the US and around the world.

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Meyer soon found himself under pressure from the government for his political views, and he resigned from his post in 1930. He was replaced by Mies van der Rohe, who placed a greater emphasis on architecture in the school’s curriculum.

In 1932, National Socialists voted to close the Bauhaus in Dessau. Mies van der Rohe moved the school to Berlin, operating out of a former factory building. But he, too, began facing pressure from the Nazis and closed the school entirely in 1933.

photo by: airbus777/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Walter Gropius was one of the designers of the MetLife Building (originally called the PanAm Building) in New York City. The 59-story skyscraper was completed in 1963.

During the years surrounding World War II, many of the Bauhaus instructors fled Germany, and many of them came to the United States, where they continued to espouse the school’s teachings and philosophies. The school was the subject a major Bauhaus exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1938, Bauhaus 1919-28.

Gropius began teaching at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard. He went on to design a home for himself in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and in 1950, his firm, The Architects Collaborative, completed a complex of dorms and study areas at Harvard called The Graduate Center. He also designed the PanAm Building, now called the MetLife Building, in New York City, which was completed in 1963, and the John F. Kennedy Federal Building in Boston, which was completed in 1966.

photo by: David Wilson/Flickr/CC BY-2.0

In 1945, Mies van der Rohe designed the Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois. It is now a National Trust Historic Site.

Mies van der Rohe designed the campus of and taught at what is now called the Illinois Institute of Technology. In 1945, he designed the Farnsworth House, an International Style structure in Plano, Illinois, and a National Trust Historic Site. It’s said Philip Johnson took his inspiration from the house when he designed the Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, another National Trust Historic Site, in 1949. Mies van der Rohe also designed the Seagram Building in New York, completed in 1958, as well as numerous apartment buildings, office buildings, and university buildings.

photo by: Thomas Nemeskeri/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Originally built for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, this Marcel Breuer-designed building, completed in 1966, is now part of the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art and is called the Met Breuer.

Marcel Breuer, who was first a student and then later a teacher at the Bauhaus, designed the original building for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, completed in 1966. (That building is now part of the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art and is known as the Met Breuer.) The solid, granite building features asymmetrical windows a low, concrete canopy and sunken garden at the entrance glass walls and handcrafted staircases.

He designed a number of houses, school buildings, and libraries, including the Grosse Pointe Public Library in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, in 1953. He also designed the Robert C. Weaver Federal Building, the headquarters of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C., in 1968.

The Bauhaus would eventually influence other architectural movements, including Midcentury Modern and the International Style.

photo by: Gunnar Klack/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Marcel Breuer designed the headquarters of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C. in 1968.

And it has continued to inspire exhibitions, books, and documentaries in the decades since the school closed. In 2016, Harvard Art Museums launched The Bauhaus, an online resource dedicated to the Bauhaus, featuring more than 30,000 documents and images from the school. It’s one of the largest Bauhaus collections in the world.

The influence of the Bauhaus school can be seen nearly everywhere—from furniture design (think Breuer’s now-ubiquitous, steel-tube Wassily Chair) to the glass-and-steel office towers rising from city skylines—that it can be easy to forget how its ideas were, 100 years ago, truly radical.

How Bauhaus Became One of the Most Influential Movements in Modern Design

"Together let us desire, conceive, and create the new structure of the future, which will embrace architecture and sculpture and painting in one unity and which will one day rise toward heaven from hands of a million workers like the crystal symbol of a new faith.&rdquo

In his Proclamation of the Bauhaus, German architect Walter Gropius paints the picture of unity between all art forms to build a new, prosperous world. This radical idea came at a time where Germany had lost its sense of identity and was left in near ruins from years of war. In Gropius&rsquos mind, the only way to bring society back together was to rebuild it.

The Bauhaus, which translates in English to &ldquoschool of building,&rdquo was an avant-garde arts and crafts academy in Weimar that launched only six months after the end of World War I. Gropius built the curriculum around the sole idea of producing artists and designers able to build both functional yet beautiful objects that better the way one lives. As the architect puts it in his book, The New Architecture and the Bauhaus:

&ldquo&hellipmy primary aim was that the principle of training the individual's natural capacities to grasp life as a whole, a single cosmic entity, should form the basis of instruction throughout the school instead of in only one or two arbitrarily 'specialized' classes&hellip&rdquo

Gropius wasn&rsquot alone in this mission, as celebrated visual artists like Vasily Kandinsky and Paul Klee taught many of the school's theory classes. Students would then move on to specialized workshops, from architecture to wall painting to metalworking, to further hone their skills while still working closely with other members of the Bauhaus. This resulted in a distinct style within architecture and art that favored geometric shapes, a sense of openness, and a rather minimal color palette.

It wasn&rsquot long before the lessons of the Bauhaus began spreading throughout not just Germany, but the world, though the true accomplishment of the movement resided in getting individuals, who never once found themselves drawn to the arts, interested in the design of their surrounding world. Demand for structures and furniture pieces that embodied the functionalist style increased, and naturally, so did the spotlight on the school.

Not everyone was pleased by the lesson of the Bauhaus, the most vocal opponent being the Nazi regime. In their eyes, the Bauhaus rejection of Germany&rsquos traditional aesthetics and design was a rejection of Germanic nationalism. The school was forced to move its operations in 1925 to Dessau, where Gropius designed the new building, which housed not just the teaching facility but students housing as well. One of the most recognized examples of the style, the steel-frame structure, features an asymmetric pinwheel plan that connects three separate wings by bridges.

It was thought that by moving the school to a different city interest in it would decrease. Much to the Nazis&rsquo chagrin, Bauhaus rose to a new level of popularity, with socialites and architecture lovers flooding to the exhibitions and events held by the school. It's also at the Dessau location that we see many of the well-known products and designs attributed to the Bauhaus come to life. A former student, Hungarian-born architect and furniture-maker Marcel Breuer, returned to the school to head the cabinetmaking department and work on his own product design. It is during this time that Breuer would create the first prototype of his famed Wassily chair.

As tensions between the government and the art academy increased, Gropius made the decision to step down as director in 1928 and named architect Hannes Meyer as his successor. During the next four years, Bauhaus began mass-producing steel-frame chairs, striking textiles, and innovative kitchenware, which find their ways into global markets. However, this iteration would come to an end in 1932 due to mounting pressure from the Nazis. Bauhaus quickly moved to Berlin, where masters and students would meet in an abandoned telephone factory until police officially closed the school one last time in 1933.

This did not mark the end of the movement, though, as many of the artisans from the school began moving throughout Europe and to the U.S., taking with them the principles and lessons of Bauhaus. After a short time in London, Gropius eventually found himself working at Harvard University with his star pupil, Breuer, once again. The last director of Bauhaus, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, would end up in Chicago to design the Illinois Institute of Technology, and later in New York City to oversee the construction of the Seagram Building.

The style of Bauhaus may have served as the catalyst for modern architecture, but its founding principles are what ring even louder in today&rsquos world. As the number of vaccinated individuals continues to increase and herd immunity inches closer after a world-altering year, how do we even begin rebuilding a society rocked by the coronavirus pandemic? It feels the answer may lie in Gropius&rsquos original idea of bringing those of different disciples and backgrounds together to create something much larger than ourselves.

The History of the Bauhaus Reconsidered

Oskar Schlemmer Bauhaus-Archiv A group of performers from a Triadisches ballet by Oskar Schlemmer, produced during his time with the Bauhaus (1927)

The prevailing message that followed Bauhaus survivors into their diaspora after Hitler came to power was as clear, simple, and distilled as a tubular steel chair cantilevered into thin air: modernity meant industrialization, which demanded the simplification of form for easy industrial fabrication. The mass production of functional, inexpensive, “purified” objects would elevate the standard of living for the masses.

But the densely documented show “The Spirit of the Bauhaus,” which runs through Feb. 26 at Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs, located in a wing of the Louvre Palace, reveals a much more complex story behind the Bauhaus’ short but incandescent 14-year existence, from 1919 to 1933. Originally inspired by the medieval guild system and the integration of arts within construction, as in Gothic churches, the school drew from turn-of-the-century movements such as the Vienna Werkstätte and the British Arts & Crafts, with their emphasis on handmade objects and the absence of ornamentation. Another precedent was Germany’s own Deutscher Werkbund, which integrated art and industrial production.

The ideology of the school evolved through often messy, contested transitions involving the rise, fall, and absorption of different design movements and disciplines: Expressionism, mysticism, de Stijl, folklore, and Constructivism, plus, as Tom Wolfe wickedly pointed out in From Bauhaus to Our House (Farrar, Straus Giroux, 1981), garlic: the school promoted diet and exercise programs for healthy living.

Josef Albers The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation Scherbe ins Gitterbilde by Josef Albers (1921)

Rather than reiterating the well-worn narrative of the Bauhaus as it was eventually exported, trotting out the warhorses already enshrined at, for example, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the exhibition takes a long historic view and reveals an evolution that was hardly simple and linear. Co-curated by Olivier Gabet and Anne Monier, both of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the show does not treat the Bauhaus as an artistic movement or even a style but as a working school, and its pedagogical history was diverse, dynamic, compressed, and accelerated. Though the utopian goal of revolutionizing the way people live remained consistent in all its phases, just how to get to utopia was not clear at the outset. The pedagogy of the school did not spring into existence monolithic and full blown. The Bauhaus was many things at different points in time, and only froze as an apparently unified vision when it went into exile. With more than 900 artifacts, the show builds its argument on both bottom-up and top-down evidence—not just the obvious Bauhaus icons but also the student work coming out of the studios in all phases of its history. The public image of the Bauhaus suddenly becomes more complex and even contradictory.

Theobald Emil Müller-Hummel Kallik Siftung Pillar with Cosmic Visions by Theobald Emil Müller-Hummel (1919-20)

The antechamber to the show and the movement is an introductory vestibule with displays of handcrafted objects of preceding Arts & Crafts movements in England, Austria, and Germany, displays that set the stage for the early Bauhaus. Only several fundamentally Euclidean objects by Germany’s Werkbund intimate the potential of machine logic to reshape modern life (the catalog illustrates, for example, a geometrically Euclidean vase by Peter Behrens, its neck a cylinder growing up from a sphere).

The show quickly moves on to the student work, especially the color and form studies and textiles done in the introductory courses, which broached new ways of teaching art, profoundly different from the academic regimes of most art schools of the time. In the Bauhaus context, ceramics are particularly surprising: the early work out of the pottery studio, which was disbanded after several years, was heavily influenced by a craft-driven, folk aesthetic, exemplified in a series of earthy ceramic vases, each unique rather than serially produced.

Contrary to the image that architects brought to England, the U.S., South America, and even Asia after they immigrated, the early Bauhaus was an expression of its time, largely a refined craft movement based more on the hand than on the machine. The pedagogy, influenced by William Morris, grew from the British Arts & Crafts movement’s opposition to the machines that were churning out meaningless, inexpensive objects manufactured in dehumanizing factories.

Carl Rogge Bauhaus-Archiv Haus Sommerfeld, designed by Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer in Berlin (1920)

Though all arts, applied and fine, mattered within the Bauhaus context of buildings conceived as total works of art, the two test houses produced in this period were surprisingly weak and underdeveloped conceptually. The 1920 Haus Sommerfeld in Berlin by Gropius and Adolf Meyer, was a friendly, woodsy house derived from the “Völkisch” movement, with loud echoes of vernacular chalets, log cabins, and even dachas: It is completely at odds with our image of the Bauhaus. The 1923 blocky Haus am Horn by Gropius and “form master” Georg Muche—a square, stripped-down, flat-roofed, cinder-block structure—was resolutely plain and simple, furnished with Bauhaus pieces as a gesamtkunstwerk showing a total Bauhaus environment. The effort is plain and stolid. These unconvincing attempts were being built long after Adolf Loos in Austria and Irving Gill in California had already designed their cubic white houses, and even after Gropius’ own glassy, skeletal, abstract, asymmetrical factory in the 1914 German Werkbund exhibition in Cologne.

Gropius, who founded the Bauhaus in Weimar, maintained a modernist practice there, but the Bauhaus itself did not find and develop its architectural voice early even though buildings were the organizing principle pulling together all the arts. The school, in fact, had an ambivalent relationship to architecture within its curriculum until fairly late in its history—a relationship that finally came into focus prior to the school's move to Dessau in 1925.

Despite the icons of geometric simplicity and industrial elegance that endure as symbols of the Bauhaus, the environment consisted of “permanent tensions between painters and architects, expressionists and constructivists, mystics and rationalists, social militants and proponents of political positions,” according to one exhibition text. Expressionists believed in handcrafts, individual expression, and the spirituality of matter rationalists didn’t. Debates and arguments among teachers and masters were frequent, the rival groups trying to settle matters of theory and practice as they staked out their power positions within the school.

Otto Umbehr (Umbo) Bauhaus-Archiv The Bauhaus orchestra

Points of view did not clearly coalesce around a single, unifying vision the school was a microcosm of movements vying more generally in Europe. There were strong undercurrents and conflicting forces coursing through the early Bauhaus, especially as Russian Constructivism emerged as an ideology challenging the more spiritualist German Expressionism.

For a school that would emerge with a strong functionalist point of view, through what might be called a dialectic of industrial materialism, it is surprising to find strong and persistent voices of the spiritual and even occult in the Bauhaus camp. According to a catalog essay by Louise Curtis, the master of the theater workshop, Lothar Schreyer, staged esoteric plays based on spiritualist research into language and acting. Costumes treated the human figure abstractly.

The Expressionist mystic Johannes Itten was especially influential early on, running the famous introductory course devoted to the fundamentals of form, color, and material. After a long conflict with Gropius that divided the Bauhaus into two camps, Itten quit in 1922, protesting the school’s shift toward industrial design and Constructivism.

Paula Stockmar Bauhaus-Archiv Johannes Itten

László Moholy-Nagy, a proponent of Constructivism, succeeded Itten as head of the preliminary course, starting the consolidation of the functionalist path. Russia before and after its Revolution was a cauldron of radical ideas, and the Bauhaus was a direct beneficiary of the Vkhutemas, a Soviet institution for training master artists for industry and a vocation geared to designing for the proletariat.

The Russian Avant-Garde, however, was itself divided between the Constructivistis and the more mystic Suprematists (though all were devotees of abstraction). El Lissitzky, a Suprematist, had a huge influence on the school, and Wassily Kandinsky, who spoke of the effect of color on the soul, arrived for a painting course in 1922, and stayed for a decade until the Bauhaus finally dissolved. On a temporary appointment, Theo Van Doesberg brought De Stijl to the Bauhaus from Holland, importing ideas about the abstraction and simplification of forms.

Gunta Stölzl Bauhaus-Archiv A tapestry by Gunta Stölzl, a German textile artist who helped develop the Bauhaus' weaving workshop

After the resignations and new faculty appointments of 1922, and then a comprehensive 1923 exhibition in Weimar featuring work by students and masters, the Bauhaus pivoted. Gropius abandoned his previous interest in medieval cathedrals and the craft-driven aesthetic based in folk cultures, and turned instead to the world of the machine and a more strictly defined functionalist agenda. World War I had displaced traditional culture irreversibly, and Gropius decided to forge an ethos in the school that regarded the machine as an engine of, and for, modernity. Art and craft would be fused to create well-designed, marketable, mass-produced consumer goods that would be cheap, functional, simple, and pure, without decoration. The driving principle was a new unity of art and technology.

There were adjustments large and small. The pottery shop, though it had produced income, was discontinued when the Bauhaus moved from Weimar to Dessau. It was in Dessau, nearly halfway through its brief existence, that the Bauhaus definitively consolidated the functionalist direction with which it later became so heavily identified.

In 1927, the school finally added an architecture program, run by Swiss architect Hannes Meyer. The next year, when Meyer became director, programs morphed. The architecture program expanded and was linked to urban planning classes. Meyer also created an independent painting course (“free painting”), and a year later, in 1929, a photography workshop, linked to the printing, typography, and advertising workshops.

Lyonel Feininger Bauhaus-Archiv A woodcut of a cathedral by Lyonel Feininger, which Gropius used as the cover for his Bauhaus manifesto in 1919

The extroverted school proselytized, producing a magazine called Bauhaus and a publication program, Bauhaus Books: many of the issues and copies are displayed in the show. By choice and conviction, the hard-working Bauhaus was not an ivory tower but produced designs meant to be sold. Many of the intricately patterned and colored textiles and carpets displayed in the show, some by one of the masters, Gunta Stölzl, were marketed the Bauhaus’ most profitable product was wallpaper. The productive, aesthetically inventive wall-painting workshop taught by Kandinsky—art on the wall—was dropped, as were the glass painting and sculpture workshops. Mysticism was a memory as the curriculum became increasingly more material and commercial.

When Gropius resigned in 1927 to pursue his interest in low-cost, prefab housing, Meyer brought a strong social mission and socialist agenda to a previously apolitical school, absorbing other departments within a robust architecture program focused on housing. He also brought in architecture commissions: the school turned a profit for the first time.

The presence of painting masters like Paul Klee and Kandinsky proved increasingly tenuous with the growing emphasis on functionalism. When Moholy-Nagy resigned in 1928, objecting to the declining prominence of artists in the school, he noted that Klee and Kandinsky were kept on and tolerated merely to provide “atmosphere”: artists played an increasingly marginal rather than systemic role in a school that was becoming less inclusive and interdisciplinary.

László Moholy-Nagy The Metropolitan Museum of Art László Moholy-Nagy on the balcony of the Prellerhaus in Dessau (1927)

If the pedagogy evolved in multiple and even opposed directions, what remained consistent from its beginning was the spirit of exploration and debate that constantly refreshed the school and defined its character. Throughout “The Spirit of the Bauhaus,” photographs of students at wild, themed parties in pirates’ hats, playing jazz, dressed in otherworldly costumes, or just plain sunbathing on a balcony, document the spirit that reigned for most of its history. One student is photographed smoking a pipe through reeds of a waste paper basket dumped over his head another photograph shows a boutonniere reinvented as an abstraction, and another, exhausted students crashed asleep atop drafting tables.

When National Socialists took over the local government in Dessau, the Bauhaus was forced to move to Berlin, its last stop, under the directorship of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. There, the Nazi shadow lengthened in 1932 and 1933, and the freedom and creative spirit that had characterized the school dimmed. The school focused mainly on architecture. The Gestapo raided the school and denounced it for communist sympathies. In 1933, the masters voted to shutter the Bauhaus. A newspaper clipping of the raid is one of the artifacts that closes the show.

Joost Schmidt Siftung Bauhaus Prospectus for the tourist information office of Dessau by Joost Schmidt (1930-31)

The history of the Bauhaus, which is in some ways a ground zero of 20th century design, is hardly new material, but the Musée des Arts Décoratifs has produced a more complete and nuanced interpretation of the material, and it did so with serious gumshoe slogging. What is innovative about the exhibition’s interpretation emerges from artifacts that have never, or rarely, been exhibited, and which were tracked down by curators in provincial German towns who often found them in the possession of Bauhaus student descendants. This initiative into private households has had the effect of repositioning the historical emphasis, broadening it beyond the well-rehearsed history that has become the official museological view grounded in existing collections best known to the public. Borrowing even modest works from obscure sources permitted an expanded interpretation essentially based on course work and teaching. The approach provides a more distributed, highly textured overview rather than the familiar story of beautiful, clean-lined products designed by the masters.

The show is all the more effective since the photos, textiles, carpets, color studies,and brochures are displayed in the quintessentially academic halls of a vaulted, colonnaded, Second Empire wing of the Louvre that crosses the historic typologies of a church nave and an imperial palace. To see the show in a space so antithetical to the Bauhaus in all its phases is to palpably occupy the shear between classical tradition and modernity—and between the two schools of pedagogy. The visitor better understands the Bauhaus by its juxtaposition to the classical academic envelope.

Bauhaus: The School of Modernism

Из сервиса Google Искусство и культура

Words by Dr Claudia Perren

"The Bauhaus Dessau" (1919/1933), автор – Walter GropiusПервоисточник: Vidal Sassoon.

The Bauhaus was an art school that was radical in its uniting of art, craft, and technology in the years following the World War I. Its main goal was to improve people's living conditions through modern design.

Founded in Weimar in 1919 by architect Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus moved to Dessau in 1925. Between 1925 and 1926, Walter Gropius, along with students and teachers, created the Dessau University building, an icon of modern architecture and one of the most influential buildings of the 20th century.

"Walter Gropius and Harry Seidler" (1954), автор – Max DupainNational Portrait Gallery

In 1932, the Bauhaus was forced to move once again as a result of political pressure, as had also been the case in Weimar in 1925. The third and last director after Hannes Meyer – architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe – kept the Bauhaus running as a private institution until 1933 in a former telephone factory in Berlin's Steglitz district.

The Bauhaus was closely associated with the heated political situation and turbulent history of the Weimar Republic. The end of this Republic and the start of the Nazi dictatorship in Germany in many ways marked the end of the Bauhaus.

On July 20, 1933, the Bauhaus was forced to close in the face of Nazi reprisals. Following this, most of the students and teachers who had been involved with possibly the most famous and influential school of modernism had to assimilate, go into hiding, or emigrate. Many former members of the Bauhaus took the ideas of the institution with them to almost every corner of the globe.

However, the Bauhaus had international links right from the start and was already world-famous early on. The emigration of its members greatly increased the school's international status and its global influence.

Автор: Frank ScherschelLIFE Photo Collection

Influences from all over the world

The Bauhaus incorporated significant influences from international scenes, both in terms of the teaching program and the buildings, as well as in the lives of teachers and students. The founder Walter Gropius, for instance, aligned the school with certain traditions, and incorporated suggestions from English artists John Ruskin and William Morris when developing the teaching program. The combination of arts and crafts in the movement founded by Morris played an important role in the first years of the Bauhaus in particular.

Nearly 1,300 students attended the Bauhaus even though it only existed for 14 years. These included many international students, as noted in the Bauhaus journal when it published an insight into the backgrounds of its students in 1929: "140 are of German origin and 30 are from abroad, including eight Swiss, four Polish, three Czechs, three Russians, two Americans, two Latvians, two Hungarians, one German-Austrian, one Dutch, one Turkish, one Persian, one Palestinian, one stateless, with 119 male, and 51 female students."

Yet the teachers also came from a wide range of different countries and provided their own influences to enhance life at the Bauhaus. They included the painters Lyonel Feininger from New York and Wassily Kandinsky from Russia, the second Bauhaus director and architect Hannes Meyer from Switzerland, the visual artist László Moholy-Nagy from Hungary, and his wife, photographer Lucia Moholy from Prague, and the architect Mart Stam from the Netherlands.

There is no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman – Walter Gropius

Bauhaus means ‘building house’ but Gropius didn’t want to build only houses. He wanted to create a new breed of artists, who could turn their hands to anything. Traditional art schools were conservative and elitist. Technical colleges were dreary and conventional. Gropius broke down the barrier between fine art and applied arts.

The Bauhaus was founded in 1919 in the German city of Weimar by Prussian Walter Gropius, pictured right (Credit: Keystone Pictures/Alamy)

“There is no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman,” he said. Pupils learnt pottery, printmaking, book-binding and carpentry. They studied typography and advertising. They went back to basics, and began again with fresh eyes.

“An object is defined by its nature,” announced Gropius. “In order to design it to function properly, one must first of all study its nature. For it to serve its purpose perfectly, it must fulfil its function in a practical way.” Instead of sitting in stuffy classrooms listening to lectures, students were assigned to workshops. They learnt on the job.

Nature of objects

The results were extraordinary. The Bauhaus produced an incredible array of artefacts, from angle poise lamps to chess sets, all distinguished by their functional and elegant construction. They were simple and useful, and their simplicity made them beautiful. In an era of ornamentation, their streamlined appearance was revolutionary. This was a new age of design.

From chess sets to this ashtray by Marianne Brandt, the Bauhaus inspired many designs beyond architecture (Credit: Gunter Lepkowski/Bauhaus Archiv/VG Bild-Kunst)

“Bauhaus workshops are laboratories in which prototypes of products suitable for mass production are carefully developed and continually improved,” declared Gropius. “In these laboratories, the Bauhaus will train and educate a new type of worker for craft and industry, who has an equal command of both technology and form.”

History of Bauhaus Furniture: BAUHAUS 1919 -1933

Aug. 25, 2008 - PRLog -- History of Bauhaus Furniture: BAUHAUS 1919 -1933
The origins of Bauhaus were far from the earlier methods of education in industrial art, art proper and architecture. Its program was based on the newest knowledge in pedagogy. The idealistic basis of Bauhaus was a socially orientated program: - an artist must be conscious of his social responsibility to the community, - on the other hand, the community has to accept the artist and support him.
But above all the intention of Bauhaus was to develop creative minds for architecture and industry and thus influence them so that they would be able to produce artistically, technically and practically balanced utensils. The institute included workshops for making models of type houses and all kinds of utensils, and departments of advertising art, stage planning, photography, and typography. The neoplastic and constructive movements of art to a great extent steered the form lines of Bauhaus furniture. Teachers were such masters of modern art as Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee.
To better understand the aims of the Bauhaus school, one has to read the following extracts from Walter Gropius' Manifesto: "The ultimate aim of all creative activity is a building! The decoration of buildings was once the noblest function of fine arts, and fine arts were indispensable to great architecture. Today they exist in complacent isolation, and can only be rescued by the conscious co-operation and collaboration of all craftsmen. Architects, painters, and sculptors must once again come to know and comprehend the composite character of a building, both as an entity and in terms of its various parts. Then their work will be filled with that true architectonic spirit which, as "salon art", it has lost." . "Architects, painters, sculptors, we must all return to crafts! For there is no such thing as "professional art". There is no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman. The artist is an exalted craftsman." . "Let us therefore create a new guild of craftsmen without the class-distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between craftsmen and artists! Let us desire, conceive, and create the new building of the future together. It will combine architecture, sculpture, and painting in a single form."
The basic idea of the Bauhaus teaching concept for achitecture and Bauhaus furniture was the unity of artistic and practical tuition. Every student had to complete a compulsory preliminary course, after which he or she had to enter a workshop of his or her choice. There were several types of workshops available: metal, wood sculpture, glass painting, weaving, pottery, furniture, cabinet making, three-dimensional work, typography, wall painting, and some others.
It was not easy to get general allowances for the new type of art education. A political pressure was felt from the beginning. In 1925 the Thueringer government withdrew its economic support from the education. Bauhaus found a new location in Dessau. The city gave Gropius building projects: a school, workshop and atelier building (1925-1926) has remained in history by the name 'Bauhaus Dessau'.
In October 1926, the school was officially accredited by the government of the Land, and the masters were promoted to professors. Hence, the Bauhaus obtained the subtitle "School of Design". The training course from then on corresponded to university studies and led to a Bauhaus Diploma. Later this year, because of some political and financial difficulties, the Bauhaus center could no longer remain in Weimar and was closed. In April 1925, Bauhaus resumed its work in Dessau.
Personal relations in Bauhaus were not as harmonious as they may seem now, half a century later. The Swiss painter Itten and the Hungarian Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, who taught the Preliminary Course, left after strong disagreements in 1928, Paul Klee - in 1931. Some, for instance Kandinsky and Albers, stayed loyal until the closing of Bauhaus in 1933.
In spite of the success, Gropius left the Bauhaus leadership in 1928. His successor was the Swiss architect Hannes Meyer. He promoted the scientific development of the design training with vigor. However, Meyer failed as leader due to political disagreement inside Bauhaus. He was dismissed in 1930.
The German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was invited as director. He was compelled to cut down on the educational program. Practical work was reduced. Bauhaus approached a type of 'vocational university'. It began to loose the splendid universality that had made it so excellent. Training of vocational subjects started to dominate the initial steps of education. As a matter of fact this tendency became stronger after that Mies van der Rohe had transformed the school into a private institute in Berlin in 1932. In 1933 the Nazi government closed the Bauhaus school.

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Bauhaus - HISTORY

Historical and Cultural Context
Bauhaus Bauhaus (1919 - 1933)

The first aim of the school was to "rescue all of the arts from the isolation in which each then found itself."

Bau|haus (bou'hous'), n. a school founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius at Weimar, Germany, and later located successively at Dessau, Berlin, and Chicago, to develop a functional architecture based on a correlation between creative design and modern industry and science. German Bauhaus: bauen = build + Haus = house.

Walter Gropius - Bauhaus in Dressau - 1919 - 1925 -

The Bauhaus began with an utopian definition: "The building of the future" was to combine all the arts in ideal unity.

Gropius believed that artists and architects should be considered as craftsmen and that their creations should be practical and affordable. Bauhaus students included artists, architects, potters, weavers, sculptors and designers who studied together in workshops as had the artists and artisans of the Renaissance. The characteristic Bauhaus style was simple, geometrical and highly refined. In 1933 the school was closed by the Nazi government claiming that it was a centre of communist intellectualism. Although the school was physically dissolved, its staff continued to teach its ideals as they left Germany and emigrated all over the world. ( The Art Book , p.506)

The Bauhaus firmly establish industrial design. It stripped away the decoration, and left clean lines of function. To some this represents the removal of all that is human in the crafts. To the teachers and followers of the involved in the Bauhaus, function was the primary concern, removing the past was a secondary consequence. The Bauhaus ushered in the modern era of design. While there were similar movements, such as the de Stijl, the Bauhaus has become the symbol of modern design. It did achieve many of Gropius's goals. It left a legacy for visual communication programs, art and design schools to follow. Many of these schools use the courses developed at the Bauhaus.

Events that shaped the arts from 1918 to 1933. | Top

1918 - On 9 November 1918 a republic was proclaimed in Berlin under the moderate socialist Friedrich Ebert. An elected National Assembly met in January 1919 in the city of Weimar and agreed on a constitution.

1918 - German-Russian Brest-Litovsk treaty ended World War One on Eastern Front. Bolshevik Party secret resolution and expression of opposition. When the war ended on the Western front, Russia disavowed its own treaty of peace with Germany (

1918 - Russian tsar Nicholas II and his family gunned down in captivity (

1918 - Beginning with David Lloyd George, war-time Minister of Defense and Prime Minister, English labor movement adopted radical and social democratic positions in the post-WW1 years (

1919 - India, Madras. Leader of anti-imperialist movement in India, Mohandas Gandhi published Indian Home Rule (

1919 - France. Versailles peace conferences took place over a six month period. None of the defeated Central Powers were invited to the conferences, and the ex-ally Russia, now a revolutionary Soviet state, did not participate. The angry, insecure and (except the USA) damaged allies set out to remake Europe on their own (

1919 - Ireland, Dublin. Sinn Fein Congress adopted declaration of independence from England (

1919 - USA, Seattle General Strike, growing labor militancy (

1919 - Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari is the masterpiece of German Expressionist film. One of the most admired and influential motion pictures of all time, Caligari has achieved the status of a cultural icon. Even those who have never seen the movie immediately recognize the haggard forms of Conrad Veidt as Cesare and Werner Krauss's Caligari, a representation of crazed totalitarianism foreshadowing the advent of the Third Reich.

coincidence - the sources of inspiration for this presentation come from an eye-opening visit to the Simon Wiesenthal Center - Museum of Tolerance, a prophetic look at the upcoming millennium, an on-going discussion about artists' expression of the times, and a deep-rooted desire to provide a forum for collaboration.-

Weimar Republic (1919 - 1933)

1919 - Versailles Peace Settlement, involving the loss of continental territory and of all overseas colonies and the likelihood of a vast reparations debt, the terms being so unpopular as to provoke a brief right-wing revolt, the Kapp putsch.

1923 - The country was unable to meet reparation costs, and the mark collapsed, whereupon France and Belgium occupied the Ruhr in 1923, while in Bavaria right-wing extremists (including Hitler and Ludendorff) became more active. Hitler and the Nazis hatched a plot in which they would kidnap the leaders of the Bavarian government and force them at gunpoint to accept Hitler as their leader. Then, according to their plan, with the aid of famous World War One General Erich Ludendorff, they would win over the German army, proclaim a nationwide revolt and bring down the German democratic government in Berlin.

1929 - Discontented financial and industrial groups in the German National Party allied with Hitler's Nazi Party to form a powerful opposition.

1932 - As unemployment developed, support for this alliance grew, perceived as the only alternative to communism. In the presidential elections of 1932 Hitler gained some 13 million votes, exploiting anti-communist fears and anti-Semitic prejudice, although Hindenburg was himself re-elected.

1933 - Hindenburg was persuaded to accept Hitler as Chancellor.

1933 - Hitler declared a state of emergency (28 February 1933) and, on Hindenburg's death in 1934, made himself President and proclaimed the Third Reich.

Josef Albers - Formulation, Articulation - 1972 -

Herbert Bayer - Bauhaus text - 1925

Marcel Breuer - Wassily Chair - 1927-28 -

Lyonel Feininger - Oberweimar - 1921 -

Walter Gropius - Sugar bowl - 1969 -

Wassily Kandinsky - Composition VIII - 1923

Paul Klee - Southern (Tunisian) Gardens - 1919

Ludwieg Mies van der Rohe - Barcelona chair - 1929

Hannes Meyer - Konstruktion - ca. 1927 -

László Moholy-Nagy - Photogram - 1926 -

Georg Muche - Berglandschaft [Landscape with Mountain] - 1962 -

Oskar Schlemmer

alilley/bauhaus.html - provides links to general information about the school and its masters.

bauhaus - archiv museum of design - - The Bauhaus Archive / Museum of Design in Berlin is concerned with the research and presentation of the history and impact of the Bauhaus (1919-1933).

Worth checking out : Drawing Prompts - Each artist link provides an opening representative image suitable for drawing by students. Additional images and information are also provided to help students explore the vast posibilities of artistic expression. Historical and Cultural Context | Site Map | On-Line Resources | Rules of Thumb | Glossary | Quotes | WordList | Co-Teachers - Doug and Melissa | Gallery | Top

Melissa and I would like to
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Watch the video: Bauhaus - In The Flat Field