Bauhaus, Germany, 1919-1933. One of the most influential schools of design. The Bauhaus school was founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar. In spite of its name, and the fact that its founder was an architect, the Bauhaus did not have an architecture department during the first years of its existence. Nonetheless it was founded with the idea of creating a total work of art in which all arts, including architecture would eventually be brought together. The Bauhaus approach became one of the most influential currents in Modernist architecture and modern design. The Bauhaus had a profound influence upon subsequent developments in art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography.
Bauhaus' teachers included Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Johannes Itten, Oskar Schlemmer, Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy, Marcel Breuer and Gunta Stölzl.
The pedagogical methods of Klee, Kandinsky and Itten had a major impact in the teaching of art and design all over the world throughout the twentieth century. Craft at the Bauhaus was greatly influenced by industrial design and machine aesthetics. There was an emphasis on converting craft to industry through the creation of prototypes for mass production. Bauhaus furniture was perhaps the most successful in this. The tubular chair designed by Marcel Breuer in 1925, for instance, is still in production today.
A most important task of the Bauhaus shool was to rescue all of the arts from the isolation in which each then found itself. "The complete building is the final aim of the visual arts. Their noblest function was once the decoration of buildings. They were inseparable parts of the great art of building. Today, they exist in isolation, from which they can be rescued only through the conscious, co-operative effort of all craftsmen." Gropius, Bauhaus Manifesto, 1919
The Bauhaus was at once school, workshop, studio and laboratory. "Creative freedom was the climate which permeated everything and was imparted to all masters and students. The intimate contact with the present, service to mankind and society, humanism, in a word, is what gave the Bauhaus its vital impulses" (Gropius).
Importantly, as Gropius puts it, "The Bauhaus believes the machine to be our modern medium of design and seeks to come to terms with it." He thus sought to forge a rare, new alliance between art and industry. When the Bauhaus was founded in Weimar in 1919, the artists were committed to re-examine the very basis of art that would, in turn, touch every aspect of life. It was one of the most significant experiments in art in the twentieth century. The Bauhaus movement emerged as architects and artists intended to rebuild war-torn Europe after WWI. The Bauhaus was not just an innovative training center but also a place of production and a chief focus of international debate.
The utopian spirit in post-war Germany gave rise to the belief that the artist could help to bring about new social conditions through the creation of new environments. Gropius wanted to remove the barrier between artists and craftsmen. He also wanted "to create the new building of the future, which will embrace architecture and sculpture and painting in one unity."
The Bauhaus was opened in Weimar in 1919 but relocated to Dessau in 1925 after the leftwing Social Democratic Party, which had financed it, lost control of state schools to nationalists. Dessau was a middle-sized industrial city in central Germany. Here a purpose-designed building was made, a most ambitious project for Gropius, with workshops, a lecture room, a theatre, student accommodation and canteen facilities. The building was designed collaboratively with Gropius and his staff and students.
"The ultimate goal of the Bauhaus is the collective work of art in which no barriers exist between the structural and decorative arts. Artists and architects would work together towards the great goal of the building of the future." Gropius, Bauhaus Manifesto, 1919
History. In 1919 Walter Gropius was appointed to head a new institution called the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany. The school was founded in a time when Germany's economy was collapsing and the unemployment rates where higher than ever.
In all of its fourteen years of existence the Bauhaus was not only an important art-, design-, and architecture school, for it was also a melting pot of the European modernistic ideas of reforming the epoch.
The Bauhaus would proceed from certain assumptions, including the idea that the new architecture was to be created for workers and that it was to reject all things that were bourgeois.
Dedicated to utopian collectivism, the Bauhaus produced theories calling for the use of concrete, steel, wood, stucco and glass. A building must have a flat roof and a sheer facade, with neither cornices nor eaves. As color was considered to be bourgeois, buildings were white, gray, beige, or black.
In 1924 the Bauhaus school had to move from Weimar to Dessau, since the school in Weimar was broken up by the parliament of the state. This brought the opportunity to build a new school complex (1925-6), designed by Walter Gropius.
Around 1925 mass housing became a great social issue and it was mostly solved by the Bauhaus. By 1932 no other country had built more housing for its working class than Germany. As most of the architects adhered to the principles of the Bauhaus, the result was a classical form of rational social housing with open floor plans, white walls, no drapes, and functional furniture. A new way of life stood out: free of history, improvising, creative, with solidarity, and without reservation or fondness for the present.
Walter Gropius left the school in 1928. He appointed Hannes Meyer to be headmaster. Meyer emphasized the social aspect of the work and promoted the development of affordable furniture, textiles, wallpaper and lamps for blue-collar workers. In 1930 Hannes Meyer was fired because of his increasingly communist political views.
The last headmaster of the Bauhaus was Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The Bauhaus was closed by the
Nazis in 1933. Many of the former teachers and students of the Bauhaus migrated to the United States, where they were welcomed with open arms. Breuer and Gropius went to Harvard where Gropius was made head of the school of architecture at Harvard. Moholy-Nagy opened the New Bauhaus, which evolved into the Chicago Institute of Design, and Mies van der Rohe, was installed as dean of architecture at the Armour Institute in Chicago.
The Bauhaus history, the idealism and energy invested in it, makes it a most moving place and phenomenon. Rayner Banham describes the Bauhaus at Dessau as a "sacred site." He refers to more than the building itself: its solemn history, the altruism of so many individuals who taught and attended there, and the sum of outstanding artistic achievement in many fields of the arts that has made it an international institution of profound importance (Janet McKenzie).
Legacy. The Bauhaus has firmly established industrial design. It stripped away unuseful the decoration and left clean the lines of function, which was the primary concern, while removing the past was no more than a secondary consequence. The Bauhaus has become the symbol of modern design and it did achieve many of Gropius's goals. It left a legacy for visual communication programs, art and design schools to follow. Many of such schools still use the courses developed at the Bauhaus.
The Words of Walter Gropius
Bauhaus Manifesto and Program, 1919. 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.
The old art schools were unable to produce this unity; and how, indeed, should they have done so, since art cannot be taught? Schools must return to the workshop. The world of the pattern-designer and applied artist, consisting only of drawing and painting must become once again a world in which things are built. If the young person who rejoices in creative activity now begins his career as in the older days by learning a craft, then the unproductive "artist" will no longer be condemned to inadequate artistry, for his skills will be preserved for the crafts in which he can achieve great things.
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. By the grace of Heaven and in rare moments of inspiration which transcend the will, art may unconsciously blossom from the labour of his hand, but a base in handicrafts is essential to every artist. It is there that the original source of creativity lies.
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, and will one day rise towards the heavens from the hands of a million workers as the crystalline symbol of a new and coming faith.
"The Role of the Architect in Modern Society," address given at Columbia University, March 1961. The Bauhaus' novel method of education in design has been widely misunderstood and misinterpreted. The present generation is inclined to think of it as a rigid stylistic dogma of yesterday whose usefulness has come to an end because its ideological and technical premises are now outdated. This view confuses a method of approach with the practical results obtained by it at a particular period of its application. The Bauhaus was not concerned with the formulation of timebound, stylistic concepts, and its technical methods were not ends in themselves. It was created to show how a multitude of individuals, willing to work concertedly but without losing their identity, could evolve a kinship of expression in their response to the challenges of the day. Its aim was to give a basic demonstration of how to maintain unity in diversity, and it did this with the materials, techniques, and form concepts germane to its time. It was this method of approach that was revolutionary.
Bauhaus was founded by Walther Gropius in Weimar in the year 1919 as an art, design and architecture school. The goal of Bauhaus was to bring together art, handcrafts and architecture into one single synthesis of the arts. This guideline is rather strongly oriented on the arts and crafts movement – however, Bauhaus opened itself for new technological possibilities, so that the way to industrial design was smoothed. These artistic ambitions affected interpersonal relationships as well, so that no distinction was made any longer between the artist and the craftsman. Gropius’ goal was, "The final goal for all artistic activity is architecture! [...] Architects, sculptors, painters, we must all go back to handwork! [...] The artist is an intensification of the craftsman," which he proclaimed in the Bauhaus manifesto. This goal was also continued by his successors Hannes Meyer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe after Bauhaus moved to Dessau and Berlin (which had to be done because of political reasons). Particularly under the leadership of van der Rohe, Bauhaus became an architectural school with a strong emphasis on the technical. Formally, Bauhaus stood for simple and clear lines. Under the influence of Moholy- Nagy, photography was also taken up into the Bauhaus program. In 1932, Bauhaus was forced to close; Mies van der Rohe opened it again briefly, but disbanded it shortly thereafter in 1933. Moholy- Nagy founded “the new Bauhaus” in Chicago in 1937. Important representatives of Bauhaus are Johannes Itten, Gerhard Marcks, Lyonel Feininger, Georg Muche, Paul Klee, Oskar Schlemmer, Wassily Kandinsky, Josef Albers and László Moholy-Nagy. Related artists: Josef Albers, Willi Baumeister, Herbert Bayer, Max Bill, Heinrich Campendonk, Walter Dexel, Lyonel Feininger, Carl Grossberg, Albert Hennig, Auguste Herbin, Hannah Höch, Ida Kerkovius, Hans Reichel, Lothar Schreyer, Kurt Schwitters, and William Wauer (Art Directory).
The Words of Paul Klee
"Creative Credo," 1920, VII. Art is a simile of the Creation. Each work of art is an example, just as the terrestrial is an example of the cosmic.
The release of elements, their grouping into complex subdivisions, the dismemberment of the object and its reconstruction into a whole, the pictorial polyphony, the achievement of stability through an equilibrium of movement, all these are difficult questions of form, crucial for formal wisdom, but not yet art in the highest circle. In the highest circle an ultimate mystery lurks behind the mystery, and the wretched light of the intellect is of no avail. One may still speak reasonably of the salutary effects of art. We may say that fantasy, inspired by instinctual stimuli, creates illusory states which somehow encourage or stimulate us more than the familiar natural known supernatural states, that its symbols bring comfort to the mind, by making it realize that it is not confined to earthly potentialities, however great they may become in the future; that ethical gravity holds sway side by side with impish laughter at doctors and parsons.
But, in the long run, even enhanced reality proves inadequate.
Art plays an unknowing game with ultimate things, and yet achieves them!
Cheer up! Value such country outings, which let you have a new point of view for once as well as a change of air, and transport you to a world which, by diverting you, strengthens you for the inevitable returns to the greyness of the working day. More than that, they help you to slough off your earthly skin, to fancy for a moment thta you are God; to look forward to new holidays, when the soul goes to a banquet in order to nourish its starved nerves, and to fill its languishing blood vessels with new sap.
Let yourself be carried on the invigorating sea, on a broad river or an enchanting brook, such as that of the richly diversified, aphoristic graphic art.
Creadores suizos y alemanes
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