2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus art school. The Bauhaus, which translates as “House of Building,” was more than just an art school in Germany during the period of Weimar Republic that opened in 1919 and forced to close in 1933 by the Nazi government.
Beyond combining crafts and the fine arts, the Bauhaus became famous for its multidisciplinary approach to sculpture, painting, design, and for its influential contribution in the fields of architecture and typography. The school was known for abandoning many traditional fine-arts education methods and encouraging people to rethink art’s relationship with society and technology.
The Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany first opened by architect Walter Gropius in 1919 as a school of arts and existed in three cities under three directors who were architects. Gropius was widely recognized as one of the pioneers of modern architecture. The core objective of the school was “to reimagine the material world to reflect the unity of all the arts.” Gropius’s vision for the art school is explained in the April 1919 Proclamation of the Bauhaus.
The Manifesto of the Staatliches Bauhaus
“Architects, painters, and sculptors must learn a new way of seeing and understanding the composite character of the building, both as a totality and in terms of its parts. Their work will then re-imbue itself with the spirit of architecture, which it lost in salon art.”
“Architects, sculptors, painters—we all must return to craftsmanship! For there is no such thing as “art by profession.”
“So let us, therefore, create a new guild of craftsmen, free of the divisive class pretensions that endeavored to raise a prideful barrier between craftsmen and artists! Let us strive for, conceive and create the new building of the future that will unite every discipline, architecture and sculpture and painting, and which will one day rise heavenwards from the million hands of craftsmen as a clear symbol of a new belief to come.”
Because of Gropius’ mission to unite arts and crafts, the Bauhaus’ curriculum involved specialized workshops that include cabinetmaking, wall painting, metal-working, pottery, and weaving.
As the first school of modern architecture and design, the Bauhaus movement may have been short-lived, but it was highly influential and encompassed a wide array of mediums and disciplines. Throughout the 1920s and1930s, the Bauhaus influenced art and design all over the world. As the most influential art school of its time and as the birthplace of Modernism, the Bauhaus aimed to unite art and industrial design – an initiative that had not been accomplished before.
Gropius formulated three principal aims in his prospectus:
(1) To unite all arts to allow painters, sculptors, and craftsmen to work harmoniously on cooperative projects.
(3) To maintain close liaison with the leaders of the main crafts and industries in the country, to ensure the school operated in line with their basic requirements.
The Bauhaus Faculty and Workshop Masters
The Bauhaus school operated in three locations over its 14-year run: Weimar, Dessau, and Berlin. It had a different director at each location starting with Walter Gropius at Weimar, Hannes Meyer at Dessau, and finally, Mies van der Rohe at Berlin.
The school was led by a renowned faculty who championed both the school and movement. When the school first opened its doors in 1919, German sculptor Gerhard Marcks, Swiss painter Johannes Itten, and German-American painter Lyonel Feininger were some of the first full-time instructors recruited by Gropius.
Visual artists such as Swiss painter Paul Klee and Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky taught a preliminary course that studied materials and color theory. Marcel Breuer directed the cabinetmaking workshop from 1924to 1928 while Gunta Stölzl, a designer and weaver, led the textile workshop. Metal-working was one of the more popular workshops at the Bauhaus; designer Marianne Brandt became the first woman to attend a course taught by Josef Albers and LászlóMoholy-Nagy, ultimately replacing Moholy-Nagy as the metal workshop’s director in 1928.
László Moholy-Nagy was one of the most influential designers, art educators, and forward thinkers of his time; he was one of the Bauhaus School’s youngest instructors ever. His work in light and space experimentation gained him international attention. Moholy-Nagy also takes credit for helping redesign the original Bauhaus typography and logo; the new design is the one the Bauhaus continues to use to this day.
#CelebratingBauhaus: The Bauhaus Centenary
To mark the Bauhaus’ centenary, Germany is inviting people to celebrate the famous Bauhaus art school and many dimensions of its movement. From Berlin to Weimar to Dessau to Stuttgart to Hamburg – all across Germany, there will be dozens of projects and exhibitions aimed to raise awareness and honor the Bauhaus movement – the initiative believed to shape Modernism.
From March 15th – June 10th, 2019, Bauhaus Imaginista at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin aims to tell the “transnational story of the Bauhaus for the first time.” There were guided tours, an audio guide, and workshops on more than 21,000 square feet.
One of the highlights of the Bauhaus’ centenary year will be the opening of the Bauhaus Museum Dessau on September 8th, 2019. For the first time, the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation’scollection will be represented in a comprehensive exhibition while connecting the Bauhaus buildings in Dessau.
The first floor of the museum covers 1,500 square meters and will feature architecture, lighting, wallpaper, furniture, and typefaces that many visitors will be surprised to discover were forged during the height of the Bauhaus movement.
From September 6th, 2019 – January 27th, 2020, Original Bauhaus Das Bauhaus-Archiv exhibition will be in Berlin, Berlinische Galerie, Museum of Modern Art. And from September6th, 2019 – February 2nd, 2020, ABC – Avantgarde, Bauhaus, Corporate Design will be in Maine at the Gutenberg-Museum. There will be six to seven thematic sections celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus; the exhibition will have a special focus on the development of “Bauhaus typography” and how it continues to have a global influence on design to this day.
The Union of Art, Design and Technology
“If today’s arts love the machine, technology and organization, if they aspire to precision and reject anything vague and dreamy, this implies an instinctive repudiation of chaos and a longing to find the form appropriate to our times.” — Oscar Schlemmer
Aiming to create a “gesamtkunstwerk” — a “total work or art” or “synthesis of the arts,” the Bauhaus art school attracted some of the most illustrious and respected artisans and educators of its time. It began with a vision to bridge gaps between industry and art by showing how fine arts, crafts, design, and architecture could and should co-exist.
The Bauhaus art school accomplished so much more than changing perceptions in its short 14 years; it sparked a movement that left a longlasting legacy and contribution with its modernist design and architecture, influencing art, furniture design, industry and technology. One hundred years later, principles and concepts born from the radical and innovative Bauhaus era endure, allowing today’s generation throughout the world to celebrate and acknowledge the roots that have shaped modern design and architecture.