"The house object evolves through the events that preceded it at home. It is the functions of living, sleeping, bathing, cooking and eating that inevitably give the full design of the house its shape … Design is not there for its own benefit, it arises on its own from the nature of the building, from the job it must fulfill … architecture has not exhausted its raison d'être, unless we consider our emotional needs for harmonious space, for nefarious sounds and to allow space for movement, it first brings life back into space, as a goal to reach a higher order. " Walter Gropius, in 1930
In German, Bauhaus literally means "building houses." But, besides words, the concept points to a completely new concept of art and life. As part of their basic training, artists were encouraged to emerge from their narrow experience – not only in painting, design and sculpture – and embrace the field of creative experiences. The aim was to provide a broader base to improve their knowledge.
The idea for this article started relatively automatically. While in Germany in 2009, I took many opportunities to understand more about this movement, and this is what I know but at a very superficial level. I was aware of many works and projects, but I was not fully aware of the philosophical background of the entire movement. Since then, I was fascinated not only by the diversity of artworks belonging to the Bauhaus movement and the current influences, but also by the overall concept that largely corresponds to the needs of the world in which we live today.
Kunstgewerbschule at Weimar was founded by Henry van de Velde in 1908. In 1919, Walter Gropius succeeded him at the head of this institution, which established relationships with the other Weimar school, theHochschule fuer Bildende Kunst. Three years before the recommendation and the local authorities agreed, the merger of Kunstgewebeschule and Hochschule fr Bildende Kunst was merged into one interdisciplinary school of crafts and design.
While fighting at the forefront of World War I, Gropius wrote "Proposals to create an educational institution to provide technical advisory services to industry, commerce and crafts." The movement's statement was issued in 1919 – as a couple of paragraphs expressing the founder's main idea in a very brief form – and illustrated by a wooden inscription – Cathedral of the Future, an industrial utopia that uses the religious symbol as an excuse for inclusivity and a holistic perspective – Lionel Wenger.
Once confirmed as the leader of Bauhaus, he followed his principles and succeeded in bringing Weimar several prominent technical names for the day: Lyonel Feininger, Gerhard Marcks, Johan Itten, Georg Muche, Paul Klee, Oskar Schlemmer and Wassily Kandinsky. Representatives of De Stijl joined the expressionism. In 1923, Theo van Duisburg, one of the most represented characters in the movement, gave some lectures to Bauhaus students. Another influence is from the Russian constructivist side.
Even Gropius was an architect in terms of composition, the Department of Architecture was absent in the early years of the life of the Bauhau School. Ironically, in many cases, movement is more recognized by influencing the field of city planning and building ethics than by the field of design and visual arts in general.
The context in which Bauhaus was born is very exciting – a turbulent period, both in international politics and at home – the end of World War I, the Russian Revolution in October 1917, and the boiled socialist anarchist movements in Germany, including the leadership of Spartacus Bond by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg – in The field of art, with Dada, Baadism, Reiter, Fofsim and De Staile among the new classes most important in artistic expression. Despite the clear political orientations – on the left – of some members of the school board, he identified Gropius and attempted to preserve his supposedly neutral political life. At the same time, he was a strong believer in the need for a new society, in his aesthetic vision conceived as a whole environment where all aspects of art were related and interconnected in a better world for humans. A vision that has moved for decades and re-emerged in the 21st century.
Return to the origins
His vision about the mission of the arts was explained in the statement published in 1919, in his first year of administration. The starting point of his approach to education reform was, as a first step in creating a unified framework covering the entire spectrum of artistic activities. This system was organized on the basis of the relationship of the trained master, reflecting the Renaissance and the concepts of education, and a shift around the idea of spirituality. But the main idea of education was more than just knowing the skills. Paul Eten, for example, used to start his classes with breathing and gymnastic exercises, while teaching theories of shape, color, or art history, and specifying correspondence between musical and spatial composition, in a spirit of harmony and balance.
Eten's spiritual interests went beyond his educational purposes, and he became more involved with Moshe in the Mazdaeb community, whose education and practices – such as vegetarianism, for example – were being introduced to Bauhaus. In December 1922, after various struggles with Gropius, Bauhaus left.
Paul Eten followed Joseph Albers and Laszlo Mohole Nagy who focused more on practical aspects, as factory visits.
From the start, the activities of the Gropius School – governmental institutions – have not been considered sympathy by local politicians and unions. Suspicion and controversy have increased in people like Eten and his followers. Local union representatives were concerned about a possible shortage of jobs held by Bauhaus students and accused the school of being a hotbed of communism and sabotage.
In a move to ease some of the critics and to illustrate the importance of the movement, in 1923 an exhibition was organized showing the school's work. The reactions the exhibition received in the United States and abroad were impressive, while the positive feedbacks in Germany were almost non-existent.
Women in art
"We wanted to create contemporary relevant living organisms appropriate for a new lifestyle. There is tremendous potential for experience in front of us. It was necessary to define our imaginary world, to shape our experiences through materials, rhythm, proportion, color and shape." Gunta will be removed
An important part of Bauhaus' groundbreaking work is represented by the Women's Education Place. At the time, most of the women were receiving home schooling with female teachers. Bauhaus on the art market at that time displayed various names of women. Initially, the numbers of women applying for education replaced men, but in a relatively short time, their names were lost. We rarely remember these days about Ilse Fehling (sculpture), Alma Siedhoff-Busher (toys), Marguerite Friedlaender-Wildenhain (earthenware) or Benita Oette (weave).
In the middle of a political storm
The struggle with local authorities to gain respect and reconnaissance has been overshadowed by the always unpredictable speed in the good sense of developments taking place on the political scene in Germany. Weimar, the seat of the school, was the city that gave another indication of the approaching dark times, by electing the German National Socialist Workers' Party.
As a direct result, funding was limited, and in 1926 Gropius moved the school to Dessau, a city with a more relaxed political environment. However, at the same time, Gropius was looking for more autonomy for his institution. One year before the move, in November 1925, with financial support from Adolf Sommerfeld, Gropius created a limited company to promote the school's designs and retail marketing – BauhausGmbH. A duly catalog produced, designed by Herbert Bayer, which shows Bauhaus products. The ideal period was about to end.
When Gropius moved his school in Dessau – and designed the new headquarters – the city was a very quiet industrial city, where the forests are located. I keep those treats today. The friendly landscape is punctured by the engineering houses of the former Bauhaus dwellings.
The new location reflects a shift in the general concept of the world of Gropius himself. He ceased to be a strong believer in the utopian socialist anti-capitalist ideas common in the first part of his career where he was more interested in a functionalist capitalist approach. At the business level produced by Bauhaus in this period, this is reflected in the increase in the level of industrial production.
Bauhaus without Gropius
In the following years, Gropius became more interested in theoretical approaches and wanted to delegate as many administrative tasks as possible. After his failure in 1928, in handing over the director of Bauhaus to Ludwig Messe van der Rohey, he appointed the Swiss architect, Hans Meyer, as a Communist, and Professor of the newly redesigned Hochschule fuer Gestaltung Center at the Design Institute, which remained until July 1930. Meyer presented a more scientific approach To Bauhaus he gave lectures on economics, psychology, sociology, biology, and Marxism in the school curriculum. The construction period ended with him, as the focus was on "pure" arts. Parallel to the expansion of Nazism, the end of the 1920s and early 1930s saw an increase in communist activities within the school, including through direct participation in support of various strikes. It creates various struggles with old and new names from Bauhaus, worried about the increasingly negative press, which ultimately leads to the expulsion of Meyer.
It was followed by Mais van der Rohe, whose main task was not to politicize the school. His first step was to close the school, force 170 students to reapply, expel others and create a new curriculum. The new interest was in architecture, which focused mostly on the attention of the educational program. Political interests have been completely eliminated.
The complete recovery of the school was halted by the victory of the National Socialists in Dessau, October 1931, which led to the fulfillment of their old dream – the closure of Bauhaus.
The end of the chapter
Bauhaus was moved by Mies as a private school in Berlin, but he followed the same path after more political victory for the National Socialists. The building was raided by the Gestapo, and on July 19, 1933 a decision was taken to dissolve the school. Several professors, including Mays, Marcel Brewer, Walter Gropius and Joseph Albers, immigrated to the United States to escape persecution, and in 1937, Mholy Nagybeckim made a short-lived director of New Bauhaus in Chicago. A year later, the Bauhaus design was retroactively held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the school's reputation grew as the most important institution of the twentieth century.
The functional approach to Bauhaus's pioneering design had a fundamental impact on the practice of industrial post-design and provided the philosophical basis from which the modern movement evolved. The Bauhaus also had a profound and widespread influence on the way in which design was later taught, and this was particularly perceptible in the Fur Hochschule Gestaltung, Ulm.
The white city
Israel is one of the most preserved places where the Bauhaus heritage has been moved, as it is located outside Tel Aviv, the only city in the world built in the Bauhaus style, monuments in Haifa, Jerusalem or in the kibbutzim.
The influences are more than belonging to more than one record of international style and are adapted to the functional needs of the city in terms of social and climate treatments. He prefers an asymmetry and irregularity, with soft interfaces and an open floor plan. The windows are smaller. The white city complex is all part of the UNESCO heritage.
The first building was built in the 1930s by former students in Bauhaus: Ariel Sharon, Dov Carmi, Genia Overbush, Richard Kaufman, Eric Mendelssohn – who, among others, designed the residence of the first president of the country, Chaim Weizmann.
Books and articles
Charlotte and Peter Viel, Design Handbook. Concepts. Materials. Styles, Hong Kong Kln London Los Angeles Madrid Paris Tokyo: Taschen, 2006