furniture workshop

No workshop has defined the image of the Bauhaus as sustainably as the furniture workshop. First led by Johannes Itten, Walter Gropius became master of form in 1921 and had parts of the equipment of his buildings built by Bauhaus students.  At the Bauhaus exhibition in 1923, the Haus am Horn conveyed one of the earliest and most radical ideas of "New Living", and at the same time Gropius equipped his director's room with a modern Gesamtkunstwerk that left traditional forms of representation far behind.  For the first time, furniture was presented at the exhibition, the concept of which was visibly translated into Gropius’ “Bauhaus Production Principles” according to which everything should fulfill its function practically, be durable, cheap and beautiful, and at the same time suitable as a type for industrial production. Marcel Breuer’s Lattenstuhl seemed to fulfill Gropius specifications perfectly: Aesthetically appealing and equipped with a functional analysis, this chair sculpture became one of the best-known designs of the Weimar Bauhaus.

In Dessau in 1925 and appointed as Workshop Manager, Breuer was able to implement his design ideas with the help of the steel tube in more radical forms.  The result was a series of chair designs, which used the technical possibilities of the material to not only simplify the traditional seating, but also to give it a different aesthetic, supported by the reflective surface. These pieces of furniture became symbols of a new style of furnishing and epitomized the realignment of the Dessau Bauhaus. In many interiors built until 1930, Breuer combined them with a few simple wooden cabinets that he often designed from a module and attached to the walls like a ribbon. Their colored surfaces made them visually lighter.

With the departure of Breuer in 1928, the goals of the workshop changed under the new director: Instead of individual productions, for which the Bauhaus was known,  the profile now shifted to production-ready, Simple materials ,  preferable furniture. Sample facilities assembled by the Bauhaus show the changes: The number of furniture styles was reduced, and  many had to be multifunctional. Their design deliberately avoided adding value to every aesthetic table and craftsmanship was suppressed when working with the simpler materials.

The workshop was closed under Mies, as orders were down due to the economic situation. Besides, Mies seemed to disagree with the connection between production and school. He had already developed his well-known tubular steel and steel band furniture before becoming director of the Bauhaus. They became Bauhaus furniture by their role model function: students only meant to be able to produce the compositional consistency in their study work, which Mies had achieved in his buildings. The last phase of the Bauhaus dominated by role models, whose aesthetic quality is still hardly repeatable even today. – CW

metal workshop

Following the craftsmanship orientation of the early Bauhaus, the traditional metalworking techniques were taught at the Weimar Metalworks - initially called "gold, silver and copper smiths". In the early years Johannes ltten was her artistic director; Werkmeister was from 1922 to 1925 the experienced silversmith Christian Dell. The pupils' products clearly showed the influence of the teachings of ltten: The main focus in the production of vessels and devices was free form studies, the experimental recording of metallic materials and their processing options. Naum Slutzky's spherical copper can is a characteristic example of this early work.

With the assumption of the workshop management by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy in 1923, the functional aspect became more important.   This resulted in simple, vessels made of brass, nickeled brass or silver, reduced to elementary forms which, like the silver service of Marianne Brandt or Gyula Paps seven-arm candlesticks, were already designed for industrial mass production, but were still executed as individual pieces or in artisanal series. The first models for lighting fixtures made of glass and metal were also created during this period, including the legendary “Bauhaus Lamp” by Carl Jakob Jucker and Wilhelm Wagenfeld: “A cheap, practical lighting apparatus that is beautiful in its simplicity.” It was praised by Josef Albers, although the luminaire was not cheap at the time because of its craftsmanship.

In Dessau, equipping the generously dimensioned workshop rooms with appropriate machinery enabled more efficient serial production of vessels and equipment. As early as 1926, the metal workshop draft and take over production of all luminaires for the new Dessau Bauhaus building. In the years that followed after several lamp manufacturers took their models into series production it increasingly assumed the character of a "design laboratory" for new lighting fixtures and eventually became one of the most productive and successful workshops at the Bauhaus. Some of the luminaire types developed here - such as the Kandern lamps by Marianne Bradt and Hin Bredendieck - continued to be produced for decades after the Bauhaus closed down. - KW


Josef Albers - Fruit Bowl - 1923
Heinrich Borman - Kandem Tube Table Lamp - 1932
Marianne Brandt - Ashtray - 1924
Marianne Brandt - Tea Extract Jug - 1924
Marianne Brandt - Covered Light with Traction Device - 1926
Marianne Brandt - Desk Light - 1928
Marianne Brandt - Double Cylinder Light - 1928
Marcel Breuer - African Chair - 1921
Christian Dell - Wine Jug - 1922
Carl Jacob Jucker - Table Lamp - 1923
Gyula Pap - Seven Candelabra - 1922
Naum Slutzky - Spherical Box - 1920

typography and advertising

In the early years of the Weimar Bauhaus, typography, that is, the design of and with writing, did not yet play the central role that came later. Writing was primarily an artistic means of expression for Johannes Itten and Lothar Schreyer. Itten tried with his pupils, literary content through expressionism. To give written forms or by the combination of different types of prints and sizes pictorial expression. For example, Lothar Schreyer dealt with calligraphic exercises and the design of alphabets based on geometric construction systems. Practical applications were rare at first and were limited to invitations to school events and smaller printed matter.

The situation changed fundamentally in 1923 with the appointment of Moholy-Nagy, who introduced the legends of the New Typography to the Bauhaus. Writing was for him above all a medium of communication; he was concerned with "clear communication in its most urgent form." The advertisement for the great Weimar Bauhaus exhibition in the summer of 1923 already clearly shows its influence. Moholy-Nagy designed the layout for the accompanying exhibition to the exhibition and then also took over the typographic design for the 1926 opened, fourteen volumes comprehensive series of Bauhaus books. From now on, the typography at the Bauhaus was very much connected with self-promotion, with the development of an unmistakable appearance for the school. Characteristic design elements were clear, unadorned pamphlets, the structure and accentuation of the pages by memorable signs or colored typographic elements, and finally a direct information through the combination of writing and photography, for which the term "type photo" was coined. Added to this was the aspect of economics in the use of standardized formats and at times also a simplified spelling, especially the lower case.

In addition to Moholy-Nagy, typography in Weimar also featured Joost Schmidt and Herbert Bayer. Bayer took over the management of the newly established printing and advertising workshop at the Bauhaus Dessau and within a short time was able to expand it into a professional graphic design studio, which increasingly received external orders. He worked intensively on the development of avant-garde publications such as the "universal" or the "bayer-type", and his posters and printed matter shows the examination of the current findings of advertising psychology. After leaving the Bauhaus in 1928, Bayer continued his work in Germany, later in the USA, and became one of the most influential graphic designers of the twentieth century. His successor at the Bauhaus was Joost Schmidt. He introduced a systematic teaching of typeface design and advertising graphics, which he now extended to the practice of exhibition design. Applications for experimental presentation forms from architecture, sculpture, photography and typography were offered in traveling exhibitions at the Bauhaus as well as at trade fairs in Germany and abroad, which were designed by the advertising workshop. - KW

bauhaus stage

A stage department existed at the Bauhaus from 1921 to 1929; Initially it was directed by Lothar Schreyer and after 1923 by Oskar Schlemmer. Schlemmer called the Bauhaus stage, or even the "Flower in the Buttonhole of the Bauhaus", "the metamorphic point of the metaphysical over the too factual tendencies." In fact, this workshop participated in a very independent way in the development of the Bauhaus from craft to design in the industrial age. The expressionist painter and poet Lothar Schreyer intended a cultic work of art in which the stage was to become a place of purification and salvation for man. With pure shapes and colors, often in larger than life full masks, the players acted with symbol-laden movements and sounds. This was an interpretation of the theater, which the majority of Bauhaus members disagreed.  A trial performance of the "moon game" resulted in a scandal, that caused Schreyer to resign the management of the stage workshop and leave the Bauhaus.

Oskar Schlemmer had already dealt with questions of modern dance theater years before and between 1916 and 1922 developed the »Triadic Ballet«, an action-less costume theater in which the costumes built from geometrically stylized body forms determine the dance and were replaced by their own Peculiarity. The Bauhaus stage under Schlemmer also assumed the human figure as a mathematically geometrically determined type.  Work included the making of masks, costumes and props, the study of the mechanical, visual and acoustic conditions of the stage work, scenic interior design, movement and presentation studies, and the direction of exercises and performances that took place both in the Bauhaus itself.

The most important venue of the Bauhaus stage was the auditorium of the Bauhaus building in Dessau. There Schlemmer's "Bauhaus dances" were performed, as well as Kandinsky's "Pictures of an Exhibition" based on the music of Mussorgsky. The stage department was regularly included in the legendary festivals, with the Bauhaus band playing a major role. In the era of Hannes Meyer and Schlemmer's retirement in 1929, the Bauhaus stage also became the scene of a politically agitated theater.

Students such as Kurt Schmidt, Xanti Schawinsky and Heinz Loew contributed to the stage work of the Bauhaus in all phases of the Bauhaus with their own skits, costumes and theater experiments. New theater architectures such as the ballet theater by Andor Weininger were developed in connection with the Bauhaus stage. - PH

Erich Mende - Poster for Bauhaus Stage - 1929
Lothar Schreyer - The Merry Man - 1922
Lothar Schreyer - The Manly Intellect - 1922
Oscar Schlemmer - Costumes of the Triadic Ballet - 1926
Oscar Schlemmer - Directors Book Triadic Ballet- 1927
Erich Comeriner - Stage set for Jonny - 1927
Heniz Loew - Mechanical stage model - 1927
Kurt Schmidt - The man at the circuit board - 1024

musical bauhaus

Music was not one of the teaching goals of the Bauhaus, but it was of considerable importance to the school. Some of the most important Bauhaus masters showed a remarkable affinity for the musical in their personal lives as well as in their artistic work. Paul Klee, for example, was an excellent violinist; in his works he often used musical analogies; so also Lyonel Feininger, who composed at the same time as his painterly work. Even before his work at the Bauhaus Wassily Kandinsky had described the acousto-optical double sensations of synaesthesia - the correspondence of colors, shapes and sounds. His painterly work also has numerous musical references. In Johannes ltten's basic lessons in visual design, the musical concept of rhythm plays a central role. It was also ltten who sought to attract the Bauhaus to the Viennese composer and music theorist Josef Matthias Hauer, who in turn conducted research into a systematic relationship between sound and color. This did not happen, but with the "Harmonization Theory" by Gertrud Grunow and her holistically oriented conception of color, form and sound, there was a musicological lesson at the early Bauhaus.

In the later development of the Bauhaus on industrial design, the freethinking share declined in the early years; however, the »inclination to the Gesamtkunstwerk«, including the musical, remained effective for the further work of the Bauhaus. Thus, in Laszlo Moholy-Nagy's stage conception, form, movement, light, color, sound, and man were to co-operate and lead to a "theater of totality" [1925]. Something similar had already been demanded by Oscar Schlemmer, Wassily Kandinsky and Lothar Schreyer. In any case, it was above all the work area of the Bauhaus stage where the musical could articulate itself directly. Bauhaus students experimented there with color and modeling light games and also composed [e.g. Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack]. Others, inspired by Kandinsky, sought new transcription forms for the translation of musical into visual structures [e.g. Heinrich Barmann and Heinrich Neuborn]. In a rather cheerful, very audience-effective way, the Bauhaus chapel, made up of students, participated in the social life of the Bauhaus, initially apparently with sounds of Eastern European origin, later with jazz-like music. Incidentally, there was also a Bauhaus whistle as a musical identifier of Bauhaus members.

The educational concept of the Bauhaus was holistic and was as little satisfied with an early specialization as with a strict separation of artistic disciplines. At the Bauhaus, for example, there were always musical events in addition to subject lessons. A special event was the »Bauhaus Week« of 1923, in which works by Schoenberg, Krenek, Weill, Busoni, Hindemith and Stravinsky were performed under the direction of Hermann Scherchen. Eduard Erdmann played in 1926 at the invitation of Walter Gropius on the occasion of the inauguration of the Bauhaus building, whose auditorium later also repeatedly offered the venue for concerts and musical lectures. - PH

Herbert Bayer - Invitation for two jazz pianists - 1929
Heinrich Bormann - Analysis of a piece of music - 1930
Heinrich Neuy - A second call of the nightmare - 1931

wallpaper

The workshop for wall painting or murals is a now almost forgotten training area of the Bauhaus.

The early house furnishings, which were carried out by the workshop, are now very idiosyncratic: the choice of colours and the drafting of the design are neither comparable to later works nor do they correspond to what is now generally understood in 1920s. In this way, very dark parts of the flat are often contrasted with deliberately brightly lit; The colour choice with its pastel shades follows the primary colours that are common in the Villa area and are not used. Rooms can be experienced as spaces, space-spanning structures are not desired.

With the vocation of Wassily Kandinsky's to form master, the interest of the workshop was the large-scale mural, which had compositional independence from the wall. Kandinsky's own space from the jury free art exhibition in Berlin in 1922 and the various wall designs of Oskar Schlemmer in Weimar are the main works of this development.

In the late Weimar and the early years of Dessau, a return to architecture-based painting took place. Some designs try to divide rooms by color accent, single out individual areas and thus create partial spaces with the help of color. Walls and ceilings were standardized and given the same color treatment.

Hinnerk Scheper, director of the workshop since 1925, developed a concept that is completely subordinate to architecture. The colors chosen by Scheper are not colorful, but bright pastel shades whose color effect is enhanced by a variety of shades of gray. Differentiation by color was done in such a way that the architecture was not touched, but its outline elements were highlighted by color. Scheper never worked against the existing architecture. His approach is characterized by craft rules, inseparable from a sophisticated sense of the effect of colors. Although Scheper also worked out color schemes, they could be changed on-site at any time if the intended effect did not materialize. This restraint enabled him to also carry out restoration work on historic buildings.

His teaching, which at the end was called "color", was also very artisanal. For example, he called for the creation of an extensive color gamut for oil painting and taught the various techniques in the production of color shades, for example by spraying and screening. He considered knowledge of the different basic materials of the colors to be just as indispensable as expert knowledge of the various color carriers such as plasters.

- Despite this emphasis on designing from the The Bauhaus wallpaper was developed as an industrial product since 1929. Foreseen for the homes in the housing developments of the time, it was used in small-scale patterns and subdued colors. Due to its functionality, it became the most successful product developed at the Bauhaus. --CW
Alfred Arndt - Color schemes for the house Auerbach - 1924
Alfred Arndt - Color scheme for a master duplex - 1926
Hinnerk Scheper - Color scheme for Bauhaus Building - 1926
Hinnerk Scheper - Orientation plan Bauhaus Dessau - 1926
Oscar Schlemmer - Heads frieze. Preliminary drawing for a mural in the house of Adolf Meyer - 1923

die neue linie


die neue linie (the new line) was the first German lifestyle journal and it was published by Beyer Press in Leipzig from 1929 thru 1943. An outstanding lifestyle magazine of its time, its target audience was primarily the intellectual and fashion conscious German woman. It had a progressive and forward-looking concept compared to other mass media and the leading graphic designers from the Bauhaus had a decisive effect on the look and management of the magazine's avant-garde designs and innovative layout.

The modern Bauhaus signature applied to the magazine was largely spared by the Nazi regime up to and during the Second World War. It ceased publication not because of pressure from the regime, but because of scarce resources, paper in this case, resulting from the war effort.

The book Das Bauhaus am Kiosk (the bauhaus at the newstand) pictured to the left was published in 2007 for the exhibition of the same name held at the bauhaus-archiv in berlin.

Chapter two of the book titled, the bauhaus and the design of die neue linie, can be found below.


prelude to the bauhaus

"From Morris to the Bauhaus" is a book title that has long since become a buzzword, which places the Bauhaus in a line of development dating back to England and continuing until the middle of the last century. The artist William Morris was the founder and spokesman of a reform movement that fought the cultural-destructive consequences of industrialization. In his workshops after 1861, old craft techniques were revived and high-quality goods such as fabrics, carpets, stained glass, furniture and utensils were produced. Morris’· Kelmscott Press in 1890 produced books that paved the way for Art Nouveau.

Morris triggered a wave of reforms that reached Germany as well. It was recognized that well-designed industrial goods were a significant economic factor and studies were conducted of the English education system in order to reform the German art schools. The Dresden Workshops (1898) are the most well-known example of workshops founded as a result of the studies. In 1903 the Wiener Werkstätte was founded in Austria, whose most important representatives were Josef Hoffmann and Kolomon Moser. The Belgian Henry van de Velde, who had been active in Germany since 1897 and founded the School of Applied Arts in Weimar in 1907, was of particular importance as a pioneer for the Bauhaus. It became the direct forerunner of the Bauhaus, which then began work in van de Velde's school buildings.

In 1907, artists and industrialists founded the Deutscher Werkbund in Munich, which was to improve Germany's economic position through the "refinement of industrial work." The young architect Walter Gropius soon became one of the leading minds. In the spirit of his teacher Peter Behrens, he propagated industrial construction as the most important building task of the present day.

In 1911, at the Fagus plant in Alfeld/Leine, which Gropius built with his partner Adolf Meyer, they realized a façade with store-high steel windows. It became a textbook example of modern industrial construction. In 1915, Henry van de Velde recommended that Gropius replace him as Director of the Weimar School of Applied Arts, Gropius accepted the position and was successful in implementing his ideas on art school reform. In 1919, with the influence of the Werkbund, Gropius founded the Bauhaus in Weimar. He captured the spirit of optimism of a young generation that wanted to rebuild Germany after the First World War. The name Bauhaus seemed to promise that, The Expressionist style of Lyonel Feininger's cathedral that was included on the cover of the Bauhaus Manifesto was considered timely and forward-looking.


"we educate a guild of craftsmen without class building arrogance that would aim to build a wall between craftsman and artists"

--Walter Gropius

the bauhaus and national socialism

Even before 1933, the Bauhaus had been defamed by the rising Nazi movement as a "Bolshevik-Bolshevist"; after the closure of the Bauhaus this polemic was continued. The assignment to the Bauhaus did not cause any persecution on its own, but in many cases massive professional disadvantages. Therefore, many of the prominent members of the Bauhaus left Germany. Other teachers, such as Oskar Schlemmer, Gerhard Marcks and Georg Muche, although all removed from their teaching posts, remained in the country in contrast. This also applied to the majority of former Bauhaus students. Their professional situation during the Nazi years was quite different.

For the architects trained at the Bauhaus, there were three main areas of work: exhibition construction, industrial construction and private contracts. The industrial construction was the only construction task in which the National Socialists considered a modern language of form adequate. For representative construction tasks and for settlement construction, on the other hand, a monumental neoclassical or regionalised style language was considered appropriate. Here, in particular, the many architectural students Mies van der Rohe found tasks, e.g. in the huge Rimpl office complex or at the German Reichspost. In the private construction sector, modern architectural language could only be tempered or hidden - e.g. be realized towards the garden side or in the interior.

For the connection between the rationality of modernity and the system of destruction there is also a frightening example from the circle of the Bauhaus: The Canadian historian van Pelt revealed that the Bauhaus graduate Fritz Ertl was involved in the planning of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Many of the designers were able to adapt well to the new system, even if they were "private" opponents of the National Socialists. Wilhelm Wagenfeld, for example, who was the artistic director of the Vereinigte Lausitzer Glaswerke with great success as a designer, or Herbert Bayer, who continued as the director of the Berlin advertising agency Dorland. Among the students were some resistance members from the communist milieu, of which the photographer Willi Jungmittag and the KPD member Josef Knau should be particularly remembered. Jungmittag was murdered in 1944 in the Brandenburg penitentiary. Knau fought for three years in the Spanish Civil War and was eventually interned in France and delivered to the Gestapo. In the last days of the war, he died as a prisoner on the ship "Thielbeck" at its sinking.

A number of Jewish Bauhaus members were persecuted and murdered during the Nazi era. A commemorative plaque in the Bauhaus archive commemorates them and their relatives. --MD

bauhaus in exile

In 1933, the development of the Bauhaus was broken off in its country of origin. As a result, many members of the Bauhaus, including most of its "celebrities," went out of the country. At the same time, however, a successful continuation of Bauhaus ideas and programs began in exile.

The former directors Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe left Germany in 1934 and 1938. Hannes Meyer worked since his release in 1930 together with a group of former students in the Soviet Union and participated there in urban development programs. Some members of this group were murdered as part of Stalinist repression or, like the architect Philipp Tolziner, spent many years in the Gulag. In 1933, Wassily Kandinsky [to France] and Paul Klee [to Switzerland] went to other Western European countries. Josef Albers and his wife Anni were already appointed to the USA in 1933. Lyonel Feininger and Johannes ltten returned to their home countries [USA and Switzerland] in 1937 and 1938. A number of Bauhaus students have also had to leave Nazi Germany, partly for political or "racial" reasons.

 The most important destination of the Bauhaus Exodus was the United States. In addition to Gropius and Mies van der Rohe, the former Bauhaus masters Josef Albers, Marcel Breuer, Laszl6 Moholy-Nagy and Herbert Bayer, all of whom belonged to the inner circle of the Gropius Bauhaus, turned their attention to this. It was less political than professional considerations that led to the decision to emigrate, combined with the expectation of finding better opportunities outside Germany to realize their artistic credo. This expectation was fulfilled, the Bauhaus people found in the United States favorable opportunities for further action.

 In 1938, a key event in America reflecting the impact of the Bauhaus exile was the exhibition "Bauhaus 1919-1928" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Herbert Bayer, who designed the exhibition, became a highly influential graphic designer, Marcel Breuer also a successful architect. Josef Albers worked as a respected art teacher at Black Mountain College, which was at times a Bauhaus successor school, and later at Yale University. Anni Albers gained a great reputation as a weaver. The only design school that initially continued the name, the “New Bauhaus”, was founded in 1937 by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.

the bauhaus manifesto - april 1919

The ultimate aim of all visual arts is the complete building! To embellish buildings was once the noblest function of the fine arts; they were the indispensable components of great architecture. Today the arts exist in isolation, from which they can be rescued only through the conscious, cooperative effort of all craftsmen. Architects, painters, and sculptors must recognize anew and learn to grasp the composite character of a building both as an entity and in its separate parts. Only then will their work be imbued with the architectonic spirit which it has lost as “salon art.”

The old schools of art were unable to produce this unity; how could they, since art cannot be taught. They must be merged once more with the workshop. The mere drawing and painting world of the pattern designer and the applied artist must become a world that builds again. When young people who take a joy in artistic creation once more begin their life's work by learning a trade, then the unproductive “artist” will no longer be condemned to deficient artistry, for their skill will now be preserved for the crafts, in which they will be able to achieve excellence.

Architects, sculptors, painters, we all must return to the crafts! For art is not a “profession.” There is no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman. The artist is an exalted craftsman. In rare moments of inspiration, transcending the consciousness of his will, the grace of heaven may cause his work to blossom into art. But proficiency in a craft is essential to every artist. Therein lies the prime source of creative imagination.

Let us then create a new guild of craftsmen without the class distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between craftsman and artist! 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 the hands of a million workers like the crystal symbol of a new faith.

--WALTER  GROPIUS


The Diagram for the Structure of Teaching reveals the key aims for this new school. The circular plan should be read from the outside ring inward, showing that all students had to begin in a “basic course” (whose modern equivalent is typically known as “Foundations”), where they studied materials used in art, color theory, and form. Students then entered more specialized workshops, many of which were modeled after medieval guilds in their emphasis on collectivity and teaching craftsmanship. In his “Bauhaus Manifesto and Program,” Gropius highlighted the idea of uniting different artistic disciplines into a workshop-based system. He believed that this training should lead to the creation of a complete building, hence the central sphere, and that the building should be a unified “total work of art” with all components thoughtfully and coherently designed and crafted.


The folllowing schedule details the yearly chronology, 1919-1933, of the Bauhaus personnel. The numbers staffing the school are noted at the bottom of the schedule and range from 4 in 1919, peaking at 12 in Dessau in 1927, and 6 at the closing of Berlin in 1933.

new bauhaus chicago

Founded in Chicago in 1937, the New Bauhaus was the immediate successor to the Bauhaus, that was dissolved in 1933 under Nazi pressure. Although Bauhaus ideas continued elsewhere in America in principle, the full training program developed in Weimar and Dessau under Walter Gropius was taken up and further developed.

The former Bauhaus master Laszlo Moholy-Nagy was founding director and became head of the New Bauhaus School of Design in 1938. Through a disciplined experimentation with materials, techniques and forms he wanted to release the creative abilities of his students. This corresponded to the Vorkurs principle practiced at the "old" Bauhaus, which was taken over just like the strict workshop binding in the education. Natural and human scientific knowledge was increasingly communicated to students, and photography was also given more consideration in the Chicago Bauhaus.

According to these specifications, there was a »preliminary course« at the New Bauhaus (later also called »foundation course«). In "basic design", the students were introduced to various materials (wood, veneer, plastics, textiles, metals, glass, plaster, etc.). so as to learn their structure, surface effects and applicability. More strongly than in Germany, the use of mechanical techniques was trained. The various workshops then built on this basic study, including light, photography, film, publicity, textile, weaving, fashion, wood, metal, plastics, color, painting, decorating and others, including architecture. With teachers like György Kepes, Nathan Lerner, Arthur Siegel or Harry Callahan, photography at the Chicago Bauhaus may have the most significant accomplishments.

While Moholy-Nagy and Hin Bredendieck and Marli Ehrmann initially taught emigrants from the Bauhaus in Chicago, the teaching staff were later supplemented by Americans. The methodology and training objectives were also increasingly adapted to American requirements. In the process, Moholy-Nagy's successor in the Institute of Design, Serge Chermayeff, adhered to the Bauhaus-based, educational approaches and the goal of a universally thinking, holistically orientated designer. This gradually changed as a result of the merger with the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1950, but above all with a radical, more economic-oriented restructuring of the educational program since 1955 by industrial designer Jay Doblin. The Institute of Design itself still exists today as a professionally oriented design college. The methodology transferred from the German Bauhaus to Chicago and further developed there has been adopted by other American universities in many modified forms. It has been instrumental in pushing back the hitherto prevalent Beaux-Art tradition in the United States.

portfolio for Walter Gropius 192418/V

The inspiration for this unique joint work, presented to Walter Gropius on his 41st birthday on 18 May 1924 , comes fromLaszlo Moholy-Nagy. The works were presented to Gropius in a portfolio with the cover displayed to the left.

He presented the other 5 artists with a newspaper photo showing throngs of citizens listening to the results of the recent Reichstag election of 4-May-1924 on public radio receivers.

The artists were instructed to provide their unique interpretation of the photo to present in a combined portfolio to Walter Gropius for his birthday 18-May-1924. birthday six variations that show the whole range of artistic forms of expression at the Bauhaus in a fascinating way.


Paul Klee's version offers the subtle diagram of a misguided transfer of information. A bright red arrow, a sign of the message echoing out of the funnel, meets a fragile "ear" and triggers a small green exclamation mark beyond. The message has arrived, albeit in the complementary color, that is, in the opposite position on the color wheel.

 

Oskar Schlemmer reduces the newspaper photo to a scheme. Below is the radio in the form of a technical drawing, above a representation of the anatomy of the inner ear.

Laterally, the relationship of the machine to the human organ is expressed in an elementary equation: 1 x 1 = 1. Sender and receiver are therefore united in the communication process.


For Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, the motif becomes a purely constructivist composition that ignores all aspects of content. Falling diagonals mark the unstable frame on three sides. Receivers and horn become square and circle. The bald tree visible in the photo appears as a black cross with the white oblique cross shape as a negative projection.

Kandinsky's dramatic composition shows a complex of conflicting colors, forms and energies. A yellow triangle- as a relic of the bell - pushes from the slope of the windowsill to the middle. Line bundles continue the movement blocked by cross-shooting barriers diagonally, until they quietly float left in a system-left circles.


Feininger transforms the original with gentle irony into one of his characteristic marine scenes. In place of the big-city dynamics, the idyllic moonlit coastal landscape appears.  From the window parapet comes a water surface between projecting rock walls,  from a street sign the crescent moon,  from the radio a small steamship, from the horn a powerful cloud of steam.

Only Georg Muche describes, albeit vaguely, the confrontation of the apparatus with the listening crowd, ie the use of the new mass media broadcasting in the service of politics. Countless black and colored circles fill the panel and create a disturbing, forward-moving energy that everything seems to be backing away from.

bauhaus chronology 1907-1938

1907

Founding of the German Werkbund by Hermann Muthesius. Central themes of the later Bauhaus are already being formulated in the Werkbund Discussions of the following years, above all in a confrontation between Henry van de Velde, who emphasized the importance of craftsmanship in artistic design, and Hermann Muthesius, who demanded more typification.

1915

Henry van de Velde asks Walter Gropius if he would be inclined to accept the post of Director of the School of Applied Arts in Weimar. A year later, Gropius presented the Grand Duchy Saxon State Ministry in Weimar proposals for the establishment of a school as an artistic advice center for industry, advertising and craft.

1918

After the end of the war the »Workers Council for Art« was founded. In this context, Walter Gropius, Otto Bartning, Adolf Behne and Bruno Taut develop ideas about the redesign of the art-learning schools, which are already approaching the founding ideas of the Bauhaus.

1919

Walter Gropius is appointed director of the former Grand Ducal Saxon College of Fine Arts in Weimar. It is formally united by him with the already dissolved in 1915 School of Applied Arts and renamed Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar. In April, the manifesto and the first program will be published. Gropius calls for a reform of artistic work. This should be traced back to its foundations and conditions in the craft industry. Since only the craft, but not the art is teachable, the Bauhaus teaching should be based on a manual training in workshops. The idea of a unitary work of art, the reunification of artistic disciplines - sculpture, painting, arts and crafts - corresponds to the idea of ​​a working group of all arts to a new kind of architecture. - Although utopian in purpose, Gropius · program brings a turn to the requirements of practical life; Overall, the claim is made for a cultural reform. - In the same year, Gropius called three artists to Bauhaus masters: the painter Lyonel Feininger, the sculptor Gerhard Marcks and the painter and arts educator Johannes ltten. - The artistic teaching takes place initially in the classes of teachers, a crafts training in workshops: in the first semester only gold-silver-copper smithy, bookbinding, weaving and graphic printing. In addition, single architecture courses are given.

1920

Georg Muche is appointed as master in October. During the year further workshops will be opened: a workshop for wood and stone sculpture and a workshop for decorative painting (later murals). A carpentry workshop is being built in October, and a pottery workshop has been set up in Dornburg / Saale since May. The apprenticeship at the Bauhaus corresponds at this time to a manual apprenticeship, which must be completed with the examination in front of the Chamber of Handicrafts. The workshops are each led by a craftsman as a "master craftsman" and an artist as a "master of form" for a closer connection between art and craft. Feininger takes over the printing, Marcks the pottery; All other workshops will initially be headed by ltten and Muche. - From a compulsory exam semester under Itten arises the "preliminary course". In this artistic pre-apprenticeship, the elementary conditions of each design are addressed: the material, its possibilities of shaping and depicting, as well as its construction. The preliminary course serves to explore the personality and creativity of each student and to create equal conditions for further education. - Itten teaches the preliminary course, making it the Bauhaus pedagogy until the spring of 1923, in the summer each time detached from Muche. In Weimar, the Bauhaus experiences first public hostility. As a state-owned school depending on the parliamentary approval of grants, the Bauhaus is constantly threatened by these disputes and changing political majorities in its existence.

1921

At the beginning of the year, Paul Klee and Oskar Schlemmer are called, in the autumn Lothar Schreyer as head of the new stage department. In March, the workshop management is redistributed: Gropius takes over the carpentry, Schlemmer the stone carving, Muche the weaving and Klee the bookbindery. Gropius and Adolf Meyer build the Sommerfeld house in Berlin. This is the first attempt to realize the desired unity of the arts in construction. The workshops for woodcarving, mural painting, stained glass, carpentry, weaving and the metal workshop are involved in the construction and interior design. - Theo van Doesburg, a member of the Dutch artist group "De Stijl", pauses intermittently from April 1921 to November 1922 in Weimar. In lectures and courses in which Bauhaus students participate, he turns against the expressionistic and craft orientation of the Bauhaus. He propagates a new, technology-affirming concept of constructivist design. Although van Doesburg in Weimar acts as an antipole to the Bauhaus, he influences the school's turn towards industrial design in 1922 and has a lasting influence on its formal language.

1922

Since the beginning of the year, Gropius has reoriented his ideas about the goals of Bauhaus work. The debate continues with Itten about industrial production methods and their consequences for design comes to the fore. He and Itten continue to disagree  In April, the first public exhibition of works by journeymen and apprentices will be opened, in July an architectural exhibition by Gropius and Adolf Meyer. Foundation of a Bauhaus settlement community. Wassily Kandinsky is called; he is assigned the workshop for mural painting. - At this time, weaving and pottery are the most important workshops and the only ones that make a notable contribution to the financing of the school by selling their works. Schlemmer's "Triadic Ballet" premieres in Stuttgart in September.

1923

In February, an exhibition of works by Itten and the Bauhaus workshops is opened in the Zurich Arts and Crafts Museum. In March, Itten leaves Weimar. For him comes the constructivist artist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, the head of the metal workshop, and from autumn onwards he teaches in the preliminary course. - After Schreyer's departure, Oskar Schlemmer takes over the stage department. - First participation in the Leipzig Autumn Fair with weaving, ceramics and metalwork. - Since February, the »Bauhaus Exhibition« has been prepared for August and September: a first major report. On display are works from the workshops and the lessons, free art of the masters and an exhibition of international architecture. Construction of the test house »Am Horn« in Weimar as the first school-owned construction project, set up by the workshops. - In August, the »Bauhaus Week« with stage events, concerts and lectures. - With the slogan "Art and technology - a new unity" Gropius formulates his new concept, with which the industry is recognized as a determining force of the time. The confrontation with industry and with mechanical production becomes the precondition for all further Bauhaus work; she determines their understanding until today. - Since the winter semester, the introductory course in the first semester includes the work apprenticeship with Josef Albers, in the second semester the course "Material and Space" with Moholy-Nagy, the lessons in analysis and design "Color" at Kandinsky and the design theory "Form "With Klee.

1924

The elections to the Thuringian state parliament in February result in a bourgeois-right-wing majority, the former social-democratic building house friendly - government is replaced. In September, the new government cancels the contracts with the Bauhaus masters thru April 1925. In November, only the minority of the KPD, SPD and DDP vote in favor of the subsidies. The financially based but politically motivated harassment makes further work impossible. Therefore, on December 26, the masters declare the dissolution of the Bauhaus on April 1, 1925. - The Circle of Friends of the Bauhaus is founded to provide moral and practical support to the school. The Board of Trustees include u. a. Marc Chagall, Albert Einstein and Gerhart Hauptmann.

1925

Early in the year negotiations on the continuation of the school contracts began with several cities. - In March, the city council of Dessau, on the initiative of the Lord Mayor Fritz 'Hesse, decides to take over the Bauhaus as a municipal school.  Except for Marcks, all Formmasters' move to Dessau. Some former students take over the workshops as »young masters«: Herbert Bayer manages the printing and advertising workshop; Marcel Breuer joins the carpentry. In addition, there is the metal workshop, weaving, wall painting, plastic workshop and the stage. - Gropius announces a new program in which the importance of industry and science for design is dominant.  The Bauhaus he explains will define the »contemporary development of the dwelling«, »from the simple household appliance to the finished residential house«.  Gropius calls for "systematic research in theory and practice  in the formal, technical and economic fields". The workshops are described as "laboratories" for the production of industrial models. Starting in June, the first series of Bauhaus books is published, including publications by Gropius, Moholy-Nagy, Klee, Kandinsky and Mondrian.  In November Bauhaus GmbH was established for the commercial exploitation of the products.

1926

In October, the regional government recognizes the university character and the Bauhaus masters are appointed professors. Since then, the Bauhaus has been referred to as College of Design and classes leading to a degree earn the Bauhaus diploma. On December 4, inauguration of the new school building designed by Gropius and built by the Bauhaus workshops in Dessau. The spectacular new buildings in Dessau shape the concept of Bauhaus architecture to the present day. - For the opening the first issue of the magazine bauhaus «will be published, which will be published until 1931.

1927

In April opening of an architectural department, to whose head the architect Hannes Meyer is appointed. - In addition, the free painting classes Klee and Kandinsky are set up. In July, Muche leaves the Bauhaus, Gunta Stölzl takes over the management of the weaving mill.

1928

Gropius resigns as director in April to work as an architect in Berlin. At the same time Moholy-Nagy, Bayer and Breuer leave the school. - At the suggestion of Gropius Hannes Meyer new director. Meyer advocates a scientification of work and education. Design should be understood as an objective process and oriented to rationally understandable findings. Meyer criticizes the previous work of the Bauhaus as too formalistic and calls for the elimination of all aesthetic aspects. This type of design is now more socially justified ["need for the people instead of luxury"). - In Halle, the traveling exhibition »Junge Bau-hausmaler« opens, later to be seen in Braunschweig, Erfurt and Krefeld. - Bauhaus models are taken over by two lamp factories in series production. - The building house has 166 students, the circle of friends 460 members.

1929

In April and May the »bauhaus-wanderschau« is shown in the Basle trade museum, which can be seen afterwards in Wroclaw, Mannheim and Zurich. The exhibition provides an overview of the work at the Bauhaus under Hannes Meyer. -Workshops involved. In July, the metal workshop, the carpentry workshop and the wall painting workshop will be merged to form the expansion department. Tour of the Bauhaus stage in Germany and Switzerland with the Bauhaus dances by Oskar Schlemmer. In November Schlemmer leaves Dessau. - A photography department is being set up under the photographer Walter Peterhans. The architect and city planner Ludwig Hilberseimer is appointed to the construction department.

1930

At the beginning of the year, the Bauhaus wallpaper was launched, the school's most successful and most profitable product. Growing politicization among students. The director Hannes Meyer is released from the city of Dessau on charges of his communist orientation. Through the agency of Gropius, the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe will be appointed as the director in July, which will commence operations in the autumn. Under Mies van der Rohe, the training is divided into the five departments Construction and Development, Weaving, Photography and Visual Arts. The study is shortened to five semesters. Architecture education is gaining in importance and is strongly geared towards aesthetic issues. The significance of the workshops and thus also the industrial design work returns.  Mies van der Rohe tries to keep the school out of public political debate with a decidedly non-political leadership. This he also enforces with disciplinary measures.  For example, students who join Hannes Meyer are removed from the school.

1931

In April, Klee accepts a call to the 2 Düsseldorfer Akademie, in October Gunta Stölzl. - In November, municipal elections take place in Dessau; the NSDAP (Nazi party) becomes the strongest party and in victory, and upon election demand the cancellation of Bauhaus subsidies and the demolition of the Bauhaus building.

1932

At the beginning of the year, the interior architect Lilly Reich was appointed as the head of the extension department. - On 22 August, in the Dessau municipal council, the request of the NSDAP to cease the teaching of the Bauhaus on 1 October, was accepted by 20 votes to 5 of the KPD and the Lord Mayor Hesse. The members of the SPD abstained having until then decisively supported the Bauhaus. Mies van der Rohe decides to continue the school in Berlin as a private institute. In October, the building of a former telephone factory in Berlin-Steglitz will be converted to makeshift operation for the school. In the winter semester, the Bauhaus has 114 students. The teachers also include Kandinsky, Albers, Hilberseimer, Reich and Walter Peterhans.

1933

On April 11, at the beginning of the summer semester, the Bauhaus building in Berlin is searched and sealed by the police. 32 students are temporarily arrested. Attempts to reopen the school in negotiations with the secret state police and other NSDAP-related services remain unsuccessful. A new admission had been made dependent on replacing Kandinsky and Hilberseimer by teachers who "are on the ground of the national-socialist world of ideas," a new syllabus was entitled to the "demands of the new state on its internal structure." suffice. On July 20, a conference of teachers decided to dissolve the Bauhaus. The most famous Bauhaus teachers emigrate in the coming years, including Josef Albers [1933 / USA], Wassily Kandinsky [1933 / France]. Paul Klee [1933 / Switzerland], Walter Gropius [1934 / Great Britain, 1937 / USA], Laszlo Moholy-Nagy [1934 / Netherlands, 1935 / Great Britain, 1937 / USA], Marcel Breuer [1935 / Great Britain, 1937 / USA], Ludwig Mies van der Rohe [1938 / USA], Herbert Bayer [1938 / USA], Walter Peterhans [1938 / USA].

1937

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy founds the New Bauhaus in Chicago, which must close again the following year. In 1939 Moholy-Nagy opened the »School of Design«, which was renamed »Institute of Design« in 1944.

1938

The exhibition »Bauhaus 1919-1928« in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, prepared by Walter and lse Gropius and Herbert Bayer, shows the work of the Bauhaus under the direction of Gropius. It leads to a high degree of recognition for the Bauhaus in the United States. Also in 1938 Mies van der Rohe is appointed to the Armor Institute, now IIT Chicago.

1952

The College of Design in Ulm is founded, initiated by Otl Aicher and lnge Aicher-Scholl. In the early years under the first rector Max Bill, the school sees itself as a continuation of the Bauhaus.

the building

Inspired by the euphoria that triggered the commissioning of Mies van der Rohe with the construction of the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 1962, the founding director of the Bauhaus Archive, Hans Maria Wingler, shortly afterwards asked Walter Gropius if he wanted to design a museum building for this institution.  Gropius could not escape this task for several reasons. He had always insisted that a "Bauhaus archive" should be completely independent.  He could not imagine this archive as a department within an existing institution, especially a large museum as it would then lack the power of expression, and the vitality of the institution so vital to its continuance would inevitably suffer. He also knew from his own experience with the historic Bauhaus that many decisions could only be made in one independent institute. Also, he was aware of the advertising value of buildings since his first major contract, the FagusWerk 1911.  For this reason, the Bauhaus Archive needed not only its own but also a profiled building, just as the historic Bauhaus in Dessau had been.

Gropius created a complex according to an area plan presented by Wingler for the Darmstadt Rosenhöhe, which had a slightly shifted H-shape due to the hillside location. Gropius proposed shed roofs for the exposure of the exhibition rooms. Wingler accepted this planning without objections but could not enforce it politically. He had chosen the crest of the highest elevation of Darmstadt as a site. This seemed too high for the city Fathers for a newly founded institute that was still looking for a profile and they said it lacked the architectural quality of the National Gallery of Mies van der Rohe.  

Gropius succeeded, however, on one of his numerous visits to West Berlin to interest Senator Rolf Schwedler in the Bauhaus archive.  In his opinion, from the outset, the Bauhaus archive would have to have its domicile in this city, the last site of the historic building. The political environment for such an institution in this city also seemed to be more favourable to him.  On the Senate's offer, the Bauhaus archive was able to move to West Berlin in 1971 and was given the assurance of being able to build the building that was designed by Gropius in Berlin.

Of the three properties available for selection Gropius rejected the one located in the immediate vicinity of the New National Gallery.  Of the three plots to be selected, Gropius rejected the close proximity of the new National Gallery, in order to express the old antagonism between the two so different protagonists of the new building, not even generally visible expression Give.

 Instead, he chose the one on the Landwehr Canal, which, in contrast to the steeply sloping Darmstadt area, was completely flat and the necessary rescheduling was taken over by his former employee Alex Cvijanovic together with the Berlin architect Hans Bandel. This process of adaptation proved to be difficult and time-consuming; Drastic changes in planning also resulted from political decisions and financial bottlenecks because Wingler insisted on largely using Gropius' preplanning, which limited the structure of the building's ability to match the museum standards of the 1970s.

In 1976, the foundation stone could be laid for a building that had the general floor plan disposition and silhouette in common with the 1964 draft, but it was different in important respects. The large exhibition hall was now oriented to the South for urban planning reasons, a decision most problematic for the museum practice, and also the access ramp traversing the building was a new element. The construction was progressing rapidly, and in January 1979 the handover of keys to the future users could take place.

At the ceremonial opening in December 1979, only the collection, which was presented for the first time in its entire breadth, was discussed positively, but the critics were predominantly skeptical.  For Max Bill, the building was even a "messed-up old work". However, the audience that is looking at the museum today is quite different: the memorable silhouette of the building has become a hallmark in the city, the unpretentious interior of the museum is popular and the building design distinguishes itself from other Gropius buildings.  Apparently, the qualities of the building become visible only with increasing age: one indication being that the museum was designated as a monument in 1997.  

In 1932 Berlin had offered a last shelter to the Bauhaus in an abandoned telephone factory on the outskirts of the city. Today the Bauhaus archive can present its collection in a representative exhibition building in the heart of the city to an audience from all over the world. This good location, combined with a well-founded collection and an attractive programme of events, has contributed significantly to the success of the Bauhaus archive. The spatially changed situation of the museum in the centre of the city, close to the government district and the museums at the Cultural Forum, since 1989, gives its work new impetus as the collaboration goes on with the other historical Bauhaus sites in Weimar and Dessau.

--CW