'We want to create the purely organic building, boldly emanating its inner laws, free of untruths or ornamentation.'
A native of Berlin, Gropius came from an upper middle-class background. His great-uncle was the architect Martin Gropius, a student of Karl Friedrich Schinkel, whose best-known work was the Königliche Kunstgewerbemuseum (Royal Museum of Applied Art) in Berlin, which now bears his name. In 1908, after studying architecture in Munich and Berlin, Gropius joined the office of Peter Behrens, who worked as a creative consultant for AEG. Other members of Behrens's practice included Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier. Gropius became a member of the Deutscher Werkbund (German Work Federation) as early as 1910.
In 1911, Gropius worked with Adolf Meyer on the design of the Fagus-Werk, a factory in Alfeld an der Leine. With its clear cubic form and transparent façade of steel and glass, this factory building is perceived to be a pioneering work of what later became known as modern architecture. For the 1914 exhibition of the Deutscher Werkbund (German Work Federation) in Cologne, Gropius and Adolf Meyer designed a prototype factory which was to become yet another classic example of modern architecture.
In 1923, Gropius initiated a change of course at the Bauhaus with a major exhibition under the motto 'art and technology – a new unity'. The school now turned towards industrial methods of production.
As a result, the highly influential master, Expressionist painter and first director of the preliminary course, Johannes Itten, left the Bauhaus. Gropius appointed the Hungarian artist László Moholy-Nagy as his successor.
In 1925, a move to Dessau began a new era for the Bauhaus. During this period, Gropius designed the Bauhaus Building (opened in 1926) as well as the Masters’ Houses (1925–1926) that were built for the Bauhaus masters, in addition to the Dessau-Törten housing estate (1926–1928) and the Dessau Employment Office.
In 1928, Gropius handed the post of director over to the Swiss architect and urbanist Hannes Meyer whom he had hired recently to head the new architecture class and returned to Berlin and his architectural practice.
In 1934, Gropius emigrated to England and then on to the USA in 1937. He worked there as a professor for architecture at the Graduate School of Design of Harvard University. In 1938, he organised the exhibition Bauhaus 1919–1928 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York together with Herbert Bayer. From 1938 to 1941, Gropius maintained an office partnership with Marcel Breuer. He became an American citizen in 1944.
The early Bauhaus had to live with the paradox that its founding manifesto called for "construction," but did not provide the necessary architecture training. There were only courses in drawing.
- If there was an architecture-related instruction at the Weimar Bauhaus, it was only because Walter Gropius provided for instruction in the classic master's degree form to be given by his partner Adolf Meyer for journeymen in his own private studio on the basis of orders currently being processed in the office. All attempts to introduce architectural classes or regulated instruction were short-lived. It was not until the last Weimar semester that Adolf Meyer was able to teach regularly, but the number of participants in these courses remained limited.
- The buildings by Gropius and Meyer became »Bauhaus Buildings« in several respects. In lectures and publications Gropius did not draw a line between private assignments and those at the school. He let students work on building contracts in his office and always tried to sell products and services of the Bauhaus workshops. Gropius did not see any conflict of interest. The architecture of the Bauhaus was that of its director. In this form of cooperation, world-famous projects have emerged today: the house for the Berlin contractor and sponsor of the Bauhaus Adolf Sommerfeld, the renovation of the theater in Jena [both destroyed] and the Otte in Berlin and Auerbach in Jena. The office Gropius became internationally known through the competition design for the Chicago Tribune.
Only a few projects are handed down to students independent of the Gropius office: The first plans for 1920 contemplated the timing of a system of wooden houses; In 1922/23 masters and students developed other forms of house, in which the central living space forms the center. Not only did they deal with new construction techniques and materials, but also with the design ideas introduced by Theo van Doesburg in Weimar. Such a house was designed for the Bauhaus exhibition in 1923 to designs by Georg Muche, and Adolf Meyer converted his ideas into a buildable form. The Bauhaus workshops completely furnished the Haus am Horn. Its architecture is less radical than the interior design, which should express very specific ideas of a changed lifestyle of the new man.
These approaches were continued in the following years. Marcel Breuer, in particular, has avoided the trade-off between the traditional overall conception and the modern layout visible in the exhibition hall and has developed his designs against existing conventions. These designs were not developed on the basis of real tasks, but can only be interpreted as self-selected projections into a constructional future and went far beyond what the Gropius / Meyer office simultaneously presented. The unbound atmosphere of the Weimar Bauhaus has sustainably promoted such thinking. - CW
In 1927, Hannes Meyer arrived at the Bauhaus Dessau with his business partner Hans Wittwer and assumed a post as director of the newly established building department. On 1st April 1928, Walter Gropius appointed him to be his successor as the director of the Bauhaus. Despite reaching a broad conceptual consensus – for both of them, building meant the “organisation of life processes” – Hannes Meyer moved away from artistic intuition towards building theory. He separated the sciences from the arts and introduced new subjects related to technology, natural science and the humanities. He also reorganised the workshops to meet the requirements of industry and an egalitarian social ideal. An important goal for Meyer was to “curtail the influence of the artist”. Starting in the winter semester of 1927/28, the school offered free painting classes. The Bauhaus now aspired to two educational objectives: to educate the production or construction engineer and the artist. Instead of Gropius’s “exploration of the principles of design”, Meyer called on the students to base their designs strictly on the given requirements and to study the “life processes” of the future users.
Meyer’s continued critique of the direction in which the Bauhaus had developed caused increasing tensions with Walter Gropius, who had lost nothing of his power base even after his resignation. In addition, the Bauhaus’s students became increasingly politicised and radicalised as the communist influence grew. Because Meyer did not prohibit these tendencies in his role as director, Gropius – together with the Lord Mayor of Dessau, Fritz Hesse, and Bauhaus teachers such as Wassily Kandinsky – ultimately pleaded to have Meyers fired in order to protect the school from political repercussions. On 1st August 1930, Meyer was dismissed summarily by the city of Dessau due to “Communist machinations”. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who had also been recommended by Gropius, became his successor as director.
In 1927, Hannes Meyer was hired to lead the architectural education. His building theory was based on three basic assumptions:
1) All architectural education must be given on a scientific basis. Priority has the function of a building in the very practical sense. Each development is therefore preceded by studies of use, from which the construction program must be developed with scientific precision.
2) An optimization of all necessary needs takes precedence over artistic considerations.
3) All architectural education must be based on practical assignments.
In the theoretical part of the training, intensive use studies were carried out, the results of which were recorded in diagrams that were supposed to prove scientific validity. The elaboration of such planning principles broke with the practice of architecture education elsewhere in Germany, where design training was carried out on the basis of “larger” building tasks such as town halls, libraries and theaters. For Meyer, building was just organization, not a creative process. The appearance of designs created in this way, with their edged, detail-poor appearance, in which every detail can be "explained" tried to break both with the conventional building aesthetics, as well as the design principles of the New Building with its emphasis on balance and rhythm as obsolete to appearance.
Meyer was able to secure the practical relevance by building four pergola houses for the city of Dessau. Planning and execution were solely in the hands of the construction department of the Bauhaus. The plan was to rent tenements with flats with two or two and a half rooms, accessible via an open external corridor - a form of housing which, in theory, has many good sides, but was mostly rejected by the residents.
The construction department was also drawn by Meyer to the construction of the house designed by him of the Federal School of the ADGB in Bernau near Berlin. All the functions that the building had to fulfill were first worked out scientifically; their architectural implementation should appear as a logical consequence of these guidelines. Although Meyer explained that the layout of the floor plan was based on the pedagogical necessity of community life, a number of emblematic building projects and the proportioning of the entire complex raised doubts about his alleged disregard of architectural factors.
Despite high structural standards inside and out, the entire complex was barren. This effect was certainly intended to avoid comparisons with feudal installations; For the worker, a form of construction suitable for him should be developed. The equipment used proven industrial products; the Bauhaus workshops were called in for special assignments. In contrast to many other modern buildings, the division into several building complexes allowed the federal school to be perfectly adapted to the forest landscape. - CW
'Architecture epitomises the human being’s spatial confrontation with his environment; it expresses how he asserts himself in it and how he manages to master it.'
The leading German avant-garde architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was the third and last Bauhaus director. Appointed by the founding director of the school, Walter Gropius, he replaced the previous director Hannes Meyer, who was dismissed for political reasons in 1930.
Both the school and the city of Dessau had hoped that Mies van der Rohe’s authority would have a calming influence on the school’s radicalised student body. However, because of the balance of power in Dessau, which was dominated by the National Socialists, even Mies van der Rohe was unable to maintain the school’s location and closed it's doors in 1932.
He continued the school’s teaching activities in Berlin until its forced closure by the National Socialists in 1933.
The appointment of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as director of the Bauhaus after the untimely termination of Hannes Meyer was to serve multiple purposes: he was to bring the Bauhaus closer to those who supported his work and to continue the reforms begun by Meyer. Plus his artistic personality was to provide a new face of the Bauhaus, especially in the architectural sector.
The teaching structure created by Mies reflected his own experience: the first stage was a solid knowledge of the building technique Unumgäng, followed by studies on different types of buildings and based on the urban planning design. Mies had reserved the lessons in the higher semesters: the architectural language he developed formed the basis for his teaching. Solutions for his tasks were found in his work, whose unwritten rules regarding structure and design had to be grasped and retraced. Mies thought it would be more fruitful to offer models and to continue working in the classroom than to leave the students alone with a method. The subject of the lesson was the single family house. His opinion was: "Anyone who can properly work out such a house, also dominates all other architecture. "
But his concept of function was neither narrow nor scientifically exact and never subordinated to artistic interests. Use and architectural design of a house were to bring into a balance, which helped both to their right. Mies did not organize the lives of the inhabitants of his houses to the last detail with the intention of minimizing the living space, but he created spaces that make spatial freedom come alive and whose qualities are difficult to put into words. From today's point of view, their effect seems to depend on the preponderance of the architectural form, which, however, was indispensable for Mies as an ordering force. Such a high and at the same time abstract design claim can not be brought into a teaching program without compromise; Mies was aware of the unethical content. Therefore, he placed great value not only on the training of the artists hand, but also on the mind, which allows an implementation of seemingly simple, but in reality highly complex spatial ideas.
- The architecture created by Mies exerted a great influence on the students who had completed the technical training in building and wanted to educate themselves in his aesthetic first and foremost. The inclusion of architectural studies at the Bauhaus 1930/31 must therefore be interpreted as a deliberate decision for Mies and his aesthetic program. So it is not surprising to find many designs as class work, which took Mies repertoire as a model and dealt with his simultaneous work. In the best cases, even Mies' own intentions can be understood, but in the end they always master an aesthetic vocabulary that can be applied in many ways. Many of his students have remained loyal to him for a lifetime. - CW
After Walter Gropius, now at Harvard, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was the second Bauhaus director to be appointed director of an American architecture school with a mandate to fundamentally reform the curriculum. Mies was faced with the problem of developing from his ideas of architecture education and the regulations of a large American university a new educational concept that reconciled his rather anti-academic inclinations with the necessities of a large American university and its conquest of success.. His experience at the Bauhaus, in turn, led him to develop a three-stage lesson plan, the first part of which served as a manual and visual training to develop a sense of proportion, structure, form, and material, their context, and expression. This was followed by an introduction to building materials and building construction in order to recognize the meaningful connection between material, structure and form. This was followed by an analysis of the purposes of a building as a basis for the design and needs of urban planning. The purpose was not understood in a purely functional sense, but the studies also served to capture the differences between building types. At the end there was an introduction to the artistic foundations and problems of building.
Mies gave the school a clear orientation, which no longer "designed" a building, but developed it. A working method that brought technical and artistic problems into Mies own balance, was the core. The mastery of the craft side of building was a prerequisite. As in Germany, the training was geared to more than the safe handling of set pieces from his own vocabulary: The achievement of this training goal Mies regarded as the basic requirement of his teaching at the IIT. With this emphasis on the artistic side of architecture, the curriculum there was very different from that of other American educational institutions, especially that developed by Walter Gropius at Harvard, which was based on the structural conditions of the construction process and followed the market in the outward appearance.
Such a lesson could only be successfully carried out with teachers who thought the same way as Mies. He was fortunate enough to be able to call on two teachers who had already taught him at the Bauhaus: For introductory courses, he hired Walter Peterhans, who developed a lesson that emphasizes the intellectual and manual abilities required in architecture lessons, developed with his "Visual training" method. Ludwig Hilberseimer took over the urban planning department, and formulated his ideas on urban form even more fully and further developed them into regional planning.
The curriculum developed by Mies quickly became famous and was not only imitated in the US but throughout the world. - CW
On the morning of April 11 1933, the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe turned up for work as normal. It was not a normal day., the 20th century's greatest school of art, architecture and design, was closed. The building was cordoned off by armed police and surrounded by crowds.
Mies' pace quickened. "Stop!" he shouted at the officers. "What's the idea? This is my school! It belongs to me!" Not any more, said an officer: the Gestapo was scouring the school for a secret printing press suspected of publishing anti-Nazi propaganda, and documents linking Bauhaus to the Communist party. Mies was released after an interrogation. But the Bauhaus stayed shut.
The next day, Mies, knuckle-headed and stubborn as ever, went to the top. Alfred Rosenberg, the conservative minister of culture in the newly elected Nazi government, was renowned for his iron temperament. But then, so was Mies. "The Bauhaus has a certain idea," began Mies, in his nagging, methodical monotone, "but this idea has nothing to do with politics. Look at your writing table, this shabby writing table. Do you like it? I would throw it out the window." Mies rarely minced his words.
"That is what we at the Bauhaus want to do. We want to have good objects so that we do not have to throw them out of the window." Rosenberg was an architect himself. "Then we will understand each other," said Mies. "What do you expect me to do?" asked Rosenberg. "The Bauhaus is supported by forces fighting our forces."
"For any cultural effort," replied Mies, "one needs peace, and I would like to know whether we will have that peace." The Bauhaus stayed shut.
So Mies tried another route. Every other day, he marched to Gestapo headquarters. This time, it took him three months to get to the top. On July 21, with the Bauhaus on the brink of bankruptcy, a letter arrived from the Gestapo giving permission to reopen, but only if the curriculum was rewritten to suit "the demands of the new State", and if two of its leftwing teachers, Ludwig Hilberseimer and the painter Vasili Kandinsky, were replaced with "individuals who guarantee to support the principles of the National Socialist ideology". Mies gathered his colleagues, opened the champagne, and promptly closed the school himself.
Mies was pathologically strong-willed, so protective of his independence that he would close his own school rather than submit to the demands of anyone else. Even the Nazis. Mies had schooled himself as modernism's cold, steely heart. He wasn't verbose and dilettantish like Le Corbusier. He didn't douse himself with sociology like Walter Gropius. He didn't dress the flamboyant dandy like Frank Lloyd Wright, all cape and cane. All were diversions, Mies thought. Instead, he presented himself as a monolithic figure, silent and sober, like a monk. He read St Thomas Aquinas, St Augustine, Plato and Nietzsche. He had certainty. He had a plan, and politics wasn't part of it.
Which was exactly why he'd ended up at the Bauhaus. By 1933, the school was a global cult, sending out from its converted telephone factory eager young missionaries to spread the modernist word: honesty of construction, death to decoration. Under its first director, Gropius, and its second, Hannes Meyer, these students were also trained in socialism - the efficient, industrial mass production of "good objects" for the people, which had led it into often violent controversy. Mies was made director to bring order and discipline, and above all to make the Bauhaus apolitical. In 1930s Berlin, however, the politics of architecture would prove impossible to ignore.
Mies believed, he said, in something more noble than politics, the ruthless pursuit of the perfect modern building, the true heir, he thought, to Greek temples and gothic cathedrals - buildings constructed on earth in order to escape it. These were cathedrals for the new religion, commerce and industry - factories, office blocks, skyscrapers and apartment towers, the modern urban landscape, whose architecture had yet to be invented. The form lay out there for him to discover. "The will of the epoch," he said, must be "translated into space" - as if he were just the draughtsman for a higher system, the universe's appointed architect.
Mies is known now for his American architecture - it was there that he was able to make his modern "cathedrals" a reality. But it was in Berlin, in the prewar years, that his ideas were formed.
Like his students, he was a convert to modernism. In Berlin's cultural explosion of the early 1920s, Mies, then in his mid 30s, switched lives. Out went the provincial name, Ludwig Mies, with its reminders of his lower-middle-class upbringing in the deeply conservative Catholic Rhineland. In came the more cosmopolitan Mies van der Rohe. Out went his conventional wife and children, relegated to annual visits. In came a succession of mistresses, and wild nights with Berlin's avant garde.
And out went Mies' formal classical design, taught to him by architects struggling to come to terms with the 20th century, attempting to stretch the styles of the past around radical new building types such as the modern factory. Sometimes these old styles just wouldn't fit. Modern buildings required a whole new architecture.
Like any eager convert, Mies took modernism to extremes. Throughout his life, nothing got in the way of his quest for pure form: politics, family, mistresses, clients, ideas that ill fitted his single-minded worldview - all were brushed aside. Even practicality. In the 1930s, he designed furniture that users "must learn to love"; and, after the war, venetian blinds on New York's Seagram Building that would stop only in aesthetically pleasing positions (backed up with contractual subclauses to ensure that nobody replaced them with drapes of lesser beauty); Berlin's National Gallery without walls (they might interrupt its vast empty space); and houses, such as the Farnsworth House in the US, that had a notorious aversion to ugly essentials such as plumbing, heating and mosquito nets. He would bully his clients to the law courts to get his way, the very model of the arrogant architect.
All of which would have been unforgivable were his buildings not breathtaking. Mies took the modern steel frame, which removed the structural need for walls, as far as it could then go, to create the kinds of crisp, idealised, abstract spaces that his contemporaries in the visual arts, Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesberg, were exploring on canvas. He once built a chapel in the US so bare, so pure, that it had to have a sign attached - "Chapel" - to tell the visitor where they were. "God," he said, "is in the details." This was a man whose eye had been trained by chiselling headstones in his father's stonemason's yard, who could spend days perfecting the cross-section of a beam and weeks labouring over minute mathematical ratios that only he could see.
He created his masterpiece, the German Pavilion at the Barcelona Exposition, in 1929: a series of empty spaces, removed of every physical encumbrance that technology would allow. Enclosure was suggested only by a series of planes, arranged with formal geometry, like a Mondrian painting. Nothingness, transparency, was used as a kind of expression. Visitors would touch its floor-to-ceiling glass walls, the world's first, to see how they stood up - if they stood up. The whole building appeared so lightweight that it threatened to float away into the sky. "It contains only space," dismissed one critic. But that was the point. The world had seen nothing like it. We're used to open-plan homes and offices today, but in 1929 it was a revolution to the senses. This, said one newspaper report at the time, was "the modern feeling".
This was exactly why Germany's pre-Nazi Weimar Republic had chosen Mies to represent it. During the 1920s, it had fashioned itself into the most modernist of states. If you were a young designer, hungry for work, Germany - and, most of all, the Bauhaus - was where you came. For the Barcelona fair, the Weimar government wanted to project the image of a modern, progressive, peaceful Germany, emerging again on the world stage after the humiliations of the first world war. "We do not want anything but clarity, simplicity, honesty," said Georg von Schnitzler, commissar general of the Reich, at the official opening.
Not that Mies bought this, of course. A building, to him, was not a piece of propaganda, but something to escape worldly distractions such as politics. Still, so long as it brought in work, he was happy to play along: he didn't care for whom he built, so long as they had lots of money, lots of power and didn't get in his way.
So Mies, Weimar Germany's rising star, designed the kinds of buildings that his newly prosperous country would need, such as the world's first glass-and-steel skyscraper, a stunning shaft of quartz; the first modern office block, which, 50 years before the Pompidou Centre and the Lloyd's building, used its guts, its structure, as abstract exterior decoration; and, at Barcelona, the world's first truly open-plan house. He had time only to build the last. A few weeks after the Barcelona fair opened, stock markets across the world crashed. The Depression dried up his stock of wealthy German clients and a new kind of German politics was on the horizon. It, too, would use architecture as propaganda. But it wasn't Mies' kind of architecture.
It was hard for someone to ignore politics in 1930s Germany, but Mies did his best. To this freakishly single-minded man, the rise of nazism was like a fly buzzing around him while he worked, getting ever closer and increasingly destroying his concentration.
When the Bauhaus closed in 1933, it seemed as if Alfred Rosenberg's völkisch rightwing had the upper hand, with their sentimental attachment to folksy architecture. With them in charge, the very pitch of your roof could land you in trouble.
They'd had their eye on the Bauhaus's internationalist cult for years. In 1925, the school, then led by Gropius, was forced to leave Weimar, Germany's intellectual heart, by the city's rightwing. It was drummed out of Dessau in 1932, too, when local Nazis took the council. They threatened to build proper Teutonic pitched roofs and gables on the building's bolshevik flat roofs to show who was boss now.
The Nazis even found fault with Mies' thoroughly apolitical directorship when he moved the school to Berlin, simply for what they thought his abstract modernism represented. Leaving aside the school's degenerate, internationalist, rootless, Jewish, bolshevik membership, the newly christened International Style - white walls, steel and glass, and flat roofs - just wasn't German.
Yet Hitler himself had not quite made up his mind about modern architecture. In the early 1930s, he was strongly influenced by propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, who had recognised the progressive, symbolic power of industrial modernism - it might be useful. In early September 1933, Hitler spoke at a culture conference, fiercely criticising radical art but accepting "a functionalism of crystalline clarity" in design.
Like Mies, Hitler was obsessed with industrialism, the symbolism of technology, the theatre of getting things done. He even spoke the Bauhaus language: "To be German," said Hitler, "means to be logical, above all to be truthful." Music to Mies'ears. Industrial modernism could so easily have become the language of autobahns and vast Nazi meeting halls.
Starved of work, Mies tried to ingratiate himself with this new, powerful and rich state patron, signing a motion of support for Hitler in the August 1934 referendum and joining Goebbels's Reichskultur-kammer, a progressive alternative to Rosenberg's ministry, which asked for "fresh blood" and new forms to give "expression to this age". Mies was shortlisted to build the state's new Reichsbank, with a fiercely modern, abstract design; and Goebbels even pressed him to design the Deutsches Volk Deutsches Arbeit exhibition. Things were on the up.
But in 1934, Hitler, by chance, came across Albert Speer, a young architect who had caught the Nazi bug. Speer had joined the party as head of its local Motorists' Association, and only as its head because he was the only car driver in his neighbourhood. There just happened to be a lot of influential Nazis at the Wannsee local HQ. With furious speed, Speer found himself spun from apprentice to chief architect for Goebbels's propaganda ministry, then to designer for Nazi rallies at Tempelhof Field, and then, in 1934, to Hitler's personal architect, designing, the Führer promised, "buildings for me such as haven't been built perhaps for 4,000 years". Speer never quite understood his luck.
All it took to end modernism, and Mies, in Germany was Hitler and Speer's obsessive personal relationship. Hitler was an amateur architect, a trainspotter - he had once been refused admission to the Viennese Academy's architecture school - and liked nothing better on a Sunday afternoon than to pore over plans with eager-to-please Speer. He would discuss the minutiae of cross-sections and tinker with designs, which he always referred to as "my building plans", as if Speer were merely the conduit for Hitler's grand visions.
But where Goebbels challenged Hitler's taste for sentimental nationalist architecture, Speer indulged it. Speer was a first-rate administrator, but a second-rate architect, a decent enough exponent of the polite classicism that Mies had ditched years earlier, but a dab hand at the kind of populist theatricality that caught the Führer's eye.
And so, by chance, it was decided that the Third Reich's landscape was not to be the sleek, industrial modernism of the Barcelona Pavilion, but Hansel and Gretel gothic, and a bombastic classicism of inflated porticoes, pediments and columns, with all their cheap analogies with the Roman empire. With Leni Riefenstahl, Speer became the Nazi's stage manager, designing ever larger, more extravagant stage sets, from the Nuremberg rally complex to the Cathedral of Light, 130 anti-aircraft searchlights shooting in the air, their thrusting verticality, apparently, to lead the eye away from the paunches of the marching party leaders.
And, of course, there was Hitler's special commission, the complete rebuilding of Berlin, followed by every other major German city. Hitler so adored Speer's vast detailed model of a Berlin reborn, complete with ambitious domes and giant's avenues, that he would gaze lovingly at what might have been while burrowed deep in his bunker in 1945, with the allies at the door.
With Speer now in charge, the conservatives extended the cultural policy of Gleichschaltung (bringing in line) from publishing and art to building, simply by controlling the planning system and making sure they had the right sort of people on competition juries. Hitler cancelled the Reichsbank competition on which Mies was depending financially. And every architect was forced to adjust his or her style to suit.
Except Mies. He didn't know any other way. Between 1931 and 1938, only two out of 12 houses were actually built. But, though politics had caught up with him, Mies kept ploughing on. He was even willing to bend his design to suit the Nazis. Slightly. His competition entry for the national pavilion at the 1935 Brussels World's Fair was his last attempt to angle German national architecture towards modernism.
The abstract plan is there, only it is grander, more symmetrical than usual; the stark, plain walls are there, but Mies would never have added an eagle and swastika - decoration - in happier times. In the end, there was no money for the pavilion; not that he'd have won. Speer's pompous national pavilion at the Paris fair in 1937 was more to Nazi taste now. And how strikingly similar it looked, remarked Speer himself, to the Soviet pavilion sitting opposite.
Mies seemed to dislike the Nazis more for their poor taste and their starving him of work than for their politics. Nazi architecture, to Mies, was hardly architecture at all, mere stage sets, "sentimental", emotional. It was an aberration, something that got in the way of his ideal of pure, abstract modernism. He never passed comment directly on Speer, but it must have galled him to see this youngster succeed with so little. Designing the will of the epoch, the architecture for the German state, was once meant to be Mies' job. In this upstart's hands, it was being realised in the clumsiest of forms.
So, stubborn to the last, Mies just sat it out, waiting for change, waiting for the latest obstruction to shift, and damning the Nazis the way he damned family, lovers and everything else that got in his way: with silent withdrawal. More solitary than ever, and getting by on the royalties from his furniture, Mies spent the mid-1930s designing endless variations of prototypical, ideal buildings - the museum, the office, the university - each, like Erik Satie's Gymnopedies, variations on a theme, subtly different from the last. They remained on paper. He built up a backlog of fantasies that he'd build one day, once the Nazis had disappeared. And he had every faith that they would.
But Mies' reluctance to condemn Nazi politics saw him attacked by many of his former Bauhaus colleagues, many of whom, Jewish or leftwing, had left for Britain and the US soon after the Nazis took power. Like many other less threatened German artists, such as the composer Richard Strauss, Mies hung on longer than he should simply because he refused to believe that Germany, once a hotbed of cultural invention, had suddenly become so stupid.
Mies finally decided to leave Germany while standing in a field in Wisconsin in late 1937. He was in the US following up one of the many offers of work from wealthy Americans, which had started coming his way after a star billing at the opening exhibition of New York's new Museum of Modern Art in 1932. Since he was in the neighbourhood, he decided to visit Frank Lloyd Wright, the doyen of American architecture, in his Wisconsin ideas factory, Taliesin West.
Mies liked the midwest, with its flat, empty, abstract fields, ripe for his otherworldly spaces. It suited his aesthetic. And, deep in the belly of the continent, far from the Nazis - far, indeed, from any interference - it suited his way of working. No one would disturb him here. Standing in a field outside Wright's studio, he shouted, "Freiheit! Es ist ein Reich!" ("Freedom! This is a kingdom!") Mies had packed for an overnight stay, but ended up staying a week. "Poor Mr Mies," said Wright. "His white shirt is quite grey!"
Mies liked America, too. After the Depression, it was becoming fat again, with rich capitalists ready to commission him. Mies could always sniff out where the money and power was. And he could smell in those fields that his future patron would be no government, no political system, but the economic system that was emerging triumphant in the US. Modernism, the International Style, would succeed as the landscape not of communism, bolshevism or nazism, but of international capitalism.
Its modern Medicis, such as Mies, weren't interested in politics. Well, not the politics of nationalism, just the quieter, subtler politics of making money. Like the Weimar government, they would commission buildings such as New York's Seagram tower more for their sleek, modern, sellable image, and efficient and highly lucrative ways of parcelling up space - "Mies means money," 1950s speculators chirruped - than for the perfection of their form. They wouldn't see God in the details, but they would leave him alone to build all those ideal skyscrapers, office blocks, houses, convention centres and apartment towers he had spent the 1930s mapping out in his head. He could escape politics. He could build. That was enough.
Mies' American friends told him not to return to Berlin in March 1938. They were right. After the Anschluss of Austria, and the previous year's Degenerate Art exhibition in Munich, the climate had become more conservative than ever. Even Mieswas under suspicion, with Nazis sniffing around his associations with communists and Jews in the Bauhaus. Politics had got to him at last.
For the first time, he was nervous in his own country, so nervous, in fact, that, to avoid meeting the Gestapo, he sent his assistant to pick up his emigration visa at the local police station. When the assistant returned, he found Mies being roughly interrogated by two officers. At the eleventh hour, the time had come to follow the millions before him and make his own, rather less noble escape from the Nazis. Mies packed what he could in a small suitcase, hurried on to a train to Rotterdam and took the steamer to New York
Lyonel Charles Feininger was a German-American painter, and a leading exponent of Expressionism. He also worked as a caricaturist and comic strip artist. He was born and grew up in New York City, traveling to Germany at 16 to study and perfect his art. He started his career as a cartoonist in 1894 and met with much success in this area. He was also a commercial caricaturist for 20 years for magazines and newspapers in the USA and Germany. At the age of 36, he started to work as a fine artist. He also produced a large body of photographic works between 1928 and the mid 1950s, but he kept these primarily within his circle of friends. He was also a pianist and composer, with several piano compositions and fugues for organ extant.
Lyonel Charles Feininger was a German-American painter, and a leading exponent of Expressionism. He also worked as a caricaturist and comic strip artist. He was born and grew up in New York City, traveling to Germany at 16 to study and perfect his art. He started his career as a cartoonist in 1894 and met with much success in this area. He was also a commercial caricaturist for 20 years for magazines and newspapers in the USA and Germany. At the age of 36, he started to work as a fine artist. He also produced a large body of photographic works between 1928 and the mid 1950s, but he kept these primarily within his circle of friends. He was also a pianist and composer, with several piano compositions and fugues for organ extant.
Georg Muche was one of the youngest of the masters to succeed in winning over the students at the Bauhaus for his ideas and visions. The Haus am Horn, the experimental private residence that was built according to his designs, was in fact his 'dream house', which Muche had designed for himself and his young wife, El.
In 1919, Walter Gropius appointed Muche to the Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar, where he became its youngest master. He was initially involved with organisational issues and the development of the school’s curriculum. From 1919 to 1925, he was the head of the weaving workshop as master of form. From 1921 to 1922, he was also the director of the preliminary course. In 1922, he married the Bauhaus student Elsa (El) Franke.
In spring of 1923, he alternated with Johannes Itten as the head of the preliminary course and had his first encounters with the Mazdaznan cult, which proclaimed a worldview that spanned diverse religions and philosophies and had a large following at the Bauhaus. That same year, he took over the direction and organisation of the first major Bauhaus exhibition, held in 1923, and designed the experimental Haus Am Horn. In 1924, a study trip took him to the United States. Muche also worked in Dessau from 1925 to 1927 as the director of the weaving workshop. In 1926, the Metal Prototype House on the Dessau-Törten estate was built according to plans designed in collaboration with the architecture student Richard Paulick. After internal conflicts, Muche left the Bauhaus in 1927. Until 1930, he taught in Berlin at Johannes Itten’s private school of modern art, which had been founded in 1926.
Space Dance, Gesture Dance, Rod Dance, Hoop Dance, Metal Dance, Form Dance, Scenery Dance, and the Triadic Ballet. In his stage ideas, Oskar Schlemmer used elaborate costumes to transform costumed and masked dancers into 'artificial figures' in which dance, costume and music are united.
In January 1921, Schlemmer was appointed by Walter Gropius as one of the first masters at the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar. As a master of form, he initially directed the wall painting department (alternating with Johannes Itten) and the stone sculpture workshop, and he also taught life drawing. From 1922 to 1923, he directed the stone sculpture workshop, the wood sculpture workshop (and the metal workshop temporarily) as a master of form. He also continued to teach life drawing.
For the Bauhaus exhibition held in Weimar in 1923, Schlemmer contributed significantly to the fields of wall design, painting, sculpture, print graphics, advertising and the stage. From 1923 to 1929, he was the head of the stage workshop at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau. In 1927-28, he taught figure drawing and offered his course 'Der Mensch' (the human being) from 1928. Schlemmer was the director of the Bauhaus stage’s national tour in 1928 to 1929. He left the Bauhaus on 11th July 1929.
Nude drawing was an integral part of the Bauhaus curriculum. Feininger, Itten, Klee, Schlemmer and Kuhr took turns giving this lesson. Despite all rejection of academic teaching content, it was considered indispensable. On the other hand, since it was not given the status of a school building like in art schools, the results remained peripheral and barely noticed in public, compared to the popularity of the Itten or Kandinsky courses.
- Nude drawing at the Bauhaus, however, did not follow academic rules. Different teachers set different priorities. For Itten it was the recording of the rhythmic interplay of the limbs and the structure of the entire body, which were recorded in expressive studies; Klee was concerned with the representation of the tectonics of the human body in simple line drawings, with the joints necessary for the movement being punctiform; From the studies at Schlemmer, it is clear how much he conveyed an idealized image of man far from realistic representation.
- Building on the lessons in nude drawing, Oskar Schlemmer 1926/27 developed a course on the general theory of proportion of the human body and a comprehensive teaching concept to humans, which included both formal, biological as well as psychological and philosophical aspects. Here Schlemmer's words dealt mainly with "the schemata and systems of the linear, the planar, and the bodily-plastic: the normal measures, the pro-portion teachings, the measurement of Durer, and the golden section. From these develop the laws of motion, the mechanics and kinetics of the body, both in itself and in space, both in the natural space and in the cult space. On the latter topic the relationship of the human to Dwellings is naturally of particular importance, to their arrangement, to the objects. "Schlemmer's conception of man had a universalistic orientation: Man, as a natural being, rushing through space and time, determined by biological, mechanical, and kinetic laws, cosmologically integrated into the tension relation of material and ideal world, at the same time capable of art, aesthetics and ethics.
In Schlemmer's lessons »Man« many influences flow in. In contrast to many other courses, knowledge was imparted here that had to be entered in prepared worksheets. He is a typical product of the attempt to scientify lessons in the Meyer era with his emphasis on law. Joost Schmidt continued the lessons after Schlemmer's departure, but set other priorities. – CW
The preparatory course, as developed by Johannes Itten and continued after his retirement by others, was one of the basic pedagogical institutions of the Bauhaus. Prior to the actual lessons, he would convey the basics of material properties, composition and color theory. Itten’s approach was not purely rational or focused on the result as in his successor Albers, but in many exercises, the tasks had to be sensually/physically modeled.
- The focus was on the recognition and design of contrasts, which were worked out in various forms and materials, considering the mutual influence of two elements. For Itten, perception was context-dependent. For him, the light-dark contrast was one of the most important and expressive creative tools. The contrast has been traced in many different areas: in natural materials and their textures as well as in free plastic forms. Another focal point was the study of materials, in which contrasting material properties had to be sensually and three-dimensionally mounted and graphically displayed. At the same time, the student was able to learn how to handle different materials. The resulting studies are not independent works of art, but exercises to sharpen the possibilities of perception and design.
- The properties of abstract shapes have been checked using strip studies. For ltten, the circle meant movement, the square rest, and the triangle included a sharp directional contrast. These properties could be highlighted graphically or neutralized by appropriate arrangement.
- Nature studies were aimed at capturing objects in "tonal values and characteristic forms" and drawing them back as accurately as possible from the object or from the memory: the studies were to be designed out of the inner experience. These factual representations often meticulously match the material idiosyncrasies of the role models. In the context of contrast, shape or color studies, "Old Master Analyzes" served to sensitively capture shapes, colors and the dynamics of a work of art.
- The most popular tool for the presentation was the charcoal, which allowed the finest nuances and whose adaptability was fully exploited by the students. In addition, however, also created multiform three-dimensional structures and collages. The pre-course focused in the early years on Itten, parts were given alternately by Muche. After the elimination of Itten, the lessons were restructured, distributed among several teachers, but continued in his basic intentions. – CW
Itten was heavily influenced by German painter and artist Adolf Holzel (1853 - 1934, Czech) and in his book,The Elements of Color, 1970, he presents his “color sphere” as a furtherance of Holzel’s color wheel.
From 1919 to 1922, as a Master at the Bauhaus, Johan Itten taught students his “preliminary course” in the basics of material characteristics, composition, and color. Itten identified seven types of color contrast and devised exercises, found in his book The Elements of Color, for his students to learn them. The seven contrasts are:
What follows are step by step instructions for constructing Itten's 12 hue color circle as only he could and straight from the pages of his The Elements of Color published in 1970.
“By way of introduction to color design, let us develop the 12-hue color circle from the primaries - yellow, red, and blue. As we know, a person with normal vision can identify a red that is neither bluish, nor yellowish; a yellow that is neither greenish, nor reddish: and a blue that 1s neither greenish, nor reddish. In examining each color, it 1s important to view it against a neutral-gray background.“
“The primary colors must be defined with the greatest possible accuracy. We place them in an equilateral triangle with yellow at the top, red at the lower right, and blue at the lower left.“
“About this triangle we circumscribe a circle, in which we inscribe a regular hexagon In the isosceles triangles between adjacent sides of the hexagon, we place three mixed colors. each composed of two primaries. Thus we obtain the secondary colors:“
yellow + blue = green
red + blue = violet
yellow+ red = orange
“The three secondary colors have to be mixed very carefully. They must not lean towards either primary component. You will note that it is no easy task to obtain the secondaries by mixture.“
orange must be neither too red. nor too yellow;
violet neither too red. nor too blue;
green must be neither too yellow, nor too blue.
“Now, at a convenient radius outside the first circle, let us draw another circle, and divide the ring between them into twelve equal sectors. In this ring, we repeat the primaries and secondaries at their appropriate locations, leaving a blank sector between every two colors. In these blank sectors, we then paint the tertiary colors, each of which results from mixing a primary with a secondary, as follows:“
yellow + orange = yelloworange
red + orange = redorange
red + violet = redviolet
blue + violet = blueviolet
blue + green = bluegreen
yellow + green = yellowgreen
Josef Albers took over part of the preliminary course after the departure of Johannes Itten and taught in parallel to Moholy-Nagy on the “Werklehre” or Work-apprentice Program. The material-appropriate uses of the most important materials such as wood, metal, glass, stone and fabric were tested. Without anticipating the later workshop work and eliminating the technical possibilities of the workshops, Albers tried to convey to the students the essential properties of the materials and how to deal with them. Let go were only the simplest tools. To this instruction also belonged the "drawing of work" given by other teachers: Without a corresponding training the master council did not believe in a promising further education in the workshops.
- After the departure of Moholy-Nagy in 1928 Albers took over the entire preliminary course alone. The Werklehre had to be further developed for it. Albers now had the students work with a material whose specific qualities were to be 'discovered'. The materials had to be processed without waste: economics was the highest principle both in terms of materials and work. In the first month, only glass was processed, in the second only paper, in the third a combination of two materials that matched each other after the study of the student, and only in the fourth month, the free choice of raw materials was possible. With the idiosyncratic selection of raw materials, Albers wanted to avoid solutions being proposed based on previous experience. Instead, it was necessary to develop an unbiased approach to a given task and, based on self-developed knowledge, to work out the further course of action. The most important instrument of the training were three-dimensional studies that had to be prepared according to a precise task, which precluded free experimentation.
- In addition, graphic representations of these study objects and their materials were part of the class as well as the treatment of optical phenomena, especially optical illusions. Albers also had his students produce photograms. In addition to this, exercises were always offered in figurative drawing. In this from 1929 given by Albers course the exact freehand drawing was practiced.
- A principle of the Albers pedagogy was the autonomy of the student, with whom Albers wanted to "find" and "invent". His teaching tried to renounce the practice of a working method. Instead, the student himself should seek and independently find. Such requirements led to a teaching style that had strong elements of self-instruction. Nevertheless, Albers · pre-course was aimed at a clear goal, an uninfluenced tasting did not exist. Despite the seemingly indefinite tasks, the student was forced to impose some kind organization. This led to a strong goal-orientation in the teaching work, which should test and promote the knowledge of the personal inclination and suitability of the student with regard to further education.-CW
In June 1922, Walter Gropius appointed Wassily Kandinsky to the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar, where he taught until its closure in Berlin in 1933. From 1922 to 1925, he directed the wall painting workshop at the Bauhaus Weimar and taught classes on abstract form elements and analytical drawing in the preliminary course. In 1924, Kandinsky founded the artists’ association Die Blaue Vier (The Blue Four) group together with Alexej Jawlensky, Paul Klee and Lyonel Feininger.
At the Bauhaus in Dessau, he taught abstract form elements and analytical drawing in the preliminary course from 1925 to 1932. From the winter semester of 1926-27, he was the head of painting and from 1927, he directed the free painting workshop and free painting class. In 1926, he published the important Bauhaus book Point and Line to Plane. From 1932 to 1933 at the Bauhaus in Berlin, he was head of the preliminary course classes in abstract form elements and analytical drawing and of the free painting class. In 1933, Kandinsky emigrated to Paris and lived there in the suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine until his death.
Wassily Kandinsky offered "Analytical Drawing" in parallel to the preparatory class, during which the structures arranged by the students from objects found in the class were questioned about their principles of composition. Main and Ne-Tens tension were found to work out image-dominating elements and to write down in simple line drawings. The line structure worked out of a still-life-like structure could be quite different among the students. Uniqueness was not sought. The schemes worked out in this way could be supplemented to free, picturesque compositions.
The aim of the lesson was the recreation of an abstraction process. Breuer's first tubular steel chair can be cited as an example of such an approach: The main tension, the frame, is converted into steel tube, the secondary stress, the seat and back surfaces, in textile straps to optically differentiate both tensions. More is not necessary to get a functioning club chair; the usual side panel can be omitted. This item also clearly indicates the lesson goal.
In the second semester Kandinsky gave a course entitled "Primary Artistic Design". It included in its fully developed form approaches to a design theory. At the beginning there were the basics of a pictorial structure, the functions of the center and edges and the properties of lines, surfaces and bodies.
His color lessons have become famous, especially his assignment of the three basic colors yellow, red and blue to the basic shapes triangle, square and circle. Kandinsky explained in the lesson the structure of the different color systems, pointed to color psychological problems and treated the properties of the non-colors black and white. The systematics of the lesson as well as the possibility of the students' understanding of the subject matter are evident from the often-annotated comments that are carefully designed for optical effectiveness. But Kandinsky was no dogmatist; he often relativized the design possibilities he presented and allowed other solutions. His favored assignment of colors and forms is only part of his teaching and not even the most plausible; his further development, without his participation, became a kind of trademark of the Bauhaus and the popularity of it today would have astonished him.
Since 1928, Kandinsky has also held free painting classes, in which he tried to put the basics of his art into words and convey their apparent rules to the students. – CW
In 1920, Walter Gropius appointed Klee to the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar. He became the director of the bookbinding workshop in 1921, of the metal workshop in 1922 and of the glass painting workshop from 1922–1923 to 1925. From 1921 to 1924–1925 in Weimar, Klee taught classes in elemental design theory as part of the preliminary course. The first Klee exhibition was organised in New York in 1924. That same year, Klee and the artists Alexej Jawlensky, Wassily Kandinsky and Lyonel Feininger co-founded the group Die Blauen Vier (The Blue Four). One year later, the Vavin-Raspail gallery in Paris organised the first French exhibition of Klee’s work. In 1925, Klee’s Pedagogical Sketchbook was the second volume in the series of Bauhaus Books published by the Bauhaus.
Paul Klee's exercise was intended to explain how to handle formal means as a supplement to the preliminary course. At the beginning there were the characteristics of the line. Klee started from the consideration of two convergent lines in one point for the treatment of the third dimension and moved on to their perspective representation. From this he developed the symbol of equilibrium, Libra. From the work of art he demanded artistic harmony, a balance of movement and counter-movement. He illustrated the phenomenon of movement in circle and pendulum, in spiral and arrow.
Klee's theory of color with its continuous principle of movement represented an independent contribution to the history of the theory of colors. The starting point was the natural phenomenon of the rainbow, whose six colors Klee related to each other through the arrangement in a circle. The result was a six-part color wheel, in which the relationships of the colors with each other resulted from two types of movement: either a circular, the edge follow-de, or a straight, the circle diameter using, where he also resorted to the model of the pendulum movements. From the circular shape, he derived a color triangle with the basic colors, which he extended to a> elemental star <by the non-colors black and white.
Klee's doctrine is a closed system determined by harmony thought. It is not rational in the end; however bright it may be. It can rarely be reconstructed in logical steps but appears often only associative and full of jumps. This made the understanding with the students difficult. Nevertheless, the effect of his lessons was great, especially in weaving, for which he held his own courses. Here, the emphasis was on the development of patterns through the multiplication of elements (displacement, reflection and rotation as well as interruption and inversion), a system of surface division and the associated emergence of several centers. There were also studies on the rhythmic arrangement of the pattern elements and an extended color theory. The square proved to be a universally applicable exercise element that can be found in many designs and executed weaving mills. The color choice of numerous textiles also points to the example of Klee. References to his course prove how sober and almost practical Klee's lessons could be.
Klee also held free painting classes since 1928, to which selected students had access. For Klee and Kandinsky, the master class system of the art academies was transferred to the Bauhaus. The results can be compared with those of academic education. – CW
László Moholy-Nagy first studied law in Budapest in 1913. From 1914 to 1917, while completing his military service and staying in a military hospital, he produced his first drawings. Later the same year, he attended evening classes in figure drawing at a free art school in Szeged, Hungary. The following year, he quit his law studies. He subsequently worked as a painter and took evening classes in life drawing at a free art school in Budapest. At the same time, he was in contact with the avant-garde group.
Moholy-Nagy relocated to Berlin in 1920 and cultivated contacts with the Dadaists Kurt Schwitters and Hannah Höch as well as with Herwarth Walden’s gallery Der Sturm. He married Lucia Schulz in 1921.
In 1922, a first solo exhibition of Moholy-Nagy’s work was held in Walden’s gallery. He met Walter Gropius through the art and architecture critic Adolf Behne. In the same year, he participated in the first Constructivist congress in Weimar.
In March 1923, Walter Gropius appointed him as a master at the Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar. Here, his work centred on typographic design and experimental film.
From 1923 to 1925, Moholy-Nagy was the director of the preliminary course and head of the metal workshop in Weimar.
From 1925 to 1928, he resumed the same posts in Dessau. Together with Walter Gropius, Moholy-Nagy began to publish the series of Bauhaus Books.
In 1933, he participated in the 4th CIAM Congress (Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne) in Athens. A year later, he emigrated to Amsterdam and then to London. During this time, he exhibited with the art group Abstraction–Création in Paris.In London in 1935-36, he began working as a graphic designer and received commissions for documentary films.
On Walter Gropius’s recommendation, he was made director of the planned New Bauhaus – American School of Design in Chicago in 1937. However, the school was forced to close as early as 1938 for financial reasons.
In 1939, Moholy-Nagy founded the successor to the School of Design in Chicago, which was restructured in 1944 as the Institute of Design and is now part of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).
Moholy-Nagy continued to work as a freelance artist and designer until his death in 1946.
After the departure of Johannes Itten, the preliminary course was divided: the more theoretical side was taken over by Moholy-Nagy, the practically orientated Josef Albers. Moholy-Nagy's preliminary course had three main focuses. In the beginning, students should learn to put elements together in a manner that suits a preconceived desire for expression. The result was so-called tactile panels, which should train the sense of touch. The material composition on these panels was done according to well-defined criteria, mostly in the form of scales in graduated contrasting samples, e.g. from smooth to rough surfaces. In addition, part of the task was to determine the sensory values, the felt or registered, by means of "tactile diagrams" and thus make them generally comprehensible. Through the assembly, the materials received abstract qualities, which were also to be captured in drawings whose naturalness was to be increased to the point of confusion. These exercises were meant to convey only "ability," and artistic training was not intended.
- The second focus was on exercises to distinguish between composition and construction. For Moholy-Nagy, composition meant establishing a balance between precisely defined components by changing the overall composition, such as inserting further elements. For him, this type of work represented a "past art exercise." Instead, his tasks provided for the elaboration of constructions, structures that were ideally determined from the outset in all points of their technical and intellectual relations, and in which changes were intended to disperse the distribution of forces. Creating a construction therefore requires "a plus of the knowledge-based," which presupposes the conscious analysis.
- The most well-known part of the course of Moholy-Nagy are the three-dimensional studies, with which space experience should be developed and in his sense constructive solutions were to be worked out. Particular emphasis was placed on equilibrium studies, in which the simplest elements and materials were used to construct objects that were visually and physically in balance. This state of equilibrium was often unstable and the objects therefore very fragile; They are therefore mostly handed down only in the form of photographs. This task was designed to teach students the basics of visual aesthetics, such as measurement and proportion, statics and dynamics, and to convey the different properties of different materials, such as weight, elasticity or density. This often led to structures that are very similar to contemporary constructivist sculptures.- Despite the systematics of the tasks, Moholy-Nagy's teaching system had no purely rational basis. He has repeatedly pointed to the role of intuition in the design and emphasizes that conscious analysis is only one part of the creative process, the intuitive momentum should not be absent. Formulas alone could never be the basis of the creative process for him. – CW
Along with Gropius, Bayer, and Breuer, Moholy-Nagy left the Bauhaus in 1928 and set up his own studio for typography, exhibition design, photomontage and photo collage in Berlin.. In 1929, a former student of Laszlo’s, Irmgard Sorensen-Popitz, brought him to Beyer-Verlag, the publishing house, for the relaunch of the magazine, Frauen-Mode. The relaunch was planned to achieve a new contemporary guise for the magazine and Laszlo accepted the offer and took over the task of designing the first issue which simultaneously determined the magazine’s entire visual concept for the new magazine, die neue linie (The New Line). Laszlo produced the cover for that first issue plus nine more throughout the period September 1929 thru May 1933, six of which appear below.
In 1907, Marcks began to teach himself to sculpt. His first endeavours were guided by the artists August Gaul and Gerhard Kolbe. From 1908 to 1912, he shared a studio in Berlin with the sculptor Richard Scheibe. Marcks was represented at the Berlin Secession with two works. In 1914, two stone reliefs by Marcks based on a design by Walter Gropius were placed at the entrance to the machine hall for the Deutscher Werkbund (German Work Federation) exhibition in Cologne. After completing his military service, he went on to work for the Märkische Kunstwerkstätten (Vordamm art workshops) of the Velten-Vordamm stoneware factories in 1917/18 and joined the state porcelain manufacturer Meissen a year later. In late 1918, Bruno Paul appointed him to teach the sculpture class at the Staatliche Kunstgewerbeschule (school of applied arts) in Berlin.
In 1919, Walter Gropius appointed Marcks as one of the first masters of the Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar, where he became the artistic director (master of form) of the ceramics workshop. Marcks began to establish his own workshop on the premises of the master potter Max Krehan and established his own studio nearby in Dornburg an der Saale. At the Bauhaus, Marcks produced, in addition to many well-known ceramic works, the woodcut series Wielandslied (Song of Wieland) of 1923 and the Sintrax Coffee Maker of 1924. Marcks left the Bauhaus in 1924.
Marcel Breuer received a scholarship to attend the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna in 1920. He switched to the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar the same year and attended Johannes Itten’s preliminary course. From 1920/21 to 1924, he studied at the carpentry workshop taught by Walter Gropius. In 1924, he passed his journeyman’s examination at the Chamber of Crafts Weimar and initially became an associate journeyman in the carpentry workshop with flexible working hours and a fixed salary. His job was to facilitate between the masters of form and the masters of works.
After his appointment by Walter Gropius as a junior master in 1925, he directed the furniture workshop, also known as the carpentry workshop, until 1928. In 1925, he created the B3 chair, the first design for a tubular steel chair for domestic use. In 1926–1927, Breuer founded the company Standard Möbel GmbH with Kálmán Lengyel in Berlin. That same year, he married fellow Bauhaus member Martha Erps.
Breuer left the Bauhaus in 1928. He opened an architecture office in Berlin, employing the former Bauhaus student Gustav Hassenpflug. Breuer continued to work as an interior designer and furniture designer (Piscator apartment) in Berlin. However, his many architecture projects were not realised. In 1933, Breuer moved his office to Budapest. Two years later, he relocated to England and founded an architecture office together with the architect F. R. S. Yorke. In 1937, he moved to the United States and received a professorship for architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design with the help of Walter Gropius. Together with Gropius, he directed an office in Cambridge, Massachusettes, until 1941. The same year, Breuer established his own architecture office, which he moved to New York in 1946. In 1956, he founded the practice Marcel Breuer and Associates, Architects in New York. This realised a number of major projects in the United States and Europe (Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, UNESCO Building in Paris).
Herbert Bayer was an Austrian and American graphic designer, painter, photographer, sculptor, art director, environmental and interior designer, and architect, who was widely recognized as the last living member of the Bauhaus until his death in Montecito, CA in 1985.
An artistic polymath, Bayer was one of the Bauhaus’s most influential students, teachers, and proponents, advocating the integration of all arts throughout his career. Bayer began his studies as an architect in 1919 in Darmstadt.
From 1921 to 1923 he attended the Bauhaus in Weimar, studying mural painting with Vasily Kandinsky and typography, creating the Universal alphabet, a typeface consisting of only lowercase letters that would become the signature font of the Bauhaus.
Bayer returned to the Bauhaus from 1925 to 1928 (moving in 1926 to Dessau, its second location), working as a teacher of advertising, design, and typography, integrating photographs into graphic compositions.
He began making his own photographs in 1928, after leaving the Bauhaus; however, in his years as a teacher the school was a fertile ground for the New Vision photography passionately promoted by his close colleague László Moholy-Nagy, Moholy-Nagy’s students, and his Bauhaus publication, Malerei, Photographie, Film (Painting, photography, film). Most of Bayer’s photographs come from the decade 1928–38, when he was based in Berlin working as a commercial artist. They represent his broad approach to art, including graphic views of architecture and carefully crafted montages.
In 1938 Bayer emigrated to the United States with an invitation from Alfred H. Barr, Jr., founding director of The Museum of Modern Art, to apply his theories of display to the installation of the exhibition Bauhaus: 1919–28 (1938) at MoMA. Bayer developed this role through close collaboration with Edward Steichen, head of the young Department of Photography, designing the show Road to Victory (1942), which would set the course for Steichen’s influential approach to photography exhibition. Bayer remained in America working as a graphic designer for the remainder of his career.
Along with Gropius, Moholy-Nagy, and Breuer, Bayer left the Bauhaus in 1928 - Bayer, as he himself said, to switch from teaching to practice. Bayer was enlisted as creative director for the Dorland ad agency in late 1928. While at Dorland, he developed a design vocabulary that set stylistic trends and combined the demands of business advertising with the avant-garde art of the Bauhaus. This vocabulary expedited the public acceptance and implementation of Bauhaus ideas. When Dorland fell on hard times in 1930, Bayer became the artistic director of the financially independent dorland-studio.
In 1930, Bayer produced his first cover for die Neue Linie magazine and along with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy-Creative Director, started the serial introduction and enlistment of Bauhaus trained artists to the magazine. Bayer produced 26 covers throughout the years 1930 thru 1938, 14 of which are displayed below.
Lothar Schreyer first studied art history at Heidelberg University, then law in Berlin and Leipzig. In 1910, he graduated in literary and artistic joint copyright law. He began to work as a writer and simultaneously studied theatre direction with Emil Milan. Between 1911 and 1918, he worked as a dramaturge and assistant director at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg. From 1916 to 1928 he was editor of Herwarth Walden’s magazine Der Sturm. Until 1924, he also taught at the Sturm-Schule für Bühnenkunst und Pantomime (Sturm school of stagecraft and pantomime). In 1918, Schreyer co-founded the expressionist theatre Die Sturmbühne with Herwarth Walden. Schreyer’s first plays Kreuzigung (Crucifixion) and Kindssterben (Death of a Child) were performed during his tenure as director there, which continued until 1921.
In 1921, Walter Gropius appointed Schreyer as a master and director of the stage workshop at the Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar. He taught there until 1923, leaving the Bauhaus after the failure of his play Mondspiel (Moon Play). On the recommendation of Adolf Behne, he accepted a job at the Zentralinstitut fur Erziehung und Unterricht (central institute of education and teaching) in Berlin. In 1924, he became a member of the committee for the founding of the Waldorf School in Berlin. He was also the temporary director of the art school Der Weg until 1927. From 1928 to 1932, he was chief editor and executive editor for culture and literature at the publishers Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt, Hamburg. After converting to Catholicism in 1933, Schreyer wrote under the pseudonym of Angelus Pauper, among other things compiling legends of the saints for the publishers Caritasverlag. After 1945, he worked for the publishers Herder Verlag and for the Caritas organisation. He continued to paint up to his death in 1966.
In winter 1919–1920, Stölzl attended Johannes Itten’s preliminary course as well as the glass painting workshop and wall painting department that he directed. From 1920 to 1921, she attended the women’s class taught by Johannes Itten and Helene Börner. From 1921 to 1924–1925, Stölzl trained in the weaving workshop with Georg Muche and attended classes taught by Johannes Itten and Paul Klee. In 1924, she was commissioned by Johannes Itten to set up a weaving workshop (Ontos Workshops) in Herrliberg near Zurich and also collaborated on the development of a dye works.
From 1925 to 1926, Stölzl was the master of form in the weaving workshop at the Bauhaus Dessau. She subsequently became the director of the weaving workshop from 1926 to 1930–31. Among other projects, Stölzl developed textile covers for some of the furniture designed by Marcel Breuer at the Bauhaus Dessau. Important works (carpets and woven textiles) were created according to her designs. In 1928, she travelled to Moscow with other members of the Bauhaus and attended Vkhutemas, the Russian state art and technical school there. In 1929, she married the Bauhaus student Arieh Sharon. Their daughter Yael was born later that year.
After military service and a period as a prisoner of war, Walter Peterhans began studying at the department of engineering at the Sächsische Technischen Universität (TU) Dresden in 1919. The following year, he studied mathematics, philosophy and art history at the Technische Hochschule München (TUM) and the university in Göttingen. He then studied photographic reproduction and printing processes at the Staatliche Akademie für Grafische Künste und Buchgewerbe Leipzig (Academy of Visual Arts, Leipzig) from 1925 to 1926. After completing his studies and gaining his master’s certificate as a photographer in Weimar, Peterhans moved to Berlin in 1926–1927. A year later, he was already established there as an independent industrial and portrait photographer of international renown.
In 1929, Walter Peterhans was appointed to the Bauhaus Dessau by Hannes Meyer, the second Bauhaus director succeeding Walter Gropius, as a photography teacher and director of the photography department. When it closed in 1933, he continued to work in Berlin. After the dissolution of the Bauhaus in 1933, Peterhans taught at Werner Graeff‘s photography school in Berlin.
Hilberseimer taught at the Bauhaus Dessau from spring 1929 to April 1933. He began his teaching activities at the Bauhaus as the head of building theory and taught the building design course. He later became the teacher of the seminar for residential building and urban development.
From 1933, Hilberseimer’s work in publishing was restricted by the NSDAP, and he worked as an architect in Berlin. In 1938, he emigrated to Chicago, Illinois, and worked under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as a professor of urban and regional planning at the Illinois Institute of Technology. From 1955 on, he was the director of its department of urban and regional planning.
Hannes Meyer brought new lecturers to the Bauhaus for his construction apprenticeship. The most important was the town-builder Ludwig Hilberseimer, who had made a name for himself as the author of several fundamental books on new building and whose field of expertise was housing and housing construction. At the center of his teaching were different types of small apartments and the urban planning of settlements. Favored was a mixed development, the multi-storey apartment houses for unmarried and childless married couples provided and flat buildings with gardens for families.
The preferred object of study was the L-shaped flat building for the nuclear family, which could be optimally aligned with the sun and could also be expanded slightly as the number of residents grew. The floor plan and exterior design have been deliberately kept simple to allow different construction methods. This type of construction also offered the possibility. to create chain-shaped buildings on small plots. So they hoped to be able to compensate for the higher cost of this construction again.
For singles and childless couples, the multi-storey apartment building developed on the American model became the ideal. The residents were thought to be mobile, few personal belongings to call their own, ideally "with the suitcase" move. As community facilities such as restaurants and laundries were planned at the same time, it was believed that the floor space and furniture of these apartments could be greatly reduced; there was little room for a personal interior design. Apartment buildings were used in the planning because of their height as urban accents.
Urban planning analysis led in the lessons to the replanning of entire cities such as Dessau or districts such as the center of Berlin. The planning goal was the creation of a new city that avoided all the disadvantages of the traditional ones. Not only should it leave nothing to be desired from a social point of view, but it should also be so advantageous in macroeconomic terms that the transformation of existing cities was almost inevitable. For this purpose, they were divided into clear units that separated industrial and residential areas, but related to each other through appropriate traffic routes. The administrative, commercial and cultural centers are located at the traffic intersections.
Hilberseimer's doctrine was a self-contained building of ideas from the small town to the urban development, developed from the rejection of the city of the 19th century. - CW
In 1908, after training to become an industrial embroiderer, Lilly Reich began working at the Viennese workshop of Josef Hoffmann. In 1911, she returned to Berlin and met Anna and Hermann Muthesius. In 1912, she became a member of the Deutscher Werkbund (German Work Federation). In 1920, she became the first female member of its board of directors. Until 1926, she managed a studio for exhibition design and fashion in Frankfurt am Main and worked in the Frankfurt trade fair office as an exhibition designer.
Reich met Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1926 and collaborated closely with him on the design of a flat and other projects for the Deutscher Werkbund exhibition held in Stuttgart in 1928. In mid-1928, Mies van der Rohe and Reich were appointed as artistic directors of the German section of the 1929 World Exhibition in Barcelona.
In late 1928, Mies van der Rohe began to work on the design for the Tugendhat House in the Czech town of Brno. The interior design for Tugendhat House was created in collaboration with Lilly Reich.
In January 1932, the third Bauhaus director, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, appointed her as the director of the building/finishing department and the weaving workshop at the Bauhaus Dessau. She also continued to serve in this capacity at the Bauhaus Berlin, where she worked until December 1932.