Saturday, 19 May 2012


Bauhaus. A school of art and design founded by WalterGropius in Weimar in 1919 and closed by the Nazis in 1933 after moving successively to Dessau (1925) and Berlin(1932); although it had such a short life it was the most famous art school of the 20th century, playing key roles in establishing the relationship between design and industrial techniques and in breaking down the hierarchy that had previously divided ‘fine’ from ‘applied’ arts. The Bauhaus was created when Gropius was appointed head of two art schools in Weimar in 1919 and united them in one; they were the Kunstgewerbeschule (Arts and Crafts School) and the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst (Institute of Fine Arts). He gave his new school the name Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar (Weimar State ‘Building House’), coining himself the word ‘Bauhaus’ (an inversion of ‘Hausbau’—house construction). His prospectus formulated three main aims for the school: first, to unite the arts so that painters, sculptors, and craftsmen could in future embark on cooperative projects, combining all their skills harmoniously; secondly, to raise the status of the crafts to that enjoyed by the fine arts; and thirdly, to establish ‘constant contact with the leaders of the crafts and industries of the country’ (an important factor if the school were to survive in a country that was in economic chaos after the war).

All students had to take a six-month ‘preliminary course’ (Vorkurs) in which they studied the principles of form and colour, were acquainted with various materials, and were encouraged to develop their creativity. After that they moved on to workshop training in the field of their choice. Gropius brought together a remarkable collection of teachers at the Bauhaus. The first head of the preliminary course was JohannesItten, and when he left in 1923 he was succeeded by László Moholy-Nagy, who replaced Itten's rather metaphysical approach with an austerely rational one. The other teachers included some illustrious painters, most notably Kandinsky and Klee. Several students went on to become teachers at the school, among them Josef Albers. In 1924 right-wingers gained power in the provincial elections and cut funding to the Bauhaus, which consequently moved to Dessau the following year; it was housed in a group of new buildings designed by Gropius. The school had been involved in architectural commissions from the beginning, but it was only in 1927 that an architectural department was established, with the Swiss architect Hannes Meyer (1889–1954) as its first professor. When Gropius resigned in 1928 to devote himself to his own practice he named Meyer as his successor. It was an unpopular choice with the staff, as Meyer was a Marxist and instituted a sociological approach that changed the whole tone of the school, with politics occupying an important place in the curriculum.

In 1930 Meyer was forced to resign and was replaced by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969), one of the greatest architects of the 20th century. Mies tried to rid the Bauhaus of its political associations and thereby make it a less easy target for its right-wing opponents, but in 1932 the Dessau parliament closed the school. In an attempt to keep it alive Mies rented a disused factory in Berlin and reopened the Bauhaus there as a private enterprise, but it was closed by the Nazis in April 1933, soon after Hitler assumed power. In its last few years the Bauhaus was dominated by architecture, but it produced a great range of goods, with many of them (furniture, textiles, and electric light fittings in particular) being adopted for large-scale manufacture. They were highly varied in appearance, but the style that is thought typical of the Bauhaus was severe, geometric, and undecorated.

The Bauhaus published a journal (Bauhaus, 1926–31) and a series of books, and its ideas were spread also by the emigration of many of its teachers before and during the Second World War. It has had an enormous influence on art education in the Western world and on visual creativity in general: ‘The look of the modern environment is unthinkable without it. It left an indelible mark on activities as varied as photography and newspaper design…[and] achieved a language of design liberated from the historicism of the previous hundred years’ (Frank Whitford, Bauhaus, 1984). After the Second World War Dessau became part of East Germany and the Bauhaus buildings were left derelict. In 1976 the school was faithfully restored for the 50th anniversary of its opening in Dessau, and after the reunification of Germany in 1990 it was reopened as a design institution.

 (bou´hous) , school of art and architecture in Germany. The Bauhaus revolutionized art training by combining the teaching of the pure arts with the study of crafts. Philosophically, the school was built on the idea that design did not merely reflect society, it could actually help to improve it. The Bauhaus was founded at Weimar in 1919 and headed by Walter Gropius, with a faculty that included Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, Wassily Kandinsky, László Moholy-Nagy, and Marcel Breuer. The teaching plan insisted on functional craftsmanship in every field, with a concentration on the industrial problems of mechanical mass production. Bauhaus style was characterized by economy of method, a severe geometry of form, and design that took into account the nature of the materials employed. The school's concepts aroused vigorous opposition from right-wing politicians and academicians.
In 1925 the Bauhaus moved to the more friendly atmosphere of Dessau, where Gropius designed special buildings to house the various departments. Gropius resigned in 1928, and the leadership was continued by the architect Hannes Meyer, who in turn was replaced in 1930 by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. In the summer of 1932 opposition to the school had increased to such an extent that the city of Dessau withdrew its support. The school was then moved to Berlin, where the faculty endeavored to carry on their ideas, but in 1933 the Nazi government closed the school entirely. The Bauhaus ideas, enveloping design in architecture, furniture, weaving, and typography, among others, had by this time found wide acclaim in many parts of the world and especially in the United States. Gropius himself went to the United States and taught at Harvard, exercising considerable influence. The Chicago Institute of Design, founded by Moholy-Nagy, most completely carried on the teaching plan of the Bauhaus.

Bauhaus: [Ger., lit. "architecture house", from Bau = building (bauen=to build) +Haus = house.]
Contemporary German architecture set its main trends in the first thirty years of the 20th century. The strongest influences came from Weimar and Dessau, where the Bauhaus school was founded in 1919. Under the leadership of Walter Gropius (1883-1969) and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), the Bauhaus style spread to the far corners of the earth. Today masterpieces of its synthesis of architecture, technology and functionality can be found all over the world. One of the main goals of Bauhaus was to renew architecture. The leaders of Bauhaus, Walter Gropius, Hannes Meyer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, were architects.

The origins of Bauhaus were far from the earlier methods of education in industrial art, art proper and architecture. Its program was based on the newest knowledge in pedagogy. The idealistic basis of Bauhaus was a socially orientated program:
- an artist must be conscious of his social responsibility to the community,
- on the other hand, the community has to accept the artist and support him. 

But above all the intention of Bauhaus was to develop creative minds for architecture and industry and thus influence them so that they would be able to produce artistically, technically and practically balanced utensils. The institute included workshops for making models of type houses and all kinds of utensils, and departments of advertising art, stage planning, photography, and typography. The neoplastic and constructive movements of art to a great extent steered the form lines of Bauhaus. Teachers were such masters of modern art as Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee
To better understand the aims of the Bauhaus school, one has to read the following extracts from Walter Gropius' Manifesto: "The ultimate aim of all creative activity is a building! The decoration of buildings was once the noblest function of fine arts, and fine arts were indispensable to great architecture. Today they exist in complacent isolation, and can only be rescued by the conscious co-operation and collaboration of all craftsmen. Architects, painters, and sculptors must once again come to know and comprehend the composite character of a building, both as an entity and in terms of its various parts. Then their work will be filled with that true architectonic spirit which, as "salon art", it has lost." ... "Architects, painters, sculptors, we must all return to crafts! For there is no such thing as "professional art". There is no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman. The artist is an exalted craftsman." ... "Let us therefore create a new guild of craftsmen without the class-distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between craftsmen and artists! Let us desire, conceive, and create the new building of the future together. It will combine architecture, sculpture, and painting in a single form."
The basic idea of the Bauhaus teaching concept was the unity of artistic and practical tuition. Every student had to complete a compulsory preliminary course, after which he or she had to enter a workshop of his or her choice. There were several types of workshops available: metal, wood sculpture, glass painting, weaving, pottery, furniture, cabinet making, three-dimensional work, typography, wall painting, and some others.
It was not easy to get general allowances for the new type of art education. A political  pressure was felt from the beginning. In 1925 the Thueringer government withdrew its economic support from the education. Bauhaus  found a new location in Dessau. The city gave Gropius building projects: a school, workshop and atelier building (1925-1926) has remained in history by the name 'Bauhaus Dessau'.
In October 1926, the school was officially accredited by the government of the Land, and the masters were promoted to professors. Hence, the Bauhaus obtained the subtitle "School of Design". The training course from then on corresponded to university studies and led to a Bauhaus Diploma. Later this year, because of some political and financial difficulties, the Bauhaus center could no longer remain in Weimar and was closed. In April 1925, Bauhaus resumed its work in Dessau. 
Personal relations in Bauhaus were not as harmonious as they may seem now, half a century later. The Swiss painter Itten and the Hungarian Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, who taught the Preliminary Course, left after strong disagreements in 1928, Paul Klee - in 1931. Some, for instance Kandinsky and Albers, stayed loyal until the closing of Bauhaus in 1933.
In spite of the success, Gropius left the Bauhaus leadership in 1928. His successor was the Swiss architect Hannes Meyer. He promoted the scientific development of the design training with vigor. However, Meyer failed as leader due to political disagreement inside Bauhaus. He was dismissed in 1930. 
The German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was invited as director. He was compelled to cut down on the educational program. Practical work was reduced. Bauhaus approached a type of 'vocational university'. It began to loose the splendid universality that had made it so excellent. Training of vocational subjects started to dominate the initial steps of education. As a matter of fact this tendency became stronger after that Mies van der Rohe had transformed the school into a private institute in Berlin in 1932. In 1933 the Nazi government closed the Bauhaus school.

No comments:

Post a Comment