Monday, 21 May 2012


             -written in my own words

The Bauhaus school was founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar, Germany and operated from 1919 to 1933. It was the first model of the modern art school with the idea of creating an environment that included all the arts and crafts.  The Bauhaus style came to be one of the most influential in Modernist design and its influence is still widely regarded as one of the most successful today inspiring graphic design, typography, interior design and architecture.  Three schools were built in Germany, Weimar from 1919 to 1925, Dessau from 1925 to 1932 and Berlin from 1932 to 1933, under three different architect-directors: Walter Gropius from 1919 to 1928, Hannes Meyer from 1928 to 1930 and Ludwig Mies van der Rohefrom 1930 until 1933.   What was new about the school was its attempt to integrate the artist and the craftsman, to bridge the gap between art and industry. 
No more romance of handmaking in the countryside: its emphasis was urban and technological, and it embraced 20th-century machine culture. Mass production was the god, and the machine aesthetic demanded reduction to essentials, an excision of the sentimental choices and visual distractions that cluttered human lives.
The Bauhaus was the beginning of the art school as an alternative way of life. Quote Fiona MacCarthy

The Bauhaus manifesto proclaimed that the ultimate aim of all creative activity is "the building".
This phase was influenced by the Expressionist and Arts & Crafts Movements. Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Oskar Schlemmer were among the faculty.

Despite a successful first exhibit the school was perceived as too liberal by the city of Weimar and was forced to leave for Dessau.

Dessau was suitable location because its heavy industry could be used to produce Bauhaus products. A modern building complex was erected out of concrete glass and steel. Gropius designed classrooms, dormitories and faculty housing that were grouped in a complete artistic community.
The Bauhaus moved to Berlin briefly in 1933 but it had no chance to reestablish. A rise of the National Socialist Party (Nazis) in Dessau forced the closure of the school in 1932.
The Bauhaus aim was to untie creativity and manufacturing.  Fine art and craft were brought together with the goal of problem solving for a modern industrial society.
Characteristic for the design were clear, unadorned type prints, the articulation and accentuation of pages through distinct symbols or typographic elements highlighted in color, and finally direct information in a combination of text and photography, for which the name "Typofoto" was created.

Austrian Herbert Bayer was trained in the Art Nouveau styles but gained interest in Gropius' Bauhaus-Manifest. He enrolled in the Bauhaus and studied there for four years. After passing his final examination, Bayer was appointed by Gropius to direct the new "Druck und Reklame" (printing & advertising) workshop to open in the new Dessau location.
In 1925, Gropius commissioned Bayer to design a typeface for all Bauhaus communiqués and Bayer excitedly undertook this task. He took advantage of his views of modern typography to create an "idealist typeface." The result was "universal" - a simple geometric sans-serif font.
Central to the school's operation was its original and influential curriculum. It was described by Gropius in the manner of a wheel diagram, with the outer ring representing the vorkurs, a six-month preliminary course, initiated by Johannes Itten, which concentrated on practical formal analysis, in particular on the contrasting properties of forms, colors and materials. The two middle rings represented two three-year courses, the formlehre, focused on problems related to form, and werklehre, a practical workshop instruction that emphasized technical craft skills. These classes emphasized functionalism through simplified, geometric forms that allowed new designs to be reproduced with ease. At the center of the curriculum were courses specialized in building construction that led students to seek practicality and necessity through technological reproduction, with an emphasis on craft and workmanship that was lost in technological manufacturing. And the basic pedagogical approach was to eliminate competitive tendencies and to foster individual creative potential and a sense of community and shared purpose.
Gesamtkunstwerk-total work of art


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.
The old art schools were unable to produce this unity; and how, indeed, should they have done so, since art cannot be taught? Schools must return to the workshop. The world of the pattern-designer and applied artist, consisting only of drawing and painting must become once again a world in which things are built. If the young person who rejoices in creative activity now begins his career as in the older days by learning a craft, then the unproductive "artist" will no longer be condemned to inadequate artistry, for his skills will be preserved for the crafts in which he can achieve great things.
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. By the grace of Heaven and in rare moments of inspiration which transcend the will, art may unconsciously blossom from the labour of his hand, but a base in handicrafts is essential to every artist. It is there that the original source of creativity lies.
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, and will one day rise towards the heavens from the hands of a million workers as the crystalline symbol of a new and coming faith.

-The Bauhaus Manifesto claimed that 'the ultimate aim of all creativity is the building.'  
"Students at the Bauhaus took a six-month preliminary course that involved painting and elementary experiments with form, before graduating to three years of workshop training by two masters: one artist, one craftsman. They studied architecture in theory and in practice, working on the actual construction of buildings."  

The manifesto is clear on what its intentions are and through reading this you can get a real understanding of what the schools about.  Gropious's aim was to bring all the students from different areas of the arts and crafts together under one roof to create a new, innovative architecture:
claiming that architecture can only be rescued by the 'conscious co-operation and collaboration of all craftsmen.'  The idea was to unite all the fine arts, architecture and applied art to educate the students and for them to collaborate on projects or  "Gesamtkunstwerk-total work of art."  Students were encouraged to be creative and experimental but also to not lose sight of the purpose, function of what the design should communicate/deliver.
Courses at the Bauhaus taught students about colours, materials and property of form, some workshops were led by both 'a master of form' (artist) and 'master of works' (craftsmen).

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