Bauhaus: [Ger., lit. "architecture house", from
Bau = building (bauen=to build) + Haus = house.]
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
- an artist must be conscious of his social responsibility to the
- on the other hand, the community has to accept the artist and
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
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."
Often associated with being anti-industrial, the Arts and Crafts Movement had dominated the field before the start of the Bauhaus in 1919. The Bauhaus’ focus was to merge design with industry, providing well designed products for the many.
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
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
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
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.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
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.
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