In 1919, Walter Gropius established the Bauhaus school in Weimar, Germany. On the ninetieth anniversary of its founding, it seems only appropriate to take a look at some of the lasting effects Bauhaus had on art and design. One of the first schools devoted exclusively to design, Bauhaus aimed to meld form and function to create an accessible, unified design aesthetic for mass-production. Heavily influenced by the modern movement, Bauhaus also drew major inspiration from earlier Crafts movements, and incorporated new production technologies in the realization of a total work of art.
The school flourished in Weimar, and later Dassau and Berlin, for fourteen short years before its dissolution in 1933. Following the rise of the Nazi regime, many of the school’s professors and students emigrated from Germany, spreading the schools influence across the world.
To name a few…
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was the director of Bauhaus when the school closed under Nazi pressure. He came to Chicago in the late nineteen thirties, his reputation preceding him. One of the major forerunners of Modern Architecture, van der Rohe is the father of the glass box architectural style. His glass and steel skyscrapers, like the Seagram Building in New York and the Lake Shore Drive Apartments in Chicago, changed the way that cities the world over were designed…not to mention his ever ubiquitous Barcelona Chair.
Josef Albers was both a student and a professor at Bauhaus. After the school closed, he and his wife Anni (herself a former student of the Bauhaus) immigrated to the United States. Largely known for his abstract canvases and color studies, Albers became the head of the Painting Department at the influential Black Mountain College in North Carolina. His students at Black Mountain went on to become critical figures in the American Art Scene: Robert Rauschenburg, Cy Twombly, and Ray Johnson, among others.
Given the extent to which Bauhaus and its major players have shaped the way we think about art and design, it is difficult to imagine where we would be without it. No?