Bauhaus – TomPosted: May 17, 2011
A Germanic school of Arts, Bauhaus operated between the first and second World War (1919-1933) at three locations, Weimar, Dessau and Berlin and was a continental focal point for emerging modern ideas.
The New Craft
As a school Bauhaus, and its directors Hannes Meyer, Walter Gropius and Mies van Der Rohe, although in disagreement in many ways stood for certain ideals that would later be adopted by the global practice of Modernism. Consisting of Fine Art, Performance, Architecture and Industrial Design it was held that there should be no arbitrary distinctions within the arts with the purpose of creating a ‘total’ craft that would synthesize elements from all disciplines. Despite this departmental egalitarianism, Bauhaus, literally ‘house of construction’ historically is regarded for its contribution to design and architecture.
Central to Bauhaus is its incorporation of new technology, a rapidly evolving industrialism and mass production. Rather than reject industrial culture Bauhaus embraced it as a means to provide the people with meaningful design. The contraction between what Bauhaus interpreted as a new means of high craft and mass industrial production was an optimistic and innovative approach to an emerging culture of capital and consumerism.
It has been said that the school’s direction and bold emphasis on ideologically informed design, aesthetics and high quality craft was in some ways due to Germany’s lack of raw material in relation to the growing power of America.
After the freedom of the subjective method employed by expressionist artists Bauhaus sought to objectify visual communication in line with mass industrial culture, particularly in graphic design. The Bauhaus style is exemplified by strong grids and limited palettes. Expressionists such as Klee, Kandinsky and many others did however teach at the school. In its design output there are elements of Expressionism integrated within its household items and reduced to an industrial minimalism. In many ways toward the end of its life Bauhaus rejected aesthetics in view of functionality.
Political Friction and Closure
The school through its life encountered many political obstacles and compromises before being closed by the national socialist party shortly before Germany’s invasion of Poland. The idea that there should be no class barrier between the artist, the craftsman and the industrial state architect was often met with communist based criticism from the conservative government. The aesthetics of Bauhaus design were interpreted as anti-German and cosmopolitan despite the directors’ assurances that Bauhaus design was apolitically motivated.