Bauhaus: A Brief Overview
Primary colors, thick straight lines, lots of white space, a circle, a triangle, and a square – what do these things have in common? They are all elements of Bauhaus design.
Bauhaus was a fine arts and design school founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius, a German architect. Located in Weimar, Germany, the core of the school’s teachings was the idea that all of the arts – architecture, design, crafts, and the fine arts – could be combined together to create a new form of art, “a total art,” in the physical world. This merging of art and design was a novel idea at the time.
“Gropius explained this vision for a union of art and design in the Proclamation of the Bauhaus (1919), which described a utopian craft guild combining architecture, sculpture, and painting into a single creative expression.”Alexandra Griffith Winton, Metropolitan Museum of Art
The diagram below describes the program schematics and main principles of Bauhaus teaching:
- The ultimate goal is the construction (la construction, der Bau)
- It starts by a preliminary course (cours préliminaire, Vorlehre)
- It is followed by a teaching in a workshop. The different workshops are symbolized by a material. See the legend below for translations.
A quick translation for the above diagram:
Stein = Stone, Ton = Clay, Glas = Glass, Farbe = Color, Gewebe = Fabric, Metall = Metal, Holz = Wood
Each Bauhaus workshop honed in on a specific craft and material type. The following examples are works from the Bauhaus workshops. Each piece was created in a workshop that was tailored to its specific material type. These highly-specialized workshops created a new environment where, for the first time in history, art and design emerged as one whole.
Left: “Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar 1919-1923” Book, by Walter Gropius (German, Berlin 1883–1969 Boston, Massachusetts)
Right: “MR” Armchair, by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (American (born Germany), Aachen 1886–1969 Chicago, Illinois)
Left: Small Harbor, Marseilles, by Herbert Bayer (American (born Austria), Haag 1900–1985 Montecito, California)
Right: Tea Infuser and Strainer, by Marianne Brandt (German, Chemnitz 1893–1984 Kirchberg)
Left: Armchair, by Marcel Breuer (American (born Hungary) 1902–1981)
Right: Ghost Chamber with the Tall Door, by Paul Klee (German (born Switzerland), Münchenbuchsee 1879–1940 Muralto-Locarno)
Left: Fotogramm, by László Moholy-Nagy (American (born Hungary), Borsod 1895–1946 Chicago, Illinois)
Right: “Kubus” Stacking Containers, designed by Wilhelm Wagenfeld (German, Bremen 1900–1990 Stuttgart), manufactured by Vereinigte Lausitzer Glaswerke
Wassily Chair, by Marcel Breuer (American (born Hungary) 1902–1981)