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British Art & Crafts Movement and German Bauhaus Essay

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Updated: Aug 18th, 2020

In the late 19th century art and crafts were developed in Britain with the intentions to change the state of decorative arts movement that dominated at that time. Though it was developed between 1834 and1896, it was first used in the year 1887 by Copten Sanderson (Urdek 348). William Morris played a major role in the development of art and crafts style and later Morris formed a company with some friends and made various objects for home decoration.

Some of the decorative materials included textile, stained glasses and furniture (Grosvenor 678). It was believed that art and craft could change the lives of many people and thus workshops as well as guilds were established. Art and crafts had greatly influenced the society which has led to its relevance in the current society. It has led to embracing of the art and craft work which uses the existing object and make use of affordable material.

The movement also took part in reforming of political and social statuses of people by advocating for simple craftsmanship which applied medieval, romantic or cultural styles in the forms of art produced. In the past, art and crafts was mainly appreciated by wealthy people in the society. That caused very few people to be employed in the art industry because not all the artists were able to acquire the materials needed by the wealthy classes. Later on the aesthetic style of art and craft was adopted by other artist in Britain (Watts 789).

Due to poor working status of people and less appreciation of the art works by ordinary man, the movement proponents became dissatisfied and as a result came up with more accommodative artistic styles. The movement therefore encouraged the use of honest forms of art and crafts with respect to the type of materials used to avoid poor quality products (Levine 753). The improvement of the objects produced enhanced lives of the ordinary people and also provided more jobs for artists.

Ultimate craft production system model was provided by Medieval Guild where ideas were adopted from the Islamic and European Medieval sources. Some more ideas were taken from the early Japanese art and crafts and had some forms of suggestive art and crafts style of the Islamic design, as well as the medieval design.

Morris William, an English artist and writer (1834-1896) founded a design firm in collaboration with Edward Burne-Jones. The idea of establishing a firm was primarily influenced by the presence of pre-Raphaelite brotherhood which he had joined when he was in college. The design firms produced things like wallpapers, glasses and indoor decorative materials. Morris established modern fantasy genre and also contributed to the revival of the textile art which was traditionally produced. The revival of traditional textile enabled the ordinary man to acquire the decorative arts and also created employment for more artists. This therefore improved the living standards and working conditions of most crafts men.

Though Morris was one of the founders of art and crafts style mostly, he involved himself in politics. In Oxford, Morris indulged himself with poetry writing but later realized that his energy was geared towards socialism which made him change his mind to be an architect. His main aim in art was to create a socially reformed means of art appreciation. His power to capture people’s attention assisted him in spreading knowledge on the revolution of the art and crafts industry.

Bauhaus in Germany

Bauhaus was a movement found in the modern Germany during the early 20th century. The Bauhaus movement was shaped by other movements like art and crafts movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Bauhaus school was established and developed by Henry Velde (Arntson 376). The movement had a major impact on Europe and United States through its teachings and relationship of the art to the society and technology. The Bauhaus aimed at uniting the manufacturing and creativity industries which was drifting apart and also sought to distinguish fine art and applied arts. The design was seen in the early years of the 20th century where artists were inspired to come up with many ideas which were not practiced in the romantic medieval craft period (Daichendt 789)

Bauhaus had introduces it as a cultural movement in Germany before the World War, but faced rejection due to the prevailing conservatism. As a school of art, the Bauhaus had various art and architectural features. In the school, there were workshops and other facilities for art industry. The Bauhaus architecture featured useful designs, as compared to the highly structured Gothic architecture of Germany which only majored on the cultural designs (Urdek 348). The Bauhaus students read the architecture and art as who is who.

Bauhaus was located in various locations in German including Weimer University, museum of design in Berlin and Weimer museum among others. The Bauhaus philosophy was spread to other parts of the country due to such artists as Mies van der Rohe, Josef Albers and Max Bill (Dominiczak 678)

Walter Gropius was a German architect and artist who took part in the revolution of art in Germany. Gropius dedicated himself to promoting his artwork. Gropius worked in collaboration with Adolph Meyer. Some of the buildings the two artist build include the ‘Fagus work’ (1911) and the model used in office furniture, as well as factory buildings (1914). In his art works, Gropius was against the over simplication of products and wanted the products to be produced in their original appearance.

During the Bauhaus period, Gropius was elected to replace Henry in heading the grand-ducal Saxon school in Weimar. During this period, Gropius spread his view of the new art work (Arntson 435). During the Bauhaus period, Gropius was involved in expressionist movement which was under the pseudonym mass which had an influence on him during that time. Gropius also took part in the designing of door handles which have been claimed to be the most influential during the period of Bauhaus. In addition, Gropius designed the large scale houses in Berlin that contributed majorly to the New Objectivity movement in Berlin.

After some time, Gropius travelled to England where he built himself a house by incorporating English art features of the time (Bagchi 789). The construction attracted international modernism in the USA. In England, Gropius founded “The Architects’ Collaboration in conjunctions with some younger architects from Cambridge (Volkmann 713). Many books have been written in remembrance of Gropius.. Some of the books and photos of Gropius are available today in most bookshops and exhibition points (Arntson 678).

Works cited

Arntson, Amy. Graphic Design Basics.Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company. 2011. Print.

Bagchi, Alaknanda. “Conflicting Nationalisms: The Voice of the Subaltern in Mahasweta Devi’s Bashai Tudu.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 15.1 (1996): 41-50. Print.

Daichendt,James. “The Bauhaus Artist-Teacher: Walter Gropius’s Philosophy of Art Education.” Teaching Artist Journal 8.3 (2010):157-164. Print.

Dominiczak, Marek. “Translational Art: The Bauhaus.” Clinical Chemistry 58.6 (2012):1075-1077. Print.

Grosvenor, Ian. “The Art of Seeing: Promoting Design in Education in 1930s England.” Paedagogica historica 12.8 (2009):507-534. Print.

Levine, Faythe. Handmade nation: The rise of DIY, art, craft, and design.New York: Princeton Architectural Press,2008. Print.

Urdek, Bernhard. Design. New York: Springer, 2005. Print.

Volkmann, Christina. “The Bauhaus and the Business School Exploring Analogies, Resisting Imitation.” Management Learning 56.23 (2007):389-403. Print.

Watts, Laura. “The art and craft of train travel.” Social & Cultural Geography 67.9 (2008):711-726. Print.

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