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The Bauhaus Influence on Architecture and Design Essay


Introduction

Bauhaus was a school in Germany founded in the year 1919 (Droste, 2002). Its curriculum comprised crafts like metal and woodwork, as well as fine arts. The institution was famous for a unique style of art referred to as the Bauhaus style or the international style. In addition, the school advocated for embracement of the style by artists and designers in Germany.

Bauhaus operated for 14 years (Droste, 2002). An architect known as Walter Gropius established the school in the Weimar Republic. After establishment, Bauhaus operated without a department for architecture even though its founder was an architect. In today’s world, the international influences art and architecture in many parts of the world.

Founding of the Bauhaus

After practicing architecture for many years, Gropius decided to establish a school. The main intention of starting Bauhaus was to create a school that would incorporate all genres of art into its curriculum (James, 2006). Gropius was successful because Bauhaus style formed the foundation for the establishment of modern design and modernist architecture. The style influenced many genres of art during the 20th century.

Genres like art, graphic design, interior design, typography, architecture, and industrial design had many concepts of the international style (Droste, 2002). Bauhaus was founded in Weimar but later relocated to Dessau and Berlin due to political instability and financial problems. In Dessau, the school existed operated for seven years while in Berlin, it operated for one year (James, 2006). Its directors had varied influences on the curriculum.

Gropius directed the school from the year of establishment until 1928. Hannes Meyer who headed the school for two years succeeded Gropius. On the other hand, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe succeeded Meyer and directed the school for three years (Droste, 2002). Each of the directors altered the curriculum based on taste and preference in art.

The Russian Revolution, the De Stijl, and Weimar Republic

The Russian Revolution elicited immense cultural experimentation in Germany after commencement of the communist rule (Maciuika, 2005). Three events heralded the emergence of German modernism. These include Germany’s defeat in World War I, disintegration of the German Monarchy, and obliteration of censorship (Maciuika, 2005). The ruling regime during the defeat of Germany had suppressed efforts by art enthusiasts to incorporate radicalism in their traditions and art.

The cultural experimentation that emerged after the Russian Revolution had far-reaching influence on many Germans. Theo von Doesburg was one of the founders of De Stijil. He contributed greatly to the suppression of expressionism in Bauhaus style (James, 2006). He claimed that the director was encouraging individual expression in art, which did not adhere to any discipline.

De Stijl had a conviction that the role of art was to reconcile the masculine and feminine, as well as the negative and positive principles of nature (Droste, 2002). After visiting the Bauhaus in 1920, Doesburg was angered by the students’ activities. In 1921, he relocated to Weimar and announced a course for young artists. The announcement was aimed at fighting the school’s curriculum. Criticism from Doesburg motivated Gropius to create a new style that was incorporated into the curriculum (James, 2006).

Leaders of the Social Democratic party established the Weimar Republic in 1918. The constitution of the republic was drafted in Weimar, which was a cultural centre for the entire republic. The culture of the city created a foundation for establishment of Bauhaus in 1919. Gropius resisted the rise of cultural radicalism in Germany.

Therefore, he decided to establish a school that would pursue apolitical genres of art (Lupfer & Sigel, 2004). Many architects and artists had great influence on Gropius. William Morris believed that the essence of art was to fulfill the needs of society. For that reason, Gropius adopted a style that lacked ornamentation. The Bauhaus style promoted harmony between an object’s design and function.

Students and the curriculum

Bauhaus admitted students from different educational and social. After admission, students began the curriculum with a course that introduced them to the study of materials used in design and colors. It also taught students about the development and importance of formal relationships (James, 2006). The course prepared them for specialization in different areas like carving, painting, and metalwork.

The school’s aim of encompassing different arts through craft was unachievable due to financial constraints. This led to revision of the school’s objectives in 1923. Gropius changed the core goal from unifying various forms of art through craft to development of designs for mass production of artifacts.

This led to adoption of the maxim “Art into Industry” (James, 2006). Architectural concepts used to build the school became the most influential aspects of Bauhaus style (Lupfer & Sigel, 2004). Its concepts initiated the development of modernist architecture. Architectural aspects included in building steel frames, asymmetrical plans, and glass curtain walls. The plan encompassed classrooms, administrative rooms, and workshops in one area.

Departments and workshops

The school had several departments namely architecture, graphic design, typography, industrial design, art, and interior design departments (Bergdoll & Dickerman, 2009). The department of architecture was established after the school’s founding. The Nazi government accused the director and instructors of teaching communist intellectualism, which undermined the authority of the ruling regime (Bergdoll & Dickerman, 2009).

Even though the school was shut down, instructors carried the teachings of Bauhaus style to various countries around the world. The style was embraced beyond German borders. Main workshops included the pottery, textile, metal, furniture, stained glass, and mural painting workshops. Others included woodcarving workshop, bookbinding workshop, graphic printing workshop, and stone sculpture workshop (Bergdoll & Dickerman, 2009).

Students in the cabinetmaking workshop changed the essence of furniture through creation of innovative designs. It created metal furniture like chairs that were produced in large numbers (Bergdoll & Dickerman, 2009). The textile workshop developed textiles for decorations within the school. Students in the workshop created designs using materials like cellophane, metal, and fiberglass to create designs (Bergdoll & Dickerman, 2009).

Fabrics produced by the department were sold commercially in order to generate income that funded the school’s operations. Wall paintings and textiles from the workshop were used to decorate school walls. Women populated the weaving studio because they were prevented from joining other workshops (Winton, 2000). One of the famous artists that received training from the workshop was Anni Albers.

The metalwork studio was famous for mass production of various objects. Examples of these products included tableware and lighting fittings. Famous designers that worked in this workshop included Christina Dell, Wilhelm Wagenfeld, and Marianne Brandt (Bergdoll & Dickerman, 2009). Brandt was phenomenal because she was the first women to work in the workshop. Her designs adorned the walls of the Bauhaus.

One of her most famous designs was the ebony teapot whose main feature was the ebony handle. The feature emphasized the functionality of the teapot. The typography workshop created designs that represented channels of communication and artistic expression (Bergdoll & Dickerman, 2009). The workshop also made designs that were used in advertising. One of the key elements of the workshop’s designs was the use of photography to create visual symbolism (Winton, 2000).

Effects of changes in leadership on Bauhaus style

The school had three different directors that ruled for different periods. Each of them made some changes to the curriculum. Gropius concentrated on unifying different forms of art. In contrast, Meyer emphasized the social roles played by architecture and design. He removed inappropriate parts of the curriculum.

He reiterated the superiority of public good over personal luxury, promoted the functionality of designs and products as opposed to their aesthetics (Winton, 2000). During his reign, advertising and photography expanded significantly. Ludwig van der Rohe succeeded Meyers. He also made changes to the curriculum. He focused more on architecture. Meyers moved the school to Berlin due to financial constraints and political instability. The school closed in 1933 after operating in Berlin for three years.

The closure of Bauhaus

Bauhaus was closed in 1933 after a long period of disagreements with the Nazi government. The secret police service of the Nazi government (Gestapo) closed the school in Berlin (Winton, 2000). The head of the Gestapo allowed Meyers to reopen the Bauhaus under conditions that two of the instructors would be fired and Jewish instructors expelled. However, he decided to close the school voluntarily due to political instability (Raizman, 2003).

Prior to its closure, Bauhaus had received negative reviews from Nazi writers. They had accused the school of promoting communist ideologies and modernist styles. Before closure, Gestapo raided the school with the aim of finding incriminating evidence. They found four communist journals that were used as evidence against the school (Winton, 2000).

Four parties were involved in the schools closure. They included Gestapo, the provincial school council, the ministry of arts, and the provincial school council. Hitler closed the school after following a recommendation from a committee led by Fritz Hesse (Winton, 2000). Theodor Fischer advocated for preservation of the Bauhaus but the council advocated for closure (Raizman, 2003).

Conclusion

The Bauhaus had great influence on modernist architecture and graphic design. Today, the Bauhaus style influences the art and architecture of many countries including Europe, the United States, Israel, and Canada. As artists fled from the Nazi regime, they carried various concepts of the Bauhaus style into their countries. The White city of Tel Aviv has more than 4,000 buildings constructed using the Bauhaus style.

The city was named as a cultural heritage site. On the other hand, it influenced other art movements like the Art Noveau, which is a style used in visual arts and architecture that borrowed certain concepts from the Bauhaus style. Many buildings are constructed using the Bauhaus architectural style.

References

Bergdoll, B., & Dickerman, L. (2009). Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops of Modernity. New York: The Museum of Modern Art.

Droste, M. (2002). Bauhaus, 1919–1933. Berlin: Taschen.

James, K. (2006). Bauhaus Culture: From Weimar to the Cold War. New York: University of Minnesota Press.

Lupfer, G., & Sigel, P. (2004). Gropius. New York: Taschen.

Maciuika, J.V. (2005). Before the Bauhaus: Architecture, Politics, and the German State, 1890-1920. London: Cambridge University Press.

Winton, A.G. (2000). , 1919-1933.

Raizman, D. (2003). History of Modern Design: Graphics and Products Since the Industrial Revolution. New York: Laurence King Publishing.

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