2019. April 7. Camille Meunier: Bauhaus for dummies

The Bauhaus centenary is celebrated this year all around the world but if you feel like you’re not quite sure about this word that sounds more like a miswritten version of ‘Boho’ rather than something artistic… then this article is made for you! After reading this for 5 minutes, you’ll be a Bauhaus expert!

First of all, let’s paint a quick portrait of what we call ‘Bauhaus’:
The Bauhaus was a German art school established by German architect Walter Gropius in 1919 and shut down by the Nazis in 1933. A founding idea of this institution was to design and create differently, by experimenting and by combining arts, crafts and industry (translation: turning a great design into serial production; industrial design). Bauhaus is also a utopian artistic movement which strived for to improve people’s lives through architecture, design, photography, theatre, painting, dance, etc.


Bauhaus school, personal sketch

Now that you’ve got the fundamentals, let’s have a deeper look in the Bauhaus:
Let’s first begin with the essence of the Bauhaus : the school. Its founders had the will to create something innovative. They wanted to combine multiple forms of art to lead to the creation of something new and complete. The school itself was questioning the established teaching methods of the time.

Walter Gropius invited many famous artists to take part in this adventure. That is how, the school could count on Johannes Itten, László Moholy-Nagy, Josef Albers, Paul Klee and Vassily Kandinsky to practice as teachers. As a student, you were brought to learn about many different materials very specifically in order to choose the path in which you would blossom. After the first year of ‘general knowledge’, the students could choose between several ‘studios’ to continue their education where they could learn about metal, ceramics, woodworking, textiles, glass, mural painting, theatre and architecture.

Why does Bauhaus sounds so familiar to all of us, then?
When we talk about the Bauhaus, we might think about architecture. Indeed, the school is famous for what it brought to the architectural field but it is also really important in terms of an improved quality of life. The Bauhaus students were working on the creation of everyday objects that had to be functional, affordable and easy to produce (thanks to the mass production process). Nowadays, these have become ‘must-have’ collector’s items in the luxury goods industry.


personal sketch

So, if you see a ‘design’ object with geometric shapes and primary colors, made from metal or glass which is ridiculously expensive… well, it could well be a Bauhaus- inspired object.

Did you know?
You didn’t necessarily need a diploma to get accepted to the school.

The school was willing to break the rules as a symbol of modernity (for example, students and teachers were required to write in lower case).

The school was also famous for its huge and crazy costume parties.

Many members of the Bauhaus were forced to leave Germany after the Nazis shut the school down. They weren’t allowed to work in the country anymore.


‘Bauhaus style’ typography, personal sketch

There are many paradoxes within the Bauhaus school that tarnish its image. For example, even though women were accepted as students (more than in other schools) they weren’t well-respected and most of them followed textile lessons.

 

07.04.2019., Budapest
Camille Meunier, French architecture student


Main image: Walter Gropuis, personal sketch