What is Bauhaus? The pioneering German art movement turns 100
Bauhaus, the influential and pioneering German art movement created by Walter Gropius in 1919, is celebrating its 100th birthday today.
Widely considered by many as being the one of the most influential art movements of the 20th century, Gropius’ ambitious vision was to combine a wide ranging artistic art forms into a melting pot of creativity.
The German term Bauhaus—literally translating to ‘building house’—was understood as meaning ‘School of Building’ and was founded in 1919 based on the idea of creating a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ or ‘total work of art’.
Setting out his idea in a 1919 manifesto, Gropius wrote: “This world of mere drawing and painting of draughtsmen and applied artists must at long last become a world that builds.
“Architects, sculptors, painters—we all must return to craftsmanship! For there is no such thing as ‘art by profession.’ There is no essential difference between the artist and the artisan. The artist is an exalted artisan,” he added.
Built on the back of a defeat at the First World War, the Bauhaus school existed in the three German cities of Weimar up until 1925, Dessau up to 1932 and Berlin, from 1932 to 1933. During its 14-year existence, the school changed leadership a number of times and, in doing so, repeatedly shifted its focus which could be a factor as to why the school can’t be categorised as a single school at all.
Melding together art, society, technology and even politics, Bauhaus explored those topics in various different conversations about fine art and modern, daring design. Teachers of its ideas include the now famous artists, Wassily Kandinsky, Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy and Paul Klee.
While its concepts were pioneering, not everybody was a fan and, specifically, the Nazis despised it. The school was eventually closed by its own leadership under pressure from the Nazi regime who had labeled the movement as centre of communist intellectualism.
Despite shutting down the school, the Bauhaus staff continued in their commitment to the idealistic precepts and actively spread its concepts as they left Germany and moved around the world
Now, 100 years on from its formation, Bauhaus still impacts millions of people in modern design, Modernist architecture, art, graphic design, typography, and more.
Before he died in 1967, Gropius said: “If I have a talent it is for seeing the relationship of things.” Below, enjoy some documentaries detailing the movement.