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BAU

HA US


BAU

HA US


table of contents history people architecture graphic design product design colophon


HISTORY

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auhaus 1919-1933

he Bauhaus occupies a place of its own in the history of 20th century culture, architecture, design, art and new media. One of the first schools of design, it brought together a number of the most outstanding contemporary architects and artists and was not only an innovative training centre but also a place of production and a focus of international debate. At a time when industrial society was in the grip of a crisis, the Bauhaus stood almost alone in asking how the modernisation process could be mastered by means of design.

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ounded in Weimar in 1919, the Bauhaus rallied masters and students who sought to reverse the split between art and production by returning to the crafts as the foundation of all artistic activity and developing exemplary designs for objects and spaces that were to form part of a more human future society. Following intense internal debate, in 1923 the Bauhaus turned its attention to industry under its founder and first director Walter Gropius (1883–1969). The major exhibition which opened in 1923, reflecting the revised principle of art and technology as a new unity, spanned the full spectrum of

Bauhaus work. The Haus Am Horn provided a glimpse of a residential building of the future.

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n 1924 funding for the Bauhaus was cut so drastically at the instigation of conservative forces that it had to seek a new home. The Bauhaus moved to Dessau at a time of rising economic fortunes, becoming the municipally funded School of Design. Almost all masters moved with it. Former students became junior masters in charge of the workshops. Famous works of art and architecture and influential designs were produced in Dessau in the years from 1926 to 1932.

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alter Gropius resigned as director on 1st April 1928 under the pressure of constant struggles for the Bauhaus survival. He was succeeded by the Swiss architect Hannes Meyer (1889–1954) whose work sought to shape a harmonious society. Cost-cutting industrial mass production was to make products affordable for the masses. Despite his successes, Hannes Meyer’s Marxist convictions became a problem for the city council amidst the political turbulence of Germany in 1929, and the following year he was removed from his post.


PEOPLE


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alter Gropius founded the Bauhaus school in

Weimar Germany in 1919. He is the primary name associated with the Bauhaus and was the key person in shaping its philosophy. He was the director in Weimar and Dessau. Gropius was an architect, which influenced the initial course offerings and philosophy of the school. Gropius coined the term Bauhaus which means ‘building house’ in German.

n early accomplishment in Gropius’s career was a factory design for the Fagus Shoe Company. The adoption of structural steel and ferroconcrete freed the wall of its function as a structural element. Thus, to Gropious and those who followed the International Style of the 1920s, the wall was merely a curtain or climate barrier.(Arnason, p.312) Gropius was one of the first architects consistently design buildings using the wall in this manner. Many of his buildings used all glass walls, which was not common at the time. The “glass curtain” is now used by most architects, and can be seen in any modern city.

ohannes Itten was initially responsible for teaching

the preliminary ‘basic’ course. However, his philosophical perspective did not suite the Bauhaus. A rift developed over Itten’s belief that one could attain “personal salvation through mystical communion with matter”, his followers “sought to transcend reality, and in doing so they questioned the fundamental premises of Bauhaus teaching.”(Naylor, p.66) Itten’s contribution to visual communication was in the area of color, his book The Art of Color was subtitled

treatis on the color system. He said of color, “He who wants to become a master of color must see, feel, and experience each individual color in its many endless combinations with all other colors. Colors must have a mystical capacity for spiritual expression, without being tied to objects.” (Itten, p.6) Despite Itten’s mystical slant, his color research is valuable to visual design for its theoretical framework. In his treatis, Itten included color plates, to show the effects of colors next to, and on top of each other.

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aszlo Moholy-Nagy took over the preliminary

basic course in 1923 after Itten left. He was involved with the de Stijl group, which was considered an opposing art movement. The fact that Gropius chose to ask Moholy-Nagy to teach each at the Bauhaus was a credit to his skills a building a movement. Moholy-Nagy was interested in typography, photography and cinema. (Naylor, p.76-79) Of all the teachers and many students, Moholy-Nagy was the most important to the development of visual communications. He was one of the pioneers of camera-less photography.

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oholy-Nagy, like many of the other professors, went to America after his involvement with the Bauhaus. He eventually founded the Institute of Design in Chicago, later called the Illinois Institute of Design.


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osef Albers was involved in research on the emotional and perceptual impact of color, line and geometric forms. His contributions included developing methods of educational instruction. Albers was accomplished in furniture design, lettering and glass painting. Albers went to the United States, after the Bauhaus was closed, and first taught at the Black Mountain College in North Carolina, then at the Cincinnati Art Academy, Yale, the Pratt Institute and at Harvard.(Wingler, p.422) He influenced the Abstract Expressionist of the 1950. Whose likes included Stella, Noland and Olitski, whose work is characterized by large shapes and flat color. Alber’s book, Interaction of Color, is a corner stone of today’s art classroom. Several years later Albers produced a series of paintings called Homage to the Square. At first glance, and viewed alone, these paintings appear to be flat color squares on top of each other. However, as a series, they represent further commentary on the interaction of colors, how colors act when next to each other. The Abstract Expressionist of the New York school were referencing Albers’s work for their inspiration. Many of these large pieces, or similar ones more recently produced, are displayed in the atrium of large “modern glass buildings”.

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erbert Bayer’s

responsibility at the Bauhaus included typography and advertising techniques. (Wingler, p.423) Bayer also set up Bauhaus design exhibitions. He later went to America, where he developed exhibition techniques and commercial art. Major department stores, as well as advertising agencies employed him as an art consultant. (Wingler, p.423) He was very influential in developing commerical art as a profession in America.


ARCHITECTURE

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he paradox of the early Bauhaus was that, although its manifesto proclaimed that the ultimate aim of all creative activity was building, the school did not offer classes in architecture until 1927. The single most profitable tangible product of the Bauhaus was its wallpaper.

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he building is the ultimate goal of all fine art,” the Bauhaus manifesto proclaimed back in 1919. Architecture training at the Bauhaus in Weimar was initially the prerogative of Walter Gropius private architectural practice and for a short time courses were run by his partner Adolf Meyer and in association with the “Baugewerkschule” (building trades school) in Weimar. The Bauhaus workshops were involved in these efforts through Gropius’s office. This collaboration produced the Haus Am Horn and other buildings in 1923. Plans for a Bauhaus estate remained unimplemented. Some new methods based on specific types and standardisation were employed not only to produce new architecture but to anticipate a new lifestyle through this architecture.

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lthough the Bauhaus lacked an architecture department, it was the buildings designed in Gropius’s office and erected from 1925 onwards among which the Bauhaus building itself

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nd the Masters’ Houses enjoy pride of place which dominated the image of the years in Dessau right from the outset. In 1927 Walter Gropius offered Hannes Meyer a position in charge of architecture classes. That year Hannes Meyer began to put together a curriculum which included all relevant subjects such as planning, design, draftsmanship, construction, town planning. Architecture for Walter Gropius and Hannes Meyer alike mainly denoted the “design of life’s processes”. Hannes Meyer went far beyond Gropius’s “study of essentials”, which focused too much on the object for his taste, turning his teaching programme into one where the concrete conditions in society and the factors determining architecture and its use formed the starting point for all planning and design. The habits of the future residents of an estate or a house were studied in scientific detail. Students from various years worked together in “vertical brigades” on the design and erection of buildings such as the balcony access houses in Dessau and the labour unions school in Bernau near Berlin. Carl Fieger, the engineer Friedrich Köhn, Hans Wittwer, Ludwig Hilberseimer, Anton Brenner, Alcar Rudelt and Mart Stam taught in the architecture department.


GRAPHIC DESIGN

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t first, practical fields of type application were restricted to small, miscellaneous printed matters. With the appointment of Moholy-Nagy in 1923, came the ideas of “New Typography” to the Bauhaus. He considered typography to be primarily a communications medium, and was concerned with the “clarity of the message in its most emphatic form”.

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haracteristic for the design were clear, unadorned type prints, the articulation and accentuation of pages through distinct symbols or typographic elements highlighted in color, and finally direct information in a combination of text and photography, for which the name “Typofoto” was created.

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ustrian Herbert Bayer was trained in the Art Nouveau styles but gained interest in Gropius’ Bauhaus-Manifest. He enrolled in the Bauhaus and studied there for four years. After passing his final examination, Bayer was appointed by Gropius to direct the new “Druck und Reklame” (printing & advertising) workshop to open in the new Dessau location.

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n 1925, Gropius commissioned Bayer to design a typeface for all Bauhaus communiqués and Bayer excitedly undertook this task. He took advantage of his views of modern typography to create an “idealist typeface.” The result was “universal” - a simple geometric sans-serif font.

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n Bayer’s philosophy for type design, not only were serifs unnecessary, he felt there was no need for an upper and lower case for each letter. Part of his rationale for promoting this concept was to simplify typesetting and typewriter keyboard layout.The Bauhaus set forth elementary principles of typographic communication, which were the beginnings of a style termed “The New Typography.”

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. Typography is shaped by functional requirements.

. The aim of typographic layout is communication (for which it is the graphic medium). Communication must appear in the shortest, simplest, most penetrating form.

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. For typography to serve social ends, its ingredients need internal organization - (ordered content) as well as external organization (the typographic material properly related).

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hese ideals were adopted by Jan Tschichold who never attended the Bauhaus, nor worked there, but visited and corresponded with teachers at the school. He was greatly influenced by the Bauhaus approach to typography.

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reated when he was at the Bauhaus, Albers’ “Kombinationschrift” alphabets exemplify the school’s ethos. Using 10 basic shapes based on the circle and the rectangle, he created a system of lettering that was meant to be efficient, easy to learn, and inexpensive to produce. These 10 shapes in combination could form any letter or number.


GRAPHIC DESIGN

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he greatest practical achievements at the Bauhaus were probably in interior, product, and graphic design. For example, Marcel Breuer created many furniture designs at the Bauhaus that have become classics, including the first tubularsteel chair. He said that, unlike heavily upholstered furniture, his simple, machine-made chairs were “airy, penetrable,” and easy to move. Though initially women were to be given equal status at the Bauhaus, Gropius grew alarmed at the number of women applicants and restricted them primanly to weaving, a skill deemed suitable for female students. Gunta Stölz and Anni Albers were major innovators in the area of textile design at the school’s weaving workshop. In ceramic and metal design, a new vocabulary of simple, functional shapes was established. The courses in display and typographic design under Bayer, Moholy-Nagy, Tschichold, and others revolutionized the field of type. Bauhaus designs have passed so completely into the visual language of the twentieth century that it is now difficult to appreciate how revolutionary they were on first appearance. Certain designs, such as Breuer’s tubular chair and his basic table and cabinet designs, Gropius’s designs for standard unit furniture, and designs by other faculty members and students for stools, stacking chairs, dinnerware, lighting fixtures,

textiles, and typography so appealed to popular tastes that they are still manufactured today.

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ropius resigned his position in 1928 and named as his successor Hannes Meyer, a Marxist who placed less emphasis on aesthetics and creativity than on rational, functional, and socially responsible design. Meyer was forced to leave the Bauhaus in 1930, and Mies van der Rohe (Gropius’s first choice in 1928) assumed the directorship. Mies’s work as an architect is discussed below. Inevitably, activities at the Bauhaus aroused the suspicions of the reactionary political forces that finally brought about its closing in 1933.


COLOPHON FONTS USED

BAUHAUS 93 REGULAR 18 pt 30 pt Minion Pro Regular 10 pt


Bauhaus Book #1  

traditional book design using the Bauhaus era as the subject