Bauhaus, 1919-1928

Bauhaus, 1919-1928

by Herbert Bayer, Walter Gropius, and Ise Gropius (1938)


Bauhaus was published by the Museum of Modern Art and it was distributed by the New York Graphic Society. As I approached the book it caught my eye. It instantly lured me in and I was overrun by fascination. The book was rather large and each page contained copious amounts of information. Despite the book being older, it was in impeccable condition. The stark contrast between red and black on the cover and the layout of the title only increased my interest in learning more about the actual contents of the book itself. The paper within the book was thicker than I expected it to be. When I viewed the informational video created by one of our library’s archivists, I mentally prepared myself to be extremely careful when handling any of the books. To my surprise, this book in particular proved to be very intact and stable. As a historian, the inclusion of “Weimar” in the title appealed to my historical interests. In regards to the physical nature of the book itself, I appreciated the fact that it was well preserved and complete. As I opened the book, I did enjoy that mostly everything was portrayed in black and white. The book was also entirely comprised of sans serif fonts which I also enjoyed viewing. The layout was manageable since descriptions and background information was provided; as well as concise biographies about influential individuals prevalent within this school of thought.



“The Bauhaus was founded in 1919 in the city of Weimar by German architect Walter Gropius (1883-1969) Its core objective was a radical concept: to reimagine the material world to reflect unity of all the arts… Gropius developed a craft-based curriculum that would turn out artisans and designers capable of creating useful and beautiful objects appropriate to this new system of living” (Metropolitan Museum of Art 1). The Bauhaus was extremely influential to the world of design. It served to redefine and reimagine the true meaning behind design through education. The Metropolitan Museum of Art also states that, “The Bauhaus combined elements of both fine arts and design education. The curriculum commenced with a preliminary course that immersed the students, who came from a diverse range of social and educational backgrounds, in the study of materials, color theory, and formal relationships in preparation for more specialized studies” (Metropolitan Museum of Art 2). Once immersed in Bauhaus theory, students entered more specialized fields including metalworking, cabinetmaking, weaving, pottery, typography, and wall painting. As time progressed Gropius came to the realization that training craftsmen was both time consuming and costly, so the school began to stress the importance of designing for mass production. The Metropolitan Museum of Art communicates that, “In 1925, the Bauhaus moved from Weimar to Dessau, where Gropius designed a new building to house the school. This building contained many features that later became hallmarks of modernist architecture, including steel-frame construction, a glass curtain wall, and an asymmetrical, pinwheel plan, throughout which Gropius distributed studio, classroom, and administrative space for maximum efficiency and spatial logic” (Metropolitan Museum of Art 3). The move from Weimar to Dessau, taking into consideration the architecture of the new school, would inspire students and serve as a catalyst to their creative expression. Undoubtedly, Gropius and Bauhaus ideology pioneered modern thought and added to the conversation of the true definition of design.

Design examples

Since both Gropius and Bauhaus were influential and impacted countless fields within design, this is the main reason why this book is special and important enough to collect. The book is comprehensive and covers a wide variety of specialties: it is informative while being extremely interesting. This book serves an example of the emergence of a particular style that would influence countless fields in design both in Europe and abroad. The period the book covers examine the time during the first World War and right before the beginning of the second. Bauhaus Dessau states that, “The catastrophic experiences of WWI motivated the Bauhauslers to radically rethink life, society and the everyday world… In just a few years the Bauhaus Dessau [became] a focus of attention for young people from all over the world. The theoretical instruction is placed on broader footing and other subjects… The first generation of masters were Walter Gropius, Oskar Schlemmer, Georg Muche, László Moholy-Nagy, Lyonel Feininger, Wassily Kadinsky and Paul Klee. These were often joined by friends and guests with the result that the complex of Masters’ Houses came to epitomise the artists’ colony of the twentieth century” (Bauhaus Dessau 4-5). These individuals were extremely important in the development and education of Bauhaus during this period. Bauhaus would soon become more and more prevalent within the United States. The Bauhaus Dessau website also states that, “In Dessau, too, the Bauhaus was not immune to political hostilities. After Walter Gropius [transferred] his leadership of the school to Hannes Meyer in 1928, the latter places an ever-increasing focus on the social aims of the Bauhaus, being primarily concerned with the question of how well designed products are buildings might be made affordable for all… the third Bauhaus director, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe [stressed]… Architecture, constructive logic and free-flowing open space… Despite the closure of the school the ideas of the Bauhaus spread worldwide. Many of the Bauhaus masters went into exile and became professors at successor institutions… (Bauhaus Dessau (Bauhaus Dessau 7-9). Even today, galleries throughout the world boast exhibits dedicated to this movement. The Bauhaus architecture is still prevalent in Germany to this day; the buildings are considered UNESCO World Heritage sites. Their website states that, “Every year some 100,000 visitors from all over the world come to Dessau to view the Bauhaus buildings to research, work and become creatively involved as scientists, architects, designers, artists or students” (Bauhaus Dessau 12).

Clearly, this work is influential: then and now. It paved the way for new approaches to seemingly static traditions. It pushed numerous fields into modernity and allowed students to express themselves in unique ways. Bauhaus served to influence much of the art and design work prevalent within the United States and abroad.

Typography examples


Works Cited