Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Washington State University
Walter Gropius (1883-1969)
“The artist is merely an inspired craftman.”
“Let us create a new guild of craftsmen, without the class-distinctions which raise an arrogant barrier between craftsman and artist” (1919).
Bauhaus (house for building, growing) was established in Weimar, Germany in April 1919. The Weimar Academy of Fine Art combined with School of Arts and Crafts trained students both in theory and practice, to make products both artistic and commercial. A community of teachers and students was envisioned, like medieval masons lodges, with utopian aims and social responsibility.
“Let us together desire, conceive, and create the new building of the future, which will combine everything–architecture and sculpture and painting–in a single form which will one day rise towards the heavens from the hands of a million workers as the crystalline symbol of a new and coming faith” (qtd. in Dempsey 130).
Bauhaus was obviously influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement. Because of its socialist policies, the Weimar government withdrew funding in 1925 and the school moved to Dessau in 1926, to a functional building of steel, glass, and reinforced concrete. Early in the 1930s the school was seen to be not sufficiently German, too cosmopolitan. Bauhaus moved to Berlin in 1933, but the Nazis closed it down. Because of this forced emigration, Bauhaus spread, especially to the US.
Since Bauhaus shares with its Arts and Crafts predecessor the philosophy that part of art’s purpose is functionality, you can find not just Bauhaus architecture and images, but also clocks, teapots, tapestries, and furniture.
Poster for the Bauhaus Exhibition, July-September 1923 (1923)
Originally an expressionistic woodcut, but worlds apart now. The exhibition was a success with 15,000 visitors.
Cradle (1922) Simplicity and use of geometric shapes are characteristic of Bauhaus.
Dempsey, Amy. Art in the Modern Era: A Guide to Styles, Schools & Movements. NY: Harry N. Abrams Inc., Pub., 2002.