In this article we talk about art and design, looking at a key element of the 20th century which is still thriving today: Bauhaus.
Bauhaus is one of the higher points of early nineteen hundreds’ research, and it was intended to influence its further developments.
The early Bauhaus school
The first stage of this important German institute, founded in Weimar by Walter Gropius in 1919, was limited to teaching and producing art prints.
Its complete name is Staatliches Bauhaus and it was active in many German cities: since its foundation until 1925, the headquarters are in Weimar; it later moved to Dessau until 1932 and it closed in 1933 in Berlin.
Eventually, the Bauhaus institute was forced to close down by the Nazi party.
The name’s origin
The term Bauhaus was invented by Gropius himself, recalling the medieval word Bauhütte, which means warehouse, indicating the bricklayers.
Why is it so important?
Bauhaus school inherited a great deal of concepts of pre-war artistic avant-gardes.
It is a defining point of reference for the new movements in design and architecture.
Needless to say, this institution operated in a fascinating and significative historical period.
In those years, rationalism and functionalism were paramount, as typical traits of the Modern Movement. This movement was a phase in architecture history between the two world wars and it was aimed to the innovation of many sectors. New fonts were introduced in this period, new project systems, and new principles for architecture, city planning and design.
The Bauhaus’ teachers were often former students and key figures of the school, and they were important names in European culture.
It is not by chance that the didactic experience of the school has had such a deep influence on artistic and technical teaching, then and now.
Revolutionise the aesthetics in pursuit of the final goal
Main characters of this change are the architects, centering their work on new aesthetic concepts and most of all on new functionality criteria.
Culture and technology are the key words of Bauhaus, the same words that ignited the true great debate of the whole 20th century: what is the relationship between this two entities? How they can coexist?
From this couple all the artistic trends of the school sprang up, covering every field of art, from typography to architecture, photography and design.
There is an inclination on practicality, dryness and standardization of processes and shapes.
Identity is based on the pursuit of maximum quality: eliminating unnecessary elements in order to favor order, rhythm and proportions.
Graphics and prints are completely lacking human figures, preferring a balance between text and image. New space management ways are created, and fonts are deprived of any embellishment.
Photography becomes the key tool in the publishing industry, provided that it keeps clean and austere.
Speaking of functionality, graphic elements are made and distributed on different sizes, where what is bigger is more important than smaller elements: lettering acquires the same relevance of architecture.
Designer products made of pure geometry
Objects are “undressed” in the name of rationality. The geometrical shape is the center of all.
Some creations coming from Bauhaus are legendary.
One example is the Wassily chair, by Marcel Breuer, Hungarian architect and designer producing this extraordinary work of art between 1925 and 1926.
Originally known as model B3, the chair is named after painter Wassily Kandisky, Breuer’s friend and colleague, who fell in love with that “sculpture”.
Speaking of chairs, another masterpiece is the Brno chair by Ludwig Mies van Der Rohe between 1929 and 1930. The steel frame perfectly represents the simplification concept of Bauhaus: the four legs give way to a single piece, in the shape of a C, supporting the whole structure.
These are only two examples of the countless designer objects invented and perfected within the Bauhaus school that made and are still making history of design.
Not only the legacy of this school is still alive, but even today there is who keeps producing objects based on original sketches and projects of the Bauhaus.
German brand Tecta, for instance, creates reproductions of furniture based on official documents.
In Italy, companies like Bauhaus Re-Edition, founded at the end of the ’80s in Tuscany, in the heart of the Chianti region, makes news editions of furniture and decorating items inspired by the original designs of the great masters of the Bauhaus movement.