What is Bauhaus — BY REX PROVOST ON SEPTEMBER 4, 2022
Description: Art Movement, Style & History ExplainedB
Author: ideasss

       Our world would look a lot different without the Bauhaus. From sleek modernist buildings to advertisements on subways, it’s hard to avoid seeing the influence of the Bauhaus art movement in everyday life. So how did a small art school in Germany have such an outsized effect on the appearance of our modern world? And what, exactly, was that effect?


The Bauhaus art movement

       Bauhaus in German literally means “construction house,” and in a way, that’s really all it started out as. But very quickly, the space turned into a larger movement, defined by clear aesthetic trademarks. For more, check out our index of art styles covering more specific and noteworthy movements. So, what is Bauhaus? The Bauhaus is a German artistic movement which lasted from 1919-1933. Its goal was to merge all artistic mediums into one unified approach, that of combining an individual’s artistry with mass production and function. Bauhaus design is often abstract, angular, and geometric, with little ornamentation.


History of the Bauhaus

       The Bauhaus art movement was founded in 1919 in Weimar, Germany by the architect Walter Gropius. His goal was to lead a school that approached art comprehensively. Instead of having one school for painting, another for sculpture, and another for architecture, Gropius wanted to bring all of these media under the same roof so that they could inform each other.

Walter Gropius, who founded Bauhaus

       “Our guiding principle was that design is neither an intellectual nor a material affair, but simply an integral part of the stuff of life, necessary for everyone in a civilized society.” — Walter Gropius on what is Bauhaus

       In 1925, the Weimar school was forced to close and move to Dessau. While it was in Weimar where the radical approach to artistry was defined, it was in Dessau where the Bauhaus style as we know it today really came to be. While Gropius didn’t set out to create a distinct aesthetic brand — he was more interested in the process of how the art was created — his school’s approach resulted in a specific style. The emphasis on mass-produced function made most works out of the Bauhaus design school abstract, modernist, and without excessive decoration.

Bauhaus architecture examples

       While the school's principles grew more pronounced and distinct, the forms it took remained varied. This included artists working in typography, architecture, woodworking, set design, painting, and much more who all studied under the Bauhaus art movement roof. By 1932, the movement had gained lots of attention. But instead of being able to capitalize on its burgeoning popularity, the school found itself beleaguered by the new Nazi government of Germany. The school briefly relocated to Berlin, but in 1933 the school was forced to close its doors.


Famous Bauhaus Artists

       The Bauhaus art movement comprised countless creators who massively influenced their respective fields. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest names to come out of the school.

Walter Gropius
       As the founder of the Bauhaus, Gropius is considered one of the most influential figures in this style of architecture. Gropius was a firm believer in the function of architecture, renouncing references to previous styles or ornamentation. His buildings, therefore, are highly modernist, geometric, and minimalist, encapsulating the Bauhaus design.

A building designed by Walter Gropius

Marcel Breuer
       Marcel Breuer was one of the first, and youngest, Bauhaus artists. His career focused in architecture and furniture design (his Cesca Chair is especially famous). His architecture is slightly more brutalist than that of Gropius, but the influence the movement had on him is evident in all of his work.

The Cesca chair, designed by Marcel Breuer

Paul Klee
       Paul Klee was a painter whose work utilized Cubism, Surrealism, and Modernism. He was key in developing the aesthetic of the Bauhaus movement artwork, working as a teacher at the school and writing one of the most important pieces of theory in the modern art movement: Writings on Form and Design Theory.

Senecio, by Paul Klee (1922)

Anni Albers
       Anni Albers was a textile artist who spearheaded the movement's ideals of mixing function and art. Her textiles also utilize the geometric and modernist designs associated with the movement.

A tapestry by Anni Albers

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