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Home About Bauhaus
About Bauhaus.. PDF Print E-mail

Bauhaus from 1919 until 1933Bb

Bauhaus, what a strange German word, a combination of the word “construction” and the word “house”. In Germany, most people associate this name to a big chain of do-it-yourself stores, may be that association is not too far off the mark. What do you find in a do-it-yourself-store? Well, products in large quantities, simple, cheap and mostly produced for the extended population. Ideas which we can also find in the programs of the Bauhaus movement.

But, let’s go back in time to the 20th century. In the history of the 20th century, the Bauhaus has a prominent role in the categories of culture, architecture and design. It will be best to understand the name, once we know the short, but moving story of Bauhaus. Until today, the Bauhaus movement has an effect on the structures in many areas of our life, as in architecture, design and industrial design, painting and questions of social economic issues.

The “children” and “grandchildren” of the “fathers” and “grandfathers” carry on the ideas of Bauhaus in similar or modified form and they will accompany us over time into the second decade of our century.


The masters of Bauhaus on the rooftop of the Bauhaus building in Dessau.
From the left to right: Josef Albers, Hinnerk Scheper, Georg Muche, László Moholy-Nagy,
Herbert Bayer, Joost Schmidt, Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee,
Lyonel Feininger, Gunta Stölzl and Oskar Schlemmer.

In the year 1919, Walter Gropius (*1883 - †1969) founds the Bauhaus movement in Weimar with the target to abolish the separation between art and production through the recalling of the workmanship tradition as a principle of all artistic work. In the “building of the future” (“Bau der Zukunft”) all arts should have a connection.

Walter Gropius sees the necessity to develop new teaching methods; and, is convinced that the base for any art is to be found in the actual handcrafting: "the school will gradually turn into a workshop", he says. Indeed, artists and craftsmen directed classes and production together at the Bauhaus in Weimar. This is intended to remove any distinction between the fine arts and the applied arts.

The program of Walter Gropius’ basis of apprenticeship from 1922:


Studies at the Bauhaus are separated in three sections. The “Vorlehre” consists of half a year classes of moulding forms and exercises with several materials. After that period follows the admittance in the “Werklehre”, where it is possible to choose between different workshops such as wood, metal, fabric, colours, glass, clay or stone. The third segment is the “Baulehre”, consists of the construction, and also of the collaboration in the building. At the end of the three years of the apprenticeship, the students obtain a master-builder certificate from the chamber of trade and those students who are highly skilled and intellectually gifted obtain one from the Bauhaus as well. Some of the disciples of the Bauhaus continue working after their teachings as masters on Bauhaus.

The education of an artist shouldn’t be imparted by “professors” as in academies or universities; but rather, it should be through the technical handling of the objects.

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Advert for apprenticeship of the Poster of the Bauhaus exhibition in Weimar, 1923 Bauhaus from 28th April 1925

The directing teachers in the workshops are not to be called “professors”, but “Formmeister” - master of form -. In each case they are supported by a “Werkmeister”, who has a good command of his craftsmanship. Some of the famous masters of form include Johannes Itten, Walter Gropius, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Gerhard Marcks, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Wilhelm Wagenfeld and Hans Meyer.

Another very important point forces the masters of Bauhaus to think about how more and more technical civilisation is becoming, the trend for living and working in agglomerations and large cities, resulting in the extension of their program with the guideline: “Art and technique – a new unit”. The possibilities of the industry should be applied for the aim of functional and satisfactory aesthetic design. In the Bauhaus´ workshops, archetypes are generated which are designed for the bulk production, from lamps to interiors as well as houses. Definitely, the high demand couldn’t be fulfilled from the beginning and the masters of Bauhaus are not the only ones to look for resolutions; however, they are the initiators.

In 1925, Bauhaus moves from Weimar to Dessau; and, from 1926 it is housed at the well known Bauhaus Dessau building.


Bauhaus Dessau 1926-1932

In 1996, the Bauhaus building in Dessau is accepted in the UNESCO world cultural heritage. Today it’s the domicile of the foundation Bauhaus Dessau

In 1928, Walter Gropius hands over administration of Bauhaus Dessau to the Swiss architect Hannes Meyer. His main focus is to make daily life articles such as furniture affordable for the wide social class. At the same time, he also manages to adjust expenses by saving through industrial mass production for the most part. Accused of communist leanings, the director Hannes Meyer is fired by the city of Dessau.

The architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe becomes the new director in April 1930 with the help of Walter Gropius.

In 1931, the NSDAP win the elections in Dessau. This has unfortunate consequences for the Bauhaus movement forcing them to move a second time. On this occasion, the Bauhaus settles in Berlin until the institution is definitely closed by the Nazis in 1933.

The New Bauhaus, which is founded 1937 in Chicago, is the subsequent school of the Bauhaus in Germany. The Bauhaus ideas have admirers in every part of the United States, however, the New Bauhaus in Chicago is the only place where the complete program of Weimar and Dessau is fully developed by Walter Gropius and implements accordingly.

The influence of the Bauhaus is so important that colloquially the word Bauhaus is synonymous of Modern Architecture and Modern Design. In our context we better use the words Bauhaus and Modern Classics.