The Bauhaus – A Modernist School in Germany

The Bauhaus was a modernist school in Germany that played an instrumental role early in the twentieth century in shaping today’s modern tastes and art education. At a time when industrial society was in the

grip of a crisis, the Bauhaus questioned the ideas of traditional design and asked themself how the modernisation process could be mastered through design and architecture. It was founded in1919 and headed by Walter Gropuis, with a faculty including Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, Wassily Kandinsky and Marcel Breuer. The Bauhaus began with a Utopian definition: “The building of the future”, trying to combine all arts in ideal unity.

The Bauhaus was a reaction to social changes that captured the spirit of change in a young generation willing to rebuild a bankrupt post-world war 1 Germany. The influence of the end of world war 1 had and impact on the Bauhaus and there approach, ideas and art making. After world war 1 industrial art was no longer and individualistic phenomenon. It was here in 1919 that a new revolution of art took place that dealt with life with an aesthetic approach. In 1923, the Bauhaus reacted with a changed program, with a major exhibition which was to mark it’s future image under the motto: “art and technology – a new unity”. This exhibition provided a glimpse of a residential building of the future. The Bauhaus educated, by developing workshops and courses that all who entered the school must attend. The characteristics of different materials, their form, texture and suitability for art were discussed during worships. Structure, composition, colour and use of light became objects of study. Three-dimensional objects that were seen as functional were often created and primary colours were used. The Bauhaus style was characterised by a serve geometrical form, and by design that took into account the nature of the materials being used. Bauhaus designs and buildings were functional, with a clean, geometry style line. In 1925 the Bauhaus moved to Dessau, Germany. On the basis of his experiences gained at the Weimar Bauhaus, Gropius talked about the aims he had for the Bauhaus in 1925 and what they were trying to achieve. He said “ Bauhaus wishes to serve the actual development of the housing, from simple utensils to the complete dwelling house. Bauhaus tries to find the form of every object in it’s natural functions and presuppositions by systematically experimenting in theory and practice. The result are forms that – differing from the common ones – often feel strange and startling”.

During this year and around the 1927 many things were going on in Germany that influenced the way the Bauhaus sort to interpreted the world. The greatest advances in research took place in Germany, the country began to grow in technology, science and wealth launching the first liquid-fuelled rocket.

On the 1st of April 1928 Walter Gropius resigned as Director of the Bauhaus and return to private architectural practice, as a result of the constant struggle and pressure for the Bauhaus’ survival. His successor was the Swiss architect Hannes Meyer who was replaced in 1930 as he failed as a leader due to political disagreements within the Bauhaus. German architect Ludwig Van der Rohe was invited as director and the Bauhaus approached a type of ‘ vocational university”. It began to loose the support from Dessau so the school was then moved to Berlin where it became hated by the Nazis for it’s ideas and different approaches taken.

With the Great Depression beginning in 1930 and spreading across the world most of Europe was in political and economic shambles. However during this time the Nazis’ rose in Germany with it’s own dreams of conquest and a superior race, at this stage the Bauhaus became stronger expressing ideas and new forms of art. As a result of Germany being dictated by Adolf Hitler and the degeneration of culture, the Bauhaus under pressure from the Nazis was closed by police on the 11th of April, 1933.

The Bauhaus was a very influential group of artists that changed the way of traditional art forms and sought to interpret the world in new ways. The significance and influence of the Bauhaus is still being carried on today, this can be seen in many cities, with their geometrical buildings and the use of glass windows. This group of artists and school
interpreted the world in new ways through their unusual aims and goals. The school had three main aims that stayed basically the same throughout the life of the Bauhaus even though the direction of the school changed significantly and repeatedly. the first aim of the school was to “rescue all of the arts from the isolation in which each then found itself”, to encourage the individual artists and craftsmen to work co-operatively and combine all of their skills. Secondly, the school set out to promote crafts, chairs, lamps, teapots, to the same level enjoyed by fine arts, painting and sculpting. the third aim was to renew architecture and unify all of the creative arts in architecture. Above all the intention with Bauhaus was to develop creative minds for architecture and thus influence them so they would be able to produce artistically, technically and practically balanced utensils. These aims and intentions were the basis of the Bauhaus that began to influence our lives immensely in ways that most people probably take for granted.