There’s a good chance that something you own was inspired by the Bauhaus: folding chairs, fitted kitchen cabinets and counters, or maybe you work in a steel and glass tower.
Or perhaps you see stark lettering arranged in a slender vertical that echoes the Bauhaus building in Dessau (like this, the WREN apartment building completed recently in downtown Los Angeles.)
100 years ago the maverick art school opened its doors in Weimar, Germany, moving later to Dessau.
The Bauhaus art and design and architecture school operated for only 14 years until the Nazis shut it down. And then its students and teachers spun out worldwide, but especially to America.
The artists Josef and Anni Albers, for example, joined the faculty at the newly established Black Mountain College. And founders Mies van der Rohe brought its rationalist architecture beliefs to Chicago -- where Mies became director of the Illinois Institute of Technology -- and to Harvard, where, says Alan Hess, Walter Gropius “trains an entire young generation of architects here in America in these ideas that had developed in the Bauhaus in the 1920s.”
After all, says Hess, the German emigres had been highly influenced by advances in America, especially the mass-production of cars, and they had tried to apply its lessons to mass-produced housing.
The school’s centennial is being marked all this year by events and exhibitions all around the world.
On a Sunday this month people gathered at the MAK Center at the Schindler House in West Hollywood to hear from Lars Müller, a Zurich-based arts publisher who has republished some of the original Bauhaus journals and had them translated for the first time into English.
In terms of books or layout and graphics, the journals were, Müller says, “as avant garde as the art itself.” And they laid out a vivid and bold vision for the future, free of a past that had been destroyed by despotic monarchies and the devastating First World War.
DnA talks to Müller, designer Michael Boyd, MAK Center director Priscilla Fraser and architectural historian Alan Hess about why the school matters a century later.
The Bauhaus really simplified and organized our visual language, Boyd says, and gave us “a flexible model moving forward. So that's why it is always got this vitality and at 100 feels like a blink of an eye. . . It’s gone from “Bauhaus to Now House.”