The term Bauhaus means ’construction house’. It originally referred to the school of design which merged the former Grand Ducal School of Arts and Crafts and the Weimar Academy of Fine Art. The Bauhaus emerged in the year 1919 pioneered by the visionary architect Walter Gropius. The movement served as a combination of fine art and technology in a utopian future.
Some of the important books that offer an insight into what the Bauhaus was all about are listed below. These books explore the life of the Bauhaus pioneers and the ideas which the movement brought to life.
1. Bauhaus: Weimar, Dessau, Berlin, Chicago – by Hans M Wingler
The book features illustrations of architectural plans, craft and industrial model designs, covering a wide range of topics such as furniture, ceramics, metalwork, textiles, stained glass, typography, wallpaper, sculpture, paintings, woodcuts, posters, programs, advertising brochures, stage settings, and formal portraits of Bauhaus masters such as Walter Gropius, Lyonel Feininger, Wassily Kandinsky, and Paul Klee.
2. Taschen – Bauhaus
This book serves as an introduction to the school’s commitment to creative expression. It contains writings about the cutting-edge ideas of the Bauhaus.
3. Bauhaus – by Jeannine Fieldler
It is a comprehensive account of the cultural, historical, philosophical, political and pedagogical background of the 1930s. It portrays the famous directors and teachers of Bauhaus, describing their signature pedagogical methods.
4. Bauhaus Imaginista – by Thames and Hudson
This book enunciates the massive influence of the renowned Bauhaus school of arts. It celebrates the famed artists who moulded its principles. Bauhaus Imaginista marks the hundredth anniversary of this fascinating school of art which encouraged the idea of all kinds of artists working together as a community.
5. The Bauhaus : Six Masters of Modernism – by Nicholas Fox Weber
In this extraordinary biography about an impressive group of designers, Weber brings to life the pioneering art school in Germany’s Weimar and Dessau in the 1920s and early 1930s. He captures the flair and spirit with which the Bauhaus geniuses, Paul Klee and Kandinsky among others, lived while also highlighting their consuming goal of making art and architecture.
6. The New Architecture and the Bauhaus – by Walter Gropius
Gropius traces the rise of New Architecture and the work of the Bauhaus with splendid clarity. He makes the case for a new artist and architect who is educated about new materials and techniques. In the book, Gropius clearly says his guiding inspiration for founding Bauhaus was the fundamental unity underlying all branches of design.
7. ABC’s of the Bauhaus: The Bauhaus and Design Theory – by Ellen Lupton
This book is a precious collection of visually and intellectually stimulating essays about basic design courses which form a part of the Bauhaus curriculum.
8. From Bauhaus to Our House – by Tom Wolfe
An opinionated, caustic, and funny book, Tom Wolfe takes on the case of the Bauhaus movement which impacts the skyline of our modern cities. He points to the issues with the glass and steel box designed buildings that have influenced, as well as infected America’s cities.
9. Original Bauhaus Workbook – by Nina Wiedemeyer and Friederike Holländer
This book introduces the Foundation course of the Bauhaus movement. It contains a wide collection of exercises gathered from the Bauhaus-Archive. These exercises include drawings, photographs and original notes, and are complemented by comments by the teachers, artists, and experts with different professional backgrounds.
10. Bauhaus Women: Art, Handicraft, Design – by Ulrike Muller
The book celebrates 20 underrated women whose work heavily influenced Bauhaus. Their work, although key contributions to the movement, went largely unrecognized. Through this book, we are offered a glimpse of their work and life.
The Bauhaus reconnected art with everyday life. The movement championed a geometric, abstract style that featured little sentimental value. It did not conform to historical ideals, and its aesthetic continues to influence architects, designers and artists even today. Under the leadership of Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus movement almost blurred the lines between the applied and fine arts. Eclectic forms of art such as painting, architecture, typography, textile design, furniture-making, theater design, stained glass, woodworking, metalworking—all found a place there. These austere aesthetics favored functionality and mass factory like production, and were influential in the worldwide redesign of everyday buildings. Such buildings did not hint at any class structure or hierarchy.
Bauhaus, from the beginning, was not just an independent architectural style, but also a school that fused crafts and the fine arts, influences from modernism, the English Arts and Crafts movement, and Constructivism.
The key principles of the Bauhaus movement are listed below. Some of these are included in its 1919 manifesto.
- Union of the artist and craftsman
- The artist is an exalted craftsman
- Form follows function
- Synthesis of multiple art forms
- Honest materials
- Minimalistic design
- Emphasis on technology
- Smart use of resources
- Simplicity and Effectiveness
While the Bauhaus phenomenon was operational only from the period 1919-1933, its principles and values are still applied in the architectural scene today. To cite an example, the concept of the well-known modular IKEA furniture is inspired by the classic work of the Bauhaus designers. The impact of the Bauhaus movement is thus felt deeply in multidisciplinary fields of art and design.
- Art Blog. (2019). https://art.art/blog/10-bauhaus-principles-that-still-apply-today
- Natasha Levy. (2018). https://www.dezeen.com/2018/11/13/bauhaus-books-top-10-bayer-gropius-tascen/
- Designers and Books. (2013). http://www.designersandbooks.com/blog/15-books-bauhaus