The Staatliches Bauhaus, popularly known as the Bauhaus, meaning ‘building house’, was a German design school operational from 1919 until 1933. The school offered a combination of craft courses and fine arts subjects.
The Bauhaus curriculum created a new benchmark in architectural education. Bauhaus was well-known for its comprehensive design principles, which aimed to unify independent artists with large scale production and strove to blend aesthetics with function.
The Bauhaus was founded by architect Walter Gropius. It was grounded in the vision of creating comprehensive and robust designs. The Bauhaus architectural style grew to become one of the most influential currents in contemporary design and modernist art.
Now, let’s look at the greatest Architects of Bauhaus.
The Albers and Marcel Breuer
Anni and Josef are Bauhaus’s most celebrated couple. They started as students and went on to master the subject, with Josef becoming the leader of the glass workshop and Anni heading the weaving workshop. In glasswork and weaving respectively, both Josef and Anni made brilliant explorations of geometry, color, and frame.
Following the school’s closure, the Albers moved to America, where both of them continued to immensely contribute to education and art until death. Hungarian architect and designer Marcel Breuer is equally famous for his architecture and his expertise with tubular steel furniture, his work was revolutionary in the use of the bent tubular steel and Eisengarn.
At the Bauhaus, Breuer created numerous pieces of steel furniture including the Model B3, popularly known as the Wassily Chair. Supported by the money he earned from selling tubular furniture, he managed to float an architecture practice and later moved to the United States where he designed more than 100 well-known buildings including the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Johannes Itten and Xanti Schawinsky
Swiss painter Johannes Itten curated the original syllabus for the Bauhaus’ preliminary course – encompassing material studies, color studies, and the fundamental theories of architecture – and led its teaching with the Bauhaus’ establishment from 1919 until 1933. Itten later left the school to start a weaving workshop near Zurich along with fellow Bauhaus educator Gunta Stölzl.
Xanti Schawinsky, a Swiss artist was best-known for his interdisciplinary approach that embodied the ideals of the Bauhaus. Xanti joined the Bauhaus in 1924, he trained in stage performance under Oskar Schlemmer and played for the Bauhaus Jazz Band. He was a well-rounded person with varied skills including photography, stage design, jazz, theatre shows, and product design. Following his exit from Bauhaus, Schawinsky joined Josef Alberts in teaching at Black Mountain College in Asheville, North Carolina.
Walter Gropius and Herbert Bayer
Although the modernist design of the Bauhaus is not known for its display of color, and its founder Walter Gropius showed a personal disdain for colors in his architecture, Color Theory was a compulsory foundation course at Bauhaus. The leaders of this course were Itten, then Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Josef Alberts – who led the Bauhaus on a quest to decipher color. The theories developed at the school underpin contemporary color theories.
Herbert Bayer, who is known for his excellence in the field of advertising designed the typeface called Universal, which became synonymous with the school. Bayer was first a student at Bauhaus and later became a master of the printing and advertising workshop, Bayer played a prominent role in creating a visual identity for the school.
After leaving the Bauhaus, like many of his contemporaries, Bayer flew to the US in 1938 where he organized the exhibition Bauhaus 1919-28 at MoMA.
Josef Hartwig and Peter Keler
Artist Josef Hartwig joined the school as the head of its sculpture department from 1921 to 1925. He became famous for designing a chess set with minimal pieces that visually represent the movement that they can each make. The flat and round chess pieces could also be easily arranged together when put away.
Peter Keler was a student at the Bauhaus between 1921 and 1925, he was a versatile artist and architect. While at Bauhaus in 1923 he designed a cradle for the first Bauhaus exhibition in the Haus am Horn in Weimar. Inspired by artist Wassily Kandinsky, who was a master at Bauhaus, the baby cradle is a brilliant mix of geometry and color.
László Moholy-Nagy and Hannes Meyer
Hungarian-born László Moholy-Nagy was an influential professor at the Bauhaus, heading its one-year preliminary course between 1923 and 1928, and leading several workshops, particularly in metalwork and visual media. He played a crucial role in preserving the ideals of the school after its closure in 1933.
Hannes Meyer took over as the director for Bauhaus after the departure of Walter Gropius in 1928, a role he only played for a couple of years before being dismissed owing to political controversies. The Swiss architect joined Bauhaus a year before becoming its director, as the head of a newly formed architecture department. In his short tenure, Mayer won several important design commissions for Bauhaus.
The New Bauhaus
The New Bauhaus school was established by Bauhaus educator László Moholy-Nagy in Chicago in 1939. The USA-based design school was key to continuing the principles and developments of the German institution and adopting them in American architecture.
However, the New Bauhaus closed in about a year, as the businessmen funding the school withdrew their money. Bauhaus educator Moholy-Nagy reopened the institute as The School of Design, which later became the Institute of Design in 1944, before becoming part of the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1949.