Bauhaus 1919-1928, by Herbert Bayer, Walter Gropius and Ise Gropius

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Ed. The Museum of Modern Art New York, 1975. Size 25,5 x 19 cm. With 336 reproductions in black and white. State: Used, excellent. 224 pages

By Alfred H. Barr Jr.

It is twenty years since Gropius arrived in Weimar to found the Bauhaus; ten years since he left the transplanted and greatly enlarged institution at Dessau to return to private practice; five years since the Bauhaus was forced to close its doors after a brief rear-guard stand in Berlin.

Are this book, then, and the exhibition which supplements it, merely a belated wreath laid upon the tomb of brave events, important in their day but now of primarily historical interest? Emphatically, no! The Bauhaus is not dead; it lives and grows through the men who made it, both teachers and students, through their designs, their books, their methods, their principles, their philosophies of art and education.

It is hard to recall when and how we in America first began to hear of the Bauhaus. In the years just after the War we thought of German art in terms of Expressionism, of Mendelsohn’s streamlined Einstein tower, Toller’s Masse Mensch, Wiene’s Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It may not have been until after the great Bauhaus exhibition of 1923 that reports reached America of a new kind of art school in Germany where famous expressionist painters such as Kandinsky were combining forces with craftsmen and industrial designers under the general direction of the architect, Gropius. A little later we began to see some of the Bauhaus books, notably Schlemmer’s amazing volume on the theatre and Moholy-Nagy’s Malerei, Photographie, Film.

The Bauhaus Principles:
-that most students should face the fact btaht their future should be involved primarily with industry and mass production rather than with individual craftsmanship;
-that teachers in schools of design should be men who are ina dvance of their profession rather than safely and academically in the rearguard;
-that the school of design should, as the Bauhaus did, bring together the various arts of painting, architecture, theatre, photography, weaving, typography, into a modern synthesis which disregards conventional distinctions between the “fine” and “applied” arts;
-that it is harder to design a first rate chair than to paint a second rate painting -and much more useful;
-that a school of design should have on its faculty the purely creative and disinterested artist such as the easel painter as a spiritual counterpoint to the practical technician in order that they may work and teach side by side forthe benefit of the student;
-that thorough manual experience of materials is essential to the student of design-experience at first confined to free experiment and then extended to practical shop work;
-that the study of rational design in terms of technics and materials should be only the first step in the development of a new and modern sense of beauty;
-and, lastly, that because we live in the 20th century, the student architect or designer should be offered no refuge in the past but should be equiped for the modern world in its various aspects, artistic, technical, social, economic, spiritual, so that he may function in society not as a decorator but as a vital participant.

This book on the Bauhaus is published in conjunction with the Museum’s exhibition, Bauhaus 1919-1928. Like the exhibition it is for the most part limited to the first nine years of the institution, the period during which Gropius was director. For reasons beyond the control of any of the individuals involved, the last five years of the Bauhaus could not be represented. During these five years much excellent work was done and the international reputation of the Bauhaus increased rapidly, but, fortunately for the purposes of this book, the fundamental character of the Bauhaus has already been established under Gropius’leadership.

This book is primarily a collection of evidence -photographs, articles and notes done on the field of action, and assembled here with a minimum of retrospective revision. It is divided into two parts: Weimar, 1919-1925, and Dessau, 1925-1928. These divisions indicate more than a change of location and external circumstances, for although the expressionist and, later, formalistic experiments at Weimar were varied and exciting it may be said that the Bauhaus really found itself only after the move to Dessau. This book is not complete, even within its field, for some material could not be brought out of Germany. At some time a definitive work on the Bauhaus should be written, a well-ordered, complete and carefully documented history prepared by a dispassionate authority, but time and other circumstances make this impossible at present. Nevertheless this book, prepared by Herbert Bayer under the general editorship of Professor Gropius and with the generous collaboration of a dozen Bauhaus teachers, is by far the most complete and authoritative account of the Bauhaus so far attempted.

The exhibition has been organized and installed by Herbert Bayer with the assitance of the Museum’s Department of Architecture and Industrial Art.

CONTENTS
Preface by Alfred H. Barr Jr.
The Background of the Bauhaus, by Alexander Dorner
Walter Gropius – Biographical Note
WEIMAR-BAUHAUS 1919-1925
From the First Proclamation
Teachers and Students
The Theory and Organization of the Bauhaus, by Walter Gropius (Weimar, 1923)
Preliminary Course: Itten
Klee’s Course
Kandinsky’s Course
Color Experiments
Carpentry Workshop
Stained Glass Workshop
Pottery Workshop
Metal Workshop
Weaving Workshop
Stage Workshop
Wall-Painting Workshop
Display Design
Architecture
Typography and Layout; the Bauhaus Press
Weimar Exhibition, 1923
Extra-curricular Activities
Preliminary Course: Moholy-Nagy
Preliminary Course: Albers
Opposition to the Bauhaus
Press Comments, 1923-32
The Bauhaus Quits Weimar: a fresh start at Dessau, april 1925
DESSAU BAUHAUS 1925-1928
Bauhaus Building
The Master’s Houses
Other Buildings in Dessau
Architecture Department
Preliminary Course: Albers
Preliminary Course: Moholy-Nagy
Furniture Workshop
Metal Workshop: Lighting fixtures
Weaving Workshop
Typography Workshop: Printing, layout, posters
Photography
Exhibition Technique
Wall-Painting Workshop: Wall paper
Sculpture Workshop
Stage Workshop
Kandinsky’s Course
Paul Klee speaks
Administration
Extra-curricular Activities
Painting, Sculpture, Graphic Art, 1919-1928
Administrative Changes, 1928
Spread of the Bauhaus Idea
Bauhaus Teaching in the United States
Biographical Notes, by Janet Henrich
Bibliography by Beaumont Newhall
Index of Illustrations