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Otti Berger

Pioneering textile artist

Otti Berger (4 Oct. 1898 1 Jul. 1944) was almost 30 years old when she transferred to the Bauhaus in Dessau from the Zagreb School of Arts and Crafts in 1927. As a graduate of the weaving workshop, she was chosen to head the workshop following Gunta Stölzl’s departure in the winter semester 1931/32. In 1932, the designer opened her own studio in Berlin which was quite popular among textile companies. As a Jew, the Nazis forbid her to continue working in Germany in 1936. She tried to emigrate to the United States, where she hoped to find employment at the New Bauhaus in Chicago but was denied an entry visa. She and her family were arrested in Croatia, deported and murdered in Auschwitz in 1944.

 

 

Tapestry

A special birthday gift

What would you have liked as a going-away gift? The Bauhaus master Johannes Itten received this tapestry when he left the Bauhaus in 1923. It was designed by Max Peiffer Watenpuhl in the year 1921. Itten donated the piece to the Bauhaus-Archiv in Berlin at its opening in 1961.

Oskar Schlemmer

Creator of the Triadic Ballet

The painter Oskar Schlemmer (4 Sept. 1888 13 Apr. 1943) began as a Bauhaus master in Weimar in 1921 where he was involved in the mural painting, sculpture and metal workshops and, perhaps most notably, the theatre department. Even before his time at the Bauhaus, he had gained acclaim for characters he had created for the Triadic Ballet. Schlemmer was especially interested in the interplay of the human body and space. He developed the Bauhaus Dances and, as director of the Bauhaus Stage, toured through Germany from 1928 to 1929.

 

Ear jewellery for the Metallic Party

Bauhaus in Dessau on 9 Feb. 1929

An earring as a technoid mobile: Marianne Brandt, student of the metal workshop, created this delicate piece of jewellery and wore it to the Metallic Party in 1929. Participants were encouraged to wear tinkling bells and rustling metallic foils to experience the material with their various senses – visually, haptically and acoustically.

 

Gertrud Grunow

First woman in the Bauhaus teaching staff

The native Berliner Gertrud Grunow (8 Jul. 1870 11 Jun. 1944) was trained as a singer and singing instructor before she opened her own school for singing at the age of 28. Influenced by Emile Jaques-Dalcroze’s Rhythmic Gymnastics, Grunow developed her own approach to mastering musical skills. She came to the Bauhaus in 1919 through Johannes Itten. There she remained until 1923, teaching Harmonisation Theory which was based on the premise that one’s perception of sound, colour and movement were interconnected.

 

 

Wardrobe on wheels

Square, practical, modern

Presumably presented for the first time in 1930 on a touring exhibition of the Bauhaus, the wardrobe on wheels embodied the modern lifestyle of a young and mobile generation. This piece of furniture was practical, moveable and space-saving, making it ideally suited for any compact-sized apartment.

Johannes Itten

Inventor of the preliminary Bauhaus course

The Swiss painter and art instructor Johannes Itten (1. Nov. 1888 25 Mar. 1967) came to Weimar to teach at the newly founded Bauhaus in 1919 and strongly influenced the school in its initial phase. He developed his own colour theory and introduced the preliminary course which all students were required to complete at the beginning of their studies. Itten was a follower of the Mazdaznan doctrine which he propagated at the Bauhaus until his departure in 1923.

 

 

 

Lilly Reich

Head of the weaving workshop

After receiving training in crank embroidery in Berlin, Lilly Reich (16 Jun. 1885 14 Dec. 1947) went to work for Josef Hoffmann at his Viennese workshop. Returning to Berlin, she joined the Werkbund and operated her own studio for interior design, furniture and fashion. In 1923, she began working closely with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe on several projects including the Barcelona pavilion. In 1932, Mies van der Rohe recruited her to teach at the Bauhaus, where she headed the carpentry and weaving workshops until the school closed in 1933.

 

 

Balance study

In limbo

In László Moholy-Nagy’s preliminary course, students experimented with various materials. This delicately fashioned work explores the theme of balance. It rests on a small base and exudes both static and compositional equilibrium. The work dates back to 1924.

Marcel Breuer

Inventor of the tubular-steel chair

The Hungarian born Marcel Breuer (21 May 1902 – 1 Jul. 1981) studied at the Bauhaus from 1920 to 1924 in the carpentry workshop. In 1925 he was chosen to head the workshop as a so-called “junior master”. That same year, he designed the first tubular steel chair for residential use. Breuer eventually became one of the most influential furniture designers at the Bauhaus and possibly of the 20th century. After the Bauhaus, he worked at various design studios and architectural offices, first in Berlin, then London and later in the USA where he regularly collaborated with Walter Gropius.

 

 

Light prop for an electric stage

Light and shadow

The Light prop for an electric stage consists of several swivelling and spinning metal discs and rods. It was designed by László Moholy-Nagy in 1930 and manufactured by Woodie G. Flowers. Thanks to its reflective and transparent materials, its movement creates shadow and light play which forges a relationship between the stage and the viewers. In this photo, however, the stationary apparatus is the sole protagonist.

Gunta Stölzl

Head of the weaving workshop

Gunta Stölzl (5 Mar. 1897 23 Apr. 1983) attended the Munich School of Art and Crafts before enrolling at the newly founded Bauhaus in Weimar in 1919. She received training in several departments, including the weaving workshop where she started teaching in 1925 as a master of crafts, and in 1927, as head of the workshop. In 1931 she founded her own hand-weaving workshop in Switzerland. Stölzl developed her own innovative design language in the textile arts. She is credited with producing pioneering fabrics and carpets at the Bauhaus and beyond.

 

 

Herbert Bayer

Head of the printing and advertising workshop

The Austrian born Herbert Bayer (5 Apr. 1900 30 Sep. 1985) arrived at the Bauhaus in 1921 where he studied mural painting. In 1925, he was appointed junior master in Dessau where he headed the newly founded printing and advertising workshop for several years. Bayer’s graphic works strongly influenced the public image of the Bauhaus. For example, he was one of the first to incorporate photography into graphic design. Bayer worked as a commercial artist and exhibition designer in Europe and the United States, where he emigrated in 1938.

 

 

Tea infuser pot MT 49

A Bauhaus classic

The tea infuser pot MT 49 / Me 8 was designed in 1924 by Marianne Brandt in the metal workshop. Bronze, silver and brass versions of the same design were produced as well – testimony to the artist’s perseverance in her search for the perfect material. Today the tea pot is a unique museum piece, and replicas are expensive luxury items.

Anni Albers

World-famous for her weaving skills

The Berliner Anneliese Fleischmann (12 Jun. 1899 9 May 1994) went on to have an international career. The 23-year-old student enrolled at the Bauhaus in 1922. Together with her colleague and husband Josef Albers, she moved into one of the Master’s Houses in Dessau and earned her Bauhaus diploma upon completing her studies in 1930. In 1933, she emigrated to the USA to work at Black Mountain College, where she worked as a lecturer and created mostly abstract designs and artfully crafted tapestries. In 1949, she was the first female textile designer ever to have her works displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and in 1965 she published her book On Weaving. She was the last surviving Bauhaus master when she died in 1994.

 

 

 

Walter Gropius

Founder and first director of the Bauhaus

The architect Walter Gropius (18 May 1883 5 Jul. 1969) wasn’t even 40 years old when he founded the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1919 and became its first director. In the years prior, he had worked under Peter Behrens in Berlin and managed his own architectural office. After 1928, he devoted himself fully to his architectural pursuits in Berlin, and later in London and the United States, where he held a professorship at Harvard University. Thanks to his numerous lectures and exhibitions, he succeeded in keeping the Bauhaus legacy and its reception alive. Gropius’s most famous buildings include the Fagus Factory in Alfeld, the Bauhaus buildings in Dessau and the Bauhaus-Archiv / Museum für Gestaltung in Berlin.

 

Bauhaus wallpaper design

Red with circles

Wallpaper designs were among the Bauhaus’ best-selling products. Consumers did not immediately take to the geometric patterns, however, but soon they discovered their benefits. For example, no longer did the edges have to align, and the quiet patterns and colours helped to conceal uneven wall surfaces. The wallpaper was designed by Hermann Fischer and dates from 1924.

Lucia Moholy

Her photography shaped the Bauhaus image

Born in Prague as Lucia Schulz (18 Jan. 1894 17 May 1989), this future Bauhaus photographer began her professional life as an editor, critic and author. She met her future husband László Moholy-Nagy in Berlin and joined him at the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1923. After completing her studies in photography, Lucia Moholy soon became the most important Bauhaus photographer whose pictures significantly shaped the public image of the school. In 1933, she emigrated to Great Britain where she initially tried to continue her photography career, but eventually ended up in the library sector.

 

 

Mechanical stage model, reconstruction

The theatre machine

The Mechanical Stage Model was designed by Heinz Loew in 1927 and presents an innovative concept for a theatre without human actors. In this model, the focus is on the technology which sets cubes in motion, circles spinning and platforms sliding at the push of a button.

László Moholy-Nagy

Master of the metal workshop

In 1920, the 25-year-old Hungarian born László Moholy-Nagy (20 Jul. 1895 24 Nov. 1946) moved to Berlin where he quickly forged contacts with established artists and married the photographer Lucia Schulz. Starting in 1923, they spent five years together at the Bauhaus where he worked as a master of the metal workshop. His artistic works spanned numerous genres, including typography and sculpture, Painting, Photography, Film – as the title of his most famous book suggests – as well as stage design, writing and exhibition-making. He served as the director of the New Bauhaus in Chicago until his death in 1946.

 

 

Etel Mittag-Fodor

She captured everyday life at the Bauhaus

Etel Fodor (28 Dec. 1905 13 Aug. 2005) studied photography and commercial art in Vienna before enrolling at the Bauhaus in Dessau in 1928. There she trained in the advertising workshop and studied photography under Walter Peterhans. In 1930, she began working as a freelance photographer and commercial artist, occasionally returning to the Bauhaus as an intern with her former classmate and then husband Ernst Mittag. As a Jew and staunch communist, Mittag-Fodor resettled in Hungary with her husband. In 1938, the couple emigrated to South Africa where Mittag-Fodor continued working as a photographer and in later years, as a weaver.

 

 

Balance study

An experiment from the Bauhaus preliminary course in 1923

Light-coloured wooden elements hover above a darker wooden base in parallel formation, connected by a thin steel rod. The vertical and horizontal struts cast a shadow pattern. Johannes Zabel’s composition exudes simplicity and harmony. The design was inspired by the loosely formulated premise of the Bauhaus preliminary course that students experiment with various materials and explore their interaction with one another.

Lou Scheper-Berkenkamp

Jack-of-all-trades at the Bauhaus

Lou Berkenkamp (15 May 1901 11 Apr. 1976) started her studies at the Bauhaus in 1920 in various workshops, including the mural painting workshop where she was involved in painting the Sommerfeld House and where she met her future husband Hinnerk Scheper. They moved to Dessau in 1925 and worked on Schlemmer’s Bauhaus Stage. Scheper-Berkenkamp drew illustrations, painted, designed children’s books and regularly collaborated on projects with her husband. In the 1960s and 1970s, she was responsible for designing the colour scheme for the Berlin building projects by Walter Gropius, Otto Bartning and Hans Scharoun.

 

 

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