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Bauhaus is 100 years old in 2019—but which one are we celebrating?

The German school, one of the crucibles of Modernism, was a complex entity

Charles Darwent

On 1 April 1919, a new school of applied arts opened in Weimar, the de facto capital of the Weimar Republic. State and school would last as long as each other, and die young of the same cause. This year sees the centenary of both, although the school’s will be the more celebrated: events are planned all over Germany, and as far afield as New Delhi and São Paulo. The school was called the Staatliches Bauhaus—the state building-house—although it has been known for a century by its second name only.

But which Bauhaus, precisely, is the one that will be celebrated? There were three, geographically speaking—four, if you count the tenuous one that Laszlo Moholy-Nagy claimed to have taken with him to Chicago in 1937. The first, founded by Walter Gropius as a replacement for Weimar’s previous design school, lasted until 1925. Loathed by an ever more right-wing Thuringian government, it was forced to close on 31 March of that year, reopening in Dessau in Saxony the next day. This Bauhaus lasted seven years, until it, too, was closed by a Nazi town council, in 1932. The school’s last iteration, in a disused telephone factory in Berlin, survived just nine months before shutting under pressure from the Gestapo.

Being shut down by the Nazis was always a good career move.

Geography, though, is not history. In the school’s short life, there had, philosophically speaking, been four Bauhauses, not three. The first was roughly conterminous with Weimar, although not quite. Lampooned as old-fashioned by Theo van Doesburg, the co-founder of De Stijl, this school had performed a brisk volte-face in 1923. In 1919, Gropius’s imagining of the Bauhaus had been Morrisian: “We must all return to the crafts!” his prospectus had enthused. “Let us create a new guild of craftsmen, without an arrogant barrier between craft and art!” Now, four years later, he announced a “new unity [between] art and technology”. Henceforth hand-crafting would be out, mass production in—or at least the appearance of mass production.

Read the full story HERE >>>> Source: The Art Newspaper

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