ELLI LORI REPORTS “BAUHAUS: ART AS LIFE” EXHIBITION AT BARBICAN GALLLERY, LONDON, UK, 3rd MAY- 12th AUGUST
Barbican Art Gallery is currently hosting the biggest Bauhaus exhibition in over 40 years, with a presentation of a huge collection of the world’s most famous modern art and design school. Having as vision to change society after the First World War, Bauhaus is an extremely influential, pioneering and diverse school that lasted fourteen-years, from 1919-1933. The exhibition presents a variety of artistic mediums, consisting of approximately 400 works in total. From well-known artists such as Josef and Anni Albers, Marianne Brandt, Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius, Wassily Kandisnky and Paul Klee, to lesser-known Bauhaus artists, this London exhibition is an exemplification of their subjects at the time, and mainly, their urge to find a new way of living. Art, life, culture, politics, society and the evolvement of technology of the age are all apparent in Bauhaus: Art as Life. The exhibition features a rich collection of painting, sculpture, ceramics, furniture, theatre, film, photography, theatre, architecture, textiles, design, graphics and installation.
Divided into two parts, the exhibition begins on the Upper Level with the founding of the Bauhaus by Walter Gropius in Weimar, by merging the Academyof Fine Arts and the Schoolof Arts and Crafts. The Upper Level is exemplifying the beginning of the school’s avant-garde arts and crafts, with new ways of learning that united art and technology. Gropius, in 1919, published the Programme of the State Bauhaus in Weimar that can be considered as the Bauhaus manifesto, asking for artists to return to the craft and in return aimed for equality between artists and craftsmen and consequently for craft to have a closer association with industry. With an aspiration to free students of all conventions and consequently to liberate their creative potential, the Bauhaus training was centered on drawing, painting and craft, with main focus on visual analysis, the study of nature and materials, and most importantly, color and form. In 1923, the school pointed towards new aesthetics; highly influenced by Constructivism and De Stijl, Bauhaus was more concerned with mechanical productions processes and geometrical forms rather than Expressionistic imagery and craft. The new direction of the school was announced by Gropius at the opening of the Bauhaus exhibition in 1923 entitled ‘Art and Technology: A New Unity’. At the same year, Gropius formed the Bauhaus Press in order to communicate the ideas of the school to a wider audience, and between 1925-1930, Bauhaus published fourteen books in total.
On the Lower Level, the exhibition continues with the school’s move in 1925 to the industrial city ofDessau. Gropius designed a new purpose-built campus with an improved working and living environment for faculty and students, where they could test their ideas for modern living. Part of Gropius’s educational vision was to encourage friendly relations among students and masters. Thus, parties, festivities and social gatherings were of a major importance for Bauhaus. The exhibition features photographs that can be seen as a documentation of their lives at the school; from portraits of Bauhaus masters, to fleeting moments between staff and students, these photographic records are offering an insight into their habits, dress and relationships. From 1923-1929, Oskar Schlemmer directed the stage workshop, that combined architecture, painting, sculpture, music and dance. Theatre as defined by Schlemmer, was the art of space and movement, and artists were not merely concerned with theatrical performances and individual expressions, but also with external elements such as light and form, creating in this way ‘moving architecture’. In 1926, the Bauhaus was awarded university status and the designation ‘InstituteofDesign’. In 1927, the teaching of the school was centered on architecture, advertising, the stage and free art. A year later, the founder of the Bauhaus resigned to focus on his private architectural practice, and Hannes Meyer became the new director of the school, and included photography courses in the teaching scheme that was lead by the professional photographer Walter Peterhans. Two years after Meyer’s tenure, in 1930, Gropius appointed Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as the third director of the school and consequently Bauhaus became more of a school of architecture. The local government though in 1932 cancelled Bauhaus funding and the school moved inBerlinwith the aim of running the school independently, that resulted to the closure of the school in 1933 under pressure from the National Socialists.
Bauhaus: Art as Life is an informational exhibition that demonstrates the historic development of the school, from the beginning until the end of Bauhaus. With an extraordinary amount of artworks, coursework and studies, the exhibition is an honest presentation of Bauhaus. An important exhibition is currently available inLondon for anyone, either for those interested in any related art subject or for a wider audience. Gropius’s aim to unite all art forms is illustrated within the vast artistic productions atBarbicanArtGallery until 12 of August.