April 11: Bauhaus, Re-Animated

2016/04/11 § Leave a comment

On this day in 1933 the Bauhaus closed.

For good.

Well, sort of.

The Bauhaus was, essentially, to start with in 1919, a reanimated corpse stitched together from two moribund Weimar institutions, the Grand Ducal Saxonian School of Arts and Crafts and the Grand Ducal Saxonian School of Arts (which sounds and looks even more impressive in German: die Großherzoglich-Sächsische Kunstgewerbeschule und die Großherzoglich-Sächsische Kunstschule).  (The English translation for “Bauhaus” is “A Shorter Name For Design School, Please.”)  In 1923, torch-wielding villagers chased the Bauhaus to its new Gropius-designed home in Dessau.  Less than a decade would pass until the local folk sharpened their pitchforks and forced it to seek new shelter once again in 1932.  Mies oversaw the reinstatement of the school in the less-than-inspiring abandoned telephone factory in Berlin-Steglitz shown above.  It survived less than a year.  Mies locked the doors for the last time on July 20, 1933 due to pressure from the Nazi party, his own dwindling employment potential under the Third Reich, disgust with the crummy building, or maybe a combination of all three.

Even so, the Bauhaus was not yet quite dead–not even mostly dead.  Bauhaus faculty, including Mies, Gropius, Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy, and Marcel Breuer made for friendlier (at least less Nazi-ish) shores, where they carried and planted the germ of European Modernism.  They roamed the land, devouring opportunities and multiplying their followers, some of which maintain a significant presence in architecture offices and schools this very day.

Image: the Bauhaus in Berlin (from this source)


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