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The Bauhaus

The Bauhaus

Author: Ian McConnell
Description:

This lesson will discuss the Bauhaus.

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Tutorial

Notes on "The Bauhaus"

An overview of the Bauhaus design school of Germany.

Video Transcription

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Hello. I'd like to welcome you to this episode of Exploring Art History with Ian. My name is Ian McConnell, and today's lesson is about the Bauhaus. As you're watching the video, feel free to pause, move forward, or rewind as often as you feel is necessary. And as soon as you are ready, we can begin.

Today's objectives are listed below. By the end of the lesson today, you'll be able to identify and define today's key terms, describe the philosophy and history of the Bauhaus school, and identify examples of Bauhaus design.

Key terms as always are listed in yellow throughout the lesson. First key term is Bauhaus-- literally "house of construction". A school in Germany from 1919 to 1933 that focused on functional design and the combination of fine art and craft. Manifesto-- a public announcement. Interdisciplinary-- a combination of two or more academic disciplines or areas of study.

Guild-- formal group or association of artisans or business people with common interests or goals of maintaining specific standards and quality. Color theory-- rules that have been established about how colors are used and their relationships to each other.

The big idea for today is that Bauhaus was a design school based in Germany that shared many Utopian ideas similar to those of de Stijl regarding the integration of art and life. The art, architecture, and design that we'll see today dates in between 1919 and 1933. We travel to Dessau, Germany, where one of the Bauhaus schools was located.

The Bauhaus was an actual physical school of design, not just an idea about design. Although its principles define Bauhaus more than an actual style does. But Bauhaus in a nutshell is a physical school of design, bettering humanity through design, integration of the arts and the machine, and pro-industrialization.

We'll begin with one of the actual schools, the Bauhaus Dessau in Germany, designed by Walter Gropius in 1925. It follows in many ways the ideas of the international style-- which is in a different lesson-- in how the form of the building follows the intended function of the building. Now Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus in 1919 as a fusion of two other academies growing out of the foundation set by the Arts and Crafts movement

Now Bauhaus also borrowed the idea shared in de Stijl of bettering humanity through design, as well as the Utopian de Stijl ideas regarding the blending of art and life. It was also the reaction against the perceived morbidity of expressionism in the political and economic situation of post-World War I Germany, which to say the least wasn't great.

Although the Bauhaus shared commonalities with the Arts and Crafts movement, they were opposed on some very fundamental tenets. That is where the Arts and Crafts movement rejected industrialization and mass production about how it sought to integrate arts with the machine in the creation of useful, yet beautiful objects that would be cheap to reproduce and available to everyone.

Now a reasonable comparison might be a custom furniture designer, which would be like the Arts and Crafts movement versus Ikea, which would be like the Bauhaus. Now cheap doesn't necessarily mean crummy, but rather efficient production and affordability versus handmade and expensive. Now the Bauhaus was only open for 14 years before being shut down in 1933-- no thanks to the Nazis-- and had fewer than 500 students.

Now despite this, it went on to become one of the most influential design schools in Europe and in the world with an influence that can still be felt in the world today. With iconic designs like the Barcelona chair that was designed by Mies van der Rohe, or this chair called the Wassily chair that was originally made out of tubular steel and canvas-- classic Bauhaus design. Functional design, innovative materials, tubular steel with no welds, mass production potential, and affordability. The irony is of course that today these designs are notably unaffordable.

Josef Albers was an artist associated with the Bauhaus, and his "Homage to the Square"-- one of several similar paintings-- demonstrates the influence from his studies as a student there in the 1920s. It's an example of exploring the relationship between forms, textures, and color, which interested him the most. After immigrating to the United States following the closing of the Bauhaus, where he worked for roughly nine years, he wrote an important treatise on the study of color theory that's still used today.

Alders was an instructor at the Bauhaus along with Marianne Brandt The model for teaching at the Bauhaus was interesting, and the departure from the academy's approach to that of the medieval guild where students learned from masters. Aside from Alders and Brant, other notable masters included the artists Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky.

Well, Brandt's teapot design shown here has gone on to become one of the most iconic, albeit less practical designs, from the Bauhaus school. It's a wonderful play of spherical and flat shapes that suggest the influence of Russian constructivism. Supposedly great at pouring tea, but not so great at holding onto as the flat handles were not very ergonomic. This is one of many designs Brandt made as a student and teacher at the Bauhaus.

Bauhaus designs had a huge influence on the design of furniture, household items, the fine arts, and in an area that we haven't really looked at-- typography, or font design. Herbert Bayer explored this area in his universal Bayer font-- which you can see here-- which was a take on the Sans Serif category of fonts, which means without Serifs-- those little tiny extensions you can see here where I highlighted them.

Now the most notable aspect aside for the lack of Serifs is the fact that the letters are all lowercase with the exception of the k, which is like a tiny capital K. Now his design was focused completely around functionality, specifically making things more legible and easier to read. This is another example of the Bauhaus' wide spectrum of interests and their underlying philosophy of improving humanity through better design.

So that brings us to the end of our lesson. Let's take a look at our objectives again and see how we did. Now that you've see the lesson, are you able to identify and define today's key terms? Can you describe the philosophy and history of the Bauhaus school? Can you identify examples of Bauhaus design?

And once again, the big idea for today is that Bauhaus was a design school based in Germany that shared many Utopian ideas similar to those of de Stijl regarding the integration of art and life. And there you go. Thank you for joining me today. I'll see you next time.

Notes on "The Bauhaus"

Citations

Josef Albers, Homage to the Square, Fair Use According to Wikipedia,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Josef_Albers%27s_painting_%27Homage_to_the_Square%27,_1965.jpg Marianne Brandt, Teapots, Creative Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marianne_brandt,_teiere,_1924.JPG; Universal Bayer; Creative Commons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ABayer.png; Image of Gropius, Bauhaus Dessau, Creative Commons, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bauhaus_Dessau,Gropiusallee.jpg Image of Breuer, Wassily Chair, Creative Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bauhaus_3_Chair.jpg; Image of Barcelona Chair Creative Commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mies-Barcelona-Chair-and-Ottoman.jpg

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Bauhaus

    Literally "house of construction". A school in Germany (1919-1933) that focused on functional design and the combination of fine art and craft.

  • Manifesto

    A public announcement.

  • Guild

    A formal group or association of artisans or business people with common interests or goals of maintaining specific standards and quality.

  • Color Theory

    Rules that have been established about how colors are used and their relationships to

  • Interdisciplinary

    The combination of two or more academic disciplines or areas of study.