Important Art and Artists of Bauhaus
The below artworks are the most important in Bauhaus - that both overview the major ideas of the movement, and highlight the greatest achievements by each artist in Bauhaus. Don't forget to visit the artist overview pages of the artists that interest you.
Bauhaus building in Dessau, Germany (1919-1925)
Artwork description & Analysis: Gropius's complex for the Bauhaus at Dessau has come to be seen as a landmark in modern, functionalist design. Although the design seems strongly unified from above, each element is clearly divided from the next, and on the ground it unfolds a wonderful succession of changing perspectives. The building consists of an asphalt tiled roof, steel framework, and reinforced concrete bricks to reduce noise and protect against the weather. In addition, a glass curtain wall – a feature that would come to be typical of modernist architecture - allows in ample quantities of light. Gropius created three wings that were arranged asymmetrically to connect different workshops and dormitories within the school. The asymmetry expressed the school's functionalist approach and yet retained an elegance that showed how beauty and practicality could be combined.
Club Chair (Model B3) (The Wassily Chair) (1925)
Artwork description & Analysis: The sleek design and innovative use of materials in the "The Wassily Chair" are typical of the groundbreaking developments in design that made the Bauhaus famous. It is lightweight, easily moved, easily mass produced, and its components are arranged with a clarity that makes its structure immediately legible. It also employed new materials: Breuer constructed the chair using recently developed seamless-steel bent tubing that could endure physical tension without faltering. The structural design resembled Breuer's bicycle handlebars that were crafted from the seamless material. Although Wassily Kandinsky was interested in geometric abstraction at the time he was teaching at the Bauhaus, the chair only came to be popularly associated with him decades later, and by accident, when it was reissued and promoted as the Wassily Chair by an Italian manufacturer.
Tubular steel chair
Universal Bayer (1925)
Artwork description & Analysis: Bayer was an Austrian artist and designer who had originally come to the Bauhaus as a student, and later took a teaching position when the school moved to Dessau. Many German designers attempted to encourage changes in national customs of printing in the 1920s. Hitherto, the most popular German typefaces had been influenced by medieval script, but artists such as Bayer tried to supplant them with simpler, more classical designs. This design employs a minimal, sans-serf typeface. Instead of having two alphabets, one uppercase and one lowercase, Bayer reduced the typeface to only lowercase letters. He believed the uppercase was redundant, since the distinction between upper and lower case conveyed no phonetic difference. Bayer's typeface has since become synonymous with the Bauhaus, though it was never manufactured as a metal font for printers.
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Model No. MT 49 (1927)
Artwork description & Analysis: An understanding of fundamental geometric forms lies behind this design, resulting in a tea-pot which is less a feat of fine craftsmanship than a demonstration of how basic forms can be combined to produce beautiful objects for everyday use. The simple elegance of Brandt's tea infuser exemplifies the functionality of Bauhaus design. As the sole woman in the metal workshop, Brandt mastered the art of design through the experimental Bauhaus philosophy and approach. The semi-circle handle and silver cylindrical spout are inventive in design and can be reproduced with ease.
Silver plated brass and ebony - The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Light Prop for an Electric Stage (Light Space Modulator) (1930)
Artwork description & Analysis: Moholy-Nagy worked with engineer Istvan Sebok and technician Otto Ball to realize the Light Prop. Uniting the artist's enthusiasm for the look of machines, and for material innovation, it is one of the most famous early examples of kinetic art. It went on to be presented in many different ways: as a free-standing and immobile sculpture, as a device for experimental theatre, and as the protagonist of a short experimental film, in which it is shot from different vantage points. The film captures the reflections and shadows created by the spinning sculpture, at times giving the impression of a functioning machine, a factory, or even an urban landscape.
Aluminum, steel, nickel-plated brass, other metals, plastic, wood, and electric motor - The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University
Homage to the Square: Dissolving/Vanishing (1951)
Artwork description & Analysis: Josef Albers described his most famous series, Homage to the Square, as "platters to serve color." He began the series in 1949 and worked on it until his death in 1976. This early version demonstrates his systematic approach to investigating the optical effects of colors. With this series, Albers explored how colors change depending on their placement within the composition. Although the series was created several years after the Bauhaus movement, the work is typical of the experimental, modernist approach to form and color that underpinned Bauhaus teaching. Teachers at the school believed that colors and forms could be reduced to essentials and analyzed as separate components. That analysis would yield understanding about the character and effects of these components, and that understanding would result in better design.
Oil on masonite - Los Angeles County Museum of Art
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Related Art and Artists
Suprematist Painting, Eight Red Rectangles (1915)
Artwork description & Analysis: The three levels of Suprematism were described by Malevich as black, colored and white. Eight Red Rectangles is an example of the second, more dynamic phase, in which primary colors began to be used. The composition is somewhat ambiguous, since while on the one hand the rectangles can be read as floating in space, as if they were suspended on the wall, they can also be read as objects seen from above. Malevich appears to have read them in the latter way, since at one time he was fascinated by aerial photography. Indeed he later criticized this more dynamic phase of his Suprematist movement as 'aerial Suprematism,' since its compositions tended to echo pictures of the earth taken from the skies, and in this sense departed from his ambitions for a totally abstract, non-objective art. The uneven spacing and slight tilt of the juxtaposed shapes in Eight Red Rectangles, as well as the subtly different tones of red, infuse the composition with energy, allowing Malevich to experiment with his concept of "infinite" space.
Oil on canvas - Museum of Modern Art, New York
Red Blue Chair (1923)
Artwork description & Analysis: Originally designed in 1918 but not fully realized until 1923, when it incorporated the characteristic De Stijl scheme of primary colors, Red Blue Chair is one of the canonical works of the movement. Rietveld envisioned a chair that played with and transformed the space around it, consisting of rectilinear volumes, planes, and lines that interact in unique ways, yet manage to avoid intersection. Every color, line, and plane is clearly defined, as if each comprised its own work that just happened to be used for a piece of furniture. The simple assembly Rietveld deployed was quite intentional as well; he built the chair out of standard lumber sizes available at the time, reflecting his goal of realizing a piece of furniture that could be mass-produced as opposed to hand-crafted. Emphasizing its manmade quality, Red Blue Chair also notably avoids the use of natural form, which furniture designers tend to favor in order to emphasize the idea of physical comfort and convenience.
Painted wood - Museum of Modern Art, New York