Georg Muche

Lucia Moholy, Portrait of Georg Muche, c. 1926
Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin

Lucia Moholy, Portrait of Georg Muche, c. 1926
Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin

In 1913, Georg Muche left secondary school in Fulda early in order to study painting in Munich at a school of painting and graphic arts run by Paul Weinhold and Felix Eisengräber (and Anton Azbè before them). After being rejected by the Königliche Bayerische Akademie der bildende Künste (the royal Munich art academy) in 1914, Muche moved to Berlin in 1915 and continued his painting studies in Martin Brandenburg’s studio. He established contact with the art group Der Sturm through Herwarth Walden and participated in their exhibition Neue Kunst (new art). From 1916 to March 1920, Muche taught painting at the group’s art school. From 1916 to 1918, he had three joint exhibitions at the gallery Der Sturm with Paul Klee and Alexander Archipenko. In 1918, after a year’s military service, he participated in an exhibition at the gallery Dada in Zurich.

In 1919, Walter Gropius appointed Muche to the Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar, where he became its youngest master. He was initially involved with organisational issues and the development of the school’s curriculum. From 1919 to 1925, he was the head of the weaving workshop as master of form. From 1921 to 1922, he was also the director of the preliminary course. In 1922, he married the Bauhaus student Elsa (El) Franke. In spring of 1923, he alternated with Johannes Itten as the head of the preliminary course and had his first encounters with the Mazdaznan cult, which proclaimed a worldview that spanned diverse religions and philosophies and had a large following at the Bauhaus. That same year, he took over the direction and organisation of the first major Bauhaus exhibition, held in 1923, and designed the experimental Haus Am Horn. In 1924, a study trip took him to the United States. Muche also worked in Dessau from 1925 to 1927 as the director of the weaving workshop. In 1926, the Metal Prototype House on the Dessau-Törten estate was built according to plans designed in collaboration with the architecture student Richard Paulick. After internal conflicts, Muche left the Bauhaus in 1927. Until 1930, he taught in Berlin at Johannes Itten’s private school of modern art, which had been founded in 1926.

In 1929, he was director of the departments of abstract and constructive design and architecture for the exhibition 10 Jahre Novembergruppe. In 1931, he received a professorship at the Staatliche Akademie fur Kunst und Kunstgewerbe (state academy of art and applied arts) in Breslau, directed by Oskar Moll. After being summarily dismissed from his post by the National Socialists in 1933, he returned to Berlin and was able to continue teaching until 1938 at the Schule für Kunst und Werk (school of art and workmanship) in Berlin, which was directed by the architect Hugo Häring. In 1937, works of Muche’s in public ownership were impounded. Two of these were displayed in the exhibition Entartete Kunst (degenerate art) in Munich. In 1939, Muche became the artist director of the master class for textile art at the textile engineering school in Krefeld. He also worked with Oskar Schlemmer and Willi Baumeister at the Institut für Malstoffe (institute for painting materials) in Wuppertal. He continued to direct the master class at the textile engineering school in Krefeld until 1958. In addition, he received numerous commissions for frescoes (Zyklus at the Haus der Seidenindustrie in 1948/49, fresco in the building of Landtag, the legislative assembly, in Düsseldorf, 1948). After being given the title of professor emeritus, he moved to Lake Constance.