"Bauhaus: Art as Life"

T. Lux Feininger, Jump over the Bauhaus, 1927

T. Lux Feininger, Jump over the Bauhaus, 1927

‘Bauhaus: Art as Life’ explores the world’s most famous school of modern art and design. The Bauhaus aimed to have an educational and social-reforming influence. ‘Bauhaus: Art as Life’ – in an exhibition area covering 1500 square metres – shows how this utopian, progressive attitude was reflected in the wide range of works produced at the Bauhaus, its experimental teaching methods and the unconventional lifestyles practiced there – during the brief period of the school’s existence (1919 –1933). Set in a dynamic installation Barbican Art Gallery is transformed into a series of dramatic and intimate spaces. Loosely chronological and ar- ranged thematically, the exhibition celebrates the life and spirit of the Bauhaus – one that is characterised by experimentation, collaboration and play.


‘Bauhaus: Art as Life’ is a Barbican Art Gallery exhibition produced in co-operation with Bau- haus Archive / Museum of Design Berlin, Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and Weimar Classics Foundation. It is co-curated by Barbican curators, Catherine Ince and Lydia Yee, and de- signed by architects Carmody Groarke, working in collaboration with graphic designers A Practice For Everyday Life (APFEL). ‘Bauhaus: Art as Life’ draws on the unparalleled collec- tions of Bauhaus

Archive/Museum of Design Berlin, Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and Weimar Classics Foun- dation, as well as other major lending institutions including: Centre Georges Pompidou, Harvard Art Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Zentrum Paul Klee.


Supported by the Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation The exhibition is accompanied by a lavishly-illustrated 288-catalogue co-published by Barbi- can Art Gallery and Verlag der Buchhandlung Walter König and designed by APFEL. It features newly commissioned texts from a range of leading scholars, critics and commentators such as Anja Baumhoff, Éva Forgács, Kathleen James-Chakraborty, Melissa Trimingham, Philip Ursprung, Nicholas Fox Weber as well as Barbican curators and Bauhaus archive experts. The catalogue will also include a series of original writings by Bauhaus artists from previously published texts to personal correspondence.

Loans from Germany

The Bauhaus Archive / Museum of Design Berlin has placed 180 objects at the Barbican’s dis- posal. The focus of the loans is on sculpture, teaching, photography, graphic art, architecture, and documents about life at the Bauhaus. One of the key works in the field of photography is T. Lux Feininger’s ‘Jump over the Bauhaus’ of 1927. The use of the famous photograph as a key visual motif for the London exhibition is a homage to Feininger, who died in 2011, and provides a link with the 2012 Olympic Games. Eugen Batz’s study on the spatial effect of colours and shapes from Wassily Kandinsky’s class in 1929 came to epitomize Bauhaus aes- thetics. Alfred Arndt’s colour plans, dating from 1926, for the exterior of the Masters’ semi-detached houses in Dessau make the colour accents of individual building components particularly striking through the then-customary but now barely used method of isometry. The grand piano cover designed by Anni Albers in the Bauhaus weaving workshop in 1926 is typical of the Bauhaus’s masterly fusion of art, craftwork and technical precision. Eberhard Schrammen’s mascot, made at the Bauhaus in 1924, offers an unusual insight into the Bauhaus and transfers Schlemmer’s theatre aesthetics into the field of sculpture.

The Bauhaus Dessau Foundation is contributing over 100 objects to the London exhibition, including a great deal of printed material and photographs. Key objects include a Bauhaus dress by Lis Volger dating from 1928, which was produced in the weaving workshop at the Bauhaus in Dessau. It was bequeathed by Carl Fieger and is thought to be extremely rare. Only two ‘Bauhaus dresses’ have been identified in public collections to date. Other important works include pages from the competition entry for Bundesschule des Allgemeinen Deutschen Gewerkschaftsbundes (Federal school of the German trade union federation), Bernau designed by Hannes Meyer and Hans Witter, in 1928, which was the biggest project the Swiss architect and Bauhaus director undertook in his career. The MR20 armchair, also known as the Weissenhof armchair, is from the residential building designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the Weissenhof exhibition in Stuttgart. It was produced in 1927 by the Josef Müller Berlin Metalworks Company. Following the exhibition, Mies van der Rohe used the chairs initially in his own house and later donated them to the Berlin architect and sculptor Paul Rudolph Henning.

The Weimar Classics Foundation is lending around 70 objects to ’Bauhaus: Art as Life’. They include the rarely exhibited ‘Black and White’ tapestry, which Gunta Stölzl made in 1923–24. This half-gobelin is among the most outstanding works produced by the weaving workshop, in which figurative and organic pictorial compositions increasingly gave way to abstract and geometrical ones. The six-part mocha machine, based on a design by Theodor Bogler dating from 1923, was a response to Walter Gropius’s call for the ceramics workshop to develop new moulding and model-building techniques for the serial production of commercial ceram- ics. With its modularity and standardization, the mocha machine met Gropius’s demand for ‘simplicity in variety’ and his reorientation of the Bauhaus under the slogan ‘Art and technology – a new unity’.

Supporting Programme

Barbican Art Gallery’s major exhibition ‘Bauhaus: Art as Life’ (3 May – 12 August 2012) fea- tures a dynamic events programme inspired by the world’s most famous modern art and design school. Talks, workshops, tours, films, a costume party and a two-week Arts School Lab celebrate the lively spirit of the time. The Bauhaus: Art as Life Costume Party forms part of ‘Bauhaus by Day, Bauhaus by Night’, a special 12-hour event (23 June). The daytime pro- gramme includes kite-making with Karl Longbottom, puppet-making with Melissa Trimingham and accessory-making with Fred Butler, designer of accessories for Lady Gaga and others; it is suitable for all ages and free. The evening programme includes ‘Play Bauhaus – Jam Out’ a performance from the Bauhaus Stage in Dessau and the Bauhaus: Art as Life Costume Party, a ticketed event held in the Barbican Conservatory until midnight.

Exploring the Bauhaus influence further, the Arts School Lab (2 – 14 July) is a two-week experimental arts school open to art professionals from all art forms. Participants take part in collaborative work devised with contemporary thinkers, artists and performers at the Barbican and in Dessau; applications are through the Barbican website: barbican.org.uk Highlights from the talks programme include those by the children of eminent Bauhaus stu- dents and masters. Leading contemporary artist Peter Fischli, son of Hans Fischli, speaks about how the pioneering school shaped both his house and household (3 May). Monika Stadler’s mother Gunta Stölzl was the sole female Bauhaus master and renowned for her groundbreaking weaving. Monika’s talk recalls her mother’s memories of her time at the school and beyond (14 June). Hattula Moholy-Nagy introduces Permanent Experiment, part of a special day of films in celebration of her father the Bauhaus master László Moholy-Nagy (26 May). The day includes the premiere of artist Aura Satz’s film Universal Language: A Lost Manifesto and the chance to hear Hattula Moholy-Nagy, Aura Satz, professor Ian Christie and Bauhaus film expert Thomas Tode speak (26 May).

Other speakers include Nicholas Fox Weber, director of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation (10 May), and Louisa Hutton of acclaimed architecture practice Sauerbruch Hutton (12 July). Typography and communication design’s importance at the Bauhaus is explored by graphic designer Erik Spiekermann (date tbc). While Andy Groarke of architects Carmody Groarke and Kirsty Carter of design agency APFEL, speak about how the Bauhaus inspired their exhibition design for ‘Bauhaus: Art as Life’ (31 May).

Workshops and walks punctuate the exhibition run including, Play Bauhaus a weekend course on Bauhaus theatre led by Artistic director Torsten Blume and dancer Yun-Ju Chen and recently developed at the Bauhaus Stage in Dessau. Using a combination of theory and practical exercises, they explore the various aspects of contemporary theatre and perform- ance using ideas first developed at the Bauhaus (23 – 24 June). The Twentieth Century Society / C20 lead three walks on Bauhaus architecture in London: City Influences (5 May, 2 June), Social Housing & the Bauhaus (19 May, 16 June) and Hampstead and the Bauhaus (14 July). To complement ‘Bauhaus: Art as Life’, Barbican Cinema will run a week of dedicated events – Bauhaus Film Season (25 – 31 May). From abstract shorts, to documentaries celebrating modern design and architecture, this series of screenings is presented alongside screen talks and panel discussions with experts from the field.