The Christian Science Monitor : 2019-02-11
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THE MIX THE SOLOMON R. GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM, NY © 2019 ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY, NEW YORK/ADAGP, PARIS COURTESY OF TECTA Peter Keler, who created this design in 1922, was one of Wassily Kandinsky’s earliest students and later served as his assistant. Keler applied his teacher’s principles to this 3-D object, which is made of wood, wicker, and steel pipe. The cradle is sold today by Tecta. CRADLE: Associated with the Bauhaus from 1922 to 1933, Kandinsky taught the mural-painting workshop and the preliminary course, which introduced students to color theory. His time at the Bauhaus proved to be a rich period in his life. ‘COMPOSITION 8’ (1923) BY WASSILY KANDINSKY: VBAUHAUS FROM PREVIOUS PAGE ed by Bauhaus architects like Gropius and Mies, its proliferation spawned a monotonous cityscape. Adopted by copycat developers, the “less is more” mantra became a cliché, producing knockoffs like glass-and-steel towers with flat roofs from Detroit to Dubai.
Laura Forlano, associate professor at the Institute of Design in Chicago, notes another flaw of the early Bauhaus: sequestering female students in the weaving workshop. Even a brilliant artist final product.” Mr. Mau agrees: “The idea of a lone genius inventing something is fine, but it doesn’t scale.” BETTER DESIGN = BETTER WORLD Many designers and architects today echo the quasi-utopian ambitions of Hannes Meyer, the second director who took over in Dessau when Gropius stepped down in 1928. The left-leaning Meyer believed design could create a more equitable society, or, as Ms. Andraos says, “There was a sense that art could change people’s lives.” She adds, “That level of engagement and ambition is still inspiring. In architecture and design schools today, a new generation is trying to bring together aesthetic and social aspirations.” Today’s designers face both the opportunities and challenges of a world threatened by climate change, a complex problem that enlists their ability to visualize possibilities and imagine solutions.
Socially engaged design goes by various names: responsible design, design for social innovation, human-centered and even post-human design (referring to people’s needs conjoined to the plant and animal world). Many designers base their solutions on a moral imperative, advocated by Ulm Institute of Design, founded in West Germany in 1953 as the New Bauhaus. As Hendrix says, “Design is most powerful when it’s not fabricating desires but doing good, contributing to the lives of people and filling real needs.” ‘If we didn’t start with the Bauhaus, we would never have gotten where we are today.’ – Steven Eppinger, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of product development and innovation like Anni Albers, who entered the school to study painting, was shunted off to textile design, where she transformed the medium. Gunta Stölzl, who taught weaving, was the only woman on the Bauhaus faculty. Other gifted female artists were treated as marginal players in the mythology that sprouted around the Bauhaus. Marianne Brandt designed elegant metal objects like light fixtures and tableware, and Lucia Moholy documented Bauhaus life in striking photographs. One goal of “The Bauhaus and Harvard” exhibition is “to underscore the role of women at the Bauhaus,” according to Ms. Muir, the curator.
The demise of the Bauhaus actually spread its influence. After Hitler slammed its doors shut – denouncing it as un- German, degenerate, Bolshevik, too international, and too Jewish – teachers and students spread Bauhaus ideas everywhere. In the US, émigrés like Gropius and Breuer taught architecture at Harvard, Josef and Anni Albers taught at Black Mountain College in North Carolina and later at Yale, and Moholy-Nagy founded the New Bauhaus at the Institute of Design in Chicago, where Mies ended up leading the Illinois Institute of Technology.
The Bauhaus, which began as a tangible entity – a school – became an intangible but mighty movement. Bauhaus ideals took root wherever designers envisioned a better world. As Mies, its final director, said, “Only an idea has the power to spread so widely.” FROM VICTORIAN FRILL TO MODERN CHILL In many ways, the Bauhaus was an incubator for progressive ideas, but its insistence on clean, functional form (so different from elaborate Victorian ornamentation and historical references) also drew criticism. Tom Wolfe, in his 1981 book, “From Bauhaus to Our House,” disparaged the unadorned lines as overly stark and sterile. “With distance,” Andraos says, “we can see both Bauhaus successes and failures.” Specifically, she cites, “The negation of history is not something we endorse today.”
The Bauhaus infatuation with basic geometric forms and primary colors was another shortcoming, according to Hendrix. “Where any movement goes wrong,” he says, “is if it becomes dogmatic in reacting against what they were fighting.” While the Bauhaus emphasis on purity of form led to the International Style invent- r 36 THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR WEEKLY FEBRUARY 11, 2019 | PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTED BY PRESSREADER PressReader.com +1 604 278 4604 ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW
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