Bauhaus

The Bauhaus was a German college of architecture, art, and design, which existed in three forms from 1919–1933.

The Bauhaus was founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius in Weimar, joining to previous art and handcraft schools together. Named Das staatliche Bauhaus in Weimar, the school's political direction was radically socialist and revolutionary communist. This so angered the nationalist city government (see German Nationalism) that they cut the school's budget in 1923, ironically just after the school had mounted a successful exhibition of international renown.

Invited by the major of Dessau, Gropius moved the school to that city. Renamed the Bauhaus Dessau: Hochschule für Gestaltung, the school entered its second phase. Housed inside the famous Bauhaus building, which was designed by Gropius and is still visible today, the school became decidedly "modern," as opposed to expressionist. Gropius still had political trouble in Dessau, however. Despite hiding his own socialist sentiments, he was neither able to cool his own student's radical attitudes nor convince the city government that these were harmless. To save the school, Gropius resigned under pressure in 1928.

Hannes Meyer replaced him. Meyer was a real communist, from Switzerland. He did not improve the situation for the school. Now faced to be doomed by history, as the city governments officers became increasing National Socialist (Nazi party members), the school tried another switch, bringing in the apolitical Ludwig Mies van der Rohe from Berlin.

Mies van der Rohe (hereafter "Mies"), from 1930 onward the head of the school, was piloting a sinking ship. He had to convince the city government that his school was not political (political meant, in this case, socialist/communist). He had a difficult time. Aside from the high number of socialist activities, the school's population was between 10 and 50 percent foreign. In these days, the word "foreign" was virtually synonymous with "communist."

In a last ditch effort, Mies expelled the entire student body, and readmitted select students after a personal political interview. This only drove the political organization underground, and couldn't help the situation anyway, as the now ascendent Nazis were bent on closing the school.

The city government dissolved the college in 1932. Mies transfered his camp to Berlin, opening up a private school for architecture in Berlin, 1933, named the Bauhaus Berlin. The school entered its third and last phase.

On January 31, Adolf Hitler was named chancellor of Germany by President Hindenberg. In March, the Gestapo raided the school's Berlin campus, causing it to be shut down permanently.

The Bauhaus had collected an astounding collection of professors (called Masters in an effort to be more egalitarian), which included: Johannes Itten, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, MArianne Brant, Marcel Breuer, Lyonel Feininger, Oskar Schlemmer, Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, Theo van Doesburg, Joost Schmidt, Herbert Bayer, and Josef Albers. About 10 percent of the Bauhaus student body had come from the United States or Great Britain.

Despite having created a myriad of avant garde typography, typography, type design, advertising, and printing were not key elements of the Bauhaus curriculum. The greatest typographic innovations of Weimar Republic Germany were all created at other schools, i.e., those in Leipzig, Offenbach, Stuttgart, and Munich.

Many tried afterward to claim a piece of the Bauhaus legacy. A great number of masters emigrated to the US (some under enormous duress, some not). Moholy-Nagy founded The New Bauhaus in 1937 in Chicago. This was viewed as a usurpation by Mies, who came to IIT in Chicago around the same time. In the 1940s, IIT absorbed the school.

In the 1950s, the Hochschule fuer Gestaltung Ulm was founded in Ulm by Max Bill. Many former Bauhaus students and teachers were involved. The state closed the hfg down in 1968, in part because—like the Bauhaus before it—it was too foreign (almost 50% foreign enrollment).

Today there is a Bauhaus Universitaet Weimar in the old school buildings in Weimar. In Dessau, the state design school (the Hochschule Anhalt) uses part of the famous Gropius building. The rest is a museum and private graduate school for urban planning. Lastly, there is a Bauhaus Museum in Berlin, built in the 1970s based on plans drawn by Gropius.

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