From Bauhaus to Your House

I’m a sucker for anything remotely related to the Bauhaus aesthetic. And it’s not just because the design is sublime. It’s also because the philosophy behind the design makes my heart so happy.

One of the central tenants of the Bauhaus school was the idea that there is no distinction between fine art and craft. In 1919 Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus School in Weimar, Germany. He brought on some amazing talent for faculty. László Moholy-Nagy, Wassily Kandinsky, Marcel Breuer, Paul Klee, Joseph Albers, Gunta Stölzl, Anni Albers - does this sound like a dream team? Johannes Itten wrote the school curriculum. Yep, that Itten.

I was introduced to “Concerning the Spiritual in Art” by Wassily Kandinsky when I was in college many years ago. I’ve read and re-read it many times. It’s a tiny book but I think it sums up much of what the Bauhaus was all about. Read it for yourself and see what you think. It has become my touchstone for what it means to be an artist.

Gropius called for a new respect for craft and technique. This was a move away from the more Renaissance-based attitude of the artist as a divinely inspired creator. In my own teaching career, this has been a core concept that I've held close. The idea that creativity can be expressed in many ways, with many materials and not always fall within a strict definition of "art."

I think we're seeing more and more of this loosening of what the definition of art is. From Andy Goldsworthy to the Quilters of Gee's Bend, the range of expression is vast - and available to everyone. There is no longer a hierarchy between technique and authenticity. And in my humble opinion, technique should always be at the service of authenticity.

The truth comes first - the brush stroke comes second.

How does the Bauhaus figure into all of this? I believe it opened the doors for a new age of connected creativity, a return to a romantic Medieval-guild approach to creativity. One in which a community of like-minded individuals worked towards a common goal. Whether that is a six-foot trestle table or a painting on canvas - the core values are the same - ‘to foster not only individual creativity but also a sense of community and shared purpose.’ (From The ArtStory)

More Bauhaus references:

Bauhaus 100

Johannes Itten Interaction of Color: 50th Anniversary Edition

Gunta Stölzl website

Bauhaus Women: A Global Perspective

Tesia BlackburnComment