2019 is a hundred-year celebration of the Bauhaus “movement”. When you think about Bauhaus the first thought that comes to mind is Avant-Garde. It established itself in architecture, art and a whole host of different mediums that has stood the test of time and 100 years later still has a sense of modernity about it.
Bauhaus was established in 1919 by German architect Walter Gropius who founded a school called Staatliches Bauhaus which united all branches of the arts under one roof. Mentors imparted their theories to students from all over the world. Walter Gropius adopted a completely new approach to teaching. He believed that artists and craftsmen should receive the same basic education on form, colour and material composition. All of the workshops would collaborate to create the ‘building of the future’ as a single creative expression. With his pioneering approach, Walter Gropius revolutionised architecture and design. The Bauhaus movement has profoundly changed our understanding of life, work, learning and dwelling.
In Gropius’s ideal vision for structuring teaching at the Bauhaus, ‘building’ is at the centre of all activities. The knowledge gained during the preliminary course on elementary forms and materials is consolidated through the study of science, textiles, materials and tools, space, colour, composition and construction, and by applying them in practice.
This basic knowledge is acquired by everyone and is subsequently put to use in working with the various types of material, which in turn are ultimately utilised in the different areas of construction.
The aim at the Bauhaus was to train a new generation of dedicated designers who could turn their hand to any craft. After learning the principles of design in the preliminary course, the students continued their education in the various workshops. They were led by a creative director, called a master of form, and a master of works. The practical work in these workshops was the core element of the teaching at the Bauhaus.
Some of the main events celebrating the 100-year celebration will be the opening of a Bauhaus Museum in Dessau on September 8th which is located in the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt which is home to more authentic Bauhaus buildings than any other state. Dessau is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Bauhaus Museum will have over 49,000 exhibits making it the second largest Bauhaus collection in the world. It covers a period of 100 years including the circumstances, the visions, concepts, the working procedures, methods and the actors of the Bauhaus. With these exhibits spaced throughout 1,500 square metres visitors can relive the history of Bauhaus. Visitors can expect an exhibition that represents the daily routine of learning and teaching, of open-ended design, of industrial prototype as well as the fellowship and mastership of Bauhaus. You’ll see textiles, furniture, wallpapers, photographs, works of art, drawings and architecture.
Bauhaus experienced its heyday in Dessau between 1925 and 1932. This is where most of the original Bauhaus buildings stand today all icons of modernism. Outstanding architects, artists, craftsmen and designers such as Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Oskar Schlemmer and Wassily Kandinsky have decisively influenced our understanding of architecture art and design throughout the world.
It is not only the opening of the Bauhaus Museum in Dessau that is exciting. There are all sorts of festivals dealing with Bauhaus during the year and for further information see www.bauhaus-dessau.de
There are also Bauhaus exhibits in nearby Halle, Merseburg and Magdeburg. For information on all anniversary events and venues check out www.bauhaus100.de
There is no doubt Saxony-Anhalt is a hotbed of Bauhaus activity. There are some 15 towns with Bauhaus buildings with Dessau-Rosslau being the major site but Halle and Magdeburg have many must see buildings! Remember the statement by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius when he stated, “The structure of a building evolves from the course of events that take place in it.” Gropius ended up teaching at Harvard as the National Socialists closed the Bauhaus school in 1933.
Now if you don’t know much about Bauhaus you must have heard about one of its most famous architects Mies van der Rohe who was the third and last director of the Bauhaus school who left Germany in 1933 when the National Socialist Part closed the school. He landed in Chicago where he has left his mark there and also in New York City where he was the architect of the Seagram Building. Not only that but he was also the design consultant for the TD Tower in downtown Toronto.
Getting around to all the buildings in Dessau can be done on the Bauhaus Bus #10 which runs daily between 10-5 or on bike on a 22 km signposted bike tour. See www.visitdessau.com
I could continue incessantly about these marvellous Bauhaus buildings but perhaps I should end with the eye-popping Magdeburg Municipal Hall. A must see along with one of the largest architectural landmarks in Europe and one of the most important products of social housing in Germany, the Herman-Beims housing estate. For more information see www.wobau-magdeburg.de
I can’t quite end because there is the town of Halle with the famous Giebiuchenstein Bridge which is one of the most popular photo opportunities in Halle with its well-formed arcs and its monumental cow and horse animal sculptures. Check out Halle at www.moderne-halle.de
For Bauhaus buildings in Lutherstadt Wittenberg check out www.lutherstadt-wittenberg.de
For Bauhaus buildings in Elbingerode check out www.neuvandsburg.de
You can fly from either Detroit or Toronto to Leipzig usually through Munich or Frankfurt. Once in Leipzig you can go via rideshare (see https://www.blablacar.de/), train or bus (see www.insa.de or www.bahn.de/sachsen-anhalt) or rent a car at the airport for a 60 km drive to Dessau.
We can discuss the local wines in another article.