With the pending 100th birthday of The Bauhaus movement in 2019, a heavier than usual release schedule of new publications can be expected. Honoring the legacy of the 20th century’s most influential school of art and design, in a market place over-saturated with “lite-rature” and Taschen-style picture books, isn’t an easy task but very well accomplished in the 2018 published book: “The Spirit of the Bauhaus” by Thames and Hudson, Publishers.
Spirit of the Bauhaus, densely written and expertly compiled by ten French curators, artists and editors mostly associated with the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, documents a fascinating timeline and look inside the minds and lives of members of the Bauhaus school and movement.
Founding artist Walter Gropius felt the post-revolutionary winds of cultural change in late 1918 and wrote in March of 1919: “Art and People must form a unity. Art shall no longer be the enjoyment of the few but the life and happiness of the masses”. He could have not possibly envisioned then, how this short lived (1919-1933) but highly influential school and movement, would outlast the ensuing political turmoil and become more enduring and popular than ever in the 21st Century.
The book beautifully documents individual personalities, including fascinating glimpses of personal living habits, deep controversy between members of the faculty and students, marriages and affairs, etc. Fair to say that most of today’s followers of Bauhaus design and style would not know that during the first three years of the schools existence, a faction of the student body followed the Mazdaznan doctrine, a way of life in accordance with the teachings of Zoroaster, a Persian Prophet. Or, that artist and painter Paul Klee continuously immersed himself in culinary inventions. I will let you personally discover and enjoy this content rich 250-page offering.
Over 300 illustrations ranging from personal pictures of staff and students, while at home and in class, to rarely seen project prototypes including collages, ceramics, sculpture, fabrics, furniture and glasswork encapsulate the essence of diverse Bauhaus design philosophy. Twelve detailed chapters present an in depths view of all disciplines taught, including Theatre, Photography, Architecture, Printing, Bookbinding and Cabinet-Making, to name a few.
This highly recommended, fascinating read does not simply document the conglomeration of avant-garde artists like Gropius, Kandinsky, Klee and Breuer but rather focuses on translating what defined the Bauhaus movement beyond its distinct style and array of objects created; the teaching philosophy of contemporary creativity and school of experimentation that it once was.
Berliner Frank Leyon is Global Sales Director at Oly Studio, a worldly traveler, and lover of the arts. The birthplace of Bauhaus is close to home.