Bauhaus Style: Celebrating 100 Years Throughout Germany

by Jill Gleeson

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday August 7, 2019

Bowie dug Bauhaus. Gaga still does. So, too, do fashion houses like Prada. With its love of geometric shapes, primary colors and clean lines, the German design movement, which turns 100 this year, continues to influence fashion in a big way. Bowie found inspiration for his Ziggy Stardust jumpsuits from the surreal, 3-D costumes of Bauhaus figure Oskar Schlemmer's Triadic Ballet, while Gaga's "Bad Romance" video tips its pointy crown to it as well.

And, as German designer Anna Gorke notes in the video about the connection between Bauhaus and fashion produced by The German National Tourist Board, "Yves Saint Laurent did it with the Mondrian collection... and recently Alexander Wang has some very obvious visual references to Bauhaus. It's more than just an art form, it's an understanding of living, and there are so many movements that came afterward that reference to that because it's timeless."

Want to discover Bauhaus design principles in the place where it was born? Head to Germany, where a full-on party for the movement, with a wide range of openings and special events, will be going strong through at least the end of the year. "The roots, heritage and international appeal of the Bauhaus movement," notes Petra Hedorfer, Chief Executive Officer of the German National Tourist Board, "can be experienced in cities such as Weimar, Dessau, Berlin..."

The Bauhaus-Archiv Museum for Design, Berlin, 2017 Foto/ Tillmann Franzen, 2018 © Tillmann Franzen,© VG Bild-Kunst.jpg

Before it became a global aesthetic, Bauhaus was a modernist art school. Founded in Weimar, Germany, in 1919 by architect Walter Gropius, its goal was to integrate the fine and applied arts. "The image of Bauhaus is architecture — right angles, white cubes," says Berlin Bauhaus guide David Varnhold. "That's right, but that's wrong, too, because it was about more than architecture. Gropius saw it holistically. Bauhaus united industrial design with the artistic disciplines."

The school's building still stands and can be visited in Weimar, part of the Bauhaus UNESCO World Heritage Site that also includes the school's following locations in Dessau and Berlin. Another must-see for modernist fans is the Bauhaus Museum Weimar that opened in April, showcasing the world's oldest Bauhaus collection, including never-before-seen historical documents.

Forced out of Weimar by the conservative political regime, Gropius moved the Bauhaus school to Dessau in 1925. It flourished there for seven years, with schoolmasters that included Gropius, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. Today, Dessau is home to the greatest number of original Bauhaus buildings, and while some are private property, others, like the iconic school building itself, are open for tours.

On September 8, the much-anticipated Bauhaus Museum Dessau will open, housing 49,000 cataloged exhibits. In addition, "Invisible Places" and "Passages Bauhaus," a series of public installations, will run in the city until November 3.

Forced to close its doors in 1932 by the Nazi regime, the Bauhaus school moved to Berlin, where it remained open for just a year. But its impact on the capital city would prove to be lasting, thanks in part to later projects like The Hansaviertel. A section of the city rebuilt after WWII, it features 36 stunning buildings by Gropius and other modernist masters.

Gropius also had a hand in designing the Siemensstadt housing estate, 1,379 apartments built over five years, ending in 1934, for employees of the Siemens factory. According to Varnhold, these sites are among the many that make Berlin "a paradise for architecture fans. There are wonderful buildings everywhere!"

While the city's Bauhaus-Archiv/Museum für Gestaltung is closed as it undergoes expansion, the institution will open the centenary exhibit, "Original Bauhaus" at Berlinische Galerie September 6. Set to run through January 2020, it will boast 1,000 Bauhaus art and design objects from the museum's collection, as well as items on loan from around the world. It's a fitting tribute for a movement that, as Varnhold says, "lasted only 14 years, but influenced the next century!"

Jill Gleeson is a travel and adventure journalist based in the Appalachians of Central Pennsylvania. Find her on Facebook and Twitter at @gopinkboots.

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