Bauhaus: Influences on Photography and Architecture

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  • Topic: Bauhaus, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius
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  • Published : July 6, 2011
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History of Photography
Final Research Project
Bauhaus: Influences on Photography and Architecture

After the defeat in the First World War and the fall of the German monarchy, Germany faced darkness and lost hope in the future. Walter Gropius, a German architect, who served in the war, saw the need of re-orienting the art world for the better (Westphal, 7). One year after the First World War, 1919, Gropius opened a school in Weimar, Germany called the Bauhaus school. His intention for this school was to create a total work of art in which all arts would be brought together (Bayer, 12). He also wanted to create a “consulting art center for industry and the trades” (Bayer, 13). In his Bauhaus Manifesto, Gropius mentions that “old art schools were unable to create unity. They must once more become part of the workshop: the world of drawing and painting, of designers and handicraft-artists must at last become a building world again” (Westphal, 6). He also envisioned conceiving and creating a “new building of the future” by combining architecture, painting, and sculpture (Westphal, 7). Never done before, Gropius thought it was appropriate to combine architecture with art, which would help the future of our world (Westphal, 11).

Although Gropius wanted to combine architecture with art, architecture was not in the curriculum during the first couple years. The teaching method at Bauhaus was to have two teachers; an artist and a master craftsman, in each subject (Bayer, 15), which helped students gain the most experience. Most people mistaken that Bauhaus is part of the “ism”, but the truth is that different “ism” are part of the Bauhaus school. Many of the teachers at Bauhaus grew up with expressionism, cubism, surrealism, and Dadaism; therefore, the designs were influenced by these isms (Bayer, 16). Due to its highly sophisticated teachers and curriculum, the school soon raised modern artists that were familiar with science and economics, uniting creative imagination with a practical knowledge of craftsmanship (Bayer, 13).

The school was moved from Weimer to Dessau, Germany in 1925 with a new director, Hannes Meyer. By this time, new generations of teachers had been trained with creative art, craftsmanship, and industrial design, that the dual teacher system could be abandoned (Bayer, 13). New curriculums were also put in: steel furniture, modern textiles, dishes, lamps, modern typography, layout, architecture, city and regional planning (Bayer, 16). Bauhaus style, or free style, was becoming more prominent in the art world. The school was moved once more from Dessau to Berlin, Germany in 1930, with another new director, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (Westphal, 11).

When students first started at the Bauhaus school, they would go through a series of preliminary courses followed by workshop training courses until they received their Bauhaus diploma (Westphal, 40). The preliminary course teachers included Johannes Itten, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Josef Albers, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Oskar Schlemmer. Itten taught artistic form, handicrafts and technical skills, and in social and human concerns (Westphal, 40). He also wanted to help students free their creative powers, by giving them experience and knowledge (Westphal, 41). Maholy-Nagy taught the structure of objects and the identification of their basic characteristics: geometric forms, ratios and measurements, structure, texture, light, contrasts, and variations (Westphal, 46). Moholy-Nagy emphasized on the relationship between form and function, which he believed it will help the students’ distinguish between objects (Westphal, 47). Specifically, his course taught the study and construction of designs, experimenting with light, blueprints for typography, and experiments in film and photography (Westphal, 49). His experimental photography led to producing one of the first photograms, film exposure without a camera. His...
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