German Civilization 2320
Professors Cook, Kopp, and Prager
March 6, 2013
The Bauhaus, a revolutionary school of art and craft founded by Walter Gropius in 1919, stands today as an important influence on postmodern art and architecture. It is also the namesake of its own movement; which is characterized by severely economic and geometric designs and a functional view of materials. To truly understand the origins of the Bauhaus and the importance of its modern implications, we must first know about the influences that its founder relied on.
The Vienna Secession was formed in Austria in 1897. The secessionist artists attempted to create their own style that had no clear relation to any historical eras. Paired with this avant-garde approach, they relied on more pure geometric designs to produce their art. The geometric approach to art proved to have lasting effects on Gropius and his contemporaries. The Werkbund was the German model of the Vienna Secession. Founded in 1907, the 12 artists and 12 industrialists who comprised it aimed to infuse industry with modern and functional designs. These designs would both foster efficiency and function and be free of traditional elements and ornamentation. A leading artist in the Werkbund named Peter Behrens was Gropius’ mentor and employer. Along with Belgian painter Henry van de Velde, the two men were Gropius’ main influences in forming the Bauhaus. In the Bauhaus manifesto he wrote in 1919, Gropius vows to return artists to the deep seat of creativity that rests in the handicrafts, and bring together an unbiased consortium of artists who would dictate architectural style to the modern world: “By the grace of Heaven and in rare moments of inspiration which transcend the will, art may unconsciously blossom from the labour of his hand, but a base in handicrafts is essential to every artist. It is there that the original source of creativity lies. Let us therefore create a new...