"Don't look at them, they are from the Bauhaus!" respectable mothers told their young daughters. "They" were the students of the Bauhaus High School, playing strange music on weekends and swimming nude at night, the girls had short haircuts and were dressed in trousers, and the young men had long hair and looked shabby. The Bauhaus was the house of long-hair students of an art school, who included into their schedules artistic exercises and plein-air painting  and at the same time decoration of bags with stitching embroidery of the Celtic patterns, producing pendant ornament of an iron piece, invention of the most whimsical design for some festival or contest in the night. They did their best to make the world better, to decorate it and improve.

The High School of Construction and design Bauhaus (Bauhaus is a building of construction in English) was founded in Weimar on April 25, 1919. Nowadays Bauhaus is a term implying the association of artists who studied and taught at this educational institution, and a particular architectural style based on the Constructivism.



Before the Bauhuas the students of the art school of that time had no chance to break the traditional approach: their curriculum mandatory included the history of arts, watercolors painting and copying of the antique statues. In the Bauhaus the preparatory course included a color theory and study×A study is an exercise painting that helps the painter better understand the object he or she paints. It is simple and clear, like sample letters in a school student’s copybook. Rough and ready, not detailed, with every stroke being to the point, a study is a proven method of touching the world and making a catalogue of it. However, in art history, the status of the study is vague and open to interpretation. Despite its auxiliary role, a study is sometimes viewed as something far more significant than the finished piece. Then, within an impressive frame, it is placed on a museum wall.
So, when does a study remain a mere drill, and when can we call it an artwork in its own right, full of life and having artistic value? read more
of  factures, the students produced threedimentional constructions and structures of anything that turned up by chance,  the undergrads made performances with geometric figures, produced pieces of furniture for their classrooms and constructed buildings for their teachers. One of the students told that his girlfriend made a short cut and he used her hair for his sculpture. During the Depression when the School could not afford the professional materials, Johannes Itten, a teacher of the introductory course that time, sent his students to a scrapheap to find something interesting and understand the nature of the things they found.
Johannes Itten, a follower of Buddhism and mysticism, shaved his head and wore the guise of a monk. He developed the curriculum for the half year introductory course for the students at the Bauhaus. During this course they had to understand the expressive potential of a form and a color, material and its relief, they had to learn how to control their creative power and emotions. He started his classes with breathing exercises, practiced drawing with closed eyes and with the both hands simultaneously.

Bauhaus implied the dream which became reality. They intended to make real aesthetic experiments with the world of subjects and expected not only art but a social revolution as well; a space around a human being had to change a person progressively.

In the photo (from left to right): Josef Albers, Hinnerk Scheper, Georg Muche, László Moholy-Nagy, Herbert Bayer, Joost Shmidt, Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, Gunta Stölzl and Oskar Schlemmer.

Teachers at the Bauhaus were craftsmen and avant-garde artists like Paul Klee, who created the other artistic world,  Wassily Kandinsky, an inventor of the abstract painting, Oskar Schlemmer, a founder of the geometric shapes theater. While working at the Bauhaus they developed their own methods of teaching and worked out bleeding edge theories of art.  Works of the teachers were published there; they were included in the Book on Bauhaus or a list of guides to to the Bauhaus school.



Wassily Kandinsky. Composition VIII
Composition VIII
Wassily Kandinsky
1923, 140×201 cm


Bauhaus was founded just after the World War I at the time of the Depression, runaway inflation and despair. The Grand Ducal Saxon College of Fine Arts in Weimar had not been working for four years and it had to be reconstructed and revived. Walter Gropius, a young architect, was appointed director at the College and at the same time he was assigned to the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. A new model of teaching of artists-craftsmen was developed literally with a wave of a magic wand. 

In 1919 Gropius invented the name for the new school, it was Bauhaus - a house of construction - and issued the Bauhaus Manifesto and Program with the principal idea of the school and tuition:

The ultimate aim of all visual arts is the complete building! To embellish buildings was once the noblest function of the fine arts; they were the indispensable components of great architecture. Today the arts exist in isolation, from which they can be rescued only through the conscious, cooperative effort of all craftsmen. Architects, painters, and sculptors must recognize anew and learn to grasp the composite character of a building both as an entity and in its separate parts. 


The students of Bauhaus made drawings, designed and manufactured goods for practical use. They worked in special workshops for this including pottery,  textile, stained glass, metalworking and  stage design workshops. Besides, the students were taught mural painting, prints and later to play with photo technique. There was no school in Europe like this one applying methods of teaching based on the avant-garde art movement ideas. 



Bauhaus had changed its locations three times for 14 years. Weimar was the most comfortable and appropriate place for it was the most artistic city in Germany, where Bauhaus was respected and recognized. Dessau was great for a special building constructed for the College and its interior design according to the teachers' and students' projects in compliance with their ideas: the complex combined dorm rooms, workshops, theater auditorium, refectory and houses for teachers. Berlin was scaring and short lasting because of the visit of the national socialists in 1933 who came there to close the Bauhaus and throw out through the windows the instruments and "degenerative" artworks of the students and the teachers.

All the principal trends in the modern architecture of the XXI century had been discovered about a century ago: the balconies of the dorm rooms and the Bauhaus building were constructed in Dessau for the teachers. 



Functionality, the term first sounded in Bauhaus and no discussion about architecture, industrial and urban design can avoid it nowadays. However, simple shapes of the goods produced in the Bauhaus shops were innovative and stunning. The reason was the furniture, kitchenware, buildings,  tapestry and carpets were manufactured by the most revolutionary craftsmen and artists. The Haus am Horn building constructed on the territory of the school orchards in Weimar became a symbol and archetype of the pure functionality. The Haus am Horn became the first showpiece at the exhibition held by Bauhaus for the first time and dedicated to the school achievements in 1923. Iron substituted wood in a lot of furniture elements, the ornamentality declined the past principal ideas, new-coming aesthetic resource engaged lines, geometric clear shapes and saturated pure colors. There was a kitchen resembling a laboratory with pieces combining several functions and the kitchenware was laconic and perfectly placed in the space. The kitchen was not designed for a comfortable chat but for fast and effective work. It demonstrated the actual Ikea.


Some pieces of furniture manufactured in the shops of Bauhaus were the implementation of the artistic, composition and coloristic ideas of its leaders. The famous cradle, the carpet by Klee's design and the Wassilii chair are the items not for sitting, laying or walking on them but they are masterpieces for museums.


Bauhaus had changed its locations three times for 14 years. Weimar was the most comfortable and appropriate place for it was the most artistic city in Germany, where Bauhaus was respected and recognized. Dessau was great for a special building constructed for the College and its interior design according to the teachers' and students' projects in compliance with their ideas: the complex combined dorm rooms, workshops, theater auditorium, refectory and houses for teachers. Berlin was scaring and short lasting because of the visit of the national socialists in 1933 who came there to close the Bauhaus and throw out through the windows the instruments and "degenerative" artworks of the students and the teachers.

The other idée-fix generated by Bauhaus is a unity of all the art. The teachers of the school did not proclaim the true art principles having been found once and for ever, they and their students sought for the new synthesis of intercultural and interdisciplinary principles. It is not surprising, that lectures and training workshops in the Bauhaus were the times of an overwhelming and stunning inspiration for Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Oskar Schlemmer, Gerhard Marcks as well as the time of theoretical study×A study is an exercise painting that helps the painter better understand the object he or she paints. It is simple and clear, like sample letters in a school student’s copybook. Rough and ready, not detailed, with every stroke being to the point, a study is a proven method of touching the world and making a catalogue of it. However, in art history, the status of the study is vague and open to interpretation. Despite its auxiliary role, a study is sometimes viewed as something far more significant than the finished piece. Then, within an impressive frame, it is placed on a museum wall.
So, when does a study remain a mere drill, and when can we call it an artwork in its own right, full of life and having artistic value? read more
and work. One of the stunning projects of the Bauhaus was dramatization by Oskar Schlemmer. 18 figures of dancers were arranged in space like geometric figures dressed in the costumes of  paper-mache, cardboard or metal; they lived on the stage solving there the metaphysical problem on unity of a human being and the world around, of universals and particulars. That was the first time in the history of theater and of arts, when the figures of dancers blended seamlessly with the decoration and space of the stage and which pushed the avant-garde art to one of the leading positions. That was the synthesis of music and color, form and movement, light and technology and architecture on the stage.
In the photos leftwards and above: the actors of the Triadic Ballet created by Oskar Schlemmer, 1922.

On the video - documentary Triadic Ballet, 1970, demonstrating the stage experiences by Schlemmer.

Concerts of the modern music were conducted at the Bauhaus; Kandinsky and Klee found the most challenging musicians at the University of Music and Theatre Leipzig and invited them to the Bauhaus to play their music to the students. When the concert finished the partition between the dining room and the stage was removed and Schlemmer's dances in whimsical masks started their dancing. There was a feast of various materials and forms. For instance, the fest of metal was announced at school; the students were inspired by opportunities and infeasibilities of the material and produced their own innovative items. Their own vision and individuality were the primary features appreciated in the Bauhaus.  

Their own vision and individuality were the features denied by the national socialists who took the power first in Weimar and then in the early 30s they won Dessau. Most of the Bauhaus teachers took part in the famous showcase of the "Degenerative Art" and lost their hope for further opportunities in their own country. That was the time of the Bauhaus ideas to decamp to America. 

The central photo: Oskar Schlemmer. The stairs at Bauhaus. 1932.

The author: Anna Sidelnikova