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Martin Gropius Bau Celebrates 90th Anniversary of the Bauhaus with Exhibition
Walter Gropius, Work model for the memorial for the “March Heroes”, 1921. Klassik Stiftung Weimar © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009.

BERLIN.- “Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model” beginning Wednesday at the Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin. Bauhaus Archive Berlin, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau and Klassik Stiftung Weimar jointly present this exhibition.

On the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the Bauhaus and 20 years after the fall of the Berlin wall, the leading Bauhaus research institutions and museums in Germany – the Bauhaus Archive Berlin, the Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau and the Klassik Stiftung Weimar – are for the first time jointly presenting an exhibition. With about 1,000 objects it will be the largest Bauhaus exhibition ever. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, cooperating partner in the project, sent 25 objects to Berlin and will present its own exhibition “bauhaus 1919 – 1933. Workshops for Modernity” beginning on 8 November in New York.

“Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model” recounts the story of this unique school. Inter disciplinary, experimental teaching, the concept of practice-oriented workshops, the pursuit of answers to social questions, the propagation of functional aesthetics as well as experimentation with new techniques and materials in architecture and design were the school’s most important concerns. At the same time, the exhibition reveals how the development of the Bauhaus was characterized by many changes of concept. The disputes on methods and contents influenced the work just as much as the politically motivated attacks, to which the Bauhaus was subjected from the very beginning.

The title of the exhibition shows the motivation of the Bauhaus to set a model for design. Throughout its existence – albeit with changing emphases - under the guidance of its three directors Walter Gropius (1919-1928), Hannes Meyer (1928-1930) and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1930-1933), the Bauhaus assumed the role of setting an example for the creation of design: not only in regard to the new type of school, but also as the avant-garde in developing contemporary art and architecture, as a laboratory for the development of models for industry and, last but not least, as a force of change in society, with its interest in giving modern mankind and his environment a new form.

“Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model” impressively demonstrates the role that the relevant artistic positions - Expressionism, Futurism, Dadaism, Neue Sachlichkeit, Constructivism, and Surrealism - played at the Bauhaus between 1910 and 1933, as shown by the works of Marcks, Muche, Kandinsky, Moholy-Nagy, Albers, Bayer, Breuer, Schlemmer, Feininger, Klee, Meyer, Hilberseimer and Mies van der Rohe. The exhibition presents not only the Bauhaus Masters’ works but also those of their students. The latter illustrate the artistic development of the school and give an impression of the powerful impact of the Bauhaus, especially after its closure. Many Bauhaus students themselves later became influential artists of their generation, such as Wilhelm Wagenfeld, Max Bill, Richard Paulick, Marianne Brandt, Lux Feininger and many more.

In order to convey the turbulent history and multifarious creativity of the Bauhaus, the exhibition “Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model” chooses the perspective of the history of its development. Thus it differentiates itself from the presentations to date, which were primarily oriented around the workshops of the Bauhaus. Thus, the first room of the altogether 18 gallery rooms of “Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model” begins with the subject of the early Bauhaus, in particular its fascination with the medieval “Bauhütte” (masonic lodge, particularly for cathedral construction), and the symbolic significance of the Gothic cathedral representing the principles of Gesamtkunstwerk and teamwork. A photograph of the spire of the Ulm Muenster, which hung in Gropius’ office throughout his life, illustrates this basic premise of the Bauhaus.

Ittens’ Colour Sphere for Orientation
The visitor enters the exhibition through a gate in the historic foyer of the Martin Gropius Bau. The geometrical basic shapes – triangle, square and circle – take on a new function as the gates for the entrance, passageway and exit of the exhibition. The cliché of black and white Modernism that greets the visitor is the opposite of the purposefully colourful design of the exhibition in the historical Gropius Bau. In reference to Johannes Itten’s colour sphere, the exhibition architects chezweitz&roseapple delegated a colour to each of the Bauhaus’ stages of development. Thus, a colourful ribbon ties the presentation together: Beginning with yellow for the Weimar Bauhaus years, changing to orange-red and purple for the Dessau period and ending with blue and green for the Berlin phase before the final closure.

Do-It-Yourself Bauhaus (DIY Bauhaus)
The installation by Christine Hill “DIY Bauhaus – build your own Bauhaus!” is a contemporary artistic commentary on a legend. Christine Hill examines how the legendary Bauhaus has taken its place in today’s everyday life and living culture. The guiding idea for Christine Hill was the Bauhaus premise that the task of art and design is incomplete if it does not include the political-social dimension. Thus, her starting point is Hannes Meyer’s maxim, “People’s necessities, not luxuries”. Parallel to the commercialisation of Bauhaus objects as luxury items, Bauhaus ideas became trivialised. This is where Christine Hill, who became well known with her “Volksboutiquen” (People’s Boutiques) in 1995, begins her installation.

Ilka & Andreas Ruby, Endless Bauhaus, video installation, 2009
In their video installation, “Endless Bauhaus”, Ilka & Andreas Ruby interview eleven contemporary figures on the relevance of the Bauhaus today. Is the Bauhaus an entity of the past, or is it significant today? What is left of its original intentions, and which of its ambitions could be carried on today? Which Bauhaus ideas seem to be impossible to fulfil today? Is there anything that we genuinely owe to the Bauhaus? Has the general Bauhaus challenge, the longing for the unity of the creative powers of art, crafts, technology and science, become anachronistic today – or do we need this kind of goal more than ever in the face of an increasingly specialised society?

In order to find the answers to these questions, Ilka & Andreas Ruby met with various figures from diverse areas of design that are related to the Bauhaus in some way – architects, artists, curators, communication designers, automobile designers, art historians and entrepreneurs. The comments of the interviewees are thematically grouped and mounted into a virtual conversation.

Martin Gropius Bau | Bauhaus | Walter Gropius | Hannes Meyer | Ludwig Mies van der Rohe | Marcks | Muche | Kandinsky | Moholy-Nagy | Albers | Bayer | Breuer | Schlemmer | Feininger | Klee | Meyer | Hilberseimer |

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July 22, 2009

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