Bauhaus School at Weimar

The school was founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919 as a merger of the Grand Ducal School of Arts and Crafts and the Weimar Academy of Fine Art.

Its roots lay in the arts and crafts school founded by the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach in 1906 and directed by Belgian Art Nouveau architect Henry van de Velde. When van de Velde was forced to resign in 1915 because he was Belgian, he suggested Gropius, Hermann Obrist and August Endell as possible successors. In 1919, after delays caused by the destruction of World War I and a lengthy debate over who should and socio-economic reconciliation of the fine arts and the applied arts (an issue which remained a defining one throughout the school's existence), Gropius was made the director of a new institution integrating the two called the Bauhaus. In the pamphlet for an April 1919 exhibition entitled "Exhibition of Unknown Architects", Gropius proclaimed his goal as being "to create a new guild of craftsmen, without the class distinctions which raise an arrogant barrier between craftsman and artist." Gropius' neologism Bauhaus references both building and the Bauhütte, a premodern guild of stonemasons. The early intention was for the Bauhaus to be a combined architecture school, crafts school, and academy of the arts. In 1919 Swiss painter Johannes Itten, German-American painter Lyonel Feininger, and German sculptor Gerhard Marcks, along with Gropius, comprised the faculty of the Bauhaus. By the following year their ranks had grown to include German painter, sculptor and designer Oskar Schlemmer who headed the theater workshop, and Swiss painter Paul Klee, joined in 1922 by Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky. A tumultuous year at the Bauhaus, 1922 also saw the move of Dutch painter Theo van Doesburg to Weimar to promote De Stijl ("The Style"), and a visit to the Bauhaus by Russian Constructivist artist and architect El Lissitzky.

From 1919 to 1922 the school was shaped by the pedagogical and aesthetic ideas of Johannes Itten, who taught the Vorkurs or 'preliminary course' that was the introduction to the ideas of the Bauhaus. Itten was heavily influenced in his teaching by the ideas of Franz Cižek and Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel. He was also influenced in respect to aesthetics by the work of the Blaue Reiter group in Munich as well as the work of Austrian Expressionist Oskar Kokoschka. The influence of German Expressionism favoured by Itten was analogous in some ways to the fine arts side of the ongoing debate. This influence culminated with the addition of Der Blaue Reiter founding member Wassily Kandinsky to the faculty and ended when Itten resigned in late 1922. Itten was replaced by the Hungarian designer László Moholy-Nagy, who rewrote the Vorkurs with a leaning towards the New Objectivity favored by Gropius, which was analogous in some ways to the applied arts side of the debate. Although this shift was an important one, it did not represent a radical break from the past so much as a small step in a broader, more gradual socio-economic movement that had been going on at least since 1907 when van de Velde had argued for a craft basis for design while Hermann Muthesius had begun implementing industrial prototypes.

Gropius was not necessarily against Expressionism, and in fact himself in the same 1919 pamphlet proclaiming this "new guild of craftsmen, without the class snobbery," described "painting and sculpture rising to heaven out of the hands of a million craftsmen, the crystal symbol of the new faith of the future." By 1923 however, Gropius was no longer evoking images of soaring Romanesque cathedrals and the craft-driven aesthetic of the "Völkisch movement", instead declaring "we want an architecture adapted to our world of machines, radios and fast cars." Gropius argued that a new period of history had begun with the end of the war. He wanted to create a new architectural style to reflect this new era. His style in architecture and consumer goods was to be functional, cheap and consistent with mass production. To these ends, Gropius wanted to reunite art and craft to arrive at high-end functional products with artistic pretensions. The Bauhaus issued a magazine called Bauhaus and a series of books called "Bauhausbücher". Since the country lacked the quantity of raw materials that the United States and Great Britain had, they had to rely on the proficiency of its skilled labor force and ability to export innovative and high quality goods. Therefore designers were needed and so was a new type of art education. The school's philosophy stated that the artist should be trained to work with the industry.

Weimar was in the German state of Thuringia, and the Bauhaus school received state support from the Social Democrat-controlled Thuringian state government. From 1923 the school in Weimar came under political pressure from right-wing circles, until on December 26, 1924 it issued a press release accusing the government and setting the closure of the school for the end of March 1925. In February 1924, the Social Democrats lost control of the state parliament to the Nationalists.[citation needed] The Ministry of Education placed the staff on six-month contracts and cut the school's funding in half. They had already been looking for alternative sources of funding. After the Bauhaus moved to Dessau, a school of industrial design with teachers and staff less antagonistic to the conservative political regime remained in Weimar. This school was eventually known as the Technical University of Architecture and Civil Engineering, and in 1996 changed its name to Bauhaus University Weimar.