Walter Gropius and Bauhaus Period
Gropius's career advanced in the postwar period.
Henry van de Velde, the master of the Grand-Ducal Saxon School of Arts and Crafts in Weimar was asked to step down in 1915 due to his Belgian nationality. His recommendation for Gropius to succeed him led eventually to Gropius's appointment as master of the school in 1919. It was this academy which Gropius transformed into the world famous Bauhaus, attracting a faculty that included Paul Klee, Johannes Itten, Josef Albers, Herbert Bayer, László Moholy-Nagy, Otto Bartning and Wassily Kandinsky. One example was the armchair F 51, designed for the Bauhaus's directors room in 1920 - nowadays a re-edition in the market, manufactured by the German company TECTA/Lauenfoerde.
In 1919, Gropius was involved in the Glass Chain utopian expressionist correspondence under the pseudonym "Mass." Usually more notable for his functionalist approach, the "Monument to the March Dead," designed in 1919 and executed in 1920, indicates that expressionism was an influence on him at that time.
In 1923, Gropius designed his famous door handles, now considered an icon of 20th-century design and often listed as one of the most influential designs to emerge from Bauhaus. He also designed large-scale housing projects in Berlin, Karlsruhe and Dessau in 1926-32 that were major contributions to the New Objectivity movement, including a contribution to the Siemensstadt project in Berlin.
Architects, sculptors, painters, we all must return to the crafts! For art is not a “profession.” There is no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman. The artist is an exalted craftsman. In rare moments of inspiration, transcending the consciousness of his will, the grace of heaven may cause his work to blossom into art. But proficiency in a craft is essential to every artist. Therein lies the prime source of creative imagination.
Let us then create a new guild of craftsmen without the class distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between craftsman and artist! Together let us desire, conceive, and create the new structure of the future, which will embrace architecture and sculpture and painting in one unity and which will one day rise toward heaven from the hands of a million workers like the crystal symbol of a new faith.”— Walter Gropius, “Bauhaus Manifesto and Program” (1919)
The Staatliche Bauhaus resulted from the merger of the former Grand-Ducal Saxon Academy of Art with the former Grand-Ducal Saxon School of Arts and Crafts in conjunction with a newly affiliated department of architecture.
The Bauhaus strives to bring together all creative effort into one whole, to reunify all the disciplines of practical art-sculpture, painting, handicrafts, and the crafts-as inseparable components of a new architecture. The ultimate, if distant, aim of the Bauhaus is the unified work of art-the great structure-in which there is no distinction between monumental and decorative art.
The Bauhaus wants to educate architects, painters, and sculptors of all levels, according to their capabilities, to become competent craftsmen or independent creative artists and to form a working community of leading and future artist-craftsmen. These men, of kindred spirit, will know how to design buildings harmoniously in their entirety-structure, finishing, ornamentation, and furnishing.
Art rises above all methods; in itself it cannot be taught, but the crafts certainly can be. Architects, painters, and sculptors are craftsmen in the true sense of the word; hence, a thorough training in the crafts, acquired in workshops and in experimental and practical sites, is required of all students as the indispensable basis for all artistic production. Our own workshops are to be gradually built up, and apprenticeship agreements with outside workshops will be concluded.
The school is the servant of the workshop, and will one day be absorbed in it. Therefore there will be no teachers or pupils in the Bauhaus but masters, journeymen, and apprentices.
The manner of teaching arises from the character of the workshop: Organic forms developed from manual skills.
Avoidance of all rigidity; priority of creativity; freedom of individuality, but strict study discipline.
Master and journeyman examinations, according to the Guild Statutes, held before the Council of Masters of the Bauhaus or before outside masters.
Collaboration by the students in the work of the masters. Securing of commissions, also for students.
Mutual planning of extensive, Utopian structural designs-public buildings and buildings for worship-aimed at the future. Collaboration of all masters and students-architects, painters, sculptors-on these designs with the object of gradually achieving a harmony of all the component elements and parts that make up architecture.
Constant contact with the leaders of the crafts and industries of the country. Contact with public life, with the people, through exhibitions and other activities.
New research into the nature of the exhibitions, to solve the problem of displaying visual work and sculpture within the framework of architecture.
Encouragement of friendly relations between masters and students outside of work; therefore plays. lectures, poetry, music, costume parties. Establishment of a cheerful ceremonial at these gatherings.