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"Bauhaus" Tag


The personal problem of contemporary architecture


Thursday, April 11, 2013

This building is one out of a million examples of problematic contemporary architecture. A grey building in a grey country, no exciting materials used, no decoration, not any different from the next building, no ambiance created, no emotion left behind, no warmth expressed, no nothing.

When I took a glance at the design books, my choice was clear rather soon; ‘Contemporary Architecture’. Admittedly, the contemporary architecture shown in in this particular book, which has an incredibly creative title for a book about contemporary architecture, is much better than the regular architecture you can see around you. Yet it will never change my opinion that Bauhaus has stopped any evolution in the artistic field of architecture.

How is it possible that in all fields of art, the artistic styles change so rapidly, while architecture looks almost the same for several decades?
You can’t compare films from the sixties with contemporary movies.
You can’t compare early photography with contemporary photography.
You can easily compare architecture of the 1920s with contemporary architecture.

Why oh why with our modern tools do we still worship the rules of Bauhaus?
Why do we fear decoration? Why do we need to make our homes so practical that we forget its real use: to feel home. Let’s face it; we are not living in a country where it’s a luxury to have a home at all, the use of homes in ‘our world’ is to feel at home. But no, we have to keep it gray, un personal, zero decoration.

Do I have such an untrained eye or do all products of architects look the same indeed?
Is it just what I see or are architects really so conservative? I’d just love to see architecture that acknowledges that a home is more than a frame. Let’s just make our homes our homes again, let’s stop those grey ‘machines for living’, those brick houses with their built-in BBQs, those average-man gardens with one tree surrounded by high anti-neighbour fences.

Ah well, I could probably have approached this subject in a more sensible way, with better arguments and all that, but hey, I am here to write a subjective article about the book that caught my eye – I can’t make it any more subjective than this.

It’s time for a revolution though. Dear architects, grow some balls and be creative, not practical.

Rietveld Library cat.nr: 13053

Paul Schuitema


Sunday, November 18, 2012
When I presented the designer I selected to write about to my teacher, and mentioned the fact that it was difficult to find information about him even at the libraries, he asked me to think of what made me chose Paul Schuitema and not one other of his contemporaries like Moholy-Nagy or Piet Zwart.
Actually the answer is quite simple. When I first entered the exhibition I was very impressed of how the museum chose to present his work, as if it was a work in progress in his studio. The presentation consisted of repetition, cuts, different papers, drawings, different tryouts, and sketches, all very obsessive and concentrated, almost like a mechanical machine.

 

Of course, all of this made sense immediately as I read that he lived in the time of industrialization and mass production after World War 1 and was inspired and worked with the ideas of the Russian constructivism, the Dutch DeStijl, German Bauhaus and “New Objectivity”. But still, first I was a bit startled. I tried to look for something else because I thought, like my teacher also said, that photography is as such an autonomous medium so in not very many cases it can be seen and understood as design. Than I understood that he uses images as “Applied or Useful Photography” – cutting and organizing them with pieces of text, creating a sort of collage for posters and advertisements – using the techniques and aesthetics of Graphic Design.

I knew he had links with the Bauhaus and the “New Objectivity” movement and I found the names of the other better known designers of his time, but there was nothing mentioned about Paul Schuitema. Finally, after reading about all the theories from Weimar, I found some scanned pages from the english vesion of the book “Visual Organizer”.

Soon I discovered that he was not only a graphic designer, but also a furniture designer, a photographer, and a typographer. He studied Drawing and Figurative painting at the Academie voor  Beeldende Kunsten in Rotterdam. He was a member of Kurt Schwitters’ “Circle of New Designers”. In 1931 he designed the poster for an exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum (which displays names such as  Moholy-Nagy, Herbert Beyer, Karl Teige. Lajos Kassak, Jan Tschichold, Piet Zwart, Cesar Domela and himself) and yet despite the seeming fact that in his time he was a well known advertisement designer, today people seem to have forgotten him.

 

       Exhibition Poster       Berkel  Berkel

 

In the early ‘20s he had to perform building-jobs to support himself. This is the moment when he got in contact with the working class. This was soon to be a big influence upon his works. Berkel is mentioned as being the first who gave Schuitema the opportunity to work on graphic design. And here comes the moment when the photographs he uses becomes as important as typography in advertising a product. At first he worked with professional photographers, but because of their ‘artistic’ approach they couldn’t catch the simplicity of the subject as Schuitema wanted it, so he had to learn to use the camera, and all the techniques included, so he could get rid of the decoration and aesthetics and created his own photography.

“If you become more of an expert yourself, and if you are also creative, your work will only get better” Schuitema once said.

 

  Photography

 

His contemporaries understood his wish to abandon any form of decoration in his prints, and saw his works becoming as sober and direct as he himself. Schuitema used the spatial effect of text by printing one on top of the other (only san-serif’s), simplicity, asymmetry and contrast such as horizontals, verticals, and diagonals, juxtaposed. Applying narrow, bold, small or big letters, mostly red, black, white, and sometimes blue, colors he managed to create dynamic covers. In relation to this process his images are not only illustrations or symbols or decorations, which accompany texts, but represent an organically linked body of work.

“You sought automatically for unity of text and image. This is also the reason why you printed the letters on the photo, then you got at least one optical occurrence. A red text on a black and white photo, a black text on a red picture.”

Bauhaus, New Bauhaus, Rietveld


Thursday, April 14, 2011

BAUHAUS, NEW BAUHAUS, RIETVELD

BAUHAUS WEIMAR, DESSAU:
Bauhaus was established as a school for art and design in 1919 by the architect Walter Gropius. The school was originally located in Weimar, Germany but due to conflicts with the National Socialists it was moved to Dessau in 1926 and later to Berlin in 1932, where it was closed in 1933. The Bauhaus was the most influential modernist art school of the 20th century. Bauhaus’s approach to teaching, and understanding art’s relationship to society and technology, had a major impact both in Europe and the United States long after it was closed. The Bauhaus had a profound influence upon developments in all artistic medias such as architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography.

The goal of the artists of Bauhaus was to adjust to the industrial age by creating functional designs. Bauhaus attempted to integrate the artist and the craftsman, to bridge the gap between art and industry and to reunite creativity and manufacturing. Bauhaus emphasized on urbanity, technology and embraced the machine culture of the 20th century. According to Bauhaus the romantic hand making of products in the countryside should be replaced with industrial mass production. The industry demanded a reduction to essentials which meant a removal of former sentimental approaches and visual distractions. Bauhaus was originally a rebellion against the ornamentation and decoration that characterized the architecture, design and art before 1919. Things should now be more simple, functional and honest. With its clear, clean surfaces, rectangular and strict style Bauhaus fits perfectly with contemporary minimalism. Bauhaus was built upon the crafts tradition of England, (Ruskin, Morris) and Germany (Deutsche Werkbund) and concretized thereby a general reaction against the decadent style confusion and upper class ornamentation that characterized the period around the turn of the century.

Walter Gropius wanted a school with a renewed respect for crafts and technique in all artistic media, with an attitude to art and craft once characteristic in the medieval age, before art and manufacturing had drifted far apart. In the school’s early years it was suffering from a romantic medievalism where it pictured itself as a medieval crafts guild without any of the class-distinctions that formerly had raised an arrogant barrier between craftsman and artist. In the mid 1920s Bauhaus School was moved to Dessau and Walter Gropius was replaced by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1930.  The Bauhaus was based on the principles of the 19th-century English designer William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement that art should meet the needs of society and that no distinction should be made between fine arts and practical crafts (applied arts). It depended on the more forward-looking principles that modern art and architecture must be responsive to the needs and influences of the modern industrial world. Bauhaus was more like a workshop than a teaching institution. It was a “place to built” (Bauhaus) where masters and students after a two-year introductory course worked together in the workshops, where everything from teacups to buildings was crafted using the same principles and by time some of the same idiom.

In the late 1920s, when the Bauhaus in Dessau came under the leadership of the Swiss communist Hannes Meyer the whole school community was informed in a stronger professional and more scientific way. The school’s radicalism and its products were put into a tougher, social context and given a sharper political profile. This provoked the bourgeoisie formalistic and intuitive approach to art and corroded on the political tolerance. As long as the school could be excused as an anarchist hangout for inventive bohemians, it had the right to exist, but as soon as social critic was expressed, the Gestapo would interfere. Despite the fact that Meyer was dismissed in 1930, the school was put into administration and run by the politically far more acceptable Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

The school is also well known for its faculty, which included artists Wassily Kandinsky, Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy, Paul Klee, Oskar Schlemmer and Johannes Itten, architects Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and designer Marcel Breuer.

The motivation behind the creation of Bauhaus came from 19th century’s anxiety about the soulessness of manufacturing and fears about art’s loss of purpose in society. Creativity and manufacturing were drifting apart, and the Bauhaus aimed to unite them once again, rejuvenating design for everyday life. Although the Bauhaus abandoned the sentimentality of the old academic tradition of fine art education, it maintained a stress on intellectual and theoretical pursuits, and linked these to an emphasis on practical skills, crafts and techniques that was more reminiscent of the medieval guild system. Fine art and craftsmanship were put together with the goal of problem-solving for a modern, industrial society. By doing this the Bauhaus school leveled the former hierachy of the arts by now placing crafts on a par with fine arts. With the emphasis on experiment and problem solving the Bauhaus has been enourmously influential for the approaches of arts education in the time after Bauhaus.

NEW BAUHAUS CHICAGO:
As many Bauhaus faculty members immigrated to the United States because of the German national socialist they contributed significantly to the development of North American art, design and architecture. Their ideas were especially well received in Chicago. In 1937 the New Bauhaus design school was founded in Chicago by László Moholy-Nagy who was a former Bauhaus teacher in Germany (1923–1928). Moholy was one of the early masters of The Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau, but he had to leave in 1933 due to the nazis. The Bauhaus philosophy lived on in the professional work of a few core members who emigrated here among Moholy. Though they left behind their homelands and native cultures they did not leave their convictions and allegiance to Bauhaus principles. The first to take the initiative of continuing the legacy of the original Bauhaus is a group of Chicago business people representing the Association of Arts and Industries. In 1922 the Association of Arts and Industries was established in Chicago to advance the application of good design in industry in order to better compete with European products. The Association hoped to establish a school to train artists and designers to work in industry and some of the members of the Association turned to the Bauhaus as a model of what their school should be. In 1937 the Association had invited Walter Gropius to direct a new design school in Chicago. Since Walter Gropius just had accepted a position with Harvard University, he recommended one of his closest Bauhaus collaborators, László Moholy-Nagy instead. In October 1937 Moholy became director of the school called “The New Bauhaus: American School of Design”. Due to financial problems and other factors the Association of Arts and Industries withdrew their support of the New Bauhaus which had the effect that it did not reopen in the fall of 1938. In February 1939 László Moholy-Nagy opened his own school The School of Design in Chicago. With no support from the Associatioan Moholy was still able to garner the support of faculty and key associates to continue the school Pogram under the name New Bauhaus  – ‘School of Design’. Many of the faculty and students of the New Bauhaus joined the ‘School of Design’ and the school also had the support of former Association of Arts and Industries members, especially Walter P. Paepcke. The School offered day and evening classes, and Saturday morning classes for children. In 1944 the New Bauhaus ‘School of Design’ became the ‘Institute of Design’ which meant a reorganization brought about accreditation of the school and a renewed organizational structure which freed Moholy of the many administrative tasks of running a school. To show the change the old name ‘School of Design’, was replaced by ‘Institute of Design’, and the official typeface was returned to a slightly different version of the font used during The New Bauhaus Era. The school’s academic program consisted of a four-year course requiring all students to take several “foundation” classes depending on their prior education, training, or experience, before selecting an area in which to specialize. Visual Fundamentals, Basic Workshop and Basic Design were among the first challenges encountered by students. Other classes included graphics, shelter design, typography, sculpture, and textile design. Moholy stayed as director of the school until his death in 1946. He was replaced by Serge Chermayeff .  In 1949 the ‘Institute of Design’ became a part of Illinois Institute of Technology during the administration of Henry Heald.  The IIT Institute of Design as it is called today carries the legacy from The New Bauhaus  and offers two professional degrees, the Master of Design (MDes) and the Master of Design Methods (MDM), and a dual MDes / MBA degree program with the IIT Stuart School of Business.

GERRIT RIETVELD ACADEMIE:
The Gerrit RIetveld Academie is a dutch art and design academy based in Amsterdam. The Academy is named in memory of the dutch Architecht and furniture designer gerrit Rietveld. The academy was founded in 1924 after a fusion of three older art academies and acts today as an independent school for higher vocational education. Rietveld has more than nine hundred fifty students of which about 40% come from outside the netherlands.  From 1939 to 1960 the institution was under influence of the functionalism and political views of De Stijl and Bauhaus. This was due to the director Mart Stam who was an architecht with scoialistic political views. In the 1960s Gerrit Rietveld and his Colleagues Joan van Dillen and Johan van Trich Designed a new building for the institute. When Gerrit Rietveld died some years before the the project was carried out and the building was finished the institute decided to honour its builder in 1968 by renaming the academy from Kunstnijverheidsschool to Gerrit Rietveld Academie.

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