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"Bauhaus" Tag


I’m new here


Friday, May 24, 2019

.

*****

I don’t really know the way, but I want to. I have this habit to wander off randomly when I’m unknown with a place. Just to see where I’ll end up if I let go of control. “Let fate decide” says the romantic in me.

After a while I see patterns and I believe that I know where I am. Finding attractive by-streets in every corner. But that’s an illusion. By the next turn this pattern is shattered by reality.

I don’t know where I’m going, but I know I don’t want to stay. Just keep going, till this frame turns into bedlam. Borders can’t contain me anymore. Looking back I can’t trace back my origins. I’m not lost. I’m new here.

I am chaos.

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Imagining Bauhaus Poetry


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Through the looking glass of Bauhaus principles, observing the elements of “poetry” and how that guides new possibilities in the making of a poem.

What inspires me to explore this idea is the incredible visuals of Bauhaus Theatre.

 

  

 

More spesifically HOW the concrete, minimalist and practical demeanors of Bauhaus (which in my mind have such an adult attitude!) created such extravagant, playful, toy-ish costumes that look like perhaps a child puked them out of their wild imagination! 

While “the Bauhaus element” in these costumes and general aesthetic* * * is undeniably present to me, there I observe something more, almost an added element… Having read that the thinking behind the designing of these costumes is in fact by observing the performers body with a calculating attention and following its relations to the space (the stage) through its motion*, I am tempted to think this “other element” I was looking for might just be the ballet itself.

Assumption…..         The designs of these costumes are just materialization of the visuals the dance draws in the viewers mind-eye. The dance is numerous invisible lines and shapes drawn in time with the tool of the body…       Perhaps!

Hypothesis:————————————————

Bauhaus building within an existing art form alters its outcome.

So It makes me Wonder. How would it apply to poetry? With letters and words as form and rhythm and sound as dance, the paper as the stage. I found myself wondering this more so than other mediums mainly because I haven’t seen it attempted.

Starting… Concrete, anew.

A concrete definition: Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language to evoke a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience or a specific emotional response.

Here is a new world, with its new forms and movements, sensations and images, to build a new Bauhaus in and of it. I will attempt to look at some elements of poetry and seek new possibilities in its design, looking at it through the 5 characteristics of the Bauhaus design.

1=Form Follows Function

It means that in design, a form should always be applied because of its function instead of its aesthetic appeal. “Utility came first and excessive ornamentation was avoided.” The thing is that this principle seems to shift slightly when applied to an already existing art form like dance, or poetry, as the means of actions in these are the adornments themselves. So, thinking of function for aesthetic, rhythm, imagination and emotion (and so on…) is altogether a different approach. Function in this case, I imagine, would be to ease and support the already existing or suggested communication of forms and elements -in the case of poetry, for example,——: All aspects must serve to communicate/highlight the emotion/mental picture/phonesthetic situation. 

Letters (uppercase, capital;size;font;color;bold-italic…so on.), Words, Gaps, Marks, etc. + the plane the poem will be viewed on should be used for this, courageously.

2=True Materials

According to the teachers at Bauhaus, materials should reflect the true nature of objects and buildings.

This to me, follows up to the previous case. What are the true materials of text, literature and what are their functions? These are not meant to be hidden, but even highlighted to show their functions thus exaggerating and complementing the existing literary pleasure.

In Bauhaus Theater we see the stage too, is designed in such a way that it holds hands with the costumes designed to exist with it, so the form and its space exist as one self-complimentary relation. I believe this relation is somewhat weak in the current poetry. There is perhaps much to do to enrich our poems by putting more thought on the plane (usually the regular white paper) we present it on. I would advise seeking new possibilities on this, trying to create a more powerful relation between the elements of the poem and the presentation of it.

3=Minimalist Style

Bauhaus artists favored linear and geometrical forms, while floral or curvilinear shapes were avoided. Only line, shape and colors mattered. Anything else was unnecessary and could therefore be reduced. Therefore we should give the reader the necessary amount of words (and preferably words that are not too difficult or esoteric) and not more, as it risks tiring the emotional and phonesthical landscape. This approach also gives the poem a fresh, modern look, which is desired. It becomes open and approachable artistic experience, instead of possibly exclusionary one.

4=Gesamtkunstwerk*

Translated from German as “total work of art”,”ideal work of art”,”universal artwork”*, “synthesis of the arts”, “comprehensive artwork”, “all-embracing art form” or “total artwork”) is a work of art that makes use of all or many forms of craft and design, or strives to do so. 

The poem can draw a picture as a visual form, can be sang as a song or acted as a play and so on… all this is desired and should be attempted.

*The concept of language makes this difficult as many languages used for poetry cannot be called Universal, but I believe it is still quite possible to challenge this with the help of growing alternative languages, which I will go more in depth in the following.

5=Uniting art and technology

In 1923, Bauhaus organized an exhibition that shifted the Bauhaus ideology. This exhibition was called ‘Art & Technology: A New Unity’. From then on, there was a new emphasis on technology. The artists embraced the new possibilities of modern technologies, for example at the time, mass-productivity was keep in mind whilst designing a product.

In Bauhaus ballet, geometric shapes and a mathematical understanding of the dance is very apparent in the costume designs and choreography –*.

New technologies today, give us new languages for poetry to play and build with, of which I don’t see enough use. A prime example of this are the Emojisa small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion. It is, by definition, quite similar to the words that we use but with an advantage of their own, being capable of much more of a universal communication than any word of any language. They are being used so often in our daily texting and us new age kids have learned to communicate so much with them so easily, and with the help of an ever growing selection of emojis available to anyone with a smartphone, I am surprised why they are not being used more creatively. I believe through emojis a new, different and straightforward literary landscape is possible and I would like to attempt it, here…

My (currently very incomplete) draft/attempt at Bauhaus Poetry::::::::::

 

Side-walk in the cold regular night,

I am sedated by 

the surrounding objects :

Moving amongst growth and shrinkage

To the pointed futurity which sits folded 

in Z00Ming horizon———. 

Moments pass themselves to remain 

over my shoulder, behind my last step 

to Reside as the Past. Behind the direction    of 

my opposing attention  

As we speak I am Approaching 

to : 

the ————. needle tip… 

Shapes emerge and grant me locality

The wind blows Regular 

and I start takinK 

The X Large stepsS 

of a clown. crawl

into an ever-descending point 

   the buzz of everything glimmers an easy happening  

   thingness of the smallest spot

                               WiNKs at me

Everywhere is filled with stars!

Except the calming darkness of the surrounding

Tree trunks 

descending...
     

 

 

“Safeplace”?


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

“Any person of good repute, without regard to age or sex, whose previous education is deamed adequate by the council of masters will be admitted as far as space permit.”
Is the last statement of Walter Gropius in his Bauhaus Manifesto in 1919. It shows how open minded the school is in this early 20th century, opening the door of the art school to everyone.  At this time when women were not admitted in academies, the gender parity was respected at the Bahaus Schule, at its begining. Over the years, the number of admitted women will be considerably reduce.

Later on according to Gropius “Men thougth in three dimension while women can only handle two.” Relagated to the backgroung, females students had to figth male hostility to go beyond the textile workshop. Add to that how machiste the legacy of the Bahaus is and I can define females as a minoritie regarding this school. They had to figth to get into the education, then during their study to open doors of different workshop and achieve their goals more then others. Then 100 years later we have to figth for their memory to be inscribed in the Bauhaus heritage. In the Bauhaus book about great figures of the Bauhaus that I borrow in the library, their was nothing about Annie Albers or Marianne Brandts, while both had leadership position in the school.  Female work were not respected and is still not. During the power point presentation in class at the Rietveld, still nothing about women’s work or figures. Why do we keep forgetting about them even tho it was such a big change that their were admitted in such studies and they achieved so many great things such as their male co-wokers?

From 2016 to 2018 I did a bachelor in textile in ENSAAMA school in Paris. Some design teachers use to call our departement “napkin scetion”. Not ‘safeplace’ or open minded attitude. I still had to fight for my work to be respected and all the textile department was feeling like a minority in the school.

I felt like in Rietveld I haven’t experience that or even had to think about my “female position” compare to the outside world, or just in Amsterdam for exemple. Why is that? Is Rietveld a ‘safeplace’? For everyone?
During the academical Studium General I noticed that the relation between Rietveld and minorities was an significant subject for the school. But I couldn’t really understand how they related to this. What minorities exactly? Why some ones and not others? Is their a real issue or do they create the issue ? Or maybe their will always be an issue and the ‘safeplace’ is an ideal. Is it possible to achieve to be the perfect open minded art school or will it always reject someone? How long does it takes for a rejected minoritie to feel safe in an art school? And outside? What about the minorities inside the school? Quickly a thousand of questions came into my mind. I felt like if I was diving into an ocean of non resolving problematics. Then i asked to Mirjam the student councillor some of the questions below but she couldn’t help me cause she simply didn’t had the informations for answering my questions. She directed me to another person, Annelies van Eenennaam (Head of the Board). Now almost one month after, I still didn’t had any answer.

So I decided to ask the point of view of students to maybe see more clearly. I randomly choose the students around me at this moment. Here are the questions. The answer of four different persons follow in my notebook. Some are quoted following the questions:

1.How would you describe minorities in Rietveld? 

“Plenty, accepted. Rietveld is a Safeplace for everyone to be in touch with each others.”

Do you recognize yourself as a minority?

“Yeah but not in Rietveld. In terms of general public, but not in Rietveld. Queer, middle eastern is less a challenge here than everywhere else.”

Do you see it as a problem?

“There are good an bad sides”

“No idea. It’s easy to be blind, and not even notice that maybe, problems exist.”

Is being a minority in the school different from being it outside?

“To some extant yes. It’s a very secure environment, difficult sometimes. If you are a female you feel safer than in the city. Sometimes you also feel that being a female influence the comportment of some teachers toward you. As a light skin, I don’t feel as much pressure because of my colour as if I was in a small city.”

According to you, is the school involved in these subjects?

” I have the impression that Rietveld want more black diversity in the school. But it should be just about people. you create so much problem for yourself if you force it.”

Are there some significant changes that the school could implement to improve the ‘safeplace’ in an effort to reject minorities in art schools?

” Making school more adaptable for disabled and mental ill people with health care issues”

“Communicate to people who don’t want to hear that, instead of repeating it to us”

“Give a better support to people with financial issues, make it really accessible”

“Talking about, opening up. If you want to do something you also have to take the lead in something and take the initiative: not leave it to student in general. If you think that it is not relevant, then there is definitely something you don’t see.”

 

 

Art School or Art Factory?


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

protest poster of rietveld students

The students and teachers of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie are outraged. Protest have broken out the talks of a strike are becoming harder and harder to deny. After a leaked email from the heads of the Rietveld Academie strongly suggesting what many student already suspected, the school is using the students as unpaid workers. There have been talks between students and some teachers for a couple of months about this development which by many is described as criminal and not from this time, anno 2019. The school is under investigation as we speak to see if the way the school has been treating the students is really unethical and it could result in a high fee for the school, the heads of the school are facing jail time and there are even talks about a complete shutdown of the school.

The Gerrit Rietveld Academie is known to be pretty closed off for the public. They don’t have to adhere to certain rules that other higher education institutes have to, like the fact that they don’t have work with a point system. Also does the school not work with professional educators, but with artist, although this is with common other art schools as well. This is so they say, art schools, to stimulate the student in there education in the arts. Being around real artist will help them think and work in ways educator could not. All this makes the school a hard institute to keep an eye on. Many question arise now if this way of educating should be allowed after the news broke.

I saw many of your new pottery yesterday. They’re almost all single pieces and it would be wrong if we wouldn’t find a way to make the really good work that is in the pieces not accessible for a bigger audience.”

“We need to find a way to reproduce some of the works with machines.”

These are some quotes that caused the outrage among the students and some teachers. The students are being used by the school as unpaid designers, if you ask the students themselves. ‘We pay the school a higher tuition fee than other school in the Netherlands and then your own school uses you and your hard work, to sell themselves and our designs to the public. Where is all this money going to. Why am I even in school. I could apparently just start for myself,’ says Maria Sløthja a graduate student for the DesignLab department. Second year ceramics student, Frank Trebull adds;’It is like we are student athletes, but then like student designers.’ Teachers are also not pleased hearing this news, basic-year sculpture teacher Laurie Nagette has this to say;’ We cannot forget that we’re an education institute, that should be our main focus, educating the students. We shouldn’t try to make money off on them, that’s wrong.’

How the email was leaked is unclear, but there is a conjecture that one of the heads of the academy leaked it. The mail in question was send to all the heads of the school. But the remarks were made by Stijn van Kleinheest, Chairman of board of Directors. The authorities are investigating him closely, and the school has put him on inactive indefinitely.

The academy is also facing a complete shutdown, which comes with an even bigger outrage from the students. Especially among the graduate student the outrage of the shutdown was the biggest. They are in danger of not being able to graduate in that state. The academy is trying to figure a way out to prevent this from happening. They also have a problem with accepting new students for the coming year. They are considering not accepting any new students at all next year, but the admission has already started. And what to do with the rest of the students that already are studying in the academy. These are real problems the school has to face and find a solution for. For now they do not seem to have any. The teachers are also in fear of losing their jobs, for many this job is something they do next to being an artist, however for others it is there only source of income. Working at the academy is a steady pay, with is hard to find when you are in the world of arts.

verbs in herbs


Monday, April 22, 2019

Rooibos tea.

About redness in tea.  green leafs that dries and take all ascorbic acid away with it, from rudeness that expanded into a settler colony, to a tea latte in a wine glass in jan evertsenstraat. an exploited small mountainous area in cape town , to the Boston tea party that made the biggest tea pot in the sea, I see myself enjoying the last sips of an endemic Fabaceae going to extinction by the time I graduate rietveld.

 

GROPIUS.

if clarity is a key tea peculiarity, if metal doesn’t dander in the friction of an almost boiling glass, if the pinky in the air connotes elitism in an anti Bourgeois sphere, if tea cups are in maximum efficiency and simplicity, if the ottomans didn’t invaded the world, if the word design is aware of its meaning, not meaning, and if the cup handle is not a cup handle but an artificial cup hand.

WHAT IF GROPIUS HAD THE ULTIMATE ROOIBOS TEA IN THAT TEA CUP?

Would he have died in his sleep? 

 

Cup.

Does a cup knows it’s a cup? does a cup like its particular shade? does it knows its position? is it aware of it? I asked a woman from the Boston tea party about this, she said: ”No taxation without representation!”.

I think I like transparency. 

 

Airplane.

I went on a small 2 days vacation, to come to realizes in the first 3o min on the airplane that I was dinning in west, they gave us cake as the whole dinner meal, and people were clapping when they were done, then the famous exotic pride came after as a rare gem to wash our throats with the over exploited capitalism’s favorite post colonial flavour ROOIBOS… 

 

What Is The Context?

Well well well, what is not? if potatoes not butter, if butter not cake, let them eat cake! or shell we find some blueberry and make ourselves ink to write on the bathrooms walls and call it vandalism, and stand next to all the isms and SCREAM”. IS IT BETRAYAL, OR ARE WE WRITING FUTURE HISTORY!”

Let them vandal aren’t we all vandalizers.

 

Taste.

Ummm what does it taste like?

it taste like you my love.

Do you think it tastes like the future?

oh wait, it taste like dancing in fields of yellow flowers on a midday, not so hot mid day.

Do you taste the anxiety?

it smells like their boots.

I am worried.  

Did the flavor change?

 

Stairs:

she get dizzy every time she go down the stairs, then she forget what she was thinking about. A law of intolerable acts maybe to prevent making a tea pot enough for everyone. Is for everyone? where did you get the tea from? they go or not go to Cape Town, bring or not bring the herb, the red herb!  Is it a flower or or another victimized commodity?

 

sound:

Manner to not sip laud, a loud sip is to care less. does it depends on the cup, or a glass cup, or cups as glass. Lauder it was as an aquarium bubbling around tiny depressed fishes in a capitalist reality. They knew, fishes signed the petition, the petition was signed for an idea that was stolen from beyond and beyond the idea that was stolen there was an idea of a stolen idea, stolen from an idea that though it will never be stolen, there was the thief that stole the stove, the stove that they made the rooibos tea on, the same tea that he might drank while making that famous teacup, that same transparent love story that was broken after making a tea that was so hot, so hot that never a human drank it ever.

 

Teaparty.

A card is thickened paper and a paper is a thinned  tree, how can we sustain if we can’t obtain alternation for consumption mania, fixating their future. Tea parties, tea breaks, smoke breaks, call them or not, They gather and discuss all what is so important and not, they assumed and forgot, we are the bitter, but what!

 

Kanteen.

It was early, early it was, coffee was wondering by herself on the table, on a sugary really sweet pink new paper publication sheet of paper. I poured, poured and poured In that sad paper not paper cup, and throw it in the bin, not so a bin, plastic bin, aren’t we plastic bins after all .

 

Bauhaus and Communism?


Monday, April 22, 2019

Let us therefore create a new guild of craftsmen without the class-distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between craftsmen and artist! Let us together desire, conceive and create the new building of the future, which will combine everything – architecture and sculpture and painting – in a single form which will one day rise towards the heavens from the hands of a million workers as the crystalline symbol of a new and coming faith. 

In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.

Quotations from the ending paragraph of the Bauhaus Manifesto written by Walter Gropius and the the Communist Manifesto.

To me it is striking how both of these quotes talk about equalness, breaking away from classes – in society and in a working context, and how these changes will affect everybody. Yet, both ideologies, Bauhaus as a school and Communism as a form of society practiced around the world, has very prominent leading figures, who in one way or the other, has the power to rule over the students/citizens. For example, when Mies van der Rohe took over the leadership of the Bauhaus school (at this point it was located in Dessau) he had interviews with each student, to determine if they would follow the rules, else they would get kicked out. This can be linked to the arbitrary imprisonments in Cuba, happening both under Fidel Castro and now, as a higher power determining what you can and cannot do, in a society/school that claims freedom and equality as their main goals. The scale of these decisions are of course tremendously different, one is an entire nation and the other an art school in Germany, but still I find the similarities of the Bauhaus and Communism as ideologies and then as practiced in real life quite fascinating.

To look further into this, I have chosen to read Animal Farm by George Orwell and compare the degeneration of the animals original motive, to the Bauhaus and the Rietveld Academy as schools that are, at least to some extent, based on the same ideas of teaching. This, I guess, is very clearly seen in the Basicyear – Vorkurs in Bauhaus – which was created by Bauhaus teacher Johannes Itten

Animal Farm starts of with the animals dreaming of a better life, in which they are all equal and not treated as the means to an end, but like living beings with rights no different from the humans, who rule over them. When the opportunity for their dreams rises, they seize it and try to create a life and society where they all work and receive equally. The story is never specified as communist within the book, but Orwell has stated that it is an allegory to Russia, before and after the revolution in 1917 that then led them into the Stalinist era. This new society first flourishes and is enjoyed by most until one of the pigs, Napoleon, sees a chance to gain more power. He does so by constantly telling the other animals that this is actually what they want, that he is choosing to do and so in their service. Finally *spoiler alert* it comes to a point when the other animals cannot tell a human being from a pig, their “chosen” leader has become what they tried to escape and it seems like an inevitability that this should happen.

To me, at least, this bears a lot of similarities to how the Rietveld Academy functions. A way of showing and telling one thing, but then not fully living it. This can be seen in the departments, how openness and inclusivity is advocated, while in reality inter-fluidness can be quite hard to achieve as a student. With classes only for ones own department (as in TxT), extremely long waiting lists for facilities (as in Glass) and very limited opening hours (as in Ceramics). Of course complete freedom and total sharing is very hard to obtain, if not impossible, but should you then, as a school, really claim these traits? On the other hand, you could claim that TxT, Glass and Ceramics are some of the departments that actually live up to the heritage of the Bauhaus as they are somewhat material and technique based.

In this context I feel it is interesting to bring up the subject of the Fine Arts department, as this goes against all the teachings in the Bauhaus. Creating just for creating, separating art from everyday life, from the craftspeople, from the non-artist. The fact that this is now one of the biggest departments at the Rietveld, can be seen as a sign that the Rietveld is becoming what the Bauhaus set out not to be. It was an animal, that turned out to be a pig and is now indistinguishable from a human. Or almost, at least.

Finally, let us look at how the Bauhaus aimed to integrate art and life, to live with art, to build a gesamtkunstwerk, which is also very much apparent in their inclusion in arts and crafts – creating things that are not art for art’s sake, but are actually usable and meant to be used in real life. When paired with the exhibition Netherlands ? Bauhaus – pioneers of a new world, at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, it can be eye opening to see that something that was initially meant for use and created in a sense of togetherness is now showed in vitrines, where you cannot touch, feel, or try to use the work for its purpose. Is this exactly the opposite of what the Bauhaus was trying to do?

Printed Matters?


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

In the basement of the Stedelijk Museum my eyes were immediately drawn to all the printed matters showcased. Maybe it was all the colours, their placement or the fact that any day I would prefer a great book over a beautiful chair.

One that stood out was the brochure for the 14th Bauhausbücher made by László Moholy-Nagy in 1929.

BB

The Bauhausbücher is a series of books published from 1925 to 1930. László Moholy-Nagy and Walter Gropius were responsible for the publications whose main focus was the challenges and accomplishments of the Bauhaus movement. Many great German and international artists contributed to the books.

BBooks

I could choose to focus my research on the Bauhaus movement.
Bauhaus was a part of changing the traditional academic way of perceiving and teaching art. Bauhaus focused on creativity instead of talent, command over skill, visual perception and imagination.

As mentioned before, the aim of the Bauhausbücher was to express the challenges and accomplishments of the movement. Today it serves as kind of a testimony for the Bauhaus.

I asked myself if it is a common thing for movements, such as the Bauhaus, to publish things about themselves?
In Berlin I went to Haus der Kulturen der Welt to see the exhibition “The Most Dangerous Game”.

TMDG

“The most dangerous game” is an exhibition focusing on the movement Situationist International.
The exhibition showcased, among other things, a collection of books, documents and manifestos.

To quote a text from the exhibition:

“… the main aim was to bring together the key founding texts and manifestos of all organisations whose members had later joined the Situationists. This includes very many, indeed almost all, of the artistic groups that saw themselves as revolutionary in the first half of the 20th century…”.

So the answer to my question, whether or not it is a common thing for movements, such as Bauhaus, to publish things about themselves, the answer must be a clear and loud yes!

One of the publications showcased at HKW was an art based magazine called “Helhesten”. The main focus in the magazine was the spontaneous abstract art of the time. “Helhesten” was published nine times from 1941 to 1944 and most of the contributions in the magazine was made by the danish artist group also called “Helhesten”.

In Berlin I also went to an archive, a fanzine archive. A fanzine is a publication produced by people who are interested in a particular cultural thing such as a musical genre, literature or a movement. The fanzine is mainly produced for people who share the same interest as the author/publisher.

Are you able to compare the Bauhausbücher, and other publications buy similar movements, such as Helhesten and Høst, to the fanzine? I think you are.

I was reading a fanzine about the punk culture in the 90’s, it was very informative and gave very detailed insight. In the fanzine there were articles by people from the community, recommendations (music, books, movies) and also some artwork. So somehow the aim of the fanzine also is to inform about the accomplishments and challenges the movement faces.

Fpunk

The fanzines are becoming very popular again and some people even make online fanzines – back in the days it was only printed matter.

Back in 1925, when the first book in the series of Bauhausbücher was published, the world wide web didn’t exist yet, which might have been the reason Moholy-Nagy and Gropius chose to publish books, they simply didn’t have the choice to ‘go online’.

If you publish a book these days it is a conscious choice you make.
You have so many different options if you want your information to get out to the world. For an example you can make it into an e-book, a blogpost or make a whole website dedicated to the matter.

But what about the printed matter? Does it matter?

The internet is great for some quick research, it is easy accessible and you can find information on almost everything. The internet is always changing – content are being added and taken down, so can you really depend on it to be there when you need it? You can learn many things, but how do you know if its true? Take this blogpost for an example: what do you even know about the writer and their reasons for posting this content?

A lot of content on the internet only needs one single person behind it and you might not even know their real name.

I can’t speak for everyone, only myself, when I say I would prefer to read something printed.

There is something about buying a book or any other printed matter, you know that someone put a lot of effort into the whole process and that makes me appreciate it more.

The printed matter will always remain the same – the internet can change.

The printed matter matters.

Bauhaus Tea


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

When I visited the Stedelijk Base, I looked at a very diverse range of objects. From colorful Kirchner paintings to the well-known Eams chair, but Christian Dell’s tea infuser from the Bauhaus collection particularly drew my attention for its small size and simplistic appearance. It is made from silver-plated brass and the part where you hold the object, the varnish is slightly worn off and damaged which gives it a precious look.

While I was looking for other objects to potentially  base my research on, I started noticing that while people walked around, the tea infuser was overlooked a lot by everyone, so I decided to stick with the object.

Christian Dell (1893 - 1974) tea infuser
Christian Dell (1893 - 1974) tea infuser (1924) at Stedelijk Base

I started by doing some initial research while I was still at the Stedelijk Museum. At the library archive I asked if they could tell me when and where the tea infuser was purchased by the museum, I found out it was purchased from Christie’s Amsterdam in 2003.

In their archive they also had a book called Metallwerkstatt und Bauhaus edited by Klaus Weber, published by Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin. A 332 page book that is specifically about the history of the metal workshop from the Bauhaus. Unfortunately it was in German, so I could not use any information this book was providing.

When I got to the Rietveld library I found several books regarding Bauhaus. The metal workshop was only mentioned in the bigger and general editions. But I did not find any specific information about this tea infuser nor was there much information about Christian Dell himself. So I started my research online.

Initially a lot of auction websites appeared where I could buy the tea infuser myself, but when I changed and added other keywords in my search I finally found a lot more information about Christian Dell.

Christian Dell worked as a foreman of the metal workshop at the Bauhaus in Weimar between 1922 to 1925. He was hired after Willy Schabbon and Alfred Kopka, who lasted there for a short time. When Christian Dell was hired, the metal workshop gained some needed stability. Still, not much is known about Christian Dell.  Only that Christian Dell was a very experienced silversmith and a skilled teacher.

Prior to the War he was at the Wiener Werkstätte in Vienna, producing metal tableware in an avant-garde and geometric style. At the Bauhaus metal workshop Dell’s work was completely absent of decoration and concentrated on the innovative use of geometric forms. He was mostly known for his highly innovative designs of lamps. So the tea infuser made me wonder how it came about that Christian Dell was the one who designed it. I fantasized about that his idea and goal were to give another light to the transparency of water.  But when I thought of the principles of Bauhaus I realized it probably meant much more than that.

Christian Dell, tea infuser at MoMa Christian Dell, tea infuser at MoMa

Many questions began to flood my head. At first, I contemplated about the fact that tea was normally something for aristocrats in the times of colonialism when it was imported and which resulted in it being partially westernized. The fact that it was meant for the upper class made me aware of the obvious contradiction with the Bauhaus ideals. Besides that, I also found it very interesting how this small tea infuser brought me to think of big historic moments and political affairs. Maybe more so than the paintings shown by Piet Mondriaan and such. This partially because it is so self-evident and quite easy to integrate the object into your own life. Unlike a painting where you are immediately confronted with aesthetic issues and has no real  useful function in daily life.

(more…)

feel the touch, run your hands over it (but don’t)


Friday, February 16, 2018

If you walk into the Stedelijk Base exhibition, set up in the basement of the Stedelijk Museum, you will find yourself immersed in a forest of metal walls. Artworks, design objects and furniture are placed next to each other and sorted by theme or movement, rather than after the usual concept of a timeline.

After a turn to the right and a subsequent turn to the left along the metal walls, the visitor (you) will find himself in the Bauhaus area, where you will immediately lay your eyes on a white, light woolen landscape hanging vertically from the walls. The name of this artwork is reliëfkleed, ‘relief rug’ in English, designed by the studio of the Dutch artist Kitty van der Mijll-Dekker.

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The first thing you will notice is the size of it; a sheer glance couldn’t cover the whole area of the relief rug. Reaching the top of the wall all the way down to the floor, the light beige, almost white color of this reliëfkleed blends wonderfully with the background wall. The rug is made out of differing techniques of weaving and knotting the wool, thus forming intricate geometric patterns.

    The second thing you will notice is related to the name of the relief rug: weaved and knotted, the rug forms an ocean of chunks, blobs and follows an intricate rhythm of geometric pattern.

The relief rug was gifted to the Stedelijk museum in 1936, accompanied by handwritten congratulations of Willem Sandberg. It toured the world exhibitions as part of the Dutch Pavilion in Brussels and Paris, not without receiving several awards. After the success of the relief rug, Kitty van der Mijll Dekker’s studio received invitations from the commissioner of the Queen to design and produce the carpets, wallpaper, bedding and the curtains for the royal provincial house in Maastricht [source].

Even despite her success with the studio, Kitty van der Mijll Dekker and her works are seldom mentioned on the internet. Try googling “relief rug” without attaching her name, you can find hardly any photos.

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The tea-towels are up to date the most well-known product of Kitty van der Mijll-Dekker's weaving studio

Why is it so? In order to understand why the women of Bauhaus were often under-mentioned and forgotten in history and publications, we will look into the history of Bauhaus:

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The Bauhaus school in 1919 in Weimar.

Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus in 1919 with the idea of a modern, forward-thinking school in mind. For the first time, uniting real artistic practice and craftsmanship under one roof brings back the necessity for the “neue Baukunst” which translates into ‘a new way to construct’. For this purpose, the Hochschule für bildende Künste (focussing on artistic practice) and the Kunstgewerbeschule (focussing on craftsmanship) in Weimar were merged together [read more here].

The formation of Bauhaus fell simultaneously together with the beginning of the Weimar Republic, in which women gained new rights, amongst which being allowed to vote for the first time and also attending university. Women were more than welcome to attend school at Bauhaus, as stated by Walter Gropius in the beginning. However, more women than men applied for Bauhaus once after it was opened, which lead to a drastic change in Bauhaus’ (and Gropius’) statements.

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Photograph from Bauhaus Archive, with Gunta Stolzl center left

The large number of women at the Bauhaus attracted many forms of criticisms, including the complaints of the teaching bodies of the workshops, who are not used to have women work physically in their workshops. Traditionally, females are not allowed to be “Gesellen” journeyman, which students or rather workers who have completed an apprenticeship in a workshop are called.

      Second, the image of women as artists at that time has been depicted as decorative and rather less professional, in which female works are rather suited for the household, more crafty and seen less functional. Admitting a large number of women could lead to the chances of critics or society decreasing the serious status and idea behind Walter Gropius’ planned pioneer school

[source, in German]

Wanting to set up his Bauhaus as a success, Gropius feared that his school might be denounced as a failure or taken not seriously if admitting so many female students, thus narrowing the admission of female students and setting up an all female class, which merged with the weaving department after a while.

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This is a collection of works produced in the weaving department - google term 'Bauhaus textile afdeling'

    Some female artists entered the school before the change in teaching happened, which lead to the above mentioned restrictions in choosing the departments. Others joined the school after László Moholy-Nagy was appointed head of department, replacing Johannes Itten and his restrictive worldviews towards female artists [x]

Marianne Brandt

    is one of the few female artists who succeed in the metal department, succeeding her male classmates.

The weaving department, which also had few male students, was the space in which most female students were sent to after completing the ‘Vorherige Ausbildung’ our Rietveld Basicyear. Although the weaving department supported the school financially the most, it was seen as ‘less relevant’ or serious by the other departments. Other reasons, such as the philosophy of Johannes Itten towards the gender role or the increasing influence of the national socialists in Germany led towards a more backwards-facing behavior of treating female students than intended.

As a result, many female artists from the school of Bauhaus are under-represented or solely left out in literature or online. The solution would be a step-by-step collection of female Bauhaus artists and their works to make it accessible online for a wider audience, for example an open platforms such as wikipedia.

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In this photo: Gertrudt Arndt, Otti Berger, Benita Koch-Otte

 

Biography Kitty van der Mijll Dekker

Kitty van der Mijll Dekker, born as Catharina Louise on Djokdjakarta (Java) in 1908, was raised as a child in a wealthy art-interested family of Dutch expats in Indonesia. In 1916 at the age of 8, she and her family moved back to Den Hague in the Netherlands. Growing up, Kitty van der Mijll Dekker enjoyed educational travels to Switzerland and the United States. After studying art history in London from 1925-1927, she received private lessons in architecture by Cor Jarens.
In 1929, she attends the vooropleiding of Bauhaus in Dessau and finishes her ‘Gesellenexamen’ in 1931 at the textile factory in Meschke in Rummelsberg, Germany. After receiving her diploma (nr. 66) on April 12th 1932 from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich, she returns back to the Netherlands and sets up the weaving studio ‘De Wipstrik’ with her former co-student Greten Fischer-Kähler and Hermann Fischer in Nunspeet. Greten-Fischer leaves the studio after two years, leading to the formation of the name ‘ Handweverij en Ontwerpatelier K.v.D. Mijll Dekker (Hand weaving and design workshop K.v.D. Mijll Dekker).

From 1967 until 1970, she taught at our school, the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. This would be an opportunity to continue research related to school activities

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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