by Mridu SahaiFeb 12, 2020
With the Bauhaus marking its 100th anniversary this year, many organisations and institutions are commemorating the establishment of this eminent German design school and its thoughts across the world. Kicked off with the Bauhaus opening festival in January 2019 in Berlin, several schools and organisers came together under the Bauhaus100 umbrella to join the centenary celebrations.
A private education institution, the Bauhaus lasted for barely 14 years (1919-1933), functioning from three different locations. It was founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar, later moving to Dessau and then to Berlin. In its short span the school gained a lasting reputation, with its ideas impacting people beyond the school, its location and its time. And for all the undoubted greatness of its teachers, Bauhaus influenced extensively the architecture and design all over the world.
To honour this influential art, multiple exhibitions and events have been taking place since the beginning of 2019. Some of the exhibitions that took place in Europe include the Netherlands ⇄ Bauhaus exhibition at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (February 9 - May 26, 2019); Design for Life – Bauhaus Design in the GDR (on display till January 5, 2020), at the Documentation Center for Everyday Culture of the GDR, Eisenhüttenstad; and the Oskar Schlemmer – The Bauhaus and the Path to Modernity, that took place from April 28 till July 28 at Ducal Museum in Gotha, Germany. In Los Angeles, United States, the Getty Center is celebrating the centennial to examine the movement's origins with the show Bauhaus Beginnings.
Simultaneously, the Royal Institute of British architects (RIBA) is honouring the Bauhaus school’s centennial by discussing the wave of changes and repercussions it created over the 100 years through two primary events.
Industrialised: RIBA Student Show 2019
The RIBA is hosting Industrialised: RIBA Student Show, the 2019 celebration of student work from schools of architecture in the United Kingdom. The display focuses on the theme of industrialisation and its impact. The exhibition opened on September 24, and is on display till November 29, 2019. Following the success of its 2018 pilot project 'Fresh Perspectives', the RIBA decided to announce its this year’s student show with the theme 'Industrialised', displaying emerging works from recent graduates and current students of architecture across the UK.
The thematic brief of the exhibition describes the Bauhaus school as a white-hot factory furnace of 20th century design – the era that relied heavily on the emancipatory potentials of industrialisation, promising high-level design objects for the everyday citizen.
It further defines the present situation, explaining that we are now, more than ever, aware of the transformative capacity of industrialised production – for architecture, society, and the environment – as well as the effects of industry on the broader concerns of architectural practice, thinking and representation.
This display of student work attempts to demonstrate a continuity of practice and thinking in future generations of practitioners. These expressions displayed through student work in the form of drawings, visualisations, model photography, and short animations attempt to consider and comment on the exuberant or ominous potentials of contemporary industry and industrial legacy.
This curated display mirrors RIBA’s other exhibition taking place in the RIBA Architecture Gallery in London, Beyond Bauhaus: Modernism in Britain, 1933 to 1966, which traces the legacy of three influential Bauhaus émigrés: Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer and László Moholy-Nagy.
Beyond Bauhaus – Modernism in Britain 1933 to 1966
On the centenary of the Bauhaus school, this exhibition to be held between October 1, 2019 – February 1, 2020, looks afresh at the birth of ‘Modernism in Britain’. The exhibition revisits the impact of thee three notable Bauhaus émigrés. Centered on the brief period of 1934-37, when they came to live and work in Britain, the RIBA exhibition traces this fertile moment in British architectural history through the buildings completed during the decade. It considers the ideas they left behind and identifies the areas of post-war British architecture where its legacy has had the most enduring impact.
The exhibition draws on the RIBA’s unique and world-class collections, little known and rarely shown works by the three ex-Bauhaus tutors that are displayed alongside works by young British architects practicing at the time, including FRS Yorke, Mary Crowley, and Leslie Martin.
The highlights of the exhibition include drawings and plans produced by the short-lived partnership of Walter Gropius and Maxwell Fry, including the un-built Isokon 3 building; never before exhibited illustrations, sketches and personal photography from the archive of Leslie Martin and Sadie Speight; drawings of furniture and interior designs by Marcel Breuer and Wells Coates; photographs by ex-Bauhaus student Edith Tudor-Hart; archival films from the 1930s, including work by László Moholy-Nagy; previous unseen personal correspondence and ephemera that tracks the personal lives of the key protagonists, and an exhibition design by Chile-based practice Pezo Von Ellrichshausen.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a lively four-month programme of events taking a look at the wider cross-disciplinary impact of the Bauhaus, including talks, film screenings and creative learning workshops.
The Bauhaus presence in Britain was profound, championing not merely an architectural style but a philosophy, one based on an understanding of modern materials and technologies, and with a clear sense of social purpose. Beyond Bauhaus examines the exchange between ex-Bauhaus tutors and young British architects, the many modernist influences of the era and the role of a group of pioneering women.
The exhibition will also be accompanied by a display of photographic works and films produced during László Moholy-Nagy’s time in Britain, working for the architectural press.