Bauhaus: Art as Life
Last week the office travelled across town to take a look at 'Bauhaus: Art as Life', the latest exhibition at the Barbican Centre, London. The exhibition was designed by award winning architects Carmody Groarke with APFEL design agency producing the graphical design output. It's the largest exhibition of Bauhaus work to be shown in the UK for over 40 years and follows the life of the Bauhaus school throughout its significant 14 year history.
‘Bauhaus: Art of Life’ explores the world famous school’s history, whilst the loosely chronological and thematic arrangement helps to convey the changing ideals of Bauhaus, as well as the development of the school’s work from its foundation in Weimar in 1919 to its dramatic final closure in Berlin in 1933 because of increasing pressure from the Nazi government. However, despite the school's relatively short lifespan, its legacy is viewed as a major driving force behind the modernism movement, both changing modern society and how people lived.
The Bauhaus school’s direction was heavily influenced by the romantic socialist inspirations of the Arts and Crafts movement and also the integration of De Stijl, resulting in more graphically inspired work. The adoption of architectural practices when the school moved to Dessau in 1926 inspired the iconic pieces of industrial and furniture design familiar to many today. The school finally settled in Berlin in 1932 until its finally closure in 1933 when the school was disbanded.
Since 1933 there have been no new Bauhaus schools created. However, they have inspired many projects, including the founding of what is now known as The Chicago Institute of Design by Bauhaus student Moholy Nogy in 1937 and the ULM School of Design in 1953 by former student Max Bill.
The curation of detailed photography, iconic products and furniture and strong graphical artwork illustrating the Bauhaus monograph created a fantastic insight into the school’s progressive history, allowing the viewer to fully understand how the modernism movement evolved in that period. However, the lack of a point of reference throughout the process made it hard to realise the true modernist and future-aware work that was taking place within this unique school.
Some of our favourites from the exhibition included the Wilhelm Wagenfield table lamp, 1925, advertising work by Kandinsky from the early 1920‘s and Josef Albers’ Club Chair, 1928.