The Bauhaus movement, formed in the 20th century, was rooted in concerns over manufacturing and its soullessness; the movement aimed to unite the soul of fine art with more functional creations. It has stimulated rethinking the meaning of art, typically thought of as humanities, by fusing it together with more research-based science. The Bauhaus school existed during the Weimar period in Germany which combined fine art and crafts, publicising the movement.
The movement aimed to unite the soul of fine art with more functional creations
The movement became about stripping things down to their pure function, profoundly influencing typography. Bayer’s Bauhaus style font an exemplification as it removed serifs, creating a simple geometric form. This simplicity was also featured in the catalogues of Piet Zwart by stripping down conventional advertising material into more direct communication; using bold, diagonal lines coincided different messages within his designs. Bayer’s most notable design has been the 1925 Universal Alphabet with letters in their most simple form and with great distance between them so they are more legible and based on the clarity of speech itself. This could be easily adapted for technology, formed by typewriter machines and accessible. Tschichold’s penguin book cover designs in the late 1940s used the same sans-serif font – in a white block sandwiched between a block colour – and are still recognisable to this day as a trademark for classic texts.
Wassily Kandinsky, a Russian art theorist and painter, formed a Bauhaus motif: yellow triangle, red square, and blue circle. His Point and Line to Plane (1926) linked combinations of line, colour, tone to spiritual or psychological impacts. In terms of architecture, colour was not valued, and only really confined to art theory. Yet, his theories on shades of colour linking to produce visual music became highly influential to literature. For instance, he wrote many play scripts such as ‘The Yellow Sound’ which united words, colour, and sound as touching the human soul or psyche; this epitomising the Bauhaus notion of linking the soul of art to a more functional approach. In spite of this, the Bauhaus school itself was thought to be a Jewish Bolshevik conspiracy by the Nazis and after Hitler became chancellor it was dissolved. Yet, the movement still spread its influences across the world as staff began to emigrate and has proved to transcend time thus far – a quality akin to the notion of the soul of the movement.
The movement became about stripping things down to their pure function
With National Tea Day taking place on Easter Sunday this year, it is fitting to celebrate Marianne Brandt’s MT49 tea pot design; this epitomised the Bauhaus notion of ‘form follows function’. Despite its minimal decoration, its materials and shapes made it structural and high in its functionality. They are now considered rare with only around seven prototypes existing, most placed in museums and galleries as mass-production did not occur. Nonetheless, it is still a celebration of women existing in the man’s world of design as Brandt became the first woman to study at the Bauhaus metal workshop in 1924, escaping the constraints of women studying weaving and ceramics.
To celebrate the movement’s 100th anniversary, museums and galleries have been hosting exhibitions including the Tate Modern, in London. Also, earlier this year, there was a festival by the Bauhaus-Archiv in Berlin examining the relationship between the body and machine. Last summer, Great Big Story created a four-part video series on ‘Preserving the Soul of Bauhaus Design’, tracing its origins and its influences such as furniture, ballet, and even fashion. The Bauhaus movement has truly been preserved, despite very few companies replicating original pieces – it has been highly influential across the world in myriad mediums and has heavily influenced contemporary and modern art.