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ART HISTORY - Practical achievements of the Bauhaus

Practical achievements of the Bauhaus

Bauhaus cabinetThe greatest practical achievements at the Bauhaus were probably in interior, product, and graphic design. For example, Marcel Breuer created many furniture designs at the Bauhaus that have become classics, including the first tubular-steel chair. He said that, unlike heavily upholstered furniture, his simple, machine-made chairs were "airy, penetrable," and easy to move. Though initially women were to be given equal status at the Bauhaus, Gropius grew alarmed at the number of women applicants and restricted them primanly to weaving, a skill deemed suitable for female students. Gunta Stölz and Anni Albers were major innovators in the area of textile design at the school's weaving workshop. In ceramic and metal design, a new vocabulary of simple, functional shapes was established. The courses in display and typographic design under Bayer, Moholy-Nagy, Tschichold, and others revolutionized the field of type. Bauhaus designs have passed so completely into the visual language of the twentieth century that it is now difficult to appreciate how revolutionary they were on first appearance. Certain designs, such as Breuer's tubular chair and his basic table and cabinet designs, Gropius's designs for standard unit furniture, and designs by other faculty members and students for stools, stacking chairs, dinnerware, lighting fixtures, textiles, and typography so appealed to popular tastes that they are still manufactured today.

Gropius resigned his position in 1928 and named as his successor Hannes Meyer, a Marxist who placed less emphasis on aesthetics and creativity than on rational, functional, and socially responsible design. Meyer was forced to leave the Bauhaus in 1930, and Mies van der Rohe (Gropius's first choice in 1928) assumed the directorship. Mies's work as an architect is discussed below. Inevitably, activities at the Bauhaus aroused the suspicions of the reactionary political forces that finally brought about its closing in 1933.

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