A lot of people will have heard of the Bauhaus, but I suspect few will know what it was. As 2019 is its centenary, this is the perfect time to find out more.
In short, the Bauhaus was an art school in Weimar, Germany, founded by the modernist architect Walter Gropius. Although directed towards architecture, the philosophy that underpinned the Bauhaus was all about providing the complete package when it came to building, interior design and art. Look around you today and you will see its influence in everything from industrial design and graphic design to contemporary architecture and even typography.
The Bauhaus moved to Dessau in 1925 and then Berlin in 1932 before falling victim to Nazi disapproval just a year later; Hitler promoted classical architecture and despised what he saw as the communist ideals behind what the Bauhaus represented.
In 14 short years, the Bauhaus changed the way we looked at the world, sweeping away the staid conventions that had dominated the design of buildings, works of art and everyday items for centuries, just as the old order that had dominated Europe for centuries also faced its demise at the end of the Great War.
In many ways, the Bauhaus was very much of its time. Had it survived, it’s likely that its influence would have declined as its ideas diversified, diluting its original vision.
As an auctioneer, Bauhaus-influenced material turning up in the saleroom is almost always a boon, its force and beauty inevitably lead to furious bidding.