The philosophy of the Bauhaus leadership, especially influenced by architect Walter Gropius, was to embrace all the art forms without distinction through hierarchy. With the rise of nationalism sweeping Europe and the United States soon after WWI, Gropius decided to resign his leadership position at the Bauhaus in order to engage in his architecture firm’s private practice. Gropius had been the visionary for the Bauhaus from 1919-1928 but knew the time was right to step down due to the shifting political climate. Hannes Meyer stepped up to lead the Bauhaus after Gropius departed and for the next several years (1928-1930), Meyer tried to navigate the shifting political atmospheres. In the end, Meyer was not able to push forward. Robert Hughes stated: “The Bauhaus’s main influence as an institution was on applied design…The school’s view that it is far harder to design a first-rate teapot than to paint a second-rate picture was, of course, unarguable right, and the philosophy of the Bauhaus probably did more to dignify the work of modernist designers than any other cultural strategy of the last half century, at least until the foundation of the design collection at the Museum of Modern At in New York.”
What are your thoughts on the necessity of the Bauhaus to shift its gaze from Gesamtkunstwerk to applied design? Do you think the shift was good as it responded to the time or was such a shift the beginning of the end for the Bauhaus?
Walter Gropius, Bauhaus Dessau, 1926+