I don’t typically make resolutions at the start of a new year, but I do reflect on the recent past, where I stand with myself, and what I would like to create going forward. This year however, I made a broad resolution to get to know myself better by way of the things that I enjoy most and I began with Bauhaus.
The term Bauhaus is rather comprehensive. The Bauhaus was a school and a movement. From architecture and art to furniture, fashion, and even fonts the profound influence of the original Bauhaus school has left an enduring legacy we often generalize simply as Bauhaus style. I chose to begin by reading a book that was not about the style, but tells the story of the Bauhaus’s founder, Walter Gropius, and the school’s origin.
Bauhaus 1919-1933 by Magdalene Droste reads a little like a text book and, considering the subject matter, is extremely light on the visuals which I appreciated. (Not right away, but eventually.) What you get is a clean focus on the story of the Bauhaus school and a sense of who the founders were and what the collective experience was like for them and their students.
This book offers a lot of information right out of the gate and for someone like myself, who is meticulous about not overlooking any detail, this proved somewhat challenging as I stopped to take note of names, dates, and resources for further study. Once I decided not to make work out of pleasure, however, the reading was a delight and offered me a more personalized view of the Bauhaus than I had previously held. I found the parallels between the social movements of then and now striking, especially within the young middle class with the wandervogel as the hipsters of their time. The Arts & Crafts movement that birthed the Bauhaus can be seen mirrored in today’s zeitgeist and the original stars of the movement are experiencing a posthumous resurgence. While I enjoy this revisiting of the ideas, artists, crafts and movements I hold an appreciation for it is still bitter-sweet. The original Bauhaus, the twentieth century’s greatest school of art, architecture, and design was unceremoniously cordoned off by armed police and shut down by the Gestapo on April 11, 1933.
So much of what I am drawn to and enjoy has roots in the Bauhaus’s origins that it overwhelms me to think about. Fortunately, coupled with that anxiety is always an enthusiasm that consistently leads me further down the road of discovery and that is what this resolution is all about. Johannes Itten’s preliminary Bauhaus 100 course focused on creating order out of flow through subjective experience and objective recognition and that, to me, sounds a lot like what I’m trying to do too.