Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bauhaus, part one

Where to start when you wish to talk about Bauhaus?

I think I'll start with stunning food photography inspired by Bauhaus, which I stumbled upon some time ago. Masterminds behind these pieces: Nicky&Max.

© Nicky & Max
© Nicky & Max

Bauhaus was not just a movement, but an actual institution as well. Walter Gropius had gathered some of that time's brightest minds around him, such as Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Herbert Bayer, Oskar Schlemmer, Johannes Itten, and founded the Bauhaus School in 1919. All of them stood for strong individuals which was one of the fundamental things behind school's ideology: unlocking the creative potential of each student through insisting on individualism, on one hand and collaborative work, on the other. 

© Erich Consemüller, Lis Beyer or Ise Gropius sitting on the B3 club chair by Marcel Breuer and wearing a mask by Oskar Schlemmer and dress fabric by Lis Beyer, c.1927

What I find interesting is the way the school had operated in its early days.The school had always been trying to make a compromise between utopian, non-compromising, creative spirit and practical minded way of thinking. And it seems to me that in the first years the school leaned more towards the former and from. 1923. under the pressure of community and financial troubles it started leaning towards latter.

Johannes Itten was to me one of the most intriguing professors at Bauhaus. He held an innovative course which taught the students about basics of materials, composition and color. Itten was a fanatic follower of Mazdaznan, a religious health movement which included strict food diets. He incorporated some of Mazdaznan's exercises and breathing techniques into classes in order for students to use their full creative power. He also made rules about food which was to be consumed at school. No meat was allowed, only grains and vegetables, with special emphasis on garlic. The word is that at some point in time all school's facilities and students (!) had that distinctive garlic smell.

 Itten's class, via Kaufmann Mercantile

I love this photo. It gives you a glimpse of working atmosphere in Itten's class. I wonder if that food diet just might had an effect on student's work because at this time they were producing some incredible ideas and creating the most astonishing art pieces.

However, Itten's and Gropius's ideologies started to distinctively drift away from each other. Gropius was insisting on individual art being made with thoughts for the outside world or the industry and Itten rejected this and insisted on art being created without thoughts of its mass production. Finally, Gropius made Itten resign and from this point on, the School made its ideological change in favor of producing art in cooperation with the industry.

While in process of making those photos from the beginning of this post, Nicki&Max were aware of the fact they were being made for no one, they had no commercial value or as they say, they were making them just for themselves.  And they admit, they felt much more creative than when working for a client and they finally felt like they were using their full creative power.

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