Five things to know \ Bauhaus 100: The Print Portfolios

Stylised print of a human head against a rust-red background
Paul Klee (1879-1940), The Saint of the Inner Light (detail), 1921. Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Graphische Sammlung
Photo © Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany. To celebrate this centenary, we have an exhibition—Bauhaus 100: The Print Portfolios—on view until 1 December.

Read on to discover five things to know before visiting!


1. The Bauhaus was a school

More specifically, it was a revolutionary school of art, design and (later) architecture. Founded by Walter Gropius in 1919, the Bauhaus took an interdisciplinary approach to art education, merging fine art with craft and applied arts. In the school’s manifesto, Gropius stated: “There is no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman. The artist is an exalted craftsman.”

2. It had an innovative curriculum

Students began their studies with the preliminary course, which provided them with a foundation in materials and design principles, before they progressed to the workshops.

Each discipline had its own workshop: sculpture, joinery, metal, ceramics, stained glass, graphic print, stagecraft, wall painting, weaving and, later, graphic design and photography.

Print of overlapping geometric human figures depicted with think black outlines Oskar Schlemmer (1888-1943), Concentric Group, Figure Plan K1 (detail). Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Graphische Sammlung
Photo © Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

3. This exhibition focuses on prints produced in the graphic printing workshop

The graphic printing workshop produced significant portfolios (folders) of prints including the series on view in the exhibition—Neue europäische Graphik (New European Graphics). These portfolios were made to be sold, and were expected to generate income for the Bauhaus, as well as to raise awareness of the school. Unfortunately, the prints were not a commercial success, and the graphic printing workshop was disbanded when the Bauhaus moved to Dessau in 1925.

4. Not all the artists featured in the exhibition were Bauhäusler (members of the Bauhaus)

One portfolio features prints by Bauhaus masters including Lyonel Feininger, Johannes Itten, Paul Klee and Oskar Schlemmer (above). The other three portfolios feature the work of a diverse group of painters involved in Abstraction, Futurism and Expressionism, including Marc Chagall, Franz Marc and Natalia Goncharova (below). In a show of solidarity with the Bauhaus, these artists donated their original prints to the project, and students in the workshop printed the impressions.

Geometric semi-abstract print of a female figure depicting using yellow, navy and grey Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962), Female Half Figure (Figurine), 1922-23. © Estate of Natalia Goncharova, ADAGP PARIS/ IVARO DUBLIN, 2019. Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Graphische Sammlung
Photo © Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

'Only an idea has the power to spread so widely.'


5. The Bauhaus was shortlived, but its impact was longlasting

The Bauhaus only existed for 14 years. During its short and frequently troubled existence, it moved from its original location in Weimar to Dessau in 1925, and from Dessau to Berlin in 1932. The Nazis forced its closure in 1933. Many Bauhaus artists fled Germany, bringing the school’s ideology with them. Key figures, such as Josef and Anni Albers, László Moholy-Nagy and Walter Gropius, took up teaching posts in North America and kept the Bauhaus spirit alive by introducing a new audience to its experimental approach to art education. Today, the influence of the Bauhaus is visible in everything from buildings and domestic utensils, to textiles and signage. As Mies Mies van der Rohe observed, 'only an idea has the power to spread so widely.'


Bauhaus 100: The Print Portfolios is on display in the Print Gallery from 20 July to 1 December 2019. Admission free. 

See our programme of Bauhaus events, talks, films and workshops here

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