Bauhaus Revisited

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I doubt that the Bauhaus played such a founding role in the development of socially aware modernism as the review by Anindya Bhattacharyya suggests (April SR).

That honour should go to the Russian Constructivists working to further the 1917 Revolution, and to the Vkhutemas school founded in Moscow in 1920.

At that time the Bauhaus, whose foundation course was run by the mystical Johannes Itten, was bound up in self-indulgent Expressionism. It wasn't until 1922 that a Constructivist International and an exhibition of Russian design brought the ideas of the Constructivists to a Western European audience. Gropius responded by changing the direction of the Bauhaus almost overnight.

While the Constructivists continued - despite the rise of Stalin - to adhere to their revolutionary principles, the Bauhaus was more interested in developing its links with industrial combines.

Of the three Bauhaus directors, only Hannes Meyer was a Marxist. His attitude soon displeased the Nazis and ended his tenure. His successor, Mies van der Rohe, did his best to coexist with the regime but, by now, the Nazis' mind associated modern design with Bolshevism. The damage was already done and the Bauhaus was closed.

Bill Risebero
London