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The Bauhaus

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Summary

The Bauhaus school of art founded after the end of World War I experienced a lot of radical changes despite its short span of life. The Weiner Republic chronicles the life of Bauhaus in terms of arts, which depicts the political life of the time. The political turmoil, failures of the political systems and the emergence of Nazi completely destroyed it the school due to its political undertones that did not seem to cooperate with them. While the first Director of the school Walter Gropius focused his attention towards individual talents with thorough administrative style, his subsequent successors directed their attention towards building institutions instead. The institutionalized art works spearheaded by Hannes Meyer and Mies van der Rohe. The two took over the directorship of Bauhaus respectively, generating a sense of unified architecture in the form of institution, with new buildings modelled with some form of modernity unlike the previous buildings. They also introduced the spirituality and aesthetic value in the buildings. 

The Bauhaus, a cultural counterbalance and art school founded in 1919, is depicted in the Weimer Republic as a sign of liberal democracy, albeit short-lived, that emerged from the shambles of World War I. It was short-lived because the institution collapsed the same year Nazi took over power in the year 1993. The life and times of Bauhaus is a short but treacherous period of time that can be depicted in the Weimer Republic. Gay’s powerful essay reflects an interesting impact of the Weimer Culture, which has developed into the modern western world. In the essay, Gay puts across a fascinating trend without creating any sensation about the Weimer Culture. It is a clear sign that Gay is depicting a series of experience in Bauhaus as a labour of love, although some there have been challenges in trying to give justice[1]. Visibly, the similarity between Weimer Republic and the life of Bauhaus is that the two were short-lived, and that they suffered similar fate as they were all dismissed by the reigning political powers that existed. In fact, Weimer Culture was a clear failure that many scholars have been tempted to ignore its weak parts. That is to say, it was splendid as it lasted, but is also considered to have carried along the seeds that would later destroy it. In fact, it was considered dead, and later speedily buried when Nazi under Hitler came to power. After 40 years, what caused its demise is nearly obvious especially considering the emergence of New York. According to James Kathleen, there is something unique and fascinating about the two cities, particularly in terms of achievement[2].   

It is noted that the first director of the Bauhaus, Walter Gropius was a very strict head teacher, who preferred to hire members of staff who have an all-round talents than professional fine artists. In fact, Gropius preferred sculptors, potters, painters among other specialists. In this approach, he aimed at creating some unique ambivalence towards building a base for architectural designs as well shape the direction of architectural academics. Moreover, he was also regarded as a passionate teacher in stained glass as well as cabinetry, where he indulged his students to adopt the art of colour mixing and theory. These he used to apply in an attempt to build some beautiful ad-hoc assemblage of artworks. It is clear that during those times nothing substantial made out of the primary courses exist; however, they are left to the few photos in the archive or simply a restructured collage comprising of wood and metal in the room of Barbicans. They are well arranged as Bauhaus show, categorically described as “Art of Life” to move us to the end[3]. One could easily notice that Gay has not dealt with popular culture of the day in his work, in one aspect that one could interpret as of his personal interest.

The simple understanding is that Weimer period is part of a history that resembles the age when some serious questions during its time were put across but no one ever answered. When Hitler took over power, no one in their intellectual capacity had the strength to keep with the momentum of building academic baseline for artwork.

When Walter Gropius held a grand declaration that the Bauhaus had embraced all sorts of visual arts from architecture to industrial design, there was no theatre was not included among the manifesto and program of the State Bauhaus in Weimer. The “Bauhaus Theater of Human Dolls” is simply a reflection of how the theatre had included all sorts of artists, such as sculptors, architects, painters, sculptors, among other crafts, which reflects an amorphous human body[4]. In this theatre, the amorphous human body in the form of dolls were used to experiment the activities on theatre, with significant number of parties and other festivities. Bauhaus, thus, recreated human body in both literal and symbolic sense in the form of dolls, with a lot of simplistic design that lacked human face. Bauhaus dolls were represented in various forms, and literally lacked direct differentiation from various forms. For example, the dolls were made with no clear intention of making clear gender difference, with a lot of abstraction of both individual and group objects. That is, the objects were literally difficult to separate. For example, in certain instances, the dress codes for men and women were somewhat similar, with some female-like dolls having features only synonymous with males in reality.

The relationship between audience and performers could be described as showing signs of empathy and estrangement, with both sides encouraging the other side to reciprocate each gesture expressed in the midst of performance. This kind of relationship was expressed in the Weimer Republic, where the connections between gender and mass culture gave rise to mass spectators. Juliet Koss therefore observes that human form was disfigured by the theatre producers in order to idolize human figure. In essence, the human factor in the theatre was tampered with artificial representation of persons in the act. This contradictory sense may be interpreted to mean that the persons in charge wanted to create human face, and at the same time focused on the distorting the humanity in the theatre so as to make a sense of comfort[5]. In the presentation, Koss observes that the figures of humans on stage looked similar in virtually everything except colour. In the presentation of human face, the people intended to focus on giving exact human face resorted to create the artificial costumes that would deviate from the reality to a set of imagination.

Clearly, human figure was represented both on stage and photographs in a manner that would reflect the history of artworks in the United States. From this historical perspective, the human face had been distorted to give something different- that which would create a sense of entertainment, while still keeping up the human sense. However, what is apparent is the fact that all these alterations in theatre were focused on the need to give a representation of politics of resistance that questions the logic behind certain events in the political, cultural and social environment. According to Koss, the use of art to represent politics in the aesthetic form is normally easy to comprehend and accept.  For instance, this notion is entrenched in the manner in which choreography is presented is a clear indication that the producers mainly targeted spectators with the ‘return to order’ message[6]. This is a sign of political message that aims at correcting the current system. Significantly, the return to order message is best represented in satires, which gives it the appeal to the audiences. The human dolls are also buried in costumes that look like tuxedos, and masks on their heads. This signifies deafness and aloofness of the then regime, which is a representation of the Bauhaus Republic.  

The identity of Bauhaus was progressively transformed as time went by, and as locations, programs, directorship and teachers changed. According to Kentgens-Craig, the individual institutions in Bauhaus changed, which helps us to understand the parameters that led to the changes[7]. As stated earlier, Walter Gropius changed the school by changing programs and the overall school’s orientation. However, more changes came when Gropius was thrown out of the school’s administration, with Hannes Meyer, and Mies van der Rohe, assuming the directorship of the school respectively.

Hannes Meyer spearheaded the gallery-type apartment houses, while Mies van der Rohe built the Siedlung Torten between 1926 and 1928. The buildings represented the urbanised Bauhaus coupled with its social concepts. Rohe’s Tugendhat house and other model house that was built for the Berlin Building Exposition. These were accomplished under the directorship of the two leaders after Gropius. It is understood that until 1927, Bauhaus had no recognized department of architecture. However, when Rohe took over, he maintained his private office as the head office of Bauhaus.

In matters of times of definition, the period under the two leaders can be defined as the period of transition from traditional to modernism. In this context, modernism is a term used to define period, location, ideas, and formal considerations of architectural designs among other changes. They impressed upon themselves the changes that they initiated. For example, Hannes Meyer described architecture as a collection of all the satisfying necessities of life once the personal stuff has been expunged. In other words, Meyer’s goal was not entrenched in the individual artist’s expression[8]. Rohe, however, was more focused on spiritual and aesthetic concepts of architecture. In all his architectural works, Rohe focused on displaying the buildings as a man’s attempt to represents his surroundings in spatial means. From this perspective, it can be stated that the two directors saw art of building as more than just technical issues, but a problem that involve both economy as well as organization.

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