Image credit Erich Consemüller, Lis Beyer or Ise Gropius in B3 club chair by Marcel Breuer wearing a mask by Oskar Schlemmer and a dress fabric designed by
Lis Beyer, c. 1927 Herzogenrath, Berlin. On long-term loan to Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Bestand Museen © Estate
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| Published ||May 5, 2012 at 05:16pm|
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Bauhaus: Art as Life
Barbican Centre, Mixed-media, London, United-Kingdom
Thursday May 3, 2012 - Sunday August 19, 2012 - Event ended.
The biggest Bauhaus exhibition in the UK in over 40 years presents the modern world’s most famous art school. From expressionist beginnings to a pioneering model uniting art and technology, this London exhibition presents the Bauhaus’ utopian vision to change society in the aftermath of the First World War. Bauhaus: Art as Life explores the diverse artistic production that made up its turbulent fourteen-year history and delves into the subjects at the heart of the school: art, culture, life, politics and society, and the changing technology of the age.
Bauhaus: Art as Life will feature a rich array of painting, sculpture, design, architecture, film, photography, textiles, ceramics, theatre and installation. Exemplar works from such Bauhaus Masters as Josef and Anni Albers, Marianne Brandt, Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius, Johannes Itten, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Hannes Meyer, László Moholy-Nagy, Oskar Schlemmer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Gunta Stölzl, will be presented alongside works by lesser-known Bauhaus artists and students.
The Bauhaus: Art as Life public programme also brings to London a host of workshops, talks, films and performances as well as a major Creative Learning initiative for the Bauhaus exhibition, the Art School Lab, an intensive two-week summer school held at the Barbican and led by leading practitioners from all artistic backgrounds.
A Barbican Art Gallery exhibition in co-operation with Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / Museum für Gestaltung, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau and Klassik Stiftung Weimar.
Exploring the world’s most famous modern art and design school, Bauhaus: Art as Life is the biggest Bauhaus survey staged in the UK in over 40 years. From its avant-garde arts and crafts beginnings, the Bauhaus shifted towards a more radical model of learning uniting art and technology. A driving force in the development of Modernism, it sought to change society in the aftermath of World War I, to find a new way of living. This major Barbican Art Gallery exhibition presents the pioneering artistic production that makes up the school’s turbulent fourteen-year history from 1919 to 1933 and delves into the subjects at the heart of the Bauhaus – art, design, people, society and culture.
Bringing together more than 400 works, the exhibition features a rich array of painting, sculpture, architecture, film, photography, furniture, graphics, product design, textiles, ceramics and theatre by Bauhaus masters including Josef Albers, Herbert Bayer, Marcel Breuer, Lyonel Feininger, Walter Gropius, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Hannes Meyer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, László Moholy-Nagy, Oskar Schlemmer, Joost Schmidt, Gunta Stölzl as well as students such as Anni Albers, Marianne Brandt, T. Lux Feininger, Kurt Kranz, Xanti Schawinsky and Alma Buscher.
A creative revolution
Can you imagine a different way of life in the future? How do you want things to go? What do you want to make happen?
We live in a time of great transformation and uncertainty. Right now a revolution in education is gathering force. Public cultural institutions are placing learning events on an equal platform to the arts and the objects they show, lead educators are calling more loudly for creative teaching methods and innovations in digital technology are giving us new ways to educate ourselves.
This is in response to dramatic changes taking place in technology, economics, politics and the environment. Each of us has a role in responding to the challenges that these changes bring. Our creativity is the most powerful resource we’ve got.
Learning creatively – throughout our life, not just at school, university or work – sparks our ideas and develops our skills for helping to shape the future. If you think the world is perfect already, stop reading now. If not, are you ready to be part of a creative revolution?
To learn creatively is to actively draw lessons from the culture that’s around us. It is to be critically aware of the stories that are being told in the arts and in the media. It is also to be self-directed in what we learn – not to be told what to think or do, but to learn for ourselves by questioning assumptions and creating new things. To adapt to the changing world, there are ideas we’ll need to ‘unlearn’ – things we might have been taught that could be outdated, too rigid, or comfortable but stuck. Unlearning is an art-school skill designed to help us experience the world afresh.
It complements expertise and mastery and is against learning by heart. To unlearn involves reimagining things as if starting from the beginning, to strip away influences and habits of mind, then to experience things in the present, reflect on how they are and imagine how they could be different. Imagination isn’t confined to children, artists or visionaries. We can each be rich in imagination and take responsibility for how we interpret the past and shape the present. Those who drive change do it by imagining and believing in an alternative future reality. Walter Gropius (1883 – 1969), founder of the Bauhaus School in 1919, had a vision for how the arts – painting, sculpture, design, theatre, weaving, architecture – should work together to improve the way we all live.
In Europe at that time, high art was considered separate from everyday life, and largely reserved for the rich. Industry and capitalism were taking over from craftsmanship and manual skill.
Gropius believed that to change things, creative workers needed to learn in a new way. He was active in the education debates of his day and was influenced by the English artist and activist William Morris (1834 – 96), whose idea that the arts could significantly improve people’s experience of life is still influential today. When thinking about combining crafts and artistry, Morris looked back to the mediaeval guild system, where craftsmen worked together on improving their skills and joint creative production. The past is not better than the present, but recognising what’s changed, and why, can sometimes help us to imagine a better future. This is long term thinking, which propels revolutionary ideas.
The Bauhaus and its creative education methods teach us that we need to be highly aware of our present environment and circumstances before we can improve them. To continually renew our understanding of the present, we must keep unlearning the old ideas that we no longer need.
We can do this by asking questions about the deep assumptions lying beneath our beliefs and actions. We can do this through play, experiment and gathering experience for ourselves, without following a predetermined plan. Learning creatively in these ways is not traditional education, where knowledge is learned by rote.
It is a continuous form of learning that we can do for ourselves – alone or with others – and we can do it all our life.