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Bauhaus in Weimar
Begun in Weimar, the Bauhaus movement's futuristic design, "form from function" mentality, and revolutionary spirit has inspired artists worldwide.
Founded in 1919 by architect Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus movement had roots in the past but was also unabashedly modern. Based on the principles of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement, Bauhaus promoted the idea of creation as a service to society, holding practical objects such as a chair, teapot, or lamp to the same high standards as true works of art. Its style was art deco but less ornate, machine-age but not industrial, its goal to put both spaces and materials to their most natural and economical uses. Although the Bauhaus school was shut down by the Nazis in the early 1930s, many former Bauhaus students left Germany and went to work in other parts of the world. Today, their influence can even be seen as far away as Tel Aviv, where Jewish architects fleeing Europe came to build their vision of a modern city.
Bauhaus in Dessau
If you have an extra day, take the train to Dessau, Bauhaus's second city, to see the iconic Bauhaus Building, adorned on one side with vertical block lettering spelling out "Bauhaus." Still an architecture school, it now houses the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, and a multilevel Bauhaus Museum. You can even stay in the monastic Bauhaus studio flats here.
A Bauhaus Walk in Weimar
Start with the Bauhaus Museum in Weimar's central Theaterplatz, which offers a film about the history of Bauhaus and rotating exhibitions covering much of what there is to see in Weimar. Head south along Schützengasse and continue down Amalienstrasse to catch a glimpse of the Henry van de Velde-designed main building of Bauhaus University (Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse 8 03643/580 www.uni-weimar.de), formerly the Grand Ducal School of Arts and Crafts. A faithful reconstruction of Gropius's office can be found here as well. The Bauhaus Atelier (Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse 6a 03643/583-000) at the university is a central meeting place for students. It contains a café and shop offering books about the movement as well as Bauhaus-designed souvenirs, and also marks the starting point for university-run Bauhaus walks. Head just south for the Gropius-designed Monument to the March Dead in Weimar's Historischer Friedhof (Historical Cemetery). This jagged expressionist structure, built in 1921, commemorates those who died in the Kapp Putsch, an attempt to overthrow the Weimar Republic a year earlier. Follow the signs for Goethes Gartenhaus (perhaps the most visited historical structure in Weimar) through the Park on the Ilm, and look just beyond it for the Haus am Horn (Am Horn 61 03643/904-056). This modest, cubical structure designed by Georg Muche for the 1923 Bauhaus exhibition was meant to be a model of Bauhaus's functional philosophy. It was fully restored in 1999 to mark the 80 anniversary of the founding of Bauhaus.
According to the standards of Bauhaus, good design should be accompanied by good engineering. That's why so many Bauhaus buildings still look so strikingly modern and even industrial, though they may have been designed as early as the 1920s. To spot Bauhaus or Bauhaus influence anywhere in the world, look for unadorned, boxlike structures with repeating parallel lines, flat roofs, and rectangular windowpanes. Furniture and household objects are characterized by strong lines and retro-futuristic shapes, as well as the abundant use of metals. Bauhaus designers were also instrumental in creating The New Typography, of which the sign on the Bauhaus Building in Dessau is a prime example: look for clear, boxy typefaces, often combined collagelike with photographs and colorful graphics and shapes to create bold messages.
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