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Left to right: Gertrud Arndt Wall painting workshop, Bauhaus Dessau 1930, gelatin silver photograph, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Marcel Breuer Club chair (B3) 1925/c1928-29, Collection Alexander von Vegesack. Wilhelm Wagenfeld and Carl Jakob Jucker Table lamp [ME 1] 1924, Die Neue Sammlung – The International Design Museum Munich


The Bauhaus (1919–33) is widely considered as the most important school of art and design of the 20th century. Founded by the German architect Walter Gropius in the provincial town of Weimar – also the centre of the new republican government – the Bauhaus quickly established its reputation as the leading and most progressive centre of the international avant-garde. Gropius sought to do away with traditional distinctions between the fine arts and craft, and to forge an entirely new kind of creative designer, skilled in both the conceptual aesthetics of art and the technical skills of handcrafts. Students were assigned to a workshop – in metals, ceramics, textiles, wood, printmaking or wall painting – where they progressed from apprentice, to journeyman, to master craftsman. Key examples of the Bauhaus and its approaches are presented here.

From the outset, the school was considered to be both politically and artistically radical. In 1925, authorities forced the school to close in Weimar because of its perceived cultural bolshevism. The Bauhaus relocated to the industrial city of Dessau and in 1928 the architect Hannes Meyer took over as director. Growing political pressure forced the Bauhaus to move again, this time to Berlin in 1932. The Nazis closed the Bauhaus permanently in 1933 after police raided what had essentially become a school of architecture under the direction of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.