By Heidi Trautmann
Under the auspices of the German Embassy in Nicosia the Cypriot German Cultural Association in cooperation with the Cypriot Turkish-German Association took the occasion to invite interested circles to a lecture by Mrs Marlis Grönwald on the history of the Bauhaus on October 23,. The lecture took place at a newly and most beautifully renovated old mill in Kaymakli, a suburb of Nicosia South, a former rich village still retaining the old Turkish name. The building renovated by UN and EU means is today a cultural centre by the name of Miloi, meaning mill. There is still some old milling equipment to be seen. The building is also used for exhibitions
Prior to the lecture, the Heads of both the associations spoke to the audience about their aim to support German and Cypriot relations and understanding and exchange of culture.
In a well prepared lecture Mrs Grönwald explained the background history of the Bauhaus and also talked about the exhibition in Weimar from whence she had brought some slides. I will here try to give my readers the basic idea of the Bauhaus movement. There is plenty more to be found in the internet.
Founded by its first director, Walter Gropius, in April 1919, the Bauhaus remained in the city of the classics until the end of March 1925. In the face of restrictive politics, it moved to Dessau and later to Berlin, where National Socialist pressure caused the school’s closure in 1933.
During the few years of its existence, the Bauhaus became the most significant and influential school of design of the 20th century. The world of design developed at the Bauhaus influences art and everyday life, design and architecture in multifarious ways up to the present day. Many Bauhaus objects belong to the classics of 20th century design and were already developed during the Weimar phase of the Bauhaus, between 1919 and 1925.The central purpose of the anniversary exhibition was to show Weimar as a laboratory in which plans were made for what was realised in the following Bauhaus locations in Dessau and Berlin, and ultimately enjoyed world-wide acceptance.
The Bauhaus aimed at developing a clear plain language of design corresponding to the functionalism of the object.
The Bauhaus Manifesto
1919 - Avant Garde
The final goal of any plastic activity is the building! To decorate it was once the most noble task of the plastic arts; they belonged intimately to the component parts of the great art of architecture. Today, they delight in an autonomy that may, again, lead to a collaboration among al creative artists.
Architects, painters, and sculptors must relearn to known and understand the complex form of the construction as a whole and in its element: Then their works will be filled again with the architectonic spirit that they lost in the art of the drawing room.
The old art schools could not achieve this unity, and, anyway, how could they have done it--art being unteachable. They must turn again to workshops. The universe of model draftsmen and of those who work in the applied arts, a universe where one limits oneself to drawing and painting, must finally rediscover the universe of building. When the young man who feels the call for plastic creativity first learns a trade, as in the old days, then the unproductive artist will no longer be doomed to unfinished works, for he will have a trade, a capacity to excel in something.
Architects, sculptors, painters, all of us, we must return to manual work! For there is no "professional art." There is no basic difference between the artist and the artisan. The artist is just an elevated version of the artisan. Thank heaven, during rare moments of light that are beyond his control, art flourishes unconsciously from the work of his hands, but the knowledge of the basics of his work is indispensable to any artist. It is the source of all creative production.
Let us therefore form a new union of artisans, free of the arrogance that led to a separation of classes and built a wall of arrogance between artisans and artists! Let's have the will to do it, let's conceive and achieve together the construction of a future that will unite everything: architecture, sculpture, and painting in a single formation, and that one day will rise toward heaven, the shining symbol of a new faith.
Walter Gropius, The Bauhaus Manifesto [An Exerpt From: Ferrier, Jean-Louis, Director and Yann le Pichon, Walter D. Glanze [English Translation]. Art of Our Century, The Chronicle of Western Art, 1900 to the Present. New York: Prentice-Hall Editions. 1988. p. 191]
Bauhaus, German school of architecture and design that had inestimable influence on modern architecture, the industrial and graphic arts, and theatre design. It was founded in Weimar in 1919 by the architect Walter Gropius as an amalgamation of the Weimar Academy of Fine Arts and the Weimar School of Arts and Crafts. The principles of the Bauhaus, based on those of the 19th-century English craftsman and writer William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement, were that art should meet the needs of society and that no distinction should be made between fine arts and practical crafts. They also depended on the more forward-looking principles that modern art and architecture must be responsive to the needs and influences of the modern industrial world and that good design must be both aesthetically pleasing and technically sound. Thus, classes were offered in crafts, typography, and commercial and industrial design, as well as in sculpture, painting, and architecture.
The Bauhaus style, also known as the International Style, was marked by the absence of ornament and ostentatious façades and by harmony between function and the artistic and technical means of manufacture.
In 1925 the Bauhaus was moved into a group of starkly rectangular glass and concrete buildings in Dessau especially designed for it by Gropius. In Dessau the Bauhaus style became more strictly functional, with greater emphasis on showing the beauty and suitability of basic, unadorned materials. Other outstanding architects and artists on the staff of the Bauhaus included the Swiss painter Paul Klee, the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, the Hungarian painter and designer László Moholy-Nagy (who founded the Chicago Institute of Design on the principles of the Bauhaus), the American painter Lyonel Feininger, and the German painter Oskar Schlemmer.
In 1930 the Bauhaus came under the direction of the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who moved it to Berlin in 1932. By 1933, when the school was closed by the Nazis, its principles and work were known worldwide. Many of its staff members emigrated to the United States, where the teachings of the Bauhaus came to dominate art and architecture for decades and strongly contributed to the architectural style known as International Style. In 1996, Bauhaus buildings in Weimar and Dessau were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Today, the Bauhaus University in Weimar, built by Henry van de Velde between 1904 and 1911, has about 6000 students for the faculties of Architecture, Civil Engineering, Art and Design and Media.