How Much Bauhaus Do We Care To Remember?

More than you might think.

Courtesy of the publisher

When we look back at cultural movements, we often explain them as “reactions.” It’s a framework that allows us to divide the chaos of history into neat, orderly sections and provide rationales for what is not easy to decipher. Most frequently, the reactions we speak of arise in relation to phenomena like economics, politics, or global disasters: struggles so troubling and destabilizing that the artistic and cultural expression that follows ends up embodying their polar opposite.

In 1915—early on in WWI, in an austere and imperial Europe—a German architect named Walter Gropius was stationed in Muasson, France, when he started daydreaming about what a better, freer future might look like. He imagined a creative playground of sorts, where artisans, architects, sculptors, painters, textile designers, and other object-makers would design cohesive spaces—Gesamtkunstwerks—that prioritized aesthetics and functionality in equal measure. It was a progressive, almost utopian concept; an idea of a world ma…

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