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Entries in Bauhaus (2)


Oskar Schlemmer: A Master of Form  

Oskar Schlemmer - Bauhaus Stairway - 1932 - Oil on canvas - 63 7/8 x 45" (162.3 x 114.3 cm) - Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York (click photo for larger image)Oskar Schlemmer (1888-1943) was a multi-talented German artist who achieved success as a painter, sculptor, choreographer, and designer. He was well-known for his abstract yet precise paintings of the human form as well as for his avant-garde ballet productions.

In 1920, architect Walter Gropius invited Schlemmer to teach at the Bauhaus school in Weimar, where he made significant contributions in numerous departments (sculpture, mural painting, metal work, and life drawing) but truly left his mark in the stage workshop.

Throughout the 1920s Schlemmer was commissioned to paint several murals in both private residences and public spaces, such as the former Bauhaus in Weimar (1923), which the Nazis destroyed in 1930, and the Folkwang Museum in Essen (1928–30), which the Nazis vandalized, dismantled, and removed in 1933. Schlemmer left the Bauhaus in 1929.

The gallery label at MoMA describes this work as follows:

“Bauhaus Stairway depicts the Bauhaus, a school founded in 1919 by architect Walter Gropius, famous for its visionary integration of technology, art, and design. Although Schlemmer made this painting three years after he left his teaching position at the Bauhaus, the works gridded structure, streamlined modular bodies and predominant palette of primary colors capture the schools vibrant design spirit. The carefully choreographed arrangement of the figures and the man en pointe at the top of the stairs reflects Schlemmer’s role as the creator of many important dance and theatrical productions at the Bauhaus. Schlemmer painted this work as Hitler assumed power, shortly before the Nazis closed the Bauhaus for good. He was among many artists persecuted by the Nazis, whose work they deemed ‘degenerate’ and often destroyed.”


The Bauhaus School - Germany, 1919-1933

Walter Gropius, The Bauhaus Building in Dessau, Germany, 1925-26 (click photo for larger image)The Bauhaus School of design was founded in Weimar, Germany in 1919 by Walter Gropius. An internationally influential style--Bauhaus integrated the prevailing Expressionism with the realms of architecture and design. Later led by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the school’s faculty included some of the most significant figures in the art world of the day--such as Lyonel Feininger, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Laszio Moholy-Nagy and Annie Albers. The Bauhaus school was shut down by the Nazis in 1933. A number of Bauhaus artists emigrated to the United States, in the years leading up to World War II. Underlying the Bauhaus aesthetic utopianism, based upon ideals of simplified forms and unadorned functionalism. The Bauhaus artists believed that the machine economy could deliver elegantly designed items for the masses, using techniques and materials used in industrial manufacturing and fabrication. Such materials as steel concrete, chrome and glass were stables of Bauhaus production.

 Lyonel Feininger'Gaberndorf II', oil on canvas, 1924, 39 X 30.5 in. (click photo for larger image)