Bauhaus was a revolutionary school of art, architecture and design established by the pioneer modern architect Walter Gropius at Weimar in Germany in 1919, includes artists Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky

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  • Wassily Kandinsky, 'Swinging' 1925
    Wassily Kandinsky
    Swinging 1925
    Oil on board
    support: 705 x 502 mm
    frame: 954 x 750 x 80 mm
    Purchased 1979© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2002
  • Paul Klee, 'Comedy' 1921
    Paul Klee
    Comedy 1921
    Watercolour and oil on paper
    support: 305 x 454 mm
    Purchased 1946© DACS, 2002
  • László Moholy-Nagy, 'K VII' 1922
    László Moholy-Nagy
    K VII 1922
    Oil on canvas
    support: 1153 x 1359 mm
    frame: 1308 x 1512 x 80 mm
    Purchased 1961© DACS, 2002
  • Iwao Yamawaki, 'Untitled (Composition with eggs and string, Bauhaus)' 1930-2
    Iwao Yamawaki
    Untitled (Composition with eggs and string, Bauhaus) 1930-2
    Gelatin silver print on paper
    support & image: 112 x 80 mm
    Purchased with funds provided by the Asia Pacific Acquisitions Committee 2010

Introduction to Bauhaus

The Bauhaus teaching method replaced the traditional pupil-teacher relationship with the idea of a community of artists working together. Its aim was to bring art back into contact with everyday life, and design was therefore given as much weight as fine art. The name is a combination of the German words for building (bau) and house (haus) and may have been intended to evoke the idea of a guild or fraternity working to build a new society. Teachers included Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy and Josef Albers.

The Bauhaus moved from Weimar to Dessau in 1925–6 where Gropius created a new building for the school. In 1932 it moved to Berlin where it was closed in 1933 by the Nazis.

Its influence was immense, especially in the USA where Moholy-Nagy opened the New Bauhaus in Chicago in 1937. In 1933 Albers took its methods to Black Mountain College in North Carolina and in 1950 to Yale University.

The New Bauhaus

Josef Albers, 'Homage to the Square: Study for Nocturne' 1951
Josef Albers
Homage to the Square: Study for Nocturne 1951
© The Joseph and Annie Albers Foundation/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn and DACS, London, 2006
György Kepes, 'Compass and Strainer Photogram' n.d.
György Kepes
Compass and Strainer Photogram n.d.
Anni Albers, 'TR III' 1969-70
Anni Albers
TR III 1969-70
© Estate of Anni Albers; ARS, NY & DACS, 2002

László Moholy-Nagy left Europe in 1937, after an invitation to begin a new school of art and design in Chicago. The school was first called The New Bauhaus and was later renamed as the Institute of Design. A strong series of departments emerged, aiming to train ‘the perfect designer’, and perhaps the most important of these was the photography department that thrived under the direction of Harry Callahan.

Bringing certain principles from the original Bauhaus, this new movement continued to see the camera and photography as a medium distinct from others, and turned its gaze onto the growing cityscapes of America, capturing and using its architecture as a structural device.

Related glossary terms

Black mountain college, the New Vision, industrial design, white cube, abstract art