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Germany, 1919

Bauhaus was founded in Weimar in 1919 as a state-sponsored school of art, architecture, and design. Architect Walter Gropius served as its director until 1928. The school’s curriculum was organized on the principle that the crafts were united with the arts on an equal footing (as they had been in medieval times), on the guild system of workshop training under the tutelage of “masters,” and on the ideas concerning the relationship of art to society developed by the German industrial-design association Deutscher Werkbund, which was greatly influenced by the Arts and Crafts movements in England, Austria, and the Netherlands. The Bauhaus’s utopian aims included raising the quality of everyday life through the production of buildings, design objects, and art works according to an aesthetic of modernity and universality. Lyonel Feininger, Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Oskar Schlemmer were among the first “masters” or teachers at the school. The addition of such artists as László Moholy-Nagy and Josef Albers to the faculty in 1923 and after reinforced a shift away from Expressionism and toward the functional and technology-based aesthetics of Constructivism and De Stijl. The school was forced to relocate to Dessau in 1925. In April 1933, when conditions imposed by the Nazis made continued operation impossible, the faculty decided to close the Bauhaus, and several of its professors, including Albers, Gropius, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, emigrated to the U.S., where they assumed important teaching posts. In 1937 the New Bauhaus opened in Chicago under the direction of Moholy-Nagy.

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