The birth of Bauhaus
The Staatliches Bauhaus (which literally translates as “building house”) was opened in 1919 by the German architect Walter Gropius.
It came into being during a period of liberal upheaval following Germany’s defeat in the First World War and the establishment of the Weimar Republic, which prompted radical artistic experimentation.
Gropius’ vision was for a school uniting all branches of the arts under one roof, eventually also incorporating architecture.
He sought to “create a new guild of craftsmen, without the class distinctions which raise an arrogant barrier between craftsman and artist”.
The Bauhaus was founded in Weimar, with Gropius joined by the painters Johannes Itten and Lyonel Feininger, and the sculptor Gerhard Marcks.
However, it relied on state support from the Thuringian state government, which created political pressure in conservative circles.
Eventually, the school’s funding was slashed, and in March 1925 the Weimar Bauhaus closed its doors and made for Dessau.
From Dessau to Berlin
Hannes Meyer took over as director from Gropius in February 1928, securing significant architectural commissions in the city, and making the Bauhaus profitable within a year.
However, he proved divisive and controversial in his role, and in 1930 was fired by the Dessau mayor, Fritz Hesse, replaced by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
Hitler eventually gained control of the Dessau city council, forcing the school to relocate once more.
Late in 1932, it opened its third and final school in a disused Berlin factory, where it was able to operate for 10 months.
However, in April 1933, the Gestapo ordered the closure of the Berlin Bauhaus. After negotiating a brief re-opening, Mies and the rest of the staff took the decision to voluntarily – and permanently – close it once more.[…]