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Bauhaus  

Rainer K. Wick

[Bauhaus Berlin; Bauhaus Dessau, Hochschule für Gestaltung; Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar]

German school of art, design and architecture, founded by Walter Gropius. It was active in Weimar from 1919 to 1925, in Dessau from 1925 to 1932 and in Berlin from 1932 to 1933, when it was closed down by the Nazi authorities. The Bauhaus’s name referred to the medieval Bauhütten or masons’ lodges. The school re-established workshop training, as opposed to impractical academic studio education. Its contribution to the development of Functionalism in architecture was widely influential. It exemplified the contemporary desire to form unified academies incorporating art colleges, colleges of arts and crafts and schools of architecture, thus promoting a closer cooperation between the practice of ‘fine’ and ‘applied’ art and architecture. The origins of the school lay in attempts in the 19th and early 20th centuries to re-establish the bond between artistic creativity and manufacturing that had been broken by the Industrial Revolution. According to Walter Gropius in ...

Article

Breuer, Marcel  

Anna Rowland

(Lajos)

(b Pécs, May 21, 1902; d New York, July 1, 1981).

American furniture designer and architect of Hungarian birth. In 1920 he took up a scholarship at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna, but he left almost immediately to find a job in an architect’s office. A few weeks later he enrolled at the Bauhaus at Weimar on the recommendation of the Hungarian architect Fred Forbat (1897–1972). Breuer soon became an outstanding student in the carpentry workshop, which he led in its endeavours to find radically innovative forms for modern furniture. In practice, this meant rejecting traditional forms, which were considered symbolic of bourgeois life. The results of these experiments were initially as idiosyncratic as those of other workshops at Weimar, including the adoption of non-Western forms, for example the African chair (1921; see Rowland, 1990, p. 66) and an aggressively castellated style inspired by Constructivism.

Breuer was impressed by De Stijl, whose founder Theo van Doesburg made his presence felt in Weimar in ...

Article

Gropius, Walter  

Gilbert Herbert

(Adolf Georg)

(b Berlin, May 18, 1883; d Boston, MA, July 5, 1969).

American architect, industrial designer and teacher of German birth. He was one of the most influential figures in the development of the Modern Movement, whose contribution lay as much in his work as theoretician and teacher as it did in his innovative architecture. The important buildings and projects in Gropius’s career—the early factories, the Bauhaus complex at Dessau (1925–6), the Totaltheater project for Berlin, the housing estates and prefabricated dwellings—were all more than immediate answers to specific problems. Rather, they were a series of researches in which he sought prototypical solutions that would offer universal applicability. They were also didactic in purpose—concrete demonstrations, manifestos, of his theories and beliefs. His theories sought to integrate the individual and society, art and industry, form and function and the part with the whole. He left Germany for England in 1934; three years later he emigrated to the USA, where he continued to teach, write and design for the rest of his life....

Article

Moholy-Nagy [Weisz], László  

Terence A. Senter

(b Bácsborsod, Mohol Puszta, Hungary, July 20, 1895; d Chicago, Nov 24, 1946).

American painter, sculptor, photographer, designer, film maker, theorist, and teacher, of Hungarian birth. Moholy-Nagy’s importance in the 20th century is based as much on his theories as on his practical work. His ideologies related to the relationship between space, time, and light, and the interaction of man with these forces. His great achievement was that he applied his mystical outlook to highly practical enterprises and always recognized the purpose behind his creativity.

Moholy-Nagy’s ambition developed when he exchanged village life for the city of Szeged after his father left his family. Academically outstanding, Moholy-Nagy read law for a year at Budapest University before joining the artillery in World War I. Influential praise for his war sketches converted his aspiration from literature to art. His Expressionist style, social conscience, and investigation of light paralleled trends in the Hungarian avant-garde, from ...

Article

Oelze, Richard  

Anita Kühnel

(b Magdeburg, June 29, 1900; d Posteholz, nr Hameln, May 27, 1980).

German painter and draughtsman. He studied at the Bauhaus in Weimar under Johannes Itten (1921–5). His early work was influenced by Constructivism, but Oelze was soon impressed by Neue Sachlichkeit, with which he became familiar while living in Dresden (1926–9). At this time he also became acquainted with Otto Dix and his work. His pictures from the late 1920s, for example Still-life with White Plate and Coloured Balls (oil on panel, 1928–9; Berne, priv. col.), show a clear concreteness and strong composition and reflect the trance-like state found in works of Magic Realism. During this period he also visited the Bauhaus in Dessau for several months. On a trip to Ascona in 1929 he saw reproductions of the works of Max Ernst and Hans Arp for the first time. In 1933 he moved to Paris, where he remained until 1936 and made contact with the Surrealists. By the 1930s dreams and premonitions were becoming themes in his work, and his paintings increasingly featured dream-creatures, combinations of animal and plant, plant and human, human and animal. In the painting ...

Article

Wagenfeld, Wilhelm  

Freya Probst

(b Bremen, April 15, 1900; d Stuttgart, May 28, 1990).

German industrial designer and printmaker. He began his artistic training as an apprentice in the design office of a Bremen silverware factory (1914–18) and attended lessons in script and drawing at the local Kunstgewerbeschule (1916–19). A grant enabled him to continue his studies at the famous Zeichenakademie in Hanau (1919–22), where he received a varied training including silversmithing, engraving, design and modelling. The graphic works that he produced in 1920–23 were probably made during a short stay in Bremen and at the Worpswede artists’ colony; they are mostly woodcuts and engravings with religious themes, for example Death and the Virgin (woodcut, 1921; Bremen, Focke-Mus.), motifs from everyday life and the world of work. These are mostly in a brittle style, expressing themes of destruction, hunger, pain, suffering and death. By 1923 the themes became more optimistic and were depicted with a soft voluminosity.

In ...