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Itten, Johannes  

Anna Rowland

(b Südern-Linden, Nov 11, 1888; d Zurich, May 25, 1967).

Swiss painter, textile designer, teacher, writer and theorist. He trained first as a primary school teacher in Berne (1904–6), where he became familiar with progressive educational and psychoanalytical ideas. He was, however, interested in art and music, and in 1909 he decided to become a painter. He enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Geneva but was so disappointed that he returned to teacher training in Berne. He read widely and developed an interest in religion and mystic philosophy. After qualifying he returned to Geneva and greatly enjoyed the course on the geometric elements of art run by the Swiss painter Eugène Gilliard (1861–1921). After travelling in Europe, in 1913 Itten went to Stuttgart to study at the academy of Adolf Hölzel, a pioneer of abstraction who was also convinced of the importance of automatism in art. Greatly impressed, Itten absorbed his teaching on colour and contrast and his analyses of Old Masters paintings. Encouraged by Hölzel, he made abstract collages incorporating torn paper and cloth....


Stölzl, Gunta  

Karsten Hintz

(b Munich, March 5, 1897; d Zurich, April 22, 1983).

German weaver and teacher. She studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Munich (1914–16) and completed her training at the Bauhaus in Weimar (1919–23), where she attended courses given by Johannes Itten and Paul Klee. Her early pictorial tapestries and knotted carpets have rhythms created by contrasts of form and of light and dark, which clearly show Itten’s influence. From 1923 she produced abstract works, especially wall hangings and blankets, which in their bold patterning and colour reflect Klee’s lessons on form. In 1925 Stölzl was appointed craft master in the weaving workshop at the Bauhaus in Dessau. She directed the students’ practical and theoretical instruction and worked out a systematic method of training. From 1927 until she resigned in 1931 she was technical and artistic director of the workshop, the only female master. During this period she managed to free weaving from its craft status, applying to it the vocabulary of form and colour used in modern art. She also moved weaving in the direction of industrial design and experimented with such materials as cellophane. Although designing for industry, Stölzl did not renounce weaving as a form of free artistic expression. An excellent example of this is ...