The Bauhaus was a design school established in Germany from 1919 to 1933. It was founded by the architect Walter Gropius and based on the idea of architecture as the link between arts and crafts. The mission of the Bauhaus was to reject the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement in favor of design for machine production to produce functional yet attractive objects for broad society rather than for wealthy individuals. However, the school did link art and design in their studio-workshops to allow experimentation in adopting crafted prototypes to industrial design.
Although the workshops were crucial to the organization of the school, the importance of the preliminary course was evident. Taught by luminaries including Johannes Itten, Josef Albers, and László Moholy-Nagy, the course prepared students for the more specialized workshops. Here students were taught both by artists as form givers and by craftspeople skilled in techniques.
The school was beset by political wrangling and in its later years it saw various changes of staff and leadership. The rise to power of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party led to withdrawal of funding and hostility toward the school and its teaching practices, culminating in its closure in 1933. However, the school had wide-ranging influence in design and pedagogy. The New Bauhaus (later renamed the Institute of Design) was established in Chicago in 1937, and Walter Gropius was appointed chairman of the Harvard School of Architecture in the same year. In 1938 Mies van der Rohe moved to Chicago to head the Department of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
During its existence the Bauhaus produced publications. Fourteen Bauhaus books (Die Bauhausbücher), edited by Walter Gropius and László Moholy-Nagy, were published between 1925 and 1930. These demonstrated many of the ideas and concepts of the school in relation to artistic creation and contemporary theories of art in the form of completed monographs. After the dissolution of the school, their ideas were soon spread. An early example is Gropius’s The New Architecture and the Bauhaus. Published in London by Faber and Faber in 1933, it was translated by English journalist and architecture critic Philip Morton Shand, with an introduction by the prominent proponent of modernism, Frank Pick. While the book explains Gropius’s ideas about architecture and education, its interest also lies in its translation into English at this time as a reflection of English attitudes to Modernism. In 1938 Daphne M. Hoffman translated László Moholy-Nagy’s The New Vision: Fundamentals of Bauhaus Design, Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture for the American audience.
A landmark exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York in 1938 in which nearly 700 examples of the school’s work in textile, glass, wood, canvas, metal, and paper were displayed, also had an important catalogue published. This was written by Herbert Bayer, Walter Gropius, and Ise Gropius and simply titled Bauhaus, 1919–1928 (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1938). It is a valuable document, not only for Bauhaus history, but also as an indicator of the reception of Bauhaus ideas in America.
After the Second World War, interest in the Bauhaus gradually grew and by the 1960s, exhibitions and publications multiplied. By 2019 a Google search produced over 50 million links to “Bauhaus,” 2.5 million links to “Walter Gropius”; while the OCLC World Catalogue of books listed nearly 15,000 titles including the term “Bauhaus.”
This vast bibliography of the Bauhaus makes any attempt at even partial completeness futile, so this bibliography offers a selected and annotated collection of a wide range of works on the Bauhaus under various headings. Although this bibliography concentrates on English language publications, a serious attempt at a more comprehensive bibliography, with more than 4,000 titles, was made to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Bauhaus. It was published as Bauhaus-ideen 1919–1994: Bibliografie Und Beiträge Zur Rezeption Des Bauhausgedankens in 1994.
For historians, primary sources are invaluable and the Bauhaus-Archiv/Museum Für Gestaltung (Bauhaus Archive and Museum), Berlin (1960–) and the Bauhaus Dessau Archiv (1976–) are crucial for really in-depth research.
More accessible are the publications by staff members that explore the teaching and productions of the Bauhaus. Eckhard Neumann’s edited collection titled, Bauhaus and Bauhaus People: Personal Opinions and Recollections of Former Bauhaus Members and Their Contemporaries (1993), has over fifty entries of commentary and short essays by staff and students of the Bauhaus. These include Walter Gropius, Ferdinand Kramer, Sigfried Giedion, Tut Schlemmer, and Max Bill. A similar publication is Frank Whitford’s The Bauhaus: Masters & Students by Themselves (1992).
The weaver and textile designer Anni Albers’s book On Weaving (1965, 2017) makes the connection between handcrafts and the machine-made textiles and the importance of coexistence of hand work with the machine. Her partner Josef Albers was also important in publishing Bauhaus ideas of pedagogy. His Interaction of Color (1963) was developed as a teaching aid to help explain complex color theory and principles.
Johannes Itten, who ran the foundation course (Vorkurs) between 1919 and 1923, published Design and Form: The Basic Course at the Bauhaus (1964), which was a survey of the basic design course he developed. The chapter titles—“Chiaroscuro,” “Theory of Colors, Materials and Texture Studies,” “Theory and Practice of Form, Rhythm, Expressive Forms, Subjective forms”—give an indication of the nature of Itten’s teaching approach.
In 1926, the painter Wassily Kandinsky published his Point and Line to Plane (1969), an exploration of the interaction of nature, art, and human beings. Starting with the concept of a point, Kandinsky considers it first theoretically, then in an artistic situation, and lastly in natural contexts. He then moves to the idea of a line being derived from a moving point to create compositions. This theoretical approach that employs geometrical, physical, aesthetic, and spiritual concepts is a composite text that helps to explain non-objective painting and thus its influence in the Bauhaus.
Paul Klee’s ten years of teaching visual form at the Bauhaus resulted in extensive handwritten notes for lectures. These were later collated and edited by Walter Gropius, in a volume designed by László Moholy-Nagy and published in 1925 as a Bauhaus student manual (Bauhausbucher No.2, Pädagogisches Skizzenbuch).
The work was later translated into English and introduced by Sibyl Moholy-Nagy in 1953.
The Bauhaus artist László Moholy-Nagy’s thoughts on the interrelationship of type, audio, and visual perception are explored in Painting, Photography, Film (1925–7) published in 1969. The book presents his innovative Rayographs (photographs made without a camera) and other works including creative X-rays, super-wide-angle fisheye pictures, double prints, collages, and montages. Moholy-Nagy’s work The New Vision (see also above) discusses the basic Bauhaus principle of merging the theory and practice of design. It is organized in four sections: first the issue of “technical civilization,” secondly, considerations of time and materials (surface treatments, painting), then volumes (sculpture), and finally spaces (architecture). In later reprints, references to the Chicago New Bauhaus are of interest.
A number of students have written about their own Bauhaus experiences, with two accounts being particularly useful. Howard Dearstyne’s Inside the Bauhaus (1986) is an account of the life and education experiences at the Bauhaus. Dearstyne was an American who studied at the Bauhaus, and he wrote about his own experiences as well as using other contemporary sources to consider the teaching and workshop practices of the school.
Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack was another student at the Bauhaus in Weimar, where he was one of the first to make the transition to master. His publication The Bauhaus: An Introductory Survey (1963) has a foreword by Walter Gropius and an epilogue by British art critic and historian Herbert Read. Mack was important in bringing a Modernist aesthetic to Australia.
Still considered one of the best sources for an overview of the school, the staff, students, and works is Hans Wingler’s The Bauhaus: Weimar, Dessau, Berlin, Chicago. First published in 1969, it is an illustrated volume of over 600 pages that charts the story of the Bauhaus from Weimar to Chicago. Its importance is in the use of primary documents, including manifestos, letters, memos and minutes, articles, government documents, and curricula, among others. In 1960 Wingler founded the Bauhaus Archive/Museum of Design, and was its director until his death.
A useful reevaluation of the Bauhaus titled, The Bauhaus Reassessed: Sources and Design Theory, was written by British design historian Gillian Naylor in 1985. Naylor had previously published a short work on the history of the Bauhaus in 1968.
On a more ambitious scale is Jeannine Fiedler and Peter Feierabend’s edited volume simply called Bauhaus (1999). It is a large tome with numerous essay contributions from thirty-two Bauhaus scholars. Their essays look at themes including Foundation and Consequences, Daily Life, Personalities, Preparatory Teaching, Workshops, and Theory. These are followed by a useful set of documentations and a bibliography. A particularly valuable part of the book is the collection of black and white and color photographs used to illustrate it.
The ninetieth anniversary of the Bauhaus in 2009 saw a number of new publications. Barry Bergdoll and Leah Dickerman’s edited Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity (2009) is a catalogue of the American version of an exhibition co-organized by the MoMA in New York and major German Bauhaus collections. The museum’s first exhibition devoted to the Bauhaus since 1938 intended to strip the Bauhaus of all myths and ideologies and present it “objectively” as an art school. The book features essays on the architecture and building curricula of the school and its influences, and on the social and political thinking involved in the school, as well as over 400 plates illustrating objects in the exhibition, with brief articles by experts on individual pieces or types.
Secondly, Nicholas Fox Weber’s The Bauhaus Group: Six Masters of Modernism (2009) engages with six well-known Bauhaus members—Gropius, Klee, Kandinsky, Anni Albers, Josef Albers, and Mies van der Rohe. Based on memoirs, it discusses the personalities behind the names and tends toward the flattering and hagiographic. It is no surprise to find the book is particularly strong on Josef and Anni Albers, as the author knew them personally, and was the director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.
This group of ninetieth year celebrations also includes Philipp Oswalt’s edited collection Bauhaus Conflicts, 1919–2009: Controversies and Counterparts (2009), which considers the various political and cultural controversies that surrounded the Bauhaus through its life and beyond. From attacks from the right to critiques from the left, postwar attitudes to the Bauhaus in East and West Germany, from the Bauhaus as a Cold War weapon to discussion around Tom Wolfe’s From Bauhaus to Our House, the book helps to reveal the multiple nature of and responses to Bauhaus ideas and ideologies.
Elisabeth Reissinger and Michael Siebenbrodt’s Bauhaus Weimar: Designs for the Future (2001) is worth singling out as it discusses the particular achievements of the Weimar Bauhaus only, reminding readers that the Bauhaus was not a singular idea but was both pluralistic and developmental.
Workshops were the life blood of the Bauhaus and as such usually receive attention in varying degrees in all survey books. Specific works on particular workshops and practices have also been published. Mention has already been made of the work of Anni Albers and the weaving workshops. Sigrid Weltge-Wortmann’s Bauhaus Textiles: Women Artists and the Weaving Workshop (1998) addresses the textile workshop as not only a location for practice and production, but also a gendered space that raised question of equality and identity.
T’ai L. Smith’s Bauhaus Weaving Theory: From Feminine Craft to Mode of Design (2014) considers the writings of Bauhaus weavers Anni Albers, Gunta Stözl, and Otti Berger. Smith argues that through their writing these women challenged the idea that crafts are only manual and technical processes; rather they can make important contributions to knowledge by crossing disciplinary boundaries.
An important but sometimes neglected aspect of the Bauhaus is the role of stage and dance in the school. Originally published in German in 1924, Die Bühne im Bauhaus was translated into English and published with an introduction by Walter Gropius as The Theater of the Bauhaus (1961). The volume is based on a collection of essays by Oskar Schlemmer, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Farkas Molnár that promote the concept of “total theater.” Addressing subjects including costume design, stage set planning and lighting, and overall theater architecture, this is a fascinating set of primary essays.
In a slightly different vein, Torsten Blume’s Dance the Bauhaus (2015) produced in conjunction with the exhibition “Dance the Bauhaus: The Stage as Spatial Apparatus” (September 2015–January 2016) raises questions of form and space but in the dance medium. With titles such as Form Dance, Glass Dance, Metal Dance, Stick Dance, and Space Dance, the experimental nature of Bauhaus dance is obvious.
Ellen Lupton and J. A. Miller’s The ABC’s of ▲ ■ ●: The Bauhaus and Design Theory (1993) is a small, visually exciting publication that was first published in the United States in 1991 to accompany the exhibition, “The ABCs of ▲ ■ ●: The Bauhaus and Design Theory from Preschool to Post-Modernism.” With a selection of topics based on the preliminary design course at the Bauhaus, ranging from a “visual dictionary” via “the typography of Herbert Bayer” to “fractal geometry,” the book is a visual feast that considers complex theories in an accessible manner.
Another area of Bauhaus practice that has been revived is that of photography. Jeannine Fiedler’s edited work Photography at the Bauhaus (1990) addresses this field of work. This catalogue, issued in conjunction with the exhibition “Photography at the Bauhaus,” features essays on a wide range of photographic practice in the Bauhaus including discussion of the work of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, T. Lux Feininger, and Herbert Bayer, architecture and product photography, the concept of “Typophoto” and the photographic staging of the image.
While the Bauhaus tried to establish itself as an institution that promoted gender equality, it is evident from a number of more recent revisionist works that this aspiration was not fulfilled. Anja Baumhoff’s The Gendered World of the Bauhaus: The Politics of Power at the Weimar Republic’s Premier Art Institute, 1919–1932 (2001) is one such example that discusses the contradictions in Gropius’s promotion of equality alongside the relegation of women to craft works within a traditional gender hierarchy. Ulrike Müller’s work Bauhaus Women: Art, Handicraft, Design (2009) commemorates the lives, works, and legacies of twenty female members of the Bauhaus. The discussion focuses on the performance of women at the Bauhaus in all the creative areas and portrays their lives and works in individual case studies.
Although discussion of pedagogy features in most surveys of the Bauhaus, few publications specifically look at it. One of them is Rainer Wick and Gabriele D. Grawe’s Teaching at the Bauhaus (2000). Following the obligatory background and history to the Bauhaus the book moves on to consider the fundamentals of Bauhaus pedagogy. It then considers seven of the teachers and their particular programs, theories, and approaches to pedagogy. The work concludes with short essays on the reception of the Bauhaus in Germany and the later Bauhaus pedagogy in North America.
Following the closure of the Bauhaus in 1933, many staff moved abroad, seeking asylum to escape from increasingly repressive and brutal Nazi policies. Marcel Breuer and Walter Gropius moved to America and taught at Harvard. Josef and Anni Albers followed and taught at the Black Mountain College, and Josef later taught at Yale. Moholy-Nagy established the New Bauhaus in Chicago in 1937, and Mies van der Rohe, taught, and designed the campus, at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
The Bauhaus and its role and influence in America have spawned a number of useful texts. One of the earlier studies was Hans Wingler, Bauhaus in America: Repercussion and Further Development (1972). More recently the topic has been revisited through a number of different approaches, but often with a political dimension.
The whole issue of émigrés was tackled by a number of scholars in Stephanie Barron’s edited work Exiles + Emigrés: The Flight of European Artists from Hitler (1997). This catalogue, of an exhibition of the same title, looks at a wide range of European artists and their reception in host countries. The essays “Bauhaus and exile: Bauhaus architects and designers between the old world and the new” by Peter Hahn; “Bauhaus architects and the rise of modernism in the United States” by Franz Schulze; “Bauhaus modernism to U.S. internationalism” by Kathleen James, and “Purism and pragmatism: Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy” by Sheri Bernstein all stand out.
Margret Kentgens-Craig’s The Bauhaus and America: First Contacts 1919–1936 (2001) looks at how the image of the Bauhaus was first received in America and how their ideas were subsequently disseminated. The process of transformation and integration of ideas was not only about flow of information and marketing, but also of the creation of celebrity status for the main players involved. The short appendix of primary material related to an early exhibition at the Arts Club in Chicago (1931) and FBI files on Gropius and Mies van der Rohe is valuable.
In the first few years of its existence, the Black Mountain College was strongly shaped by German and European émigrés—among them were several former Bauhaus members, such as Josef and Anni Albers, Alexander “Xanti” Schawinsky, and Walter Gropius. Frederick Horowitz and Brenda Danilowitz’s Josef Albers: To Open Eyes: At the Bauhaus, Black Mountain College, and Yale (2009) contains specific discussion of Albers the teacher and his basic drawing, color and painting courses along with analysis of his teaching legacy.
Achim Borchardt-Hume’s edited volume Albers and Moholy-Nagy: From the Bauhaus to the New World (2006) evaluates the role of Albers and Moholy-Nagy in disseminating Bauhaus ideas in America. With specific essays by other authors including Hal Foster, as well as writing by the subjects themselves, the themes of experimentation, subversion, and art as a positive force for change all come through in these essays on the transmission of Modernism.
Michael Reid’s Convergence, Divergence: Exploring Black Mountain College + Chicago’s New Bauhaus, Institute of Design (2015) is a catalogue of an exhibition exploring the relationship between the Black Mountain College in North Carolina with Josef Albers and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s New Bauhaus/Institute of Design in Chicago.
Finally, the wider issue of émigrés and refugees from Europe and their contribution to American design is examined in Émigré Cultures in Design and Architecture (2017), edited by Elana Shapira and Alison J. Clarke. This work explores how the émigré designers used their original European experiences along with their new networks in the United States, to develop a particular culture of socially-centered design that is still influential today.
The catalogue of the important Bauhaus Exhibition held at the MoMA in New York in 1938 is mentioned above. Many exhibitions have followed, most with catalogues of various degrees of interest. The exhibition catalogue published in conjunction with the traveling show held at the Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, 1968; the Royal Academy of Art, London, 1968; and other locations had a cover designed by Herbert Bayer. 50 Years Bauhaus: German Exhibition, Sept. 21-Oct. 27, 1968 is mainly a list of the exhibits but with a few interesting essays and a useful biography/bibliography of selected Bauhauslers.
An exhibition to celebrate the ninetieth anniversary of the Bauhaus produced a catalogue titled The Bauhaus: A Conceptual Model (2009), edited by the Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, and Klassik Stiftung Weimar. This work reconsiders the history and impact of the Bauhaus through sixty-eight selected features that evaluate overlooked aspects of the school’s legacy. Although the topics discussed may be familiar, the case studies throw a different light on aspects of the Bauhaus idea. Case studies of the work of the sculptor Gerhard Marcks and Lyonel Feininger are set against wider topics including the Bauhaus and consumer culture, and Bauhaus’s own exhibitions as a form of self-presentation. The political aspects are not neglected, with discussion of the National Socialist opposition to the Bauhaus and the later internationalization and globalization of its ideas and practices.
The 2012 “Bauhaus: Art as Life” exhibition held at the Barbican Art Gallery was the biggest and most comprehensive show on the Bauhaus in the UK for forty years. The associated catalogue Bauhaus: Art as Life (2012) reflects the choices that the curators made in trying to demonstrate the Bauhaus culture in relation to the school’s radical attempts to create an integrated communal life at the school through common housing and child care; social event including parties, festivals, musical events and theatre.
, and . 2019. Bauhaus Bodies. Gender, Sexuality, and Body Culture in Modernism’s Legendary Art School. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd. doi:
. 2017. Bauhaus Typography: 100 Works from the Collection of the Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin = Bauhaus.typografie: 100 Werke Aus Der Sammlung Des Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin. Berlin: Bauhaus-Archiv Museum für Gestaltung.
Shapira, Elana, and Alison J. Clarke, eds. 2017. Émigré Cultures in Design and Architecture. London: Bloomsbury. doi: 10.5040/9781474275637
Introduction to the Bauhaus. A collaboration of the Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin, Bauhaus Dessau Stiftung, and Klassik Stiftung Weimar.
Walter Gropius Open Archive. Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin.
Marcel Breuer Digital Archive. Syracuse University Libraries.
Digitized Bauhaus Books, vols. 1, 2, 4, 7–12.
https://monoskop.org/Bauhaus#Books. From the Bibliothèque Kandinsky.
Paul Klee’s notebooks. Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern.
Bauhaus 100. German website for international celebrations of the 2019 Bauhaus Centennial.
Projekt Bauhaus. A research project on the contemporary implications of Bauhaus thought.