Even more than in the case of their male counterparts, many women studying at the Bauhaus distinguished themselves from other females of their generation. Both in terms of education and lifestyle, the institution differed substantially from what other environments offered to young people of their age. Because of this, scholarly literature on gender at the Bauhaus has largely taken a critical perspective on the institution’s internal policies, particularly in relation to the role of women at the school. In her groundbreaking study on The Gendered World of the Bauhaus, Anja Baumhoff identified patterns of male power that structured the opportunities of students. To summarize her argument, Gropius’s ideological foundation at least of the early Bauhaus followed the tradition of the medieval Bauhütte (or stonemasons’ guild), with self-discipline as a guiding principle and a collectivism that required complete subordination of students. The orientation towards craftsmanship marginalized women, and despite the fact that even early Bauhaus programs claimed to enroll and educate students regardless of their sex, the institution’s policies did otherwise. Baumhoff identified a “hidden agenda” of Gropius and the Masters’ Council (Meisterrat) to reduce the high number of female students as well as their participation in the higher-esteemed workshops (such as carpentry) and to curtail their artistic ambitions. By contrast, a special Women’s Class was founded as early as 1920, and it soon merged with the weaving workshop. This was regarded predominantly as a conceptually “soft” area that kept women away from “hard” work in traditional male employment. Moreover, it did not allow the weavers to become professional craftsmen and guild members, as the Weimar Chamber of Crafts did not have a weaving department; thus no guild titles were awarded in this particular area.
For this work, Baumhoff drew on a wealth of materials preserved in the official archives of the Thuringian State, which hold all records of the Bauhaus (as a governmental institution), from Gropius’s personal archive administered at the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin, and from correspondence of former Bauhaus students and additional interviews. These materials yield a picture that depicts the Bauhaus as, in her words, a “pedagogical environment that was not progressive in gender terms,” one which preserved “conventional social form and values [. . .] and hierarchies within the school that revealed a web of paternalism, authority, power, and gender inequalities.”
The picture is, however, not as clear-cut as this summary suggests. Baumhoff herself points out that several women deliberately (and successfully) adapted to the male-dominated structures, while others felt quite comfortable in the women’s areas, which allowed them to avoid competition with their male fellow students. Gunta Stölzl, for instance, later recalled that the founding of the Women’s Class was initiated by the young female students themselves. The example of her own life and work also suggests that, in some cases, the ambitions of female Bauhaus members themselves were directed—quite conservatively—more towards marriage and motherhood than to their own creative or artistic work. In general, it seems that a profound dedication was a prerequisite for living up to Gropius’s ideals; he believed that from the large body of Bauhaus members, only a small number of talented and ambitious (and probably male) students would be suited to reach the highest level of artistic expression.
Not surprisingly, of the six students who managed to achieve appointment as masters, as Bauhaus professors were called, but with the qualifier of “junior” before this title (Jungmeister); five were male and only one, Gunta Stölzl, was female. She was assigned, of course, to the weaving workshop. Yet despite its somewhat marginalized status, the weaving workshop itself contributed fundamentally to modernist design at the Bauhaus; with its abstract patterns, it paralleled developments in other workshops (as well as in the art world in general) and was part of the Bauhaus’s success in the consumers’ world of Weimar Germany.
In recent years further scholarship, based primarily on biographical work on particular female artists, has enhanced our understanding of the role women played at the Bauhaus. Digging deeper into the lives and oeuvres of, for instance, Gertrud Arndt, Marianne Brandt, Lou Scheper-Berkenkamp, Ivana Tomljenovich-Meller, Irene Bayer-Hecht, Lucia Moholy, Marguerite Friedlaender-Wildenhain, Alma Siedhoff-Buscher, or Ricarda Schwerin—to name just a few—has raised awareness of the exceptional creativity of women at the Bauhaus without neglecting the structural barriers these women faced. Yet all studies on the distribution of power within the institution still lack a firm base for their arguments that goes beyond these exemplary lives. Almost two decades ago, Baumhoff had already remarked on the lack of available specific information on the gender distribution of students participating in various workshops, and on the overall representation of women in different areas of Bauhaus life.
In this essay, we will provide basic, essential data on the representation of women at the Bauhaus, making use of a comprehensive systematic overview of Bauhaus members that goes beyond the seminal 1990 work of Folke Dietzsch, who was the first to systematically collect data on Bauhaus members that was suitable for statistical analysis. In a project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) over a period of four years, members of our team completed in-depth biographical research in archives, collections, and publications in order to identify all people who had a formal relationship to the Bauhaus and can thus be counted among the total number of Bauhäusler or Bauhaus members. Based on this research, we were able to enter information on more than 1,400 individuals into a database, allowing for an in-depth analysis through strategies of descriptive statistics. Our results give, for instance, an insight into the numbers of women present in different periods of Bauhaus history, in the different workshops, and with regard to different social networks and circles of friendship. Our essay will also include information on the Bauhäusler as a whole, because the data on women need a larger framework for an insightful interpretation.
Since the time when the Bauhaus first became the focus of intense academic interest in the 1960s, a range of methodological approaches have been applied to its study. While significant bodies of research exist on the Bauhaus masters’ oeuvres, the institution’s structure, its pedagogical innovation, or the product design emerging from the workshops, we still know little about those without whom the Bauhaus would not have been possible: the student body as a whole—those Bauhäusler who learned at and lived within this renowned institution.
In order to better understand the Bauhaus student body from a practical and statistical point of view, we have intentionally chosen the term “community” to reflect the zeitgeist of our period of focus. It serves as an expression of how the Bauhaus is often conceived: as a sworn circle of well-connected, like-minded people who celebrated their carefree and often unconventional student life. The importance of festivities was already emphasized in the first Bauhaus manifesto from 1919. Extensively embellished costume balls took place, not only in Weimar but also in Dessau, and up until the very end of the Bauhaus in Berlin, fostering the overall impression of a community. Many of the bonds forged at the Bauhaus were life long and survived Nazi rule, the Second World War, Stalinist suppression, and other dramatic historical events.
A formal description of this community must first take into account the fact that not all students (or their teachers) were in the same proximity to the institution, due to their varied roles, ages, and tenures at the historic Bauhaus, as the diagram in Figure 1.1 reveals. The core of Bauhaus members consisted, above all, of the three directors, Walter Gropius, Hannes Meyer, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. On the next level out from the directors on the teaching side (the diagram’s left portion), we can locate the professors, workshop masters, and permanent teaching staff; the last group included masters like Josef Albers and Joost Schmidt who started as students themselves at the Bauhaus, then taught for ten to twelve years and therefore became acquainted with almost every student. Their teaching was complemented by assistant lecturers (Lehrbeauftragte) like the Dutch designer Mart Stam (1928–9) or the psychologist Karlfried von Dürckheim (1930–2). On the outer margins, one might name, for instance, the Russian film director Dziga Vertov or the Dutch graphic designer Piet Zwaart, who each gave single lectures at the Bauhaus (Referenten or Kurzzeit-Dozenten).
Among the students, similar distinctions among levels of proximity are useful. These can be categorized as: (1) the few junior masters (Jungmeister, such as Marcel Breuer or Gunta Stölzl) and those who graduated with a diploma or letter of confirmation; (2) the regular students who were enrolled at the Bauhaus for a longer period of time (three or more semesters, including workshop participation), but left without degrees; and (3) short-term students of up to two semesters, most of whom entered the Bauhaus on a trial basis or attended only the Preliminary Course (some of these were even rejected after only a few weeks due to weak artistic skills).
Finally, there were single individuals or groups who can be allocated to the Bauhaus periphery: artists, journalists and writers like Walter Curt Behrendt, or filmmakers like Hans Richter, who never studied or taught at the Bauhaus, but who took up residence in the intellectual climate at Weimar and Dessau or cultivated close relationships with Bauhaus people. Our analysis will refer to these groups whenever appropriate.
Essential for our description of the body of Bauhaus people, of course, are the numerical proportions revealed by our research. We have identified almost exactly 1,400 people who studied, taught, and worked at the Bauhaus during its fourteen-year existence. Of these, roughly 1,300 were students, while the faculty consisted of only about eighty teachers, and twenty more individuals can be considered institutional employees (secretaries, bookkeepers, executives). In other words, with respect to its ratios, it was a very normal academy. Further, in all likelihood not everyone was acquainted with all of their fellow students or all faculty members, with on average approximately 300 people at the Bauhaus at any given time. Yet it is also clear that affiliations with others present during the same semester, or who belonged to the same workshop, led to strong bonds among the participants.
Within the fourteen years of the Bauhaus’s existence—twenty-eight completed semesters—the students of the early Weimar Bauhaus, who were still shaped by the outcomes of the First World War, need to be distinguished from those of the later Bauhaus in Dessau. Moreover, in 1919 the early institution inherited nearly ninety students and four professors from the two previously existing, very traditional art schools in Weimar. This constellation caused severe conflicts that were only resolved in 1920 by a new breakup. Needless to say, the Bauhaus Dessau under the directorship of Meyer or Mies van der Rohe stood in stark contrast to that of Gropius, and this also affected the political, aesthetic, and pedagogical orientation of the students.
To ascertain how its history has been constructed, we have also surveyed exhibitions of the Bauhaus in our database. A closer look at the presence of works in later exhibitions indicates that, taking the 1968 traveling exhibition on occasion of “50 years of the Bauhaus” as a reference, the scope of presentation was dominated by the masters: about half of the artworks (902) displayed were created by thirty-one Bauhaus teachers, whereas 167 students provided 867 artworks. Therefore, not only were the ratios of masters to students not representative, but a few have generally been taken to represent the whole. For example, those whose works were displayed in the 1968 traveling exhibition total only 198 of the 1,400 Bauhäusler mentioned earlier.
Despite the usual difficulties encountered when classifying historical biographies into formal categories, our comprehensive database identified 1,276 people who qualified as “Bauhaus students” in the broadest sense (Table 1.1). In twenty-three cases, no further biographical data beyond the mere name was available; because of this, these individuals had to be omitted from our total population, which thus consisted of 1,253 confirmed “Bauhaus students.” A small majority of students, however, visited the Bauhaus on a short-term basis only (53.8 percent), meaning that more than 674 people who attended the school’s courses left after less than a year for a variety of reasons. Although a few would go on to become successful artists and designers—for example, the photographer Umbo (Otto Umbehr) or the ceramicist Margarete Heymann-Loebenstein-Marks—the vast majority of these short-term students disappeared from the public eye and are unknown today even to most art historians. This leaves us, however, with a body of 579 students who took their engagement at the Bauhaus seriously, including 182 (14.5 percent) who actually graduated from the school.
Table 1.1. Structure of the Bauhaus Student Body
Over the years, we can observe a cluster of 162 short-term students who entered the Bauhaus as early as 1919, in most instances transfer students from the precursor institution, the Weimar Saxon-Grand Ducal Art School (Großherzoglich-Sächsische Hochschule für Bildende Kunst). It is not surprising that students who had begun their education in a more traditional environment were often disappointed in Gropius’s approach and thus left the newly founded Bauhaus after only a few months. Only fifty-three of the 182 total graduates of the Bauhaus had enrolled during its Weimar period (until 1925), which suggests that attaining a formal certificate (which could be achieved only by passing a journeyman’s examination at the local Chamber of Crafts) was not one of the primary goals of students at the early Bauhaus. In contrast, 128 of the Dessau students graduated, though admittedly they did so under different institutional circumstances, since the Bauhaus diploma was only introduced in 1929. (Previously they were, if anything, awarded a letter of confirmation, or they passed the journeyman’s or master examination at the local Chamber of Crafts.) The proportion of short-term students remained stable over the years; 1927 saw, along with the inauguration of the new Bauhaus building, the largest number of freshmen in one single semester, the Fall, with 103.
Data retrieved from the official Bauhaus records allow us to display student attendance at the Bauhaus over time (Table 1.2), broken down by gender of the students. The numbers trace the ups and downs of the school’s history, showing the decline at the Weimar location in the mid-1920s, a relatively stable enrollment after the inauguration of the new, Gropius-designed Bauhaus building in Dessau, and the sharp cutback when the political situation in 1932 forced a second move, this time to Berlin. Interestingly enough, if we sort these figures according to gender representation, the share of women in the student body peaked during the Weimar period, the period of time when circumstances were less favorable for females according to earlier research. Between 1926 and 1932, when conditions for women seemed to have improved, they actually accounted for a maximum of only a quarter to a third of the total student body. This perspective supports the notion that the more regimented Bauhaus curriculum in Dessau, which focused in particular on architecture, applied work for industry, and mass production rather than handcrafts and artistic expression, might have been less attractive for young women of their time and age. Caution is advised, however, when interpreting this diachronic data as causal.
Table 1.2. Student Attendance per Semester, Broken Down by Gender (data based on Sudhalter 2009/Dietzsch 1990)
Our data collection identified 462 female students on all levels who attended the Bauhaus over the entire course of its existence from 1919 to 1933; this accounts for more than a third of all students (36.9 percent). The Bauhaus attracted a significant share of young women; attendance at the school allowed them to depart from the usual tracks predetermined for them prior to the Weimar Republic, tracks which to some extent continued to exist outside of the Bauhaus. It is important to note that the share of short-term students is significantly higher among women, 60.8 percent, in contrast to 49.7 percent among male students; consequently the share of graduates is less than half among women compared to men (8.2 percent vs. 18.2 percent). But any assertion that women were less successful in general or did not have the chance to attain a proper qualification (such as a diploma or certificate) at the Bauhaus would be misleading, according to our data. We have no clear explanation for the larger proportion of drop-outs among women, since the difficult financial situation and living conditions applied to both genders alike, but we can speculate that they may have been more susceptible to a return to traditional role models, particularly to becoming wives taking care of families. But it is important to remember that the rate of dropouts among male students is at 50 percent as well. Over all, if we use the data for those 1,095 students for whom exact information on the period they spent at the Bauhaus is available, the average length of enrollment duration for men was longer than that of women (2.01 vs. 1.63 years).
Table 1.3. Student Enrollment in Bauhaus Workshops by Individuals (based on data from 791 male and 462 female students)
One common assertion in Bauhaus scholarship is that the weaving workshop was an ambivalent refuge for female students, one which gave them Bauhaus training but on limited terms. As fragmentary as the written records are, going deeper into the data allows us to retrieve detailed information on how many male and female students were involved in the Bauhaus’s various workshops. The graph in Table 1.3 takes the single individual as the unit of analysis, no matter how many semesters he or she took part in the respective workshop—the first enrollment counted as participation. As students could opt to be in more than one workshop, and because short-term students often attended only the Preliminary Course before leaving, the numbers given do not add up to the population of male (791) or female (462) students at the Bauhaus. Leaving this caveat aside, the graph indicates that, not surprisingly, the largest proportion of students participated in architecture (261), while other subjects—including bookbinding, pottery, or stone sculpture—that were adopted from the Bauhaus precursor, the former Weimar Saxon-Grand Ducal Art School, attracted only small numbers of students and were soon abandoned.
With regard to women’s participation, it is noteworthy above all that the weaving workshop turns out to be the second largest area in terms of over-all attendance: 141 people, which includes its strong female share of 128 students, 90.8 percent of the total (Table 1.4).
Table 1.4. Workshop Attendance (Count of Individuals) by Gender and Student Status
Statistics thus support the notion that work with textiles was indeed one of the prime occupations for the young women of the Bauhaus. Statistics also reveal, however, that women’s activities were not at all circumscribed to weaving (which accounted for 35 percent of documented female workshop participation, 128 of 366 enrollments). Rather, we find high involvement in several others, including photography, printmaking, drawing, and even in the male-dominated field of architecture (forty female enrollments). Taking all of these other female enrollments together (238 of 366 enrollments), it turns out that two thirds of women’s workshop activities occurred in areas other than textiles, despite this being established as a “Women’s Class.” Considered in relation to the overall number of female Bauhaus students (462), slightly more than a quarter of the women (27.7 percent) went to the weaving workshop, but almost three out of four were not part of this group.
Given the fact that many women did not proceed further than the Preliminary Course or left the Bauhaus prior to receiving a degree, it makes sense to have a closer look specifically at those 181 female students who graduated from the Bauhaus or who spent three semesters or more as regular students within the institution (Table 1.4, right column). As expected, the weaving workshop is still the most important part of the curriculum for women, with almost half of the “serious” female students (eighty-four). This share even increases to 68.4 percent among those women who actually graduated from the Bauhaus (twenty-six of thirty-eight). It is thus safe to say that attending the weaving workshop was one of the dominant patterns for female students; however, even among this core group we count 170 instances where other workshops were frequented, outnumbering weaving almost two to one. This is again particularly the case for architecture as the Bauhaus’s showcase discipline, but it also applies to the painting classes, where artistic talent counted most. Despite the very real adversity that women at the Bauhaus encountered, we have to acknowledge what the historical record reveals: that a larger number of female students, even the majority, were pioneers in disciplines other than textiles.
Many at the Bauhaus would later recall the easy camaraderie among the students as a whole, unrelated to their genders. According to Baumhoff, many female students “. . . regarded the Bauhaus in a positive light, as being un-bourgeois and bohemian in essence [. . .] The revolt against outdated lifestyles [. . .] appealed to male and female students alike.” The open atmosphere of both daily life and special occasions like the famous Bauhaus parties enhanced the opportunities for romantic encounters. Werner David Feist recalled these events as follows:
While drinking was always remarkably moderate, there was a rather great deal of necking and lovemaking, and the rising sun found few of the participants and even fewer on their feet since many of them were spread out as entangled pairs over the numerous mattresses and palliasses [straw mattresses], which had providently been left for the expected all-night guests in the darker corners.
While this does not seem out of the ordinary from today’s perspective, the moral standards of 1920s Weimar society still suggested a different code of conduct. Apart from individuals’ memories, we have no authoritative data on the frequency, duration and background of these often short-term relationships. Because of anti-homosexuality laws and cultural norms, gay and lesbian relationships at the Bauhaus are even more difficult to trace. It is possible, however, to track the more binding outcomes that were registered in the official records, such as marriages.
From the available biographical data, it seems as if the Bauhaus indeed served as a “marriage market” for modern and independent women and men. Whereas the overall population of men was lower than that of women after the First World War, at the Bauhaus the restrictions on women’s admissions meant that female students were often very popular with their male colleagues. Further, living and working together under the very close circumstances in Weimar and Dessau allowed for strong bonds and, sometimes, liaisons. It also led to a substantial number of Bauhaus marriages among younger adults (see Table 1.5) who shared not only the same mind-set but also a distinct perspective on the arts.
We recorded a total of 106 marriages of female Bauhaus students while they attended the school, which adds up to almost a quarter of all enrolled women (22.9 percent). It is important to note that it was indeed less common for them to marry someone outside of the Bauhaus; only 16 percent of marriages were to outsiders. Therefore, seven out of eight couples were comprised of fellow students or, in eight cases, a female student and a male faculty member (director, master, or young master). As we anticipated, these relationships are not distributed equally among the different student groups (short-term, regular, and graduate). Of the thirty-eight female graduates of the Bauhaus, almost half married a fellow Bauhaus student (eighteen), a share that drops to 28.7 percent for regular students. But even 10 percent of women who were at the Bauhaus for two semesters or less found a partner for life there (thirty marriages), despite the fact that they had less time to orient themselves and find friends or partners. Seen from the perspective of male students, ratio figures are lower simply due to the fact that more men were enrolled. Still, on average, 10 percent of male Bauhaus students married a fellow student during their studies, so that clearly the same logic applies to them, with more than 20 percent of male graduates (thirty of 144) leaving the school in wedlock.
Table 1.5. Marriages Between Bauhaus Students
The group most likely to meet their spouses at the Bauhaus were the long-term female students. Some of these couples divorced or separated during the Bauhaus period; others continued their lifelong partnerships across periods of exile and persecution. To shed more light on the nature of these relationships, we selected two couples—both of whom spent their formative years at the Bauhaus while their latter fates diverged substantially—and closely examined their lives. First, we discuss Marguerite Friedlaender and Franz Rudolf Wildenhain, who met in the ceramics workshop at the Bauhaus in Weimar. Together with her husband, Marguerite emigrated first to the Netherlands and later to the United States, where they divorced in 1950. The Bauhaus always remained, however, an important point of reference in both of their artistic lives. Our second case study is the architect Hans Volger and his wife, the weaver Lis Beyer-Volger, both of whose attitudes towards the Bauhaus soon became ambivalent. They studied at the Bauhaus Weimar and moved to the Bauhaus in Dessau where they eventually became a couple and married in 1931. After 1933 both Volger and Beyer-Volger stayed in Germany; Volger pursued his career as an architect, but his wife soon gave up all artistic ambitions.
Marguerite Friedlaender, at 23, was one of many students who were attracted to the Bauhaus by the anthem-like words of its manifesto, “Architects, sculptors, painters, we must all return to the crafts!” which Gropius published in the spring of 1919. She was born on October 11 1896 to a wealthy and cosmopolitan silk textile merchant’s family from an assimilated Jewish background. Her father was German and had grown up in France, and her mother was born in England, so Marguerite was raised in all three countries and received an excellent formal education. Her mother conveyed her love for art and nature, which is the reason that Marguerite, after obtaining her high school diploma, enrolled in the School of Applied Arts in Berlin and subsequently began to design decorations for a porcelain factory in Rudolstadt, Thuringia. On one of her many walking tours through the area, she came across the Bauhaus, as she shared in her autobiography. She had already decided to become a potter when she successfully applied to the Bauhaus in October 1919—a path that she followed intensively and wholeheartedly throughout her life.
The Bauhaus ceramics workshop was located thirty kilometers from Weimar in Dornburg village (Figure 1.2). There, Max Krehan, a descendant of a long line of Dornburg potters, had said he was willing to oversee the apprentices’ practical training in their craft. Through his “folk pottery” taught at his own studio in Dornburg, students acquired the essential techniques of ceramics, while a second workshop, the “Bauhaus Pottery,” was established in the old stables of Dornburg palace nearby, headed by sculptor Gerhard Marcks as artistic director. In this testing and production workshop, students experimented with cubic forms and plain and simple decoration, or created three-dimensional objects. Friedlaender was deeply influenced by both of her teachers, Krehan and Marcks, and likewise Marcks once stated in awe, “she really had the mental and physical strength of three men.” With Marcks, she established an intense artistic friendship, and they exchanged letters until his death in 1981. She successfully passed her journeyman’s examination in 1922 and continued to work for Krehan in his ceramics workshop, where she met Franz Rudolf Wildenhain, then an apprentice and nine years her junior, in 1924.
Wildenhain later recalled that he arrived at the Bauhaus “with hair to my shoulders, bare feet, and a pink shirt.” Born in 1905 to a poor working class family, he left school at the age of thirteen and pursued an education at a trade school for lithography and commercial drafting. He had occasional jobs before he applied and was accepted to the Bauhaus for the Spring semester of 1925, where he first participated in the obligatory Preliminary Course and attended lessons by László Moholy-Nagy, Paul Klee, and Wassily Kandinsky before choosing the ceramics workshop in November 1924. Precisely how and when he and Marguerite eventually became a couple is unclear, but by 1926 they seem to have been in an established relationship. Wildenhain could not complete his Bauhaus training in Dornburg because the Weimar Bauhaus moved to Dessau, and no ceramics workshop was incorporated into the new site. Instead, they followed their teacher and mentor Marcks, who had been appointed professor of sculpture at Burg Giebichenstein. In 1925, Friedlaender took over as head of the ceramics workshop in Halle. Wildenhain finished his apprenticeship under her guidance, followed by his master craftsman’s certificate in 1929, and also began to teach in Halle, while she later started to work as designer for the State Porcelain Factory in Berlin. They married in 1930.
Figure 1.2. Unknown photographer, Marguerite Friedlaender with Dornburg castle in the background, 1925. Gelatin silver print. 12 × 9 cm (4.7 × 3.5 in.). Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Inv. No. F 2009/3.2.
The Nazi seizure of power had grievous consequences for their lives. In the spring of 1933, Marguerite Friedlaender-Wildenhain was dismissed from her position in Halle because of her Jewish ancestry, despite protests by Marcks. It was not long afterward that Marcks, Wildenhain, and other colleagues were forced to leave as well; they lost their positions officially because of “budget cuts.” The couple emigrated to the countryside of Putten in the Netherlands, where they established a ceramics workshop from scratch called “Het Kruikje”—The Little Jug (Figure 1.3). After initial difficulties, they became successful producers of utility ceramics for the Dutch market.
Figure 1.3. Unknown photographer, Franz Rudolf Wildenhain and Marguerite Friedlaender-Wildenhain in their studio “Het Kruikje” in Putten, Netherlands, 1933. Gelatin silver print. 8 × 11 cm (3.1 × 4.3 in.). Nürnberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Deutsches Kunstarchiv, DKA, NL, Marcks, Gerhard, I,C-568a.
But even in exile in the Netherlands, Marguerite Friedlaender-Wildenhain was not safe. In 1940, just prior to the German occupation, she fled to the U.S.A. and made her way to California, where she established the Pond Farm artists’ community with other German-Jewish exiles led by the couple Jane and Gordon Herr. Wildenhain, first conscripted into the German army and then in hiding with friends after deserting, could not follow her until 1947. After his arrival, their marriage soon broke up when he eloped with his wife’s secretary. In 1950, he accepted a teaching position in ceramics at the School for American Craftsmen in Rochester, New York, which he held until 1970. As an influential teacher, he was admired by his students, who described him as “a big, charismatic man with tremendous energy and capacity for work.” But he never published his experiences or an autobiography, and his biography is overshadowed by the publications about ceramics of his former wife, who attained great influence in the US potter community. Until well into the 1970s, Marguerite Friedlaender-Wildenhain offered courses in ceramics at the Pond Farm Pottery, through which she passed on her experiences from Dornburg.
The age difference, the long separation of seven years, and her success as a potter in California contributed to the final breakup of the Wildenhain marriage. But as their friend Gordon Herr described it, their relationship was already quite precarious before the couple met up again in 1947: “He assumes no responsibility,” Herr noticed when he visited them in Putten, whereas Marguerite “must always stand alone, and even hold him up sometimes.” For both of them, however, their early years at the Bauhaus in Weimar remained a major point of reference throughout their lives.
After the Bauhaus closed in 1933, the first comprehensive exhibition was presented not in Germany but at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Graphic designer Herbert Bayer was in charge of collecting objects from former Bauhaus members and, in November 1937, he contacted the weaver Lis Beyer, whom he knew from his Bauhaus time in Weimar and Dessau. Instead of a response from her, the architect Hans Volger, her husband and also a former Bauhaus student, replied: “On behalf of my wife I thank you for your request from 24th November and inform you that there are no suitable works and that she therefore restrains from taking part in the implied exhibition.” What was the reason for this reserved response? And what does this scenario tell us about the couple Lis Beyer and Hans Volger, who spent more than seven years (1925–32) at the Bauhaus in Dessau?
Hans Volger was born in Straßburg in 1904. With his high-school diploma, he enrolled in the State School of Applied Arts in Bremen and began classes in a program for mural painting. The renowned artist Heinrich Vogeler (who lived in nearby Worpswede) recommended to Volger that he apply to the Bauhaus, and he joined the Preliminary Course in October of 1923. He continued his earlier studies in the wall-painting workshop and passed the journeyman’s examination in 1925. However, his real passion was to become an architect, a field of study that did not exist at the early Bauhaus. When the school moved to Dessau, Volger took the opportunity to join Walter Gropius’s office, where, from 1926 to 1928, he gained practical experience as a construction supervisor for the Master’s Houses in Dessau and the Bauhaus building itself. But even more relevant to his personal career was his work on the home of one Dr. Nolden in Mayen, near Eifel. Under the direction of Hannes Meyer, Volger was commissioned in 1928 to plan this building with architect Hans Wittwer. As the owners explicitly wanted a mansion “in Bauhaus style,” they designed a flat roofed house with a roof terrace and an L-shaped floor plan. Volger then replaced Wittwer as head of the Bauhaus building office until 1932, when director Mies van der Rohe finally signed his diploma and gave him an excellent testimonial for his work at the Bauhaus. Only a few Bauhaus students were as deeply connected to the work of the Bauhaus as Hans Volger, who studied under and worked with all three of its directors.
It is unclear if Volger had met his future wife, Lis Beyer, already in Weimar. By all accounts they became a couple in Dessau and married in 1931 (Figure 1.4). Elisabeth “Lis” Beyer was born in 1906 in Hamburg and entered the Weimar Bauhaus around the Easter holidays in 1924. She first passed the Preliminary Course in 1924 and subsequently joined the weaving workshop, by then directed by Gunta Stölzl. In 1927, she earned her journeyman’s certificate and moved to Krefeld for a dyeing course. After completing the master craftsman’s examination in 1929, she built up the dyeing department at the Bauhaus and developed pattern fabric for industry. Beyer is also remarkable for the major role she played in the students’ extracurricular activities. Several photographs depict her dressed in fanciful costumes with a self-assured attitude and a fashionable bob haircut (Figure 1.5).
Figure 1.4. Unknown photographer, Lis Beyer-Volger and Hans Volger in Randersacker, 1931. Gelatin silver print. 23.7 × 17.4 cm (9.3 × 6.9 in.). Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Inv. No. 9797.
In 1932, Hans Volger was dismissed by Mies van der Rohe because not enough work was coming in to the by then struggling Bauhaus. At the same time, Lis Beyer-Volger had obtained a position as a weaving teacher in Würzburg, where Hans Volger joined her. It seems that Volger’s Bauhaus diploma was not approved by the city building authorities, so he enrolled at the Technische Hochschule in Karlsruhe, where he received an official diploma after a shortened period of one and a half years. In 1937, he became a member of the Nazi party, because on the one hand he had already renounced his faith in functionalism for a more traditional “German” architecture that matched the Nazis’ interests; on the other hand he presumably anticipated better job opportunities through party membership. Indeed, one year later the building authorities in Krefeld hired him as a civil servant. At the same time, Lis Beyer abandoned her own career and took care of their two children; from that point forward she utilized her Bauhaus textile design skills within her own private sphere.
Figure 1.5. T. Lux Feininger, Lis Beyer in costume, probably for the “metal party” in 1929. Gelatin silver print. 11.6 × 8.5 cm (4.6 × 3.3 in.). Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Inv. No. 10087.
This series of events may explain Volger’s short response to Bayer’s request in 1937. As a Nazi partisan, Volger would not allow his wife to be part of an international Bauhaus exhibition. Meanwhile the regime’s art seizures were shattering Germany, and yet the work of Herbert Bayer, among other Bauhaus artists, was being displayed in the Munich propaganda exhibition “Degenerate Art” at the same time. Volger himself had resigned from artistic work because he was mostly engaged in designing air-raid protection in Krefeld until 1945. After the war, due to the de-Nazification process he had to leave his position as a civil servant and to work as a freelance architect for two years. Classified as only a nominal Nazi member, however, Volger soon returned to work as a building inspector and, from 1948 on, he earned treamendous merits as head of the public work service (“Städtischer Baurat,” and later “Städtischer Oberbaurat”) in Krefeld. He supervised the planning of several public buildings for the city—including schools, a theater, and a public library—and he was also involved in reconstruction work on historical buildings. Volger died in 1973, followed six weeks later by Beyer-Volger, and neither became part of the global Bauhaus revival that resulted from the significant traveling exhibition that started in 1968.
The four individual life paths we have explored in this essay represent a range of diversity in the workshops at the Bauhaus: wall painting, weaving, pottery, architecture, furniture, and design. While the Friedlaender-Wildenhains were deeply connected to the early Bauhaus in Weimar and its relation to craftsmanship, the Beyer-Volgers experienced the Bauhaus Dessau and its efforts to establish collaborations with industry. We chose two of many possible couples in and around the Bauhaus, but they represent more than just individual fates: as prototypes, they epitomize the different opportunities and possibilities to establish a relationship at the Bauhaus and to share a life as artists. That Lis Beyer-Volger opted to take care of the children and household was simply the common vocation of married women at that time. Given the strength of these traditions and Germany’s sharp turn to the right in both public and private life, it is therefore not quite as surprising as it would seem that one of the Bauhaus’s most outré partiers would end up a hausfrau who did not even respond to her own business correspondence.
Lis Beyer and Hans Volger chose to stay in Germany after 1933, where an adaptation to the new, right wing political principles was nearly inevitable. The historical record is not clear on whether or not Hans Volger was persuaded by Nazi propaganda, though he later unconvincingly claimed in a letter to Walter Gropius that he became a member of the Nazi party only to protect the endangered victims of the regime and to “prevent worse from happening,” but he never clarified this justification with any detail. In his work, however, it is obvious that he did not stick to the overtly modern principles of the Bauhaus for whatever reason, but rather promoted a more conservative, but still relatively progressive execution suited to the material. In contrast to Beyer-Volger and many women of the Bauhaus, Marguerite Friedlaender-Wildenhain is one of the few women who was eager and worked hard to pursue a career despite significant adversity, and who was uncharacteristically followed by her husband. Twice she started a ceramics workshop from the ground up, both times in foreign countries, once in the Netherlands and once in the U.S.A. She also typifies many Bauhaus students of Jewish ancestry who had to flee Germany after 1933, but, unlike some others who were less fortunate, she was able to escape the Nazi repression and violence.
The student body of the Bauhaus, large and diverse as it was, still offers a wide range of research opportunities, particularly with regard to the life and work of those Bauhäusler who have too often been forgotten by history. The statistical data we presented as “hard facts” in this essay suffer from fragmentary information about many individuals. We ventured to offer insights based on the information collected in our database, which is the most comprehensive resource on Bauhaus protagonists to date; as a team, we based this work in all information currently available to the best of our knowledge. We have aimed to complement both the anecdotal evidence and the official records published on the role of women at the Bauhaus by adding structural insights into female participation in the workshops and the institution’s unexpected side function as a kind of “marriage market” for young artists. Our data nuance and even at times contradict certain truisms of what we thought of women’s lives and fates at the Bauhaus. In the end, while it seems that the gender of one’s body at the Bauhaus did influence one’s destiny there, it did not, ultimately, determine it.
 Meeting of Bauhaus Masters and Students, Oct. 13 1920; minutes filed at the Landesarchiv Thüringen–Hauptstaatsarchiv Weimar (LATh–HStA Weimar), Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar, folder 12, sheet 67.
 See Statutes of the “Staatliches Bauhaus zu Weimar,” January 1921, Paragraph 3; quoted from Hans M. Wingler, The Bauhaus: Weimar, Dessau, Berlin, Chicago 1919–1933 . Trans. Wolfgang Jabs and Basil Gilbert (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 4th ed. 1975), 44 .
 Meisterratsprotokolle, May 14 1920, reprinted in Volker Wahl, Das Staatliche Bauhaus in Weimar: Dokumente zur Geschichte des Instituts 1919–1926 (Köln/Weimar/Wien: Böhlau, 2009), 83–7.
 See Patrick Rössler, Der einsame Großstädter: Herbert Bayer—eine Kurzbiografie (Berlin: Vergangenheitsverlag, 2014) .
 “Perhaps the largest gap in our knowledge of the Bauhaus is the lack of reliable documentation of all its students [. . .] there is no comprehensive list of all those who applied, enrolled, or were otherwise active at the school” (Baumhoff, Gendered World , 8). For an earlier list of male and female students see also Magdalena Droste, “Beruf: Kunstgewerblerin, Frauen in Kunsthandwerk und Design, 1890–1933. Women in the Arts and Crafts and in Industrial Design 1890–1933,” in Frauen im Design: Berufsbilder und Lebenswege seit 1900. Concepts and Life Histories since 1900 , ed. Angela Oedekoven-Gerischer (Kornwestheim: Druckhaus Münster, 1989), 174–203
 Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)—Project # 222211079 (2013–16); “Bewegte Netze: Bauhausangehörige und ihre Beziehungs-Netzwerke in den dreißiger und vierziger Jahren” (Moving Ties: Bauhaus Members and Their Relationship Networks in the 1930s and 1940s). We wish to thank our fellow members of the research team, Magdalena Droste, Jens Weber, and Andreas Wolter, for a fruitful and inspiring collaboration. Without their contributions this essay would not have been possible.
 La Bauhaus de festa 1919–1933, exh. cat., ed. Fundació “La Caixa” and Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin (Barcelona: Fundació “La Caixa,” 2005).
 For the Weimar Bauhaus period, see Bauhausvorträge: Gastredner am Weimarer Bauhaus , ed. Peter Bernhard (Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 2017) ; for a list of evening presentations at the Bauhaus in 1929–30 see Bundesarchiv Berlin, R 32/399, 126–9.
 Material here is drawn from an unpublished talk by Anke Blümm, “Why We Do Not Know the Bauhaus: Thoughts on the Bauhaus Community,” for the symposium “1915! Eine Kunstgewerbeschule als Gegenwelt? Von Halle in die Welt: Ideen, Impulse, Modelle,” Moritzburg, Halle, November 26 2015, 4–7.
 The six students who advanced to become “junior masters” at the Bauhaus later on were included in this figure.
 Data retrieved from Dietzsch, Die Studierenden, as quoted by Adrian Sudhalter, “14 years Bauhaus: a Chronicle,” in Bauhaus 1919–1933. Workshops for Modernity , ed. Barry Bergdoll and Leah Dickerman (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2009), 323–37 .
 “Architecture” is a composite of different workshops and courses that were offered over time, e. g. “Baulehre,” “Bauabteilung,” “Bau-/Ausbauabteilung,” etc.; for an overview of workshops and teachers over time see Michael Siebenbrodt and Lutz Schöbe, Bauhaus 1919–1933: Weimar-Dessau-Berlin (New York: Parkstone, 2009), 250–1 . But it was only Hannes Meyer who introduced proper architectural studies into the curriculum.
 Baumhoff, “Shadow,” 63.
 For a well-documented example see, for instance, the relationship between Irene Hecht and Herbert Bayer, who first met through Bauhaus friends. For more information, see Patrick Rössler, Der einsame Großstädter: Herbert Bayer—eine Kurzbiografie (Berlin: Vergangenheitsverlag, 2014) .
 According to Elizabeth Otto, gay and lesbian Bauhaus members included Max Peiffer Watenphul, Richard Grune, and Florence Henri. For more, see her forthcoming book, Haunted Bauhaus.
 Due to the small number of female Bauhaus faculty members, it was the other way round only in one case (Gunta Stölzl and Arieh Sharon).
 Gerhard Marcks: a Biography of Marguerite Friedlaender Wildenhain [no date], Schwarz and Schwarz, Eyewitness Anthology, 440.
 Michael Boylen, “Frans Wildenhain: Master of Form,” Studio Potter 19, no. a (June 1991), I, S. 5–16, here p. 10. [The first name “Franz” is spelled “Frans” in Dutch.]
 Boylen, “Wildenhain”, 10.
 Bruce A. Austin, Frans Wildenhain, 1950–75: Creative and Commercial American Ceramics at Mid-Century (Rochester: Austin, 2012), 17 . After his second wife’s death, Wildenhain married a third time, whereas Friedlaender never married again.
 Boylen, “Wildenhain,” 14.
 Wildenhain, The Invisible Core; also Marguerite Wildenhain, Pottery: Form and Expression (Palo Alto: Pacific Books, 1986) .
 Gordon Herr, Letters from Europe, 1939, in Schwarz and Schwarz, Eyewitness Anthology, 275, 279.
 The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York, MoMA Exhs, 82.3, letter from Hans Volger to Herbert Bayer, December 27 1937.
 Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, document collection Hans Volger, folder 19, diploma May 6 1931; letter of reference March 31 1932, both signed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
 See her biography in: Magdalena Droste and Manfred Ludewig, Das Bauhaus webt: Die Textilwerkstatt am Bauhaus (Berlin: Bauhaus-Archiv, 1998), 305 .
 Patrick Rössler, Herbert Bayer: Die Berliner Jahre—:Werbegrafik 1928–1938 (Berlin: Vergangenheitsverlag, 2013), 102 . By then, Bayer had also become an acclaimed exhibition and graphic designer in the National Socialist regime.
 50 Jahre Bauhaus , ed. Württembergischer Kunstverein (Stuttgart, 1968) . Hans Volger was represented only with a few sketches related to the Nolden building from Hannes Meyer’s class, while Lis Beyer was only named as a supervisor of the dyeing process at the weaving workshop.
 Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University, Walter Gropius papers, MS Ger 208, No. 1674a, letter from Hans Volger to Walter Gropius, November 9 1946: “Lies und ich haben 33 geradezu beschlossen: Augen zu, da bleiben, weiter arbeiten, helfen, Gutes stiften wo eben möglich. So ganz vergeblich war es wohl nicht, und auch in Krefeld lebten viele Leute nicht mehr, wenn ich nicht leicht braun getarnt, immer wieder das Äusserste versucht hätte.”
 See, e.g., Esther Banki, “‘Denn Du denkst doch nicht etwa, daß eine Frau ein Haus bauen kann.’ Das Leben der Architektin Zsuzsanna Banki (1912–1944),” in Entfernt: Frauen des Bauhauses während der NS-Zeit—Verfolgung und Exil , eds., Inge Hansen-Schaberg, Wolfgang Thöner, and Adriane Feustel (München: Edition Text + Kritik, 2012), 159–74.