Why the Google Doodle Pays Tribute to 100 Years of Bauhaus

The radical art school had a cultural legacy that extends far beyond Germany

Lucia Moholy, Bauhaus Building, Dessau, 1935–36. Courtesy: © Estate of Lucia Moholy and DACS

Lucia Moholy, Bauhaus Building, Dessau, 1935–36. Courtesy: © Estate of Lucia Moholy and DACS

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus, a radical art school founded in Germany in the aftermath of WWI. Google has marked the centenary of the school’s founding with an animated doodle.

Opened in 1919 by German architect Walter Gropius at a site in Weimar, the art school is remembered for its pioneering approach to design, its distinctive combination of craft and fine arts and its worldwide cultural legacy.

In 1925 the school moved to Dessau to take up residence in a building designed by Gropius. Writing in frieze Hettie Judah describes the school: ‘Glass, steel, concrete, the visual drama of crisp shadows and clear lines: whether through László Moholy-Nagy’s photographic studies in cast light and shade or Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s gleaming towers, the combination is immediately evocative of Bauhaus modernism.’

In 1932 the Bauhaus moved to Berlin, during which time it came under increasing pressure from the Nazi regime, who characterized the school as ‘un-German’ and denounced its ‘degenerate art’. In 1933 the Gestapo closed down the Berlin school.

Iwao Yamawaki, The attack of the Bauhaus, 1932 reproduced 1991, farbdiapositiv (colour transparency), Yamawaki Iwao & Michiko Archives; photograph: Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin 

Iwao Yamawaki, The attack of the Bauhaus, 1932 reproduced 1991, farbdiapositiv (colour transparency), Yamawaki Iwao & Michiko Archives; photograph: Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin 

Despite being open for only 15 years, the Bauhaus had a significant worldwide influence on architecture, fine art and design. Pablo Larios writes on the ‘bauhaus imaginista’ project, which revisits the global connections of the historic school

‘‘bauhaus imaginista’ tells a different tale, of an intellectual and artistic cosmopolitanism during the interbellum years, in which pedagogy was political and in which the school’s activities in multicultural Weimar resonated with similar reformist educational movements well beyond Germany. This version views the school as a diasporic formation: in Dessau, the Bauhaus hosted students from 29 countries; outside Germany, the school had direct ties with design and architecture movements not only in Chicago and Tel Aviv but in cities such as Kyoto, Lagos, Moscow, Rabat and São Paulo.’

Otti Berger (front) and Lis Beyer in a rowing boat on the Elbe, c. 1927. Courtesy: © Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin

Otti Berger (front) and Lis Beyer in a rowing boat on the Elbe, c. 1927. Courtesy: © Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin

Unusually for its time, women were admitted to the ground-breaking institution – however, Alice Twemlow describes the ‘disproportionate […] way in which the work of the male artists and designers who taught and studied at the Bauhaus have been celebrated over their female counterparts.’

‘In recent years, historians and curators have sought to redress this imbalance by focusing on the women who taught and studied at the Bauhaus, not as caricatured continuations of its architectural aesthetic, nor as appendages of their husbands or lovers, but for the ways they shaped and disseminated its philosophy through their ground-breaking work, mostly in textile design, weaving, stage and costume design, and ceramics,’ she continues.

To celebrate the centenary of the founding of the Bauhaus, a series of exhibitions, events and festivals are being staged around the world. The central event will be hosted in Germany, ‘Original Bauhaus: the Centenary Exhibition’ runs from 6 Sept to 27 Jan 2020 at the Berlinische Galerie in Kreuzberg.

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