NEW YORK, NY.-
The Museum of Modern Art
presents Bauhaus 1919 1933: Workshops for Modernity, a major retrospective presented in collaboration with a consortium of the three Bauhaus collections in Germany (Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, and Klassik Stiftung Weimar) from November 8, 2009, to January 25, 2010. This exhibition is the first comprehensive treatment by MoMA of the Bauhaus since 1938. That influential exhibition 70 years ago was organized by the schools founder and first director, Walter Gropius, and designed by former Bauhaus student and instructor, Herbert Bayer, the graphic designer. For many years, its catalogue was the vehicle by which Americans learned about the Bauhaus. MoMAs second major Bauhaus exhibition will offer a critical revision of the 1938 exhibition, reflecting a new generation of research and perspectives on that influential school, at the same time as presenting newly rediscovered Bauhaus objects and ones rarely seen outside Germany.
Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the Bauhaus in Weimar as well as the 80th anniversary of the founding of The Museum of Modern Art, which was inspired by founding directors Alfred Barrs visits to Dessau in the years before the Museum opened its doors. Bauhaus 19191933: Workshops for Modernity is organized by Barry Bergdoll, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design; Leah Dickerman, Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture; and other MoMA colleagues, marking a landmark multi-departmental collaboration in the spirit of the Bauhaus. The Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, Germany, will present their exhibition on the Bauhaus in the summer 2009. The New York exhibition will include many of the same objects as the Berlin presentation, but will also have a distinct curatorial shaping focusing on MoMAs history with the Bauhaus.
The exhibition will open with a focus on the spirit of inquiry which challenged the hierarchies of the fine and applied arts in the craft-based workshops of the early Bauhaus in Weimar. Works by the Bauhaus masters Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Johannes Itten will be juxtaposed with numerous student works to underscore the revolutionary pedagogy of the school that quickly garnered an international reputation. The exploration of multiple possible directions in the early Weimar years of the Bauhaus, even the contradictory positions of its students and instructors, will be addressed. A major focus will be the Bauhauss own first exhibition in 1923, a turning point in the shift towards an ideology of industrial- production and a seminal moment in the Bauhauss construction of its own identity and many of its most powerful myths.
The move to the industrial city of Dessau in 1925 and to the factory-like complex of buildings designed by Walter Gropius opened a new chapter in which questions of Bauhaus architecture and its relationship to serial production came to the fore. This section of the exhibition comprises a new nexus of media and practices, including photography, advertising and exhibition design, theater, and film. Finally in 1927, on the eve of Gropiuss departure, the long awaited architecture departmentwhich Gropius had promised as the center of the curriculumwas opened under Hannes Meyer.
Directly challenging Gropiuss self-serving decision in the 1938 MoMA exhibition to limit the presentation of the Bauhaus to his own eight years as director, the 2009 exhibition will give prominence to the reforms introduced by Hannes Meyer, an architect of more decidedly functionalist orientation than Gropius. Meyers skill in forging business ties facilitated the mass production of affordable household goods designed by students as well as Bauhaus masters. The role of the schools final director Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who took over the reigns of the school in 1930 and shifted the emphasis to architecture and interior design, will be reexamined. In collaboration with the reevaluation undertaken by the Berlin show, MoMA will examine for the first time in an American exhibition Meyers and Mies new pedagogical concepts, the new alignment of artistic practices, and the responses to the political pressures of the rise of National Socialism in Germany that ultimately led to the schools closure after a few last moments in ad hoc quarters in Berlin in the spring of 1933.
With a wide diversity of objects, including examples of industrial design, furniture, graphics, film, photography, book design, weaving, theater, painting, and sculpture, the exhibition will highlight the schools revolutionary ideas of artistic education and production, as well as its enduring influence. In addition to materials from the rich holdings of the four collaborating institutions, major loans will come from the Busch-Reisinger Museum, the Albers Foundation, and numerous other collections in the United States and Europe. Works by Bauhaus masters such as Walter Gropius, Josef Albers, Wassily Kandinsky, László Moholy-Nagy, Johannes Itten, and Paul Klee will be joined by little-known student work created in the schools workshops. Other important themes that will be explored in the exhibition and catalogue are the schools strategy of self-promotion, its connection with industrial production and commerce, and the question of authorship.