Friday, May 10, 2013

The Bauhaus in Dessau (random musings 2)

Dessau, May 10, 2013

Constantine set out to re-build Rome in Byzantium (yes, with the help of Justinian, Theodosius and others.)  The comparison may be a little funny but, in a similar vein, when Walter Gropius moves the Bauhaus to Dessau in the mid 1920s, he seems to make every effort to bring with him a lot of Weimar.

If you allow me to indulge in the comparison, there is little doubt that the new Bauhaus building in Dessau is Gropius's Hagia Sophia.

The studio wing of the building, the one with the little balconies, was know as "Prellerhaus".  Do you know why?  Let me tell you: near the Bauhaus in Weimar, there was an old house--built in 1870 by the painter Louis Weimaer Preller--that students and young masters used as dwelling studios, and was associated with a sense of freewheeling creativity in the school.  So Gropius tried to reproduce this environment in the new building to the point it kept the same name.

At least you can tell that I'm not completely making this up...

And it's not difficult to imagine that the "Meisterhäuser" were trying to re-settle the older masters--Klee, Kandinsky, Feininger, etc.--in analogous way to what I imagine was a town-like existence in Weimar (I wonder if there is a map of Weimar with the locations of all the places where Bauhaus teachers and students lived?)

But at the risk of pushing my luck, I'd like to stretch the argument a little further, to the "Kornhaus", the restaurant on Elbe riverbank designed by Gropius's collaborator Carl Fieger in 1929.  It is about a mile and half from the Dessau Bauhaus, roughly the same distance between the Weimar Bauhaus and the "Ilmschlöesschen", the favorite restaurant, drinking and partying spot of the early years of the school.

Why not?

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