The Bauhaus art school, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, was a luminous flash in the early 20thcentury dark. Flanked by two world wars, rocked by the volatile Weimar Republic, the pioneering school represents a luminous window of clean form, streamlined function, and political idealism amid decades of horror and chaos.
The window was slammed shut by the Nazis in April 1933. Amid an intensifying campaign against ‘cosmopolitan’, ‘decadent’ or “Bolshevikstik” art, Bauhaus masters and students gathered at their last premises in Berlin for a solemn dissolution ceremony; they would rather disband themselves than be closed down by the regime.
But for all its brief tenure, the Bauhaus light streams down through the decades to this day. It altered the look of everything, from the chair you are sitting on to the house you go home to, to the pot you pour your tea from and the cup you pour it into.
It also transformed the way art is taught. Every student pursuing a foundation course has the Bauhaus to thank. And every art school that offers studies of materials, colour theory and three-dimensional design is indebted in part to the educational experiments carried out by Bauhaus teachers and students between 1919 and 1933.