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Bauhaus: How the Avant-Garde Movement Transformed Modern Art

Style of Bauhaus

The style of Bauhaus is commonly characterized as a combination of the Arts and Crafts movement with modernism, as evident in its emphasis on function and, according to the Tate, its “aim to bring art back into contact with everyday life.” Thus, typical Bauhaus designs—whether evident in painting, architecture, or interior design—feature little ornamentation and a focus on balanced forms and abstract shapes.

 

Bauhaus Art

In art, this emphasis on function is apparent in the balanced compositions of abstract paintings by Bauhaus artists like Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. Undoubtedly inspired by architecture, the paintings typically pair flat planes with overlapping shapes to suggest dimensionality.

Bauhaus Art Bauhaus Design Bauhaus Architecture What is Bauhaus What is the Bauhaus Movement

Yellow-Red-Blue (1925) by Wassily Kandinsky (Photo: Musée national d’art moderne via Wikimedia Commons)

Bauhaus Art Bauhaus Design Bauhaus Architecture What is Bauhaus What is the Bauhaus Movement

Red Balloon (1922) by Paul Klee (Photo: Timothy Armstrong)

In addition to paintings, artists often produced abstract sculptures, avant-garde collages, and modernist posters featuring bold typography and blocks of color.

Bauhaus Art Bauhaus Design Bauhaus Architecture What is Bauhaus What is the Bauhaus Movement

Bauhaus Exhibition Poster (1923) (Photo: iv toran)

 

Bauhaus Architecture

Similar to Bauhaus art, architecture in this style is characterized by harmoniously balanced geometric shapes and an emphasis on function.

Featuring open plans and lots of glass, it is inspired by the simple yet polished look of the American Arts and Crafts movement—a genre popularized by master architect and Prairie School pioneer Frank Lloyd Wright.

Bauhaus Art Bauhaus Design Bauhaus Architecture What is Bauhaus What is the Bauhaus Movement

Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright (Photo: Carol M. Highsmith via Wikimedia Commons)

Furthermore, this modern architecture movement heavily inspired the look of mid-century modern homes, which borrow the clean lines and functional design of Bauhaus buildings.

 

Bauhaus Interior Design

Bauhaus interiors are renowned for their simplicity and openness. Minimally adorned with iconic furniture—including the Wassily Chair, a model named after Kandinsky—and uncomplicated accents, they perfectly echo their exteriors.

Bauhaus Art Bauhaus Design Bauhaus Architecture What is Bauhaus What is the Bauhaus Movement

Photo: Spyrosdrakopoulos via Wikimedia Commons

Bauhaus Art Bauhaus Design Bauhaus Architecture What is Bauhaus What is the Bauhaus Movement

Photo: PeterDrews via Wikimedia Commons

Bauhaus Art Bauhaus Design Bauhaus Architecture What is Bauhaus What is the Bauhaus Movement

Photo: pyrosdrakopoulos via Wikimedia Commons

 

Legacy

Today, Bauhaus is often credited as the catalyst for modern architecture and furniture and as an important influence on mid-20th century painting and sculpture. Some buildings—including Bauhaus Dessau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site—have been turned into tourist destinations and house museums, while many major modern art museums incorporate the works of art into their permanent displays and popular exhibitions.

Bauhaus Art Bauhaus Design Bauhaus Architecture What is Bauhaus What is the Bauhaus Movement

Bauhaus Dessau (Photo: Mewes via Wikimedia Commons)

 

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Kelly Richman-Abdou

Kelly Richman-Abdou is an art historian living in Paris. Born and raised in San Francisco, Kelly holds a BA in Art History from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. When she’s not writing, you can find Kelly wandering around Paris, whether she’s leading a tour (as a guide, she has been interviewed by BBC World News America and France 24) or simply taking a stroll with her husband and two tiny daughters.

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