Sunday, October 25, 2009

Technology and Modernism: Bauhaus

The Nineteenth-Century was a whirlwind era of advancement in technology and the development of industrial design. A demand for individuals who could combine artistic with technological skills (Sparke, 158) arose when British manufacturers desired “appropriately trained” workers. The idea of the craftsman and the artist as separate individuals was not part of the forward thinking concept of modernism. The solution to this issue was conceived in the form of the Staatliche Bauhaus, a new educational program that attempted to establish a relation between the emerging modernism of the fine arts and a broad range of design and craft fields (Pile, 320).

German architect and designer, Walter Gropius, headed the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany, which began with the combining of the Academy of Fine Art and the School of Applied Arts. Staff members of the Bauhaus included some of the most influential expressionist painters of the time – Lional Feininger, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Oscar Schlemmer – who, although sometimes collaborated teachings, specialized in specific areas of study.

The institution’s guild-inspired system allowed for exploration of art and design, but also called for some concentrated learning as well. The Bauhaus’ goal was to bring together all creative effort into one whole, to reunify all the disciplines of practical art – sculpture, painting, handicrafts, and the crafts – as inseparable components of a new architecture (Gorman, 98). This new architecture was idealized in the design and construction of the Bauhaus’ second location in the city of Dessau (the Bauhaus was forced to move in 1925 due to economic and political problems). With Gropius designing the new buildings himself, he developed what was then classified as the ‘International Style’. The term reflects the fact that modernism was not marked by the strong national differences typical of earlier design (Pile, 330). The interior and exterior designs reflected each other, both expressing simplicity and functionality.

Unfortunately, the Bauhaus was force to close in 1933 under the direction of Mies van der Rohe, due to both financial pressures and the hostility toward all avant-garde ideas that marked the rising of the Nazi movement (Pile, 330). Although the school closed, many of its teachers and students took their knowledge and spread it to different areas throughout Europe, and many even traveled to the United States to pursue their idea of modern design and express it as desired.

The concept of the International Style was a huge movement for design and architecture. It signified the passing of specific national differences and the unification of them all. Do you think this movement was disadvantageous in the sense that various places of significant architectural styles lost their prominence? Or was it beneficial because of the integration of one style? Also, was the International Style successful as compared to previously developed styles (i.e. Victorian design, Eclecticism, etc.)? Are the principles behind the International Style something we still see in today’s design field?

(Villa Savoye - International Style Example - Google Images)


meagan_mckee said...

I apologize for the strange font size differences and paragraph format. Didn't show up like that in the preview...

kengelman said...

I think that the International style was both disadvantageous and beneficial. I think it was disadvantageous because everyone kind of lost their sense of identity. The architecture was the same all over the world and you couldn't really tell what architecture belonged to what country. But on the other hand there was a certain benefit to this as well. The countries no longer tried to upscale each other with a new style since they were all practicing the same style now. Another benefit is that architects from different countries could practice in different countries without worrying about different style changes.

I think that it was successful compared to previously developed styles because it was something totally new and different that now one had ever seen before. As with Eclecticism that kind of just took things from the past and turned them into something a little more modern but with the International Style it everything that was done was something new and I think this made this style very successful.

I think the principles of the International Style are seen today. I think that there is a pretty good cohesive style through the world. One country isn't totally doing something that another one isn't doing. The designs today are very modern and concentrate a lot on the use of technology. Also the International Style was about connecting the exterior and interior and I think that is something that is done all the time in design today. Almost every project's interior reflects the exterior of the building. I also think that we still have that simplistic, functional aspects of design that was present in the International Style.

Melissa Long said...

To reference back to one of my famous quotes from last year, I believe architecture should represent the culture it is created in. I believe this is what makes Frank Lloyd Wrights stand out so much in American architecture. While he strives to draw a connection between the site and the building, he fails to take into account any of Americans culture or history. Consequently, we have awkward Japanese influence design placed amongst suburbia homes.

International style is a direct byproduct of lack of national pride. Lack of carrying about what has already been accomplished in architecture in each nation is evident in the international style. While the goal may have been to make unified design, they lost the sole of the design in doing so. Buildings no longer have the personality of the nation they reside in. They are simple, clean lined, and can be plopped down in any location the architect seems fit. Imagine if all building were in the international style and how unexciting traveling to other countries would be.

While the international style was innovative for the time period, due to personal preference and the importance I place on cultural design I do not believe the International style was as successful as past styles, such as Art Nouveau. It had a major impact on the future of design, but it served as the negative transition between too much ornamentation to too little. All memory of the past accomplishments were lost when this new style was created and ironically is what we draw most of our historical influence on today.

While international design was extreme and cost nations to lose some of their since of identity, it did help bring architecture together. It is much like globalization, it has both negative and positive effects. As a result, architecture today is more unified across the board. The development of technology has allowed design made in America to be built in China. And in general architecture across the world is going in the same direction as (picture Joe doing is twisting moving hand thing.) The idea of international design and some of the principles of clean lines can still be seen in design today.

Elizabeth Harr said...

The international style in my opinion was both good and bad in different ways. Because it is an international style where the whole world is following it, this means that individual areas lost their own unique styles if they followed this international style. On the other hand it was very beneficial for the different architects. They could travel the world and create their designs anywhere without running into a lot of problems.

This style has been successful and it has also not been successful. It has been successful in the sense that it is something new unlike Eclecticism. This international modern style has been introduced to almost every city. There is some form of this style in most of these major cities and has really caught on. It hasnt been successful in the sense that small towns will always remain untouched. These small towns will continue to most likely live in the past and if new architecture is built it will resemble the already present architecture that is in their city.

The principals of this style will definitely stick around and continue to be present in todays architecture and design.

Eunyoung An said...

I agree with other people.
The international style had both positive and negative impact. it could lack of national unique style but also, it could connect the art and architecture through this style to the international wide.

However the truth is that Bauhaus had a major impact on art and architecture in that period. it was one of the big trend on the art and architecture in America, Western Europe, and Canada.
I think their ideal of the style to the art and architecture was interesting that is ornament is crime, truth to materials, form follows function and machine for living.

Clay Moran said...

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