Exactly one hundred years have passed since Walter Gropius founded the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar in 1919, born from the merger of the two schools of Art (1860) and Applied Arts (1907) of the Saxon Grand Duchy. In an iconic, powerful Manifesto, the Berlin architect explains in a few lines the reasons for the present and the urgency of having to give a new approach to the study of those who will build (new) the "new architecture": Bau-Haus, the home of build, where the neuer Mensch is formed - a citizen of the modern age. The School advocates a return to empirical-craft skills with the support of new techniques, artistic knowledge and an all-encompassing preparation, in step with the times and free from the dictatorship of styles, in a culturally gifted world as traumatized by the horrors of the Great War .
On the threshold of the 1920s his Europe wants to be reborn: in the small Thuringian homeland of the German Klassik, now the cradle of the new Movement, the first German democratic parliament that writes the Constitution of the Weimar Republic meets - the golden age of the arts and sciences, true first experiment of equality between all human beings, active participation in politics and freedom of thought. Universal suffrage with openness to women, the crisis of the oligarchy, the longed for egalitarianism after centuries of kingdoms and empires are the fertile humus from which the luminous Berlin of the Ku’damm rises, of the emancipated neue Fraue of the fundamental Novembergruppe.
It looks like the beginning of a new era, but Berlin is not Germany, nor is the microcosm of Weimar: the magnificent season of Gropius, Klee, Kandinsky and many other masters, the greatest forge of twentieth-century talent , it lasts just the time of a puberty, despite the immediate success among the young people who come from all over Europe to the three schools, crowding the seminaries, children of a bourgeoisie tired of the academy and who dreams of change by living its time at double speed . Many are secularized Jews, many are the girls who fill the classrooms of architecture classes - with great concern (somewhat misogynist) of Gropius himself. They are the number one enemies that Hitler's executioners will make a clean sweep. In 1933 the Bauhaus was closed by the Nazis as soon as they came to power; they had already forced him to move to Dessau in 1925, and finally to Berlin in 1932. The purity of the materials and the linearity of the forms, the unusual spatial and human perspectives, the incredible coexistence of the infinite souls and currents that swarm inside it, are not suited to the rhetoric of the regime that pursues only authoritarianism, unity and prevarication, taking refuge in safety of known and often recycled images, of historicist forms and trappings that inhibit any creativity breath.
Die Welt neu denken - à-la imaginista
The motto of the celebrations for this year entirely dedicated to the Bauhaus can only be "thinking about the world (in a way) new": over 500 events involve 11 different nations, the German Bund and the three big Institutions of Weimar, Dessau and Berlin ( reopened after the Second World War) to celebrate an international birthday and rebirth. Because if in Germany he started to build for the Bauhaus (with new museums in his three capitals), everywhere in the world he celebrated the universalism of ideas, their happy diaspora (from the Greek, dissemination rather than dispersion) and the undisputed welcome to those who have taken them in these 100 years. It is a jubilee à-la Bauhaus, which practices an active memory and rethinks, in addition to past events and influences in the present, the possible effects and developments in the immediate future. Debates, conferences, readings, meetings of specialists of various disciplines are not only a tribute to the many souls of that colorful Centenary Movement but also an indispensable scientific contribution to the understanding of its current potential, out of the myth and the patatist and passatist rhetoric of those who would like to close behind a really inappropriate showcase and / or stamp with the exclusive brand "made in Germany".
"Bauhaus ist kein Originalprodukt aus Deutschland", Marion von Osten bravely declares - who curated the project "Bauhaus Imaginista" currently on a world tour - just when the eyes of the whole world are on Germany. The Leipzig artist belongs to a new generation of young German scholars and politicians, especially women, who are opposed to embarrassing chauvinistic exaltations and to any pretense of European cultural superiority, indeed difficult to neutralize in the era of the neo-sovereigns. Humanity and its genius would be better to admire more than family trees, adaptability and creations.
Wie politisch ist das Bauhaus?
Finally, the key question that has been shaking Germany for a few months: what is the political legacy of the Bauhaus, or once again: is it legitimate to talk about "politics and art"? Questions that are in themselves absolutely rhetorical, even more net of the incredible current relevance of the issues just raised - the diaspora and migration, cultural integration, the universalism of ideas, the feminine question, the authoritarianisms - and therefore inconvenient for the official policy that at all costs wants to find some party where it is absent, accusing the opponent of turn of exploitation pro domo suo, reducing the meaning and potential of those nouns to a mere question of football supporter and debasing the cultural debate at the level of hypocrite politically correct actions.
For those who have not yet found an answer, the invitation remains to read the Bauhaus Manifesto of 1919, on the cover of which Gropius wanted the Cathedral of the many facets of Lyonel Feininger, and perhaps to let himself be guided or at least inspired by the calendar of events following…
Happy Bauhaus to all!
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