Introduction to Walter Gropius

21423864A fairly good short introduction to Walter Gropius I think. My principal critique is that despite its emphasis on  Gropius’s own belief in collaborative work, he is the focus to the exclusion of all others — it actually treats Gropius as one of the individualistic architects that he tried to set himself apart from. So Bauhaus as a school and a community in which many wonderful artists took part — particularly Klee who I love — remains very opaque. Still, Gropius’s vision is fairly clear I think, though I fear the U.S. red-baiting of the time affected some of the Fitch’s protestations of the distance between Walter Gropius’s politics and  any kind of dreaded socialism.

Fascinating, though, is Fitch’s compilation of the Bauhaus vision from various quotes:

  1. The Bauhaus believes the machine to be our modem medium of design and seeks to come to terms with it.
  2.  All design must recognize this fact of life and distill a new set of esthetic criteria from it. Such a process would, for architecture, lead to “clear, organic [form] whose inner logic will be radiant and naked, unencumbered by lying facades and trickeries”.
  3. The Bauhaus teaches “the common citizenship of all forms of creative work and their logical interdependence upon one another.”
  4. The scale and complexity of modern problems necessitates collaborative design. “Any industrially produced object is the result of countless experiments, of long systematic research.” The design school must recognize this and equip the student with “the common basis on which many individuals are able to create together a superior unit of work”.
  5. The education of the designer “must include a thorough, practical manual training in workshops actively engaged in production, coupled with sound theoretical instruction in the laws of design”.

This contrasts with Le Corbusier in very interesting and fundamental ways while still retaining the aesthetic of machines and modernity.

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