Johannes Itten was never affiliated directly with the Nazi party, unlike the aforementioned Lothar Schreyer, who became involved with the party after his departure from the Bauhaus. The fact that the private art school Itten established in Berlin after his departure from the Bauhaus was shut down by the party in 1935 may be taken as additional proof that he was not a Nazi follower. Indeed, the fact that Itten’s paintings were included in the Entartete Kunst exhibition of 1937 is evidence demonstrating how he was regarded by the Nazi establishment. Nevertheless, it can be argued that Itten’s lithograph Haus des weißen Mannes (House of the White Man) from the portfolio Neue europäische Graphik, 1. Mappe: Meister des Staatlichen Bauhauses in Weimar, 1921 (New European Graphics, 1st Portfolio: Masters of the State Bauhaus, Weimar, 1921) not only represents one of the first depictions of an overtly modernist and constructivist building but also suggests that he openly subscribed to the racial beliefs of Mazdaznan. Indeed, Magdalena Droste describes how Itten made several contributions to art magazines at the time, discussing theories of racial evolution and proclaiming that the “white race” represented the highest form of civilization.17
In the long term, the presence of malevolent elements within Mazdaznan corrupted the movement, tainting some of those affiliated with it. However, in its early years Mazdaznan ideas seem to have been revelatory to some and, in Itten’s case, served as a catalyst for the formation of a new aesthetic. This is exemplified by his Tower of Fire, a no longer extant object which may have been a sculptural work or an architectural maquette.18 The structural elements of Itten’s tower can be read according to their formal and numeric symbolism. For example, the spiral that constitutes the backbone of the tower represents the possibility of achieving ascended states and spiritual evolution, aims central to Mazdaznan. The same symbolism is also visible in the aforementioned painting Die Begegnung (The Encounter), which can be viewed as a demonstration of the artist's exploration of color theory, color rhythms and contrast. As mentioned, the structure is replete with numeric symbolism, with the number twelve recurring throughout the tower in glass and metal forms. This connects with the diagrammatic star of twelve colors devised by Itten to introduce Bauhaus students to color theory. This recurrence of the number twelve can be linked to Itten’s preoccupation with the zodiac, but it is also related to the artist’s contemporaneous investigations into twelve tone music and harmonies. Constructed from an array of multicolored glass panels, the tower tapers toward the top like a conical shell. Black and white images can offer only a limited idea of how striking this monumental prismatic minaret must have appeared. Moreover, since Itten envisaged the tower as a kinetic gesamtkunstwerk, it would have also emitted light and sound.
Of all the ways that Mazdaznan influenced Itten, the most positive and indeed the most historically significant was how it informed his teaching techniques. Itten’s development of a holistic educational program to activate both body and mind through physical and mental exercise was influenced directly by Mazdaznan teachings. The fact that Itten’s pedagogical system remained a key element of the Bauhaus syllabus after his departure and is still in use today testifies to the fact at least some ideas propagated by Dr. Otoman Zar-Adusht Ha'nish possessed affirmative value. Éva Forgács argues that Mazdaznan was a readymade philosophy of life that students could passively adopt. She focuses upon the negative aspects of the movement, suggesting Itten used his esoteric system to dominate his students and usurp Gropius’s position. According to Itten, however, incorporating these elements within his teaching methods actually had the opposite effect upon his students: Mazdaznan techniques were intended to empower students. Writing about his methods of teaching, Itten acknowledged that there was much that occurred between himself and his students which could not be adequately described in words:
"The description of my teaching seems to me poor compared with what actually happened. The tone, the rhythm, the sequence of words, place and time, the mood of the students, and all the other circumstances which make for a vital atmosphere cannot be reproduced; yet it is the ineffable which helps form a climate of creativity. My teaching was intuitive finding. My own emotion gave me the power which produced the student's readiness to learn. To teach out of inner enthusiasm is the opposite of a mere pre-planned method of instruction."19