Changing the Present, Building the Future
In May 1982, the Moroccan newspaper Al-maghreb asked me to write an article for their issue on the ongoing Rabat conference “Rencontre entre Architectes et Plasticiens”. I was to contribute with an outline history of the artists who had attended the School of Fine Arts in Casablanca, and their productions and theories between the 1960s and 1970s. In documenting that work, I quoted the statement made by Walter Gropius: “architects, sculptors, painters, we must all turn to the crafts […] the artist is an exalted craftsman”. The team of the school of Casablanca knew about the Bauhaus Manifesto and had interpreted it, I wrote, in “an imaginative, flexible, independent” way. Many years before, in 1965, when presenting a group exhibition of the school’s students, I had written that their collective work was “inspired by the ideas and methods of the first real modern art school, the Bauhaus”. The reference to Gropius and the Bauhaus in connection with the school of Casablanca should not surprise, nor, as we shall see, should the fact that its painters often mentioned the discovery of Klee, and also Kandinsky, as important for their early formative experience.
In the years when Western nations were committed in new projects of partnership, with what was then called the “Third World”, young artists and students from the Maghreb and other parts of the world, had been granted scholarships by a range of countries. They had grown up in the passionate climate of the struggle for independence, were talented, open to modernity, and eager to connect with twentieth-century international art movements, which were different in production and spirit from colonial ideology and culture. Scholarships offered the opportunity to get acquainted with a variety of situations, art movements, research areas and styles, and also to learn, or hear about, the innovative Bauhaus Weimar and Dessau periods.