Lyonel Feininger, Kathedrale [Cathedral], 1919, Cover and one page of the manifesto
and programme of the Bauhaus, April 1919, 32.1 x 19.4 cm, Woodblock print
Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Photo: Atelier Schneider, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019.
Nandalal Bose, Instructions for Mural painting, early 1930s
Mural, Kala Bhavana, Santiniketan, India, © Kala Bhavan, Visva Bharati, Santiniketan.
Weaving workshop at Bauhaus Dessau, ca. 1927, photo: Erich Consemüller/architect: Walter Gropius
Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019.
Lena Bergner, Two studies from the Paul Klee course at the Bauhaus, 1927–28
Litho print, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, © Heirs to Lena Bergner.
Kala Bavhan campus, Santiniketan, West Bengal, 2017, photo: Grant Watson.
Krishna Reddy, Postcard and drawing, year unknown
Photo: Grant Watson, © Judith Reddy, New York.
Renshichirō Kawakita & Katsuo Takei, Kōsei Kyōiku Taikei, (Handbook for Teaching Design), 1934
Private Collection of Prof. Hiromitsu Umemiya.
Renshichirō Kawakita at the workshop of Kōsei Kyouiku for art teachers held in
Wakayama Prefecture, December 1933, from: Kenchiku Kōgei. I See All, Vol. 3, No. 3, Mar. 1933.
Hin Bredendieck (middle) from Josef Albers's preliminary course 1928, ca. 1928 (photo) / 2015
Fine Art Print, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau.
Seikatsu kōsei (Life Construction) exhibition at Bunka Gakuin
in June 1931. Published in: Kenchiku Gaho, Vol. 22, No. 10.
Luca Frei, Design for pillows, 2017
Gouache, pencil and collage on foam core, 70 x 100 x 3 cm, photo: Karl Isakson.
Corresponding With departs from the 1919 Bauhaus Manifesto published by Walter Gropius, who argued that in the future there should be “no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman.” The Manifesto was of its time, drawing on a radical cultural movement that wanted to overcome existing academic art education, and understood the social and material value of craft to redress the alienation and destruction of nineteenth-century industrial capitalism. The Bauhaus school was, from its inception, at the confluence of international ideas on modernism and radical educational reforms, rethinking the relationship between the applied and non-applied arts and manual and cognitive knowledge. As a pedagogical experiment, it was exceptional in putting various ideas and practices into a new curriculum and rethinking the role of the arts in the creation of a new socialist and democratic society.
The Bauhaus opened in April 1919 in the same year the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore inaugurated the art school Kala Bhavana at Santiniketan, an already existing utopian community on a piece of land 100 miles north of Calcutta (today Kolkata). Like the early Bauhaus, Kala Bhavana developed a modernist language while referring to resources from Indian traditions as well as, for example, the British Arts and Crafts movement. In 1922, the Austrian art historian Stella Kramrisch, who taught at Kala Bhavana, wrote a letter to Johannes Itten in which she pursued the possibility of a Bauhaus exhibition in India, prompted it is believed by Tagore’s visit Germany a year earlier. This exchange of correspondence resulted in the first international Bauhaus show, which took place at the Indian Society of Oriental Art in Kolkata in December of that year.
Another Bauhaus-related educational experiment—Seikatsu Kōsei Kenkyūsho (Research Institute for Life Design)—was founded by Renshichirō Kawakita in Tokyo in 1931 and later renamed Shin Kenchiku Kōgei Gakuin (School of New Architecture and Design). Like the Bauhaus in Weimar, the Tokyo school combined modernist crafts and industrial forms of production with in this case traditional Japanese ideas of aesthetics. In 1934 Kawakita published (with Katsuo Takei) a book on Kōsei education, Kōsei Kyōiku Taikei (Handbook for Teaching Design) which worked alongside the school to transform specific Bauhaus principles into a new, modernist Japanese art educational theory.
The exhibition Corresponding With compares the practice and philosophy of these three schools, linked by letters, ideas, and the movement of people and works. It contains rarely seen documents on teaching methods and workshop environments, aesthetic vocabularies and material cultures, the content of courses, the outcome of workshops on everyday objects (crafted in accordance with the school’s guiding principles) and writings on pedagogy. The three schools—considered in relation to one another and rethought in terms of early twentieth-century art education as part of transnational and transcultural exchange—shared a critique of European academic art education and the desire to reshape society through radical pedagogy.
Performance theorist Rustom Bharucha delivers a lecture on his unique research into the friendship between the Indian poet and Japanese curator.
Exhibition booklet from the exhibition The Bauhaus in Calcutta. An Encounter of the Cosmopolitan Avant-garde, Bauhaus Dessau Foundation.
Begeleitheft zur Ausstellung Das Bauhaus in Kalkutta. Eine Begegnung kosmopolitischer Avantgarden, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau.
from: The Visva-Bharati Quarterly, April 1923, pp. 69–75.
from: Regina Bittner & Kathrin Rhomberg (eds.): The Bauhaus in Calcutta. An Encounter of the Cosmopolitan Avant-Garde, Edition Bauhasus 36, Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern 2013, pp. 117–133.
in: Tom Holert & Marion von Osten (Hg.): Das Erziehungsbild. Zur visuellen Kultur des Pädagogischen, Schlebrügge.Editor, Wien 2010, S. 106–130.
R. Siva Kumar, Santiniketan - The Making of a Contextual Modernism, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi 1997.
Essay by Tagore denouncing nationalism
from: Regina Bittner & Kathrin Rhomberg (eds.): The Bauhaus in Calcutta. An Encounter of the Cosmopolitan Avant-Garde, Edition Bauhasus 36, Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern 2013, pp. 100–107.
from: Visva Bharati News, 1932–33.
in: Schweizer Ingenieur und Architekt, Vol. 41, No. 118, 2000. Mit freundlicher Genehmigung des Autors.
from: Kokusai Kenchiku, No. 12, 1932, pp. 465–469. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, © Yamawaki Iwao & Michiko Archives.