bauhaus
imaginista
●Edition 4: Still Undead
Sep. 21 2019–Jan. 12 2020
Exhibition

bauhaus imaginista | Still Undead: Popular Culture in Britain Beyond the Bauhaus

  • Nottingham Contemporary
  • Weekday Cross
  • Nottingham NG1 2GB
  • United Kingdom

Coinciding with the centenary of the Bauhaus, the exhibition Still Undead traces how the pioneering art and design school’s ideas and teaching lived on in Britain, via popular culture and art school experimentation. Spanning the 1920s to the 90s, and including works by some 50 artists, designers and musicians, Still Undead narrates the eclectic and fragmented ways that the Bauhaus’s legacy has been transmitted and transformed.

Kurt Schwerdtfeger, Reflektorische Farblichtspiele, 1966, 16mm film transfer to digital, sound, 17 minutes 24 seconds. Courtesy of Microscope Gallery and Kurt Schwerdtfeger Estate.

Lux Feininger, Dancer Karla Berggruen on a table in the Bauhaus canteen wearing part of the white tulle-covered hoop costume from the Triadic Ballet by Oskar Schlemmer, 1927. Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau.

The exhibition’s point of departure is Reflektorische Farblichtspiele (reflective coloured light games) by Kurt Schwerdtfeger, an apparatus he designed as a student for the Bauhaus Lantern Festival in 1922. Experiments of this kind were key elements of Bauhaus party culture, which blended music, costume and performance. They fed into the stage workshop, and would go on to find new contexts in commercial design and popular culture. Still Undead opens by locating this “light games” alongside a selection of sound and light pieces from the 1920s and early 30s.

When the National Socialists came to power and the Bauhaus closed in 1933, a number of its masters and students – including Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, Walter Gropius, Otti Berger, Margaret Leischner and Edith Tudor-Hart – came to Britain. A lack of stable employment pushed many of these emigrés towards a variety of projects, making everything from sci-fi special effects and documentary photography to shop-window displays.

The exhibition goes on to trace how Bauhaus pedagogy, including the preliminary course, reshaped British art schools in the 1950s and 60s, exploring influential courses developed by artists including Rita Donagh, Richard Hamilton and Victor Pasmore. Around this time, a young generation – among them, Mary Quant, Terence Conran and Vidal Sassoon – began to reimagine the aims of the Bauhaus for an era of consumerism and commercial design.

Still Undead concludes, through Bauhaus student performance work, photography and film, with an immersion into the subcultures of the 1970s and 80s – from bands and club nights to DIY publishing. This includes the outrageous costumes and performances of Leigh Bowery, borrowing from Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet, as well as art-school bands such as Soft Cell. This section of the exhibition is a collage of performance, music and graphic design, which invokes the spirit of Bauhaus parties and theatre. The exhibition title, Still Undead, is borrowed from a 1982 song by the British goth-rock band Bauhaus, suggesting that these spirits linger on.

The exhibition features the work of some 50 artists, designers and musicians, including Gertrud Arndt, Roy Ascott, Bauhaus (the band), Robyn Beeche, Otti Berger, Leigh Bowery, Robert Brownjohn, Laurie-Rae Chamberlain, Edmund Collein, Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell, Terence Conran, Rita Donagh, T. Lux Feininger, Ueli Frey, Maxwell Fry, Walter Gropius, René Halkett and David Jay, Richard Hamilton, Florence Henri, George Hinchcliffe and Ian Wood, Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, Tom Hudson, Kraftwerk, Kurt Kranz, Margaret Leischner, Liliane Lijn, John Maybury, Lucia Moholy, László Moholy-Nagy, Victor Pasmore, Mary Quant, Vidal Sassoon, Peter Saville, Oskar Schlemmer, Kurt Schwerdtfeger, Soft Cell, Frank Tovey (Fad Gadget), Edith Tudor-Hart, Stephen Willats.

The exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary is curated by Marion von Osten, Grant Watson and Sam Thorne. Research curators: Olivia Aherne, Gavin Butt, Cédric Fauq, Christian Hiller and Mariana Meneses.

László Moholy-Nagy, The New Architecture and the London Zoo, 1937. Courtesy: Light Cone & Moholy-Nagy Foundation.

Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell, Bauhaus, 1972. Courtesy of the artists and Liberty Fabrics. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

●Event documentation
●Locations
Locations of the Exhibition in Nottingham

The exhibition Still Undead: Pop Culture in Britain Beyond the Bauhaus takes place at Nottingham Contemporary from 21 September 2019 until 5 January 2020.

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●Slide Show
bauhaus imaginista | Still Undead: Popular Culture in Britain Beyond the Bauhaus

Photo documentation of the exhibition Popular Culture in Britain Beyond the Bauhaus at Nottingham Contemporary.

Photos: Stuart Whipps. → more

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