bauhaus
imaginista
●Edition 2: Learning From
Oct. 24 2018–Jan. 6 2019
Exhibition

bauhaus imaginista. Learning From, São Paulo

  • SESC Pompéia São Paulo
  • R. Clélia, 93 - Pompeia, São Paulo - SP, 05042-000, Brazil

Poster for the exhibition bauhaus imaginista: Learning From /

Aprendizados Recíprocos at SESC Pompéia, São Paulo.

With works by: Anni Albers, Josef Albers, Arthur Amora, Susie Benally, Farid Belkahia, Lena Bergner, Lina Bo Bardi, Ahmed Cherkaoui, Lygia Clark, Rogério Duarte, Saul Elkins/Morteza Rezvani, Trude Guermonprez, Abdellah Hariri, Sheila Hicks, Maud Houssais, Paul Klee, Elisa Martins da Silveira, Mohamed Melehi, Hossein Miloudi, Hannes Meyer, Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Pape, Geraldo Sarno, Ivan Serpa, Paulo Tavares, Lenore Tawney, Marguerite Wildenhain, Anne Wilson, Sol Worth/John Adair, Cristobal Zañartu.

Photograph from the archive of Hannes Meyer from his time in the Soviet Union, undated, © Hannes-Meyer-Archiv, DAM.

The exhibition bauhaus imaginista: Learning From explores the role of cultural appropriation at the Bauhaus and in the work of Bauhaus related artists and designers during the 20th Century. It departs from the example of Paul Klee’s 1927 drawing of a carpet that references traditional Maghrebi carpet patterns, which shows a Bauhaus Master’s interest in non-Western cultural forms.

From the mid 1930s onwards Bauhaus emigres, including Josef and Anni Albers, and Marguerite Wildenhain, travelled throughout the Americas observing, documenting and collecting handicrafts produced by pre-Columbian and indigenous cultures. Anni Albers and her fellow weavers, including a younger generation of Fiber Artists looked to ancient Peruvian textiles because of their complexity and the high social value afforded weaving in Inca society. An interest in vernacular handicraft and architecture can also be seen in the work and study of the second Bauhaus director Hannes Meyer and Bauhaus weaver Lena Bergner during the period they spent in Mexico.

The turn to the vernacular and to handicrafts was given a political dimension in post-independence Morocco, where the rejection of a French Beaux-Arts model by Moroccan artists of the early 1960s led to the re-evaluation of local North African crafts and the Bauhaus, both of which were integrated into the curriculum of the School of Fine Arts in Casablanca.

In Brazil, a new design school named the Institute of Contemporary Art (IAC)—established by the architect Lina Bo Bardi and Pietro Maria Bardi at Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP)—laid claim to Bauhaus lineage through its curriculum and faculty. However, this European modernist legacy was also resisted, leading Bo Bardi to study popular, Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous cultures in her effort to formulate a specifically Brazilian aesthetic. This reflected a broader post-war interest in cultural appropriation and developing new modernist vocabularies by turning to the cultures of marginalized groups.

Public program / Discussion on October 25, 2018 at Goethe-Institut São Paulo
Speakers: Ailton Krenak, Ethel Leon, Adele Nelson, Luiza Proença, Suely Rolnik, Cristine Takuá, Paulo Tavares, Marion von Osten and Grant Watson.

bauhaus imaginista: Learning From is produced by the SESC São Paulo and curated by Marion von Osten (Berlin) and Grant Watson (London), with support from researchers Elissa Auther (NYC), Erin Alexa Freedman (NYC), Anja Guttenberger (Berlin), Maud Houssais (Rabat) and Luiza Proença (São Paulo) as well as resaerch advisors Regina Bittner (Dessau, Fabienne Eggelhöfer (Berne) and Toni Maraini (Marokko).

Richard Chalfen, Film maker Alta Kahn while shooting Navajo Film Themselves, 1966, film still, Courtesy of Penn Museum Archive/© Richard Chalfen.

●Event documentation
●Exhibition Opening Program
bauhaus imaginista — Learning From / Aprendizados Recíprocos

As part of the exhibition bauhaus imaginista: Learning From, at Sesc Pompeia (October 25 to January 6th) a public discussion at the Goethe Institute, Sao Paulo, will explore questions of cultural appropriation, representation and ‘learning from’ handicrafts in the work of Bauhaus emigres their students as well as important modernist figures in Brazil; who studied and collected a wide range of cultures from outside the modernist main stream. They looked to sources including popular, indigenous, and non-western sources, to energize their work.  → more

●Slide Show
bauhaus imaginista: Learning From, São Paulo

Photo documentation of the exhibition bauhaus imaginista: Learning From and its opening at SESC Pompéia in São Paulo

 

Photos: Danila Bustamante, 2018. → more

●Video
Reading Sybil Moholy-Nagy, Native Genius in Anonymous Architecture in North America, 1957

In the 1960s, the interest in a regional and vernacular architecture evolved into a sort of counterculture against the prevailing modernism in the USA. Sybil Moholy-Nagy’s book is an early document of this movement and today a classic of architecture history. It features buildings and construction techniques that emerge from social practices and whose builders remain anonymous. They include Amerindian settlement forms, Mexican pueblos and churches, as well as barns and houses of the first European settlers. → more

●Exhibition Slide Show
Des-Habitat

Des-Habitat interrogates the ways in which indigenous arts and crafts appeared within discourses and imaginaries of modernity through the lens of Habitat, the arts and design magazine created by architect Lina Bo Bardi in 1950. Instead of the content shown in the images of indigenous objects, the project interrogates the context from which they emerged as signifiers of modernity in Habitat, examining how Habitat itself, by virtue of its language and visual design, functioned as framing device that concealed that context and its inherent colonial structure. → more

●Exhibition Documentation
Brochure and Wall Texts from the Exhibition at Sesc Pompeia, São Paulo

The exhibition bauhaus imaginista: Learning From explores the role of cultural appropriation at the Bauhaus and in the work of Bauhaus related artists and designers during the 20th Century. It departs from the example of Paul Klee’s 1927 drawing of a carpet that references traditional Maghrebi carpet patterns, which shows a Bauhaus Master’s interest in non-Western cultural forms. → more

●Video
bauhaus imaginista: Learning From, São Paulo

Video documentation of the exhibition bauhaus imaginista: Learning From at SESC Pompéia in São Paulo

 

Video: Danila Bustamente, 2018. → more

●Locations
Locations of the Exhibition and Talk program in São Paulo

The exhibition bauhaus imaginista: Learning From / Aprendizados Recíprocos takes place at SESC Pompéia, São Paulo.

 

The talk series is hosted by Goethe-Institut Brazil. → more

●Related Articles
●Article
Walking on a Möbius Strip — The Inside/Outside of Art in Brazil

This text investigates how the topological figure of the Möbius strip, famously propagated by Bauhaus proponent Max Bill, was used in Brazil within dissident artistic practices of the 1960s and 1970s as a tool for reflection on the subject, alterity and public space. The Möbius strip is revisited in this essay as a conduit for thinking critically about possible subversions of Eurocentric forms, as well as various appropriations of traditional popular culture by modern and contemporary art in Brazil. → more

●Article
The Latent Forces of Popular Culture — Lina Bo Bardi's Museum of Popular Art and the School of Industrial Design and Crafts in Bahia, Brazil

This text deals with the experience of the Museum of Popular Art (MAP) and the School of Industrial Design and Handicraft, designed by the Italian-Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi, in Salvador (capital of the state of Bahia), Brazil. Such a “school-museum” is based on the capture and transformation of latent forces that exist in Brazilian popular culture. → more

●Article
Times of Rudeness — Design at an Impasse

In 1980, Lina Bo Bardi began working on a book concerning her time in the northeastern part of Brazil. With the help of Isa Grinspum Ferraz, she captioned the illustrations, revised her contributions to the book and drafted the layout and contents. The latter also included texts by her collaborators who, in a truly collective effort, had tried to envision the project of a true Brazil—an unfettered and free country with no remnant remaining of the colonial inferiority complex which had plagued the country earlier in its history. Bo Bardi discontinued her work in 1981. In 1994, the Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi published this project as Times of Rudeness: Design at an Impasse. → more

●Article
Vernacular Architecture and the Uses of the Past

In sending out the manuscript of Native Genius in Anonymous Architecture to a publisher, Sibyl Moholy-Nagy added a note on the “Genesis of the manuscript,” which is quite revealing about the intellectual trajectory that gave rise to it. She positioned herself as first and foremost a traveling observer, learning from direct contact with artefacts and buildings, curious about their histories and willing to interpret material evidence and local narratives. → more

●Article
Of Art and Politics — Hannes Meyer and the Workshop of Popular Graphics

The Mexico of President Lázaro Cárdenas del Río was a fertile ground for the development of ideological questions, especially those originating from the left. The expropriation of oil fields, mining and large estates in 1938, the refuge granted Spanish republicans and members of the International Brigades in 1939, and the accord of mutual support between the government and syndicalist organizations all favored the formation of artistic and cultural groups willing to take part in the consolidation of revolutionary ideals which, until that point, had made little progress. Among these organizations was the Taller de Gráfica Popular, the Workshop of Popular Graphics. → more

●Article
Lena Bergner — From the Bauhaus to Mexico

The story of Lena Bergner is relevant to the history of architecture and design on account of her career passing through different ideological and cultural contexts. Here we will discuss her life and work, focusing on her training in the Bauhaus, her time in the USSR and her time in Mexico, where, along with her husband the architect Hannes Meyer, over a ten-year period she undertook cultural projects of great importance. → more

●Article
Teko Porã — On Art and Life

Cristine Takuá is an indigenous philosopher, educator, and artisan who lives in the village of Rio Silveira, state of São Paulo, Brazil. She was invited to present a contemporary perspective on questions and tensions raised by interactions between the indigenous communities and the mainstream art system, as well as to address Brazil’s specific social and political context. → more

●Article
Working From Where We Are — Anni Albers’ and Alex Reed’s Jewelry Collection

Not by nature acquisitive and certainly not art collectors, Josef and Anni Albers began in 1936 to collect Mexican figurines and other artifacts unearthed from that land’s memory. They described the country, which they first visited in 1935, as “the promised land of abstract art.” Returning to Black Mountain College Anni Albers and Alexander Reed began experimenting with everyday articles to create a strange and beautiful collection of objects of personal adornment inspired by their visit to Mexico. → more

●Video
"Native Genius in Anonymous Architecture" by Sibyl Moholy-Nagy

Sibyl Moholy-Nagy understood herself as a traveling observer. In her book Native Genius in Anonymous Architecture Moholy-Nagy sought buildings that survived time because they had developed naturally out of the North American reality. In doing so she did not define one style, method or area but rather showed how builders found creative solutions to specific problems of site, climate, materials and skills.  → more

●Article
The “Workshop for Popular Graphic Art” in Mexico — Bauhaus Travels to America

The global developments that led in 1942 to the appointment of Hannes Meyer, second Bauhaus director, as head of the workshop for popular graphic art, Taller de Gráfica Popular (henceforth referred to as the TGP), made it a focal point for migrating Europeans in flight from fascism. This essay aims to shed light on how the TGP was influenced by Europeans granted asylum by Mexico before and during World War Two, and, conversely, to explore the degree to which these exiled visual artists, writers, and architects’ ideas came to be influenced by their contact with artists active in the TGP. → more

●Article
Common Threads — Approaches to Paul Klee’s Carpet of 1927

Paul Klee’s Carpet, 1927, creates a conundrum for scholars as it does not neatly fit the existing theoretical models concerning how European artists engage with non-Western art and culture, while at the same time opening up exciting new avenues for inquiry. → more