●Edition 1: Learning From
Oct. 24 2018–Jan. 6 2019

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

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

●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

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

●Related Articles
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

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

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

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

"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

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

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