bauhaus imaginista: Learning From shows how from the 1940s onwards Bauhaus emigres, including Josef and Anni Albers, and Marguerite Wildenhain, traveled throughout the Americas observing, documenting and collecting handicrafts produced by pre-Columbian and contemporary indigenous cultures. Brought back to progressive institutions such as Black Mountain College, the knowledge contained in these works came to inform aesthetic and technical innovations, particularly in the development of fiber art within the sphere of textile production and design. Anni Albers and her fellow weavers, including a younger generation of “fiber artists,” looked to Peruvian textiles in particular, due to their technical brilliance and the high social value afforded weaving in Inca culture. Interest in vernacular handicraft, as well as architectural typologies, is also evident in photographic studies undertaken by Hannes Meyer and Lena Bergner during their time in Mexico, where a resurgent interest in popular and pre-Columbian forms of expression intersected with social-revolutionary ideas.
This turn to the vernacular and to handicrafts was politicized in post-independence Morocco, where the early 1960s rejections of the French Beaux-Arts led to local crafts such as Amazigh jewelry, rugs, ceramics and murals becoming elevated in the estimation of Moroccan artists, who set out to develop modes of contemporary art and design embodying a post-colonial style. The study of local, vernacular forms of handicraft, architecture, design and picture-making were integrated into the curriculum of the School of Fine Arts in Casablanca, where they were cross-referenced with elements of Bauhaus pedagogy by a group of young artists serving then as instructors, including the painter and graphic designer Mohamed Melehi.