The Spread of the Bauhaus in China

Unknown photographer, Photo of a Chinese woman
with tubular steel chair, ca. 1930s–40s.
China Design Museum of CAA, Hangzhou.

As early as the end of the 19th century up to the beginning of the 20th century, which is to say before the founding of the Bauhaus and after China’s forced opening through war to the outside world, China had already been witness to various experiments in modernization. Such experiments contributed to the laying down of a foundational mindset necessary for the acceptance of the Bauhaus in China’s traditional culture.

China’s first contact with the Bauhaus —
Before the founding of the People’s Republic of China (1949)

The history of the Chinese acceptance of Bauhaus design precepts can be divided into an official and a folk way. Following the Westernization Movement at the end of the nineteenth century, the Chinese government established the Jiangnan Manufacturing Bureau, the first national industrial institution in China, and began to introduce education in engineering design. However, other courses offerings, such as design, art and crafts, were still considered as supplementary coursework, not as educational content of any significance. During this time, the Tushanwan Orphanage, established in 1864, actually served as the earliest trial site for an internationalized art and craft education in modern China.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Cai Yuanpei’s concept had influenced the elite and the mass. Generally considered the father of twentieth century Chinese modern education, Cai Yuanpei (1868–1940) studied abroad in Leipzig and between 1907–1911 resided as a visiting scholar in Germany. There he was deeply affected by the ideas taught at the Humboldt-Universität Berlin1. During his tenure in Germany Yuanpei translated Friedrich Paulsen’s A System of Ethics and wrote the book The history of ethics in China. Upon his return, Yuanpei was appointed to be the head of the Education Ministry of the Chinese Republic, carrying out an experiment in “saving the nation through aesthetic education.” Professor Hang Jian once evaluated Cai Yuanpei’s contributions as follows:

“Cai Yuanpei’s concept of ‘aesthetic education’ is in fact today’s ‘design’ – made possible through the establishment of ‘materialism’ and ‘spiritual sensitivity’ since ‘beautiful objects’ are like the spring, wind and rain able to influence and vitalize their viewers in a silent but powerful way. This kind of education was especially important for Chinese people, who did not prescribe to any one religious preference.”2

Cai Yuanpei once cited the ideas of William Morris to expound on the relationship between art and society, as he believed that Morris’ call for eliminating the distinction between ‘art’ and ‘craft,’ and for the ‘artification’ of labor, came closer to the state at which art and society should be, a belief echoed by the leader of the Chinese reformist faction, Liang Qichao, who proclaimed in a speech at Peking University in 1922: “I believe that only through promoting aesthetic education can people begin to broaden their horizons, and free themselves from the constraints of their surroundings.”3 Thus it is evident that by the beginning of the twentieth century, Chinese intellectuals had already realized the possibility of propelling social reform through aesthetic education, in a manner not dissimilar to the ideas about art then in circulation within Germany.

It was through this experiment of “saving the nation with aesthetic education” that art and design education really began in China. Under Cai Yuanpei’s outspoken advocacy and support, China’s two earliest national art colleges – the National School of Fine Arts of Beiping (now the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing) and the Hangzhou National College of Art (now the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou) – were founded. The purpose of such schools was “firstly, to promote aesthetic education within the educational realm; secondly, to provide teachers for middle and primary schools; thirdly, to improve the quality of manufactured products.” The National Hangzhou School of Art, formerly the National Academy of Art, was established under the direction of Yuanpei in 1928, who was still serving as Minister of Education at the time. The school, located in Luoyuan, Hangzhou, is the predecessor to the present-day China Academy of Art, and in its earliest phase included departments in pattern design, traditional Chinese painting, Western painting and sculpture. The department of pattern design was an early attempt at teaching design in China. By the period of the Republic of China (established in 1912), modern design education in China had already long been introduced at the National School of Fine Arts.

During the Bauhaus’ initial years, Chinese cultural elites studying in Europe played a key role in the spread of Bauhaus ideas in China. Looking back at those teachers at the National Hangzhou School of Art possessing an international background, most of them only had an elementary understanding of the Bauhaus. They did not conduct any systematic research on the Bauhaus, nor did they engage in any substantial interaction with the Bauhaus school or discuss Bauhaus amongst themselves. When they implemented their understanding of western modernist design into indigenous education in China, it was mainly through the teaching of pattern design that ideas related to Bauhaus precepts were disseminated. Chen Zhifo, who studied at the Pattern & Craft Department of the Tokyo Art School in 1918, learned about the Bauhaus through Japanese students who had studied there. After returning to China in 1923, Zhifo served as director of the National Hangzhou School of Art (now the China Academy of Art) as well as head of the Pattern Design Department, where he applied modern design concepts to his teachings. In the 1930s, instructors within the Pattern Design Department of the National Hangzhou School of Art also included several teachers who had previously studied in Europe, such as Pang Xunqin, Lei Kuiyuan, Liu Jipiao, Wang Ziyun. Several foreign designers also came as guest instructors of art and design, such as Professor M. Dowracheff and Professor Shelovsky (both of Russian origin); as well as Japanese professors like Saito Kazo and Narita Torajiro. All of the aforementioned teachers brought Western ideas about modern design and occidental teaching methods to China. For instance, Saito Kazo, who during the 1929 academic year taught at the Pattern Design Department of the National Hangzhou School of Art was a pioneer in spreading Western modern design concepts within China. Kazo had previously studied at the pattern design department of the Tokyo University of the Arts as well attending the Royal School of Art in Berlin between late 1912 and early 1914, when the school was affiliated with the Unterrichtsanstalt des Kunstgewerbe-Museums.4 There he studied art history and compositional aesthetics under the art historian and decorative artist Professor Max Kutschmann (1871-1943).5 In 1923 the Japanese government sponsored Saito Kazo to return to Europe and conduct a systematic examination of how design education was being taught in Germany. During his visit, Kazo investigated twenty-two art schools in Germany, including Das Staatliche Bauhaus in Weimar, while also visiting Bauhaus teachers Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee.

Aside from the professors noted above, architects associated with the Bauhaus, such as Richard Paulick, Rudolf Paulick, Walter Gropius, received design commissions from China from the 1920s up until the 1940s. Of the three, Richard Paulick was the architect associated with the Bauhaus school who came most frequently to China to work on projects. In 1933, Paulick received threats from the Nazi government on account of his social democratic political alignment, and fled to China where he sought political asylum. In Shanghai, he established his own interior design company “Modern Homes,” as well as founding the firm Paulick & Paulick, Architects and Civil Engineers. In 1943, he accepted a teaching appointment within the department of architectural engineering of St. John’s University Shanghai (now Tongji University), where he taught urban planning and interior design, and in 1945 joined the ranks of the newly established Shanghai Urban Planning Committee, becoming a committee member as well as a core member of the planning and design sub-committee. Before his return to Germany, Paulick engaged in interior design projects for many prominent families such as Sun Ke and Yao Youde, designed railway stations in Nanjing, Wuxi, Hangzhou, and Zhenjiang, completed urban planning projects such as the general city plan of Jiawang and designed the campuses for both the Jiangnan University in Wuxi City and Yingshi University in Ningbo City.6

Huang Zuoshen (Henry Huang) and Luo Weidong were the Chinese celebrities most closely associated with Bauhaus. Huang Zuoshen graduated from the School of the Architectural Association in London, and from there continued to the United States in 1939 with Walter Gropius to study at the Department of Architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design. In 1942, he returned to St. John’s University to establish a department of architecture there, incorporating the ideas and values propagated by the Bauhaus. Contemporary architects and/or designers, both Chinese and non-Chinese, including Richard Paulick, were invited to teach in the new department. Zuoshen incorporated the Bauhaus’ foundational coursework (Vorkus) into his department curriculum, which also included design basics, modern art history and theory, as well as architectural drawing. Zuoshen was also influenced by Bauhaus theatre: he worked on the stage design for the play Robot, directed by his brother Huang Zuolin, which today would be considered avant-garde on account of its abstract treatment of form and space. However, he died at an early age following criticisms and attacks during the Cultural Revolution. Thereafter his influence was limited to the architectural sphere. The “Wenyuan Building” at Tongji University was designed by Zuoshen’s colleague Huang Yulin in 1953, and was considered by many Chinese to possess attributes similar to the Dessau Bauhaus school buildings designed by Gropius, in terms of the architectural techniques used in the design.

Wenyuan Building at Tongji University, designed by Huang Yulin, designed and built in 1953. China Design Museum at CAA, Hangzhou.

In addition, Luo Weidong, a student at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago, then headed by the Bauhaus school’s third director, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, also taught at Tongji University from 1953 to 1957, in the period preceding his move to Taiwan.

At the time of Bauhaus’ founding in 1919, many Chinese pioneers in art and design went abroad to study. Their understanding of and contact with Bauhaus were closely related to China’s national goals in this period. Both Bauhaus and the Chinese art world were impacted by war and the circulation of communist ideologies, and each nation were confronted by radical changes in the social role of artists, and art education reformists. Over the following decades, the knowledge which the Chinese pioneers absorbed from the Bauhaus was gradually integrated into Chinese culture.

Guangyu Zhang is a commercial designer who introduced the Bauhaus very early and combined its modernist idea into Chinese art. Zhang’s book Modern Craft and Art (近代工艺美术) from 1932 was the first theory publication on design in China to systematically introduce Western modern design precepts. Zhang’s original intention was to contribute to China’s revival through this introduction: within its pages one can find a photo of Walter Gropius’s Bauhaus building in Dessau as well as other modern German buildings.

Although the spread of Bauhaus concepts in China was limited to the elite, one might term the proliferation of functional Bauhaus-inspired building in the 1930s to 1940s ‘Anonymous Modern.’ The Bauhaus had spread without its name. In developed cities of 1930s China such as Shanghai, Bauhaus influences could also be found in the designs of products and fashion. Examples include the steel tube chair and cantilever chair developed by Marcel Breuer and Mart Stam, which were sold in Shanghai department stores (such as the Sincere Department Store), and can even be found in photographs and hand-drawn advertisements from the period. Even in the film New Women, released in 1934, the house of the protagonist’s father is decorated with a conspicuous amount of chrome-plated tubular steel furniture, a means of demonstrating her father’s contemporary, avant-garde disposition. However, whenever those tubular chairs appeared in the product booklets of local furniture companies, there was no mention of the name Bauhaus in the booklets.

The Application and Misunderstanding of Bauhaus Ideas in China after 1949

The process of misunderstanding and acceptance of western modern design concepts in the Chinese mainland after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 has deep ideological roots. Clues to this process can be seen in the application and interpretation of the Bauhaus in Chinese public institutions and periodicals.

Pang Xunqin and Zheng Ke are two key figures in the history of Chinese design education. It is likely they both visited the Bauhaus school in Dessau during their time studying in France.7 In the debate regarding art’s independence from or integration with technological developments, William Morris had previously advocated for the separation of the arts and crafts from mass production and industrial technology, while the Bauhaus argued for the combination of art with technology. Zheng Ke chose the Bauhaus’ side in this debate, declaring that Chinese arts and craft should be combined with modern science and technologies.8 “Buildings in countries such as Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands were greatly influenced by the Bauhaus,” Xunqin wrote in his autobiography My Way.“ In the field of architecture, Bauhaus supported ‘cosmopolitanism’ and advocated for the use of modernized technologies, discarding the notion of separating fine art from applied art. To be honest, I would love to have the opportunity to see those theories and how they are applied in practice.” In 1929 he was invited to watch the performance of the modern dance artist Mary Wigman (1886-1973) in Berlin. On the advice of an architect friend, he also visited several modernist residential buildings in Berlin, and appreciated the works of modern artists such as Paul Klee and other Bauhaus teachers while visiting the National Gallery.

In 1946, when discussing the possibility of establishing a school of arts and crafts in China with Tao Xingzhi, Xunqin proposed that the buildings, interiors and environments of the school should be designed by the teachers and students themselves. The proposed school would offer elective coursework, such as painting, pattern design, sculpture, as well as courses on the theory of literature and art, but the main education program concerned manufacture and production. The first stage of education would consist of a “grade 1” and a “grade 2,” during which the students mainly studied architecture, furniture, dyeing and weaving, commercial art and other foundational courses. During this phase, students should learn to construct prototype of their designs. The second stage would consist of a “grade 3” and a “grade 4,” during which students would be assigned to the research studios of the various disciplines included in the school’s curriculum: ceramics, industrial modelling, interior decoration, dyeing and weaving, commercial art, history of arts and crafts, and so on. These research studios would also serve as ‘experimental factories’ for developing and testing new products, and would be capable of undertaking production in small quantities. Additionally, the school would set up a showroom of finished products, as well as a trial marketing department to introduce and sell products designed by teachers and students. Manufacture-ready products would be sent to factories for mass production.”9 What Xunqin himself called the “utopian” blueprint of modern design schools was, in fact, a plan renovated on the basis of the Bauhaus pedagogy, adapted to contemporary Chinese conditions. This plan was approved and supported by the famous educator, Tao Xingzhi. Having received the support of Premier Zhou Enlai, a decade after first conceiving this Bauhaus-inspired pedagogic program, Xunqin, Lei Kuiyuan and other teachers from the National Hangzhou School of Art arrived in Beijing to establish the first school of design in China, the Central Academy of Arts and Design. The Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and the National Hangzhou School of Art both dispatched teachers to the new school, to help make its production-based pedagogic vision a going concern.

Whereas most countries under socialist regimes were not supportive of the Bauhaus, the People’s Republic of China was in many ways in the same situation as Germany after World War I. The new China was burdened with countless responsibilities, including the arduous task of reconstruction in a situation of severe shortages of industrial materials. Considering the pressing need to revive the Chinese nation and the livelihoods of Chinese citizens, the government chose to accept some Bauhaus design methodologies, while dismissing the elements of internationalism, freedom and democracy which had been at the core of the Bauhaus’ foundation in 1919. In 1954 Premier Zhou Enlai organized four arts and crafts exhibitions, dispatching them to various socialist countries, so that promoting Chinese design innovation could be coincide with investigating the state of art education and research in the Eastern bloc. Pang Xunqin went to the Soviet Union, Yuan Mai was sent to Bulgaria, Lei Kuiyuan was sent to the Czech Republic and Hungary, Deng Bai went to the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) — all four individuals being then teachers within the pattern design department in National Hangzhou School of Art. China’s modern design ideas in this period derived mainly from these countries. For instance, the 718 Joint Factory of Radio Electronic Components Plants constructed in Beijing in 1954 made use of East German architecture and production technologies. The architectural director had traveled to East Germany to conduct investigations and negotiations on several occasions, and after finally winning the support of East Germany’s Vice Premier Alfred Oelßner, German designers and engineers were dispatched to Beijing to design and aid in constructing a high-quality Bauhaus-style factory for the Joint Factory. The building’s exterior was strikingly similar to the architecture of the Bauhaus-Archiv’s museum building in Berlin, whose building was first conceived in the 1960s by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius.

Two contradictory comments concerning the Bauhaus by the prominent Chinese Architect Liang Sicheng10 made respectively in 1945 and 1954, indicate the transformed political situation after the People’s Republic of China’s founding. In 1945, Sicheng spoke of modern design concepts in a letter to Professor Mei Yiqi, the director of the Tsinghua University, writing:

“Regarding academic curricula, I think the teaching methods used in most of our local universities [which were École des Beaux-Arts teaching methods, also employed in Britain and the United States for many years] are much too obsolete. They put too much emphasis on the different schools and form, and they are impractical. We should base our future curricula on the Bauhaus methodology, created by the German professor Walter Gropius, which lays emphasis on practicality, uses construction sites as practice arenas, pays equal attention to both design and its implementation, and trains talented individuals equipped with both creative and practical skills. Following the Nazi dictatorship in Germany, Professor Gropius fled to the United States, and started teaching at the Harvard University. The curriculum of the Harvard School of Architecture, after being modified according to Professor Gropius’ Bauhaus methodologies, is the most advanced architectural education available in the United States, and is certainly good enough to serve as our reference.”11

An entirely different assessment of the Bauhaus was published in the article “Problems of New Architecture in Hungary” (penned by Hungarian politician Jozsef Revai), subsequently translated by Sicheng (with co-translator Lin Huiyin) and published in the Architectural Journal, Issue 2, a periodical founded by Sicheng in June of 1954. The article criticized “new architecture,” taking aim at Le Corbusier and Bauhaus in particular, deeming that Bauhaus’ idea of “serving the people” and its emphasis on functionality merely disguised versions of formalism. It is worth noting that Sicheng and Huiyin, then professors at the Tsinghua University’s Department of Architecture, wrote with a slight tone of contempt in their footnotes: “Bauhaus: a school of architecture established in Germany in the 1920s founded by Walter Gropius, it is a fusion of the so-called ‘functionalism’ with cubist art, and its style is grim and tasteless; Le Corbusier: a French architect, he states that ‘A house is a machine for living in’ and his favorite trick is to erect houses in air using thin pillars.“ It is worth noting that Sicheng had been persecuted early in 1952 during the rectification movement, and in 1955 was accused of and criticized for representing the “purely aesthetic and revivalist architectural preferences of the bourgeoisie.” During the Cultural Revolution (1966.5-1977.10), almost no articles or books about the Bauhaus were published in mainland China.

Pattern of a sofa or curtain by Pang Xunqin, 1941, paper, 38 cm x 29 cm, China Design Museum at CAA, Hangzhou.

Revival of Bauhaus ideas in China after 1978
The Inaugural Year of the Reform and Opening up of the People’s Republic

After the end of the Cultural Revolution, a wave of ideological emancipation swept over mainland China, and numerous cultural magazines started or resumed publication—Architectural Journal being one such example, having ceased publication in 1966 before resuming in 1973. Similar to the fate of Architectural Journal, magazines such as Art and ZHUANGSHI (Decoration) stopped publishing in the 1960s before resuming publication between the late 1970s and early 1980s. After resuming publication, the aforementioned magazines each published articles introducing Bauhaus and Western modern design in their first several issues, thereby launching a broad discussion about the Bauhaus’ legacy. For example, the magazine World Art, which began publishing in 1979, in its second issue ran Shao Dazhen’s “Introduction of Western Modern Art Schools (Continued),”in which the artists Paul Klee and Kandinsky were introduced, before using an art historical perspective to present the Bauhaus as a tendency within modernist abstraction. In his introduction, Dazhen did not omit the issue of class struggle, writing: “The creed of Bauhaus belonged to that of the petty bourgeoisie liberals, who objected to the financial elite’s monopoly on art and also to the creation of art for monetary gain; they dreamed of creating a world where artists could work freely and independently, within the capitalist system. After this illusion perished, they adopted an idealist viewpoint, believing that artists should pursue everything they needed in their own independent, liberal world in the capitalist system.” Despite criticizing the Bauhaus’ ideological foundation, Dazhen nevertheless expressed approval of its ideas regarding arts education: “Bauhaus saw the importance of the arts and crafts, and in their teaching of art strived towards attaining ‘a new unity of art and technology.’ They try to form a total art with architecture, painting and sculpture…”

Other authors used an objective tone and a variety of perspectives to discuss the history and influence of Bauhaus. For instance, in the second issue of the philosophical journal Journal of Dialectics of Nature (which resumed publication in 1979), Wu Huanjia expounded on the architecture of the Dessau Bauhaus school in his article “History of Neoteric & Modern Architecture in Foreign Countries.” He commended emphasis in the“new architecture” on functionality as the starting point for design, and its aspiration to ensure that all three elements of a building—function, architectural forms and material structure—work in concert with each other. The journal ZHUANGSHI similarly published articles mentioning Bauhaus, such as “The Artist and Designer Zheng Ke” and “A Primary Exploration of the Aesthetics of Industrial Art,” both of which appeared in their first issue after resuming publication in 1980. They also ran a brief introduction specifically on the Bauhaus, praising it as the “cradle of modern design.” The journal Art (Issue 08, 1981) was the first to publish a systematic introduction of Bauhaus and modern design education in its article, “Research about Art Education Problems: Bauhaus” by Chai Changpei. The article explained Bauhaus’ educational values and structures, affirming Bauhaus’ extensive contribution in the development of modern design education, and also including a translated manifesto and sample syllabus from the Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar in 1922.

Apart from magazine articles, several monographs on the Bauhaus as well as compiled translations of historical texts were published in mainland China during this period, including: Johannes Ittens’s The Art of Color, published by the People’s Fine Arts Publishing House in 1978; Walter Gropius’s The New Architecture and The Bauhaus, published by the China Architecture & Building Press in 1979; Tom Wolfe’s From Bauhaus to Our House, published in 1984; Wassily Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art, published by China Social Sciences Press in 1987; and Gillian Naylor’s The Bauhaus, published in 1988. The breadth of publications devoted to the Bauhaus opened up the heretofore superficial understanding of the movement that had existed in China, leading to an in-depth, detailed and concrete reconsideration of the Bauhaus that surpassed the understanding that had existed in China earlier in the twentieth century. As Pang Xunqin once stated, “With regards to Bauhaus, we should understand and research Bauhaus, but at the same time keep in mind that it belongs to an era that has long passed.”12 This was the first time that comprehensive research on Bauhaus was really being carried out in China, gradually attaining a level of critique that lead to a more thorough-going absorption of Bauhaus ideas. During this period, there were also pioneering researchers in Taiwan and Hong Kong, such as Yan Shuilong, Chen Qikuan, Zheng Ke, and Henry Steiner, who explored how the “Bauhaus way” was localized in different contexts; their research went on to influence art and design on the Chinese mainland.

In addition to the discussion occurring in publications, lectures and exhibitions revolving around the theme of Bauhaus were also organized in this period. For example, the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts invited Wang Wuxie and other Hong Kong-based artists to give lectures at the academy in 1979. The lectures explained the development of design theory, how the Japanese adapted Bauhaus principles to create their own “color composition,” “plane composition,” and “three-dimensional composition” concepts, later known simply as the “three compositions.” The information disseminated through these lectures (delivered and translated by Wang Shouzhi, Yin Dingbang and others), resulted in Bauhaus’ design ideas becoming known throughout the Chinese mainland as the “three compositions,” and this conceptualization was then integrated within the foundation programs of most fine art academies in China. In 1989, the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts held a “German Bauhaus Touring Exhibition.” However, due to certain financial limitations, the exhibition included only pictures with text, with no objects or documents from Bauhaus collections on display. In 2010, Tsinghua University’s Academy of Arts & Design collaborated with Shantou University’s Cheung Kong School of Art & Design to organize a series of events entitled “Commemorating the 90th Anniversary of Bauhaus’ Foundation and Research on the Development of Chinese Modern Art and Design.” The program included an exhibition of texts and documents recounting Bauhaus’ history, and also published Professor Hang Jian’s The Path of Bauhaus: Its History, Heritage, and Implications for the World and China. The exhibition was the first of its nature to systematically arrange and present the state of Bauhaus’ development in the fields of art, craft, architecture and design in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan as well.

With the implementation of the reform and opening up of mainland China, the country became a player in the global commodity economy, with its consumer culture and cultural industries acting as the new channels for the Bauhaus’ domestic dissemination, thus paving the way for the evolution of the Bauhaus legend into a commodity symbol. Bauhaus was at times even misunderstood by both the media and public as a brand, a style, a fad, or even the name of a person. Like many other cultural legacies, Bauhaus became a consumable myth. In order to rectify this issue, cultural institutions should take on the responsibility of emphasizing the humanity and creativity of the Bauhaus spirit, with the hope of lighting a new way for contemporary Chinese society.


Gao Bei, Research about “Tushanwan Orphanage’s Fine Arts Workshop”, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing 2009.

Zhang Daoyi (ed.): “A History of Chaumet”, in: The Collected Works of Chen Zhifo, Selected Works of Zhang Daoyi, Southeast University Press, Nanjing 2009.

Hang Jian, Jin Daiqiang & Hu Enwei: The Path of Bauhaus: Its History, Heritage, and Implications for the World and China, Shandong Fine Arts Publishing House, September 2014.

Hang Jian: “Thoughts and Ideas behind the Design of ‘China Academy of Art’s Journey’,” in: New Fine Arts, No. 11, 2016.

Zheng Juxin: “Saito Kazo’s Recount of Teaching at the National Hangzhou School of Art”, in: New Fine Arts, November 2016.

Eduard Kögel: Zwel Poelzigschüler in der Emigration: Rudolf Hamburger und Richard Paulick zwischen Shanghai und Ost-Berlin (1930-1955), PhD Thesis, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, 2007, (6/5/2018).

Huang Miaozi: “The Art Professor Zheng Ke”, in: ZHUANGSHI, No. 1, 1980.

Wang Shouzhi: “Bauhaus in China”, in: Jin Daiqiang and Xu Jiang: Legacy and Transformation – A Reflection on Design Education in China, Shandong Fine Arts Publishing House Shandong 2014, pp. 108–113.

Shi Xi: Fashion Design Circles at Sea Which Were Contemporary with Wan Laiming, Chinese Book Company, Beijing 2013.

Pang Xunqin: “Discussion on Arts and Crafts and Its Education”, in: ZHUANGSHI, No. 1, 1980.

Pang Xunqin: This Is How I Got Here. SDX Joint Publishing Company, Beijing 2005.

Cai Yuanpei: “A Speech at the Reception of the Chinese Students Association and Academic Seminar in Edinburgh”, in: The Complete Works of Cai Yuanpei, Vol. 4, Zhejiang Education Publishing House, Hangzhou 1997.

Zhou Zhiyu: “How Do We Know Bauhaus Today”, in: Art Observation, No. 5, 2012.

  • 1 Cai Yuanpei: “A Speech at the Reception of the Chinese Students Association and Academic Seminar in Edinburgh”, in: Complete Works of Cai Yuanpei, Vol. 4, Zhejiang Education Publishing House, Hangzhou 1997, p. 339.
  • 2 Hang Jian: “Thoughts and Ideas behind the Design of ‘China Academy of Art’s Journey’”, in: New Fine Arts, No. 11, 2016, pp.11–15.
  • 3 Shanghai: The Republic of China's Daily, August 14, 1922.
  • 4 Shibayama Yoshitaka:”Saito Keizou, 装飾美術・ 生活工芸の草分け”, (6/5/2018).
  • 5 With the goal of improving public taste in craftwork and product design, the museum then established “Die zugehörige Unterrichtsanstalt des Kunstgewerbemuseums Berlin”, predecessor to the present Berlin University of the Arts.
  • 6 Eduard Kögel: Zwei Poelzigschüler in der Emigration: Rudolf Hamburger und Richard Paulick zwischen Shanghai und Ost-Berlin (1930-1955), Doctoral dissertation, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Weimar 2007, p. 174–179, (6/5/2018).
  • 7 in: Wang Shouzhi, No. 109, 2014.
  • 8 Huang Miaozi: “The Art Professor Zheng Ke”, in: ZHUANGSHI, No. 1, 1980.
  • 9 Pang Xunqin, 2005
  • 10 Liang Sicheng is a famous Chinese architect and educator of architecture. In April 1924, he took part in welcoming the Indian poet, Tagore, when he visited China to participate in teaching events, and there Liang was able to meet Hu Shi, Xu Zhimo, Chen Xiying, Zhang Xinhai, Ding Xilin, etc. From June 1924 to 1927, he obtained his bachelor's degree and master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Then from 1927 to 1928, he studied at Harvard University’s graduate school, where his tutor was L. Warner. From 1946 to 1947, he was appointed professor of Yale University, worked as a design consultant and architect for the United Nations headquarters, and had his Doctor of Literature granted by Princeton University.
  • 11 Hang Jian, Jin Daiqiang & Hu Enwei: The Path of Bauhaus: Its History, Heritage, and Implications for the World and China, Shandong Fine Arts Publishing House, Version 1, September 2014, p. 144.
  • 12 Pang Xunqin: “Discussion about Arts and Crafts, and the Education of Arts and Crafts”, in: ZHUANGSHI, No. 1, 1980, pp. 6–7.
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I often stage chance encounters for students with archival materials at the NID: a rare photograph of the building in construction, an odd handwritten scribble on a drawing by M.P. Ranjan, a stunning collection of sound recordings by David Tudor and John Cage. The amazement and wonder created by this staging becomes the starting point for the pedagogical value of archives. → more

On Behalf of Progressive Design — Two Modern Campuses in Transcultural Dialogue

“The Indian state has only existed for 13 years. And world history would be unthinkable without its unorthodox influence. India has delivered more new content in the last decade than any other country.” HfG Ulm founder Otl Aicher’s report on his trip to India in 1960 and the slides he took during his journey across the country are impressive observations of a country in upheaval. From today’s perspective, this material reads like an overture to the future collaboration between two design schools: the HfG Ulm and the NID in Ahmedabad.   → more

Design for Need — Der Milchkiosk von Sudhakar Nadkarni

Während der Designstudent Sudhakar Nadkarni 1965 an der HfG Ulm an seiner Diplomarbeit zur Gestaltung eines Milchkiosks für seine Heimatstadt Bombay arbeitete, reiste der deutsche Architekt und Designer Hans Gugelot an das 1961 gegründete NID in Ahmedabad. An beiden Schulen war man überzeugt, dass nur ein rational begründetes Design, das sich mit den grundlegenden Systemen der Gesellschaft, der Infrastruktur, der Gesundheits- und Nahrungsmittelversorgung befasst, die unmittelbaren Bedürfnisse der Menschen ernst nehmen kann. Der Milchkiosk-Entwurf ist ein herausragendes Dokument einer Gestaltungshaltung, die Design als ein Mittel zur Verbesserung des Alltags begreift. → more

●Photo Essay
Abraham & Thakore — NID Fashion

Like most designer start-ups, A&T started as a very small design studio. We began by designing and manufacturing modest batches of textile and fashion items, manufactured mostly on handlooms and tiny printing and embroidery sheds in India’s still pervasive small-scale industrial sector. And indeed, 25 years on, our supply chain is still reliant on and supportive of many of these small enterprises. → more

Habib Rahman — A Bauhaus Legacy in India

Habib Rahman, born 1915 in Calcutta, studied architecture at MIT under Lawrence Anderson, William Wurster and Walter Gropius, who taught next door at Harvard University. Gropius got Rahman his first job after graduation in his firm where Rahman worked until he returned to India in 1946. Ram Rahman’s account of his father’s legacy and his contribution to modernist Indian architecture. → more

Architects’ Congress

The passenger ship Patris II transported the participants of the 4th International Congresses of Modern Architecture (CIAM) from Marseilles to Athens and back. Bauhaus teacher Moholy-Nagy, travelling as a “friend of the new building movement” produced this half-hour soundless film as a travel journal. → more

Der CIAM-Protest — Von Moskau zur Patris II (1932)

Entgegen allen internationalen Erwartungen – schließlich waren Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier, Erich Mendelsohn und andere eingeladen – befand sich am 29. Februar 1932 kein moderner Architekt unter den Hauptpreisträgern der ersten Wettbewerbsrunde für den Palast der Sowjets in Moskau. → more

A Migratory Life—from Dessau to Moscow to Mexico — Hannes Meyer and Lena Bergner and the Arts

In this article Marion von Osten focusses on the curatorial research involved in two of the project’s four chapters: Moving Away and Learning From. She rethinks the importance of the migratory life of the Swiss architect Hannes Meyer and Bauhaus weaver Lena Bergner, starting with Meyer’s two-year directorship of the Bauhaus Dessau, the couple’s time working in the USSR (1931–1936), and, finally, their decade-long period as exiles in Mexico, which lasted from 1939 to 1949, the year they returned to Switzerland. → more

Die Sozialisierung des Wissens und das Streben nach Deutungsmacht — Lena Bergners Transfer der Isotype nach Mexiko

Lena Bergner wird normalerweise als am Bauhaus ausgebildete Textilgestalterin charakterisiert. In ihrem zehnjährigen Exil in Mexiko widmete sie sich allerdings der grafischen Gestaltung, fast ausschließlich für antifaschistische Projekte. Eine Ausnahme sind ihre weitestgehend unbekannten Leistungen im Bereich der visuellen Kommunikation für das mexikanische Schulbaukomitee. Hier verwendete sie Otto Neuraths „Wiener Methode der Bildstatistik“ (Isotype). Dieser Text erörtert den Transfer der Isotype von Europa nach Mexiko am Beispiel von Bergner und ihren möglichen Berührungspunkten mit Neuraths bildpädagogischen Methode und untersucht, wie sich die Isotype von propagandistischen visuellen Kommunikationsformen abgrenzt. → more

Praised, Sentenced, Forgotten, Rediscovered — 62 Members of the Bauhaus in the Land of the Soviets

In this interview with Astrid Volpert, she reviews her decades of research on Bauhäusler who emigrated to the SU and makes it clear that there were far more than seven of them heading east. Persons traveling from the Bauhaus to Russia were from eleven countries. They belonged to various denominations—there were Protestants and Catholics, Jews and atheists. Of the 15 women and 47 men, only 21 of them were members of communist parties. → more

The Moscow Bauhaus Exhibition Catalogue (1931)

When Hannes Meyer had emigrated to the Soviet Union in 1930, one of the first things he did was organizing an exhibition about “his” Bauhaus. As early as in February 1931 Meyer had the exhibition Bauhaus Dessau. Period of Hannes Meyer’s directorship. 1928-1930 already ready to receive the Moscow public. It was shown at the renown State Museum of New Western Art. This is the first English translation of the exhibition catalogue. → more

After the Ball — Hannes Meyer Presenting the Bauhaus in Moscow

Hannes Meyer arrived in the USSR just a couple of months after being dismissed from his position as Bauhaus director in October 1930. These months were filled with attempts by Meyer and his supporters to protest this decision through all possible means: media campaigns, open letters, student demonstration and court trials. After arriving in Moscow, Meyer carried on the fight against his unfair dismissal. → more

From Recognition to Rejection — Hannes Meyer and the Reception of the Bauhaus in the Soviet Union

The history of the Stalinist critique of the Bauhaus and Hannes Meyer has two chapters. The first chapter spans the time from 1929 to the Architects’ Congress in the Soviet Union in 1937; the second consists in the condemnation of the Bauhaus in the GDR that took place on the trip by East German architects to Moscow in spring of 1950. This text tells the story of the first chapter. → more

Meyer’s Russia, or the Land that Never Was

It is quite hard to know where to start with Hannes Meyer in Moscow. It’s hard because, while there is plenty of documentation on him and his team in the Bauhaus Brigade—as well as other Western designers and architects (of these, Ernst May is at least as significant as Meyer, as is the Dutch designer Mart Stam, and each went on to produce more substantial work than Meyer after their respective Russian episodes)—the legacy of his work there presents certain difficulties in evaluating. → more

Moving Away to the Other End of the World — Reflections on the Letters Between Tibor Weiner and Hannes Meyer from the DAM Archive

This article examines the correspondence between a teacher (Hannes Meyer) and his former student (Tibor Weiner), who met at the Bauhaus in Dessau, going on to live for a period in the Soviet Union. Each migrated to Latin America shortly before the outbreak of World War Two, and returned to Europe in the late 1940s. The surviving letters between Meyer and Weiner, preserved in the DAM Archive in Frankfurt am Main, are not only a testimony of comradeship but also a window into some key moments in the first half of the twentieth century. → more

●Artists Work
Bauhaus in Russia — Haunted Houses

The following material was produced during the photographic workshop Bauhaus in Russia: Haunted houses, which took place in the framework of the exhibition bauhaus imaginista. Moving Away: The Internationalist Architect at the museum of contemporary art Garage in Moscow. Through an open-call we invited participants from several Russian cities to take part in the visual research on both the visible and invisible legacies of the “bauhauslers”. → more

●Artist Work
To Philipp Tolziner

For the exhibition bauhaus imaginista: Moving Away. The Internationalist Architect at Garage Contemporary Museum of Art, the contemporary artist Alice Creischer has been invited to respond to the personal archive of Bauhaus architect Philipp Tolziner. She produced reading of material relating to the architect’s socialist backgrounds and his work in the Soviet Union.  → more

●Artist Work
Sketch One: Lotte and Hermina — Script-Reading and Screening by Wendelien van Oldenborgh

The script that the artist Wendelin van Oldenborgh created for bauhaus imaginista: Moving Away. The Internationalist Architect as a public moment is an insight into the development of her larger film project which will premiere as a contribution to the bauhaus imaginista exhibition at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, March 2019. It features archive material around the personas Lotte Beese and Hannes Meyer, Hermine Huiswoud and Langston Hughes. → more

Hamhŭng’s Two Orphans (To Konrad Püschel) — East German Internationalism in North-Korea Emerging through a Chronopolitical Lens

Doreen Mende’s work Hamhung’s Two Orphans, which borrows its title from a chapter of the cine-essay Coréennes (1959) by Chris Marker, proposes to trace the transformation of the Bauhaus’s relevance from its prewar internationalist modernity into elements of the GDR’s socialist internationalism when architecture operated as a state-crafting instrument during the global Cold War. → more

“All artists interlock!” — How Bauhäuslers created the “New Germany” and promoted the national economy

The Third Reich was in ruins, the surrender not yet signed. An architect painstakingly working his way through the debris to the Schöneberg town hall found a sign on the door of the building authority with his name. Appointed to office by the German Communist Party (KPD), city counselor Hans Scharoun immediately looked around for his people: “I’ve looked everywhere for you, where are you? Here we go!” → more

The “School in the Woods” as a Socio-pedagogical Ideal — Functional Analyses and Photographs by Peterhans

The building theory classes at the Bauhaus focused on imparting a functional understanding of architecture. Building had become a science. As a result, the ADGB Trade Union School was designed logically from the inside out. Walter Peterhans’ photographs of the school images illustrate both the architect’s intentions for the building and the environmental studies conducted by Bauhaus students. → more

●Artist Work
Scenes from the Most Beautiful Campus in Africa — A Film about the Ife Campus

Zvi Efrat, 2019, film stills from the exhibition video projection, 25 min, color, sound, English.
Courtesy of the artist. → more

The Legacy of Arieh Sharon’s Postcolonial Modernist Architecture at the Obafemi Awolowo University Campus in Ile-Ife Nigeria

The significance of Arieh Sharon’s postcolonial modernist architecture at Obafemi Awolowo University Campus at Ile-Ife is multi-dimensional. Built between 1960 and 1978, at first glance the campus core consists of an ensemble of modernist buildings. In this article Bayo Amole examines some of the physical and conceptual characteristics of the campus master plan and core area design in order to illustrate their significance as examples of postcolonial modernist architecture—identifying the most important aspects of their legacy, which has continued to guide the design of the campus as it has developed over the course of more than a half century. → more

Bauhaus Modernism and the Nigerian Connection — The Socio-Political Context of Arieh Sharon and the University Of Ife Design

It should be considered “against the run of play” for a Bauhaus-trained Israeli architect such as Arieh Sharon to have been named designer of the post-independence University of Ife. This paper examines how developments in the socio-political context of Nigeria and international politics—including history and policies in the education sector—“constructed” Sharon’s involvement in the University of Ife design and the spread of Bauhaus modernism to tropical architecture. → more

Nigerian Campus Design — A Juxtaposition of Traditional and Contemporary Architecture

The early to mid-twentieth century saw the International Style and modernism rapidly influence major Nigerian cities and towns, first as a result of colonialism and then independence. Discussing the architecture of two first-generation Nigerian Universities, the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University, this article builds upon the established discourse concerning how architects assimilated the International Style into the tropical climate and sociocultural context of Nigeria. → more

Colonial Architecture in Ile-Ife

The architectural heritage credited to the colonial intervention of the British in Nigeria is a blend of features imported by Europeans accustomed to a temperate climate, mixed with adaptations derived from the principles of modern architecture and concessions to the region’s tropical climate. As such, colonial buildings of this era can be regarded as a hybrid architectural style. → more

The New Culture School for Arts and Design — Launched in 1995

The New Culture School for Arts and Design in Ibadan, Nigeria has involved the development and construction of a space for creative people working in many different media in order to advance their professional proficiency in the fine arts, theater, music, film, photography, design, writing and more. → more

Nation Building through Campus Architecture — Israeli Architects Arieh Sharon and Eldar Sharon’s Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Campus in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, 1962–1976

The campus of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Nigeria, the first phase of which was built between 1962 and 1972, is a fascinating example of modernist architecture in Africa. As a case study of Africa’s assimilation of the modern style, its design is intriguing also due to the fact that it was built by Israeli architect Arieh Sharon (1900–1984), aided by his son, Eldar Sharon (1933–1994). → more

Beyond Cement and Iron — Contextualizing Israeli Architecture in Africa

My focus on construction and planning is not incidental. These fields played a crucial role in space-shaping processes during the first decades of the Israeli state, as well as in the construction of the territorial identity of its new citizens. Simultaneously, during the 1960s, the modernist construction projects undertaken in African countries post-independence were also evidence of a desire amongst newly independent African nations for postcolonial national unity. → more

Tropical Architecture / Building Skin

Like the modernist architecture that preceded it, tropical architecture was co-defined with modern bodies and the bodies of the tropics: initially those of colonizers but soon colonized bodies as well. The technologies of tropical architecture, based on a modernist rationalism adapted to tropical climatic conditions, were, in turn, offered as a developmental asset to colonized subjects, especially young people. → more

A Hot Topic — Tropical Architecture and Its Aftermath

Both the tropical architecture discourse in general and British notions of modernism in particular were embedded in larger discussions on climatic and culturally sensitive approaches to building developed within the International Congresses of Modern Architecture (Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne—CIAM) from the 1950s onward—notions rooted in the hygienic and medical discourses of colonial occupation. → more

The Extension Buildings of the ADGB Trade Union School in Bernau — Documents of the Formalism Debate in the GDR

The former ADGB Trade Union School is regarded today as an icon of modern architecture. Designed at the Bauhaus under the direction of Hannes Meyer and Hans Wittwer together with the students of architecture, the building ensemble still stands as a paragon of collective work, reform pedagogical ideas and analytic architecture. Less attention has been paid to the extensions to the school, planned 1949–51 by Georg Waterstradt. These buildings stand as a valuable testimony to the vigor of GDR architecture. The “formalism debate” led to a rejection of Bauhaus architecture, and thus, the set of political-architectural principles exemplified by the Trade Union School. → more

Communistic Functionalist — The Anglophone Reception of Hannes Meyer

Philip Johnson described Hannes Meyer as a “communistic functionalist” whose most notable achievement was to have preceded Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as director of the Bauhaus. The position he assigned to Meyer was reinforced in the Bauhaus Exhibition of 1938 at MoMA. The particular view of the Bauhaus presented at MoMA in 1938 corresponds to the place of Meyer in the historiography of modern architecture in the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s. The view that Meyer’s work allegedly lacked aesthetic interest, rendering it irrelevant to an Anglophone audience. → more

Selman Selmanagić at the Crossroads of Different Cultures — From Childhood Years in Bosnia to Bauhaus Education and Travels

Selman Selmanagić’s childhood years in Bosnia, on the eve of the First World War, as well as his education in Sarajevo, Ljubljana and at Bauhaus Dessau between the two world wars, together with his work in Palestine and Berlin, shaped his worldview and experience with different cultures and traditions. Throughout his career, he perpetually strove to find contemporary answers for the challenges of the time he was living in. → more

The “Hungarian Bauhaus” — Sándor Bortnyik’s Bauhaus-Inspired Budapest School Műhely 1928–1938

One of the many Hungarians associated with the Bauhaus, painter and graphic designer Sándor Bortnyik (1893-1976) opened his art and design school, Műhely, in Budapest in 1928 to bring the Bauhaus’s sprit and some of its teaching methods into Hungary. Even if Bortnyik’s school did not have the scope of the Bauhaus, it was an efficient experiment in an independent form of institutionalized education in the field of modern graphic design and typography. → more

Biology and Educational Models in the Pacific Southern Cone

The Chilean encounter with second-order cybernetics in the early 1970s was an essential part of the modernization project the state had been promoting since the 1920s, a project which also encompasses the 1945 reform of the architecture school. But if one reviews the history of this project with greater care, one can identify the reform of the new art school of 1928, which was the product of a social movement that began after the First World War, and that was able to implement in the main school of art of the country, a “first year of trial” similar to the methodology of the Bauhaus preliminary course, influenced by the trends of the “Active” or “New” school of the time. → more

For the Faculty of Architecture at METU — Bauhaus was a Promise

“ARCH 101 Basic Design” is the title of the introductory course offered to the first-year students in the METU Faculty of Architecture (Middle East Technical University, Ankara). Since the establishment of the school, this course has been conducted with a very strong Bauhaus impact. → more

From Social Democratic Experiment to Postwar Avant-Gardism — Asger Jorn and the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus

The project bauhaus imaginista would be negligent if it did not address the artist group referenced by its title, the Mouvement Internationale pour un Bauhaus Imaginiste (International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus, or IMIB), founded in 1953 by Danish artist Asger Jorn together with a handful of French and Italian colleagues. Many of the theoretical and artistic positions advocated by the IMIB were developed dialectically in response both to the historical Bauhaus and the reconstitution of a Bauhaus-inspired pedagogical program at the Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG) in Ulm. → more

Letter from Asger Jorn to Max Bill — February 12, 1954

Asger Jorn read of Max Bill’s plans for the new Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm (HfG), a school modeled after the Bauhaus, in the British Architects’ Yearbook 1953, where Bill had placed a promotional article to attract prospective students and teachers. Excited by the possibility of participating in a new democratic pedagogical experiment and in pursuing his interest in fusing art and architecture, he wrote to Bill, inquiring about the role of art at Ulm and expressing his desire to secure a teaching position.

This is a translation of one of the letters Jorn send to Bill. → more

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