Edition 1

Corresponding With

Lyonel Feininger, Kathedrale [Cathedral], 1919, Cover and one page of the manifesto
and programme of the Bauhaus, April 1919, 32.1 x 19.4 cm, Woodblock print
Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Photo: Atelier Schneider, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019.

Nandalal Bose, Instructions for Mural painting, early 1930s
Mural, Kala Bhavana, Santiniketan, India, © Kala Bhavan, Visva Bharati, Santiniketan.

Weaving workshop at Bauhaus Dessau, ca. 1927, photo: Erich Consemüller/architect: Walter Gropius
Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019.

Lena Bergner, Two studies from the Paul Klee course at the Bauhaus, 1927–28
Litho print, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, © Heirs to Lena Bergner.

Kala Bavhan campus, Santiniketan, West Bengal, 2017, photo: Grant Watson.

Krishna Reddy, Postcard and drawing, year unknown
Photo: Grant Watson, © Judith Reddy, New York.

Renshichirō Kawakita & Katsuo Takei, Kōsei Kyōiku Taikei, (Handbook for Teaching Design), 1934
Private Collection of Prof. Hiromitsu Umemiya.

Renshichirō Kawakita at the workshop of Kōsei Kyouiku for art teachers held in
Wakayama Prefecture, December 1933, from: Kenchiku Kōgei. I See All, Vol. 3, No. 3, Mar. 1933.

Hin Bredendieck (middle) from Josef Albers's preliminary course 1928, ca. 1928 (photo) / 2015
Fine Art Print, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau.

Seikatsu kōsei (Life Construction) exhibition at Bunka Gakuin
in June 1931. Published in: Kenchiku Gaho, Vol. 22, No. 10.

Luca Frei, Design for pillows, 2017
Gouache, pencil and collage on foam core, 70 x 100 x 3 cm, photo: Karl Isakson.

●Edition Concept

Corresponding With begins with the 1919 Bauhaus Manifesto published by Walter Gropius, who argued that in the future there should be “no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman.” The manifesto was a product of its time, drawing on the radical cultural movement that had arisen in the wake of the First World War and which aspired to overcome the existing conventions of an academicized European art education, understanding the social and material value of craft as a means of redressing the destructive forces of 19th century industrial capitalism. From its inception the Bauhaus school was at the confluence of international ideas on modernism and radical educational reforms. Rethinking the relationship between the applied and non-applied arts, and manual and cognitive knowledge was central to this larger process of reform and innovation. As a pedagogical experiment, the school was exceptional for putting various ideas and practices in action within its curricula—an effort to reconceptualize the arts as a central part of creating a new socialist and democratic society.

The Bauhaus opened in April 1919 in the same year the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore opened the art school Kala Bhavan, the fine arts faculty of Visva Bharati University at Santiniketan, an already existing utopian community on a piece of land hundred miles north of Calcutta (known today as Kolkata). Like the early Bauhaus, Kala Bhavan developed a modernist language that also referred to Indian craft and fine art traditions, as well as other sources, such as the British Arts and Crafts movement. In 1922, the Austrian art historian Stella Kramrisch, who taught at Kala Bhavan, began corresponding with Johannes Itten, broaching the possibility of a Bauhaus exhibition in India. This exchange resulted in the first international Bauhaus show, which took place in December of that year at the Indian Society of Oriental Art in Kolkata.

Another Bauhaus-related educational experiment—Seikatsu Kōsei Kenkyusho (Research Institute for Life Design)—was founded by Renshichirō Kawakita in Tokyo in 1931 and later renamed Shin Kenchiku Kōgei Gakuin (School of New Architecture and Design). Like the Bauhaus in Weimar, the Tokyo school combined a modernist approach to handicrafts with industrial forms of production, inflected by specifically Japanese aesthetic ideas. In 1934 Kawakita published a book on Kōsei (design) education co-written with the teacher Katsu Takei, Kōsei Kyōiku Taikei (Handbook for Design Education), which in tandem with Kawakita’s school worked to translate specific Bauhaus principles into a modernist Japanese theory of art education.

Instead of considering these three schools from within the chronology of Bauhaus influence, the section Corresponding With compares their practice and philosophy, linked by letters, concepts, and the movement of individuals and works of art, architecture and design. It includes rarely seen documents on teaching methods and workshop environments, aesthetic vocabularies and material cultures, course syllabi, the results of workshops focused on reimagining everyday objects (crafted in accordance with the schools’ guiding principles) and pedagogical writings. The three schools—considered in relation to one another and rethought as part of a network of transnational and transcultural exchange that profoundly affected early 20th century art education—were linked by a shared critique of European academic art education, a desire to reshape society through radical pedagogy and the effort to distance themselves from the rising nationalisms of the 1920s and 1930s.

Corresponding With was realized in 2018 together with he National Museum of Modern Art (Kyoto) and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), in cooperation with Helena Čapková (Tokio/Prag), Anshuman Dasgupta (Santiniketan), Fabienne Eggelhöfer (Bern), Luca Frei (Malmö), Anja Guttenberg (Berlin), Yuko Ikeda (Tokio), Partha Mitter (Oxford), Jin Motohashi (Kyoto), The Otolith Group (London) and Hiromitsu Umemiya (Kobe). The artist Luca Frei also developed a new sculptural work for this chapter and designed the overall space.

●Related Articles
The Bauhaus Manifesto — Conversation with Magdalena Droste

Gropius wrote his Bauhaus manifesto shortly after the end of World War I. The German empire had collapsed, Russia had undergone a revolution and a second revolution in Germany was in the process of being suppressed. Throughout Germany people felt the necessity for a social and intellectual change. → more

Walter Gropius’ Bauhaus-Manifest

Das Bauhaus wandte sich von Anfang an vom Nationalismus ab und dem Kosmopolitismus und Internationalismus zu, eine Orientierung, die es schließlich mit dem emporkommenden Nationalsozialismus in Widerspruch brachte. Die Schule korrespondierte auch mit zeitgenössischen Bildungsinitiativen in anderen Teilen der Welt, darunter die Kala Bhavan (Kunstschule) in Santiniketan, Indien. Das Bauhaus wirkte durch seine Schriften und Studierenden auch auf andere Schulen in Japan. → more

“The Art!—That’s one Thing! When it’s there” — On the History of the Arbeitsrat für Kunst in the Early Weimar Republic

Even though the progressive artists of the interwar period ultimately failed in their plan to realize the new, egalitarian society they had envisioned, their influence was lasting. The international avant-garde produced some of the most important artists of the twentieth century. Meanwhile, some members of the Arbeitsrat für Kunst (Workers council for art) occupied important positions at the Bauhaus—above all, its founding director Walter Gropius. → more

Towards a Tangible Pedagogy — Dimensions of Tactility at the Bauhaus

In the epistemic context of a fundamental skepticism towards the existing knowledge system, the Bauhaus school was in pursuit of “unlearning”: dismissing conventional learning and promoting pre- linguistic, intuitive approaches- which also led to adoptions of non-academic modes of perception and included an interest in pre-modern knowledge systems. → more

Shifting, Rotating, Mirroring 
 — Lena Bergner’s Minutes of Paul Klee’s Classes

Lena Bergner developed carpet patterns applying specific methods learned from Paul Klee discernible in her finished work. The results, however, are quite unique. This is precisely what Klee sought to achieve with his classes at the Bauhaus: to point to paths of design so that the formal language is not arbitrary, without, however, prescribing predetermined outcomes. → more

Bauhaus Weimar International — Visions and Projects 1919–1925

Although the Bauhaus opened its door in 1919, it took more than three years for Gropius to fully organize the school’s faculty, since with the departure of several of the old art school’s professors, such as Max Thedy, Richard Engelmann and Walther Klemm, open positions had to be regularly filled. But Gropius’s first appointments indicated the course set toward an international avant-garde school, a school of invention. → more

Gertrud Grunow’s Theory of Harmonization — A Connection between European Reform Pedagogy and Asian Meditation?

In this essay Linn Burchert sheds some light on the darkness obscuring Grunow’s practice by presenting the background and details of Grunow’s teaching, concluding by examining the striking parallels between her harmonization teaching and meditative and yogic practices, which had already been introduced at the Bauhaus in Johannes Itten’s preliminary course. → more

Three Preliminary Courses: Itten, Moholy-Nagy, Albers

It was the special qualities of the Swiss artist Johannes Itten, whose career as a primary and secondary school teacher was characterized by adherence to the principles of reform pedagogy, to have introduced a stabilizing structural element into the still unstable early years of the Bauhaus: the preliminary course which—in addition to the dual concept of teaching artistic and manual skills and thinking—was to remain a core part of Bauhaus pedagogy, despite considerable historical changes and some critical objections, until the closure of the school in 1933. → more

●Artist Text
Open Your Eyes — Breathing New Life Into Bauhaus Papercuts

My artistic practice working primarily with abstract folded paper objects led me to Josef Albers and his similar obsession with paper as an instructional medium. Initially looking for pleated paper forms and to learn more about the history of these techniques, I have since been swept up in the maelstrom of Albers' pedagogical mindset. It’s difficult to look at one area of his thinking and not get pulled into many other directions, finding yourself challenged at every turn. → more

A Mystic Milieu — Johannes Itten and Mazdaznan at Bauhaus Weimar

Mazdaznan had a significant although often misunderstood impact on the life and work of Johannes Itten, a key figure in the development of the Weimar Bauhaus. A devout practitioner of Mazdaznan, he was responsible for introducing it to students of the Bauhaus in the early 1920s. This essay explores the intimate relationship between Itten, Mazdaznan and the Bauhaus and, in so doing, also underscores how in its infancy the Bauhaus was very different from its later incarnation as a school associated primarily with technical innovation. → more

Johannes Itten and Mazdaznan at the Bauhaus

Having experimented with Mazdaznan’s teachings on nutrition, breathing and character while studying at the Stuttgart Academy of Art (1913–16), Johannes Itten used these findings for the first time as a “teaching and educational system” while directing his Viennese painting school (1916–19). By 1918/19 at the latest (still before his move to the Bauhaus), Itten had also learned about Mazdaznan’s racial model. But how did the racialist worldview of the Swiss Bauhaus “master” affect Bauhaus practice? → more

●Artist Text
The Egyptian Postures

In the late nineteenth century the self-styled Dr. Otoman Zar-Adusht Ha'nish founded Mazdaznan, a quasi-religious movement of vegetarian diet and body consciousness, which flourished across the USA and Europe until the 1940's. The Egyptian Postures is a guide to the most advanced Mazdaznan exercises that Johannes Itten taught his students at the Bauhaus. This edition of Dr. Otoman Zar-Adusht Ha'nish’s original instructions has been newly edited and illustrated by Ian Whittlesea with images of actor Ery Nzaramba demonstrating the postures. → more

The Bauhaus, the Nazis and German Post War Nation Building Processes

On 4 May 1968 the exhibition 50 Years of the Bauhaus was opened at the Württembergischer Kunstverein in Stuttgart. Designed by Herbert Bayer and conceived amongst others by Hans Maria Wingler and Ludwig Grote, the exhibition was shown in eight museums worldwide until 1971. To this day, it is considered one of the most influential post-war exhibitions on the Bauhaus and was of great significance in the course of the nation building process for the still-young Federal Republic. Fifty years later the Württembergischer Kunstverein undertook a critical rereading of the historical exhibition, which created a long-term image and brand of Bauhaus that has been and still needs to be called in question: not least in such a year of jubilation. → more

●Artist Text
The Legacies of the Bauhaus — For the Present and the Future

“My method of bringing new life to archival images is to look at what happens at the margins rather than the center of a picture. I am also obsessed with making links, based on the belief that everything is connected. And also with what I call ‘narrative environments,’ mediating spaces facilitating new forms of engagement.” Luca Frei is a commissioned artist for bauhaus imaginista: Corresponding With. He talks about his approach to his installation for the exhibition at MoMAK in Kyoto. → more

Naked Functionalism and the Anti-Aesthetic — The Activities of Renshichirō Kawakita in the 1930s

Kawakita called the educational activities that developed around the central axis of the School of New Architecture and Design “kōsei education.” The term “compositional/structural education” is often taken nowadays to refer to a preparatory course in composition derived from the Bauhaus—plastic arts training in which plastic elements such as color, form and materials are treated abstractly.  → more

The Bauhaus and the Tea Ceremony

The impact of the Bauhaus teaching methods reached far beyond Germany. Conversely, throughout its existence, a Japanese sensibility permeated the Bauhaus, springing from the Japonisme of individual professors, until its closure in 1933. This article analyzes the reciprocal impact of German and Japanese design education in the interbellum period in order to shed new light on the tightly knit network of associations then connecting Japan and Europe. → more

Johannes Itten’s Interest in Japanese Ink Painting — Shounan Mizukoshi and Yumeji Takehisa’s Japanese ink painting classes at the Itten-Schule

It’s widely known that Johannes Itten had an interest in Asian philosophy and art. He had a series of fruitful encounters with Japanese artists while leading his Itten-Schule art institute in Berlin (1926–34). In this article Yoshimasa Kaneko presents his research of these exchanges: In 1931 Nanga painter Shounan Mizukoshi taught Japanese ink painting in Nanga style at the Itten-Schule; in 1932 Jiyu Gakuen students Mitsuko Yamamuro and Kazuko Imai (Married name: Sasagawa) studied there; and finally, in 1933 the painter and poet Yumeji Takehisa also taught Japanese ink painting (including Nanga style) at Itten’s invitation. → more

“The Attack on the Bauhaus” — A Collage that Became a Symbol of the Closure of the Bauhaus

For the Yamawaki couple, their studies at the Dessau Bauhaus ended with the closure of the Dessau site. Iwao’s luggage for his return home also included his collage Der Schlag gegen das Bauhaus. It was first published in the architecture magazine Kokusai kenchiku in December 1932. Iwao let the collage speak for itself, publishing it without comment. → more

●Artist Work
The O Horizon — A Film Produced for bauhaus imaginista

The Otolith Group have been commissioned to produce The O Horizon for bauhaus imaginista, a new film containing studies of Kala Bhavana as well as the wider environments of Santiniketan and Sriniketan. Through rare footage of art, craft, music and dance, it explores the material production of the school and its community as well as the metaphysical inclinations that guided Tagore’s approach to institution building. → more

A Virtual Cosmopolis — Bauhaus and Kala Bhavan

The Bauhaus is renowned for its contribution to modernist architecture and design. Less known but equally significant is its pioneering role in opening up a transcultural network that created the conditions for global conversations on art and design as early as the 1920s. → more

Reclaiming the National — Against Nationalism

The question of how one resists populist nationalism is both obvious and fiendishly difficult. This sounds like a paradoxical proposition, and, indeed, it is. I am inspired by an early critique of nationalism which bears an uncanny resonance in today’s world: a critique that was made in 1916 by the Bengal poet and visionary, Rabindranath Tagore, during a lecture tour in Japan, in the midst of the First World War. → more

Sriniketan and Beyond — Arts and Design Pedagogy in the Rural Sphere

In this article Natasha Ginwala examines how certain Bauhaus ideas flowed into Tagore’s pedagogic experiment and rural reconstruction program at Sriniketan (created in 1921–22), as well as the engagement with design Dashrath Patel, the founding secretary of the National Institute of Design (NID) and its leading pedagogue, pursued in the rural sphere. → more

Santiniketan — Rules of Metaphor and Other Pedagogic Tools

This essay was occasioned by the Delhi exhibition of the Hangzhou chapter of bauhaus imaginista and the accompanying seminar in December 2018. The overarching brief of the seminar was to discuss the pedagogic aspects of schools in various parts of the world that are relatable to the practices of Bauhaus. Specifically, the essay attempts to capture the foundational moments of Kala Bhavana, the art school in Santiniketan that, incidentally, also steps into its centenary year in 2019. → more

●Text Compilation
News from Santiniketan — A Text Compilation of Educational Texts from Santiniketan

Unlike the Bauhaus, Kala Bhavana had no written manifesto or curriculum. However, a corpus of writing developed around the school, largely produced by the school’s artists and teachers. The academic Partha Mitter, whose own writing has explored the interplay between the struggle against colonialism, modernism, and the cultural avant-garde in India, has selected a group of texts on education in Santiniketan. → more

Bauhaus Calcutta

ln December 1922, ‘The Fourteenth Annual Exhibition of the lndian Society of Oriental Art’ was held at Samavaya Bhavan, number seventeen Park Street. Paintings by artists from the ‘Bengal school’—all of them members of the lndian Society of Oriental Arts—were exhibited. Most of these artists painted in a manner, which would have been recognisable as that school’s invention, a particularly lndian signature style, with mythology as preferred subject. Hung on the other side of the hall was a large selection of works from the Bauhaus.  → more

●Video and Introduction
Ritwik’s Ramkinker — A Film in the Process

Ritwik Ghatak’s film Ramkinker Baij: A Personality Study on the sculptor from Santiniketan is like a spurt, a sudden expression of ebullient enthusiasm from a friend, who is said to have shared artistic affinities with him. Incidentally, it also registers, through a conversational method, the process of discovering the artist, who was embedded, organic, yet global and most advanced for his time. → more

●Artist Work
Anna Boghiguian — A Play to Play

The works from Anna Boghiguian shown here are from an installation commissioned by the Institute of International Visual Arts (Iniva) titled A Play to Play as part of the exhibition Tagore’s Universal Allegories in 2013. These works incorporate elements associated with Tagore, from the artist’s frequent visits to Santiniketan. → more

●Research Archive
Performing Asia: The Affective Affinities of Rabindranath Tagore and Okakura Tenshin
Rustom Bharucha

Performance theorist Rustom Bharucha delivers a lecture on his unique research into the friendship between the Indian poet and Japanese curator.

EN Size: 0 B
Source:First published in Off the Edge, May 2008, pp. 64–65. The lecture can be accessed at Iniva:
Im Schatten großer Mangobäume. Kunsterziehung und Transkulturelle Moderne im Kontext der Indischen Unabhängigkeitsbewegung
Christian Kravagna

in: Tom Holert & Marion von Osten (Hg.): Das Erziehungsbild. Zur visuellen Kultur des Pädagogischen, Schlebrügge.Editor, Wien 2010, S. 106–130.

DE Size: 21 MB
Nationalism in India
Rabindranath Tagore

Essay by Tagore denouncing nationalism

EN Size: 108 KB
Source:from: Rabindranath Tagore: Nationalism, MacMillan and Co., Limited St. Martin’s Street, London, 1917, pp. 95–130.
Rabindranath Tagore in Visva Bharati News
Rabindranath Tagore

from: Visva Bharati News, 1932–33.

EN Size: 6 MB
●Related Events
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Shifting, Rotating, Mirroring 
 — Lena Bergner’s Minutes of Paul Klee’s Classes EN
Verschiebung, Drehung, Spiegelung 
 — Lena Bergners Aufzeichnungen aus Paul Klees Unterricht DE
The Legacies of the Bauhaus — For the Present and the Future EN
The O Horizon — A Film Produced for bauhaus imaginista EN
The Bauhaus and the Tea Ceremony EN
The Egyptian Postures EN
Open Your Eyes — Breathing New Life Into Bauhaus Papercuts EN
The Bauhaus Manifesto — Conversation with Magdalena Droste EN
Das Bauhaus-Manifest — Gespräch mit Magdalena Droste DE
A Mystic Milieu — Johannes Itten and Mazdaznan at Bauhaus Weimar EN
Bauhaus Weimar International — Visions and Projects 1919–1925 EN
Bauhaus Weimar International — Visionen und Projekte 1919–1925 DE
Naked Functionalism and the Anti-Aesthetic — The Activities of Renshichirō Kawakita in the 1930s EN
透明な機能主義と反美学 — 川喜田煉七郎の1930年代 JA
Anna Boghiguian — A Play to Play EN
“The Art!—That’s one Thing! When it’s there” — On the History of the Arbeitsrat für Kunst in the Early Weimar Republic EN
„Die Kunst! – Das ist eine Sache!, wenn sie da ist“
 — Zur Geschichte des Arbeitsrates für Kunst in der frühen Weimarer Republik DE
News from Santiniketan — A Text Compilation of Educational Texts from Santiniketan EN
Gertrud Grunow’s Theory of Harmonization — A Connection between European Reform Pedagogy and Asian Meditation? EN
Gertrud Grunows Harmonisierungslehre — Verbindung Europäischer Reformpädagogik und Asiatischer Meditation? DE
Bauhaus Calcutta EN
Santiniketan — Rules of Metaphor and Other Pedagogic Tools EN
“The Attack on the Bauhaus” — A Collage that Became a Symbol of the Closure of the Bauhaus EN
„Der Schlag gegen das Bauhaus“ — Eine Collage, die zu einem Symbol der Schließung des Bauhauses wurde DE
Reclaiming the National — Against Nationalism EN
Walter Gropius’ Bauhaus-Manifest DE
Johannes Itten and Mazdaznan at the Bauhaus EN
Johannes Itten und Mazdaznan am Bauhaus DE
Three Preliminary Courses: Itten, Moholy-Nagy, Albers EN
Dreimal Vorkurs: Itten, Moholy-Nagy, Albers DE
Sriniketan and Beyond — Arts and Design Pedagogy in the Rural Sphere EN
Ritwik’s Ramkinker — A Film in the Process EN
Towards a Tangible Pedagogy — Dimensions of Tactility at the Bauhaus EN
Auf der Tastatur des Bauhauses DE
Johannes Itten’s Interest in Japanese Ink Painting — Shounan Mizukoshi and Yumeji Takehisa’s Japanese ink painting classes at the Itten-Schule EN
The Bauhaus, the Nazis and German Post War Nation Building Processes EN
A Virtual Cosmopolis — Bauhaus and Kala Bhavan EN