●Edition 2: Learning From / ●Edition 1: Corresponding With / ●Edition 4: Still Undead / ●Edition 3: Moving Away
Sep. 20 2019–Jan. 12 2020

bauhaus imaginista, Berne

  • Zentrum Paul Klee
  • Monument im Fruchtland 3
  • 3000 Berne
  • Switzerland

100 years of Bauhaus: Berne, the Bauhaus center of Switzerland, celebrates its masters, with this 100th anniversary of an important chapter in the history of architecture and design. Among the first Bauhaus masters were Berne natives Johannes Itten and Paul Klee, who each played a decisive role in shaping the school founded in Weimar in 1919. Although it only existed for 14 years, the Bauhaus had a worldwide impact which continues into the present day. With the research and exhibition series bauhaus imaginista, the history of how the Bauhaus was received globally has been examined for the first time, bringing to light a new view of the Bauhaus, one that departs from the national framework that until now has informed how the Bauhaus is perceived.

Josef Albers, Variant, 1947. Hermann und Margrit Rupf-Stiftung, Kunstmuseum Bern © The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / 2019, ProLitteris, Zurich.

Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Two Stones, 2019, still. Courtesy of Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam and the artist.

From its inception, the Bauhaus was internationally oriented; students and teachers travelled from different parts of Europe and Asia to become part of the school. As curators of the bauhaus imiginista project understands the global circulation of Bauhaus ideas not in terms of impact, but rather through its participation in international networks prior to 1933 and how this was mirrored in the school’s afterlife. The rise of the right wing forced the Bauhaus to move from Weimar to Dessau in 1925 and to Berlin in 1932, before the National Socialists seized control and perpetrated their violence through the state apparatus. Consequently, as many international students and masters fled Germany to settle in different parts of the world. It is the transmission of knowledge that bauhaus imaginista follows: a transfer via migration of students and teachers, but also via the interpretation, appropriation, and imagination of diverse Bauhaus ideas, in China, North Korea, India, the Soviet Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and Brazil.

The multiyear research (2016–19), which bauhaus imaginista was able to gather in collaboration with international researchers and cultural producers from Brazil, China, India, Japan, Morocco, Nigeria, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, shows to what extent and under which local conditions new design ideas and Bauhaus pedagogy were taken up and developed further. In this way, the project opens up a perspective on a transnational history of modernist art and design, marked by wars and dictatorships, non-aligned movements, the Cold War, and the processes of decolonization. bauhaus imaginista traces the history of a twentieth-century transcultural exchange from the perspective of international correspondence, relationships, encounters, and resonances. Putting this approach into practice in 2018, over the course of a year bauhaus imaginista has realized a series of transnational exhibitions and events with international partners: Le Cube—Independent Art Room, Rabat; the China Design Museum, Hangzhou; the Goethe-Institut and partners in New York, the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; the Garage—Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow; the SESC Pompéia, São Paulo; the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, and University of Lagos; and the Kiran Nadar Museum, New Delhi, as well as the Goethe-Institut in each location. Important elements of the results will be on show in Berlin and Bern in 2019.

With works by Anni Albers, Josef Albers, Arthur Amora, Gertrud Arndt, Ruth Asawa, Kader Attia, Robyn Beeche, Lena Bergner, Lina Bo Bardi, Farid Belkahia, Susie Benally, Nandalal Bose, Mohamed Chabâa, Ahmed Cherkaoui, Lygia Clark, Alice Creischer, Muriel Cooper, Zvi Efrat, T. Lux Feininger, Luca Frei, Walter Gropius, Brion Gysin und Ian Sommerville, Trude Guermonprez, Sheila Hicks, Johannes Itten, Kenneth Josephson, Renchinchirō Kawakita, György Kepes, Paul Klee, Kurt Kranz, Otto Lindig, Elisa Martins da Silveira, Doreen Mende, Hannes Meyer, Takehiko Mizutani, László Moholy-Nagy, Max Peiffer Watenphul, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Hélio Oiticica, The Otolith Group, Nam June Paik, Lygia Pape, I. M. Pei, Margaretha Reichardt, Geraldo Sarno, Oskar Schlemmer, Kurt Schwerdtfeger, Ivan Serpa, Arieh Sharon, Rabindranath Tagore, Paulo Tavares, Lenore Tawney, Frank Tovey, Edith Tudor-Hart, Stan VanDerBeek, Andy Warhol, Marguerite Wildenhain, Margarete Willers, Iwao and Michiko Yamawakim, and many more.

The exhibition at the Zentrum Paul Klee is curated by Marion von Osten, Grant Watson and Fabienne Eggelhöfer.

Zvi Efrat, Ife-Campus, Nigeria, Film Still, photo: © Keren Kuenberg.

●Event documentation
●Symposium Announcement and Program
Johannes Itten: Art as Life and bauhaus imaginista — 15 and 16 November 2019, Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne

In the framework of bauhaus imaginista Zentrum Paul Klee is organizing a symposium that seeks to present new methodical issues for rethinking to art history. Transnational and transcultural exchange processes have made it necessary that the paradigm of sovereign modern nations be questioned – and consequently also the fundamental principles of classical art history. → more

●Slide Show
bauhaus imaginista, Berne

Photo documentation of the exhibition bauhaus imaginista at Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne.

Photos: Rolf Siegenthaler. → more

A School in the World — bauhaus imaginista moves to the Zentrum Paul Klee

One hundred years after its founding, the research and exhibition project bauhaus imaginista takes the cosmopolitan Bauhaus and its international reception as the starting point for a new approach to thinking through its multiple global entanglements. The exhibition reports on the contacts, encounters and correspondences that arose between the Bauhaus, its teachers and students and the many institutions it inspired around the world, even after the school’s closure in 1933. In this way, bauhaus imaginista conveys a picture of a world society already engaged in a lively process of correspondence and exchange during the early part of the twentieth century. → more

Le Maghreb se réapproprie le Bauhaus — Compte rendu de l’exposition « bauhaus imaginista ». Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne, 20 septembre 2019 – 12 janvier 2020

À travers l’étude de cette période charnière, où les membres de l’École de Casablanca vont mettre en place un programme d’exploration de l’artisanat nord-africain, le volet marocain de « bauhaus imaginista » a réussi le pari de dépeindre l’histoire des modernités artistiques au Maroc, prenant en compte les différentes collaborations artistiques touchant à l’artisanat, à l’architecture et au design, préparant ainsi le chemin à une modernité qui tient compte de la tradition et de la culture de son pays,  qui est ancrée dans la vie quotidienne de tous et comprise par tous. → more

Location of the Exhibition in Berne

The exhibition bauhaus imaginista takes place at Zentrum Paul Klee in Berne from 20 September 2019 until 12 January 2020. → more

●Related Articles
bauhaus imaginista — and the importance of transculturality

What bauhaus imaginista has documented thus relates to a particular historical phase, one that opened a path to the renewal of the art situation in Morocco. And yet, although more recent generations of Moroccan art historians and critics often mentioned the period as a formative and unavoidable reference point, they never really deepened study of that period. It somehow remained in the shadows of other phases and realities. But cultural memory has its rhythms, and the moment arose when the years of the Casablanca Group called for attention, demanding its artistic accomplishments be better understood. In this regard, the bauhaus imaginista project came at the right moment and has had important repercussions. → more

Dry Time — Anni Albers Weaving the Threads of the Past

When the Bauhaus was formed it was meant to be the reversed image of contemporary history and society. If the outside world was a field where opposing forces, in the form of class and national struggles, raged, the Bauhaus aimed to extricate itself from these conflicts in order to establish an alternative primordial community. In this essay, Maria Stavrinaki comments on what seems to be Anni Albers’s problematic relationship to the past in general and to history in particular. Anni Albers is not a unique case though, but rather a case study, which despite its particularities, can be considered as analogical to the Bauhaus in general. → 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

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

Josef Albers and the Pre-Columbian Artisan

In his inaugural manifesto for the Staatliche Bauhaus, Walter Gropius proposed a new artistic agenda and pedagogical practice based on craft and artisanal principles. This article analyzes how prominent Bauhaus teacher and artist Josef Albers, entered into dialogue with a very specific kind of artisanal aesthetic: the pre-Columbian crafts he encountered on his many trips to Mexico. Revisiting his lecture “Truthfulness in Art” delivered in 1937, after his third trip to the country, the article studies the way in which Albers learned from the abstract tradition of pre-Columbian artisans, incorporating their knowledge into his own artistic and pedagogical practice. → more

To train not only for, but also against something! — A plea to think politically about the interdisciplinary art academy

Art colleges where the fine, applied and performing arts are taught under one roof often refer to the historical Bauhaus. Although the institution possessed no separate workshop for music, the experiments on the Bauhaus stage are regarded as prototypical for the further development of interdisciplinary art approaches later in the twentieth century. This text deals with the interdisciplinary art academy on the slide of a deregulated present. It reviews a number of developments to which we have already become accustomed. It is precisely for this reason that we should recall the opportunities offered by interdisciplinary education in both an artistic and political sense. → more

In the Footsteps of the Bauhaus — Its Reception and Impact on Brazilian Modernity

Through the strong German-speaking minority and its active work in the creation and mediation of culture in the spirit of modernity, the application of Bauhaus formal language, especially in the first phase of Brazilian modernity, has played a considerable role. It was only with the equation of German culture with National Socialism and the ensuing intolerance of German protagonists that these architectural and cultural activities were severely disrupted. In Brazil during this period, a style of modernism based on the principles of Le Corbusier finally gained acceptance. The impulses of the Bauhaus, however, which were not perceived for many years, were also reinterpreted and further developed within Brazil, although they remained occulted in comparison to the public reception of Corbusier. → more

Paul Klees bildnerische Webarchitekturen

Für die Entwicklung seiner abstrakten Bildsprache und seines Bauhaus-Unterrichtes bediente sich Paul Klee unterschiedlicher Quellen, die er im Alltag, auf seinen Reisen oder in Büchern entdeckte. Das Studium nicht-europäischen Designs von Gebäuden und Stoffen, die Fantasiearchitektur der aus Tunesien mitgebrachten Aquarelle oder die auf Papier entworfenen Stoffmuster der Weberinnen bildeten die Grundlage für Werke wie Teppich, 1927, 48. → 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

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

The Bauhaus and Morocco

In the years when Western nations were committed in new projects of partnership, with what was then called the “Third World”, young artists and students from the Maghreb had grown up in the passionate climate of the struggle for independence, were talented, open to modernity, and eager to connect with twentieth-century international art movements, which were different in production and spirit from colonial ideology and culture. → more