The exhibition bauhaus imaginista: Learning From explores the role of cultural appropriation at the Bauhaus and in the work of Bauhaus related artists and designers during the 20th Century. It departs from the example of Paul Klee’s 1927 drawing of a carpet that references traditional Maghrebi carpet patterns, which shows a Bauhaus Master’s interest in non-Western cultural forms.
From the mid 1930s onwards Bauhaus emigres, including Josef and Anni Albers, and Marguerite Wildenhain, travelled throughout the Americas observing, documenting and collecting handicrafts produced by pre-Columbian and indigenous cultures. Anni Albers and her fellow weavers, including a younger generation of Fiber Artists looked to ancient Peruvian textiles because of their complexity and the high social value afforded weaving in Inca society. An interest in vernacular handicraft and architecture can also be seen in the work and study of the second Bauhaus director Hannes Meyer and Bauhaus weaver Lena Bergner during the period they spent in Mexico.
The turn to the vernacular and to handicrafts was given a political dimension in post-independence Morocco, where the rejection of a French Beaux-Arts model by Moroccan artists of the early 1960s led to the re-evaluation of local North African crafts and the Bauhaus, both of which were integrated into the curriculum of the School of Fine Arts in Casablanca.