The Bauhaus was an institution of higher education which offered a radical new combination of art, crafts and technology in the years following the First World War. Its goal was nothing less than to improve the living conditions of the people through design. Established by the architect Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919, the Bauhaus relocated to Dessau in 1925. In Dessau from 1925 to 1926, Walter Gropius and contributing students and tutors created one of the 20th century’s most influential buildings and an icon of modern architecture – the Bauhaus Dessau.

The school’s Dessau period may be regarded as the most productive phase in the school’s short history, during which numerous iconic designs and buildings were created by the Bauhauslers. The Bauhaus absorbed significant influences from the international community, which flowed into the teaching programme, the buildings and the lives of the teachers and students. Accordingly, Walter Gropius positioned the school within a specific tradition and took inspiration for the development of the teaching programme from the Englishmen John Ruskin and William Morris. The Arts and Crafts movement founded by William Morris played an important role, especially during the first few years of the Bauhaus. Although the Bauhaus existed for only 14 years, it was attended by almost 1300 students, many of them from outside Germany. The teachers too originated from various countries and brought many enriching influences with them to the Bauhaus. Among others, these include the painter Lyonel Feininger from New York and Wassily Kandinsky from Russia, the second Bauhaus director and architect Hannes Meyer from Switzerland, the fine artist László Moholy-Nagy from Hungary and his wife, the photographer Lucia Moholy from Prague, or the architect Mart Stam from the Netherlands. Today the Bauhaus Building in Dessau, a World Cultural Heritage site, is a place in which diverse protagonists, interests and influences from all over the world again converge, as they did from 1926 to 1932.

The school building, together with the nearby Masters’ Houses, formed the campus on which, together, the Bauhauslers revolutionised life, learning and work. It is the built manifestation of the teaching programme and a modern way of life. Here, we see traces of what the Bauhaus really was: an important hub of international modern networks, while still being a school. In addition to the students and teachers, many guests arrived from all over the world. With the emigration of the Bauhauslers post-1933, the school’s ideas were transported to many parts of the world and crossed paths with other contexts and concepts of architecture, design and art.

Many of the still well-known Bauhaus teachers ultimately settled in the USA. László Moholy-Nagy emigrated to the USA in 1937 via the Netherlands and Great Britain and founded the New Bauhaus in Chicago, which lives on today as the Illinois Institute of Technology’s (IIT) Institute of Design. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (from 1937), Ludwig Hilberseimer and Walter Peterhans (both from 1938) also taught in Chicago, initially at the Armour Institute of Technology, which in 1940 became the IIT. Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer were appointed professors at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Anni and Josef Albers taught from 1933 at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Through their teaching and the works they created in the USA, they all had a considerable influence on an emerging generation of architects, designers and artists. But while the USA are the most well-known of the Bauhauslers’ havens, they were by no means the only one. The influence of the Bauhaus is thus still felt today in a wide variety of forms in many countries, a legacy of the principle and ideas that were generated more than 100 years ago.

Walter Gropius/unbekannt, Bauhausneubau Dessau 1925/26. Rohbauaufnahme, Rückseite mit Ateliergebäude, 1926. 5 Fotografien, Silbergelatinepapier (5,9 x 8,3 cm) montiert auf Karton (20,9 x 28,1 cm) Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, I 14286 F
Walter Gropius (Text)/Oskar Schlemmer (Tyografie), Satzungen Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar, 1922/1923. Buchdruck auf Werkdruckpapier, 26 Seiten von je 19,8 x 29,3 cm, hier S. 19. Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, I 1451/1-8 D
Franz Ehrlich, Für Lehrmittelverwaltung. Lagerkästen für Karten und Naschauungstafeln (Polizeischule Pirna), 1949, Bleistift auf Papier, 21,0 x 29,7 cm. Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, I 6184/13 G
Reinhold Rossig, o. T. (Schriftübung aus dem Unterricht bei Joost Schmidt am Bauhaus Dessau), 1929. Tusche auf Papier, 42,0 x 29,3 cm. Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, I 6184/13 G
Siegfried Ebeling, o. T. (Landkarte, Jalta und nördliche Schwarzmeerküste), 1961. 1 Heft, 16 Seiten von je 20,8 x 14,6 cm, hier S. 16. Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, I 29235