On May 18th, we celebrate the 130th birthday of one of the most highly regarded modern architects of the 20th century, Walter Gropius. Gropius’ contribution to architecture is that of an architect, philosopher and educator. He was the founder of the Bauhaus, the German “School of Building” that embraced a “total art” in the arts’ production and influence in the social context. This “laboratory” was an effort to incorporate the elements of art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography in its design, development and production.
More after the break.
Gropius’ ideas developed in the post-war climate of Europe; the Bauhaus existed in the years between both World Wars, greatly influencing the current of modern art and architecture. Like many modernists of the period, Gropius was interested in the mechanization of work and the utilitarianism of newly developed factories. He and Adolf Meyer designed the Fagus-Werk factory, a glass and steel cubic building that is thought to be the pioneering work of the style of modern architecture. The Bauhaus in Dessau was designed in 1925 by Gropius, distilling his teachings into architectural elements of the building.
Gropius contributed with published writings, discussing the Bauhaus Manifesto, the role of the artist and the artist’s relationship to his or her work. After immigrating to the United States, Gropius continued his teachings and exploring the Bauhaus idea. While teaching at Harvard University, he lived with his family at the self-designed Gropius House.
Bauhaus rose in popularity with an exhibition, organized by Gropius, at the Museum of Modern Art. By the time Gropius died in 1969, his ideas on architecture and the Bauhaus itself had become a staple of modernist architecture.