How Bauhaus came to the Soviet Union | Arts | DW | 12.09.2018
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Arts

How Bauhaus came to the Soviet Union

A new exhibition in Moscow looks at how a small group of Bauhaus students brought the movement to the USSR. It comes ahead of an international celebration of the movement's 100th anniversary in 2019.

The "Bauhaus Imaginista" exhibition at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow examines the lives and work of former Bauhaus teachers and students who moved to Russia. It looks specifically at the complex connections between the Bauhaus School and the Soviet Union.

The exhibition is dedicated to a group of graduates and students who in 1930 followed Hannes Meyer, the second director of the Bauhaus School, to the Soviet Union. These loyal students included architect Philipp Tolziner, who spent the rest of his life in Moscow, and architect and city planner Konrad Püschel. 

That group also included architect Lotte Stam-Beese, the first woman to study in the construction department of the Bauhaus in Dessau. After introducing her designs to the western Russian city of Orsk in 1935, Stam-Beese moved from the Soviet Union to the Netherlands, where her plans to rebuild Rotterdam after World War II brought her international recognition.

Read more: Anni Albers retrospective celebrates Bauhaus pioneer

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Bauhaus tour of Dessau

Communist ideas and socialist ideals

Through photographs, letters, collages, notebooks, diagrams, manifestos, architectural drawings and city maps, the exhibition explores the complex relationships between the architects and Bauhaus in Dessau, as well as with the Soviet Union and communist and socialist ideals.

The Moscow exhibition takes place on the heels of an exhibition in Hangzhou, China titled "Bauhaus Imaginista: Moving Away."  Both exhibitions examine how the Bauhaus' universal design principles were developed, adapted, expanded or renewed in different cultural and political contexts.

Bauhaus: Reinventing the world

The Bauhaus School wanted to redefine the relationship between education, art and society. This approach, reflected in Walter Gropius' 1919 manifesto, was shared with other movements in the 20th century, including those in Japan and Russia.

These international applications are the focus of the exhibition and event program "Bauhaus Imaginista", which celebrates the 100th anniversary of the movement in 2019. It was organized by the Bauhaus Kooperation Berlin Dessau Weimar, the Goethe Institute and the House of World Cultures (HKW) in Berlin, as well as partners in eight countries. The exhibition was curated by Marion von Osten and Grant Watson.

This year, four independently curated exhibitions were shown in China, Japan, Russia and Brazil, supplemented by lectures and talks in Morocco, the United States, Nigeria and India. From March to June 2019, a large-scale final exhibition of "Bauhaus Imaginista" will take place in Berlin's House of World Cultures.

The Moscow exhibition runs until November 30.

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