Bauhaus Centenary 2019, Modern Architecture in Germany

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Bauhaus Centenary 2019

Modern German Building – birthplace of ‘Neues Bauen’ – ‘New Objectivity’ – 20C Functional Design

15 Mar 2019

Bauhaus Centenary in 2019

Location: Dokumentationszentrum Alltagskultur der DDR, Eisenhüttenstadt, Brandenburg, Eastern Germany

Bauhaus Exhibition in Eisenhüttenstadt, Brandenburg

A special exhibition celebrating the Bauhaus centenary in 2019:

“shaping everyday life! bauhaus modernism in the GDR”

Exhibition dates: 9th April 2019 to 5th January 2020

Opening: Sunday, April 7, 2019 at 2 p.m.

Documentation Centre of Everyday Culture of the GDR
Erich-Weinert-Allee 3
15890 Eisenhuettenstadt


Bauhaus Dessau building, Germany:
Bauhaus Dessau building
photo © Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, photo © Yvonne Tenschert

As part of the Bauhaus centenary in 2019, the Documentation Centre of Everyday Culture of the GDR in Eisenhüttenstadt in the state of Brandenburg is presenting a special exhibition entitled “Shaping everyday life! – Bauhaus Modernism in the GDR” which examines the reception of the Bauhaus in the GDR. The exhibition opens on 7th April 2019.

Functional, durable and optimized for industrial mass production: “Shaping everyday life !” presents objects that were part of everyday life in the GDR – furniture, glassware, ceramics, technology and graphic design – and biographies of the designers who followed the tradition of the Bauhaus and contributed to the continuing development of its design principles and modern product design.

For example, the exhibition spotlights the design of furniture by the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau by displaying work by furniture designers Franz Ehrlich, Selman Selmanagić and Rudolf Horn. The furniture factory had become well known for its innovative products as early as the beginning of the 20th century.

The impact of modern and functional design, for example of designs by Wilhelm Wagenfeld, on the glassware and ceramics created by Friedrich Bundtzen, Erich Müller, Margarete Jahny, Ilse Decho and Christa Petroff-Bohne is also explored.

Bauhaus Building by architect Walter Gropius in Dessau, Germany:
Bauhaus Building Dessau
picture © Gordon Watkinson

The exhibition shows how designers such as Albert Krause applied the principle of functional, durable and practical design to new materials such as plastics. In addition, the concept of “living functionality” was further developed to achieve greater flexibility and user-friendliness, as seen in approaches such as the “open principle” demonstrated by the Mokick Simson S 50 moped designed by Karl Clauss Dietel and Lutz Rudolph, for example.

The exhibition has been organized in collaboration with the Visual Communication Department of weißensee kunsthochschule berlin (Weissensee Academy of Art, Berlin). Also in collaboration with the Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv (German Radio and Television Archive) and with the support of the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge (Werkbund Archive – Museum of Things), the Stiftung Industrie- und Alltagskultur (Foundation for Industrial and Everyday Culture), the Stiftung Plakat OST (Foundation for East-German Poster Art) and other private and institutional lenders.

The “Shaping everyday life! – Bauhaus Modernism in the GDR” exhibition is a project sponsored by the Bundesstiftung zur Aufarbeitung der SED-Diktatur (Federal Foundation for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in East Germany).

Media partner: Das Magazin

The catalogue is supported by Sparkasse Oder-Spree. The Dokumentationszentrum Alltagskultur der DDR (Documentation Centre of Everyday Culture of the GDR) is a public institution operated by Landkreis Oder-Spree (Oder-Spree County) and is sponsored by the State of Brandenburg.

The exhibition also examines the contradictions in the GDR government’s approach to the Bauhaus heritage in its cultural policies. Initial attempts to revive the Bauhaus tradition were followed by campaigns against so-called “formalism”, a ban on Bauhaus- style design and a return to what were regarded as national traditions in design. Modernism was tentatively rehabilitated when housing began to be constructed on an industrial scale. It was not until the refurbished Bauhaus Dessau was reopened in 1976 that the former school of design was adopted as part of the official cultural heritage of the GDR.

Shaping everyday life! explores how the Bauhaus heritage gradually became accepted in the GDR. It considers early publications and exhibitions in the 1960s as well as later exhibitions, including the exhibition entitled “The Bauhaus Experiment” which was held in Dessau in 1988 in collaboration with the Bauhaus Archive in West Berlin. Exhibitions such as these were used to promote the GDR’s cultural and political image.

Notwithstanding the chequered history of the reception of the Bauhaus, particularly during the years of the Soviet Occupation Zone and the early years of the GDR, former Bauhaus designers such as Mart Stam and Walter Funkat inspired the next generation of designers by their design practice and teaching at East German universities. The graduates of those universities would in turn have a profound impact on everyday culture. The biographies of 50 Bauhaus designers presented at the exhibition also illustrate personal continuities and networks.

The exhibition „Shaping everyday life!“ invites visitors to discover a hitherto long-neglected chapter in German design history as part of the Bauhaus centenary in 2019.

Yet there is more than one reason why a visit to Eisenhüttenstadt is well worthwhile. In addition to the exhibition “Shaping everyday life”, the new city built in 1950 is an attractive destination. Just a short walk through the city reveals the changing East German ideals in architecture and town planning which are visible here more than anywhere else. Eisenhüttenstadt is not only one of Germany’s most extensive heritage sites but also one of the 100 selected destinations on the Modernism Grand Tour that can be visited during the Bauhaus centenary.

An exhibition catalogue, also entitled “Shaping everyday life! – Bauhaus Modernism in the GDR”, is available from Weimarer Verlag mbooks.

Dokumentationszentrum Alltagskultur der DDR (Documentation Centre of Everyday Culture of the GDR) Erich-Weinert-Allee 3 15890 Eisenhüttenstadt
Tel.: 03364 – 41 73 55

Opening hours Tuesday to Sunday and public holidays: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. from October: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

How to reach the Documentation Centre: By train: trains run once an hour from Berlin (RE1/RE11) or Cottbus (RE11); take the no. 454 bus from the station (or the no. 453 bus from Glashüttenstraße on weekdays) to the “Rathaus” (town hall) stop. The Documentation Centre is a 5-minute walk from the bus stop. By car from the Berliner Ring, A 12, take the Frankfurt (Oder)-Mitte exit, then follow the B112 to Eisenhüttenstadt / Guben. In town follow the tourist signs.

Bauhaus Centenary 2019 Germany images / information received 140319

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Bauhaus Dessau building in Germany sign
picture © Gordon Watkinson

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