Early Visions

German architect Walter Gropius formed the Bauhaus in 1919, joining the Weimar Saxon Grand-Ducal Art School with the Weimar Academy of Fine Art.

From the school’s inception, its pedagogy, the organization of its courses, and the nature of its individual programs evolved under a changing cast of faculty and three different directors. Even the location of the school proved impermanent, moving from Weimar to Dessau in 1925 and then to Berlin in 1932.

In graphic design and typography, the most consequential turnover might have come in 1923, when Swiss painter Johannes Itten ceded his post as instructor of the school’s foundational preliminary course to a young Hungarian artist named László Moholy-Nagy. In this transition, Itten’s mysticism and inclination toward German expressionism and Arts and Crafts (prevalent for decades in Europe) gave way to Moholy-Nagy’s emphasis on universal clarity and use of the tools of mass production.

These various pedagogies all found expression in school documents and publications, from Gropius’s 1919 manifesto to Herbert Bayer’s single-page syllabi. Meanwhile, monographs like Itten’s Utopia preserve the ideology of the early instructors, and ephemera such as brochures, invitations, and tickets to festivals and performances provide a window into the vibrant social life integral to the Bauhaus. While the school’s legacy has largely been consolidated under a singular aesthetic, the artifacts in this section both locate the starting points of the dominant sensibility and attest to a more faceted origin story.


The Crucifixion: Lothar Schreyer's Multisensory Playscript Translating the Masters: Johannes Itten and Friedl Dicker’s Utopia


The First Exhibition