Typographic Masters

Of the many instructors that shaped the Bauhaus, László Moholy-Nagy, Herbert Bayer, and Joost Schmidt contributed the most to its legacy in graphic design.

Each spent only a few years as lead instructors, but their individual impacts were enduring, and they went on to make commercial work that furthered the Bauhaus’s reputation.

Surprisingly, the school did not offer official instruction in design or typography until 1925, six years after it was founded. Yet, when he joined in 1923, Moholy-Nagy charged ahead with a typographic identity for the institution, infusing Bauhaus ephemera and publications with Russian constructivism. When Bayer took the helm of the new print and advertising workshop in 1925, he simplified Moholy-Nagy’s more chaotic tendencies across stationery, catalogs, and order forms, and he brought in paid commissions from local clients. In 1928, after the departure of Gropius, Moholy-Nagy, and Bayer, lettering instructor Joost Schmidt inherited the directorship of the workshop. He led students in complex multidisciplinary projects but departed when Dessau’s right-wing political climate forced the Bauhaus to relocate to Berlin in 1932.

Before World War II, Moholy-Nagy and Bayer fled to the United States, promoting themselves as ambassadors of Bauhaus ideas abroad, while Schmidt continued to work in Germany as a designer and mapmaker before being blacklisted by the Nazis for his association with the progressive school. Examples of the three artists’ work from before, during, and after their time as Bauhauslers appear here, providing a look at their ongoing contributions to the Bauhaus story.


Bayer’s World Geo-Graphic Atlas Inside Offset: Two Experimental Bauhaus Alphabets


Toward a New Typography