Bauhaus: A Human Adventure

Centre Pompidou

After his years of decline in Moscow, Kandinsky returned to Germany at the end of December 1921 with his wife Nina and arrived in Berlin exhausted, but "finally free".

In March 1922, architect Walter Gropius persuaded him to come and teach at the new school of art he had founded in Weimar in 1919—the Bauhaus.

The teachers of the Bauhaus in Dessau by AnonymousCentre Pompidou

The Bauhaus was born from the fusion of a school of applied art and a school of the fine arts. Kandinsky's appointment was a resounding success for its director and very enthusiastic students.

More than a style, the Bauhaus was above all a school, a place of life, of transmission, of experimentation, and of creation. It was the stage for an unprecedented artistic, educational, and political experiment. 

Kalt (Cold) by Kandinsky, VassilyCentre Pompidou

As Gropius declared in the introduction to the Bauhaus Manifesto: "the end goal of all creative activity is construction." The time had come to finally tear down the "wall of pride separating artists and artisans."

Above all, it was about building a new total and egalitarian environment, as, according to Gropius, "Salvation lies only in a new and fertile community."

Model of Pannel for the Exhibit of Juryfreie: Wall A by Kandinsky, VassilyCentre Pompidou

Right from his arrival in June 1922, Kandinsky, who had a deep interest in the idea of the total work of art, enjoyed his life at this place of study and residence that had been founded on the principle of the synthesis of arts and transdisciplinarity. 

Zwei Quadrate (Two Squares) by Kandinsky, VassilyCentre Pompidou

The students lived and trained alongside and in contact with the artists, with whom they organized numerous parties, such as the one held for Kandinsky's naturalization as a Germany citizen in 1928.

Bauhaus party by AnonymousCentre Pompidou

These big parties were moments of celebration and cohesiveness where the artistic imagination of the professors and students could be unleashed. 

Evening dance at Bauhaus by RöselerCentre Pompidou

Kandinsky was delighted to find his friend Paul Klee and meet many artists and theoreticians.

Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee in the garden of the teacher's house in Dessau by AnonymousCentre Pompidou

Among them were the artists Johannes Itten and Joseph Albers, who placed color at the heart of their creations; Oskar Schlemmer, artist and choreographer of the Triadisches Ballett (Triadic Ballet), who invented a new modern performance art; and painter and photographer László Moholy-Nagy.

Josef, Annie Albers and Nina Kandinsky on the terrace of the Henning house by AnonymousCentre Pompidou

At the Bauhaus, artistic debate was lively, and any search for a common consensus would be in vain, as Josef Albers said: "When Vassily Kandinsky said yes, I said no, and if he said no, I said yes."

Wassily Kandinsky and Josef Albers in the garden in Dessau by AnonymousCentre Pompidou

According to Gropius, "The aim of the Bauhaus is precisely to not establish a style, system, dogma, or canon, prescriptions or fashions! It will endure for as long as it does not confine itself in form, but follows the changing course of the river of life!"  

Vassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and two other people in front of the teacher's house occupied by Wassily Kandinsky in Dessau by AnonymousCentre Pompidou

After the victory of the nationalist right in the elections in Weimar The Bauhaus moved to Dessau in 1925.

The Kandinskys' house in Dessau by AnonymousCentre Pompidou

Kandinsky moved into one of the brick-and-glass houses in the heart of the new modernist premises designed by Gropius.

Bauhaus teacher's house in Dessau by Moholy, LuciaCentre Pompidou

Reserved for the teachers, these pavilions were semi-detached and had an attached studio where lessons could be given.

Exhibition of work by students of Bauhaus in Dessau by AnonymousCentre Pompidou

Klee thus became Kandinsky's immediate neighbor. 

This proximity was reflected in the creations of the two artists, who never stopped exploring the independent nature of art. 

Kandinsky's paintings during the last years of the Bauhaus testify to how Paul Klee's work opened him up to artistic stimuli, such as the crachis technique in watercolors, for example.

Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee on the terrace of the teacher's house in Dessau by AnonymousCentre Pompidou

The two friends showed the same reticence in the face of applied painting subjected to the functionalist strategies imposed by Gropius from 1923.

Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee at Wörlitz Park by AnonymousCentre Pompidou

This ideological turning point, exemplified in the Bauhaus Exhibition organized that same year, oriented the school toward functionalist and progressive objectives imbued with the developments of the industrial era. 

Postkarte für die Bauhaus-Ausstellung (Postcard for the Bauhaus Exhibition) by Kandinsky, VassilyCentre Pompidou

The second director, Hannes Meyer, recentered the school's priorities. It would now focus on building social housing. Klee left the Bauhaus, now a private architecture institution, in 1931. 

Hannes Meyer in front of a teacher's house in Dessau by AnonymousCentre Pompidou

The founding idea of creating encounters between different disciplines was abandoned under the leadership of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in Berlin one year later. 

Music room at the exhibition of German architecture in Berlin by BeckerCentre Pompidou

The Bauhaus closed its doors for the last time in the face of the rise of Nazism in 1933. Kandinsky went into self-exile again and moved to Paris, where he was not completely unknown, in December of the same year. 

The Nazi regime began confiscating artworks. Four of Kandisnky's canvases and twelve of his graphic works would be featured in what was known as the Degenerate Art exhibition in Munich in 1937, in order to be exhibited and mocked by the public. 

Wassily Kandinsky on the balcony of the apartment in Neuilly-sur-Seine by AnonymousCentre Pompidou

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