Architecture Planning and Preservation Bauhaus
Anna Vallye
  • LAST REVIEWED: 22 February 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 February 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780190922467-0031


The Bauhaus is a paradigmatic institution of 20th-century art, in some contexts synonymous with the aesthetic and discursive institution of modernism itself. Founded in 1919 in the city of Weimar, Germany, the Bauhaus school of design (Staatliches Bauhaus) was formed through the merger of the Weimar Grand Ducal Saxon schools of fine and applied arts by its first director, the architect Walter Gropius. Having attracted controversy and persecution in the tense political environment of the Weimar Republic, the Bauhaus was forced to relocate twice (to Dessau in 1925 and to Berlin in 1932) before it was finally shut down by the Nazis in 1933. The move to Dessau, however, gave Gropius an opportunity to design and build a new headquarters for the school, which became one of the most iconic contributions to modern architecture. The Bauhaus also lived on in a constellation of attempts to revive its pedagogical and design principles in a range of geographical contexts through the century. More than that, the “Bauhaus” has entered the lexicon of modern art as a formal and conceptual entity, a “style” and an “idea,” with a profound impact on the visual culture of our time. The Bauhaus school was a wellspring of boundary-breaking experiments across the arts, including architecture, industrial and typographic design, theater, photography, textiles, painting, and sculpture. Through the full array of its initiatives, the Bauhaus emerged as an extended interrogation of the changing status and social role of art in the age of industrial production. At its core, however, the Bauhaus was a collective invention of many gifted instructors and students, who shaped the institution as a laboratory of cooperative living, working, and learning. Studies of individual artists and designers, many with distinguished careers beyond the school (Josef and Anni Albers, László and Lucia Moholy-Nagy, Johannes Itten, Marcel Breuer, Oskar Schlemmer, Marianne Brandt, Gunta Stölzl, Hannes Meyer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Herbert Bayer, and many others) have done much to complicate Bauhaus historiography, demonstrating that its pedagogical philosophies and design approaches shifted with patterns of individual influence and undermining the notion of a cohesive and singular Bauhaus “idea.” The scope of scholarly interest in the institution is matched by the range of artistic disciplines and approaches it encompassed. This means that the extant Bauhaus literature in a plurality of languages and formats could fill a small library building. The 2019 centennial of the school’s founding has provided a fresh infusion of up-to-date scholarship.

Reference Works

The opening of the Bauhaus-Archiv in Darmstadt in 1961 (relocated to Berlin in 1971) was a milestone event for Bauhaus scholarship. The extensive collection of original documents and artworks, culled by German art historian Hans Maria Wingler from the surviving members of the international Bauhaus diaspora under the active stewardship of founding director Walter Gropius, established the foundation for historical study. Today, the Bauhaus-Archiv/Museum für Gestaltung in Berlin is the world’s largest collection on the history of the Bauhaus. Its holdings are further supplemented by substantial collections at the Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, the Klassik Stiftung Weimar Museum, focused on materials generated during the first Bauhaus period in Weimar (1919–1923) and at the Harvard University Busch-Reisinger Museum, as well as various dispersed public and private papers. The 2019 centennial was transformative for the Bauhaus legacy. The three major German Bauhaus institutions established the Bauhaus Association (see 100 Jahre Bauhaus/100 Years of Bauhaus) to coordinate centennial events and a related nonprofit Bauhaus Cooperation Berlin Dessau Weimar gGmbH to plan future joint ventures. The 2019 events included many exhibitions around the world; new museums built at the Bauhaus sites in Berlin, Dessau, and Weimar; and new expansive and evolving online resources (Von Osten and Watson 2018–2019; 100 Jahre Bauhaus/100 Years of Bauhaus). The reference works compiled here include a number of edited and illustrated overviews of archival holdings (Wingler 1969; Droste 2019; Wingler 1981; Siebenbrodt and Reissinger 2000). (A brief introduction to the Bauhaus holdings at the Busch-Reisinger is provided in Exhibition Catalogues). Also included is a comprehensive Bauhaus bibliography (Biundo, et al. 1994), an excerpted anthology of writings by Bauhaus figures (Whitford and Engelhardt 1992), a survey of main topics in current scholarship (Fiedler and Feierabend 2006), and an encyclopedic illustrated overview of women artists at the Bauhaus (Rössler 2019).

  • 100 Jahre Bauhaus/100 Years of Bauhaus. 2019.

    English and German. Produced by the Bauhaus Association 2019 and addressed to the general public, this website is a clearinghouse of events listings, press, and other materials related to the Bauhaus centennial. It includes a historical overview and a magazine publishing articles on various themes relating to the Bauhaus and its contemporary legacies.

  • Biundo, Christina, Kerstin Eckstein, Petra Eisele, Carolyn Graf, Gabriele Diana Grawe, and Claudia Heitmann. Bauhaus-Ideen, 1919–1994: Bibliographie und Beiträge zur Rezeption des Bauhausgedankens. Berlin: Reimer, 1994.

    A comprehensive bibliography up to 1994 that includes 4,104 titles.

  • Droste, Magdalena. Bauhaus, 1919–1933. Cologne, Germany: Taschen, 2019.

    English. The latest revised and updated edition of Bauhaus 1990. A profusely illustrated survey, culled from the holdings of the Bauhaus-Archiv, the new edition includes over 250 new illustrations.

  • Fiedler, Jeannine, and Peter Feierabend, eds. Bauhaus. Cologne, Germany: Könemann, 2006.

    English translation of Bauhaus 1999. An illustrated summary of main topics and themes in Bauhaus scholarship. Includes sections on historical context, pedagogy, social life, individual masters, and successor institutions.

  • Rössler, Patrick. Bauhausmädels: A Tribute to Pioneering Women Artists. New York: Taschen, 2019.

    There are multiple books dedicated to female Bauhäuslers, but this volume is unprecedented in its breadth, documenting eighty-seven artists and artisans through short biographical texts and roughly four hundred photographic portraits, taken between 1919 and 1933.

  • Siebenbrodt, Michael, and Elisabeth Reissinger. Bauhaus Weimar: Designs for the Future. Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz, 2000.

    A richly illustrated overview of the Weimar Bauhaus. Includes sections on Weimar archival collections and the Bauhaus building designed by Henry van de Velde.

  • Von Osten, Marion, and Grant Watson, eds. Bauhaus Imaginista. 2018–2019.

    A collaboration between the Bauhaus Cooperation Berlin Dessau Weimar gGmbH, the Goethe-Institut and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, this website combines a digital catalogue for a series of international traveling exhibitions, an online journal, and a research archive. It is dedicated to tracing the global impacts of the Bauhaus, through the migration, assimilation, and reinterpretation of its practices in places such as China, North Korea, India, Morocco, the Soviet Union, Nigeria, the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, and Brazil.

  • Whitford, Frank, and Julia Engelhardt, eds. The Bauhaus: Masters and Students by Themselves. London: Conran Octopus, 1992.

    A collection of excerpted writings by key Bauhaus figures, accompanied by illustrations of their work.

  • Wingler, Hans Maria. The Bauhaus: Weimar, Dessau, Berlin, Chicago. Translated by Wolfgang Jabs. Edited by Basil Gilbert, Joseph Stein. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1969.

    Translated and expanded from Wingler’s Das Bauhaus, 1919–1933: Weimar, Dessau, Berlin (Bramsche, Germany: Gebr. Rasch, 1962). This foundational resource is a monumental compendium of primary source documents, excerpted, annotated, and supplied with critical commentaries. Includes sections on the three original Bauhaus sites at Weimar (1919–1923), Dessau (1925–1932), and Berlin (1932–1933), as well as a supplement on the New Bauhaus in Chicago (1937–1949). Reprints include an updated bibliography of primary and secondary sources up to 1975. Last reissued in 2015.

  • Wingler, Hans Maria, ed. Bauhaus, Archiv, Museum: Sammlungskatalog (Auswahl) Architektur, Design, Malerei, Graphik, Kunstpädagogik. Berlin: Bauhaus-Archiv, 1981.

    German. A selected catalogue of the Bauhaus-Archiv collection, with annotated one-third-page black-and-white illustrations. Through pioneering initiative and exhaustive research, with the full support of Walter Gropius and former Bauhaus members, Wingler founded the Archive and Design Museum and served as its first director.

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