Women of the Bauhaus

Last week whilst in a lecture about the Bauhaus my lecturer mentioned that a fabulous thing to look at (if one was in need of a little procrastination time) was hair cuts of members of the Bauhaus.
So, can you guess what I’ve been doing today?

The Bauhaus masters in (I think) 1926

What fascinated me was not only the haircuts but the outfits too of these women. Some striking, some minimal, some simply modernist. Many of these women appear ahead of their time in terms of the style of their clothes and appearance.

The Bauhaus itself though has an interesting history, certainly in relation to women and its earliest years. The Bauhaus was, first and foremost, a design school and still today the concept of the “foundation year” that many students on design based courses take before their degree has its roots in the systems employed by the Bauhaus.  The Bauhaus begun under Walter Gropius in Weimar, Germany in 1919. Although by 1925 had moved to purpose built premises in Dessau. It is whilst the school was in Dessau that many of the women I share below were either students or teachers at the school.

The female perspective on the Bauhaus is one that intrigues me no end. The Bauhaus despite being a progressive school had a fraught relationship with women. Females were accepted as students, but few went on to receive the notoriety that male students of the Bauhaus did. The majority of female students focused their studies on weaving, i.e. traditional female craft rather than engaging in the more progressive design work that the Bauhaus became so well known for, in particular architecture. 

So today, lets look back and celebrate some of the women of the Bauhaus. I feel like I am doing them something of a dis-service by focusing on their appearance rather than their work, but I think this gives a good background into who the characters of the Bauhaus were- beyond the instantly recognisable figures of Gropius, Meyer and Van Der Rohe.

I’ll start with a few images of Gunta Stolzl who was one of the most important women of the Bauhaus for a number of reason.  Stolzl was the only female master at the Bauhaus (in its original German guise). She became the senior master of the weaving department in 1927. 
Gunta stölzl Tut schlemmer, Walter beck, Oskar schlemmer, 1926
“We wanted to create living things with contemporary relevance, suitable for a new style of life. Huge potential for experimentation lay before us. It was essential to define our imaginary world, to shape our experiences through material, rhythm, proportion, color, form.”
Gunta Stölzl, reflecting on her time at the Weimar Bauhaus in Bauhaus. Zeitschrift für Gestaltung, July 2, 1931
Benita Kock-Otte
Heinrich Koch, Portrait of Benita Koch-Otte, 1920s
Ilse Fehling
Unknown Photographer, Portrait Ilse Fehling, 1928, later print
Irene Bayer
Grit Kallin-Fischer, Portrait Irene Bayer, 1927/28
Karla Grosch
Marianne Brandt (?), Portrait Karla Grosch, Dessau c. 1928-29
Mariane Brandt
Self portrait
Self portrait 1929
Florence Henri
Lucia Moholy, Portrait Florence Henri, en face, 1927
Tulia Kaiser, Florence Henri, N.d.
Margaret Camilla Leiteritz
Greta Stern
Grete Stern, Selbstportrait, 1935
Lis Beyer
Gertrud Arndt
Gertrud’s series of “mask” portraits have to be amongst my favourite Bauhaus era photographs  Although not really recognised until the 1980s they playful images speak of Arndt’s preliminary interest in textiles (she had been a student in the weaving workshop of the Bauhaus).
Erich Consemüller, Marcel Breuer and his “harem” (from left to right: Marta Erps-Breuer, Katt Both and Ruth Hollos-Consemüller), c. 1927
Found this one via pintrest, so no details on it I’m afraid.
I’ll finish with this image of the Bauhaus women. This image features in the book:

Bauhaus Women: Art . Handicraft . Design

which I would highly recommend if you are interested in the topic. 

4 thoughts on “Women of the Bauhaus

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