Research: Bauhaus Textiles #2

Here are notes which I gathered from a few chapters in Bauhaus Textiles, Women artists and the Weaving Workshop by Sigrid Wortman Weltge.

Chapter 3- Gunta Stolzl

Image result for gunta stolzl 1929
Gunta Stolzl in 1929
  • She has a dominant presence in the Weaving Workshop, and she is the only female Bauhaus master
  • It is her enthusiasm, vitality and the seriousness she had in her pursuit for knowledge that made her a model to other students
  • Anni Albers thought of her as a quintessential (representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class) weaver, since she had “the most animal feeling for textiles”.
  • Her students loved her, because she was a good, real teacher which they didn’t have in the beginning
  • At the start, Anni Albers thought weaving was “too sissy”, because she was “looking for a real job”, and went into weaving unenthusiastic-ally, as merely the least objectionable choice.
  • Gropius’ decision in appointing painters and not craftsmen to be head in workshops has been debated as a stroke of genius or out of touch with reality
  • It went against his aspiration to elevate crafts to the level of art
  • Art was perceived as independent and not teachable
  • Kandinsky advised that students should discard old ways of looking and previous knowledge in order to approach every problem as if it were for a first time
  • Weavers have credited Paul Klee with their understanding of color and form
  • Kandinsky states in Concerning the Spiritual in Art:  “The more an artist uses abstratced forms, the deeper and more confidently will he advance in the kingdom of the abstract.”
  • HOWEVER, neither weaving nor women could easily advance into the kingdom of the abstract.
Image result for weaving workshop bauhaus
The weaving workshop looms

Chapter 4- Identity 

  • There was an issue in the hierarchy of the arts
  • “Mention a patron or friend of the arts today and immediately it conjures up the owners of paintings. Applied art, the decorative arts, they have sunk in the eyes of “the artists” to a low standing. 
  • There was still tension in what constitutes the decorative and what the fine arts had not diminished.
  • By the 1920s, abstract art had become fearful of being mistaken for decoration and so asserted its superiority by proposing more complex ideologies.
  • The fine arts denied the decorative arts any ability to communicate ideas or emotion.
  • The students were often perplexed by the conflicting theories of their masters, and how should they interpret Gropius’ belief that art cannot be taught or learnt?
  • Women enrolled into the Bauhaus with promised equality in choice of profession, but they discovered that their role was defined and formulated by teachers instead
  • They were assigned talents and capacities viewed as innately female, and if it was textiles, the special predilection was for one- weaving.
  • The Bauhaus’ painters’ prejudice against the functional object was too well articulated not to be fully understood by weavers.
  • Stolzl stated that “Yes! Weaving is an aesthetic whole, a unity of composition, form, colour and substance.” This was the nature of her craft. She remained passionate and did not lose the spark, even when she was forced to restructure her initial goals.

Chapter 5- The Weaving Workshop and Johannes Itten

  • The weaving workshop conformed to a daily schedule of six hours work: four in the morning and two in the afternoon.
  • Students gathered thorough knowledge of looms and weaving techniques and a familiarity with diverse materials.
  • Itten and Kandinsky used the language of music to describe color- harmonic sounds, chord variations, tones.
  • A preliminary course or “basic course” (as it was called by its creator, Itten) became mandatory in 1921.
  • Gropius hired Gertrud Grunow, who supported Itten’s teaching by coaching students in theories of harmonization.
  • These theories were about how the experience of color and sound are necessary, as the stimulation of one sense would activate another.
  • “Colour is life, for a world without colour appears dead”. – Itten
  • A striking example of applique work is the curtain by Dorte Helm in 1920 for the Somerfield House. Her work is sensitive to the quality of the material, and the soft draping provides a linear chiaroscuro (contrasting effect but with lines).

Image result for dorte helm somerfield

  • The Dessau chair was an icon of modernity and symbol of of the era of industrial design.
  • Stolzl’s weaving dominated the chair, not only with the bold colour scheme, but also the visible texture of the material which contrasts sharply with the polished wood.

Image result for the dessau workshop stolzl chair

Chapter 6-Georg Muche and the 1923 Bauhaus Exhibition

  • In 1921 Georg Muche replaced Johannes Itten as form master of the weaving workshop.
  • The relationship between Muche and the weavers is difficult and problematic, and recollections make it hard to pinpoint the source of the conflicts.
  • Muche insisted on precise designs and clearly articulated ideas thwarted May Weintraud’s potential exploration of the craft.
  • Georg Muche was among a whole generation of young people who had a devastating and lasting effect from war.
  • Benita Otte was a talented, mature, well-liked woman, she thrived in the Bauhaus atmosphere. She said it was fun “participating in a total experience, and we ourselves became a part of it.”
  • In her weavings, Otte experimented with Itten’s light and dark contrast and Klee’s colour theories.
  • She had to leave the Bauhaus due to the Nazi wrath in 1933.
  • Klee demanded an “enormous” amount of homework, and precision of execution in how one colour merged into the other.
  • Bauhaus had its first public exhibition in 1922.
  • Martha Erps’s rug has a visually stimulating abstract composition.
Image result for Martha Erps rug
Martha Erps’ rug
  • The Bauhaus people do not know about pattern, only about geometric lines and shapes.
  • Unlike the Pottery workshop, Weaving was hampered by the scarcity of materials, due to Germany’s dependency on foreign markets and severe postwar restrictions.
  • Weaving is far slower than Pottery.
  • Weaving Workshop attracted women of unusual talent and determination.

 

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