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Getty Research Institute presents online exhibition Bauhaus: Building the New Artist
Study for Vassily Kandinsky’s Farbenlehre (Color theory) course, Erich Mrozek, ca. 1929– 1930. Collage with gouache on paper. 24 x 22.8 cm. Bauhaus Student Work, 1919–1933. The Getty Research Institute, 850514. © Estate Erich Mrozek.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Considered one of the most influential schools of art and design of the 20th century, the Bauhaus forged a unique vision that blended theory with practice to cultivate a new generation of artists and designers.

Marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus school, the Getty Research Institute launches an online exhibition that explores that vision in new ways, allowing users to learn about the techniques of the Bauhaus masters and to test their theories with three interactive exercises inspired by lessons that students in the school were given.

“The Bauhaus’s tremendously influential legacy of artistic experimentation is rooted in its radical teaching which makes it the perfect subject for a new type of exhibition,” said Mary Miller, director of the Getty Research Institute. “We explore those methods online with Bauhaus: Building the New Artist, which activates our remarkable Bauhaus collections through a dynamic hybrid of text, images, and interactives that allows users to learn from this 100-year-old avant-garde institution via 21st-century technology.”

Conceived in tandem with the Getty Research Institute's gallery exhibition Bauhaus Beginnings, the online exhibition highlights student explorations, masters' theories, and a variety of colorful media drawn from the GRI's archives.

When the school officially opened on April 1, 1919, its director, Berlin-based architect Walter Gropius, set forth a vision for a new model of education that would erase the divisions between the fine and applied arts. The director hoped that various forms of artistic practice—painting, sculpture, architecture, and design—could work in harmony at the new school to produce the socially oriented and spiritually gratifying “building of the future.”

This holistic approach to creating a building was also the school’s approach to building new artists. Gropius represented the divergent trajectories students might follow at the Bauhaus in a circular curricular diagram. The singularity of the circle suggests the holistic nature of a Bauhaus education, in which individual students representing diverse disciplinary backgrounds came together in pursuit of a shared mission to reform art, design, and society.

Building the New Artist begins with an historical overview, including photographs of the school and its instructors and artists, as well as an examination of the school’s principles and curriculum. This is followed by three sections delving into the Bauhaus curriculum – Form and Color, Matters and Materials, and Body and Spirit. Each of these sections concludes with an interactive exercise inviting users to immerse themselves in surprising aspects of Bauhaus courses.

In Form and Color, users are invited to take Vassily Kandisky’s famous form and color survey, which he devised to test his theory that primary shapes corresponded to specific primary colors.

Johannes Itten and Josef Albers placed sensorial encounters at the center of an educational model that favored experimentation with materials like wood, glass, fiber, paper, and metal. In Matter and Materials, users can download Albers’ cutting exercise, which he developed to challenge his students to think deeply about the art of construction by using a single sheet of paper to create a 3D design.

Body and Spirit delves into the conviction held by the Bauhaus’ founding faculty that the project of building the new artist should be driven by artistic experimentation and spiritual striving involving mind, body, and spirit. In this section, Oskar Schlemmer’s iconic stage production highlights the interconnectedness of costume, choreography, and color. A rare film clip of a performance of Schlemmer’s The Triadic Ballet at the Bauhaus Dessau in 1926, shared by The Oskar Schlemmer Theatre Estate, Bauhaus Collection + Archive, is included. This section culminates in a 3D interactive, in which online visitors can create their own unique version of a dance performance inspired by Schlemmer, selecting costumes, set design, and choreography.

“The masters of the Bauhaus believed that a comprehensive spiritual, physical, and intellectual education was necessary to create the Gesamtkunstwerk, the total work of art,” said Maristella Casciato, senior curator of architecture at the Getty Research Institute. ”This idea permeated everything created at the Bauhaus. It also led to provocative ways to study and practice design, color theory, and performance -- practices that still seem radical and innovative today.”

The website was built by the Getty’s digital team based on the platform Quire, developed at the Getty. Images are mainly drawn from archives at the Getty Research Institute. The Hollywood-based digital design studio yU+co contributed to the design and realization of the interactive exercises.

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