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Bauhaus Archiv ...

28th February, 2017 by Connor

You’d assume a trip to Berlin means plenty of German beer and Bratwursts – the truth is, you wouldn’t be wrong! Away from indulgence, though, I had the chance to visit the Bauhaus Archiv, the iconic museum of design.
The German design school was launched in 1919 by Europe’s finest collective of creatives, spearheaded by Modernist architect Walter Gropius. The school operated until 1933 over three consecutive locations: Weimar, Dessau, and Berlin.

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The Bauhaus Archiv is the largest collection of Bauhaus works in existence, established to celebrate the works and teachings. The breadth of work is hidden away in the true ‘archive’, only viewable if pre-arranged, and is currently closed in preparation for the new addition and growth in 2019. The main gallery space is split in two. The majority is filled with a visual history of Bauhaus: sketches, sculptures, prototypes, and posters. Three-dimensional products such as chairs and utensils are standout pieces, and are often seen as staples of the Bauhaus movement. One key message that emerged from the teaching is that, ‘form should always reflect and enhance function’ – essentially outlining that functionality should never be jeopordised in search of beauty. It was a real treat to see development of experimental pieces, which undoubtedly moulded the future of design, worldwide.
At the end of the permanent exhibition stands a wall dedicated to graphic design in printed form. Here it is clear to see the influence of Wassily Kandinsky and El Lissitzky, guest teachers on numerous visits, which played a pivotal role in an aesthetic linked closely to the Bauhaus legacy.

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The rest of the space is occupied by temporary exhibitions. The exhibit on show during my visit focused on photographer and Bauhaus collaborator, Lucia Moholy. ‘The English Years’, a showcase of lesser-known work, includes a range of portraits and hand portraits. Presenting a head shot alongside a photograph of the subject’s hands provides a more personal portrayal, often showing emotion that can be hidden in a framed shot. Moholy photographed Bauhaus exclusively in the 1920s, documenting locations and products.
The building itself is most impressive - designed by Gropius in 1964, and finally constructed in 1979. The post-modern exterior has a futuristic yet well worn feel. It is hardly surprising that the Archiv has been used in numerous Sci-fi movies.
Berlin is a place I’d really love to explore further. With plans for expansion to be completed in 2019, I’d hope to revisit to see the additions. In a city that has everything to offer, the Archiv is definitely worth a visit.

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