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Design

Why the Bauhaus Still Matters

A special series that reflects on the Bauhaus school on its 100th anniversary—from the roots of its ideas to how its concepts impacted an impure world.
As they scattered under Nazi pressure, former Bauhaus students and faculty spread their way of thinking and making around the world, to outposts like Chicago and Tel Aviv, and to a new generation of disciples.
As they scattered under Nazi pressure, former Bauhaus students and faculty spread their way of thinking and making around the world, to outposts like Chicago and Tel Aviv, and to a new generation of disciples.Markus Schreiber/AP

It was the art school that changed the world. In the 14 years of its existence, and despite its small size and upstart status, the Bauhaus (German for “building house”) attracted a cadre of teachers and students who would go on to define Modernism: the architects Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; the artists Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee; and textile artist Anni Albers, to name a few. The school revolutionized design education with its hands-on, experimental, interdisciplinary approach and its embrace of new technology. And as its alumni scattered, they spread their way of thinking and making around the world, to outposts like Chicago and Tel Aviv, and to a new generation of disciples.   

The Bauhaus, to quote the critic Fiona MacCarthy, “started much that we now take for granted.” If you’ve ever sat in a tubular-steel chair or admired the clean lines of a factory building, you’ve felt its influence.