Thursday, May 24, 2007

Interdisciplinary Bauhaus

This summer I'm teaching (with Doran Sanft) an Integrated-Studies course on the Weimar Republic, that ultimately failed but fascinating German experiment between the World Wars. When we read Walter Gropius' "Program of the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar" (1919), I thought that the following lines (along with the image of Breuer's famous chair) were an instructive interdisciplinary manifesto:

"Today the arts exist in isolation, from which they can be rescued only through the conscious, cooperative effort of all craftsmen. Architects, painters, and sculptors must recognize anew and learn to grasp the composite character of a building both as an entity and in its separate parts. . . . The Bauhaus strives to bring together all creative effort into one whole, to reunify all the disciplines of practical art -- sculpture, painting, handicrafts, and the crafts -- as inseparable components of a new architecture. The ultimate, if distant, aim of the Bauhaus is the unified work of art -- the great structure -- in which there is no distinction between monumental and decorative art."