Radically simplified forms, clear lines and colours rationality and functionality – these are all features associated with German art school “Staatliches Bauhaus” or simply “Bauhaus” (“building house”). The school was operational from 1919 to 1933. It is famous for its approach to combine principles of mass production and functionality with individual artistic visions and aesthetics. It strived to combine all the arts, and is still a major influence on modern graphic design, architecture, interior design, and much more.
Walter Gropius founded the school during turbulent political times in Weimar. Because of these politically uncertain times after World War I, the Bauhaus had to relocate several times. Before moving the school to Berlin in 1932, the Bauhaus was located in Dessau. The relocation of the Bauhaus also let to constant changes to its focus, techniques taught, and instructors. For example, famous artists such as Paul Klee or Wassily Kandinsky both worked at Bauhaus for some time.
Especially during the Dessau years, the direction of the school changed noticeably. Founder Walter Gropius approached Hannes Mayer to take over the architecture program of the school, which had been recently founded. Meyer aid yes, and eventually became director of the school when Gropius resigned in 1928. During that time, the school’s political orientation shifted further to the left, which eventually started to threaten the existence of the school and led to the replacement of Meyer by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as director of the school. He stopped the school’s manufacturing of goods. From then on, the school focused on teaching. Still, the Bauhaus was perceived as a threat by the Nazi’s. When they were becoming more influential in German politics and gained control of the Dessau city council, the school had to close and moved to Berlin to continue as a private school there for the next 2 years before it had to shut down entirely.
The Bauhaus still left its marks in the city: the beautiful Meisterhäuser, the impressive Bauhaus school building, and many residential buildings in town show the influence of the Bauhaus on Dessau. The Meisterhäuser have even been appointed UNESCO world cultural heritage.
Between visiting all these architectural gems, you can wander around one of the seemingly endless parks, cycle along the river Elbe or relax in one of the cosy cafés in the Old Town. I can’t recommend visiting Dessau more (and should have done it a lot sooner)!