Photographie und Bauhaus

Publication 1986

Edited by Carl Haenlein, Kestner-Gesellschaft Hannover
Published by Kestner-Gesellschaft Hannover 1986
Essays by Carl Haenlein, Suzanne E. Pastor, and Gerhard Glüher
248 pages with 228 illustrations


“It is said of those who have studied at the Bauhaus that they carry forever after an invisible Adelsbrief or patent of nobility. Despite the halo bestowed by history and historians upon those who attended the Bauhaus—and perhaps because of this halo—it has become increasingly necessary to attempt a clearer contextual study of the Bauhaus phenomenon: from its foundation in 1919 as a school of art and design by architect Walter Gropius, through its colorful course during a period of extreme economic and political instability, to its ultimate dissolution in 1933 with the coming to power of the right-wing National Socialist Party under Adolf Hitler. The phenomenon of photography’s rebirth in Europe between the two world wars appeared in a multitude of new guises variously labeled ‘experimental,’ ‘New Vision,’ ‘New Photography,’ and ‘New Objectivity.’ The practice of photography at the Bauhaus and its alleged subsequent international influence require closer study. For many who studied and photographed at the Bauhaus, the concept of ‘Bauhaus photography’ appears largely a myth. Outspoken former Bauhaus members, or ‘Bauhäusler,’ including Lucia Moholy, Walter Funkat, T. Lux Feininger, Irene Bayer, Lotte Beese, and Gertrud Arndt, all of whom photographed rather extensively at the Bauhaus—and none of whom learned photography there—emphasize repeatedly that there was no such thing. Photography was ‘in the air’ throughout Europe just like a lot of other things, an international phenomenon and nothing out of the ordinary at the Bauhaus. They recall that every second person was taking pictures on the side, and nobody thought it particularly remarkable. The term ‘Bauhaus Photography’ is in many ways a misnomer. In order to place the phenomenon into a broader, more accurate context, the term Bauhaus photographs is recommended: it refers not to a movement or kind of photography but to images made by Bauhaus teachers and students or relating to Bauhaus people, events, objects, exercises, graphics, publications, and architectural structures. With respect to the Bauhaus as a school, the emphasis is on the use of photography among the Bauhäusler, as well as on the prevailing art theories that may have affected this practice.” Suzanne E. Pastor
A publication on the occasion on the exhibition with the same title held at Kestner-Gesellschaft Hannover, September 19 to November 2, 1986.