Sonntag, 17. Mai 2015

A visit at the Bauhaus Archiv-Museum

I am a very big admirer of the Bauhaus movement, both as a cultural and an artistic/architectural standard and since I move to Germany I rarely miss the opportunity to document their traces, including by an early visit to Dessau. However, the Bauhaus Archives were somehow missed, probably because I was - wrongly - thinking that there must be only about documents and nothing new can be brought to me already extensive knowledge about the movement. However, one Monday of the last week, I decided that I have to change this, and took the bus till the Museum. First, I had a short meditation on the Herkules bridge, taking the full advantage of the sunny morning. The chaise-longues near the river were inviting to stay more, but decided to keep with the schedule this time.
At the entrance, the project re-use in process to be finished, is aimed to show the different layers of the movement and also to offer a new temporary exhibition place.
The irregular and outsanding building of the museum is one of a kind in Berlin. Initially set for Darmstadt but moved to Berlin in the 1970s, it was planned by the founder of Bauhaus, Martin Gropius, who did not live to see it finalized. The local authorities were not that keen to accept it, and was finished thanks to private contributions. It was the first such archive of the Bauhaus and it used most of the archives donated by Gropius himself as well as by other members of the movement. 
In the middle of the green area, with trees and a small park, the building is a patch of concrete white. The entrance is done through a serpent-like platform, called 'Eternity', in the middle of two independent agglomeration of blocks, parallel and equal to each other, united by a middle section. 
From the top of the platform, I was able to see the simple geometry of the two-story structure hosting the 800 square meters of exhibitional space. 
According to the special wishes of Gropius, this unique post-war modernist building should be renovated and changed only by respecting particular technical and artistic directions.
Inside the museum, a new exhibition introduced over 100 new objects added to the Museum collection. Among them, many black and white photography by Nathan Lerner, Josef Hartwig sculptures, collections of wooden toys and studies about colours, sketches by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, or the beautiful paper umbrella by Ferdinand Kramer. 
What I admire about this movement is its extensive interest for almost any topic related to arts, from the fine investigation and reevaluation of the properties of metals - an example being Takehiko Mizutani Study in the property of metals, made of sheets of brass superposed - till the focus on how to better teach arts. The archives are carefully tracing the different stages of the movement of the trajectory of some important representatives, such as Kandinsky, Lyonel Feininger, Oskar Schlemmer or Paul Klee. Not to miss also the Marcel Breuer chairs or the spectacular light installation by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy or the project of Germany's Pavillion at the World Expo 1929. The full archives can be also consulted at the library, upon request.
Interior design and architecture are one of the most famous changes brought by Bauhaus and that changed the faces of many cities from around the world (the White City of Tel Aviv not mentioned in the exhibition is the most famous example). According to Gropius, building means designing life processes and an art of living. He was pledging for 'organic designing of objects in keeping with their own present-day laws, without any romantic goss or fanciful frills', 'limitation to typical primary forms', use of 'colours that anyone can understand', 'simplicity and multiplicity', 'economical utilization of space, material, time and money'.
We can hardly understand the contemporary architecture today without Bauhaus and the Archives are a good inspiration for anyone trying to learn more about, either as a curious tourist or as an artist/architect-in-the making.

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