Barbara Happe and Martin S. Fischer’s The Auerbach House by Walter Gropius with Adolf Meyer – The Brooklyn Rail

Walter Gropius based the Bauhaus 100 years in the past, in 1919, and the centenary of the varsity is being celebrated all over the world with exhibitions, occasions, and new publications. Latest scholarship focuses on Gropius and the varsity’s lecturers and college students, and investigates matters starting from ladies and gender, the physique and sexuality, spirituality and politics, and the worldwide dissemination of Bauhaus folks and concepts. The newly revised guide The Auerbach Home by Walter Gropius with Adolf Meyer by Barbara Happe and Martin S. Fischer, begins with an outline of the founding of the Bauhaus, grounding it on this frenzied urge for food for the varsity and its founding director. Nevertheless, the textual content will not be actually concerning the Bauhaus. As a substitute, it’s a research of only one home, the Auerbach Home in Jena, Germany: its architects, design, development, and the fascinating and tragic lifetime of its patrons Felix and Anna Auerbach. The guide is a revision of the authors’ 2003 publication Haus Auerbach of Walter Gropius with Adolf Meyer that documented the historical past and restoration of the 1924 home from 1994 to 1995.

The brand new version advances the sooner publication’s argument that the relatively little-known Auerbach Home was essential to the event of Gropius’s fashionable or “Bauhaus” fashion with up to date pictures and analysis. “The Auerbach home is his [Gropius’s] first ‘Bauhaus,’” the authors declare. Comprised of two interlocking asymmetrical rectangular containers the constructing has the attribute flat roofs and a Terranova stucco exterior devoid of decoration and colour which might be typical of modernist structure. The usage of Bauhaus to explain the fashion of this constructing is considerably sticky. Popularized within the 1920s and nonetheless in use in the present day, “Bauhaus fashion” is a phrase that streamlines the good variety of Bauhaus intervals and manufacturing into one coherent look.

This home is extra fashionable than Gropius’s earlier buildings, just like the picket Sommerfeld Home that’s crammed with expressionist decoration by Bauhaus college students, and much like his renovation of the Municipal Theater, additionally in Jena in 1921–1922, with its plain cubic facade. Due to this fact, the motivation behind the authors’ thesis is to situate the Auerbach Home inside this canon and set up it as a vital Bauhaus (and Gropius) product. They succeed not solely as a result of it was one of many first actually modernist designs by Gropius along with his accomplice Adolf Meyer, but in addition due to their detailed dialogue of the constructing’s design and development: the revolutionary and cheap supplies used like Jurko block development and hygienic linoleum, and its ingenious colour design by Bauhaüsler Alfred Arndt.

The home was bought in 1936 and left to obscurity in postwar East Germany till the guide’s authors bought it in 1994. Happe and Fischer due to this fact should not disinterested students of the Bauhaus or fashionable structure; they’re the house’s homeowners who nonetheless stay within the area with their modern artwork assortment. Just like the Auerbachs earlier than them who adorned the house with their spectacular artwork assortment, the authors beautify the area with works by Peter Halley and Frank Stella, particularly chosen by the artists for the constructing and its homeowners. Though the guide is comprised of in depth analysis, making use of quite a few archives, interviews, and educational publications, additionally it is private—a novel mixture for architectural historical past in the present day.

Gropius’s architectural agency was a separate entity from his well-known faculty however it typically employed strapped-for-cash college students for personal architectural work. That was the case for Alfred Arndt who had joined the Bauhaus in 1921, studied within the Wall-Portray Workshop, and handed his journeyman’s examination on April 17, 1924, qualifying him to work as a craftsman. The guide devotes an entire part to Arndt’s revolutionary design. He painted the home with a daring and colourful design, utilizing vivid pastel colours to intensify the structure and complicate the cubic areas. For instance, in the lounge a vivid yellow band runs up the wall and skirts the ceiling, breaking apart the expanse of the intense turquoise painted on all different wall and ceiling surfaces and molding the area into one thing new. Utilizing Arndt’s extant colour plans, situated within the Bauhaus-Archiv in Berlin (reproduced within the guide with new colour accuracy) and fashionable evaluation of the wall surfaces, the restoration was in a position to recreate 37 totally different colours with specifically made paints by the German paint firm KEIM. It was believed for many years that Arndt’s plan had not been carried out; due to this fact, this restoration was essential in increasing the understanding of Bauhaus wall portray and offering an in-situ instance. This version of the guide improves the standard of the wall portray pictures and makes use of latest scholarly work, together with my very own dissertation on the Bauhaus Wall-Portray Workshop, to replace the evaluation of the home. Not all modernist structure was white, void of decoration and colour, and this guide offers a dynamic instance of using colour and portray in structure. On the Bauhaus, Arndt and his fellow wall painters used colour to emphasise architectural components and rework area, information customers by way of a constructing, and encourage psychological reactions. The authors put Arndt’s colour design into this broader wall portray context on the Bauhaus and past, together with comparisons to Le Corbusier’s colour palette.

Whereas the specifics of the structure, development, and colour design of the home are of curiosity to the specialist, what holds mass attraction are the home’s older Jewish patrons, Felix and Anna Auerbach, 67 and 62 respectively on the time of development. Felix was a physicist and professor on the College of Jena. Anna, née Silbergleit, was a suffragette and completed newbie photographer. The main points of the Auerbachs’ private lives, their shared childhoods in Breslau, progressive political views (Anna was chairwoman of the Central German Union for the Proper of Ladies to Vote), inventive patronage (they have been founding members of the Jena Artwork Affiliation in 1903, a corporation that exhibited essentially the most avant-garde artwork of the interval) and educational pursuits are effectively documented within the guide. Due to this fact, the constructing is taken into account not solely as an object in Gropius’s oeuvre however understood as a product of a particular cultural context and patronage. An interesting apart discusses Edvard Munch’s 1906 portrait of Felix utilizing the intensive correspondence between the couple and the artist. In her 1911 New 12 months’s card Anna praised the artist, “you quickly shall be celebrated as the newest hyperlink within the chain Grünewald – Rembrandt – Manet – Munch.” Once they moved into their new modernist home in fall 1924 the couple despatched a postcard (which is reproduced within the guide) of the outside to Munch with an X marking the placement of his portray on the inside.

Within the years that adopted the house’s development, the Weimar Republic collapsed and Hitler was appointed German chancellor in January 1933. On February 25, 1933, the 76-year-old Felix suffered a second stroke, partially paralyzing him. The next night time, because the Germany they knew, together with the Bauhaus, was dissolving, the couple overdosed on sleeping drugs, ending their lives collectively of their Gropius-designed dwelling.

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