The Bauhaus school, in operation between 1919 – 1933, where Kandinsky was teaching from 1922, was a focus for artists with an interest in the spiritual aspects of crafts and the fine arts. It was founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar. In spite of its name, and the fact that its founder was an architect, the Bauhaus did not have an architecture department during the first years of its existence.
The Bauhaus style became one of the most influential currents in Modernist architecture and modern design. It had a profound influence upon subsequent developments in art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography
The school existed in three German cities (Weimar from 1919 to 1925, Dessau from 1925 to 1932 and Berlin from 1932 to 1933), under three different architect-directors: Walter Gropius from 1919 to 1928, Hannes Meyer from 1928 to 1930 and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe from 1930 until 1933, when the school was closed by its own leadership under pressure from the Nazi regime.
A New Order
Kandinsky’s idea, to compare society with a triangle, with a few spiritual or artistic predecessors going before the main population, became uncomfortable as new ideas of democracy and a new socialist order grew in Germany. At the same time, various forces conspired to shut down the spiritual aspects of the Bauhaus. WWI and the Russian revolution twisted the idealistic, spiritual branch and turned it instead, in the direction of the social, according to Mike King inLeonardo, 1998.
So while the socialistic ideas gained ground, the spiritual movement was squashed, as the nazis closed down the Bauhaus school in 1933 and destroyed much of their art in big bonfires.
What became then of Kandinsky’s prophecy about the Spiritual Art?
…we are fast approaching the time of reasoned and conscious composition,
when the painter will be proud to declare his work constructive.
Perhaps it didn’t do too well. The word ‘constructive’, that Kandinsky used, has synonyms like ‘creative’, ‘generative’, ‘producing’, ‘building’, ‘healing’, ‘comforting’, ’empowering’, etc.
The antonyms of the word are ‘destructive’, ‘depleting’, ‘destructive’, ‘negative’, ‘dissolving’, ‘hurting’ and unfortunately these words are perfectly describing the constant stream of images that we are bombarded with daily.
We certainly are becoming desensitized, paralyzed, with this constant outpouring of terrorizing images from one war after another, that we are being fed on larger and larger screens as entertainment; in a mix with one dumb tv-show after another.
What will be the effects if coarseness and crudity is norm?
Link and books
Exhibition of Works of Art by Bauhaus Faculty: Painting, Sculpture, Design, November 1 – December 10, 1966: Albers, Bayer, Bill, Fininger, Itten, Kandinsky, Klee Marcks, Moholy-Nagy, Muche, Schlemmer, Stoelzl