My little T-Rex somehow got a hold of one of my niece's hair ties. He is being very naughty and will not let me get it off of him. He nipped me!
The Bauhaus Ideal Then and Now: An Illustrated Guide to Modern Design by William Smock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Interesting overview of the history of Bauhaus art. William Smock gives a fairly balanced view of an art style which has influenced not only art styles, but architecture, machines and even electronic devices. He enhances his essays with personal drawings that illustrate the buildings, art, inventions and also the artists who founded this group.
The American architect, Louis Sullivan, in the late 19th century stipulated that form follows function. The Bauhaus group carried that to an extreme. Examples of Bauhaus is the Seagram Building in New York City (for comparison one can look at the Empire State building, which is Art Deco). Another command is less is more.
Unfortunately, the Bauhaus was a great theory but did not pan out in real life. Take for instance Philip Johnson's glass houses. An interesting concept to be sure, but the design did not take into account the oppressive heat from the sun boiling into the interior without the protection of walls or even curtains. And, of course, it's not an edifice that you're going to be doing anything you wouldn't do in public, hence a neighboring house for "private activities".
In Paris the Nation Library with its glass towers also disregards the fact that sunlight is bad for books. All the windows are now blocked by blank wooden doors.
The Design Building for the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago has turned out to be a lousy place to study and a glass box for a theater in German also proved to be bad because theaters have to be dark, so an interior room shielding the light was built on the inside. The same goes for a glass art museum, since light hurts paintings. All three were designed by Mies van der Rohe. You'd think he'd have learned something after the first building.
The most obvious case of form not following function are the housing developments in Chicago and St. Louis, Missouri. Supposedly, the buildings were to promote friendly, clean, "honest", functional urban development. Twenty years later they had turned into gang war zones. These buildings have since been demolished.
Smock concludes that while there is no doubt that Bauhaus heavily influenced future design of architecture and design in many fields, from kitchen appliances to cars, they are most successful at creating art objects.
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