Saturday, January 14, 2006


The Bauhaus Archiv has one of the best-designed websites I've ever seen. I adore their fonts. For some reason, the building didn't really take exceptional photographs -- no comparison to the experience of being there -- probably because I was so distracted by the people I came with! but you get a fairly literal idea of it. The building is a humorous little surprise on the banks of the canal that keeps unfolding as you get closer and your lines of perspective change. It wakes you up.

Clearly setting itself up as the definitive institutional source on the subject, the Archiv defines the Bauhaus period as 1919-1933, and has very good exhibits (most recently: collages by Marianne Brandt).

Gropius designed this building in 1976-79 specifically to be an archive of the movement; it replaced an earlier Gropius-designed building from 1964-65 in Darmstadt that must just have not worked out. Their website describes his role quite hilariously: Gropius war über seine Amtszeit hinaus für das Bauhaus die inspirierende Persönlichkeit und integrative Autorität. Auch nach Schließung der Schule hat er für die Anerkennung und Verbreitung der Bauhaus-Idee gearbeitet. In other words, Gropius was their "inspiring personality and integrating authority." Ja.

I also highly recommend the group portrait taken of the founders, here.

Paul Klee was involved for a short time, and Wassily Kandinsky was a bona fide member of Bauhaus. It was impressive to look through their Bauhaus shop and see just how many well-designed objects of daily life are still being used today, in versions that often cost less mere pennies to buy.

Other major members: Josef Albers, Marcel Breuer, Lyonel Feininger, Walter Gropius, Johannes Itten, Hannes Meyer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Oskar Schlemmer, Marianne Brandt, Marguerite Friedländer, Lothar Schreyer, Gunta Stölzl, Georg Muche.Nearby, you can see one of the Spree canals flowing by.

Clearly, I was fascinated by the ducks walking on water. Miraculous!

Berlin looked like the wintry steppes when my plane landed at Schoenefeld -- dusts of snow scattered across the rocky landscape and a few twisted trees. To think I canoed here once.
At least the ducks are happy.

This, my favorite photo of the day, is just beautiful.


Anonymous dan said...

I think the font they use there is based on Paul Renner's original designs for Futura – see here and here for examples, though I could swear I have a better one around here somewhere.

5:34 PM  
Blogger mmf! said...

Thanks, those are great. The first link looks a little better.
(It gives me the urge to do something with it).

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Berlinerin said...

I once read a book arguing for the preservation of Fraktur that used Futura to demonstrate how 'unreadable' German words are when not in blackletter. One section put 50- or 60-letter words in both Futura and a Fraktur font side by side.
Maybe the propaganda got to me, but it did dissolve into a jumble of circles and lines at that extreme.

Probably more of an argument for short words than against Futura, though!

11:44 AM  

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