Michael Arnold Art Styles: Abstract Art in Germany "The Bauhaus School"

Wassily Kandinsky abstract art painting from the bauhaus school of artGermany has a great artistic tradition. The original forms of expression of Franz Marc, Emil Nolde and Max Ernst, Ludwig Kirchner and the urban images of Max Beckmann, George Grosz and Otto Dix left their mark on the first 30 years of the last century and formed the basis of the high esteem in which German Expressionism is held around the world.

The Bauhaus School was an academy of art and design founded in Weimar, Germany in 1919 by Walter Gropius. Bauhaus is a German expression that literally means "house for building." The Bauhaus school was founded to rebuild the country after a devastating war and also form a new social order.

As a social program, the Bauhaus’s ideals were that the artist must recognize his social responsibility to the community and likewise, the community must accept and support the artist. In the artistic theory, the Bauhaus school strived to produce a new approach to architecture that incorporated artistic design, craftsmanship, and modern machine technology. Their aim was the use the principles of Classical architecture in its pure form without ornamentation. Therefore, Bauhaus architects rejected details such as cornices, eaves, and other decorative elements. The Bauhaus was founded by combining the Weimar Art Academy and the Weimar Arts and Crafts School, thus students were trained as both artist and craftsman.

The Bauhaus holds a place of its own in the culture and visual art history of 20th century. This outstanding school affirmed innovative training methods and also created a place of production and a focus of international debate. It brought together a number of the most outstanding contemporary architects and artists. The Bauhaus stood almost alone in attempt to achieve reconciliation between the aesthetics of design and the more commercial demands of industrial mass production.

Paul Klee abstract art painting from the Bauhaus School of artThe Nazi Party and other fascist political groups had opposed the Bauhaus throughout the 1920s. They considered it a front for communists, especially because many Russian artists were involved with it. Gropius was succeeded in turn by Hannes Meyer and then Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The school was moved first from Weimar to Dessau, from Dessau again to Berlin, and was closed on the orders of the Nazi regime in 1933. Degenerate art (from the German: entartete Kunst) was the official platform adopted by the Nazi regime for banning modern art in favor of Heroic Art.

According to Nazi thinking, Heroic Art symbolized racially pure art, free from distortion and corruption, while modern styles deviated from the prescribed norm of classical beauty. While the 1920s to 1940s are considered the heyday of modern art movements, there were conflicting nationalistic movements that resented abstract art, and Germany was no exception.

A German citizen, Paul Klee lived much of his life in Switzerland. He was born in Münchenbuchsee, near Bern, Switzerland, on December 18, 1879, and in 1898 moved to Munich, where he studied art at a private school and at the Munich Academy. His earliest works were pencil landscape studies that showed the influence of impressionism. Until 1912 he also produced many black-and-white etchings; the overtones of fantasy and satire in these works showed the influence of 20th-century expressionism as well as of such master printmakers as Francisco de Goya and William Blake. Klee was a teacher at the Bauhaus, Germany's most advanced art school, from 1920 to 1931.

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