An Idea Meets Creative Production

Exhibition on the prints of the Bauhaus

Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
Oskar Schlemmer, Dancer, 1922/23, 61.5 x 43.5 cm, Lithograph, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Graphische Sammlung, Acquired in 1966 as a gift by Tut Schlemmer

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In 2019, when the grand opening festivities celebrated the foundation of the Bauhaus, one seminal work had to be included: the “Triadische Ballett”, performed with reconstructions of the original costumes produced in 1977, which are still owned by the Staatsgalerie. A lesser known fact is that instead of being produced at the Bauhaus, this icon of the Modern stage was conceived in the capital of Württemberg – where it was developed from 1912 onwards by Oskar Schlemmer together with the dancer-couple Elsa Hötzel and Albert Burger, before being prepared for performance in two stages in 1916 and 1922.

Schlemmer’s enthusiasm for dance, which led to his appointment as Artistic Director of the Bauhausbühne in 1923, began during his period as an apprentice under the master Adolf Hölzel, who had taught at the Kgl. Akademie der bildenden Künste in Stuttgart since 1905. Hölzl’s passion for the “painters of the most recent movement” soon made him a mentor for young people. The circle of Hölzel’s followers, which was not uncontroversial at the time, included exceptional figures of Modernity and later Bauhaus protagonists such as Ida Kerkovius, Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack and Johannes Itten.

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This “Stuttgart prologue” to the Bauhaus also forms the beginning of the exhibition that will open on March 20. Its title, “Drucksache Bauhaus”, has the potential to mislead fans of the legendary Bauhaus books: the curator has explicitly stressed that the “printed matter” does not refer to book-printing or typography: “In our exhibition, we deliberately focus of the origins of printing at the Bauhaus,” as Dr. Corinna Höper explains. “That includes the artistic graphics produced at the Weimar Bauhaus before 1925.”

The exhibition’s core is formed by four original Bauhaus portfolios published between 1921 and 1924, as well as pieces by a total of 45 artists. Höper believes the material represents an important epilogue to last year’s centenary celebrations, since the printing workshop, which was disbanded when the Bauhaus moved to Dessau, is the clearest embodiment of the original founding idea: “The combination of art and craftsmanship, i.e. the meeting between the idea and creative production.” To grasp the principle not just intellectually, visitors can themselves play the role of artists during a printing workshop.

We shall see whether the results represent further fundamental inspiration from the southern part of the republic. The matter lies in your hands.
 

Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
Wassily Kandinsky, Composition (New European Graphics, Portfolio IV: Italian and Russian Artists), 1922 (1923), Colour lithograph, 36.1 x 34 cm, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Graphische Sammlung, Bequest 1970 Annemarie Grohmann

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Extra tip: In parallel to the exhibition “Drucksache Bauhaus”, a separate show at the Grafik-Kabinett der Staatsgalerie is dedicated to paintings by Ida Kerkovius. “Die ganze Welt ist Farbe” (“The whole world is colour”) celebrates “Kerko’s” emotional, opulent language of colours. The artist is rightly regarded as one of the greatest talents to have emerged from the Stuttgart academy.

 

    [NF 2020]

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