Maria Rasch

1919–1923 Bauhaus student

Rasch-Archiv, Bramsche
Portrait of Maria Rasch, photo: unknown, 1920s

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Maria Rasch was born on 16 October 1897 in Bramsche near Osnabrück as the daughter of a wallpaper manufacturer. After attending the local school, she continued her education at the Osnabrück Lyceum. The bourgeois-liberal parents had recognised Maria Rasch’s artistic talent at an early age and made it possible for her to study during 1916–1917 at the Art Academy in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland) under Hans Poelzig, with whom they were personally acquainted. The young artist spent the years 1918 to 1919 as a student of Walter Klemm at the Weimar Academy of Fine Arts. With the founding of the State Bauhaus in 1919, she transferred to the progressive educational establishment, where she studied until 1923 – above all, with Wassily Kandinsky and Lyonel Feininger. After completing the mural workshop that was directed by Kandinsky, Rasch passed her journeyman’s examination. She later worked for Walter Gropius’ architectural office in Berlin and participated in the decoration of the Masters’ Houses in Dessau.

In 1927, Maria Rasch moved back to her parent’s home in Osnabrück. She was represented with two colour drawings at the opening exhibition of the local Art Salon Adolf Meyer, which she founded with the sculptor Fritz Szalinski of the Osnabrück Association of Fine Arts. She received the opportunity to exhibit 14 of her pictures together with the works of Emil Nolde at the Meyers Art Salon in April 1929. In addition, she was a part of exhibitions at the Bremen Art Gallery and in the Von der Heyde Gallery in Berlin.

Rasch-Archiv, Bramsche / © Rasch-Archiv, Bramsche
Geometrical Correlations, Maria Rasch, 1922, in: Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar 1919–1923 von Walter Gropius, Munich/Weimar, 1923

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The artist played an essential role in establishing successful business connections between the Hanover Gebrüder Rasch & Co GmbH wallpaper factory and the Bauhaus in Dessau in 1928 by mediating the contact between her brother Emil and the Bauhaus director, Hannes Meyer. As a result, the Bauhäusler created wallpaper designs that were and still are sold profitably by the Rasch Company as Bauhaus wallpapers.

This period of artistic productivity and social activity was lastingly interrupted by the seizure of power by the National Socialists. Beginning in 1933, Maria Rasch withdrew increasingly into private life. Her works were put on the black list as 'degenerate' and removed from public collections – namely the Municipal Museum of Osnabrück. In 1945–1946, Rasch attempted to build on the pre-war period by initiating the re-establishment of the Osnabrück Association of Fine Artists together with Szalinski, becoming the chairperson for the Association of Fine Artists and once again participated in exhibitions such as the Jury-Free Art Exhibition of Hanover in 1956. Maria Rasch died in Osnabrück on 17 May 1959.

Text: Burckhard Kieselbach 

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