“Together let us call for, devise, and create the construction of the future, comprising everything in one form, architecture, sculpture and painting”
– Walter Gropius, Bauhaus art school founder
In 1927, Walter Gropius, founder and director of the Staatliches Bauhaus art school (1919 to 1933), asked student turned teacher Erich Consemüller (10 October 1902 — 11 April 1957) to photograph the place we know simply as Bauhaus (building house). Consemüller, a self-taught photographer who’d studied at the school’s carpenter’s workshop and returned to teach architecture, took over 300 interior photographs of the Bauhaus building , student and teachers in Dessau. Together with the outdoor photographs by Lucia Moholy, wife of the Bauhaus master László Moholy-Nagy, these have played a big part in shaping our view of the Bauhaus and what can be termed the ‘Bauhaus Scene’ – clean lines and clarity of purpose; a harmony of pragmatic art and technology to make robust, life-enhancing things that appear to have taken so little work to make; a style and craft-based technique that came to epitomise ‘modern’ and transformed Bauhaus from a movement into a brand.
After leaving the Bauhaus, Consemüller taught architecture at a school in Halle an der Saale. Fired from his teaching post and excluded from various artistic activities by the Nazis, Consemüller worked in several architects’ offices and in 1946 was made town planner in Halle. In 1933, he was sacked from his office by the Nazis and expelled from professional and artists’ associations. A year earlier, the Nazis moved to purge their land of “degenerate art” and closed the Bauhaus’ Dessau school, deeming it to be both Jewish and Bolshevik.
This photograph (above) shows three essential elements of Bauhaus. Bauhaus weaving graduate Lis Beyer sits in the B3 club chair, the Wassili chair by Marcel Breuer, named after Bauhaus professor Wassili Kandinsky. Breuer and Kandinksy taught at the school. Lis is dressed in a skirt designed by Beyer and a theatre mask by Bauhaus teacher Oscar Schlemmer. Erich Consemüller composed and took the image.
The following six images taken by Erich Consemüller and Lucia Moholy were issued as postcards. As Lampertz writes:
In addition to publications such as the Bauhaus books, advertising brochures, posters and other printed material for the purpose of marketing their own artistic concerns and the Bauhaus designs, the photo postcards played an important role as an advertising measure with a supra-regional effect that radiated far into the society of the Weimar Republic.