IF ANYTHING, there is a surplus of writings about the Bauhaus, the legendary school of art and design that flourished in Germany during the Weimar Republic (1919-1933). Despite the number and quality of its predecessors, this may be the finest, most serious book about the practice of teaching in relation to that famous experimental school. In fact, it may be fair to say that if someone is looking for a single, solid summary of the social and political origins of the Bauhaus, its historical setting, the nature and rationale of its foundations or preliminary course, the innovative teaching strategies of its faculty, and the extent to which their discoveries were widely adopted by art schools and universities, there is no better source than this. Most other English-language books on the Bauhaus (of which there must be now at least two or three dozen) are beautifully illustrated, but the texts are not always well-written, and the scope of what they cover tends to be very wide, with restricted attention to teaching. While this book has 270 illustrations, they are entirely black and white. Its text, on the other hand, is amazingly thoughtful and thorough, and is based on the painstaking scrutiny of twenty pages of books and articles (most of which are in German). It too has broad coverage, but it does this by looking microscopically at the teaching methods of seven major artists there, and by that connecting to various things that one might otherwise have ignored as unrelated. Beyond these specific essays, I found that I also profited from five other, more generalized chapters about the school's social context, its chronology, the historic antecedents of its teaching philosophy, and the manner in which its tradition survives in Europe and the U.S. A final note is that this is not a book to read just once, from cover to cover, and then forget about. Rather, it functions best as a reference book, a storehouse of detail and fullness that one can repeatedly search through for provocative ideas about art, design and art education.  


 



 

All reviews are copyright © by Roy R. Behrens 

Teaching at the Bauhaus by Rainer K. Wick. Stuttgart, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2000. ISBN 3775708014.

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All reviews are copyright © by Roy R. Behrens