2019 is the centenary of the Bauhaus, the revolutionary art school and movement founded by Walter Gropius in 1919 and closed in 1933 after pressure from the Nazis. The architecture, art and design that was created there is still revered around the world to this day, and an illustrious cast of designers and artists such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky bloomed here.
To mark the centenary three new museums will open this year in Germany – in Weimar, Dessau and Berlin. And the Grand Tour of Modernism connects landmark Bauhaus and modernist architecture in 100 locations across Germany.
After the Nazis came to power, many modernists fled abroad. Find out about the buildings they designed in Tel Aviv, in our Globe Trekker Israel episode, and the art they created in the Netherlands, in our Globe Trekker Netherlands episode. Both are available on DVD or to download on our online store.
main image: Teaching scene at the Bauhaus Dessau, photo: unknown, 1925-1932.
Thomas Cole: The Course of the Empire
British-American artist, Thomas Cole, was largely inspired by great British artists, Turner and Constable. And like many artists in the early 19th century, he took The Grand Tour of Italy and the Mediterranean to visit the great sites of the Ancient world, rediscovering the incredible ruins of Rome, Athens and beyond.
Cole had grown up in the midst of the Industrial Revolution in Northern England, witnessing the dramatic changes it inflicted on society. He would paint that story and it was a theme he revisited again in his new home on America’s East Coast where he emigrated with his family at the age of 17 in 1818.
The United States was in the throes of rapid industrialisation and change, and Cole – who was instrumental in the establishment of the Hudson River School – yearned for a natural world where bucolic landscapes lay undisturbed by progress
These themes, the influence of Turner and Constable and his wonder for the ancient world, would form the basis of Cole’s greatest work: The Course of Empire. Its five canvasses depict the foundation, growth, celebration, collapse and eventual ruin of a mythical empire. It’s a universal story repeated through the ages.
Browse The Course of Empire gallery below and check out our 10 part series, Empire Builders, which charts the growth, power and eventual collapse of 10 of the world’s great empires.
The Consummation of Empire, 1834
The Pastoral or Arcadian State, 1834
The Savage State, 1834
Watch the Empire Builders trailer!
Hollyhock House: Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Angeles
Hollyhock House in the East Hollywood, Los Angeles, built from 1919 to 1921, was one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s earliest commissions, and his second in California.
It was built for American oil heiress, Aline Barnsdall, who never actually lived in it. The building is now the centerpiece of the city’s Barnsdall Art Park.
It was donated to the City of Los Angeles in 1927. The city recently spent five million dollars restoring it.
As with many of Wright’s residences, it has an “introverted” exterior with small windows, and is not easy to decode from the outside. The house is arranged around a central courtyard with one side open to form a kind of theatrical stage and a complex system of split levels, steps and roof terraces around that courtyard. The design features exterior walls that are tilted back at 85 degrees (which gives it a “Mayan” appearance, sometimes referred to as the Mayan Revival style), leaded art glass in the windows, a grand fireplace with a large abstract bas-relief, and a moat.
The hollyhock plant common in the area is used as a central theme to the design. An interesting feature is the glass corners, an early Wright idea later used at Fallingwater.
Like many houses designed by Wright, it proved to be better as an aesthetic work than as a livable dwelling. Water tended to flow over the central lawn and into the living room, and the flat roof terraces were conceived without an understanding of Los Angeles’ rains. The cantilevered concrete also has not stood up well to the area’s earthquakes.
Perched in the northwest corner of the famous Trafalgar Square in central London stands the Fourth Plinth. Since 1998 the plinth has been a a platform for enabling showcase their masterpieces by artists from around the world The Fourth Plinth Commission has recently announced the spectacular winning statues for 2018 and 2020 – a bull and a cherry.
New York City resident Michael Rakowitz has won the 2018 prize for his sculpture of the Lamassu, a winged bull deity destroyed by ISIS in 2015. This recreation is apart of his project The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist,which first came to life in 2006. The projects’ goal was to recreate the over 7,000 archaeological artifacts that were looted from the Iraq museum during the war. The Lamassu recreation will be made out of Iraqi date syrup cans, representing the decline of the once flourishing industry before the Iraq Wars.
Rakowitz is an Iraqi American artist best known for this conceptualised art displays. His art is deeply rooted in Middle Eastern politics. His work is currently being showcased in his grandfathers’ old packaging facility, Davisons & Co., which will be opened until the end of October. One of Rakowitz’ more notable projects is Enemy Kitchen (2004), in which he – with the help of his mother – teaches the public popular Baghdad recipes. His goal was to enlighten those who took part in the project about the Iraqi food and culture.
“As an artistic gesture I try to make an unlikely thing happen, and the impossible becomes possible,” – Rakowitz
His sculpture will be revealed next year.
London-based artist and poet Heather Phillipson is the 2020 winner for her sculpture THE END. The fiber-glass model consists of a cherry-topped dessert being eaten by a fly as well as a drone flying overhead which allows for curious onlookers to watch a live feed of the square from their mobile devices or tablets. The bulk of the sculpture is a generous dollop of whipped cream, chosen by the artist because of its indulgence and instability. Phillipson’s work delves into society’s shared experiences, be it as celebration or protest.
Phillipson’s work explores cultural references and emotional responses. Phillipson’s voice over film 100% Other Fibres.created for Frieze projects in 2016 was the recipient of the Jarman Award, an accolade recognising innovative and imaginative artists working with moving images for her The. Her work has been widely shown at institutions and fairs such as Frieze New York, the New Museum in New York and at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, Germany.
Her work is currently being exhibited at the Drawing Biennial in London.
“It is important to go straight to the cliche and look at it. Not being able to accept anything at face value,” – Phillipson
Her sculpture will be revealed in 2020.
Although they won’t have their sculptures on display in Trafalgar Square, it is worth noting the other shortlisted artists who have also created incredible works of art.
High Way is a magazine-inspired sculpture of juxtapositions; with a light-green pickup truck at its base, followed by scaffolding, oil cans, and a ladder all placed with precision. This Mexican artists’ work reflects his ongoing interest in presenting the simplest of objects by experimental and culturally introspective means.
Untitled is a structure having seemingly straight stepped out of a sci-fi film. The New York-based Pakistani artist created a simplistic silhouette comprised of a dark body and polystyrene head lending it a mysterious and brutish appearance; Untitled leaves room for interpretation.
Raqs Media Collective
Inspired by a similar relic which stands in Coronation Park in Delhi, The Emperor’s Old Clothes represents the presence and absence of power – a solo ceremonial robe and no emperor to wear it. This statue follows a long line of similarly themed works, including Hans Haacke’s horse skeleton which occupied the plinth in 2015.
All video clips are taken from The National Gallery’s Youtube Channel.
Written by Savannah Chinelli, intern for Pilot Productions HQ in London