Walter Gropius soon realized that his vision could not be realized by one man alone. What was needed was a laboratory of design in which a new generation of artists could apply the discoveries of modern art to architecture and other needs of daily life. Such a new school would have to select talented young people, before they had surrendered to the conformity of the industrial community or had withdrawn into ivory towers, and train them to bridge the gap between the rigid thinking of the business type and the imagination of the creative artist.
…Ludwig von Bertalanffy, the developer of General System Theory, argued that the modern “crisis” was caused by the conflict between an open system organic model of human behavior and a closed system robot model of human behavior — and by implication the lifeworld — and in the Bauhaus the robot system has won the battle, at least on the battlefield of art. But technology was well on its way to conquering the lifeworld before it conquered art, suggesting that the Bauhaus was fitting art into technology rather than using technology to make art. The Bauhaus described itself as a “unity” of “art and technology,” but I would say it confirmed technology’s triumph over art rather than art’s triumphant appropriation of technology. The Bauhaus endorsed and adapted to technology, not vice versa. …
There is no doubt that once the Bauhaus moved to Dessau from Weimar it began to receive a considerable income from the sale of designs for industrial mass production. The students worked for short periods in factories to study methods and processes that preceded design rather than being mere stylists. It can be asserted that they were thoughtful and mostly practical attempts to bring technical and functional requirements into harmony with aesthetics, the “smartly modern” but its clear that the artistic endeavor was subsumed by commercial and industrial considerations.
…Let’s be even more farfetched: I suggest that Bauhaus works of art have a drone-like quality, that is, they are oddly like the unmanned drones beginning to be widely used in contemporary warfare. They anticipate and prophesize the future, as art has been said to do, making them “futuristic” — indeed, in Marinetti’s sense, for they are the ultimate instruments of the war of the new against the old that he celebrated (along with war in general as a cleansing purge, which is what, it so happens, Marcel Duchamp thought Dadaism was; is there a Dadaist nihilistic undertone — a purge of “ethnic” or “native” art — in Bauhaus art?). Bauhaus drones are made in art factories — haven’t art schools become art factories these days, and also places where art is mass-produced, however “customized” to suit “individual” tastes — and seem self-propelling. It is as though no artist made them, even if an artist “controls” them from an “abstract” distance….
Its ironic that the Bauhaus has been lauded, iconized, as the gold standard for the democratic values of modernism. Criticized by the Nazis for degenerate, cultural bolchevism only to end up serving industry. Bauhaus was non-ideological in Gropius’s conception, yet its members were complicit in building Germany’s wartime military industrial complex including the design of concentration camps as a realization of Gropius’s ethos to ” bring beauty and unity into the chaos of our time.” Obviously overlooked in promoting Bauhaus as a symbol of social progress.
Certainly, this new vision of utopia was predicated on the school’s increasing technological focus, where the dominance of materials eventually transpired at the level of form and into the fetish object as diverse as Apple products to Audi’s. Post WWII it was peddled as anti-fascist artistic freedom, a bulwark that would hold the tension between art and commerce, yet the inherent austerity, the minimalism, could really only serve commercial/industrial requirements.
…They’re precise enough to hit a target audience and do physical and emotional damage in the lifeworld — reduce it to its “bare” essentials, which turns it into an inhuman wasteland (look at the Bauhaus malls, industrial parks, rows of skyscrapers along Sixth Avenue, all barbarically anonymous). Deadpan Minimalism is its degraded ancestor — even as boxy International Style skyscrapers, with their grid construction, signal the triumphant conventionalization of Bauhaus, and with that its trivialization into a formula — and the sterile grid its tedious emblem. Rudolf Arnheim regarded the homogeneity of the grid — a vacuous geometry constructed of uniform modules marching with dumb efficiency to purposeless infinity, droning away with military precision in a vacuum of meaning — as the modern emblem of entropy. However superficially heterogenized, the Bauhaus grid remains entropically inert and boring. Bauhaus art is entropic, like war, and like war a calculated dead-end, but its destructive power — the violence it does art — is hidden by efficiency, while real war is openly violent and messy. The Bauhaus is the end of art as a humanizing activity, and the beginning of technology as entertainment. Max Ernst’s monstrous Celebes (1921), a Surrealist war machine, speaks more directly to modern barbarism. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/bauhaus-war-machine12-2-09.aspa
The Nazi military was an efficient killing machine, and so was the Bauhaus — it ruthlessly killed off its artistic enemies — because it was technically superior to other art, however simple and routine its technology seems today. Just as the Bauhaus thought the history of art climaxed in and ended with their utopian mechanical art and abstract design credo, so the Nazis thought history would be over when they conquered Europe — the world — and imposed their utopia and purist ideology on it. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/bauhaus-war-machine12-2-09.aspa